More Seaside Heights

I continue to be devastated by this.  A piece of New Jersey history (and my childhood) may be gone for good.

Here is a Facebook post from Kohr’s Frozen Custard:

What can we say? Our hearts are broken. Kohr’s Frozen Custard lost all 4 stands to yesterday’s fire.

Not only did we witness our business being taken from us, right before our eyes, we also witnessed our family’s history go up in smoke. Our hearts go out to all our neighbors, friends, and “family” that had to witness the same. Thankfully no lives were lost and nobody suffered serious injury.

Thank you to the firefighters that fought tirelessly to save what they could.

Finally, thank all of you for your thoughts, prayers, condolences, and well wishes.

Bruce and Nancy Kohr

Here is some raw video from NBC-New York: nbcLP={};nbcLP.aRandomNumber=Math.floor(Math.random()*10000);nbcLP.currentPageLoc=encodeURIComponent(window.location.href);nbcLP.currentSiteLoc=encodeURIComponent(;nbcLP.defaultWidth=652;nbcLP.defaultHeight=367;nbcLP.cmsID=”223606681″;nbcLP.vidPid=”g6TEjp6h5OKc”;nbcLP.vidSec=”TK”;nbcLP.vidSubSec=”TK”;nbcLP.vidFrame=document.getElementById(“nbcLP223606681″);”none”;nbcLP.vidFrame.width=nbcLP.defaultWidth;nbcLP.vidFrame.height=nbcLP.defaultHeight;nbcLP.vidFrame.scrolling=”no”;nbcLP.vidFrame.src=””+nbcLP.cmsID+”&videoID=”+nbcLP.vidPid+”&width=”+nbcLP.defaultWidth+”&height=”+nbcLP.defaultHeight+”&sec=”+nbcLP.vidSec+”&subsec=”+nbcLP.vidSubSec+”&turl=”+nbcLP.currentSiteLoc+”&ourl=”+nbcLP.currentPageLoc+”&rand=”+nbcLP.aRandomNumber;

Here is what’s left of the carousel at Funtown Pier:

Here are some of our past posts about Seaside Heights:

Seaside Heights: The Town That Fun Built

The Corporatization of Seaside Heights

Seaside Heights vs. Wildwood

Thirty Minutes of Unedited Footage From Seaside Heights, NJ–1985

Does Anyone Know Where I Can Get a Copy of This Concert Poster?

Fire on the Seaside Heights Boardwalk

First there was Sandy.  Now this:

My childhood vacation destination can’t seem to catch a break.  The fire started at Kohr’s, my favorite custard stand on the boardwalk (and in the world).

So sad.

Mormons at the Jersey Shore

I like to consider myself an amateur historian of all things Jersey Shore (the place, not the MTV reality show).  Before I die I want to write a book about this place.  It will probably be more nostalgia than history, but who cares.

Christopher Jones of The Juvenile Instructor (and other blogs) knows of my fascination for all things Jersey Shore and called my attention to his post on Joseph Smith’s 1840 missionary visit to what today is Highlands (near Sea Bright).  Here is a taste:

A couple of weeks ago, my wife, kids, and I closed out our summer vacation with a quick trip “down the shore” (we’d been staying with my in-laws in northern New Jersey, and I’ve been assured that’s the preferred terminology of locals for what the rest of America calls “going to the beach.”) Thanks to the wonderfully helpful research of our own Steve Fleming, I knew that Mormonism’s history in the Garden State dated back to the late 1830s, but I wasn’t sure if there was much activity along the Jersey Shore. Re-reading Steve’s article, along with a short piece in the April 1973 issue of The Ensign by Stanley B. Kimball (hey, remember when The Ensign used to publish short historical essays by actual historians? That was awesome.), I learned that not only did Mormonism’s history there date back to the 1830s, but that Joseph Smith himself preached in the region.

Documenting Hurricane Sandy

I just learned that the American Association for State and Local History (AASLH), along with Historypin, Google, the New York Library Council, and the Society of American Archivists are working on an online project to document Hurricane Sandy.  Learn more about it here or watch this video:

Here is a taste of the AASLH’s call for participants:

Seven months after Hurricane Sandy swept over the Caribbean and up the Eastern seaboard of the United States, communities are still rebuilding in its wake. The deadliest and most destructive hurricane of the 2012 Atlantic hurricane season, Sandy left at least 285 people dead across seven countries, with additional material damages of over $75 billion.
It is very important for our nation’s history organizations to participate in projects like this. When a national disaster strikes our country, the power of history plays a crucial role in the cultural preservation and long term recovery of devastated communities. As keepers of our nation’s history, we hold the records and memories of state and local history. 
AASLH strongly encourages history organizations and those with connections to the areas affected by Hurricane Sandy to contribute to this important project so that history is not lost forever. 
Local historical societies give us a unique perspective on the patterns of natural disasters. The Newport Historical Society, for example, has shared photos of Sandy and other hurricanes reaching back to 1938, documenting the way people have come together to help one another again and again.

The Last Summer at Seaside Heights? or "Place Is Not Meant to Be Eulogized"

This New York Times op-ed really hit me hard. 

Carmen Petaccio knows Seaside Heights, New Jersey.  His grandfather was the long-time owner of one of my favorite Seaside boardwalk arcades–Sonny & Rickey’sI played a lot of skee ball in that arcade in the 1970s and 1980s and took home a lot of spider rings.

We try to visit Sonny and Rickey’s every Fall.  The old school skee-ball lanes are gone.  Today my kids drop dollar bills into crane-type machines in the hopes of lifting out a stuffed animal.

I am assuming that the Petaccio family is part of the large Italian-American population that live on the south end of the Barnegat PeninsulaEven as Carmen pursues a M.A. in fine arts at Columbia University, he still spends summers working the redemption counter at Sonny & Rickey’s.  Now, as the boardwalk reopens in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, he wonders if the Seaside of his childhood (and my childhood) will ever be the same.

Here is a taste of his piece.  Anyone who loves Seaside or the Jersey shore should read it.

Seven months later, my town is still standing. The businesses have reopened. The White Oak Market is selling its beach chairs and deli meat. Riggers, the local diver bar, serves its first customers at 7 a.m. The lifeguard stands have been re-propped. The rebuilding of the boardwalk is essentially complete, just in time for Memorial Day, the start of beach season. This year, Seaside is celebrating its centennial, 100 years of forgotten worries, breezes slipping through the heat like a friend through a crowd.
As for Sonny’s & Rickey’s, mold still scales the outside walls, street to roof, and its steel door continues to dangle, forebodingly, three feet clear from where it once met the building, like a dislocated shoulder. To this day, despite decades of payments to our insurance provider, we have yet to receive a dollar in compensation.
And yet, we’re up and running. This summer, like each of my past 25, I’ll spend my mornings on the beach at Brighton Avenue, and nights behind the arcade’s redemption counter. Whenever I’m not there, my family will be.
What’s less clear is if our customers will show up too, if the beach houses will be rented, if the vacationing families will descend on schedule.
We can’t help but wonder if the summer of 2012 was the last summer to resemble those we’ve known and loved. Who’s to say there isn’t yet another hurricane brewing?

The Jersey Shore: Six Months After Sandy

Joe Scarborough devoted some time on “Morning Joe” to the Jersey Shore.  (They are positioned in front of the Paramount Theater in Asbury Park).  Six months ago Hurricane Sandy ripped through this area.  This video reports on the slow-moving recovery efforts:

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Great line in this next video by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie: “Presidential politics was not on my mind that day.”

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I wonder how much time Jon Meacham has spent in the working-class shore towns of Seaside Heights and Asbury Park?  I respect Meacham’s historical works on American religion, Andrew Jackson, and Thomas Jefferson, but how much does he know about the Jersey Shore?

Where Was the Birthplace of the American Vacation?

According to this article at, the American vacation was “born” in the late 19th-century resorts of the Adirondack Mountains in upstate New York.  Tony Perrottet has written a very interesting and informative piece about vacation culture in the Adirondack’s, but I would hardly call it the birthplace of the American vacation.

I don’t know when Americans first started leaving cities for country vacation destinations, but I do know that it was happening well before 1869.  For example, Philadelphia residents were going to the Jersey coast around the turn of the 19th century.  And some local historians in my area have uncovered information suggesting that Philadephia and Baltimore residents were coming to the sulphur spa in York Springs, PA (near Gettysburg) as early as the 1840s.

For more on vacations in American culture check out Cindy Aron, Working at Play: A History of Vacations in the United States.