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:
Here is what’s left of the carousel at Funtown Pier:
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).
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.
More Brian Donohue on the Jersey Shore. Good to see the giant is back and watching over Ortley Beach. I can’t wait to play the new course!
For the last couple of years my family and I have spent a summer weekend in Ocean City, New Jersey with the good folks at St. Peter’s United Methodist Church. Read about my previous visits here and here.
I will be at St. Peter’s again this Sunday, July 14, giving a morning talk (some might call it a sermon) titled “The Pursuit of Happiness.” If you are in Ocean City this weekend stop by and say hello.
Brian Donohue of the Newark Star-Ledger.
This is for you Chris Fea:
It was in Freeman’s Arcade on the Seaside Heights boardwalk from roughly 1955-1990.
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:
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’s. I 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 Peninsula. Even 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.
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:
Great line in this next video by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie: “Presidential politics was not on my mind that day.”
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?
What is a seal doing on the beach at Seaside Heights? (Notice that the boardwalk roller coaster is still in the ocean–a reminder of the devastation that hurricane Sandy brought to the shore).
But if you check out the Seaside Heights Cam you will notice that the iconic ferris wheel is gone.
According to this article at Smithsonian.com, 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.