Refreshed … Rejuvenated … Restored

seasideYou know the ocean is my restoration magnet. Yesterday I decided I had had enough and needed that rejuvenation only the crashing waves can give me. It didn’t disappoint.

I had two reasons for making the five and a half hour drive to Seaside Heights. First and foremost was the rejuvenation. But I also wanted to see for myself the damage from Hurricane Sandy. Was the damage as widespread as reported? It was. Were the media accounts accurate? They were.

sunriseI left around midnight to catch the sunrise over the ocean. It wasn’t much of a sunrise because of cloud cover, but I spotted a open patch of sky behind the roller coaster still submerged in the ocean after Sandy. I managed to dip my boot in the surf and snap a few pictures along with about a half dozen other photographers before a bullhorn rang out ordering us off the beach {we actually got on by way of a street not protected by a yellow and black caution tape — the only street not cordoned off}. The officer reminded each of us the beach was closed, but gave us a “pass” on a citation because the tape was down.

boardwalkFrom my oceanside perch I could see the Sandy devastation up close and personal, replacing the non-existent boardwalk and remnants of boardwalk stores, shops and eateries with images from my memory bank.

Banished from the beach, I spent the next hour walking Ocean Terrace from Hiering to just over the Seaside Park line and back assessing the damage still so visible four months later. It struck me each beach entrance was “protected” by police parked with flashing lights in front of yellow and black caution tape. Most were state police and offered a friendly wave or word. Hmmm. Pretty expensive.

I also thought it might be a PR winner to clean up a small area on the beach to allow visitors access so they could remember their memories, take pictures of the present, watch the progress and be part of the community’s  future. I mean, the Jersey Shore is just one of many destinations. A bad experience — even in bad times — could affect the future.

After my walk, I drove into Seaside Park — where the beaches were also closed but without the police presence — to Island Beach State Park and over to the bay side. I parked on Central Avenue and walked down Seventh Avenue to Bayview to 14th and back. I was awed by the destruction. Houses dotted with tarps, broken windows all over the place, fences down, even a few boats still capsized. Many had orange stickers on the front door warning the house was not safe. A layer of sand was virtually everywhere. As I walked I had to be cautious of broken dishes, smashed lamps, tile, window glass, conduit, piershingles and other debris. The pier jutting into the bay had collapsed, part of it lodged about 20 feet away. I could still see the bench at the end where I sat many, many times.

I talked to a couple of people I met along the way. Many were frustrated by the delays. Others just shrugged and said, “We’ll move on.”

It was disheartening, but, in a strange way, still uplifting. Just as Seaside Heights is starting to put in the pilings to rebuild the boardwalk with hope and anticipation, the salty ocean breezes fill the soul with hope. The waves lap onto the sand just so far, often surprising us by rolling in a little further than we anticipated {and sometimes, like during Sandy, a lot further}, all the time reminding us Who is in control. Hint: Not us.

As with many of my adventures, I stake out a destination and ride it out serendipitously. I expected to visit the Shore and return home, but over banana caramel pancakes with a side of sausage links {sorry doc} I remember my best friend’s mother lived in Toms River {where I was pigging out at IHOP}. Maybe I’ll go visit her, I thought. I hadn’t seen her in about 30 years, so it was time. I had planned to meet Bernie there, but with him in North Carolina and me in New York, the plan never materialized.

So I searched Millie out. Despite our technological advances, I couldn’t find a phone number {not even in seven phone books at the restaurant, none of which had residential listings} but I was able to get an address. So I drove over unannounced.

When Millie opened the door, her hands went to her face and she cried out, “Joe Siccardi!” recognizing me immediately. She said I hadn’t changed a bit {shows how ugly I was as a kid}. She looked fabulous.

I only expected to stay about a half an hour, but it stretched into two as we recalled some of the crazy things Bernie, Murray, Carmen and I did growing up. She was our second mom and her and Benny’s home were our second home. I remember her coming down the stairs at two in the morning asking us if we really had a home.

Of course, she called Bernie and we chatted for awhile, and she called her daughter Teresa and we chatted for awhile. Poor Teresa, we used to tease her to no end. We caught each other up on our lives. And before I left, she handed me a piece of paper with her phone number. “Now you can call. Come on down for dinner.” It’s an invitation I’m sure I’ll use.

From there I decided to head north to Paterson. I stopped at the cemetery to visit with Mom and Dad. I hadn’t been there since Dad’s funeral and it, too, was something that had to be done. It’s different talking to a slab of marble, but it was another part of the catharsis of the day.

While in Paterson, I stopped in to see my aunt and again stretched a short visit into a couple of hours catching up on the comings and goings of our kids and grandkids {my cousins and their families}.

Then it was over to Corrados, a grocery store specializing in Italian delicacies. Karen and I would stock up there when we went to Paterson, but all I brought was a big jar of peanut butter {because we needed it} and a coffee cake for Sunday breakfast, mainly because I couldn’t make up my mind what else to get.

Finally it was off to Falls Views East for a hamburger and hot dog all the way, Frenchies well done and a large birch beer {sorry doc, but at least I got in some exercise walking} … a quick stop at the Paterson Falls {when in Paterson, you have to stop at the falls, even for just a minute or two} … a final fill up of $3.53 gas … and back home.

In all, it was about a 21 hour trip with a steady snow to almost Scranton going down and from Whitney Point coming back. But it was one of the most relaxing days I’ve had in a long time.

THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: Virtue is the habitual and firm disposition to do the good.

About wisdomfromafather

I'm just an ordinary guy walking along the journey of life.
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17 Responses to Refreshed … Rejuvenated … Restored

  1. Maryanne says:

    This is terrific! I LOVE when people write positive things about New Jersey. Had I known you were in Paterson, my husband and I could have met you for a cup of coffee. Ha-ha!

    I’m still too devastated to venture out to Jersey shore. We went to Neptune on New Year’s Day and it was so sad how everything was still blocked off. I give you so much credit driving five hours to Seaside, not knowing what to expect. Seaside has always been a magical place. I was briefly saddened when that silly television show Jersey Shore ruined it’s reputation and it was starting to look run down again like it did in the 1980s.

    I LOVE Corados and I love the Falls. (I wrote about five articles on the Falls for Paterson Press in the last two years). I remember going to the original Falls View as a little girl with my grandmother. I always loved hot dogs all the way before I became a vegetarian. Everyone loved Libby’s, but I still favored Falls View.

    How did the Falls look? It was really cleaned up beautifully over the summer.

    • I guess I’ll always be a Paterson native at heart. So many memories, most of them, if not all, good. The Falls had a background mist highlighting the drop. The parking lot had a little more trash around, but it was a weekend in early March and I have seen it a lot worse. I went to the original Falls View all the time. The new one in Elmwood Park has the old standbys, but not quite the crusty charm and characters of the original. Libby’s was always a good second choice. I always enjoyed the oil-boiled dogs from Rutt’s Hut but wife wife — and most women I knew, including my daughters — didn’t, so that became a guy’s hangout.Seaside will take years to bounce back. I just hope the PC police and modern technology don’t change its character too much. But, hey, we always have our memories and nothing can wipe that out. Next time I plan a trip to Paterson, I’ll let you know. Love to have coffee with you and your husband.

      • Maryanne says:

        The Falls View in Elmwood Park is right by my sister’s home! And wow, what a great point you made about modern tech possibly changing the character of Seaside — I hope not, but I will always cherish the memories of how it was too. My uncle had a bungalow there when I was a little girl. I loved walking up to the boardwalk, going to the beach all day and going on the rides at night. It’s funny, years ago when they had all those tolls and the highways were smaller it took so long to get there. And the past few years with all the changes it was so easy to just zip down! I still can’t get over that you did all that traveling in one day — you covered so much ground. I love this post and I bookmarked it 🙂

      • Thanks. No matter what, we have our memories. As I was driving around Paterson, I remember I did this or that in that park, I covered this or that at that school. Everything changes but everything stays the same. BTW our first apartment was right around the corner from Falls View East on Phillips Ave. It’s really a small, small world.

      • Maryanne says:

        Wow, definitely a small world! I was born at St. Joe’s and so was my mom. By any chance did you go to Dr. Brancone? He was such a nice man. He took people old school style — first come first served and the office was always mobbed.

      • Yes, both Karen and I (and our parents) were born at St. Joe’s. So were my three oldest children. When I was a kid Dr. Brancone was my doctor. Always ended up getting a shot! I remember his office being mobbed, too.

      • Maryanne says:

        Oh wow, it truly is a small world! That’s so cool you remember Dr. Brancone!! I hated the shots when I was sick, but loved staying home from school and getting Smith Brothers cough drops. This is crazy, you’re the first person I ever met later in life that knew of Dr. Brancone! Do you remember what street his office is on?

      • I think it was Park Avenue or Broadway … but on the east side around the 20s. Smith Brothers … that brings back memories. Our pediatrician was Dr. Mahadeen … another old time practitioner.

      • Maryanne says:

        I’d love to go visit his office and see what’s there now. I’m not familiar with Dr. Mahadeen, but I’ll ask my mom. Doctor Brancone delivered me too!

  2. Cathy Marcuccilli says:

    Glad you were able to get to the shore, and feel refreshed due to focusing on the ocean; as well as catching up with long time friends! I remember Corrados from when I lived in Cedar Grove and worked in Totowa at Dragoco. Gotta agree with your doctor on your meal choices, but hey, it was a mini-vacation. Like your photos. Rather uplifting to see a few hopeful views. Very glad you caught up with old friends and visited your Aunt. Feel free if ever on a longer visit to contact me to grab a quick meal.

    • I would have let you know and probably passed right by you on 78. But it was sort of last minute and I did hit the road about midnight so it was the wee hours when I whizzed by. It was a refreshing trip at a time when I needed it.

      • Cathy Marcuccilli says:

        Yes, very glad you didn’t contact me in the wee hours. And, 78 is the closest major route to where I live. Glad you had a refreshing trip out of all that mess, and it was restorative.

    • Maryanne says:

      I lived in Cedar Grove too — Marley Avenue, off of Steven’s — that little Chinese restaurant take-out had the best fortune cookies, they were always freshly baked! I drive by there once in awhile and they still have the same phone number as when I was a kid: 256-4444!

      • Cathy says:

        I lived in Cedar Grove from age 29 to age 41. Didn’t go to the Chinese restaurant, but planned a couple of employee recognition lunches at an Italian restaurant on Stevens. The name isn’t coming to mind. I know a few people who grew up in CG. One now serves in a Bible study that I attend on most Wednesday mornings; and one is a pediatric dental hygenist and lives in what was West Paterson, now called Highland Park. I strongly missed the area when I moved west. All of this makes me think of visiting again.

      • Maryanne says:

        Hi Cathy! Was the restaurant Villa DeEste? That’s a great place, unfortunately the only time I went I was sick and could only eat raw vegetables. It’s not there anymore. I’m 49, I wonder if we know the same people? I lived in Cedar Grove from 1972 to 1978.

  3. Deanna says:

    So glad you were able to head out and refresh. Sounds like a productive 21 hours!! Love you!

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