Remember that show, “Love, American Style“?
Because I grew up in Seaside, the 4th of July means something different to me. First and foremost, for everyone it means the birth of our great nation. That’s not what I’m talking about, though.
Unlike most people, the 4th did not represent fun, family vacation time. The 4th didn’t convey images of a long weekend to bask in sun at the Jersey Shore. Take a dip in the ocean. Ride the rides. Walk the boardwalk while eating pizza and candy apples or cotton candy. Play miniature golf on Casino Pier. Or take a chance on a wheel to win a stuffed animal.
Instead, the 4th meant working on the boardwalk until almost 2 in the morning. Scoffing down pizza during my quick 15 minute break. And making cotton candy and selling candy apples.
When you live in a summer resort town, you work in the resort town. All my friends did… whether as a lifeguard, boardwalk cleaner, beach patroller, waitress, hotel maid, stand “barker”, ice cream server or an arcade boy (or girl). So the 4th of July, for me, isn’t filled with fond childhood memories of family fun. My memory is filled with work.
Yes, I did watch the fireworks. But what more so remains stuck in my brain is the onslaught of sugar-deprived tourists bombarding the candy store after the fireworks ended. I would be stuck swirling cotton candies for almost an hour. Or boxing 1/2 pounds of fudge; yes, there is a 1/4 lb. minimum. Or wrapping 10 candy apples to be brought home (don’t forget to refrigerate).
My memories are filled with northern Jersey teenagers and 20-somethings packing the streets, drunk and unruly. Cruising the strip. Booming music out the back of thier IROC-Z. Starting fights in front of the candy store. Peeing in my father’s roses on the side of our house. Throwing up in between parked cars. Leaving beer bottles in bushes. Screaming and yelling from the balconies of motels and hotels, worse than Mardis Gras in New Orleans (yes, I have been there and have earned my beads).
So, for me, the 4th was even more dreaded than a regular summer weekend because it meant more than the usual number of BENNYs and God-forbid, a longer weekend.
See, I’ve never been a BENNY myself. I’ve never gone away to a resort town for the 4th for a mini-summer vacation.
Maybe I should. I bet my kids will love it!
Oh wait, we are going to Grandma’s for the 4th.
This is an original post for Jersey Moms Blog by Brenda Milouchev, a New Jersey mom.
Do you know what BENNY stands for??? If you do, write your answer in the comment section!
Photo credit given to Trip Advisor.