STEVE ADUBATO, PHD, is an Emmy Award-winning anchor appearing on Thirteen/ WNET (PBS), NJTV (PBS) and FiOS, including anchoring State of Affairs with
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Memories of the Shore, from warm nights
on the porch to late nights at the disco.
like many new jerseyans, the Shore
has been a big part of my life for as
long as I can remember. I grew up in
Newark, but every summer, there was a
brief escape at the Shore. My extended
family rented a two-room bungalow in
Ortley Beach for one week. We didn’t
have air conditioning, but we did have
a screened porch. Six kids—my sisters,
our three cousins and I—would sleep
out there on blow-up rafts.
The block we rented on in Ortley was
not far from the local sewage-treatment
facility. ( We had a saltier name for it.)
The odor was unbearable, but its pres-
ence made our summer indulgence
somewhat affordable. Speaking of
indulgences, on special occasions, my
father would take us in the family sta-
tion wagon for hot dogs at the legendary
Max’s in Long Branch.
Eventually, the family bought a small
beach house on Lanyard Road, still in
Ortley Beach. That was the best. My
two sisters and I still had to share a
bedroom, but at least we were off the
porch. Still no air conditioning, but box
fans kept us cool.
When we were teenagers, the family moved for the summer to West
Point Island in Lavallette. Soon, I was
frequenting all the best spots at the
Shore. I will admit to being a regular at
the Surf Club in Ortley. Yes, it was the
disco era, and I am too embarrassed to
show any pictures of myself from that
period. We would hit what we called the
“Sunday matinee”—a nonstop dance
party that began at three in the afternoon and ran until nine or ten at night.
Then, I’d head home for a quick shower,
a change of clothes (clean T-shirt, dif-
ferent shorts, but the same sneakers)
and return to the Surf Club for more
dancing and partying.
But time down the Shore was also
about family time. We loved Rossi’s
Bikes on Bay Boulevard in Ortley. It’s
been there forever. We’d rent a bike for
four or more, with a front and back seat.
It wasn’t easy to steer, but it was endless
fun. Or we’d head to Barnacle Bill’s, an
Ortley institution since 1964, with 18
holes of miniature golf, an arcade and an
ice cream parlor. Bill’s is still a big part of
my life; last summer, they provided our
son Nick with his first paid job.
At night, we’d often wind up at the
Seaside boardwalk. They frequently
talked about making it more family friendly, but it always had a rough
edge. I appreciated the boardwalk for
its authenticity. As a kid, I loved the
Bozo Drop, which was owned by family
friends. As a teen, I graduated to the
Himalaya and the Swiss Bob. Today, my
family loves any game of chance, but
especially the Sawmill, at the southern
end of the boards.
A few years ago, my wife and I decided it was time to build our own home
in Lavallette. It was the best move we
ever made. The Lavallette boardwalk
is where our daughter Olivia, now 8,
learned how to ride her bike, and where
my wife jogs every summer morning.
There’s no better way to absorb the
beauty of the Atlantic Ocean.
For breakfast, we love Meg’s Grill; for
cappuccino and espresso, we head to
Lava Java House. And, of course, everyone in the area knows the Crab’s Claw
Inn. The food is great, and the crowd
is the best. Earlier this year, we were
lucky enough to be there on the last day
that 89-year-old Frank “Frankie Fingers” Staknys, a Toms River resident
and Korean War veteran, performed
on the piano. He’s been a mainstay at
the Crab’s Claw for decades, creating
the best party atmosphere I have ever
experienced—outside of the Surf Club
back in the day.
My Shore memories are endless. We’d
like to hear about yours. Share them
with me at firstname.lastname@example.org.