I grew up going to the Jersey Shore as a youth and continued my interest into my early college years. In the early 1970's Bruce Springsteen was the house band at the Stone Pony, just one of my haunts in those days. My frat, Tau Delta Phi, had an Animal House 2 towns south in Bradley Beach, a short walk from the E Street band's hometown. Asbury Park was even a bit seedy then, but Madam Marie was still plying her futures trade on the boardwalk, the rides were still turning and burning and the arcades were booming - just the thing for a dedicated pin ball wizard I thought myself to be. Tillie watched over everything from the side wall of one of the arcades. A few decades later, Asbury Park looked like a classic post-apocalyptic landsape. Everyting was closed down. The Convention Center was a ruin and crack vials and used condoms littered the porticoes on the street side of the theater. The beach was empty in the middle of August. A lone beach badge attendant manned the only stairway entrance to the beach, His boom box was screaming out a Haitian Evangelist's rant, which no one listened to, save the attendant, but was appropriate for the locale at the time. A phalanx of the Walking Dead would not have looked out of place on the boardwalk. In fact, I think I saw a couple of the undead there around 2002.
Fast forward to May 2012, my step-son, Steve Mannion, was appearing as a feature comic book artist, along with his main squeeze, Una McGurk, at a local comic con being held at the Asbury Lanes, a bowling alley I rolled at on occassion back in the day. I had already thought about my security plan for the trip, but was shocked to find an Asbury Park that had arisen like a Phoenix from the ashes of the Jersey shore ruin it was. It was mid-May and both the beach and boardwalk were packed. The stores were all occupied in the Convention Center and there were two hot babes serving as hostesses at the old boardwalk Howard Johnson's, which had been closed for years. I could not get over the change. Gentrification had worked for once. Rock Bands were appearing again in the auditorium. It was like a rift had opened in time and 1973 came pouring through. And thank God for that.
A big surprise parked outside the alley was a 1966 Batmobile replica built by a Joisy boy named Lou using a vintage Lincoln Continental chassis and motor as a foundation. It was afaithful replica and I got to relive my youth for a spell. Here's a couple of photos of the Batmobile and some views of Asbury Park for those who know and all others, who might like to.
Mike takes a call on the Bat Phone
Here's the Asbury Park Convention Center on the Boardwalk
Here's Tillie, Asbury Park's mascot that used to be painted on the side of an arcade that was demolished abot 10-12 years ago, or more. It was repainted on this bar restaurant.
"I heard they busted Madam Marie for telling fortunes better than they do". The original Madam Marie's was in a different location on the boardwlak and had wooden clapboard siding in one of its previous versions.
See 2nd post for more views.
Mike from Joisy