“Updamountains or Downashore”
“Da Pocno Mountains or Da Jurzee Shore!”
I grew up in Philly, Kensington to be exact, an only child born in the Year of Our Lord, 1964. Back then, we lived in Philly and died in Philly and most of us didn’t venture out of our neighborhoods too far from home. Our long hot summers consisted of days under the fireplug; taking dips in glass infested city run pools or if you were lucky enough in a Kiddie City bought plastic pool in your very own backyard. Our parents spent their time in their summer home, which in all actuality for the most part was their winter home, and our only home, never wandering off too far from our own front steps usually with a can of Ortleibs or Schmidts not far from hand.
Going “down the shore” was just about the only reason for my father to ante up the nickel and take us on that once, maybe twice a year journey across the Tacony-Palmyra Bridge into that foreign land known as New Jersey. The only exception would possibly be that dreaded visit to Aunt Mary or Cousin Joe’s or if you were lucky enough a fun filled visit to the Pennsauken Mart.
We also went “down the shore” and still do, like “down” was some magical direction to the beach. We also never went to the beach, and never went to the ocean; we went to the shore, “down the shore,” as if there was any other way. Unless we took the bus from center city, we always used the Tacony-Palmyra Bridge, although there were others that would take us across the Delaware River, we were from Kensington, and to us the Tacony was that magical bridge that would take us “downashore.”
Around my house we had no dreams of far away places. We had no “Grand Canyon Adventures” or trips to Hawaii like the Brady’s on TV. No “mouse infested” journeys to Orlando or for that matter anywhere else more than a hundred or so miles from the familiarity and safety of home. Over the years I’ve heard stories of families huddled together for hours on end planning, vacation brochures scattered on tables with itineraries from AAA all charted and mapped out. Not around my house. The Pocono Mountains weren’t even an option for us. Hiking, canoeing, freshwater fishing, and getting close to nature? Not a chance!
My old man worked for the same company for fifty years, fifty freakin’ years. Unheard of these days! He busted his stones, bitched and moaned but did what he had to do. He took only one week off per year for vacation. It was our time in paradise, and it was at the Jersey Shore. Dad wouldn’t have it any other way.