Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Ocean City Midweek Special

As a kid, I wasn't comfortable with the wealth in Ocean City NJ. Nearly everything there was for people with more spending money than my family had. The affluence wasn't in-your-face; hardly anyone would have been impressed by anything ostentatious except boats & restaurant menu prices. There were richer towns at the shore. Ocean City's prevailing, traditional style was the quieter money of doctors, bankers, starched collar businessmen, ministers with large mainstream churches, thrifty Methodists, & families passing their homes from one generation to the next. The "newer" Ocean City south of the boardwalk was more of the same. Grace Kelly's millionaire dad, Jack, had a place down that way, he had a"regular guy" rep & had been a great athlete. Ocean City lifeguards & the girls in the boardwalk shops looked like college kids doing it for a summer hobby, many probably were. Ocean City had a bayside upper bourgeois, the city elite with their large lagoon homes, boats & yacht club. But it seemed like everyone had plenty of dough. Of course, many vacationers were people of modest means saving up all year for their summer week. There were plenty of modest rooming houses & apartments catering to us a few blocks away from the beach. The boardwalk had lots of food & stores, no large amusement rides, few arcades, nothing honky tonk.

The only noticable working classes were in the local service trades. The only blacks were hotel & restaurant workers commuting from Atlantic City & the mainland. Blacks did not vacation in Ocean City. Before the Sixties, the entire Jersey shore was segregated in practice to one extent or another, not only by color but in many places by ethnicity & religion. Cape May County, where Ocean City is located, was openly proud of being entirely below the Mason-Dixon line if extended straight through Jersey. Atlantic City, & later Seaside Heights, were happy revelations for me, with egalitarian boardwalks; no matter how little dough you had, those resorts were glad to entice it away from you. In Ocean City, I always felt broke & bit out-of-place, like I was faking it in some way.
A Week in Ocean City

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