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Guest blog by Peter McCabe

Several months ago while working at IVHP in Palm Springs, I met Peter in one of my classes.  He is a wonderful man with a great sense of humor and wit,  he recently sent this to me and I asked him if I could share with you! 
 
 
REMEMBER ME TOO

I’m in my Golden Years now …reluctantly…slowing down like old
Grizabella – T.S. Eliot’s cat. I don’t think any house should have a
mirror or scale. I remember Margaret Garrity – an old Irish maid we had one summer in her nineties – she could still do the Irish jig in the kitchen and touch her toes. She once said, “I can’t believe the old person who looks back at me in my mirror….I don’t feel like her.Who is she?”People often say age is a state of mind. Personally, I’d like to murder the person who penned the term “Golden Years”. I think they really meant “golden showers“. I knew I should have bought the tee shirt that read, “Growing Old is Not for Sissies”.

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I was born in New York City on June 17, 1936 up on Riverside Drive. My parents bought a house in New Jersey for $9,000 in 1941 and we moved to Allenhurst, a beautiful town by the sea where my younger brother Jay and I grew up. The town/borough measured five blocks by five blocks (Cedar, Spier, Corlies, Allen, and Elberon Avenues with cross streets Ocean, Norwood, Page and Main Streets)and bordered the Atlantic Ocean on one side and Deal Lake on the other. There were very few lights in houses back then in wintertime: most of the people only used their homes there for the summer. The locals commuted into New York four hours per day on the Pennsylvania Railroad and New York Central lines(they competed with each other)The Pennsylvania train went right into Penn Station – midtown New York and the New York Central went into Jersey City where people caught the ferryboats to downtown New York City. There was no New Jersey Turnpike or Garden State Parkway. Most people commuted to New York daily on the train (4 hours round trip)
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Often I have flashbacks where I remember everything as a child growing up during World War II in an age without T.V. or washing machines or refrigerators or even heat in cars…..I know there was great closeness then….we didn’t have all the modern day distractions of technology and families were closer together. We’d gather around the radio as a family and listen to FDR’s “fireplace chats” and Baby Snooks, One Man’s Family, Lux Radio Theater, The Lone Ranger,etc…imagination went wild…absolute thrilling experiences.Our country was involved in World War II (we actually had to “house” three soldiers who were in training at Fort Monmouth six miles away – two of them lived in a room over our garage and the other (“Gundy”)inhabited the back room off off the kitchen) There were no T.V’s, refrigerators or even heat in the cars (blankets sufficed) There were no turnpikes going into New York City.
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Allenhurst had a little village of stores that included Schultz’s Pharmacy (with a soda counter where we’d order “Dusty Millers” and
blow the malt all over each other) Bill’s Delicatessen (with
the best sandwiches: he’d put cole slaw on the ham and cheese
sandwiches) the five and ten cent store, one bank, the quaint
railroad station with a newstand and candy store.
Everyone knew everyone else and far too much information. Families intermarried and the homes all had great big wrap around
porches with awnings in the summer time. When my folks bought
their home at 206 Spier Avenue in 1942 they paid $9,000 for
it. In 27 years we never had a key for the back door. The
iceman delivered blocks; the milk man let himself in and put
the bottles of milk (with cream on the top)right in the
icebox…no one ever entered the house or ripped it off.
 
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The best part of the summer was the Allenhurst Beach Club..
The pool and bath house area were huge with a bandstand (live music playing often) and a snack bar underneath it….the shuffleboard courts were on the south side with a large restaurant/clubhouse overlooking the ocean. At the north end of town, there were lots of cabanas (with double dressing rooms with a shower in between, an indoor room with a refrigerator and a nice porch outside) a boardwalk ran the length of the whole town with a jetty and lagoon on the north end touching Deal, New Jersey.
The famous city of Asbury Park (Bruce Springsteen territory) was only seven streets away with its huge boardwalk and a much larger population. It really was a Shangri-la growing up there.
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The beach club would open right after Memorial Day and close on Labor Day.There were lots of activities: dances every weekend, free
dance lessons… beach parties,swimming races with other
beach clubs, outdoor movies at night on the shuffleboard
courts (we’d buy pickles at the deli and throw them) and we’d
bundle up in blankets and sit on benches….
F.Scott Fitzgerald once drove over from Princeton and wrote about
the bathing beauties on the Allenhurst beach.
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The highlight of the summer each year was the Allenhurst Antics Charity show we gave for Fitkin Hospital. A professional director would come down from New York City with lots of skits, musical numbers, costumes, practice sessions and the whole town would get involved. We’d perform the show for one weekend in August at the Berkeley- Carteret Hotel on the Asbury Park boardwalk. The lyrics of every grand finale were:
“Allah Allah Allenhurst -our beautiful town by the sea
Where sunshine is brightest and hearts are the lightest
And everyone’s gay as can be
“Let’s all sing to Allenhurst –
It’s Heaven to you and to me…
So Allah be praised for Allenhurst –
Our Allenhurst by the Sea.”
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1 Comment to “Guest blog by Peter McCabe”

  1. Peter, you are a wonderful writer. You took me back to my chilhood except I was not on the Jersey shore. Also, I had forgotten Baby Snooks. If you haven’t already written a book, be so kind as to start one now and get it all down — all the rest of your life. Thank you. Melitas

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Wendy Price, Palm Desert, CA

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