Dugan 86

Dugan Boys Summer of 86

A letter to my brother, Shawn Dugan.

As I ran today, my mind was full of thoughts of where will we be heading for our vacations this summer? Which beach will we chose this year? So my head starts spinning the summer plans. Will it be Hilton Head again or maybe Atlantic Beach? All of a sudden BAM it hit me…. Summer of 1986. Midway rental bungalow on 14th Ave and 1st street - 6 houses from the shore or about 150 feet from the sand. Tiny one way street, no parking to be found, house sleeps 6 we fit 12, and the weekends maybe 16 some boys will sleep on the roof and love it. Of course, I find myself nowhere else in the world but Seaside Park: so as I was running, my mind is spinning…How did Mom and Dad swing paying rent in Scotch Plains, 2 cars, 4 boys – ShopRite grocery bill had to be high each week. How they did it, I don't know, but there we were at the shore. Mom, you, and I all rode down together. Dad came after work in the van with Jerry and Keith. We pull up to the house – blue and white with seagulls on it. We have arrived – no better place in the world. First thing I see inside is the basket on the table – it held my freedom. It holds the 1986 July beach badges. We unload the car, and Mom starts to clean, so we hit the road. Let the sun kiss our Irish skin – or I'll say, the first burn, then peel, then burn again. We are gonna get a tan sooner or later. This summer is gonna be great. You just got a job at the Log Flume at the Boardwalk in Seaside Heights. Some might say the Boardwalk ended at Seaside Park, but little did those suckas know the boardwalk starts at 14th Ave.

So with the badge pinned to my Jams shorts, towel around my neck, feet on fire, you and I headed to the water line on the beach. Like all good boys taught to respect the ocean, you bless yourself first, then greet the water, watch the current, and go with the undertow, body surf all day. From time to time, I would watch you tackle the frozen snickers bar guy as he would pass by. Looking up a sea of planes in the air with banners schlepping the parties for the nights or an early bird special, but we already had our plans…the Boardwalk was calling. Towel off and try not to rub the zinc oxide off your nose on the towel. Now the challenge to get back to the house without stepping on anyone's beach blanket, each one has a radio, so every step is truly a musical journey…Z100 plays on one, oldies on another, I hear Sinatra, oh Bon Jovi, is that the new song “Born in the USA” from the Boss, “Shawn, Summer of 69 by Bryan Adams is playing, I like that one”. You say you like the blue bed sheet with the Ospi Spumante umbrella playing Men at Work – “Who can it be Now?” From the water to the street, you could hear anything…the GoGos, Led Zepplin, Culture Club, the Who, Chris DeBurg (“Lady in Red” big that summer), house music to polka.

So back at the house, Mom is almost done cleaning…house smells clean and bleachy. We take turns using the outside shower. The last week renter left shampoo – I like the Aussie…smells like grapes. Time to dress…Z-Cavaricci rolled at the bottom, paten leather slip-ons and lots of gel, oh and the first layer of Drakkar, you're hitting the Quorum tonight, and start the walk to the Boardwalk. I smell 3 Brothers Pizza, Zeppoles, and Kohr's frozen custard. Let's start with vinegar fries. We have a few books of ride tickets that Mom and Dad got on Easter Sunday. I hope I win an Allisa Millino poster (wearing a Ranger Jersey). I seem to only win the Chachie from Happy Days one! What up with that?

The night is winding down, we had hit all the attractions, the smells of the Solarcain, Drakkar, cotton candy, peppers and onions, mixed with ocean air is putting me in a trance. Arm all sticky from digging in the Zeppole brown bag with confectioner sugar. Not a bad first night at the shore.

On the way home, a recap of what girl looked at who, and plans to meet up the next night at Midway Steakhouse. No need to get phone numbers. If they're not there, will meet some more girls. As we finish the last of the saltwater taffy, our gelled hair a bit mushy from the salt ocean air. No mega hold could withstand that air. We see Dad's van is in the street - still has his year round shirt on. He is asleep in a beach chair. You grab Dad's arm and say Dad come on in. Inside the house, Mom has all the fans and windows open – a good cross breeze is in play. No need to dream because we just had a full day of it. We hit the bunk beds (pillows smell like baby powder). Tomorrow will come quick at 6 a.m. – crabbing with Dad. Then bike ride with Mom, more zinc on the nose and off to the ocean, and do it all over again…

James Dugan (Dec 2012)

I'm sure all of us share

I'm sure all of us share concerns over neglect of keeping in touch with dear friends and their families. This is especially true when the traumatic happens such as hurricane Sandy. I seek your help in locating a boardwalk gaming wheel vendor named Diane Michaelson (maiden name). She and her husband ran a gaming wheel on Seasides boardwalk during the 1950's thru the 1970's. Please!! Email me at MCONNELL27@COMCAST.NET You will be helping an old man with a worried heart so thanks in advance for your attention.

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