Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Don Bowers RIP


Don Bowers was a good guy who once owned the Launch Haven bar in Somers Point. Hard by the side of the trolly line, "the Launch" was at the Launch Haven stop on the Shore Trolly Line from Atlantic City boardwalk to Ocean City boardwalk. This rail line is now a bicycle path, and the old bar is now condoed.

Don was a real character with a beautiful wife.

From what I understand, he won a lot of money on a horse at the track, and with the cash winnings he bought the bar, which he operated for about twenty years.

Don was one of the original guys who started the Atlantic City St. Patrick's Day Parade, along with bartender Joe Shields, and bar owners from Brigantine and Atlantic City.

At some point Don sold the Launch and bought a Jittney. The new owner remodeled the seedy, neighborhood shot and beer bar and made it a sports bar where we also played Satalite Trivia for a few years. I'll have to try to dig up some of the old stories I wrote about the place and what happened to it.

The new owner also owned the old Polynisian place on Maryland and Bay that became the Rock Box, and later, after that liquor license was sold to Randy Scarbough and moved across the street to become Markers (Cheers, Bubba Mac Shack. The building became an under 21 club called Sodas until the Launch's liquor license was moved to this location on Maryland and Bay, and called it Sidelines, a sports bar.

Then they tore down the Launch and built a condo.

Donald G. Bowers

BOWERS, DONALD G. 76 - of Margate, suddenly on Nov. 19. Born and educated in Philadelphia and a graduate of Southeast Catholic High School, he spent summers in Atlantic City before moving to Margate in 1964. A Veteran of the US Navy, he served on the destroyer, USS Furse in the late 1940's and early 1950's in the Mediterranean and North Africa and was an amateur boxer in the Navy with a 34-2 record. In 1964 he met and married his best friend and love of his life Joann. In 1966 he bought and ran for 22 years the Launch Haven inn in Somers Point where he met many of his now best friends and enjoyed their camaraderie and companionship. He was very proud of his Irish heritage and was on of the founders of the St. Patrick's day Parade in Atlantic City serving one year as the marshal. He loved golf and the friends he met an played with while a member of Atlantic City CC and Greate Bay CC. He also loved his winter vacations each year in Florida, basking in the sun by the pool where he never slept he " just rested his eyes". He was a loving dedicated, and devoted father and husband and proud pop-pop and playmate to K.C., Kaitlin, Taylor, Tara, and Joseph who brought him so much joy. Loved by all who knew him, he is survived by his loving wife of 42 years, Joann, children Melissa (Kurt) Neinstedt of Hamilton Square, Kerry Ann Bowers of Egg Harbor Twp., and Kevin Bowers of Margate, dear cousins and lifelong friends Elaine Sliwkowski (Bob) and Father Phil Bowers. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated on Monday November 24, 2008 at 11:30 am Blessed Sacrament Church Jerome and Ventnor Aves, Margate. Friends may call from 10am at the Church. Interment will follow Mass at Holy Cross Cemetery Mays Landing. Arrangements by the Gormley Funeral Home LLC AC

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Somers Point 9/11

Somers Point 9/11 - From Lynn Spencer's Touching History book.

“177 Fighter Wing. Atlantic City, New Jersey, 9:10 a.m. In Somers Point, New Jersey, Lt. Col. Brian Webster, who is the acting wing commander for the 177th Fighter Wing in Atlantic City because his higher-ups are out of town, was enjoying a lazy morning at home on his day off. Then his wife called to him while he was in the shower to let him know that a plane had just flown into the World Trade Center.”

“He got out of the shower immediately and made a quick check of the television coverage. His full-time job is as a Boeing 767 captain for American Airlines, and he knew right away that only a big plane could cause such a large explosion. Then he saw United 175 make impact.”

“He grabbed his flight suit and dressed in a rush, and when his wife asked him why he had to go to the base, he called out simply, ‘That was a 767! That’s why I have to go to work!’”

“Now screeching out of his driveway, he grabs his cell phone and calls the base to instruct the SOF to hold the launch of a scheduled training mission, a routine practice bombing run over Fort Drum in Central New York.”

“ ‘Done that, sir!’ Lt. Col. James Haye, the SOF, answers. The F-16s, which had been taxiing out for takeoff, have already been brought back to the hanger. Haye had seen the coverage too, and had ordered the planes back right away.”

“ ‘Shut down the practice mission altogether and I’ll be at the base within five minutes,’ Webster barks before hanging up. Next he calls the Command Post and orders, ‘Raise the base’s threat protection level to Charlie!’”

“Military threat conditions range from ‘A’ (peacetime) to “D” (base lockdown and under attack). Thread condition “C,” or Charlie, is a wartime posture. It activates a whole slew of security measures to prepare for a possible attack. Webster knows that these ‘accidents’ have terrorism written all over them, and if America is at war he’s determined that Atlantic City is going to be ready to respond.”

“In the years since the base was pulled off the Air Sovereignty Alert Mission, the base’s highly secured Command Post had gradually reverted to a highly secured storage closet, used just once a month for duty weekends, when the troops would train. Personnel are now quickly bringing the Command Post to life, turning on all te lights and bringing the various computers and monitors online. When the loudspeakers announce the transition to Threat Con Charlie, the pace becomes frenzied.”

”Arriving at Operations a short time later, Webster finds one of his master sergeants busy calling up staff and ordering them to report to base. Nobody has told him to do so; nobody had to. The base is rapidly transitioning from a nonalert peacetime setting to full war status.”

“Webster instructs the Operations Support Flight commander to offload the practice missiles and munitions from the fighter jets and replace them with live ones. This will take some time, as the missiles are not stored near the aircraft. A convoy will have to transport them to the flight line, where the fighters are parked, with security escort as a safeguard.”

“‘Get me authenticators,’ he orders next, turning to Haye. He knows that if he is uploading missiles, he is going to need these. Each pilot is given an authenticator – a peace of paper with code in a series of letters – which is valid for only one 24-hour period. When a pilot receives an order to fire, he must follow a strict protocol. He asks for an authentication code, and the code is given must match the one on his authenticator. If they don’t match, he cannot legally comply. The highly classified authenticators are issued to all alert sites, as well as each controlling authority, in this case NEADS, by courier each month. Unfortunately, Atlantic City is no longer an alert site, so they don’t have any authenticators.”

“They’re going to have to get some – fast! Today Webster wants live missiles and he wants authenticators.”

“These orders at a nonalert fighter wing of the Air National Guard are unprecedented. Air National Guard jets don’t simply fly around the United States with live missiles. Guardsmen train to fight wars overseas, not fly armed combat over the United States. There aren’t rules of engagement for war at home, and certainly not for fighters that aren’t even part of the Air Defense Mission. Live missiles? Authenticators? The weapons chief is less than enthusiastic about these orders and he asks to have a word with the colonel.”

“‘Just do it!’ Webster responds, and turns abruptly to walk away. The matter is not up for discussion.”

“….After Garvey announces that United 93 is closing in on the capitol, the decision is made to evacuate the White House and institute COG for the first time in history. Mineta and other senior government officials are quickly relocated to more secure locations, remaining in contact via their cell phones in the interim.”

“….Unknown to NEADS, their lead F-16 pilot over Washington is being given the shoot-down authority directly from the Secret Service, bypassing the military chain of command….”

“…When the DCANG asserts its authority over the operation, however, it causes some tension. Dog, the SOF at the D.C. Guard, gets on the phone to the SOF of the 177th Fighter Wing in Atlantic City, Lt. Col. James Haye. ‘We’ve got airplanes running all over the place!” Dog Snaps. ‘We’ve got to coordinate here or someone is going to end up shooting someone down!’”

“Haye is not pleased with what he’s hearing. ‘Wait a minute,’ he objects, ‘no one should be shooting at anyone. This is getting way out of control!’”

“A spirited discussion follows. Dog repeatedly asks for the radio frequency that the Atlantic City jets are on and the details of their mission over the capitol. Being there in Washington, one of the Capital Guardians, he feels a natural inclination to take the lead in bringing order to the situation, but Heye is agitated. He is not even sure of all the answers to the questions Dog is asking, and it doesn’t take a brain surgeon to understand that the D.C. Guard pilots are operating under different rules of engagement than are his own fighters. Those rules of engagement – flying weapons-free- are not sitting too well with Haye. Firing weapons is a very serious matter, and the insinuation that ‘someone is going to get shot down’ unless something changes is simply unacceptable.”

“ ‘Listen, I have airplanes down there, and you have airplanes down there,’ Haye growls, ‘and nobody is talking on the same frequency! If you guys have a target, I strongly suggest that you be sure to make visual identification before shooting!’”

“Tensions between the D.C. Guard and Atlantic City will run strong for days to come….”

“…Finally, at 3:30, Sliney is relieved to be able to announce that the last of the flights inbound to the United States has landed. From his post, he watches a new, military-directed air traffic control system emerge under NORAD’s ESCAT order…..”

Friday, September 5, 2008

Good Old Days Picnic Cancelled

It is with a very heavy heart that I issued the following:

The Good Old Days Festival Committee in conjunction with The Somers Point Office of Emergency Management has decided to cancel The Good Days Festival scheduled for Saturday September 6th in Kennedy Park. This decision was made after consulting with the Somers Point Recreation Commission and reviewing the forecast with The National Weather Service. There is severe weather forecasted for the duration of the day. There is no rain date at this time.

The “5K Walk/Run for Bud” that was scheduled for 9:00 AM Saturday will now be held at 9:00 AM on Sunday September 7th at Kennedy Park.

Thank you.


Sean T. McGuigan
City Councilman
The City of Somers Point
Cell 609-402-5062

Sunday, August 10, 2008

The Anchorage Tavern, Somers Point N. J.

The Anchorage Tavern, Somers Point, New Jersey

"Seven for one" seemed to roll off your lips naturally, and the frothy glasses were served up by the bartenders with such flowing, poetic motion to the tunes of Pennies from Heaven and Run Around Sue, it was almost like a ballet.

Set before you in a white topped, fresh-tapped circle, they were passed about like sacraments and toasted in a communion to the moment. It was a ritual that baptized more than one generation through a rite of passage from youth to adult. It was the best buck you ever spent during a typical moment in the summer of '69, '76, '81 or whenever you happened to be there.

And you go back, like they all do, to try to recapture the moment. Remarkably enough, and against all odds, the stage is still set pretty much the same as you remember it - the wood paneled walls, the mahogany arm rests, the pool tables in the back, the juke box with the same songs on it, and the musky smell that stirs a few remote membranes. It's the same, without the seven for a dollar draft beer.

The Anchorage was already a half century old when Ed Margum, the 83 year old morning bartender was born, so its earliest days are lost to living memory.

Built around 1880, the Anchorage Hotel, as it is officially known, is one of the oldest continually-operated business establishments in Somers Point. As the first hotel listed in the Atlantic County telephone book, the pay phone in the old wooden phone booth by the front door gets the occassional call for reservations for a room, although the rooms haven't been rented in 20 years and the place is now just a neighborhood saloon.

Those who cal on the phone to reserve a room have never been there. Those who have been there go back, eventually. They go back with their wives, whom they may have met there, and with their children in tow.

They order 7 for 1, but settle for a cold bottle, play the juke box, and while the kids play pool, they sit and reminisce about the best summers of their lives.

Little is known about its early history. No living person remembers the Anchorage Hotel called by any other name, although there is printed reference to the Trenton Hotel at Bay and Delaware Avenue in the mid-1800's.

The dining room, then known as the ballroom, was added to the north side of the building in 1900, and the porch was built shortly thereafter.

Victorian era photos show women in long, fluffy glowns and men in suits and ties relaxing on the ornately-trimmed spindled porch during a time when life was lived at a slower pace.

In 1910, before St. Joseph's Church was built, Father John F. Sweeney, pastor of St. Augustine's in Ocean City, aranged for the celebration of mass "in the ballroom of a local hostelry, the Anchorage Hotel."

After Prohibition ended, the Anchorage was issued C-5, the fifth liquor license in town, and was opperated for awhile by Larry Brannigan.

"What I know of Larry Brannigan is that he was known as the local Judge Roy Bean, and 'The Law east of Patcong Creek." - Larry Lee, age 80.

The Anchorage was owned by Charles Collins until 1938 when it was purchased by Lucille Cornaglia Thompson. She operated it until 1945 when she sold it to her brother, Andrew Cornaglia, who was from South Philadelphia. He operated the hotel and the bar while his wife Lucy (nee Corcione) ran the kitchen.

"My best memories of the Anchorage were when Andrew's mother and father ran it, and served the best original Italian food in Somers Point. And the price was right." - George McGonigle, age 64.

Entertainment was not the main attraction, although people recall a piano player who resembled the late Nat King Cole performing there.

The Anchorge was primarily a hotel and restaurant, its liquor receipts merely matching the dinner tabs. Lucy, the cook, was famous for her pasta sauce, which she prepared 22 gallons at a time. "It was a running joke in the family," her son Andrew recalls, "that she could cook for 120 but not for 4."

"I used to go there to play shuffleboard in 1964-65. We'd play all day and all night and never lose a game. When Andrew's father was still running the place, he played 'On the Way to Cape May' on the juke box a dozen times for the old people who patronized the place in those days." - Brad Wicks, age 43.

When his father died in the spring of 1965, Andrew, not yet 21, took over. Although he was not yet old enough to drink, he was suddenly responsible for oprating the bar, restaurant and hotel.

"When my father passed away, I didn't know vodka from gin," he says. "If it wasn't for my mother, I would not have been able to sustain the first couple of years."

Since then Cornaglia has operated five bars and restaurants, including the Anchorage. But he says it was all luck, and the biggest thigns that happened to him were never planned.

"The key things that happened to me in my life," Andrew said, "were basically working hard, lucking out, and knowing my brother-in-law Joseph Trecheck, who ran the Anchorage for many years. But all of the key things happened by accident. When it's your turn, it's your turn. That's what the fates are doing. You can make all the wrong moves, and they turn out right."

Cornaglia maintains that just forgetting to lock the front door one day was the acorn that made the Anchorage work. Because the older folks had not been patronizing the establishment since his father passed away, business was down going into the second season when a surprising thing happened. "I was mopping up on a Good Friday when we were supposed to be closed, but I had forgot to lock the door, and these guys walked in - all bartenders in this area. They just sent me people after that, and the Anchorage just took off when the young people started to drift in."

"I first went to the Anchorge on a Sunday afternoon when they had jam sessions at Bayshore and Tony Marts, and you couldn't drive down Bay Avenue because there were so many people walking in the street." - Jonas Alexy, age 40

In 1966, the Anchorage began serving seven beers for a dollar, a concept Cornaglia appropriated from Gregory's up the street on Shore Road, but an idea that began in Somers Point at Tony Marts. But it was the Anchorage that would made 7 for $1 a famous icon.

T-Shirts with "7 for $1" on the front and The Anchorage on the back were ordered stylishly different each week, and are now collector's items, and eventually outlawed by the state for promoting liquor prices.

The seven for a dollar beers continued however, until 1980 when their cost became prohibitive. But it wasn't the cost of the beer (either Piel's, Black Label or Ortleibs), it was the cost of the glasses, which were routinely broken or taken home as souveniers.

in 1966 the 6 ounce pilsner glasses cost 4 cents each, with the Anchorage going through an average of 7,200 glasses a season. By 1980, the same glass cost 34 cents.

"No one ordered just seven for one," explains Cornaglia, "you would get your orders for seventy, a hundred. There would always be a bar full of beer, a backup of people who wanted beer, and two people collecting empty glasses at all times. It was a great scavanger hunt."

Saturday of Labor Day weekend, 1970 was the best day ever recorded, when the Anchorage went through 44 half-kegs, which amounted to 17,556 beers. The bartenders learned to pour and cary seven beers at a time, so watching them work was considered the best entertainment in town.

"Most of my memories of teh Anchorage had to be recounted to me by someone else the next morning." Robert Megronigle, age 33.

In its prime, the Anchorage was just one stop on the Bay Avenue circut that also included Tony Marts and Bayshores, where the bands rotated on two stages, offering continuous live music. But there was a cover charge at those place, and the beer was more expensive, so the Anchorage became a quick pit stop before and after people went to the band bars.

"I could tell by the influx of people when they changed the bands at Tony Marts," Cornaglia recalls.

"In July 1974 I needed a new roomate and went to the Anchorage and met Bonnie. After two beers and two minutes, I not only had a roommate, but I had a best friend for life." - Terry Brown, age 37.

Cornaglia also developed another bar called Mother's, just outside of Somers Point in Egg Harbor Township, on the other side of Lousey Harbour Bridge to Longport. Mother's, which had previously been known as O'Byrne's, the Mug, the Villa and the Purple Villa, had a 24-hour license, so when the Somers Point bars closed at 2 AM, Mother's was the place to go.

Bands like Neco Allen, Johnny Caswell and the Crystal Mansion, Airport and Hit & Run carried on the music from Bayshores and Tony Marts. Some of Caswell's songs are still the most popular tunes on the juke box at the Anchorage.

"All thigns pass on. I never thought it would, but it did," Cornaglia says. "It was an era when things were different. Things were cleaner, people had more fun, the Anchorage was a fun place to come to work and a fun place to be. It was a time that you had to live to know."

Looking back, we didn't even know how unique it was until the bottom fell out," he says. "And I'm glad the bottom fell out, or I would be in my grave. It as something that only those who witnessed could marvel over. It wasn't the money, it was the hurrah."

"I remember when Pennies from Heaven came on the juke box, pennies would fly through the ar." - Lynda McNally, age 35

Although the boom years would continue into the next decade, the bigginning of the end started on January 1, 1973, when the drinking age was lowered to 18, the kitchen closed and tehy stopped renting the hotel rooms upstairs.

"Now I recall talking to all the tavern owners at the time, and we didn't want the age dropped," Cornaglia remembers. "Everyone was content, and we were frightened of that element, the 18, 19 year olds."

"I was enthralled to be a 19-year old bartender at a place that was considered a legend to my generation. It was wall-to-wall people and lines to get in, with the fire marshal controlling the crowd at the door. There were 10 bartenders, nine floormen-bouncers, and two glass pickers working most nights from 1978 to 1983. Then the drinking age went back to 19 and then back to 21, but it took a few years for it to become a local bar again." - Pat Piriano, age 35

The end of the 1970's was also the end of another era. By 1980, the music began to die as well. Mother's, which Cornaglia had sold three years earlier, burned down on Labor Day 1980. Bayshores was sold and leveled in 1981 and Tony Marts closed and followed suit in 1982.

"When I got out after eight years in the service, everything had been knocked over. Bayshores was gone, Tony Marts was gone, the Anchorge was the only one left that didn't become a Yuppie bar." - Bruce Douger, age 43.

Although it is one of the oldest establishments in Somers Point, and has a quaint, historic look to it, Cornaglia balks at renovating it. "I've had plans for the Anchorage," he says. "When I came in I was a rookie, and now I'm a senior, but I'm only 48 years old, and this is my favorite place in the world."

"I could never go into the Anchorage because my father was a policeman (later chief), and he told mee to stay out of the Anchorage. The first time I went in there, I met the man who is now my husband." - Dot Bader Hunt, age 46

"Everybody has a place where it all happened in their life," Cornaglia reflects. "It all happened here, and tehy all come back. They come back because it was a time in their life tehy can't recapture. As time goes by, places like the Anchorage go underground, like dinosaur bones. My philosophy is almost extinct too, but it's the same philosophy I've had for 28 years. Come in, have a good time, and don't cause any trouble. That's it."

"The Anchorage has always been something you could hold on to. It's always been the Anchorage. When everybody else has changed, the Anchorage stayed the same. It's like an anchor. You'll find everyone from professors to bums off the street there. The Anchorage does not discriminate." - Nace Benner, age 44.

[From 300 Years at the Point - A History of Somers Point, N.J.]


Having just digested and nearly vomited on reading what the The Press of Atlantic City's Answer Guy had to say about the Old Anchorage, and setting me up as the fall guy for what was being said, I have to respond immediately. It is the most dispisciple piece of garbage I've ever read and I am posting this rebuttle in the hopes that I can straighten some of it out.


I posted this under the Comments section of the Answer Guy's column:

It's quite apparent that the Answer Guy can't get the correct answer at Gregory's Bar.

I'd like to viamently protest the use of quotes attributed to me and taken from my book in order to slander the name and honor of Andrew Cornaglia and his family.

"300 Years at the Point - A History of Somers Point, N.J." was published a year before the historic Anchorage Tavern was sold and renovated.

The Anchorage was sold to Bill Morris by George Roberts, a former mayor of Somers Point and real estate broker who took a six figure "deposit" from Morris and kept it for himself. Roberts was convicted of defrauding citizens of Somers Point of millions of dollars and served time. Andrew Cornaglia was one of his victims, and has never been indicted or convicted of anything.

The SCI report contains allegations and hearsay and is wrong in many respects, especially its innacurate portrayal of Andrew Cornaglia, who I've known for over thirty years as one of the most honorable men I've ever met.

The decades old SCI report is also based, in large part, on the statements of "Crazy" Phil Merlino, a convicted killer who turned states evidence to put John Gotti, Nicky Scarfo and other mobsters behind bars, and stay out of jail himself.

The Answer Man may be able to hide his identity in order to slander someone he's never met, but no retraction, no appology can rectify the damage he has done in the guise of history.

I stand ready to testify on Andrew Cornaglia's behalf if he decides to sue you for malacious slander and libel.

William E. Kelly, Jr.


Answer Guy: Anchorage Tavern

(Published: Sunday, August 10, 2008)
A weekly feature that answers reader questions about the people, events, history and news in southern New Jersey.

Q: I remember in the early 1990s the Anchorage Tavern was a real dump and was really falling apart. I never paid attention to it for a few years and then when I did, it was completely renovated and looks like a million. What happened?

Don Anthony, Egg Harbor Township

Answer Guy: Most patrons remember seven beers for $1 - a gimmick started in 1966.

But that promo ended in the mid-1970s, according to Walt Gregory - co-owner of Gregory's Restaurant and Bar, another Somers Point mainstay - and since then, the Anchorage Tavern has changed hands many times.

The Anchorage dates back to about 1860, when it was also a hotel, according to "300 years at the Point: A history of Somers Point, New Jersey," written by William E. Kelly. Outside the Bay Avenue establishment, a plaque reads: "Dating from the late 1800s, this empire-style building was one of many tavern-hotels in the historic district. Tourists came for fishing, parties, sea bathing, hearty food and a bay view from the veranda."

But a century later, Andrew Cornaglia Jr. - otherwise known as 'Andy Anchorage' - was in charge, and he was behind the Anchorage's heyday and early '90s slump.

Andrew Cornaglia Sr. - who ran the eatery with his wife, Lucy - took over in 1945 from his sister, Lucille Cornaglia Thompson, who gained control in 1938, Kelly writes. N.J. State Commission of Investigation records, however, show the Cornaglias assumed ownership May 10, 1956.

In the 1940s and '50s, the Anchorage was a "tremendous Italian restaurant," Gregory said. After all, he said, the Cornaglias were from South Philadelphia.

Andrew Cornaglia Jr. was in his 20s when he inherited it from his father, Andrew Cornaglia Sr., who died in the early '60s, Gregory said. SCI records put the year at 1965.

By the 1970s, Kelly writes, Andrew Cornaglia Jr.'s Anchorage, Tony Marts and Bay Shore Inn formed a triumvirate of hangout spots - but only the Anchorage remains.

Gregory said it's unfair to say the Anchorage was a dump - all of the bars were back then.

"It was the best non-band bar," Gregory said. "It was just a bar."

The whole area went through a downturn, Gregory explained. It wasn't until the late '70s - when the casinos revitalized Atlantic City - that Somers Point started to turn around.

The Anchorage waited until the late-'80s to renovate, Gregory said, and it was one of the last establishments to do so.

A 1994 Press of Atlantic City article reads, "Extensive renovations are being undertaken at the Anchorage, once a dilapidated tavern and hotel," alluding to your early '90s experience.

But in the early '90s, Andrew Cornaglia Jr. had more to think about than his bar.

A 1992 Press article reports how the SCI fingered Andrew Cornaglia Jr. as part of Nicodemo Scarfo's crime syndicate - and how the Anchorage "was frequented by Scarfo and his associates, including Saul Kane." Cornaglia also helped Kane - who was sentenced to 95 years for drug trafficking - use the Anchorage to transport and store P2P, "the chemical precursor of the drug methamphetamine, commonly called 'speed,'" according to SCI records.

Cornaglia, SCI records show, also helped acquit Scarfo of the 1979 murder of Vincent Falcone, "a Family associate."

A Press article from 1994 then explains how Cornaglia paid $43,548 in back taxes and penalties as part of a deal with the state Attorney General's Office.

But Cornaglia hadn't forgotten his bar. Kelly's 1994 book quotes him as saying: "I've had plans for the Anchorage. ... This is my favorite place in the world."

He nonetheless sold it to Bill Morris in September 1993, according to SCI records. Morris poured $700,000 into new walls, ceiling, floors, kitchen and front deck between October 1993 and May 1994, a Press article shows. Morris also said he planned to invest another $300,000 into the second floor - so that's one piece of the refurbished puzzle.

But a fire in September 2006 gutted the building and forced the next owner to rebuild from the foundation up.

Don Mahoney - the current owner - was undeterred.

"We're here to stay," Mahoney, who could not be reached for comment, said in 2006. "The building isn't going anywhere, and we're not going anywhere, either."

Got a question?

If you have a question you would like the Answer Guy to tackle, call 609-569-7489, or mail your question to The Press Answer Guy, The Press of Atlantic City, 11 Devins Lane, Pleasantville, NJ 08232. Questions can be faxed to 609-272-7224. E-mail: answerguy@pressofac.com

Yea, I've got a question.

Who is The Answer Guy?

Or is he going to hide behind the faceless, nameless, anonymous diner who trashes restaurants without any accountability?

Every time somebody asks him a question about Somers Point, and this is the third or fourth time, he quotes me from the book, but he doesn't bother to call me up and ask me a question over the phone. Why don't they just pay me to write the freakin' column?

And he didn't bother to call Andrew, who lives in Somers Point and isn't very hard to find.

It's now an established fact that The Answer Guy can't get accurate answers sitting at Gregory's bar.

I question whether Don Anthony is a pal of "The Answer Guy" or his editor, and set up the question, rather than it being a legitimate question wondered by a real Press of Atlantic City subscriber.

And he doesn't even Answer the question, of when, why and how the Old Anchorage became the New Anchorage, a real good story that involves George Roberts, the former Mayor of Somers Point and real estate brokerwho took a six figure deposit on the sale of the Anchorage from Bill Morris, without bothering to tell the owner of the property. This questionable sale ended up in court, and Roberts was found guilty of fraud and served time for swindling millions of dollars from Somers Point residents over the course of decades. And the Anchorage was one of those frauds and Andrew Carnaglia was the victim.

But you won't read about that in the Answer Guy's column.

And I'm really pissed off at the besmerching of Andrew and his family and using my name to legitimize the slander and libel of an honorable man and fine family of proud to know.

Now Who is The Answer Guy?

Bill Kelly August 10, 2008

For research purposes, here's some of the SIC reports that "The Answer Guy" refers to:






And if you actually read the SCI report it says that "Scarfo was upset because ...they didn't include him in the Purple Villa....Andrew Cornaglia bought the bar and business and operated the bar under the name of Mother's for a few years." - In other words, Scarfo had nothing to do with it.

And, "Along with others, including two other bar owners, Cornaglia perjured himself at the trial by fabricating an alibi for Scarfo, Leonetti and Merlino." Yet, he wasn't indicted for perjury.

That "fingers" him as "part of Scarfo's crime syndicate"?

Note that the SCI report makes a distinction between "members" of this "Family" and "associates" of Scarfo's "syndicate."

Cornaglia is identifed as an associate, which I assume makes him a friend and not an intimate or a cousin, or a "made" man who swears allegiance to the mob.

Andrew Cornaglia has his own family, and the Press is wrong for associating him with Scarfo's criminal family based on a SCI report - which by the way, was put together by three people, one a lawyer, and is based on the statements of Leonetti and other such hearsay by criminals trying to cop a plea.

New Owners at Mac's & Tucker's

New Owners at Mac’s and Tucker’s

Landmark Mac’s and Tucker’s restaurants in Somers Point have changed hands, with new owners who intend to keep them open year ‘round.

Mac’s, which has kept its famous name for over a half-century, will retain the name and try to return to its glory years, while Tucker’s is now Fanucci’s, owned by Richard Fanucci of Vineland and Seaview Harbor.

Mac’s new owner Harry Kleinman, used to own Booker’s Seafood at 9th and Wesley Avenue in Ocean City, a mainstay for family tourists that fell to the condo craze. Kleinman is looking to bring back some of the old Mac’s menu items and comfortable club atmosphere that made it popular with Ocean City’s year ‘round residents who often dined there more than once a week.

Kleinman has also added live music, bringing in Jacque Major to play upstairs on Wednesday nights and may increase the live music other nights of the week as well.

Fanucci’s, which opened in April, takes over from Joe Tucker, and is keeping the Italian flavored menu with steaks and seafood, and adding another small bar, a wine rack and may introduce piano music for your dining pleasure.

New Fanucci’s chef Michael Weiss doesn’t have to learn to cook Italian, as he’s been working at TreFiglio, the popular Italian restaurant on the White Horse Pike. Richard Fanucci brought some Serra Sausage with him from Vineland, and other local culinary treats can be expected.

Fanucci’s manager Maryanne Stankiewicz, who previously worked at the Grand and the Lobster House in Cape May, says that the Bed & Breakfast rooms upstairs will be open in August, the deck bar will be revamped, and the new owner will be involved in the marina’s operations as well. Dr. Ira Trocki is still part owner of the marina.

Both Mac’s and Fanucci’s are local landmarks, with controversial histories.

Originally owned by "Mac" MacGronigle, who operated an open clam bar on the adjacent alley, Mac’s was taken over by the Previtti family, who began as food and produce wholesalers in Atlantic City. The Previtti family operated Mac’s for over fifty years before selling to developers a few years ago.

In a deal with the city to keep the restaurant, the developers were permitted to build a condo higher than normally permitted in the parking lot across the street, but neighbor’s complaints and a civil suit resulted in delays until the project was recently approved. In the meantime, the restaurant was sold to Philadelphia bar owners who remodeled the place, but failed to find their niche. After only one year they sold to Kleinman.

The original developers, who own Swanky Bubbles champagne bar on Front street in Old City Philadelphia, also paid over a million dollars for a Cherry Hill liquor license and have put the parking lot up for sale.

Fanucci’s has an even older and more controversial history. Originally the Point Pub, and one of the city’s most popular restaurants for decades before World War II, the Point Pub liquor license was sold in the early 1960s and moved to the Somers Point Shopping Center, leaving Ernie’s Marina there for thirty some years.

John Mayer, sold his Mayer’s Marina down the street (now Somers Point Marina) and bought and completely renovated the historic building that is adjacent to the Somers Point beach. Opening Mayer’s Bed & Breakfast, and a private yacht club for members only, Mayer needed a liquor license to be successful and eventually sold to Dr. Ira Trocki as a distressed property. Trocki also purchased Brownie’s, the former Tony Marts, and then moved the liquor license to Mayer’s. John Mayer and his wife left the business for Florida, and Trocki sold the bar and restaurant to Joe Tucker, keeping the marina for his other business, the Egg Harbor Yacht Company.

Tucker upgraded the restaurant’s kitchen to a new level, and operated a popular place, but he was disappointed in the lack of retail stores on Bay Avenue, which he thought necessary to get the year ‘round business he needed.

The deck at Fenucci’s is much smaller than the Inlet deck, but it is popular in the summer nights, though not so popular with the neighbors who recently bought million dollar condos nearby, and have complained about the noise from the deck. Fanucci is trying to work something out where they can operate a successful deck and accommodate the neighbors at the same time.

Mac’s and Fanucci’s, two new bars and restaurants in legendary, landmark buildings, each with a unique history and each with new owners who hope to keep their businesses open on a year ‘round basis.

[William Kelly can be reached at billykelly3@yahoo.com ]

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

McDowell Donates Art

Sam McDowell Donates Art to Local Museums

Current of Somers Point, Linwood and Northfild. Wednesday, August 6, 2008. p.15.


"It’s a great spot to grow up," says Sam McDowell of Somers Point and Ocean City, where he and his eight sisters and brothers lived, went to school and worked on the beach and boardwalk. McDowell’s memories of the Jersey Shore are reflected in his art, copies of which were recently donated to the Somers Point and Ocean City Historical Societies and Bayside Center.

"I’ve been very lucky and feel I owe it to the people to tell them how nice it really is," McDowell said in a telephone conversation from his home in Carmel, California.

"I lived in Somers Point, and liked Ocean City very much, the high school, the beach patrol, it’s a great spot to grow up, so I wanted to give something back to the community."

Sam McDowell, who most people remember from the Smuggler’s Shop on the Ocean City boardwalk at Thirteenth street, was born in Somers Point in 1929 (now 79), and worked as a lifeguard (1948-53 and 58-59) between a stint in the Air Force. He rowed with Tom Oves and Bob Harbough, both of whom own boardwalk grills. He had a whalers boat custom made that he rowed past the breakers every morning in Ocean City, then in Carmel and later in Bequa, an Island in the West Indies where he has a studio he lived seasonally for many years.

Working as an art teacher in Princeton, McDowell spent summers at his boardwalk shop from the 50s through the 70s, where he worked next to Iron Mike the antique diving suit, and sold nautical gifts, including scrimshaw, carvings on whalebone.

While whale bones are no longer legal tender, he began carving scrimshaw on faux ivory himself, and became a scrimshaw trader. At a party in Princeton he met then Senator John F. Kennedy, an avid scrimshaw collector who encouraged him to continue his scrimshaw art work, which are now highly prized collector’s items.

"I realized that I could make more money doing scrimshaw than I could teaching or working the Smuggler’s shop," explained McDowell, so putting everything else aside, he concentrated on the bone carvings and is now considered one of the foremost scrimshaw artists in the world.

Not just a rare, contemporary scrimshaw artists, McDowell has actually been whaling, having accompanied some natives from Bequa, where they are permitted to hunt four whales a year, as they have done for the past two centuries.

"I could row, so they let me go along with them," said McDowell, "and it was scary, because they do it exactly like they did it 200 years ago. They throw a harpoon into the whale and hope for the best," going on what they call a "Nantucket sleigh ride."

Although his scrimshaw earns the bread & butter, his other art work is also popular, and prized by collectors. Some of his paintings reflect his early life in Somers Point, including his family’s Sunny Avenue home that is still there.

Having recently made exact gicle prints of some of his paintings, McDowell gave two of them to each of the local museums, including Christmas Shopping on the Shore Fast Line and Decoration Day on Bay Avenue.

Christmas Shopping on the Shore Fast Line shows people getting off the trolley in Somers Point after Christmas shopping in Ocean City, some holding bags from Talese’s tailor shop and Stainton’s Department store.

Decoration Day, now Veterans Day, has people getting ready for the big parade that ends at the Somers Point beach where they laid wreaths in the water for those who died during wartime. There’s a schooner sailing on the bay with Ocean City in the background.

Accompanying each picture is an essay McDowell wrote explaining what he was trying to convey in the paintings. McDowell’s art is now hanging at the Ocean City Historical Museum and Bayside Center, and at the Somers Point Historical Museum, next to City Hall on Shore Road, which is open Saturdays (10AM – 1PM) and Tuesday evenings (7PM – 9PM) and Thursday mornings (10AM-1PM).

Sally Hastings, President of the Somers Point Historical Society, said "These pictures are really special because they capture a sense of family and community that we would like to preserve. We are very appreciative of all that the McDowell family has done for us. Although spread across the country, they have remained a close family and always remember their roots growing up here in Somers Point."

Sam McDowell Donates Art

Sam McDowell Donates Art to Local Historical Museums

"It’s a great spot to grow up," says Sam McDowell of Somers Point and Ocean City, where he and his eight sisters and brothers lived, went to school and worked on the beach and boardwalk. McDowell’s memories of the Jersey Shore are reflected in his art, copies of which were recently donated to the Somers Point and Ocean City Historical Societies and Bayside Center.

"I’ve been very lucky and feel I owe it to the people to tell them how nice it really is," McDowell said in a telephone conversation from his home in Carmel, California.

"I lived in Somers Point, and liked Ocean City very much, the high school, the beach patrol, it’s a great spot to grow up, so I wanted to give something back to the community."

Sam McDowell, who most people remember from the Smuggler’s Shop on the Ocean City boardwalk at 13th street, was born in Somers Point in 1929 (now 79), and worked as a lifeguard (1948-53 and 58-59) between a stint in the Air Force. He rowed with Tom Oves and Bob Harbough, both of whom own boardwalk grills. He had a whalers boat custom made that he rowed past the breakers every morning in Ocean City, then in Carmel and later in Bequa, an Island in the West Indies where he has a studio he lived seasonally for many years.

Working as an art teacher in Princeton, McDowell spent summers at his boardwalk shop from the 50s through the 70s, where he worked next to Iron Mike the antique diving suit, and sold nautical gifts, including scrimshaw, carvings on whalebone.

While whale bones are no longer legal tender, he began carving scrimshaw on faux ivory himself, and became a scrimshaw trader. At a party in Princeton he met then Senator John F. Kennedy, an avid scrimshaw collector who encouraged him to continue his scrimshaw art work, which are now highly prized collector’s items.

"I realized that I could make more money doing scrimshaw than I could teaching or working the Smuggler’s shop," explained McDowell, so putting everything else aside, he concentrated on the bone carvings and is now considered one of the foremost scrimshaw artists in the world.

Not just a rare, contemporary scrimshaw artists, McDowell has actually been whaling, having accompanied some natives from Bequa, where they are permitted to hunt four whales a year, as they have done for the past two centuries.

"I could row, so they let me go along with them," said McDowell, "and it was scary, because they do it exactly like they did it 200 years ago. They throw a harpoon into the whale and hope for the best," going on what they call a "Nantucket sleigh ride."

Although his scrimshaw earns the bread & butter, his other art work is also popular, and prized by collectors. Some of his paintings reflect his early life in Somers Point, including his family’s Sunny Avenue home that is still there.

Having recently made exact gicle prints of some of his paintings, McDowell gave two of them to each of the local museums, including Christmas Shopping on the Shore Fast Line and Decoration Day on Bay Avenue.

Christmas Shopping on the Shore Fast Line shows people getting off the trolley in Somers Point after Christmas shopping in Ocean City, some holding bags from Talese’s tailor shop and Stainton’s Department store.

Decoration Day, now Veterans Day, has people getting ready for the big parade that ends at the Somers Point beach where they laid wreaths in the water for those who died during wartime. There’s a schooner sailing on the bay with Ocean City in the background.

Accompanying each picture is an essay McDowell wrote explaining what he was trying to convey in the paintings. McDowell’s art is now hanging at the Ocean City Historical Museum and Bayside Center, and at the Somers Point Historical Museum, next to City Hall on Shore Road, which is open Saturdays (10AM – 1PM) and Tuesday evenings (7PM – 9PM) and Thursday mornings (10AM-1PM).

Sally Hastings, President of the Somers Point Historical Society, said "These pictures are really special because they capture a sense of family and community that we would like to preserve. We are very appreciative of all that the McDowell family has done for us. Although spread across the country, they have remained a close family and always remember their roots growing up here in Somers Point."

William Kelly


Monday, June 23, 2008

Dunes 'til Dawn - By Lynda Van Devanter

Dunes ‘til Dawn – By Lynda Van Devanter (Chapter 4 of Home Before Morning The Story of an Army Nurse in Vietnam (University of Massachusetts Press, Amherst, 1983, p. 51 to 61).

….Everyone who met J.J. – Jonathan James Smith – agreed that he was exceptionally handsome. My mother called him a "pretty boy," and at the beach, I would notice my friends stealing glances at him when they thought I wasn’t looking. With his short dirty blond hair and a face that looked boyish and yet rugged at the same time, J.J. bore a certain resemblance to Troy Donahue if you looked at him from a distance. Up close, he was even more attractive. He had these cute little laugh lines around the edges of his mouth and a cleft in his chin.

The thing that made J.J. most exceptional, however, was that he wanted to marry me, a girl who wore Clearasil to be every night and who still could live up to the nickname my sisters had given me when I was ten. They called me Crisco. It was sort for "fat in the can."

He said he loved me that night in August when he gave me the ring, a third-of-a-carat oval-shaped diamond. We had been lying on the beach, looking up at the stars, and holding hands. It had been the first time a boy spoke to me of love. I thought I was dreaming. But it wasn’t a dream. He wanted to marry me. And I said yes. Now, I was wearing that diamond.

J.J. and I had met two weeks after my graduation from nursing school, when he came up to me at Bayshores, a nightclub in Somers Point, New Jersey, and asked me to dance. He was one of the two best dancers I knew. The other was Barbara. Maybe it was fortunate for me that she wasn’t there that night.

I had gone to Ocean City with five other girls who also graduated from Mercy. Together, we got a house near the beach and jobs at a local hospital in Somers Point, where I worked the seven-to-three shift in the emergency room. Our plan was to spend all our free time during June helping each other to study for the Maryland state boards, which would be given at the end of the month. When the exams were finished, we would spend the remainder of our summer celebrating and waiting for the exam results. It was a good plan.

Each day, as soon as we were through at the hospital, we would grab our bathing suits and books and head down to the beach where we worked on our tans and our nursing fundamentals, quizzing each other on everything that had been covered in the previous three years.

Although Barbara came up to visit on weekends, she spent the summer with her father, who had orders transferring him from the Pentagon to the Presidio of San Francisco in September.

Gina was in Philadelphia, where she and her fiancé were making final plans for their wedding, which was to take place in July. "I’ll give him about one year of fun," she said. "Then we’re gonna start making a whole bunch of babies. None of this birth control crap. I’m going back to being a good Catholic girl."

That first night with J.J., we danced until we were both ready to drop. Then we danced some more. When the band played the slow songs and he gently eased my head onto his shoulder, I had new and unfamiliar stirrings inside. I could small a musky scent from his sweat and I felt both protected and afraid when his strong arms encircled me.

His parents had a house nearby in Tuckahoe, but he was only visiting. J.J. was a soldier, a buck sergeant, who had returned that week from a year as an infantryman in Vietnam.

"What was it like?" I asked.

"It sucked."

During the next few weeks, I saw him every day. He would join us for our study sessions at the beach and he sometimes served as our quizmaster, firing questions at us as quickly as his machine gun must have fired rounds at the Vietcong.

"What did you do in Vietnam?"

"I sweated all the time, took a lot of crap from people, and dreamed about the kind of car I would buy when I got back to the world."

"No, really. What was your job like?"

"I humped the boonies and got shot at too many times."

"But what was it like?"

"I told you; it sucked."

We went out to dinner together, walked the beach in our bare feet, and laughed at all the silliest things. On weekends, we would party with my friends and their newly acquired boyfriends. We’d start out at the Anchorage, a neighborhood bar that offered seven beers for a dollar, and leave there about ten o’clock to go dancing at Bayshores. When Bayshores closed around two, we’d head for a place called the Dunes, on the peninsula in Somers Point. It was open until six and the theme was "Dunes ‘til Dawn." Those words were on the black T-shirts J.J. and I were given the night we won the dance contest.

"Isn’t your father proud that his son fought in the war?" I asked.

"I don’t know."

"As soon as I finish my training, I’m going to ask them to send me to Vietnam."

"Don’t do it."

"Why not?"

"Because it sucks."

He had a way of dancing that was wild and flamboyant, yet somehow controlled. He seemed to be not just moving to the music, but a part of it, his body another instrument being played by the band. He would laugh in the middle of a song, get a faraway look in his eyes and then release an energy that would automatically draw everyone’s attention. Curiously, I found myself keeping up with him. It was fun. And exciting.

"What are you laughing at, J.J.?"

"Myself. I never knew I could feel this way about a girl."

"Which way?"

"You ask too many questions."

We made out on the dining room floor while my girlfriends slept in their beds. We used to kiss until it felt like my lips might fall off. I wanted to crawl up into his arms and spend my whole life there. My heart would beat so fast that I thought it was going to pound its way right out of my chest.

"I can’t breathe."

"I don’t care."

"But I’m afraid."

"Don’t be."

When Barbara came up two weeks after I’d met J.J., I couldn’t wait to let her in on the good news. She listened with amusement and then grabbed my wrist. "Three hundred and twenty-eight," she said. "Fastest pulse I’ve ever seen. Let’s see if I have all the symptoms right: heart palpitations, rapid pulse, chills and sweats, clammy palms, loss of appetite, and an overwhelming desire to jump someone’s bones."

"I didn’t say anything about wanting to jump someone’s bones,"

"But you do. Don’t you?"


"Ah, ha,’ she said, "what is it?"

"Well, nurse," I said, "what is it?"

She furrowed her brow and paced the floor with her hands behind her back. "In my professional opinion, after three years at the best medical facility in the world, studying under the sharpest minds God ever created, I would unequivocably diagnose this rare affliction as a case of love."

"Oh, no," I said in mock horror. "Do you think it’s curable?"

"Curable? No," she said. "In your case it’s probably chronic. However, there is one possible way to keep it under control."

"Please, nurse, please tell me."

"You must jump his bones."

I was genuinely horrified. "What?"

"I can see that the patient doesn’t quite accept my professional recommendation."

I was too shocked to respond.

"There is also another possible way to help this case," she offered. "Perhaps a method that would be more acceptable."

"What is it?"

"Having him jump your bones," she said, "and make him think it’s all his idea. Of course, this is the more effective method, because it will call you to have a strong resolve while he spends some time whining, wheedling, and cajoling. Those elements are absolutely required so that he’s convinced it’s his idea and you’re only going along with it to please him."

"But I’m a virgin," I said.

"Ah, yea, that rare species: American Catholic Virginus. Probably of the type that believes in saving oneself for marriage."

"That’s right," I answered firmly.

Although I may have been sexually naïve that summer, I had the misforture to become known as "the penis expert" at the hospital. The unofficial title didn’t have anything to do with my virtue, or lack of it. I just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. It seemed that whenever I worked the ER, I always ended up with the males who had problems with their genitalia. One day I got his guy whose wife had put a wedding ring on his penis. He became hard and the ring wouldn’t come off. With the blood supply blocked, the penis wouldn’t go down, either. Although it may sound funny, any man who has been through anything like it probably doesn’t think of it as a laughing matter.

We tried a couple of different methods to remove the ring, including soap and grease. None of them worked. There was only one solution. I called the hospital’s engineering department. When we walked into the guy’s cubicle a few minutes later with a long-handled tool that looked like oversized cutting pliers, he looked like he would have a heart attack. "What are you going to do with that?" he asked.

"We’re going to cut it off," the doctor answered.

The guy put his hands in front of his private area. "No!"

"Not the penis, dummy. The ring."

Another time, I took care of a kid who had been surfing when he got hit in the groin area after falling off his board. The injury had stimulated his artery to shoot blood into his penis, which had become engorged. The bruise from hematoma had blocked the blood from returning through the vein, so he was in a state of pripism. "Jesus, Van Devanter," the doctor said. "If that’s the way you affect all men, spare me."

….The people who were making the jokes may have thought they were funny, but I began to feel that the real joke was on me. Here I was, a twenty-one-year-old girl who had probably seen hundreds of penises in nursing school and the emergency room, and I hadn’t yet seen a single one being used for its intended purpose. I began to feel like my virginity was an albatross. I had to get rid of it.

However, there was the problem of finding the right situation. When it happened the first time, I didn’t want it to be on the dining room floor while my girlfriends were asleep. On the other hand, I was afraid that if I waited for the perfect circumstances, I would end up being a fifty-year-old virgin, still anticipating "the night." Even at that, I still had to convince myself that the person I was going to make love with for the first time was the person I would marry.

J.J. came to Ocean City every weekend and some weeknights after he started working at Indiantown Gap. I began to notice how different he was from the boyfriends the other girls had. Once, when he fell asleep on the dining room floor, he woke up in the middle of the night screaming. When I mentioned it in the morning, he shrugged it off. Another time, he yelled something about "slopes" and "gooks" in his sleep. When I touched him to wake him out of the nightmare, he was covered in sweat. As soon as he felt my hand, he jumped on top of me, put one hand on my throat and drew back the other hand to smash my face. Then he woke up.

I was terrified. "Is something wrong?" I asked.

"Don’t touch me right now."

"Okay, but what’s the matter?"

"Just a bad dream," he said. "Go back to sleep." He rolled to his side away from me and I thought I heard him crying softly.

He had periods when he was moody and they could come at any time. He’d go into depressions for a few hours and wouldn’t talk to anyone. Maybe I should have questioned these things more than I did, but I figured him for the strong silent type. In a sense, his dark moods made him more intriguing.

Once, when a gas station attendant didn’t have any hi-test for J. J.’s Barracuda, J. J. to this wild look in his eyes and acted like he was going to kill the guy. He screamed obscenities, smacked his hand against the dashboard, and then floored the accelerator, leaving a patch of burning rubber and a perplexed pump jockey. He would sometimes come out of his depressions with a bang and immediately begin partying like there was no tomorrow. He could be a wild bronco – unruly, loud and full of fire.

But he was always gentle with me. I was sure I loved him, which was why, a few weeks after I got the engagement ring, I told him that I was ready to make love with him.

It was Labor Day weekend.

As soon as J.J. got over the shock, we began to search for a nice place. Unfortunately, trying to find an open room at the Jersey shore on Labor Day weekend is about as difficult as locating the Holy Grail. We started in Ocean City at seven o’clock. Next was Somers Point. Then Longport., then Margate, then Ventnor City and all the way past Atlantic City to Brigantine. It was all the same – NO VACANCY. We drove out to the parkway and headed south. By midnight, we had tried motels all the way down to North Wildwood and the only thing we had to show for it was frustration.

"Lynda," please, let’s go back to your house."

"I want more privacy."

"All right, then I know a great spot where we can park and …."

"No! Not in the car."

"Well, I guess we’re out of luck."

"I guess so."

We headed back to the Anchorage to drown our frustrations at seven beers for a dollar. J.J. had such a sad expression on his face that he looked like a little boy who had just seen his puppy run over by a train. We sat in silence, both of us staring into our beers until around two in the morning. Suddenly, J.J. snapped out of his mood. He grabbed my arm, swung me around on the stool, kissed me, and laughed., "How could I have been so stupid!" he asked. "We’ve got a place we can use right under our noses, or should I say right under our heads."

"What are you talking about?"

"This place," he said. "There’s an old room upstairs. They used to rent it out. What do you say?"


He took that for a yea, because he was off the stool in a flash. A few seconds later I saw him standing in a corner, talking to the owner and nodding his head. He came back to his seat with a key in his hand and a broad grin on his face. "Shall we?"

"Are you positive it’s all right?" I asked.

"Come on, Lynda."

We walked up the back steps to what must have been one of the all-time sleaziest rooms in the world. It had boxes piled all around, a dirty mattress without any sheets, and a single exposed bulb hanging directly over the bed. Outside the window was a neon sign that kept blinking on and off. "It’s not much," J.J. said.

"You can say that again."

"At least it’s private, Lynda."

"Does it have bugs?"

"Bugs?" J.J. repeated. "Don’t be ridiculous. Let’s get comfortable."

I’ve waited twenty-one years for this, I thought only moments before I felt the quick sharp pain that marked the end of my virginity. I think it happened when the neon sign was off. Or maybe it was on. It was hard to tell because the damned thing flashed so quickly. I guess I must have been in love…..

BK Note: Andrew Carnaglia, the owner of the Anchorage at the time, doesn't recall the incident, but said it rings true, and that Lynda sent him a copy of the book when it was published. I was at the Reagan Airport cafe waiting for a plane to Dallas when I was saddened to read the following:

OBITUARIES Thursday, November 21, 2002

Nurse Lynda Van Devanter Buckley Dies

By Graeme Zielinski

Washington Post Staff Writer

Lynda Van Devanter Buckley, 55, an advocate for women veterans whose influential 1983 memoir of her time as a surgical nurse near the Cambodian border, "Home Before Morning," painted a stark picture of the horrors of the Vietnam War and its psychological aftermath, died Nov. 15 at her home in Herndon.

Mrs. Buckley had systemic collagen vascular disease, which she attributed to her exposure in Vietnam to a combination of chemical agents and pesticides.

She was an Arlington native and a 1965 graduate of Yorktown High School. She served in Vietnam in 1969 and 1970 in a surgical hospital in Pleiku.

She described herself as an idealistic Catholic girl before she went over who thought, "IF our boys were being blown apart, then somebody better be over there putting them back together again. I started to think that maybe that somebody should be me."

Her illusions were shattered by the ugly realities of war, which she described graphically not just in her memoir, but in several other venues.

One of her letters home was included in a 1988 HBO documentary. In it, she described a Christmas Eve of amputations and death for wounded GI’s.

"This is now the seventh month of death, destruction and misery. I’m tired of going to sleep listening to outgoing and incoming rockets, mortars and artillery. I’m sick of facing, every day, a new bunch of children ripped to pieces," she wrote.

She wrote that she and other nurses and doctors turned to drink and drugs and sexual liaisons to find distraction.

Her book, written with Christopher Morgan, was the first widely published account of the war by a women veteran and among the first to deal with the incidence of post-traumatic stress disorder, from which she suffered.

By her account, she developed a drinking problem and failed at marriage and nursing jobs n California as she struggled with flashbacks and anxiety. One recurring image was the nightmare of a teenage soldier whose face had been blown off. Returning to the Washington area in the late 1970s, she finally found a counselor who diagnosed her with post-traumatic stress disorder and she began to heal, in part by writing the memoir.

It was a commercial success and still is used as a teaching tool about Vietnam, but it initially attracted fierce criticism from some veterans, including nurses she served with, who claimed Mrs. Buckley was embroidering the experience for profit and to burnish her antiwar stance.

"Lynda’s exaggeration and the negativism of her book distress me terribly," retired Army Col. Edith Knox said in a 1983 interview with the Washington Post. "This book makes us look like a bunch of bed-hopping, foul mouthed tramps."

But still others supported the account. One, a former Army nurse, Lynn Calmes Kohl, told The Post that, "actually, what Lynda wrote was mild."

The book was inspiration for the television drama series, China Beach," which ran from 1988 to 1991.

Mrs. Buckley became the first executive director of the Vietnam Veterans of America Women’s Project in 1979 and retired in 1984. She continued to write articles, edit volumes of poetry, conduct seminars and give speeches after she retired.

Survivors include her husband, Tom Buckley, and their daughter Molly, both of Herndon; a stepdaughter, Brigid Buckley of Raleigh, N.C.; her mother, Helen Van Devanter of Sterling; and four sisters.

I am going to add Lynda Van Devanter to my Kelly’s Heroes Blog, reserved for Combat Heroes. – BK

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Tony Marts Reunion 2008

TONY MARTS Yesterday and Today – By William Kelly


For over forty years Tony Mart’s giant neon arrow on the roof guided you from the Somers Point circle to Bay Avenue, where Tony Marts was the centerpiece of a small strip of nightclubs where early rock & roll history was made. Now, there’s only an historic marker to memorialize they were even there.

Today, the building at the site of the legendary Tony Marts nightclub sits barren, empty, boarded up and overgrown with weeds, with no real development plans on the horizon.

But at one time, for decades (from 1944 to 1982) it was one of the hottest nightclubs on the East Coast featuring major recording stars and rock & roll bands on two stages, six bars, two dance floors and a line to get in.

It’s been a quarter of a century now since they filmed the movie "Eddie & the Cruisers," held a Last Hurrah party, and then demolished the place, but people just won’t let the good times go.

The trip from then to now was fun for most of those who were there, and the uncertainty of the present situation doesn’t detract from the history of all the good times, which will be celebrated at a Tony Marts Reunion this Sunday afternoon (from 4pm) at the Somers Point American Legion with live entertainment, dancing, good food and t-shirts.

There have been other Tony Mart reunions every few years, the first in June 1986 at Egos, the club that replaced Tony Marts, which featured The Band, who played at Tony Marts in the summer of 1965 as Levon & the Hawks. A ten year reunion was held at Omar’s in Margate, and last September they celebrated the Twenty fifth anniversary of the filming of "Eddie & the Cruisers" at Stumpo’s. "I knew we were going to have a reunion, but I just realized it was 25 years," Tony’s son Carmen Marotta said at the party.

In the last few summers at Tony Mart’s, Carmen would often set up a barbeque pit in the parking lot in the afternoon and share ribs and pork sandwiches with friends and passersby. That’s what this reunion will be like, with locally renowned chef Richard Spurlock, whose father ran the Bay Avenue barber shop, cooking up the grubs.

Although the music will be provided by bands that never played Tony Marts, Billy Walton, Jacque Major, Bobby Fingers and the Mainland Horns certainly exemplify the type of music that they featured at Tony Marts for over forty years.

Billy Walton is one of the hottest young guitarists playing today, and recently opened for Jacque Major at the Stone Pony in Asbury Park. Bobby Fingers is the best sing-a-long piano player in these parts, and the Mainline Horns will certainly round out the proceedings.

"Tony Mart’s is remembered and is famous for "rock & roll," said Carmen, "but actually a broad spectrum of music was played there – big band swing, Dixieland jazz, rhythm and blues, and rock & roll."

For Carmen, who grew up at Tony Mart’s, his earliest memories, "are running around there as a child, playing with the bouncers and musicians, eating cherries, drinking cokes and just being there. I can recall things from 1961 or 1962, when I was about five or six years old. I remember the Fall Guys playing ‘Alabama Jubilee’ and ‘Tiger Rag,’ and doing the Sunday night Showtime, when they would do a Dixieland Southern type of show, dance on the bar and play ‘When the Saints Come Marching In,’ in sort of a mummers kind of way."

While the memories of Tony Marts are still strong, and all of the old nightclubs are gone, the music remains. Carmen, as a member of the city’s cultural commission, helps book the acts for the Friday night beach concerts and Good Old Days picnic, which continue the popular Tony Marts musical traditions.

Tony Mart’s Reunion. Sunday, June 22, 4-8pm, American Legion Post #352, First and Pennsylvania, Avenue, Somers Point, N.J. $12 For tickets or more information call: 609 653-6069

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Somers Point: Where Music Was King


For years, summer crowds flocked to the Shore’s hottest clubs to hear Bobby Rydell, Frankie Avalon, Bill Haley, and a host of other comers. Times changed, and so did the music. Today, only the memories remain.

By Geoffrey Douglas

Teddie O’Keef is still a good looking women. Better looking by today’s standards than when she and Harry Reiser were an item in Somers Point 26 years ago. She’s traded her teenage pudginess and ‘50s hairdo for some lines and creases. But she still turns heads when she wants to, can still dance all night, and still drinks vodka tonics.

Teddie last saw Harry in the spring of ’84. They had dinner together, an awkward 90 minutes of filling in gaps. Before that, it had been 22 years. Harry’s weathered well too, she says. "More dignified, a little heavier, and he wears glasses now. But still (has) that kid face and the same movements. He still looks like Bobby Rydell."

It helped to look like Bobby Rydell in Somers Point in the summer of 1960. Rydell was a big star then, though it had been only a couple of summers since he’d been a baby faced drummer playing backup at Bayshores on the Somers Point traffic circle alongside a trumpeter named Frankie Avalon in a band called Rocko and the Saints. The Saints were gone by the summer of ’60 – Avalon was making movies and Rydell was making hits – but there were a hundred kids in Somers Point, playing a dozen instruments in a half a dozen bars, clawing to reach those heights.

Harry was one of them. He played the trombone with a group called the New Yorkers at a bar known as the Dunes, an after hours club on Longport Boulevard, half a mile from where Rydell and Avalon – and Bill Haley, Dion, Fabian, Conway Twitty, and Duane Eddie – played on their way to the top.

Harry never made it there. You’ve never heard of him, unless you hung out at the Dunes in the summer of ’60, as Teddie O’Keefe did. But, then, Avalon and Rydell haven’t been big for a while, either. They do reunions now and then and manage real estate. Harry is an orthodontist in Philadelphia, though he still plays his trombone on weekends; Teddie is advertising director and part owner of a newspaper at the Shore.

The club that gave Bill Haley his start was knocked down in ’81 to make way for a disco.

Bayshores – where Frankie Avalon laid down his trumpet in the summer of ’57 often enough to break hearts with his crooning – is now a restaurant known for its munchies menu.

The Dunes, where Harry played that summer, was left to rot a decade ago and has now reopened, attempting a comeback as a disco and package store.

But none of this takes away from the summer of ’60, or from the summers just before or just after, when Bay Avenue in Somers Point, and the Boulevard that runs off it, pounded out a beat that was, per square block and per decibel, the equal of anything America witnessed before or since.

The music began in Somers Point a long time before Teddy and Harry’s day. It began, by most accounts, in a small speakeasy on the north side of the Somers Point traffic circle in the early ‘30s. No one remembers the name of the place, only that it had a hot nickelodeon and a foul mouthed barkeep. By the mid ‘30s, Bayshores was adding to the music wit its wood plank dance floor mounted on pilings that stretched out into the bay. The dance floor washed out to sea in the hurricane of ’44, but through the ‘30s and the early ‘40s the Bayshores nickelodeon was the music center of the Shore. Girls in gowns and soldiers in khaki slipped coins in and danced in the aisles to the boogie woogie and the Lindy Hop.

"Those were magical years," recalls a former patron. "We’d shake the rafters, and laugh, and say how the place would fall down someday."

Then when World War II ended, the music went live. It began with Guy Lombardo at Orsatti’s Gateway Casino in the summers of ’46 and ’47. Vaughn Monroe followed, and then came the Ink Spots, Jimmy Dorsey, Count Basie, the Mills Brothers, and a local band called the Three Sons that was the rage of the Shore in the late ‘40s.

"Arnold Orsatti put Somers Point on the map," says Vince Rennich, who has tended bar in a dozen different clubs at the Shore since the summer of ’52. "He was the first one to bring the bands in live. He began it all. For a while, he was the only one."

Orsatti’s Gateway was a club of its era, but that era was ending. By the early ‘50s, the Big Band sounds – the sounds of swing that had peaked in the war years under leaders like Glenn Miller and Jimmy Dorsey – would be displaced by another kind of music. Rock n’ roll was arriving, and Bay Avenue in Somers Point would never be the same.

Tony Marrotta was the first to pick up the new beat. Marotta had arrived in Somers Point from Atlantic City in 1944, parlaying the profits from a Boardwalk hotdog stand into a one room saloon just off the circle on Bay Avenue. He called it Tony Mart’s.

Tony Mart’s did a brisk business through the late ‘40s, its jukebox bringing in the overflow from the Gateway and other, smaller clubs on the circle. After Orsatti sold out in the early ‘50s, Marrotta made the move that must have seemed inevitable. The jukebox went off, the live bands came in, and the result was the birth of rock ‘n roll at the Jersey Shore.

"We started it right here, we changed the world," says Don Dunleavy, who came to the shore from Philadelphia in the late ‘50s as a bartender. Since then, he has owned as many bars as he has tended.

Dunleavy knows the music business better than most. He has booked groups into clubs from New Jersey to Florida, and he has never seen it thrive, he says, as it did in Somers Point in through the late ‘50s and ‘60s.

"It was the only place in the world, I swear, where you could go from one in the afternoon till six in the morning with cookin’ rock ‘n roll- all live bands, all different, nonstop. Never been anything like it, before or since."

Tony Mart’s began with no name, low budget bands in the early ‘50s, bands with a beat but without a following. Still, the kid came in droves. They were college kids mostly, and their banners lined the walls and ceilings of Tony Marts’s still the night it closed four years ago. By the mid ‘50s, with Elvis topping the charts and rock ‘n roll here to stay, you couldn’t squeeze a lemon through the door on a Sunday night in July. The waters had been tested and found sweet, competition was sure to follow.

It came first from Bayshores, which abandoned the swing bands of the ‘40s and early ‘50s in favor of South Philly groups that could be booked overnight on a meager budge. Rocko and the Saints was one of the better ones, with Frankie Avalon on trumpet and Bobby Rydell on drums. Others included Billy Duke and the Dukes, Jimmy Cavello, and an offbeat group headed by a long haired, sandaled sax player who did Jesus imitations and called himself Tito Mambo.

Mambo, the rumor goes, was the "original hippie," nearly a decade ahead of his time. No one can say what became of him, though there are no lack of theories. One of them has him in the Federal Witness Protection Program, living under an alias in Latin America; other sources swear he’s Frank Zappa.

The challenge from Bayshores – and Tony Marrotta’s acceptance of it – made Somers Point what it would be through the next decade. "Tony was a businessman," says Joe Sudder, who managed the bar in the early ‘70s. "He didn’t appreciate musicians. He wanted what the people wanted, not what the musicians wanted; not what the critics wanted, but what was popular with the people. He made me fire a lot of musicians. If the room wasn’t moving, there had to be another band that would get it to move."

There was only one kind of music that moved rooms by the mid ‘50s. And Marrotta, the businessman, having brought rock ‘n roll to the Shore and profited from its success, could now afford the best it had to offer. By 1956 Tony Mart’s had grown to include a bandstand (it would later have two), three bars, wide isles for dancing, and a polished Art Deco ambience.

The best band in the summer of ’56 was Bill Haley and the Comets. Tony Marts booked them, and the crescendo ad been reached. It would last, almost without let up, for a full decade of summers at the Point.

"The Battle of the Bands," Bill Kelly calls it. Kelly, a Shore writer and music nostalgia buff, explains it in terms of competition. "Tony Mart’s brought in the big names. Bayshores followed with Billy Duke and the Dukes, Rocko and the Saints, then Franke Day, Paul Anka and Dion. But Tony never liked it when people walked out of his place during a band’s break. They’d walk to Bayshores or some other club and never come back. Tony hated that. So he began booking two bands at once. Two bands for continuous music. So Bayshores came back with the same thing. It was nonstop, continuous music. You could hear it all over the Point. The Battle of the Bands."

"It was crazy, absolutely nuts," remember Vince Rennich. "Everything Tony would do, other places would copy. Tony Mart’s introduced something called Seven for One – seven beers for a buck. So Bayshores picked it up, the same thing. And Bayshores was the wildest place in town. You’d have kids buying beers as fast as we could pour them. Sometimes they’d drink ‘em, sometimes they’d throw ‘em at the fan, spray beer all over everybody. And al the while, there was this incredible, nonstop music. It was crazy, absolutely nuts. Wonderful, though. Really wonderful."

By the summer of ’58, the music had reached its zenith. Bayshores and Tony Mart’s were joined by a third contender, Steele’s Ship Bar. Despite a more upscale image and a slightly older crowd, it was laying claim to serious rock ‘n roll and was drawing the crowds.

Mike Pedicin, a band leader whose hit single "Shake A Hand" was the theme song of the Shore through the summers of the late ‘50s, left Bayshores for Steele’s in ’58. It was Pedicin’s music probably more than anything else, that put Steele’s among the heavies on the Somers Point circuit.

"The Two groups I remember best," says Teddie, "are Mike Pedicin and Jimmy Cavello. ‘Shake A Hand’ was the biggest song on Bay Avenue in those days. You’d hear it being sung all day at the beach; it was the kind of song you could start a party with. And Cavello – he was incredible. He’d do ‘What I Day’ [a Ray Charles hit] and people would pour out of all the other bars just to get to Bayshores before the last note sounded. I still remember that…you could hear it across the bay in Ocean City."

Teddie worked in Ocean City during the summer of ’60, the summer that she met Harry. She was nineteen at the time and between her freshman and sophomore years at Penn State.

"I was a waitress – four in the afternoon till nine at night – at the Great Steak House on Ninth Street; it’s not there anymore. There were thirteen of us working there that summer – all girls, all waitresses, all from Penn State. What a terrific job. You’d come off the beach around 3:30, change into your little waitress uniform, wait tables till nine, change into your madras shorts and holey sneakers, and thumb across the bridge to the Point just about the time the music was getting hot. You wouldn’t get back sometimes till dawn, so you’d pass out on the beach, wake up to take a swim, change, go to work and begin it all again. Talk about the perfect summer."

Harry, of course, was part of the perfection. Teddie met him in early July. The Dunes had just opened out on the Boulevard to try to capture some of the after hours crowd when they spilled out of the bars on the circle at closing time. The New Yorkers were the first band the Dunes booked; Harry was nineteen, out of high school a year, and a full time trombonist with a dozen gigs behind him. And he looked like Bobby Rydell. Teddie was swept away from the moment Harry showed interest. She fell in love, she says, with his smile, his easy manner, his musicians ways, and later with his music. "Anytime I’d walk into the room, he’d play ‘Satin Doll.’"

Summer loves in the early ‘60s, most of them anyway, were commonly grounded: hand holding, long looks, and late nights; friendship rings by mid-August; unfastened bra hooks in front seats on darkened roads; and, finally, promises to write. For Teddie and Harry, only the late nights held true to the pattern.

"We didn’t even have time to neck," she says, "Or not very often, anyway. If we did, I don’t remember it. What I remember most is the music, the sense of music. It was absolutely total."

The summer ended, or should have, on Labor Day. And again, it is the music she remembers.

"I was at Bayshores; I think Harry was with me. I don’t know how – he should have been at the Dunes on trombone. Maybe he wasn’t there, maybe it’s just wishful remembering, and maybe I was alone – it doesn’t matter. Anyway, it was closing time, two o’clock. I remember the group playing – Peter Carroll and the Carroll Brothers. They played the last number; we thought it was over, thought the summer was over. A lot of people were crying; I was."

"Then, all of a sudden, the band just walked out of Bayshores, still playing like that was the natural thing to do. So we followed. Then they moved into that Bunny Hop tune and everybody got their hands on everybody else’s shoulders. We hopped down Bay Avenue from Bayshores to Steels, once around the bar picking up more people, then out onto the street again. People were breaking into line, grabbing hold. There must have been a hundred of us. Then we went into Tony Mart’s with more people joining in, then down Bay Avenue again. The line was so long that you couldn’t tell where it began or ended."

"Everybody was singing and crying – singing, ‘cause it was such a high, such a magic moment; crying because it was the end of summer, and it was over for another year. But nobody thought of next year. It was just over."

It wasn’t over for Somers Point. There would be five more good years of what Dunleavy calls "cookin’ rock ‘n roll." Bill Haley, Frankie Avalon, Bobby Rydell had come and gone, but there were other big names and other sad/happy Labor Days to come. Through the summers of the early ‘60s, Bayshores would book Paul Anka and Dion, while Tony Mart’s would go one better with Conway Twitty, Duane Eddie, Mitch Ryder, and Gary U.S. Bonds.

At Steele’s, Mike Pedicin stayed on until ’66, when the bar burned to the ground, leaving a void that would never be filled. "Shake A Hand" continued to pack them in through the summers of the early ‘60s, even against the competition of the big names brought in by the bands next door.

"Those were good years," Pedicin says. "Somers Point was so important – both to the progress of music and to the kids who danced to it. There were so many of them, and they still have the memories. You know I met Jack Kelly [Grace Kelly’s brother, a Philadelphia local] about a month before he died, two years ago. He approached me and asked if I remembered him. Back in the ‘50s, when I was playing Bayshores, he and his sisters, Grace and Lizanne, used to come there. I run into that sort of thing all the time today. A lot of parties and weddings I do today are a result of the kids back at the Point in the ‘50s and ‘60s. When you think about it, Somers Point actually made my life."

As much as the gigs themselves, Pedicin remembers the jam sessions. They went on, most of them anyway, at the after hours clubs on the Boulevard – the Dunes, O’Burns, Jack’s Grove, and Brownies – on weekend nights after the circle had closed down.

It was the jamming more than anything else – perhaps even more than the immense barrage of talent – that made Somers Point what it was in those years. The jam sessions are what Teddie remembers best, partly because they were unique – spontaneous but expected.

"They were incredible. It’d be four or five in the morning, the sun would be coming up over the bay, and you’d have musicians from one or two of the biggest bands in the country mixing it up on stage with the local groups – Jimmy Cavello, Pete Carroll, Billy Duke and the Dukes. And all the kids would be there. We’d follow them from the circle, sometimes we’d go with them. It just went on and on. It never ended.

The end was coming, though, and by the mid ‘60s the music had begun to wind down. One of the last big name bands anyone remembers was a group that called itself Levon and the Hawks. After their last gig at Tony Mart’s in the summer of ’65, Bob Dylan claimed them and they became, simply, The Band. (The Band was planning a reunion at the Shore this summer until Richard Manuel, one of the group’s mainstays, hung himself in March, only two weeks after Tony Marrotta, who was in his eighties, died in Somers Point).

As for Teddie, she dropped out of Penn State after the summer of ’60 to be near Harry. But it didn’t work out. Some of the magi had ended with Labor Day. She found herself alone at the Shore in September. She later got a job with an airline and made several more stabs at her relationship with Harry before finally breaking up with him for the last time at the Somers Point Circle in the fall of ’62.

Teddie was married a year later and moved west to California two years after that. She didn’t see the Shore again until the summer of ’66, when she came east for a visit.

"I went out to the Point one night in June or July. By then, I was a lot older than most of the kids I saw. I went to Tony Mart’s for a while but felt kind of out of place. And it wasn’t just my age…Something had changed. The music was still there, and still good, but something was different. The kids were more serious; there was less dancing, more conversation. The difference was subtle, but it was there and I felt it."

Rennich, who had been tending bar in Somers Point since ’57, felt it too. Some of what brought the difference, he says, was the competition.

"It was too much of a good thing. Tony began it when he went to two bands. By the end, he’d gone to three – two bandstands, three bands – and everybody was trying to copy him, trying to draw the kids. But all that talent cost money. And the money they had to pay for the bands drove up the prices. It started with seven beers for a buck, then it went to five, and then three. That’s when it began to die a little."

There were other factors, too, things that had little to do with the price of beers or with rock ‘n roll or with summers at the Shore. President Kennedy had been dead for three years by the time Teddie visited the Point in ’66. Vietnam was creeping into the headlines. Long hair was in; Dylan and the Stones were singing protest and rebellion songs. The times and the music were a changin’.

"Kids were more serious by then," Rennich remembers. "It seemed like they forgot how to have a good time. And they dressed different. It used to be, in the ‘50s, the bands would come onstage in suits and ties, it was real proper. Then, when rock music came in, the musicians all started looking like Tito Mambao with his long hair and his sandals. That was when it really began to slide."

The slide continued. Following her trip East in the summer of ’66, Teddie didn’t see the Point again until her next trip in ’71. In early June, as she remembers it, Teddie drove over to the Point "to try to recapture something, I guess, to try to go home again."

She went first, of course, to the Dunes, where Harry had jammed so many nights till five in the morning with enraptured college kids in madras shorts and torn sneakers dancing to his tunes eleven summers before.

"When I got there, there was a bunch of motorcycles outside, with bikers crawling around everywhere in leather jackets. This bunch of girls they had with them, with dirty hair, were sucking joints in the parking lot. I went inside. Even the band was stoned. There were strobe lights flashing on and off, but nobody was dancing. Everybody was just standing around, all glassy eyed and strung out, like they were holding up the walls or something."

"It was like the whole world had gone crazy. All this time, I’d been romanticizing about the Point, telling people about this wonderful place at the Shore where you could dance till your feet fell off and telling them about Harry. All this time, I’d wanted to go back. Now I was back and there was nowhere to go. It as like the day the music died."

"It was the drugs that really killed it," says Dunleavy, who owned one of those clubs, the Mug, just up the Boulevard from the Dunes, until 1974. "The drugs hurt us all. You couldn’t make it in the business anymore, you just couldn’t cut it. The people would come into your bar, pay their admission, and nod off against the wall. It was the end of an era."

There is one survivor left from those times: the Anchorage, on Bay Avenue. It hasn’t changed with the times. The site of Tony Mart’s and Steele’s is now occupied by a discotheque called Ego’s, a mammoth two level affair with mirrored walls and a bar the size of a Little League ball field. Bayshores is now the Waterfront, "an upscale restaurant," Bill Kelly calls it, "in a California franchise sort of way." Other bars near the circle have remodeled to draw the Yuppies with their dinner menus and sedate background combos.

But the Anchorage lives on. It doesn’t have live music; it never did. It was what Rennich calls "a tune up bar," a place with atmosphere but no live bands, a place you went to after you got off the beach, before the night got started.

"The kids would go to the Anchorage or Gregory’s," says Rennich. "They would have their first four or five beers of the evening, then clear out when the music got going on the circle. Sometimes they’d come back at the end of the night."

Today the Anchorage is "the last of the old time saloons," says Nick Trofa, an Ocean City local in his late thirties who has spent time in the bars in Somers Point. And indeed it is, right down to the old pool table, the magnificent veranda, the serpentine bar, and the bartender behind it, Charlie Carney, who has poured drinks at the Point for close to twenty years. There are few pretensions at the Anchorage. The dogs walk in off the street to find their masters at three o’clock on late spring afternoons, and the men – all of them local – swap stories.

"It’s like Cannery Row, this place," Trofa says. "There are a lot of characters who come in here, and we all have memories. Everybody remembers something about the old days. And we just keep retelling the stories, and then we tell new ones. We never run out."

But even the Anchorage will soon be gone. This summer is slated to be its last. Sometime after Labor Day, unless plans change, the big trucks will come and move the old saloon to its new home on the circle, near where Orsatti’s Gateway once stood. The Anchorage will keep its name, but that will be all. It, too, is scheduled for remodeling. It will be "upscale" with mid range prices and a late night munchies menu. The blackjack dealers and mid level casino executives will come with their dates and families from the condos that speckle Somers Point nowadays, and they will eat and drink and listen to different sort of music form what Teddie remembers.

"It’s progress, it’s what’s got to happen," Teddie laments. "But I’ll be sad to see the place go. I’ll be sad to see that old bar, with all those memories, on top of some truck driving down the road like it was a mobile home or something. But what difference does it make? The Anchorage is only a symbol. The reality went a long time ago. It went for me the day I saw the bikers outside Harry’s bar."

"Sometimes," Teddie continues, "when I drive by the circle on my way to some account, I can still see it the way it was. I can still hear the music and smell the smells. And I can still picture Harry the way he was the summer of ’60. But then I remember that he wears glasses now – and that I do, too – and the fantasy passes."

Geoffrey Douglas, a former contributing editor of New Jersey Monthly, is publisher of The Sun, an Absecon based biweekly newspaper serving South Jersey.

New Jersey Monthly, June 1986.

[Note: The plan to move the Anchorage never materialized. It remains where it always was – BK]