Literary Hook: Prose is 'Wild and Wonderful'

The end of summer makes most of us a little sad, especially if our summer has been a wonderful one. If we’re lucky, perhaps we enjoyed a family vacation, the beach, or some other place that warms our heart.

“Wild and Wonderful Wildwood, New Jersey,” by Susan Goldman, is a prose honorable mention in this year’s Rock River Poetry and Prose Contest. Savor the memory of a wonderful summer with others to look forward to.

'Wild and Wonderful Wildwood, New Jersey'

In 1968 when I was 15 years old, one of my favorite places to go for summer vacation was Wildwood, New Jersey. Part of what made Wildwood such a great place was that my family and I made the trip with our closest friends, the Kernus family. Wildwood offered plenty of things to see and do.

Wildwood’s beach resort reminded me of a large community—many different events were going on at the same time. Some people had burnt shoulders, backs and bellies from staying out in the sun too long and sought shelter under their bright blue, red and pink beach umbrellas. We were among those people who had just arrived at the beach, whose pale, white bodies ached for the hazy hot sunshine. Like many people, we stretched out on our beach towels of blue, red, orange, green and yellow. As we lay on our beach towels, we could hear the blare of dozens of radios, all tuned to different stations. We could also hear screaming seagulls as they hovered over our blankets waiting to snag a potato chip. Toddlers scurried about the beach with their shovels and pails, scooping up the white sand and putting it in their buckets. We (the teenagers) tossed Frisbees to each other, and later we jogged at the water’s edge, where we felt the warm, salty ocean water as waves crashed at our feet.

In addition to the beach scene, we participated in ocean activities. On a hot summer’s day, we swam, surfed and dove in the waves. In fact, I dove through so many waves with Arnie, one of the Kernus boys, that I felt cocky enough to try diving through waves when the ocean water was already up to my neck! I got caught in an undertow and was pulled down under the water very quickly. My hair covered my face, and I couldn’t breathe. I could feel the tide tugging at me, and I became very frightened. I could have drowned, but fortunately, I lived to tell this story. On this day of my misadventure, I gained a new respect for the power of the ocean. I believe Arnie did, too, as he admitted that he was scared when the ocean current dragged me under.

As evening approached, we headed for the boardwalk. I believe that Wildwood’s boardwalk was one of the best on the East Coast. Some of the best eats in town included chocolate-covered bananas, waffles and ice cream, and Aunt Rose’s doughnuts. My nose especially loved the aroma of freshly-made glazed doughnuts, and I loved the sugary taste of them. As a result, I frequently visited the doughnut shop.

In addition to food outlets, the Wildwood boardwalk had bingo, a pinball arcade, a tandem bike rental shop, and souvenir shops where you could buy tie-dye shirts, mugs, and painted seashell necklaces and bracelets.

Wildwood, New Jersey, was certainly a vacationer’s paradise!

Christine Swanberg is a local author and poet who has written several books of poetry and formerly wrote a column called “The Writer’s Garret” for this newspaper.

From the Sept. 20-26, 2006, issue

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