We left Boston early on Wednesday with a goal of making Cape May around dinner time. But the most important thing to do was stop in my hometown and see my house, the houses of my relatives and go down to the beach. Beach, you see, is what we called it. All the folks from north Jersey and New York who polluted our roadways in the summer called it the shore. But those of us who lived here on the Atlantic just went to the beach.
I’ve got to say that Red Bank was looking pretty good. First we stopped at my great-grandmother’s house. She lived on “the other side of the tracks.” But she had a great, big yard where we played ball and she grew corn where Peg and I would hide. Her brother lived right next door. She was alive until I was 8.
Then we went to my old house. It looked pretty good. There were moms outside and lots of kids. We got out of the car and introduced ourselves. Courtney, the woman who owns the house, invited us in. (Who says NJ-ers are unfriendly!) They’ve made the house their own but it still looked like the house I grew up in. It made me a little teary. We visited both my grandparents houses and my sisters’ old houses. I am really glad we stopped.
Truly could any Jersey girl from the shore not stop at Max’s for the definitive lunch at the beach? Here’s John at Max’s enjoying an onion ring and a hot dog. If you click in on the picture and get the big size you can read all the posters on the wall. Plus at all the tables there is a commendation from Governors going back years. The hot dogs are served with a pot of sauerkraut. A lot of fun times of my youth were spent in Long Branch (where Max’s is). It used to be that Max’s was right on the boardwalk and you could sit at your seat and watch the Atlantic crash on shore right under the restaurant. Unfortunately that Max’s burned down and while the decor on the inside is the same, the location is a bit inland.
Unlike Anthony’s Pier 4 where we couldn’t go home again to, our stop in Red Bank was full of good nostalgia. My house, my grandparents houses, downtown, the beach – it all looked pretty nice. And I didn’t have time to include the river, and the library where I worked, or Red Bank High. I think it was a good place to grow up.