If Oceanside was our
home, nearby Long Beach
─ with its
beach and boardwalk only about 3½
miles to the south
─ was our play-ground. There was
no better place for a teenager to go for fun
─ and no better reason to go to Long
not actually in
our little town,
easy access to the beach and the boardwalk was among the many benefits we
enjoyed because we grew up where we did. We could get there by bus or train, by bicycle or by
hitchhiking, and once we were 16, many of us went there in our own cars (WOW!).
Admission to the boardwalk, with its array of games, arcades and food, was free, and the beach (if you couldn't sneak in) was only a
In the book based on his hit, 2005 TonyÒ
award-winning, one-man, Broadway production, 700 Sundays (featured
in 2014 as an HBO TV movie), Billy Crystal (Long Beach High School,'65)
reminisces about the Long Beach
boardwalk in the late 1950s and its "games of chance
[he later mentions SkeeBall and Fascination, specifically], and a batting
cage, a soft ice cream shop, a knish place (Izzy's) [several of which are pictured
below on this page],
and a large municipal swimming pool."
the way home from the beach (day or night), it was always
our little town,
of course, for the "hot dogs and french fries
What could be cooler on a
hot, summer day or night?
Take a look.
As you probably know, our
our beloved Long Beach boardwalk was destroyed beyond repair in
late 2012 by Superstorm Sandy after 105 years of providing pleasure to residents
of, and visitors to, Long Beach.
to see how Sandy affected
our little town.)
For those who have not seen
it firsthand, the extent of the devastation of the boardwalk
and the rest of the city ─ in
contrast to the way Long Beach was immediately before the storm,
might best be appreciated by viewing this
online video slideshow.
The video is heartbreaking while at the same time heartwarming as
the rebounding spirit of the Long Beach residents is quite palpable.
Our beloved Long Beach boardwalk
has been rebuilt ─ but it is doubtful it will
ever give anyone as much joy and lingering fond memories as it gave
us during the happy days when we were kids.
Legend held that P.T.
Barnum's* famous elephant, Jumbo, was used to haul and lay the
timbers to build the Long Beach boardwalk, but
according to reliable sources, it was built in 1907, Jumbo was
already dead, and primarily for publicity, as shown in the two rare
photos below, other Barnum and Bailey circus elephants
named Roger and Alice (then housed at Dreamland in Coney Island) were used.
There is no evidence that Barnum had anything to do with the
early development of Long Beach, and the popular belief that the
same Barnum was the namesake of Barnum Island (the original name for
Island Park) is likewise untrue (a case of mistaken identity, if you
an incredible online collection of photos of Long Beach over the last 125+ years,
Chuck Jacobi (LBHS, '73),
who might best be described as Long Beach's
pre-eminent online historian,
where several of these photos also appear. They are used here with permission provided courtesy of
Joe Behar, LBHS,