Tom Williams AT LARGE:
It’s been nearly eight years since these flashbacks began appearing here. An attempt is made regularly to spend at least one week remembering the places we all used to visit that are no longer there.
Probably the biggest absences recently are J.C. Penney and Sears in the Hamilton Mall, leaving Macy’s as the only anchor store at the mall, which was recently sold. And the casinos in Atlantic City have changed a bit with Ocean Resort and Hard Rock moving in and Showboat and the shuttered Plaza leaving the casino business.
But the thing that is not there anymore which causes the most frustration in Ocean City is Wiesenthal’s Auto Service.
The car care business, run by Don and Glenn Wiesenthal, was forced to close because its landlord sold the property. Eventually, a Republic Bank will open at Ninth Street and West Avenue, encompassing not only the lot where the Wiesenthals repaired cars and the Legendary Al signed autographs and posed for selfies, but also the Sunoco lot on its west side.
Don and Glenn not only had put together a talented crew of mechanics to repair and maintain your vehicle, but the two brothers seemed to know everybody in town. Their shop, which their father had formerly operated as a gas station for many decades, was also a social center for residents.
There once were a dozen gas stations on Ninth Street in Ocean City. Soon there will be a dozen banks in town and only one gas station.
Currently, gas is being pumped at the old Wiesenthal location but it is the definition of a rip-off. Republic Bank is waiting for clearance to move in and start building its bank, probably in the fall. But whoever is running those temporary gas pumps is charging around 30 cents per gallon more than nearby gas stations. It would make good sense to drive to Sunoco at 34th Street or hop over the bridge to Wawa in Somers Point to fill up instead of giving in to those inflated rates on Ninth Street.
On Route 9 in Somers Point, the former Schooner’s – later an Asian buffet – is now an auto parts store and the original Wawa across the road is a paint store.
Ocean City seafood lovers remember Plantation kitchen at 4th & Atlantic; Spence’s Seafood at 10th & Asbury; and Campbell’s Seafood on 32nd Street, with a snack bar on the beach just behind Monihan Real Estate.
On the Boardwalk there was Flanders Beach Grille, the unique Village Theatre, Tom Perkins’ Sea Shanty and Copper Kettle Fudge Shop, where you could watch them make the fudge right in the window.
There was Zaberer’s Restaurant in McKee City and Ed Zaberer’s in North Wildwood; the legendary Somers Point area clubs, from Tony Marts, to Bayshores to the Dunes till dawn and even Mothers. And there was The Charcoal Pit in Linwood, where celebrities like James Fitzpatrick and Carl Price both frequently enjoyed a burger and a shake.
In Atlantic City there was Blatt’s, Garwood Mills and the Million Dollar Pier. Ames Department Store was located in Cape May Court House. There were the many nightclubs in Wildwood – Penalty Box, Emerald Room, Oasis, Rainbow Room, Riptide and Surf Club. Also gone are the traffic lights on the Garden State Parkway.
How about Carson’s Triangle restaurant in Atlantic City; Mike Trench’s Neptune Inn; Angelo’s Barbershop; Teddy’s West End Lounge; Brigantine’s Seahorse Pier; and the Rum Point Pub.
Among out of area memories there was the once the outstanding Echelon Mall. Chubby’s in Camden, which closed in 1995 after 61 years, was a great place to eat. It was named after the boxer who opened it and once had live entertainment, including great singers like Ella Fitzgerald, Tony Bennett, Nat King Cole, Eddie Fisher and Patti Page.
Do you remember the Clover stores, a spinoff of Strawbridge & Clothier; Herman’s World of Sporting Goods; the Robert Hall clothing stores; Lit Brothers and Gimbels in Philadelphia; Willow Grove Park; Aquarama; and The Troc, a former Philly burlesque house where Abbott & Costello once played.
There was Jamesway in the New Road Shopping Center; Grants and Roy Rogers in Somers Point; Boston Pizza and IHOP in Northfield; Perkins in Somers Point; Rugby Inn in Northfield; Point Bowling Lanes in Somers Point; and CenterPoint Deli, Tilton Road, Northfield.
In Ocean City, who could forget Chris’ Seafood Restaurant, on the bay at 9th Street, and their PT boats – The Flying Saucer, Flying Cloud, Wild Goose and Flying Pony; Hogate’s, right next door; the Dairy Queen at 34th Street; The Roundup on 9th Street, a drive-in restaurant with the waitresses on roller skates; or Mark’s News, where the laye Jody Kish, and his father Joe, was right there to bring the world into focus.
Also gone from Ocean City are Brannen & Konschack Dodge/Plymouth at 10th & Asbury, Bob Mengel Studebaker, Germantown Boys Club 15th & Bay, Berger Lumber at 11th, Reiss Lumber at 7th, Powell & Van Gilder at 13th Street and Young’s Record Store, across from City Hall.
And what about Howlett’s Hardware in Absecon and House and Garden in Northfield?
There was Johnson’s Ice Cream, on the Boardwalk below 5th Street. People from some generations still expect to find a sour ball candy at the bottom of their ice cream cones. Veasey’s Roller Skating Rink was at St. James and Atlantic. And don’t forget Prep’s Pizza at 34th Street and Pop’s Sub Shop near 6th & Asbury.
On the Boardwalk you could find Simms Restaurant at Moorlyn Terrace, Jack George’s Dog House, The College Grill and Morrow’s Nut House.
The Wesley Avenue School is now a park and the Central Avenue School is the Ocean City Police Station. WSLT Radio, which no longer exists, was on Asbury near 10th. The license was transferred to WIBG, which operates it at 1020 on the AM radio dial instead of the original 1520.
On Asbury Avenue there was Ordille’s Pharmacy with its big fountain at 7th Street; Mabel’s, between 6th & 7th Streets, with penny candy and large sandwiches; Ernie’s Barber Shop, with Ernie Phillips controlling the clippers; plus Dixon’s and Kabat’s, two mens shops that were across the street from each other, and, less than a block away, Leon’s Mens Shop.
And, of course, the great sandwiches and interesting conversations at the famous Tom’s Deli on Asbury between 10th and 11th Streets.
If you have some Things That Aren’t There Anymore to add, send them on because it is a subject that will be dealt with again.