Belmar Cal Schwartz

i miss the cold war and the jersey shore

Cal Schwartz reminisces about his childhood in Belmar in the '50s

a blog from monmouth county by calvin schwartz

cal schwartz at the shark river jettysince this is my first story. perhaps an introduction. style wise: no capital letters. need freedom. all letters here are created equal. i love: (a) writing streams of consciousness and (b)gigantic slices of belmar pizza. why bother with whole pies and wasted cardboard boxes? my first novel was published in january. “vichy water” is an anthem to friendship, spirituality, environment, women’s issues, jersey shore, rutgers, racial and religious tolerance, old movies and tuna fish. better watch out. better not cry. atlantic blue fin tuna almost basically gone with the breeze. oh plug time. novel website:   plug done. a little bio time: born in newark. weequahic high. rutgers. pharmacy. eyeglass sales. that takes care of a bunch of decades. now a writer. on rutgers campus 64 times a season for both gender sports. also accomplished in beer pong, keg stands and climbing mountains in sedona, arizona barefoot. maybe i’ll become a texas rodeo guy soon and student of oil wells (yes cryptic)

i love the jersey shore. my parents loved it too. if i’m a betting man;(monmouth park once in a while) when my parents stayed in belmar on second avenue at the old buena vista hotel in the attic(they could only afford three days once a year) 9 months before i was born they were there. a bright light bulb: i was conceived in belmar in an attic. roosevelt was president at conception. yup.

by the time i was ten my parents started going to belmar for the month of august. seventh avenue. a few doors from beach. a place called carlsons. a bungalow in back. it was part painted green then. 3 weeks ago during hurricane earl( i needed to come down and make sure the shark river jetty was ok) i passed by carlsons. no more icon sign. no more green but memories still intact. eisenhower was president. he looked like the capital rotunda building, bald. i had an “i like ike” button. lament: could’ve sold it in on ebay for thousands now.

summer of 1955. dodgers were about to win pennant. i scored big time. found a rubber tire inner tube and floated august away on the ocean at seventh avenue. i’ll take that ron jon inner tube over a surfboard. belmar’s boardwalk smelled like telephone poles or do the poles smell like the boardwalk. i was an urchin; not proud to say. next block over was an arcade. pinball mostly. i climbed underneath the machines for abandoned and irretrievable buffalo nickels. it’s a living. after a week i started walking from seventh avenue down to the shark river jetty, passing underneath that fishing club, still there. i dreamed of being allowed to walk on the fishing club pier. for 3 weeks every day i sat on the jetty by myself, dreamed and stared at the horizon; my first twinges of spirit, magic and love for this place on this planet, the jersey shore.

i’d learn as the sun was lowering it was time to get back to bungalow. the everly brothers were on the radio. a bakery truck sold cupcakes with seven inch thick icing out of the back. one day my mother was talking to mr. quinn. he said eisenhower just raised the minimum wage from 75 cents to $1.00 an hour. i remember mr. quinn. i don’t know why. back on the jetty( i still do my jetty 5 decades later) i began to think about becoming somebody’s father. what it means. how it happens. it was important to me. i promised myself(yes at ten years old) that when i become a father i’d bring my child to the shark river and look at horizon, ships sailing from left to right, and a bridge over ocean avenue that went up and down.  when my son was ten(24 now) we did the shark river together from the avon side. he promised to continue ritual. and i began to apologize for the world that his child will inherit. he forgives me. he always does after each earth integrity violation apology.

i have a sister. she was 3. i was 10. one day my mother put me in charge of watching her. i didn’t; was busy with the china syndrome. my sister was gone. police arrived. the beach was frantic. my mother was convinced the ocean took my sister and tried to throw herself in just before yelling to me it was my fault. they found my sister by my jetty at the shark river and later that night i became the youngest belmar summer resident in history to do his own laundry.

i worry about our jersey shore. its integrity. its health. i worry they’re going to go ahead with a coal firing plant in linden nj and dump all the toxic waste off our jersey shore. next week more streams of consciousness. i suddenly really wish i had just two of those huge slices of belmar pizza. exercise bikes make you hungry. two plain to go.

oh i’ve finally have arrived. a part of me(my novel) is on youtube

4 comments on “i miss the cold war and the jersey shore


    Simply great!!!

  2. Mark Welland '64

    My family always had a house at the Jersey Shore, Bradley Beach to be specific. On Brinley Ave to be more specific. I loved the shore. However, in my career years I was traveling the World 45 weeks a year. The house was sold. I missed the shore, ten years ago I bought a condo on the ocean in Long Branch. Now we will be selling our house in Westfield and will make Long Branch a year round home, almost. There is one hitch, our son Adam lives in San Diego, We expect to buy a condo in SD, not on the ocean. We’ll split our time and stay out of the snow!

    • Mark……ive got interesting stories to tell about brinley and la reine avenue….some involve the term i like to use these days, ascension. good ole bradley beach.

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