Belmar Cal Schwartz

“It’s a Wonderful Life” Marriage & Weddings. The Jersey Shore: why I love it.

From comparing the Shark River bridge in Belmar with George Bailey's bridge from "It's a Wonderful Life", to analyzing the state of marriage today, Cal starts the new year with another great piece.

a blog from monmouth county by calvin schwartz

Jersey Shore Vacations: It's A Wonderful LifeI’ve got a lot to say today. Perhaps an introduction; get ideas flowing. Love the holidays. Been watching ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ with Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed for 30 years (of course at holiday time). It is a wonderful life filled with absurdities, barriers, brick walls and pastel roads; yellow ones too. Need to explore the theme: me thinks I’m George Bailey at times. On December 4th, I went to my niece’s wedding; a fairytale event. Been thinking about the institution of modern marriage now and during the time of Christopher Columbus. Finally, I’ve also been blogging about the Jersey Shore over last few months. There are reasons: I live and love by it. I meditate on its jetty nearby. And I lived near the shore 300 years ago or so. A dear new old friend from Seattle (we lived across the street from each other on Goodwin Avenue in Newark 50 years ago) and a damn good psychic believes I was a Native-American around these Jersey parts in a previous life run. And so do I; been haunted by curious feelings for a long time. Introduction over.

Two months ago, I drove to my jetty at Belmar by the Shark River; it was still warm; sixty degrees. Parked my old SUV with duct tape holding up a rear bumper (did you know $1.99 duct tape at a depot store accomplishes the same as $1111.99 bumper work at a body shop? and never mind) and noticed the bridge over the Shark River. “Goodness gracious, sakes alive” (John Wooden, coach extraordinaire, used to say this as a ‘bad’ expressive expletive and so am I now). I noticed that the bridge over the troubled water of my favorite river (Shark River) in the world looks just like the bridge in Bedford Falls where George Bailey stood and pondered his demise. Then he jumped into the cold icy waters and Clarence, his guardian angel appeared and rescued him. I walked on the bridge before it lifted for a passing fishing boat (Sedona II) and looked down. I am George Bailey. Aren’t we all?  I wasn’t contemplating demise or jumping right then; I was there to stare at the horizon. George had Mr. Potter (a mean rich unfeeling man) to contend with. I’ve got a few Potters; some awful close. George was devoted to the Bailey Brothers Building and Loan. I was devoted to a company which made me want to jump into cold water. I’ve had people close to me with that same cold water coursing through their veins. When George was at wits end, his angel came to help and illuminate. Five years ago I was taken into the world of angelic intervention (all documented and witnessed) when I was feeling lost. Spirit is real, powerful and exists. At this holiday time I realize just how powerful it is.

I’ve started writing a second novel to pay homage to spirit. Back to George Bailey. He sacrificed himself to let his brother Harry go to college. I transferred to Rutgers back in 1965 for the same reason.  George cared a lot about people and right things to do. He had Mary Hatch to go through life with. I’ve got my ‘Mary’ whom I met almost doing a ‘Charleston’ dance on West 86th Street. I wonder if they remade the movie today, who’d play George Bailey? I bet a modern screenwriter would make George environmentally aware. I am. George is now like me. Role reversal.

George would be worried about cell phones. He’d be protesting cell towers in Bedford Falls (I lived on Bedford Avenue in Brooklyn when I first got married). I saw the loveliest cell phone tower just yesterday in East Brunswick. It was covered with fake Evergreen branches to make it look like a tree. If a child uses a cell phone, it can alter behavior development; scary stuff. Scientists in Holland observed that cell phone usage in a city park kills the plant life. Mobile devices may cause cancer. I think we need George’s spirited fight now. As far as Federal standards are concerned: if the radiation from your phone isn’t cooking your brain, it’s regarded as safe. 285 million Americans have cell phones. 83% of 18 to 29 year olds are wired all the time. George, help us. A recent study was done. People who chatted via cell for just 30 minutes a day for 10 years saw their risk of glioma (the type of brain cancer that killed Ted Kennedy) rise by 40%. Best to keep cell phone 6 or more inches from your body and use a corded headset. George does now. Even wireless routers emit high levels of RF (radio frequency) radiation. So do cordless phones. The phone base is like a mini cell tower. Go back to wire phones and wire hangers (to hell with Joan Crawford) Laptops radiate your pelvis (means testicular cancer and birth defects and who knows what else.) Even baby monitors. Yes, it’s a wonderful life. Technology. But rampant little caring and not enough research. Not enough George Baileys around.

On December 4th, I went to my niece’s wedding on Long Island. A fairytale began for them on the first day of ninth grade when they first met. Nine years in the making.  But still synchronicity and meant to be. A wondrous weekend of love and devotion shared by 450 guests; 160 of their friends. My niece is angelic looking and perfect. My new nephew; handsome and perfect too. A perfect couple therefore. I thought about institutional marriage sitting in a hundred year old chapel (‘colonial George Washington was here’ ambience). Marriage has been around since human’s day one but before cell phones, canned tuna and youtube. We’ve come a long way since then with no changes. But if they had canned tuna back then, would the rules of modern marriage been different today? Canned tuna does make all the difference in the world. So does thunder, lightning and not knowing what to make of it.

I learned a little about marriage this week from an old Cro-magnon cousin. My mother always told me that we had Ethiopian and Cro relatives. Actually we all do. A friend did that saliva test. Marriage is a big deal today. Look at all the fuss with Kate and William. Funny in 1960 nearly 70% of all American adults were married. Today only about half. Back then, 66% of twenty somethings were married. Today just 26% are. My niece and nephew are 20 somethings and college grads. Today college grads are more likely to marry (60%) than those without higher education (48%). A recent survey tells that 44% of Americans under 30 believe marriage is disappearing like Asian tigers and blue fin Atlantic Tuna (called extinction). Two thirds of all divorces are initiated by women. Back then (1960) 40% of wives worked; now 60% do. I was at a Rutgers basketball game two nights ago. I wondered about the cheerleaders, canned tuna and what’s going to happen to them in a few years. Traditional marriage? There is an awful lot of cohabitation going on now; people not getting married. Perhaps the economy. Hard to live alone these days. I think about a past President’s daughter who recently got married after cohabitating and a wannabe’s young recently pregnant daughter. 40% of babies born now are to unmarried moms.

An awful lot of change going on. Too much for this blog. I’m so thrilled for my niece. Marriage is a wonderful experience and journey. Maybe it’s best for my niece not to read this blog. Then again, why not? Ostriches are not going extinct. It’s the holidays. Time for cheer, new resolutions and looking at family pictures. My cell phone is ringing and I hid it and can’t find it. Wishing, hoping; imagine peace and love and no global warming. Happy. Healthy.

This pix is dedicated to my niece. It is entitled. “A view from a wedding.”

Jersey Shore Vacations: A View From a Wedding

Favor to ask: if you like this blog (or even if you don’t. I remember the movie ‘Private Parts.’ Most people who listened to Howard who didn’t like him wanted to hear what he says) please tell your friends, strangers, etc. Spreading the word kind of fuels me. Thanks.

All occasion gift suggestions. The novel ‘Vichy Water’ comes wrapped and autographed and USPS delivered. Available at:

check gift suggestions.

Also youtube book trailer for ‘Vichy Water’

2 comments on ““It’s a Wonderful Life” Marriage & Weddings. The Jersey Shore: why I love it.

  1. randomly came across this and interesting read. thanks….funny that this came up in a search while attempting to plan a wedding without spending a small fortune (which i am finding IMpossible).

    oh and yeah, we have co-habitated for 3 years, both never married and in our 30s…wouldn’t change a thing!

    • thanks Carla. and the best to you. i seem to remember cohabitating as well for a spell. wouldn’t change a thing either. and. we got married in my wife’s parent’s backyard in brooklyn with jets flying overhead on their approach to jfk. we waited a week before going on our honeymoon. during the week we saw this new movie which had just come out. ‘Star Wars’

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