Greetings from Asbury Park: On the Boardwalk
Asbury Park, NJ – Cherie and I tripped through here last summer. She’s a Jersey girl. Used to pay fifty cents to see Springsteen and the E Street Band at the Stone Pony before they made it big. For me, finally making it to Asbury Park was many moons too late. Still, I had to smile walking along the boardwalk. All of those lyrics by Springsteen came back to me. “Kids huddled on the beach in the mist…”
Out on the beach a few families hung out, a rocky pier jutted out about 50 yards into the cold blue Atlantic, and a lifeguard stood nearby. At the end of the boardwalk was a long, red-brick building stretching from Ocean Avenue to the edge of the shore – the Asbury Park Convention Hall. We walked inside: shops, a concert hall, posters announcing the coming concert featuring the Turtles and other ‘60s rock groups, and a restaurant and bar.
A crowd gathered on the boardwalk to watch guys pound a sledgehammer and try to ring the bell at the top of the tall mark. Moan and groans. Nobody was coming close to reaching the top.
The Stone Pony faces the beach in Asbury Park, NJ. A little bar in a little Jersey beach town. So simple, so beautiful. This is where it all began for Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band a long time ago. The great Clarence Clemons, the band’s saxophonist, had died two weeks before. Pictures and posters and flowers lined the beach side wall of the Stone Pony on that cloudy Sunday afternoon in July. The Big Man, the big smile, the big sound – gone.
Further down the boardwalk stood a fortune-teller’s shop. “You know the cops finally busted Madam Marie for telling fortunes better than they do…” I wish I had been here forty years ago.