Life On The Jersey Shore During The 1970s

The Jersey Shore... circa 1970..

I grew up in the arcades of the Jersey Shore from from the later '60s through the '70s. My dad had worked for, and owned, a few arcades. We always had a couple of pinball machines in the house and the kids were always in my basement playing them.

I remember the 'red dimes'. Other people had their own methods, but my dad had to have a way to know if it was us playing the machines in his arcade, or a customer. He'd paint the dimes  - yes-  dimes. The games were ten cents, a nickel... some even a penny.. quarters were the stomping ground of the wealthy. When he collected the machines every night, and counted the take on the kitchen table being carefull to separate the red dime, canadian coins, slugs, wheat pennies, and silver... he'd know not to count the red dimes... at least.. 

( Look up this game )

Looking back everything seemed so 'new' and creative. Machines back then weren't just another computer program on the same two joysticks with a monitor. The guys who made these machines were truly creative. One of my favorites was a race car game where the object was to simply not hit the other cars. It consisted of two transparent disks inside with painted cars - each disk moved at a slightly different speed. You had to wait until there was room to pass, then gun it. They made a few different models.. one was motorcycles.

Another was any of one of many submarine periscope games where you'd shoot at ships that moved past pulled by a chain inside the game. The sounds back then were not just a recorded digital effect. One of these games used a stretched spring near a magnetic pickup to create a pseudo explosion sound. I knew this because I had to fix one once. How bizarre.

Hey.. this article is about the shore - not so much my personal experiences with the games.. but I will go off on tangents as needed.

The Jersey Shore... Mine was Long Branch. Before the Hauntend Mansion was Leon's Arcade. That's where I cut my teet on Skeeball. Back then you dropped a dime in and pulled the handle. We had a device called a 'trip' that looked like a dime welded to the end of a 6 inch steel wire. You'd leave it in the dime slot and play all day for free.

( find a reference to a trip )

What some people did not realize that those tickets that shoot out when you score big didn't always shoot out on their own. In the '50s and early '60s it was more common that the 'guy' with the change bag on stood behind people while they played and gave out the tickets by hand. My dad was involved in the first conversion to automatic ticket dispensors. Those parts, and others, were always in my basement so I did examine them to figure out how they worked... Tangent... gettting back.

Pizza was king. Everyone had good pizza, and sausage w/ onions, and big grilled hot dogs that you can mostly only find on the Jersey Shore. Schickhaus was the brand of hot dog we always had.

The boardwalk pizza stand always had a half dozen of more 'pies' ready so you could order a slice. Not a lot of places do slices - at least not inland. 

There were also the 'French Fry Brothers' who had tons of potatoes and would cut and fry them fresh then serve them in a paper cone with vinegar. To me this was exotic.. I was 8, or 9.. I always wondered why these guys worked in their tshirts.. the heat must have be tortorous but the lines never stopped. If they didn't go through a ton a day I'd be surprised.

 Every boardwalk had it's specialty game place. There was Leon's, which became the Long Branch Arcade in Long Branch, and 5th Avenue Funland, The Palace, and the Casino Arcade in Asbury Park.. Those I knew the best. I had one great advantage.. the city bus stopped in front of my house and me and a friend would jump on it from Long Branch and get dropped off at the Palace. The Palace deserves it's own page.


This work is in progress... too many directions to go which may wind up being separate pages themselves... to be spell checked, grammar checked, and continued.





The photos on this page are from the Library Of Congress. They are part of the 


Image References:

Images are from the "John Margolies Roadside America Photograph Archive" at the Library Of Congress



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