SHOOBIE SHUFFLE- Uncle Eddie Berg, The Boy Who Fell in Love with Wildwood

uncle eddie and cave man

Golden Nugget 1970
The sun was just beginning to rise over the factories and smokestacks of Kensington, as 11-year-old Eddie Berg peered out of his bedroom window. A sense of anticipation abounded on this briliiant, late spring morning. After all, a great adventure lied ahead, as Eddie’s older sister Patricia had promised him. Downstairs, Patricia and their mother, Florence, were wrapping up fresh sandwiches and snacks for the trip ahead.
Within an hour or so, Eddie, Patricia and Florence were on the #3 Bus, en route to 47th & Market in Downtown Philadelphia. There, they boarded the “Sea Gull Express,” bound for Wildwood, New Jersey.
Eddie tried to comprehend and envision it, over and over. All he could picture was this forest-like place, overrun with shrubs and creatures of nature, with pathways that led to a nearly-deserted beach (less than a century prior, his imagination would have been quite accurate).
He had been to the seashore before. He loved Atlantic City – Steel Pier, the larger-than-life spectacles like the famous Diving Horse, Captain Starn’s Restaurant, the Boardwalk and the simple pleasures of the salt air and surf. But Patricia insisted that this new place they were heading to was different.
In the years to come, Eddie wouldn’t remember much about the ride down, other than the sense that it took forever to get there. The seemingly-endless scenery of the tree-lined Garden State Parkway validated his suspicion that he was headed toward some kind of glorified camping resort. He was sure of it.
When the bus finally crossed the bridge, however, he couldn’t believe his eyes. Before him unfolded a place unlike anything he had ever seen, with a pulsating energy he could not have imagined.
His most vivid memory was pulling into the old bus terminal on Wildwood Avenue, next to the Martinique Motel & Club. Across the street, the bright pink flamboyancy and neon elves adorning Laura’s Fudge Shop made him feel like he had just arrived in some kind of fantasy land.
After exiting the bus, Eddie caught his first glimpse of the Boardwalk, a half block away. Sensing the excitement, he wanted to go there immediately; but first, he had to trek a few blocks to the modest boarding house where he, his sister and his mom would spend the night.
There was little disappointment, as fascinating sights jumped from every side street they passed – grand, rustic hotels with towering witches’ turrets, colorful motels with big, bold signage… even the corner delis and laundromats had zany, playful monikers.
This was how he envisioned Vegas, except way better – and supposedly right by the ocean!

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