Labor Day Weekend - 2003
Wanted to put down a few lines to remember our Labor Day 2003 family weekend at the shore. It started and ended a day early to avoid the crowds, yet we had a fun-filled and very enjoyable time nonetheless!
Unfortunately, due to circumstances beyond control, John and Fran were unable get to LBI until Sunday morning. They did make it in time to oversee group picture taking (smile and say L'titz') and to enjoy our send-off meal together at the Bayside Diner.
It started Thursday afternoon as three carloads of Mahoney family members (Billy-Stella and Mom, Margo-Chris and Brianna, and Sue and Jim) began to converge on LBI. Cell phone towers were buzzing with calls as we coordinated our approach, as we managed to arrive within an half-hour of each other, though coming from all points of the globe, sort of...
Billy's car had arrived first then Sue and I got to the house a couple minutes later. He and Mom had managed to get the doors unlocked, windows open and some of the power on but were unable to locate the water valve. Sue and I got the water going and the other circuit breakers energized. Minutes later Margo and her group arrived and the party weekend officially began.
We did a quick trunk unload and dump then headed for dinner. Following the simple guidelines of 'no waiting line and air-conditioned restaurant', we headed uptown for an eatery. Buckalews was our first choice, but they had a huge line so we continued driving north.
The Bayside Diner in Spray Beach had been mentioned as a possibility if it was still open at his hour. However, as we passed by, the diner was empty and the staff was sitting out front hoping for no customers and an early quit, but we arrived to spoil their hopes and they welcomed us with open menus
It took them a little while to get the kitchen up to temp, but in no time our table was full of plates and the conversations were flowing. It had been some time since Billy had been back east and it was great to see him and his fam. We entertained ourselves and the waitress as the courses arrived. Their posted closing time came and went as we finished our dinner, with no prodding from them for us to hurry. A fine meal was had by all and Mom had selected the lump crab cake she had enjoyed on her last visit down with us in early August.
We stopped for a couple groceries on the way back to the house. Once there Billy and Stella wanted to retire early as they continued to suffer from jet lag. Margo and Mom also were ready to hit the sack, but Brianna was ready to party. So Christopher, Sue, Bri and I went up to the beach to hang out, sip some wine and do a little star gazing. Luckily, the mosquitoes were scarce and did not annoy us. The stars twinkled above as we looked for some to fall out of the sky but none happened by, at least when we were looking.
There was no moon this night, but a very bright Mars (in it's closest approach to earth in 60,000 years) that cast its glow upon the shore. A lack of moonlight allowed jellyfish phosphorescence to put on quite the show as Bri and I dipped our toes in the water. Before long we were all enjoying the fun, playfully slamming jellyfish on the sand to see their explosions of green light. After an hour or so of getting glowing green fingers and toes, we eventually went back to the house to wrap up the night and tuck ourselves into our respective sleeping spaces.
Billy and his crew had been assigned the ocean room mainly for his love of sleeping in a hot room and the two beds available. Margo had the bay room, otherwise known as Margo's room, while Mom got the fold out cot (considered an upgrade from the couch she normally sleeps on) in the back room. While Sue and I took the front porch, she on the ocean end couch, while I took the sleeper sofa at the bay-end. I opted for the 'perpendicular to the bed frame' position which I have perfected over the years and which my delicate skeleton sincerely appreciates.
Friday morning we crawled out of bed in dribs and drabs, congregating on the back deck to welcome the first morning together. Breakfast consisted of coffee and yummy sticky buns that Christopher had acquired on his trek up town at the crack of dawn in pursuit of bait. Chris was already up at the big rock pile fishing. Sue and Bri were the next to head to the beach to check on his progress and cheer him on.
Billy and Stella were the last to show up on the deck as they so enjoyed the inviting warmth of the ocean room. The fan they had chosen for Bri's comfort the evening before, had apparently been re-positioned numerous times throughout the night, not for the meager breeze it provided but rather to get the molded plastic casing vibrating in perfect harmony with the buzzing bug wings that were hovering in the warm night air just outside their windows.
Eventually I took a walk up to the big rock pile to check on the fishing and take a few pictures. Found that Chris was emptying the ocean of skates and also had hooked a sea robin; but otherwise a fresh seafood meal for the family was not looking too likely. I didn't stay long then walked back down the beach heading for the house.
Sue and Brianna soon came back themselves, talking of a sea-robin that Bri had reeled onto the shore herself. Soon after that we all went up to the beach for a swim and some sun. Mom stayed behind to guard the fort.
Brianna got a crash course in boogie board riding, more like 'crash and burn', as she attempted to ride a big wave. The white water consumed her and the board leaving her high and dry on her belly gasping for air, spitting out sand and seashells. That slowed her down a bit, however soon after she was back frolicking in the waves though she didn't venture back into the 'deep-end' until big and fearless Auntie Chris convinced her she was safe with him and he got her back in the ocean.
We eventually all came back to the house for a shower and to prepare for an early dinner and the evening festivities. Margo was starving and just had to get a bite at the Holiday Snack Bar, while the rest of us showered and prepared to go out. The sky had been clouding up and rain was in the forecast but that did not dampen our spirits.
Continuing to adhere to the restaurant choosing guideline from the night before, we went to Buckalews for dinner, arriving well before the crowd. However we were so early the room with big tables had not been opened yet, so we opted to sit at two adjacent tables; one for carnivores, the other for vegans and a small appetite Mom. A very tasteful dinner was had as our two tables kept the waitress hopping throughout.
Early into the meal, big brother Jim had decided to pick up the tab, skillfully thinking that an already 'full of cheeseburgers, appetite-less' Margo and Chris, plus the low cost of lettuce, would minimize the damages. But much to his surprise the other table had multiple courses of rabbit food, while Margo and Chris ordered quality food rather then quantity, plus our table had a few cocktails all of which enhanced the bill. But have no fear, Jim's generosity and checking account balance was up to the task, and he really wasn't thinking that way anyhow. :-)
It had already been decided that Showplace Ice Cream Parlour was the place for our dessert this night, so from Buckalews we walked up the street to get in line for the next seating. This would be Stella's first time and she was excited to see all the fine choices on the menu which we perused as we waited to be let in. Moments after being escorted to a table our waiter took our orders and soon various large dishes of tasteful and calorie filled ice cream arrived and the show began.
By now Stella was aware of the game and somewhat fretful of being picked, yet as luck would have it she was. While appearing to chicken out at first, like the folks at the previous table, she took the challenge and performed a remarkable Show Place serenade and dance of "peanut, peanut butter...ice cream" all captured on Billy's videocam for posterity sake. After gorging on ice cream we waited outside for Chris to pay the bill, then we waddled back to the cars and back to the house to digest it all.
However, still being early in the night a visit to Fantasy Island (historically known as Hartman's) was next on the agenda. Mom, Sue and I declined to go along, while the rest headed out the door. "Look out goodie machines, CK is on the way to empty you out!!!" A couple hours later they came back home with a bag full of winnings. Another beach party was discussed but lightning danced in the night sky and all felt it was not a good idea. So we hung at the house, inside and out, to finish out the evening... eventually all of us drifted off to bed.
Saturday morning arrived and again Chris was first up and off to the rock pile to terrorize the fish. As the morning passed the rest of us gathered on the deck, to enjoy morning bugs and coffee.
Much to Billy's chagrin, the previous night had been somewhat cooler, and the pedestal fan I suggested was too good at creating a breeze then harmonizing with the bugs. So after awakening from a good night's sleep he pulled out his guitar and wowed us with his remarkable playing and singing talents. His steadily improving abilities were demonstrated as he strummed and sang to us quite a variety of contemporary song favorites.
This night had big plans, as Margo was holding tickets to see Bruce Springsteen at Giants Stadium. She had two for her and Chris; and had somehow miraculously acquired two more for Billy and Stella at the last minute. But as things, evolved it was determined that Sue and Jim would go to the show instead. That left Billy, Brianna and Stella to hang with Mom and entertain themselves after we took off for the concert.
We then suited up and went to the beach for some more swimming. The ocean temp had taken a dive from the day before and it was indeed a bit nippy. So after an hour or so on the beach it was decided to head back to the house for showers and a change of clothes. Then we would have a group lunch at Chicken or the Egg, or the 'Chegg' for short, before the Springsteen crew took off for the Meadowlands complex in North Jersey.
We were running slightly behind schedule as we arrived at the Chegg, then had to wait a few more minutes to get seated. But our waiter was extraordinary, he took our complicated eat-in & take-out order and had it all out on the table in record time. As 2:30 approached, Margo paid the check (thank you), gave her credit card to Billy, then we split into two groups.
Margo, Sue, Chris and I jumped in the Blazer to go north; while the others went back to the house. They had plans to see Peter Pan that night, as tickets had been ordered during lunch, the rest of the day was up to them to fill.
On the drive north we played Springsteen all the way, starting with The Rising, then having a group sing-along to the entire Born To Run album as well as selected songs from his other two classic first records. Our contingent got to Barry's house around 5pm after driving through some heavy rain. The skies still did not look too inviting for the outside concert we would soon be attending but the weather channel assured us it would pass. Moments later Barry's girlfriend Fran arrived, we got back in the cars and headed for the stadium and the pre-concert tailgate party.
Traffic was heavy as we approached the Meadowlands, with the famous New York City skyline hazily visible off to our right. It was just about 7pm when we took two adjacent parking spots and set up amongst thousands of other fans, food and drink soon appeared to fuel our little party. My sincere thanks goes out to www.mrjohn.com for having placed a facility so near our parking spot and supplying it with dry paper so I could relieve myself prior to going into the show.
Barry had the timing down perfectly, the tickets said 7:30, but we got to our seats about 8:15 and no more then 5 minutes passed when the show began...Brruuuce! The skies had cleared, the air temperature was perfect. Bruce and the E-Street band put on a great show for the mostly packed stadium. The sound was very good considering the venue and the setlist was superb, with much from his latest release The Rising, plus many old faves as well including Rosalita.
Sue and I had sat in a different section from the others for the concert. We all met up back at the cars afterwards for a post-show party designed to avoid the traffic jam that occurred as all the cars emptied from the lot. We eventually got on our way and arrived back on LBI a bit after 2am. Hats off to Chris for being a superb chauffer (other then that almost chance meeting on the Jersey Turnpike with an 18-wheeler at the toll booth ). Endless thanks to Margo (and Billy) for the tix, what a great show!!!
Walking in the house, Bart Simpson was standing by the refrigerator, at least a blowup version, so we knew the other crew must have had some fun while we were gone. Chris and Margo went right up to bed as they were tired and seemed to be coming down with colds. Sue and I took a brief walk to the beach then went to bed as well.
Sunday morning arrived, a bit grey but the weather man was promising better. John and Fran were expected to join us this day; though Sue and I were departing in the early afternoon since she had to be at work by midnight for the night shift.
Chris did not go fishing this morning since he was feeling low, but still went up town to get us some stinky buns. Apparently he got the last box, managing to acquire them just ahead of some less then courteous woman who had stolen his parking spot moments before. Yay Chris!!!
Our weekend was slowly drawing to a close. Margo and Chris were indeed sickly and said they would likely be heading home this day as well. Yet we still had some hours to go and a little before noon John and Fran arrived to complete our gathering. We laughed and joked together for a while and as our departure time approached we decided to have one more meal together at the Bayside before splitting up and heading our separate ways. First however, group pictures had to be taken... so John got his camera stuff together and we all gathered on the back deck.
In honor of our departed father and husband, James F Mahoney Sr, who had introduced us all to the lure of Long Beach Island, we included the blow-up Bart Simpson in the pictures as his stand-in. First a couple of pictures of the four Mahoney siblings were taken, then we all got together for a family group shot. A more smiley-faced, mirth-filled, joking group could not have been found on the island, or anywhere else on earth for that matter, this afternoon.
As time had passed it was decided all would be departing LBI this day, so we began to gather our things about the house. The others would come back to Jacqueline after lunch to shut the place down after the meal. Sue and I packed our stuff, then we got in our cars and headed for the Bayside and our closing meal. Small place that it is, and packed as it was when we arrived, we were still fortunate enough to get two tables across from each other, to enjoy our lunch.
We enjoyed a fine meal, Johnny picked up the tab, then we said our good byes and took off down the road for Rochester. Hours later cell phone calls revealed that Johnny was the last to leave LBI and had closed up the house. Many thanks to John and Fran, since you both missed out on the entire weekend, yet took on the final close-out duties!
Sept 1, 2003