Long Beach Island is also this kind of place:
Dick and Nancy McCullough bought Bob's, a custard stand at 5th Street and Long Beach Boulevard in Ship Bottom, three years ago. They were too busy selling soft ice cream to think about a new name.
"People would constantly be coming in and asking me if I was Bob," said McCullough. "I'd spend my days saying, 'I'm not Bob.' And then I figured, gee, why not?"
And sure enough, the best soft ice cream joint on the island is now called Not Bob's.
Long Beach Island is this kind of place too:
There's an old-time arcade and miniature golf place called The Beacon at 18th Street and Long Beach Boulevard in North Beach Haven. The owners scrunched as many holes as their small parcel would allow - a mind-numbing 34 - into their course, making it the largest at the shore.
But as American business competition would have it, Mr. Tee's Arcade opened up right behind The Beacon to go it one better. Mr. Tee's has 35 miniature golf holes, enough to keep you putt-putting 'til the cows come home.
The people who go to Long Beach Island don't acknowledge that anything good exists anywhere else at the Jersey shore. Whether they are the chic and ritzy
from the northern end of the island or the more partying kind who gravitate south, Long Beach Islanders are like family members who carp at each other's peculiarities, but are proud of them nonetheless.
"There's a bit of a rivalry between the north part of the island and the south,"said JoAnn LoDuca of hch Real Estate in Harvey Cedars. "But that way we know there is something for everyone here."
The northern part of the island (Barnegat Light south through Surf City) has been the more exclusive for generations, but has been undergoing a building boom in the last 10 years since the county put in sewer lines.
"Before the sewer moratorium was lifted, we all had to have cesspools," said LoDuca. "You needed a lot of space around your house, if you get my
drift. The only guy who cleaned cesspools was named Tyrone Power. He wasn't the movie star, but he was the most popular guy around here."
Either Tyrone Power could have lived on Sunset Boulevard; the one in Barnegat Light is in a 1950s development by the bay that is now being renovated to provide, one hopes, less expensive housing than normal in the northern part of the island.
Weekly renters can spend as little as $200 a week for bayside rentals in the south part of the island - or up to $9,000 a week for a mansion on 125 feet of Loveladies bay front.
More than any place at the shore, though, the same people rent the same places year after year.
"Each summer, you grew up with the same kids on the same streets," said realtor Karen Myers. "It's a place where you have kickball games. It's a real second home."
There are no boardwalks on Long Beach Island, but there is still a variety of family activities, especially in the south. There are arcades every few blocks along Long Beach Boulevard, the only continuous north-south street on the island, as well as a wealth of miniature golf and two four-plex movie theaters (the Colony at 35th Street in Brant Beach and the Beach at 95th Street in Peahala).
There is also the Surflight Theatre (Beach and Engleside avenues, Beach Haven), the only repertory theater at the Jersey shore. The Surflight has started its 39th season, but this time in a new 450-seat theater adjacent to the converted garage that housed it before. There will be 20 shows (mostly Broadway musicals) over 22 weeks, with children's theater every Wednesday through Friday at 6 p.m. Seats are $15 for the regular shows and $3 for the children's.
Surflight president T. Scott Henderson is a former banker. "I came here in 1971 and I never left," he said. "I always loved the theater and, so, here I am."
Henderson also runs the Showplace ice cream parlor next to the theater, which seats 120 people every 40 minutes for ice cream with a twist - an Oliver Twist, perhaps. If you order a $4.50 sundae with that theatrical name, your waitress will make you and your party get up and do the twist. Order a South Pacific Enchantment and everyone around does a hula. After all the ordering, the staff does a 10-15 minute Broadway revue.
"But anyone who orders a Diet Coke gets lifted up on their chair and taken out of the place," said Henderson. "Things are fun around here."
A little of the island's fun for naturalists has been taken away this summer, but for the general good.
The Army Corps of Engineers is dredging a new channel at Barnegat Inlet at the northern tip of the island. The project will eventually help the sea wall and thwart beach erosion, but right now it will disrupt boat traffic and nearby fishing.
And the Forsythe National Wildlife Preserve's Holgate unit, at the southern tip of the island, is off limits to humans because the endangered piping plover is nesting there. The plover was made nearly extinct 60 years ago
because its feathers were used in the millinery trade, but many of the 700 pairs left will nest at Brigantine through mid-July. If the nesting is successful, the preserve will reopen to surf fishing, birding and nature walks in late August.
Little other shore stuff is endangered on Long Beach Island. There is a
horseshoe pit at the Harvey Cedars Recreation Area on the bay, a grand exotic plant store (Interior Water Gardens at 6th Street and the Boulevard in Surf City), a huge pyramid adorned with $5 sunglasses (Sunglass Surf Safari, 25th Street and the Boulevard in Ship Bottom) and even a place where you might see Joe Piscopo (Mario & Joe Pop's nightclub-restaurant, 20th Street and the Boulevard in Ship Bottom) when he comes to visit his parents' home in Beach Haven.
Long Beach Island is that kind of place.
HOW TO GET TAGGED ON LONG BEACH ISLAND
Beach tags on Long Beach Island can be bought at the various city halls or on the beach from vendors.
Barnegat Light. Seasonal: $7 before June 15, $11 after that. Weekly, $8; daily: $3; senior citizens free.
Harvey Cedars. Seasonal: $8 before May 31, $10 after that. Weekly: $5.
Long Beach Township, Beach Haven. Seasonal: $5 before June 15, $8 after that. Weekly: $3; senior citizens free.
Surf City and Ship Bottom. Seasonal: $8 before June 1, $10 after that. Weekly: $5.