I have only been to the Jersey Shore once, and far from being a place full of MTV-worthy personalities, it was sort of like a slice out of the past — or at least out of a summertime world very different from the one of my California childhood. It is unremarkable and normal for east coasters accustomed to it, but the fact that mothers and children would spend the week at the shore while husbands and fathers still labored in their offices seemed strange to me.
It perhaps should not have seemed so foreign, because my family apparently used to spend summers in the same way. The shore provided a break from the hot summer weather in York, Pennsylvania for my grandmother and her parents (well, her mother at least). In the above photograph, taken some good 10 years before my grandmother was even born, her mother Anna (the younger lady seated) and older brother Arthur (the boy closest to the bottom of the stairs) relax in their summer whites on the porch of the Park-View Inn (boarding and rooms available). My great-grandfather Max is nowhere to be seen, so it is likely that he was still home in York, working at his tobacco wholesale business. I think that this was a Cohen sister vacation — I would like to think that Anna’s sisters Rebecca and Sadie are also present in this photograph but I don’t know their faces well enough to be 100% sure (sometimes I am more sure than others). The little boy seated on the stairs looks a little like it could be Sadie’s son Saul, who often came from New York City to spend time with Arthur in York, and it also looks like Rebecca’s husband Philip is there too — the older gentleman standing near the bottom of the stairs. It would make sense if he was there, even if the other Cohen brother-in-laws were not — he was in the real estate business in New York, which perhaps did not require his presence in the office daily. He was also older than my great-grandfather Max and Sadie’s husband David, so maybe he could simply afford the luxury to take some days off.
I have no idea if the other people in this photograph are related to the Cohens, or if they are just other hotel guests. For that matter, I am also not sure if the Park-View Inn was actually in New Jersey — that’s just a guess based on the fact that I know my grandmother took a lot of summer trips to Atlantic City as a girl and young woman.
I would love to be able to find more photographs to one day determine who really is in this photo and who isn’t, but until then I can only look at this and think about how tranquil and civilized the Jersey Shore must have been, in the days when white was never worn after Labor Day and MTV hadn’t even been invented.