Who knew that two disappearing storm drains on Broadway could evoke nostalgia, but that is what happened. Ted Aanensen of Ocean Grove spent some of his childhood in our town, and one of his fond memories has to do with the clunky storm drains at both sides of the corner of Central Avenue and Broadway, and their tendency to form beach rivers whenever there were heavy rains at the south end of town. The Broadway drains emptied in Bradley Beach, while the Main Avenue ones exited at our south beach. If you ever wondered what floats Ted’s boat, here is his answer:
“I was here in the summers when the cars were not allowed on Sundays. All my life, now almost 68 years, I have loved walking across these little bridges at this corner. They have been unique to Ocean Grove, and I am sad to see them leaving. When they are gone, we will have simple slanted streets like any other community, and not these mysterious- magical bridges to walk over; like a moat into a castle — childhood fantasy remains. These little bridges provided a scary, mysterious playground for many youngsters. How many times was I told ‘Don’t get too close, you’ll get sucked down that drain.’
“As a child, I did send paper or wooden boats and planes down these drains, hoping to see them emerge on the other side or down at the ocean. The flow from Main Avenue exited as rivers out to the beach, and you could check for your boat there. On those very quiet Sundays you needed to find adventures wherever you could. Oh well, progress…”
Five years ago, I went to the beach in OG to observe the summer fun that occurs when the “after five” crowd arrives. It was fascinating to see a whole different community show up to picnic, swim and enjoy their kids romping around.
There I found echoes of what Ted is describing: children playing by a river of water that has now been diverted to some culvert being created by those monster machines on Broadway — perhaps the stuff of children’s fantasies as progress moves on in 2012. – Paul Goldfinger
SOUNDTRACK: One wonderful thing for kids that involves water is the same as it was years ago. In fact maybe Ted can remember this game — it’s so fun; sung by Kelly Hogan: