The uncle's first long vacation was a tornado of a trip to Israel. Never was a man more relieved to return home. As he put it, "I didn't see anything there that I couldn't have seen in Atlantic City."
I was a good deal younger when I thought everything the world had to offer - the danger (Pokerino), the passion (french fries) - was compacted on the Boardwalk between the Planters Peanut store and the Deauville Hotel (where the teenagers gathered to act like slave traders). The big events of those childhood summers were sneaking into burlesques and winning a teakettle after three months of daily Skee-ball games. Taunting auctioneers, spitting from the top of the ferris wheel, dreaming of buying Mother a quick-as-a-wink, pre-Cuisinart chopping piles of shredded cabbage, these were the blood and guts of life. Beside such drama the great flood that swirled through our apartment was but an anecdote, my first kiss under the Boardwalk a fizzle.Mornings were spent riding bicycles, zigzagging across the boards in impromptu slalom races, afternoons spent kicking splinters out of our feet and begging for popsicles as we turned an everdarker mahogany. In serene dusks we watched colored rocks purchased at the Chinese novelty shop burst into flowers and stalagmites in the sink. But we waited all day for evening to come, when I would beg to wrap my mother's white beaded sweater around my shoulders and stroll on the Boardwalk, being angelic enough to warrant a donut as it was fished from a moat of grease, trying to divert my grandmother from taking me on a rolling chair pushed by a tired-looking man who made my stomach ache with a guilt of riding. It was a decade in which my sister could look around at the neck chains and pendants and ask, "Do you have to be Jewish to walk on the Boardwalk?"
It was a few years before the Boardwalk made another ethnic flipflop - but you can still get a good corned beef sandwich in Atlantic City.