7 Things You Might Remember if You Lived in South Jersey in the 80s
As we get ready to say goodbye to 2021 and jump head-first into 2022, let's go back in time to the 1980s.
It seems like it was a much simpler time then. You'd get mad at yourself if you forgot to program your VCR to record "Alf." Ordering a pizza while you were out meant you had to find change -- and a payphone. And by the end of the decade, folks were just starting to get online using CompuServe and Prodigy.
Meanwhile, here in South Jersey...
The Shore Mall (originally called Searstown, now known as Harbor Square) opened in 1968 and one could argue it peaked in the 1980s before the Hamilton Mall opened. Shore Mall was home to Sears, JCPenney, Foodtown, Clover, Steinbach, and others – and some great local shops.
In 1987, the $100 million Hamilton Mall opened on some of the Atlantic City Race Track land. JCPenney and Sears moved from the Shore Mall to the new center in Mays Landing and Macy's was originally supposed to be a Bamberger's store. A 4th department store (the big empty area in the back of the mall where the Forever 21 entrance is now) was planned but never built.
In Atlantic City, Showboat Casino opened in 1987 and it had something besides slot machines and restaurants -- it had a huge bowling alley (in fact, I believe the casino's full name was "Showboat Hotel, Casino, and Bowling Center"). Up on the floor where the House of Blues used to be, the neighboring buffet used to be a huge bowling alley. ABC televised several national bowling events from Showboat.
The summer of 1985 had come to an end and just a few weeks later, Hurricane Gloria -- then called "the storm of the century" -- plowed up the East Coast. Winds gusted as high as 101 MPH in Ocean City as the storm passed before it made landfall on Long Island, NY.
“Is it Frank’s? Thanks!”
Frank’s made a bunch of different sodas from a factory in Philadelphia — grape, vanilla creme, ginger ale, and others — but it was their black cherry wishniak that made them a local legend. The 80s were huge for Frank's, but by 1990 the company was sold and they pretty much disappeared from store shelves.
There was a drive-in movie theater in Wildwood -- The Wildwood Twin Drive-In -- right off of Exit 4. This theater originally opened in 1950 and in the mid 70s they added a second screen to become a "twin." For whatever reason, I remember seeing "Goonies" here as a kid in 1985. The Wildwood Twin Drive-In closed at the end of the 1986 season and any trace of it is long gone.
If you grew-up in Philly or South Jersey in the 1970s, you knew who Jim O'Brien was -- an extremely popular radio air personality to moved over to Channel 6 in 1971 where he quickly became one of the most beloved weather people in town. One of O'Brien's hobbies was skydiving -- and it was a skydiving accident that claimed his life in September, 1983.