Last week we went on a stay-cation to Atlantic City with family friends. I had never been to the seaside city known for gambling and entertainment shows. The city itself is run down except for a few up-kept historical spots, a shopping strip and of course the casino/hotels. The boardwalk was a tale of the same, one side vibrant with stores, The Hard Rock Cafe and a pier with rides, games and restaurants. While the other side had not as many, thanks to some businesses closed down and past attractions taken away. One would think that in a city that generates money from gambling there would be more upkeep to so such a large attraction and to the city itself. Although we don’t have to think that hard on where all that money stays (casinos). If only those casinos would invest in the city itself?
We did get to see a few historical places that I found interesting. There is a time capsule buried in front of a church that is to be opened in 2056 that we stopped to see. Although the most interesting place, was the Abescon Lighthouse with an attached house that serves as a museum. Not only did I enjoy this place because of all the history it held but because of the lighthouse keeper, named Buddy. The museum is free but if you pay a fee you can walk up to the top of the lighthouse where the lighthouse keeper, Buddy waits to greet you and tell you more about the site. Buddy is 92 years old! He is there every Friday, although the other employees say he’s there up to three times a week. He served in WWII and traveled with his now deceased wife when they were young.
Buddy who is quite chatty, told me of one particular trip to South America with his wife and how they forewent wanting kids in favor of traveling. My kind of couple! He became interested in becoming a lighthouse keeper after doing the New Jersey Lighthouse Challenge with a few friends. Buddy thoroughly enjoys volunteering there, celebrating his birthdays with the lighthouse staff and has been the lighthouse keeper for what will be 10 years in October. He walks up and down the 228 steps of the lighthouse just like everyone else. Once again Buddy is 92 YEARS OLD! He attributes good genes, and physical activities like the Tai Chi classes he takes to his longevity. Buddy was one of the highlights of the trip for me. If you go to Atlantic City you have to visit Buddy at the top of the Abescon lighthouse!
Facts about the lighthouse:
Jan 15, 1857 was when the lighthouse began shining across the Atlantic. The light beamed 20 miles out to sea.
The position of the current museum is exactly where the original light house keeper lived and it was known as the “Keeper’s Dwelling”.
The assistant keepers dwelling or the assistant lighthouse keeper also had a house, located behind the lighthouse.
By July 11, 1933 the lighthouse was decommissioned or put out of service thanks to the rising skyline of Atlantic City.
Lighthouse keepers had strict rules to follow, like that of a person in the military. They were to stay in the watchroom and never leave unless an assistant keeper or trusted person came and took their place. While other requirements included being neat, sober and managing the upkeep of the lighthouse and the grounds.
The rest of my trip included eating really good Peruvian food at El Chalan on 2641 Artic Ave. Playing Rummikub, which I’m finally getting the hang of thanks to my Rummikub tutor (my mom’s friends), walking the boardwalk at night, riding a ride at the amusement park with my moms thrill loving friend and pushing a single slot machine button. And no, we didn’t win anything! Lastly, a few hours at the beach was spent before heading home.
If you’re interested in visiting Atlantic City in November, Puerto Rican Salsa Group El Gran Combo will be at the Tropicana on November 30th. Make sure to pickup the Atlantic County Coupon Guide in your hotel or at the Absecon Lighthouse for a discount off the admission to the lighthouse and to other events in A.C. Have you ever been to Atlantic City, what was your experience? Let me know in the comments and on social media.-T.S.