This week, in the lull between Christmas and New Year’s, I took a day trip to Ocean City with my husband and my youngest son.
Max, a collector of classic rock records, wanted to spend some of his holiday loot on vinyl at GrassRoots Music Store over on Asbury. I needed to drop off our summer lease to the Realtor, and Scott came along for the food. After all, it was Ocean City, so of course it would mean lunch at Mack and Manco.
Oh, scratch that. As we approached the pizza shop on the boardwalk, we were reminded that Mack and Manco is no more. Oh, the wooden placard out front still announced that Mack and Manco was open year-round, and the employees still wore shirts emblazoned with that grand old name. But evidence of the recently announced name change—dropping Mack and adding another Manco—filled the 9th Street location.
Gone were the “Best of” magazine covers that year after year proudly announced another victory over other seashore pizzas. Gone were the souvenir tees and baseball caps, replaced by clothing emblazoned with the Manco and Manco name.
The lone remaining take aways, the classic purple and white soda cups, were being sold for $5 for a sleeve. “Own a piece of history, before it’s all gone,” the hand-written poster beckoned.
Outside, the façade over the building announced the new name, though the faint shadow of “Mack” could still be made out behind the newly added “Manco.” Inside, fortunately, the pizza still tasted the same.
Of course, I knew about the change. After all, the Patch had covered it pretty thoroughly. It will be a small adjustment mentally, and a bit of a loss emotionally. But—since the proof is in the pizza—I’m pretty sure I’ll be able to accept the change relatively easily.
Unfortunately, I can’t say the same for some of the other changes that came in 2011. This year saw many staples in our lives disappear, leaving a hole in our collective memories similar to the empty storefronts left throughout Gloucester County and across the country.
I can still remember the giddiness we felt when Blockbuster Video first moved into town. Oh, sure, there had been other mom-and-pop video stores, but Blockbuster was overflowing with movie night possibilities, and it was amazing to think I wouldn’t have to wait for the annual television broadcast of The Wizard of Oz or worry if I missed the yearly showing of How The Grinch Stole Christmas. Yeah, I guess a lot has changed since the days of VHS or Beta (remember Beta?)—and Netflix and Comcast On-Demand are all I need video-wise these days. But I still was a bit sad to see them shutter up the big box store on Evergreen.
Sadder still? The dwindling choices in bookstores we’ve experienced this year. I grew up in bookstores, literally. (Anyone remember the Nook of Knowledge, around the corner from Grants in Woodbury Heights?) I worked through college in a B. Dalton, back in the day when it was the big competitor to Waldenbooks. They were the '80s version of Barnes and Noble and Borders. Of course, they’ve been long gone, and now Borders has joined their ranks. Another fatality of the Kindle/Nook revolution? Atlantic Books. Once a favorite stop for vacationers looking for beach reading, Atlantic Books closed most of its South Jersey locations this year, including the Stone Harbor location which my stepmother managed for more summers than I can remember.
It’s hard to remember a Sunday night that didn’t include a snarky segment from Andy Rooney, who seemed to be born old and grumpy and never changed his ways.
And Oprah left the airwaves, though she still seems to be everywhere. Not so much those scary "End of the World" billboards, which vanished as quickly as Harold Camping did when the world didn't end in May (or October). But the world (as they knew it) ended at Penn State, with the sad resignation of Joe Paterno and the scandal that will continue to haunt us into the new year.
On the lighter side of college, how many of you planned your college schedules around All My Children? Yep, I’m guilty of this one. Erica and Jeff….or Phil, or Tom, or Nick, or whatever guy she was married to….was must see TV for my sorority sisters. Though I haven’t caught an episode in decades, it was nice to know that Erica was still there, causing havoc in Pine Valley on a daily basis.
Speaking of havoc, in our hometown, we’re saying goodbye to the long-standing Democratic control of the township council. According to the Republican rhetoric, that will mean a lot of other changes as well. We’re in for interesting times.
And 2011 marked the end of the Haddonfield curse on our football team. As someone who has loved WD football even through the lean years (think late '70s), I was thrilled to see our team overcome this stumbling block and go on to a well-deserved state title.
I didn’t want this to become an “in memoriam” column, but I couldn’t say goodbye to 2011 without mentioning the heartbreaking loss of Clarence Clemons, the sax player for the E Street Band. I’ve been attending Springsteen concerts since The River tour, and have witnessed over and over the sheer magic that Clemons was onstage. Just listen to the wailing sax on Jungleland to get a taste of the Bigman, and his bigger legacy. After thirty-plus years of watching him shine, I will miss him terribly.
But Bruce has announced the band will tour next year, and I’ll do my best to be there. I couldn’t imagine doing it any other way. After all, things will always be changing, but we have to continue our journey. Hold fond memories of the days gone by, but keep eyes wide open for the wonders the new year will bring.
Still, I have to confess. I did buy a sleeve of those Mack and Manco cups, just for memory’s sake.