This idea did not come from a dream. It came from a gentleman I hold in the highest regard. I was attending a dinner for those who were participating in the Atlantic City Airshow, and I was invited to sit down and talk with this gentleman about it.
He told me he felt something needed to be added in the evening preceding the show. He said he had spoken with some of the people from the Greater Atlantic City Chamber of Commerce about having a parade on the Boardwalk on Tuesday, the evening before the air show. I asked, "What kind of reaction did you get?" He responded that they felt they had too much to do with the show and couldn't direct their attention to a parade. I jumped up and said it's a great idea, and said I will help to get it done
I brought this idea up on my radio show and asked for the opinion of my listeners. I received a dozen calls, and all were very enthusiastic about having a parade for the participants of the air show. I spoke with Chamber President Joe Kelly, and he said if I can put together a quality parade, he would be happy to support it.
To me, there is only one man in this area who could put a parade of this magnitude together, and that is Charles Coyle. Coyle is the maven of putting on Boardwalk parades. He and his volunteer staff have been involved with putting on the Miss America parade and many others over the years, including for the Miss Senior America New Jersey. I asked him if he would be willing to do it and he said he would be delighted. The only thing he asked was if he could wear his Army lieutenant colonels uniform while directing the parade. I told him if it still fits, he may wear it.
I then approached Rep. Frank LoBiondo, R-2nd, and asked if it would be possible to get military bands to participate. He said as soon as we have the date set and all the approvals necessary, he would begin working on getting bands from each of the services involved. While we are at it, let's invite President Barack Obama or Vice President Joe Biden, Gov. Chris Christie and the commanding officers of the Armed Forces. Think big, why not?
Just imagine the representatives of the United States Army, Air Force, Navy, Coast Guard and National Guard - who will be participating in the Atlantic City Airshow, "Thunder Over The Boardwalk" - and representatives of the various Veteran's Organizations, who served so proudly in service to their nation, all marching down the Boardwalk to the cheers of several hundred thousand who will turn out to let them know the respect we have for them.
There is one other aspect I would like to add to the parade. At its conclusion, all would be invited to Boardwalk Hall to personally meet and greet the parade's participants. There could be places for people to take pictures with the servicemen and women. Armed Forces recruiting officers could have recruiting booths set up around the perimeter for those interested. The public would be able to buy soft drinks and Atlantic City food items.
Can you imagine this happening? I can. And, if all cooperate, the Atlantic City Airshow would be a two-day event. I would appreciate hearing your reaction to this proposal by a man who cares about the city and who proffered this idea.
I remember writing about my trip to see the Boardwalk set HBO constructed in Brooklyn for the upcoming series "Boardwalk Empire." I told you that, to me, the most exciting store was the Incubator Store. After describing it and talking about it on my radio show, many felt I was making it up. They could not believe health officials at that time would allow a preemie baby out of the hospital and put in a store front where people could walk within a foot of the babies. The nurses would take them out of their incubator and hold the babies for people to get a close view. It is my understanding that Enoch "Nucky" Johnson used to visit the Incubator Store and a nurse would take a baby out and allow him to touch it. You may see that in a scene from "Boardwalk Empire."
Would you like to see a former incubator baby? Soon, you will have that chance to do so. The following is an e-mail I received 10 days ago from Carol Boyce Heinisch, of Absecon:
"While driving home yesterday, I noted with great interest Pinky's comment that he had opened the door of "The Incubator Store" on this set of "Boardwalk Empire." Had he opened the door to the real thing in this summer of 1942, he would have visited me! I was in Dr. Couney's facility from June 19, 1942, to Aug. 9, 1942. I have a well-worn 8 x 10 photograph of me being held by Nurse Cooney (spelled incorrectly)
"About 15 years ago, an article appeared in The Press concerning a man and his twin sister who were born the day after I was and resided in The Incubator, too. I misplaced the article and unfortunately, do not know his name. I believe he resided in Pomona at that time. From what I remember, he was a chef at one of the casinos and he had a premature granddaughter, as I do, too. It might be interesting to see how many "local" incubator babies are still in this area.
"In the 1970s an ad appeared in The Press, to which my mother responded. Apparently, a doctor from New York was contemplating writing a book about Dr. Couney and his Incubator Babies. My mother met with him, I believe she gave him a picture of me and he told her he would send her a copy of his book. Perhaps, it was never published as she never heard from them again."
After I received her e-mail, I called her and asked her if she would like to be on my television show with me and we are setting a date. I will let you know when it comes about. What a treat it was to talk with someone who lived in the Atlantic City's Incubator Store for seven weeks.
The amount of publicity for "Boardwalk Empire" surpasses anything that has ever happened in Atlantic City. Canada's Edmonton Journal said it was one of the hottest shows to come out in years. This past Sunday's New York Times' Arts and Leisure section's front page was entitled "On The Boardwalk, HBO Hangs Out With A New Mob."
The story said HBO spent $5 million to build a "300-foot long old-fashioned seaside boardwalk ... not just a facade, but a collection of clubs, restaurants, a photo studio, salt-water taffy joints, even a place where for 25 cents you could have peered at premature babies. Except that the incubators were empty. So were the shops." There was also a story about the music of the show and how producers were careful to have songs of that era by Al Jolson, Sophie Tucker and Eddie Cantor., who often played Atlantic City.
(Pinky's Corner airs 4 to 6 p.m. Mondays through Fridays on WOND-AM 1400. His TV show, "WMGM Presents Pinky," airs 7:30 p.m. Saturdays on WMGM-TV 40. Pinky's e-mail address is: email@example.com.)