Earl Paul calls himself Ocean City’s No. 1 beach bum, and no one should argue.
The 74-year-old said a “series of miracles” brought him to Ocean City from Philadelphia after he retired as a union pipe fitter in 1995, particularly that his late wife asked a Philadelphia deliveryman to suggest where the couple could stay for a weekend at the shore.
His suggestion: Oceanside Condominiums on Plymouth Place, where Paul now lives. Although Paul always loved the beach, he did not become a full-fledged beach bum until after his wife’s death in 1997.
In the peak of summer, he spends 12 hours a day at the beach. In the winter? At least five, even if he has to bring a shovel to clear the snow to his usual spot. Paul said you don’t get credit for a day at the beach until you go there for at least three hours. While there, he can be seen body and boogie boarding, reading the newspaper or talking to friends. He swims from April to December, deciding last year that he should not go in the water if it is colder than 50 degrees.
“I always take two or three chairs with me every day,” said Paul, whose self-published book, “East of the Boardwalk: The Miracle of Ocean City’s #1 Beach Bum,” tells his complete story. “My friends know where they can always find someone to talk to. I am an addict to the beach. It’s a problem, but it’s a good problem.”
The Sinatra guy of LBI
When David Sodano is not singing the songs of Frank Sinatra, he’s practicing singing Sinatra.
The 46-year-old resident of the Brant Beach section of Long Beach Township is known as the Sinatra guy, as he makes most of his living — he does construction work on the side — paying tribute to Ol’ Blue Eyes.
Sodano said he took to big-band music as a child, probably because his Italian family constantly listened to Sinatra and other classic pop artists. He says he was the “weird kid,” listening to Louis Prima while his friends were rocking to the Beatles and Neil Young.
Even though he always enjoyed entertaining people with this outgoing personality, Sodano did not think about becoming a singer until he was 23. He walked into a karaoke bar with some friends, sang Sinatra’s “Summer Wind,” and had a bunch of people tell him how much he sounded like the late crooner.
After a few years of working with the David Christopher Orchestra, where he basically sat around all night to sing two songs at weddings, he started performing at different bars on Long Beach Island and eventually at weddings and private parties in the tri-state area.
“I love it, I really do,” said Sodano, who performs weekly at the Sea Oaks Country Club in Little Egg Harbor Township and Long Beach Island’s Spray Beach Inn and Bayberry Inn on Sundays, Mondays and Thursdays, respectively. “I don’t try to imitate Sinatra. I just sound a lot like him. It’s all about having fun and making people laugh and entertaining them.”