I remember my mother would select a day and call a taxi, to drive Mother, my three sisters and me to the trolley stop in Pleasantville around 9 a.m.. We would board the trolley and ride all the way to the end of Virginia Avenue and the Boardwalk, with our picnic sandwiches. This was around 1939 to 1943.
We would pay to get on the Steel Pier and check the schedule of events that was posted all around the pier areas to see which show or event was going to start at that time. We would climb up to the second deck of the pier to the picnic deck and pick a spot, leave our lunches on a table and then proceed to follow the schedule.
Normally it was a movie, then the water circus and in between the animal cages with monkeys, birds, rabbits or squirrels. We would then eat our lunch.
Next it was time to see the second movie, and by the end of the movie, it was time to catch the trolley back to Smiths Landing, in Pleasantville, where Dad would meet us after his all day at work.
Living on a farm in Egg Harbor Township in those days, it was a big treat to get to go to the Steel Pier.
In 1948 and 1949, I was an usher at the pier, starting out at Tony Grant's Stars of Tomorrow for a few weeks and then I was assigned to the Music Hall, where the vaudeville and movies took place. Many great acts appeared at the Music Hall, including Frank Sinatra and Henny Youngman, and many circus acrobats performed.
I was too young to drive, so I rode my bike to a friend's house in Pleasantville and took the trolley to Atlantic City. I was paid 50 cents per hour, and I liked it when I could work 10 or 12 hours per day. I would buy a milkshake and a hamburger at Fralinger's soda fountain across from the Steel Pier for lunch. If it rained, I would catch a taxi in Pleasantville for 50 cents to our home on Old Egg Harbor Road.
I remember the large crowds waiting in line for all the vaudeville shows. I still have my Steel Pier ID, with picture. - Richard E. Squires, Egg Harbor Township