I probably had the best summer job a teenager could have when I worked worked for the Hamid family at Steel Pier. It was the summers of 1967 and 1968, and I did an assortment of odd jobs in the executive offices.
I needed to learn how to work the old-fashioned switchboard so that I could fill in for the regular operator during her lunch breaks and days off. One day, as I was sitting at the switchboard with a web of incoming and outgoing calls, into the office comes a circus family with their fully dressed ape. (Mr Hamid Sr. ran a circus and during the summer the entertainers would come to the Steel Pier to meet with him and sign their contracts.) They decided to leave the ape with me for a few minutes while they talked to Mr Hamid. Big mistake — this ape took a liking to me, sat in my lap, groomed my hair and then went to work on the switchboard, randomly pulling cords out of their plugs. One of these disconnected calls was from a star’s dressing room with his agent in Los Angeles. Needless to say, he was not a happy man.
Occassionally I was called upon to drive the entertainers from the Ballroom end of the pier back up to the Boardwalk. For obvious reasons, it wasn’t feasible for them to walk back through the crowds. Case in point, bringing the Beach Boys from the Ballroom through the throngs of screaming teenagers. The Pier had a station wagon and I was behind the wheel, following the police who were clearing a path for the car, and I had THE BEACH BOYS in the car. I was 17 and my heart was beating a mile a minute. Also, I often would take the entertainers back to their hotels between shows. ... Imagine in September, going back to school and sharing what I did over the summer — and sharing the autographed pictures I collected from Smokey Robinson, The Four Tops and the other stars I met at my incredibly fun job. — Gwenn Graves Hamilton, Orlando, Fla. (formerly of Margate)
The year was 1963, and we had just moved to Sea Isle City. Remembering a visit to Steel Pier in 1960, I suggested our family go there for the day. We packed a lunch in a cooler for the seven of us and began our first of many days of fun. I think the price was $2.98 each for my husband and me and 99 cents each for the five kids. We placed our cooler on a picnic table and started to see what was playing. We saw two movies, a stage show, watched the lady on the Diving Horse and returned to the Ballroom to hear the featured group of the day. We returned to eat our lunch — the cooler was still where we put it — then went back for more fun.
I recently asked the children (now grown with children of their own) what they remembered and they mentioned: the Rolling Stones, Chicago, and Herman's Hermits. They also recalled meeting Don Adams (from “Get Smart”) and the Lennon Sisters. It was an inexpensive way to have fun for our big family, and we were always sorry when it ended. — Sheila and Robert Boyle, Ocean View
I am 76 years old and have very fond memories of Steel Pier. In a scrapbook I have a picture of my father, Jesse Barber, who did pipe construction on the pier in 1931.
We loved the stage shows, big bands, great movies, the Diving Bell and Diving Horse and more. My 92-year-old sister, Jessie, was once secretary to George Hamid Sr. and she was a professional singer. As a teenager, I sold tickets. Also I was errand boy for Buddy Rogers — the husband of silent-film star Mary Pickford — when he performed on the Pier. And as a young adult, I was a pianist for a few Big Bands on the Pier.
My wife, who is 64, remembers seeing Elvis’ first movie on The Pier. And she remembers shaking hands with Frankie Avalon and seeing Bobby Rydell and Paul Anka perform. While Marie was on the front row of a Ricky Nelson concert, her friend asked a security guard if she could have a disposable water drinking cup that Ricky used, and he gave it to her. Marie also won a huge stuffed poodle on The Pier, putting rings on Coke bottles.
Steel Pier, with so many wonderful attractions, great stars and fun events for everyone, was the greatest place. And you would want to visit several times per week. — James and Marie (Pflieger) Barber, Williamstown
I remember going to Steel Pier every Friday from the time I was 7 until age 18 with my sister and friend. We would get passes from the Food Fair and on Friday it would be Cowboy morning. We would watch a cowboy movie. After the movie we would run up to the picnic area and eat our lunch. We never had enough money to sit in the front row for the headliners — Bobby Rydell, the Lennon Sisters, The Supremes, The Four Seasons and more — so we would wait for the balcony to open to get closer seats. When the show was over we would run to the back and get their autographs. My favorite was Tony Grant’s Stars of Tomorrow. I always wanted to be on stage. At 5 o'clock Ed Hurst would be in the ballroom playing records. That is where I learned to dance and I am still dancing to this day. Steel Pier would close Labor Day but open for Easter Sunday. You had to be dressed up. I wouldn't trade these memories for anything. — Herba Rubinfine, Linwood