I was born on Virginia Avenue in Atlantic City in 1935 and raised in the Inlet section. My very first memory of The Pier was walking, holding on to a baby coach that my mother or grandmother would push along with one of my younger brothers aboard - I had five brothers - and I can still see the towers with the flags waving on top. Growing up in those days, we would try to earn the ticket price by gathering papers and take them to Snyder's Junkyard on Maryland Avenue. We never got enough and would have to try to raise the rest from my parents or older brothers. If you got to The Pier early enough, the price was a nickel cheaper - I think about 18 cents. We always brought our lunch in a paper bag and we would go to the lockers near the Sun Deck and put the bag in an open one. Thinking back, I never remember anything ever being moved or touched, no matter how long it was in the locker. Next step was going down to plan our day. All the movie and show times were always clearly marked on the walls throughout the pier and we didn't want to miss anything - the water sports and circus at the end were always a must. I can remember seeing Henny Youngman, the Ritz Brothers, the Mills Brothers and my very favorite, Abbott and Costello. Once when I was about 9 or 10, I was standing next to Bud Abbott at one of the refreshment stands, and he said, "Hello, young man" - I know I told all my friends about that. ... The war years were very different and exciting to a young boy, and there was an exhibit at the entrance with pieces of shot-down German planes and other war pieces, including a part from a U-boat. There were also wax figures of Hitler, Mussolini and Tojo, along with John Dillinger and other notorious figures from the 1930s.

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When I was a teeenager, The Pier was the place to go, especially on Easter Sunday. If you had a girlfriend, you just had to take her to The Pier. We saw great shows then - I can recall Johnny Ray, Al Martino, Tony Bennett and Frankie Laine among many others. At that time, we became more interested in the bands in the Marine Ballroom; we would spend many hours standing in front of the stage just to listen.

We would swim out and watch the Water Circus, by floating and treading water. Then when we would swim back, we would stop at the boat dock, (where) the Tango sightseeing boat docked. We would go up the ramp and sit on the benches in our bathting suits, and when the pier guards came after us, we would dive off and wait for them to leave - then do the same thing again. I was also on the Atlantic City Beach Patrol, and part of our training was learning to go under the pier, time the (waves) coming in, stay away from the pilings and keep our eye on a bather who strayed under the pier and needed help. ... I was in the Navy in the Korean War and it seemed that we all talked about our hometowns, and how great they were. I don't remember anyone who could ever talk about anything like the Steel Pier. When I would describe all that was on The Pier for one low price, I even had trouble convincing many guys that it was true.

Please note that when locals talk about Steel Pier, they just say "The Pier." Although there were and are other piers in Atlantic City, there is just one that's The Pier - Steel Pier. - Joseph Walls, Linwood



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