Itinerary of a 10-year-old on Steel pier in the mid-'30s to '40s, forever indelibly etched in happy memories:
1: Get to admission booth before 11 a.m. This entitled you to a free boat ride.
2: You and about 25 other kids would head immediately downstairs to the haunted castle and fun houses. All this while you were carrying your brown paper bag with lunch in it.
3: Go to the picnic deck and get rid of that lunch bag - no one wants to carry it around. Everybody's lunch, and I mean everybody, consisted of peanut butter and jelly sandwich, banana or orange or apple, gulped down.
4: Check out the Daddy Dave group. Several local school kids were performers, one of whom I had heart throbs over.
5: Off to the three theaters including the magnificient vaudeville presentations of leading headliners - Abbott and Costello, Red Skelton, Olsen and Johnson, etc. - and live music. This sometimes required a return visit, after the other two movies were viewed.
6: Finally off to the water sports and circus at the end of the pier. To be thrilled by the wonderful Olga Petroff and her ascent up the towering pole balancing atop the 18-inch ball, swaying back and forth - could it break? The high divers, water skiing, (with a dog), Diving Horse - audience being warned to stay absolutely silent in order for horse to dive - the hilarious Steel Pier carpenters and more.
7. A notable increase of adults properly attired, heading for the ballroom and the bands, to enjoy dancing to Alex Bartha, followed by the famous stars - the Dorseys, Glenn Miller and Gene Krupa to name a few. This was a sign for kids to start heading for home.
Wow ! what a long blissful day, and to think this was accomplished by the total grand sum of 25 cents - without tax.
You exited on to the Boardwalk amidst a sea of people desssed in Panama hats, Palm Beach suits, ladies in evening gowns. And everybody seemed to wear a hat. You walked home in absolute safety - there were police officers, called the beauty patrol, every third block.
You went to bed that night with great memories of The Pier with one haunting concern: How long would it take to collect enough deposit bottles to raise another quarter to repeat this great adventure? - Adam "Jim" Thomas, Atlantic City