Thursday, June 19, 2008

Bayshores Revisited & Resulting Flashbacks


A few years ago I wrote this Nightbeat Column for the SandPaper. It has since been posted at The Pointers:


There's Bayshores II grill on Bay Avenue in Somers Point, Bayshores bar in Bargaintown, Mike Pedicin, Jr.'s Bayshore Music Company and Jay Lamont's Bayshores Allumni real estate group, all named after a legendary nightclub that doesn't exist anymore, except in people's memories and imagination.

The site of the Waterfront restaurant for the past 20 years, the upcoming changes will reflect on it's past, particularly the Bayshores era. Bayshores was an old, wood clapboard building that jutted out over the bay. It had a half-dozen bars, two stages for continious music and a nice dance floor.

My first visit, when I was a teenager and the drinking age was 21 (circa 1969), was a rainy Sunday summer afternoon when I was working at Mack & Manco's Pizza on the Ocean City boardwalk. When business slowed down, an older piemaker, Duncan MacRae, a marine helicopter pilot just back from Vietnam, made three pies to go and told me to pick them up and follow him. Driving us across the causeway in his Corvette at breakneck speeds, we pulled into the Bayshores parking lot and parked next to the door since the parking lot was full. There was a line to get in, but we gave the guy at the door a pizza and walked in.

Once in the door the blast of the music pushed me back, as I glanced around the room. The left wall was painted with a list of dozens of bands that had played there, while to the right there was a big rectangle bar in front of a dance floor and stage, where Malcolm and Hearafter were playing "Maggie Mae."

The second pizza went to the bartender, a talll, thin, tan, Magnum type guy, who I later learned was Buddy Twiel, who served us bottles of Bud. The third pie went to the band, when they finished their set, which had the crowded room rocking.

The band played all afternoon, then came back and played again at night, until 2am, when everybody went to the after hour joints - the Dunes, Mothers, Attic or Brownies, all of which had live bands that played all night long, until dawn. That's the way it was for decades, until the early 1980s.

The death knell for the rock & roll era was sounded earlier however, when the drinking age was lowered from 21 to 18. Because they were drafting teenagers to fight the war in Vietnam, soldiers who couldn't vote or drink, it just wasn't fair. But instead of ending the senseless war, they lowered the voting and drinking age.

While it took awhile for the new, youthful electorate to make their feelings felt at the voting booth, they certainly learned to party right away. When the drinking age was 21, the 30-40 age group was still part of the action, but when the drinking age was lowered, they sort of pushed the older generation into the Crab Trap and Mac's. The new drunks took over, and those who didn't die in Vietnam, some became highway stats before the laws were rectified. But then it was too late.

By the early 1980s, only Bayshores, Tony Marts and the Anchorage were left, and they were fading fast, shells still vibrating from their glory years, half-empty holdouts, who caught Sam the Band as the last Bayshores band.

When Harris Berman came along, the lawyer and former prosecutor had, with his brother, sold a Florida hotel, the proceeds of which were used to buy Bayshores, tear it down and build the Waterfront, which was designed as a Pocono ski resort. It was to be a restaurant without a stage and no live music at all.

Then Berman bought Tony Marts across the street, tore that down and built Egos, a sophisticated nightclub, with a dance floor and canned music and no stage. Eventually however, it was realized that live music is part of the equation, along with food and drink, and part of the overall Jersey Shore experience. So eventually live bands were brought back to both places, especially so after Jay Lamont bought them from Harris Berman.

With the Waterfront deck going strong in good weather, and live music inside the bar most nights, the Waterfront once again was a stronghold of good, live entertainment. Now, however, as the Waterfront fades into history, and Bayshores is just a memory, it appears that the music will die again. The new vision for a new era looks at the Bayshores and sees housing units, rather than the musical heritage that still rings true, if not even there.

From: The Weicksel Family.

Subject: Bayshores Revisited.

Dear Bill Kelly,

We traveled down memory lane last week. My 87 year old mother and my sister and myself spent the week down at Ocean City, New Jersey after many years of hiatus from our old stomping grounds. We had a super week and wanted to tell you how much we all thoroughly enjoyed your article about the "Old Clubs".

My mother heard stories that she never heard and my sister and I relived our fun pasts.

We both worked at the Sindia "Pennsylvania Dutch Restaurant" for 3 summers in the mid Sixties. We're from Lancaster County, Pa., and the owners came to Lancaster to hire the girls from "Good Pa. Dutch families"...ha.

They even interviewed our parents before they hired us. We lived above the Sindia those summers (22 girls, waitresses and kitchen help). We slept four to five a room, had only two bathrooms, one old bathtub, and one outside not enclosed shower and thought we were staying at the Ritz.

We had three wonderful never to be forgotten summers.

As we go olde and my sister graduated from college and myself from nursing school in Phila. we worked at the "Birdcage" which was a "Hippie Shop" on the boardwalk. My sister spent many a night at Somers Point....I wasn't old enough yet. (That summe the drining age went back to 21 much to my disapointment).

We also knew Duncan MaCrae from our high school. He was ahead of us in schol and we would go up to Mack & Manco's to say hi to him. He was always nice to us...he was a little older than us, and we also knew he was way too cool for us.....ha.

Anyways, 1969 I finally turned 21, but not till Dec. so I watched my sister and all our friends go to Somers Point every night, but the next year I made up for lost time. My nurse friends and I worked at a Philadelphia hospital and in the summer of 1970 we thought nothing of once a week after working 3 - 11 driving to the Dunes till Dawn and coming back to Phila. around 6am and going to work again at 3pm. We spent a lot of time at Bayshores, Tony Marts, and the Anchorage too.

The bands at the clubs were fabulous!!!!!

We lived to dance back then.

My sister and I really enjoyed your article and I have always wondered what bands played there at the time. Do you have any idea or lists of some of the groups that are famous now that played there?

We just likied the music, but I've often wondered who might have played there that we might now know.

If you have any information that would be great.

We have an elementary school in Lancaster that was named after Duncan MaCrae's mother. Are you in touch with him at all?

We did drive around Somers Point and it's very classy looking now, but I miss the look it had. There was nothing like it, was there?

Long live the Dunes and Rock & Roll!!!!!

Thanks for making us remember and laugh...super article.

Chris Weicksel

From Michael W. Dewees

Bill Kelly,

An employee I work with brought me the SandPaper Nightbeat article about the original Bayshores. He knew it would be of interest to me because I had told him about my band playing there form 1962 to 1964 before I went into the Navy.

Our four piece group was called the Searchers.

We were all local kids that got a chance to play opposite groups like Mike Pedicin, Sr., Teto Mambo, Joey "D" and the Starlighters, and Bill Haley and the Comets.

Easter weekend was the start of the summer for us. We played well enough to hold the early afternoon crowds until the big named bands came on. We did well enough that the management kept us on through the summer as the alternate band. During breaks, we would run across the street to Tony Marts and enter the weekly talent contests until someone caught on.

My summer day job was just as exciting. I worked morning shift at the arcade next door to Bayshores making breakfast/lunch for the band members like Duane Eddy, etc. What a thrill!

Our group also played dinner music at the Sandpiper restaurant next to (above) the Dunes, from 5:00 to 8:00pm. We would pack up our equipment and rush to Bayshores.

Once 2:00 am rolled around, we packed up again and headed for the Dunes (open 23 hourse a day). They closed 1 hour to clean.

All the groups would be there and we would jam together (no charge to patrons). What a routine!

If I had the money, I would reestablish that great time again in the same location. Yes, the crowd would be older, but I bet we could still party like we did.

Michael W. De Wees

Dear Mr. Kelly,

I just happened to be searching on the web for some info. as to what happened to a band named Johnny Caswell and the Chrystal Mansion, and came upon your site. I absolutly loved it!

I used to be a bartender at Tony Mart's and Bayshores in the mid Seventies. It was one of the best times of my life.

When I looked in your article on the best bartenders I was shocked to see that Buddy Twiel had passed! I knew Buddy from working with him and didn't know he had passed. He was a wonderful character!

I also worked with a bartender at Bayshores that was called "Beautiful Bill." He and Buddy alone were the reason for our large female clientele!!! LOL

But I was surprised to see you hadn't included Gay Beadman as one of the best bartenders. Did you know her? She is a really neat person and knows all the good secrets from those days! LOL

I will look forward to checking out your site often, I really miss the old Point as it was!

I guess it would be an impossible dream to see it back the way it was.

Thank you very much for doing this site. It helps to keep the good old memories alive and the heart happy.

Dee Williams

Dear Bill Kelly,

I was the organ player on the back stage with the Bonnevilles at Bayshores during the summers of 68 and 69.

The front stage had Johnny Caswell and the Secrets, and later called the Chrystal Mansion.

(102 straight nights and matinees on Saturday and Sunday).

What a great time that was. We also traveled to Philadelpia a few times to appear on the Jerry Blavit show.

Got drafted in October 1969. Got out in September 1971. Ended up as an Air Traffic Controller and retired in 1996. Got in to flying at South Jersey Airways the summer of '69 cause I didn't have anything to do during the day. I'm now in my second career as an instructor pilot on the regional jets and fly for Atlantic Southeast Airlines based in Atlanta, Ga.

If you have any pictures of Bayshores from back then, I'd love to see them.

Enjoyed your nightbeat article.

Thanks, Joe "Sonny" Romino


Hey Bill,

Yes, I have the link. I enjoy reading events from the past. "The Good Ole Days".

When I think of Tony Mart's I think of how hot it was on those humid summer days when the beer and liquor trucks were the only things moving, unloading there goods. We were meeting and listening to the latest "guest bands" practice during mid day getting ready for there week or two week long stint at Tony Mart's.

We, the Bonnevilles, a couple days a week, would be working on new songs across the street and would go to Coaches Corner, The Anchorage, Gregory's or the Point Diner for lunch then hang out back at the clubs. Really not much happening this time of day. Just hot and humid, empty parking lots, with the smell of the bay at low tide in the air. Cleaning crews and beer trucks moving about. Bar stools upside down on the bars so the floors could be cleaned. Dempsy Dumpsters full of broken bottles waiting to be emptied. The bar tenders would show up around 5pm or so preparing their areas for the night's festivities. Norman, the manager, would be there too.

Bill, the Bayshores security guard who checked I.D.'s at the front door, and the bouncers would show up around 7pm. After that the whole area started to buzz. By 10pm it was going strong. Three sets to go, 2 sets, 1 set, let's go to the Dunes. "Til dawn" meant til after dawn.

The Dunes had double door entryways, and 4X8 hinged pieces of plywood to swing down to cover the windows just before dawn. If you couldn't see it get light outside, you would stay longer. No idea what time it was, and really didn't care.

Oh " the Good Ole Days". More later. Joe.

No comments: