Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Twisties - Strathmere, NJ
Twisties is one of the last of the original rum runner bay bars on the East Coast.
Original, unrestored, it's pretty much the same as it was in the 30s and 40s when Strathmere was a major hub in the illegal importation and distribution of booze.
A little, ramshackle boat house, Twisties is named after one of the former owners, and Twistie's brother Oliver Twist still lives down the street if you want to learn more about him.
I'd tell you where it is but you'd still have to find Strathmere, which is the north end of the barrier island that Sea Isle City sits on, just south of, and across the drawbridge from Ocean City (NJ).
I remember when we lived in Sea Isle in the late 50s and early 60s dad would drive towards Strathmere to get to deliver trash - in brown paper bags, to the dump. (Taxes were low).
Further on was the Dolphin motel (owned by former Nazi U-boat officer Rudy Plappert), and the historic Deauville Inn, the heart of Downtown Strathmere, which technically lies in Upper Township, and has a trailer park, Mildred's restaurant, a volunteer fire department and post office but no police force. The Inquirer's Clark DeLeon used to call Strathmere "Undisclosed Location."
Twisties lies on the bay between Mildred's and the Deauville.
For years there were no signs, so if you didn't know it was there you walked right past it. Now there's a sign out front and some neon beer ads in the windows.
When you walk in the screen door - it's only open in the summer - there's a stool at the end of the bar where Twistie, or the owner of record, would sit. I think Twistie sold it to Riordan, the only realitor in town, and he ran it as a hobby.
The one wall to the left should have a dozen or so trophy fish, one of each kind found in local waters, and some from Florida. That's where one of the former eccentric owners got the Indian head coconuts that line the shelf that runs along the ceiling. I think he brought one back each year he went down there.
The small bar runs down the left wall and around the back, where there's some windows that let you see the sun set over the bay, or what ever's happening along this little section of the inter-coastal waterway.
There's the rest rooms in the corner, and before the small dining room that leads back to the kitchen there's a juke box. Now the last time I was there the original juke box from the 60s-70s era was there, playing 45s for 25c, and there were some classics that had been on there for decades.
I guess the only clue of what century you were in was the TV with the sports on.
Bottled beer was the house drink. No draft. Too much trouble.
I did a story about Twisties and the history of the joint for the SandPaper that I will try to dig up if I can find it, and anybody's interested.