Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Ocean City Travelogue, part two

Welcome back! Part One is here. Enjoy, and remember - alt tags are our friends!

One does not amuse by boardwalks alone, even ones with mighty naval fleets, so there had to be some browsing of the various shops. For me that meant books. There were some sweet finds, one of which you'll see later in the week, another which will have to be its own post once the scanning is complete.

I found out something, though - some places don't mind pictures of their stuff, correctly reasoning that it's a chance to get noticed in the wider world, but a few react poorly. I don't get it. Yes, it is your vase, ma'am, I realize that; at least, it's yours for the next ten minutes. Trust me, the photons from my flash won't crack it apart, and it will still be there for that nice couple from Omaha.

Again on Asbury was much more gracious, but it came with a price. Be warned, this is Hasselhoffan in its grotesquery:

Yup, it's Evil and Mrs. Evil Santa. Up close, these things are spooky: two leering, maleficent imps of destruction who hang pinless grenades on your tree and stuff your stocking with ebola Silly Putty. All Santa lacks is the green hair and purple suit to go with his gleeful cruelty; Mrs. Claus is but two knitting needles short of replacing Madame DeFarge.

I was forced to retire to the locally-famed Chatterbox for lunch. Good food, and curious decor - a pink/green scheme that reminded one of a box of Nerds decorated in 80's Southwestern hues. Somehow, though, they pulled it off. The place was quite busy. Like all such shops in Ocean City, the Chatterbox sells a lot of memorabilia to go along with its foodstuffs - all that was missing was a ballgame to turn it into a trip to the stadium.

This is why we oldsters still talk about dailing phone numbers.Part of the pink wall can be seen here in the background, along with the officially-licensed feather duster and a framed picture of the exterior of the restaurant. They have a banquet room, they said. They sell candy and gum from a glass case in the lobby. And the hostess tells me that this fabulous old rotary phone was in regular use up until only a couple of years ago.

I love this thing. It's like the cel phone of the 1920's.

Whaddya mean, you've never heard of our brand? Part of the experience was this unusual condiment brand. I can only guess whose house this recipe started in, but I doubt it was the Heinz, Hunt, or Del Monte families. Tasty, though. Smooshed tomato is smooshed tomato.

Or is it?

Bad news!  House Recipe picked up Sixth Street and doubled their market share!"Monarch Fancy Ketchup." Right. You're not fooling anyone. "Fancy" as in "costume jewelry while Cinderella waltzes by with the Prince." Which of course means "Monarch" as in "Third Under-Baron to his Moderacy Duke Whoositz the Four-and-a-Halfth."

Established in 1853? Great, that means it's only two years older than the telephone behind the counter. "Abraham Lincoln Swabbed his Deep-Fried Frenched-Style Potato Tubes Here."

To be fair, the actual food was incredible. It's called Donkey's Place, downtown on Asbury Avenue, and yowza, what a cheeseburger. It had seasoned, marinated onions that probably caused wars with Cape May.

Dessert was at a place called the Hobby Horse. A wonderful picture adorns the front lobby, of the proprietor of the business riding the very same carousel horse that is still there forty years later. Then, the building behind him was a realty specializing in summer rentals. Now it's an ice cream parlor, but there's this small reminder of the old times.

Hopefully they'll turn it into a planter or something
See, kids, once upon a time adults smoked in large numbers, and were even permitted to do so indoors! You flicked the spent ashes onto the little hollow and pressed the doodad in the front, and it dumped the ashes into the little cup, sort of like a miniature trash can with a push-pedal.

I didn't plan it, but I love how the reflection from the flash casts a ghostly wisp of smoke over the ashtray, as if the shades of customers past were enjoying one last Chesterfield before they signed on for a week beachside.

Who?  President Taft?  My mistake. And those shades keep popping up all around Ocean City. Found this beauty in another book-and-bauble store down the block. It has more of a sturdy forties look to it, a sedan to the Chatterbox's sporty coupe. I like to think that one could pick up the receiver here and, without dialing, automatically connect to the other, like Batman talking with Commissioner Gordon on the hotline.

I didn't check that bust of Shakespeare too closely, however. Some things are better left unexamined.

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