Saga of the Suits
Easter Sunday during my youth was a very special holiday. Not only did it portend the end of winter, it also featured a spectacular boardwalk parade
Winters are long in Atlantic City; ask any “local.” Besides the length of time it lasts (we count fall and spring too), there are, at most, only three to four good rejuvenating summer months.
Right after Labor Day, we would get out our winter measuring sticks. The first distraction to help us with the oncoming dreary months during our high school tenure was football season. We’d look forward to every Friday night or Saturday afternoon to either play or take our place among the spectators, while secretly admiring cheerleaders from visiting or visited teams. The next break in the action was Thanksgiving, followed by Christmas, New Years and finally, what seemed like an endless stretch, Easter Sunday. Once Easter Sunday arrived it was only a matter of six or seven weeks until Memorial Day and—summer.
However, I’d like to pause here and talk about Easter Sunday. This holiday was a big deal in Atlantic City. Even though New York enjoyed a nationwide reputation for having a spectacular Easter Parade with the song of the same name (lyrics by Irving Berlin, “On the Avenue, 5th Avenue…”), still, the “Big Apple” would be hard pressed to surpass the splendor of Atlantic City’s boardwalk Easter Sunday Parade.
People swarmed to the resort from Philadelphia and surrounding South Jersey Communities decked out in all their Easter Sunday finery. Crowds would promenade the boardwalk while sharp eyed judges kept their eyes peeled for outstanding outfits. Later in the afternoon at Park Place and the boardwalk (surely you recognize that name from Monopoly), the judging would take place. The usual ballyhoo would ensue and winners would be selected from various categories.
During my early years my mom would take my brothers and me to the Easter Sunday parade, which at the time, we were too young to appreciate. We were easily bored from all the walking for which there seemed to be no purpose, except for an occasional hot dog or ice cream treat.
Later as we got older we’d be allowed to go by ourselves. Mom would buy us the latest little kid matching gabardine suits with checkered coat fronts. I believe one year Mick and I even had matching wide brimmed doofus hats. We wore those suits until they were so shiny you could see your face in them. We’d make the rounds of relatives before Easter Sunday with our new suits and phony visits, whose only purpose was to see how much of their money we could extort. By the time the big day rolled around, we’d have a nice little bankroll to spend at the piers on rides, with enough left over to indulge in the requisite junk foods.
As we entered our teens Easter Sunday took on another change. “Cool” had come into our lives. Everything you did had to be cool. Cool was our guiding principal. Even if you didn’t feel cool you had to act cool. Even if your palms were sweaty and your mouth so dry you could hardly speak, cool was the order of the day. This resulted in a crushing demand on our psyches…