I was a few months from turning 9 years old when this fire struck Kohr’s Original Custard and Whistle Stop at Franklin Avenue & Boardwalk. I remember the plectron tones waking us up, followed by the sounds of the firehouse siren blaring for what seemed like 10-15 minutes. My father ran out the door to the firehouse as my mother and I followed him onto the front steps of our home at 119 Franklin Avenue. We looked one block east toward the Boardwalk, and I remember seeing a tall ball of flames shooting into the air. My mother dressed my brother and sister and we walked with a hurried pace toward the Boardwalk. She was visibly worried about my father. We joined a group of local residents that had formed behind the police line and watched the area fire companies fight the blaze. Women and children pointed out their husbands and fathers (it was an all male fire crew back then) with a sense of relief. And I can also remember the Ladies Auxiliary staging at the fire ground and serving water and coffee. Not as bad as the 1955 or 1965 fires for sure, but this was a bad fire nonetheless! From The Dr. Anthony E. & Mary Ellen Vaz Collection.
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I think I have mentioned on this blog before that ever since Harry Smith (Jr.) got me hooked on collecting postcards four years ago I’ve amassed a lot of what is available out there – probably about 700 vintage Seaside Heights postcards. Thus, when I attend postcard and collectible shows these days, it’s not easy turning up postcards that I haven’t already purchased. But every now and then, like this past week, I get lucky and find something that I haven’t seen before. Here they are…four new postcards…recently purchased from an international postcard dealer. I especially like the first view. Between the Kohr’s Frozen Custard stand (left) and the cigarette stand (right) is the ice cream stand owned by a former 4th grade teacher from the Seaside Heights Elementary School – Miss Christie. She sold two specialty items that you’ll probably remember – (1) waffles and ice cream and (2) a unique treat that involved placing a rectangular slice of ice cream on top of a cone (the top of which was also shaped like a rectangle) and dipping the ice cream in chocolate and nuts. Once the chocolate and nuts hardened the finale was a tooth pick mounted maraschino cherry.
I sat on a bench on the Boardwalk with (Sheriff) Bill Polhemus for about an hour this afternoon. We both were waiting for a Travel Channel crew to arrive to film some footage at Kohr’s Original Frozen Custard on Franklin Avenue. Anyway…I had Bill and his memories to myself for an hour. He’s lived in Seaside Heights his entire life and his family roots go back to a time before the town was officially formed! What amazed me the most is that he remembers soooooooo much about Seaside Heights even despite the passage of time. I have days when I can’t remember my kids’ names (well, maybe that’s an exaggeration). Needless to say, I wrote it all down as soon as I got home.
Greg Kohr, owner of Kohr’s Original Frozen Custard on the boardwalk, obtained this video from a friend of his. Greg was nice enough to share it with his fellow volunteer firefighters. The video is a very stunning video of the June 9, 1955, Freeman’s Amusement Center Fire.