The Wildwood Boardwalk Connected Childhood to Adulthood by Richard Arter Flanagan

When one looks down a road, what do they see? They may see the dawn of a new day. They may see the sun setting after a long day, hoping tomorrow will be better. The road has both a physical and conceptual meaning: it is both a physical road people drive or walk upon, and a path taken from one point to the next such as life or a career.  Whatever one’s interpretation of the road, it is not without its bumps or traffic buildup.  The road has been perceived to be both a place of freedom and a trap, but sometimes it’s merely a mirage created by an individual to avoid issues in their life. Still, the road can create an overwhelming connection between a person and a place.  Wildwood, New Jersey illustrates this concept.

Wildwood has been a staple for summer family vacations since its inception in 1912. The combination of luxurious and spacious beaches, warm weather and great memories made there are what make the destination a tremendous place to vacation to.  What really makes Wildwood such a memorable place is its boardwalk and the more than 70,000 wooden planks which constitute its structural makeup. Still, when one looks down this vast boardwalk and sees Morey’s Piers, all the restaurants and shops, and the laughter of children, people see more than just planks of wood.  They see how the road that leads to the end of the boardwalk has transcended through history.  Particular shops or stands were originally built as something else. Hearing “watch the tramcar, please” invokes memories of when adults would walk the boardwalk as children.

The boardwalk is seen as a path from childhood to adulthood.  With each passing block and the increased sight of shops, games and restaurants, one begins to reminisce about their past visits to Wildwood and how much they’ve grown with the boardwalk.  They’ve walked up and down the boardwalk time and time again, and they’ve see shops and restaurants come and go.  Yet, they continued to return, and bring their family or friends with them.  The boardwalk was a path between childhood and adulthood.  The memories invoked by the boardwalk are a direct connection from one’s childhood to adulthood.  They can always return to the boardwalk, and those memories come back to them almost immediately. Even when the boardwalk has bumps or traffic from bikers, broken planks or construction, the boardwalk has remained the same.  It has always been the connection that binds an adult to their childhood.  An adult may get pulled from the boardwalk with work, family and increased responsibility, but that road down the boardwalk meant something special to them.  They would not have returned if it did not, and something kept making them come back.  The Wildwood Boardwalk is the connection between adulthood and childhood, and it always for an escape.  The only trap put forth by the boardwalk would be spending too much money, but for the creation of special memories, it’s more than worthwhile.




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