Wildwood Daze – Betty Ann – Part 6 – Game of Chance

Wildwood, New Jersey – Spring – 1984

It was great dating, Betty. She was the perfect girlfriend. Smoking hot and not around all the time. We were walking on the boardwalk in Wildwood one night. I just loved strolling with her. Holding her hand. Occasionally glancing over at my gorgeous girlfriend or stealing a sweet kiss.

Betty saw this game of chance that had these beautiful plush stuffed animals all around it that you could win. (Or in the case of most games of chance on the boardwalk, NOT win)

“Oh my god. Look at that big white lion, I bet my little Kelly would love that!”

“Yea, those prizes rock because that game is nearly impossible to win. Look at all those people tossing their dimes onto that board. Now watch how the attendant is literally sweeping piles of dimes off the board. They’re raking in thousands of dollars a night. I’ve won lots of stuff on this boardwalk over the years but that game is nearly impossible. They’re selling hope and crushing disappointment all at the same booth!”

“You’re funny, Chaz. Ready to go back to the motel?”

“That’s a game where we both win, Betty. Let’s go.”

I told my friend Pitchy about her. I’d been friends with him since we were 9 years old. He lived around the corner from me down the shore in the Summer. He has always had an incredibly dry wit. I was explaining to him my current romantic situation. Pitch was never a ladies’ man and liked that I always had something interesting going on. In 1984 he was already married and had a baby on the way.

On the boardwalk, there were many games of chance. Most cost a quarter and you bet on a number on a spinning wheel and if your number came up, you won a prize. I was a pretty lucky guy and won many a T-shirt or record album on the boardwalk. I remember winning Iron Maiden, Killers on a wheel one night out front of Morey’s Pier. I just liked the cover. Turned out to be a magnificent metal record that I loved but most of my friends thought was too fast.

But my buddy Pitchy had an incredible skill. A skill that wasn’t really based on chance. I don’t know when he discovered this ability and I’ve never seen it replicated by anyone else in all of my years on that boardwalk. There was a game called The Dime Pitch. This game had been around for decades. Customers would hand the attendant a dollar or two and would be given the appropriate amount of dimes. Which was cool, because it gave you 10 chances to win for only a buck. The way the game works is this. This huge wooden board is in the middle of the floor of the game booth. People toss their dimes onto the board and try to get their dimes on one of the red dots on the board.

Dime Pitch

Classic Dime Pitch Game - Lets Party

But here’s the thing. There are hundreds of them and a lot of spaces in between. You have to throw your dime and get it to land in the very center of the red dot. Not just on the red dot but there has to be red showing all the way around your dime. You’re throwing dimes at this board from 4 to six feet away. They made a fortune on this game because it looks easy, but is nearly impossible. But here’s the thing, with great risk comes great reward. If by some rare chance you got a dime on the red circle and there was red showing all the way around it, the prizes were massive. Not some small trinket from the lower shelf of junk. I’m talking huge plush stuffed animal that any kid would adore. If you were a guy and won a stuffed animal like that and gave it to your kid, or girlfriend, you would be looked upon as a local legend for the night.

Pitchy was so good at this game, they had to ban him from the game. Not entirely, but they had to limit his time at the board because those giant plush animals were expensive. I kid you not. They would restrict him from the game to maybe once a week. They all knew him up there and understood his power.

They feared him.

He and I were up on the boardwalk one night and we were chatting about his special gift. It had gotten to a point where it was no longer a game of chance for Pitchy. It was a revenue generator. He would go to the first dime pitch game and after about 15 minutes he’d win a giant stuffed animal. He knew which ones were the most popular with the tourists. He’d hand it off to me and I’d start walking up the boardwalk with the great beast under my arm.

Within minutes people would be saying things and complimenting me on my prize. I’d always target guys with women with them. I’d respond with the same statement to everyone. “Wanna buy it?”

“How much?”

“Forty bucks and it’s yours.”

“Seems a little high.”

“You’ll spend twice that trying to win a prize like that for her this vacation.”

In the meantime, Pitchy was already at a different dime pitch game and playing. By the time I sold the stuffed animal he’d be approaching me with another one. We’d sell it too and then he’d give me a cut for doing the sales end of the deal. Then we’d go spend the money on beer and pizza.

This was an ongoing grift we worked all summer. I spoke to him about doing me a favor in regard to his special power. I’m sure you can guess what it was by now.

The next time I went over to Betty’s house to hang out with her. I got out of the car and had a little something under my arm for her to leave in her daughter Kelly’s room.

Amazon.com: American Made Giant Stuffed White Lion 48 Inches Soft Made in The USA America: Toys & Games

“Chaz! Oh my god! How did you? Where did you?”

“Don’t worry about it, Betty. I got a guy.”

On a final note to this chapter. One night I was over at Betty’s house and the babysitter had brought her daughter Kelly home. She immediately made a beeline to her room to go see her big white lion. I had to hide in a closet across the hall until the coast was clear!

Crazy times, man.

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. 

You can buy my latest book LAWNDALE on Amazon! It’s stories from my childhood, growing up in Northeast Philly in the 60s and 70s. 

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Wildwood Daze – Betty Ann – Part 5 – Summer Nights

North Wildwood, NJ – May 1984

The saga continues…

I was sitting on the porch at my friend Pitchy’s house and telling him all about my exploits with Betty. He was amazed by the tales of my recent prowess. Pitchy was my best summer friend at the seashore since 1971 when I first met him as a kid. He lived right around the corner from me at 7th and Ocean Ave. We had a rich history together hanging out all of those summers in the 70s. He was a close friend and we’d had some great times together. He had a lovely dry wit that was uncanny. He was also a person I could always trust.  One of his gifts was that he had always been the master of the dime toss game on the boardwalk.

But he was never that good at talking to girls. I noticed a lot of young men struggled with that back then. (And even today!) I never understood that but I guess we’re always good at things we like, and I loved the company of pretty women so I was okay.

I would tell him… “If you think you’re going to be tongue-tied on a date with a girl… take her to the movies. That’s two hours right there where she’ll be entertained and fed. You don’t have to say or do anything at all. Just hold her hand during the picture. If the film is fun and exciting, she’ll associate those feelings with you and you’ll be fine.”

Pitchy was working as a summer cop in North Wildwood by 1984 and really enjoyed police work. He had always wanted to be a cop and was beginning his career as a summer cop to gain experience.

I’m happy to say that through the years, he stayed in law enforcement and became a roaring success. He achieved success beyond anything I could have imagined for him. 

We sat on his porch in the quiet evening silence of North Wildwood. All the craziness was happening 25 blocks away on the boardwalk and in the clubs on Pacific Avenue. But we both had a moment of repose from our jobs this evening and were just chatting and sipping a few cold beers. The glow of the neon signs from the motel, The Friendship 7 across the street was the only light that illuminated our presence on that porch. 

He would do these comedy bits like he was the voiceover guy for a movie preview. It was hilarious and I loved when he would come up with these things. It was like he was describing me as a character in a horror movie. He would say; “In 1980 you loved him as the Wildwood Gigalo. But now…he’s back. It’s been four years… but he’s back. Chaz is… THE HOMEWRECKER. This time it’s not your girlfriend…It’s Your WIFE!”

I liked that he referred to me as the homewrecker as if I were the villain in a movie. So funny. I told him how Betty drove a light blue BMW 5 and that she and I stayed in motels in Wildwood to hook up. I never thought back then how much Betty must have spent on babysitting fees for someone to watch her daughter, Kelly while she galavanted around Wildwood with her young boy toy, ten years her junior.

But as much as I had built up a reputation as a rocker and charmer of women, it was nice to reach that legendary status with my friends. It’s all so silly when I think about it now.

I’d be on the phone with Betty.

“I want to come to Wildwood to see you this weekend, Chaz.”

“That would be great, Bets.”

“Can you maybe rent a room for us?”

Because the season hadn’t started yet, the rooms would not only be available at several motels in town, they’d be much cheaper. 

This became a regular thing with Betty and me. She liked her anonymity in Wildwood. She had no fear of running into anyone she and her husband knew up in Absecon. Plus, she had that whole rule about not having sex with her in her house, car, or matrimonial bed.

I was totally fine with it. I was working and had money to burn, and Betty always had cash. Most times she would pay for everything. I remember one day I was at her house and she gave me a brand new Gucci watch. It was beautiful. A 14k gold timepiece with a lizard skin strap.  I wore that watch until the strap practically dissolved on my wrist. I loved that watch. It was the nicest piece of jewelry I had ever owned.

At this point, I wasn’t falling for Betty…

I had already fallen.

I always shared with my mother what I was up to romantically in my life. I would sit at the kitchen table chatting with my mom and profess my love for my new, older girlfriend. I told my mom I was done dating girls and only wanted to date women now.

“Oh, you mean that alley cat you’re currently running around with?”

Mom did not approve. I think she had some concerns about the seed not falling far from the tree in this family. She had already had enough of my father’s many dalliances and probably feared I was becoming like him. On the other hand, I know my dad secretly loved the idea of his son capturing the heart of such a lovely woman that was in his wheelhouse.

(This polaroid was taken in a little photo booth in an arcade on the Wildwood boardwalk. It was her idea. I’m so glad we did this. I was so happy.)

We stayed in several different motels that spring and it was awesome. We once stayed in a motel that was right on the corner of 8th and Surf Ave. That was around 100 yards from my parent’s house! Crazy night!

We’d do fun things like go to the boardwalk, and it was amazing. Going out to eat and just spending time together. I just loved being with Betty. I know she enjoyed my company too because I think I helped her retain her youth and show her how fun it was to date again. I think she needed that in her broken marriage. 

The passion we shared.

I remember we once pulled up at a motel where one of my friends was working as a lifeguard and I introduced her to him. Betty Ann stepped out of the car in a white mini-dress. Her caramel skin glowed in the sun and her raven tresses tumbled over her shoulders like a moonless river.

I didn’t really hang out with this guy/clown anymore. He had burned too many bridges with me by then. I really did it just to show off my spectacular girlfriend to him. He later told me that if he ever got a girl like that he would never let her go, but I knew by then I was now operating at a level that he’d never understand, or ever be able to achieve. 

I was so proud to be with such a beautiful, sweet woman. Just kissing Betty was like waking up on Christmas morning. We’d kiss, and she always ended it with a little extra peck on the side of my lips. It was like she was putting her signature on that last kiss… just to remind me I was hers. 

But no matter what we did during the afternoon on our dates, it was all simply delaying the inevitable. We always ended up back in the room…and back in the saddle. 

(Cue up: Aerosmith – Rocks – Side 1, Track 1)

One night, we stayed in a motel on New Jersey Avenue. As summer approached it was getting harder to find available reasonably priced rooms. But it was a nice place, and of course, at the end of our fun day we ended up back there. I remember it being especially hot outside, and the air conditioner was right over the bed. It kept us cool while we passionately tore each other to pieces like teenagers through the night.

The next morning we walked out to the car and there was a piece of paper clipped under the windshield wiper. It looked like a ticket.

It was an official warning from the police.

The notice stated that we had violated the local noise ordinance in North Wildwood. It said that neighbors were complaining about the loud sounds of, “Moaning, Screaming, and a Squeaking Bed… Nonstop”.

I was obviously stunned, and Betty was horrified.

But as I read down toward the bottom, I recognized the name of the officer who had issued the warning last night. It was my buddy, Pitchy. He knew I was staying there and recognized Betty’s BMW.

Nice shot, dude.

(I may still have that warning ticket packed away somewhere!)

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It’s gonna be another burner!

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Wildwood Daze – Betty Ann – Part 4 – Boy Toy

The next time I saw Betty was in the store. It was business as usual. She came in to order another video for purchase.

I would never kiss and tell and this new affair was top secret. No one I worked with knew what was happening between this queen and me, and I wanted it to keep it that way. I had never had an experience with an older woman, let alone a married one.

A few days passed.

When the movie she ordered came in I called her to let her know we had received it.

“Why don’t you bring it by my house tonight and bring something else we can watch. I’ll get a babysitter for little Kelly.”

After work that day I again drove to her house. This time it was under the cloak of night which I preferred. I was worried about her neighbors seeing something, or worse… saying something. I was pretty paranoid this whole time.

I get there and she invites me in. She gives me a hug and a little kiss. She’s very much in control of this situation.

She tells me that she’s having some issues with her video equipment and something’s not working right. This was pretty common back then. The technology was new and there were a lot of different complex hookups the average person didn’t understand. But because I was working at a video store I was a master of all things VCR and TV.

“I appreciate you taking a look at my system. I don’t know what’s wrong with it. Oh, and can you see if you can get the sound to come through the stereo when I watch a movie on the VCR?”

“I’ll take  look at that.”

“A couple of my girlfriends may be stopping by for a sec to drop off some stuff for a bridal shower we have to go to next week, okay?”

“I don’t care. You do your thing and I’ll see what’s wrong with your system, Betty.”

I’m down on the floor in front of their entertainment system checking all of the leads, wires and plugs. At one point I even had to move it away from the wall a bit and climb behind the piece of furniture.

I can hear the doorbell from the other room and Betty chatting with several other women.

But then it gets a little quiet. I’m checking the RCA audio/video cables and making sure red is right and white is left and yellow is direct video. I remember I had brought some really good gold top cables from the store. (Paid for with my employee discount of course!)

I came out from behind the unit to see several attractive ladies standing together giggling at the edge of the living room. They were whispering and smiling at me. Betty introduced me as her friend Chaz who was “helping” her with her video system from the store. I smiled and waved, and went back to the task at hand.

In a short time, I heard the front door close and Betty returned to the room.

“I think I fixed it, Betty. Watch.” I flipped a few switches and grabbed the remote. Everything was working fine and the sound was coming through the stereo now.

“Thank you, Dr. Video!”

I liked that title. “That’s me! At your service, Miss.”

“That was my friends. They thought you were cute.”

“They seemed nice.”

“I wanted them to see you. I was showing you off to them… my boy toy.”

“Is that what I am to you, Betty?”

“Of course. Come here and join me on the sofa.”

I obeyed like a dog. She welcomed me into her arms and we kissed. I loved kissing Betty. She was just so beautiful and perfect.

If she wanted me to rob a bank with her I would have done it.

She takes my hands and looks into my eyes. “Listen Chaz. We have to talk about a couple of things.”

(Here we go…) “Okay…” (Is this where we plan to rob a bank?)

“We have to have some rules. We can’t fool around in this house.”

(What’s she talking about? We haven’t even done anything yet!)

“You can’t drive my car, and we can’t fool around in my car. We can’t ever have sex in my bed either. I can only see you when I can because I’m the one with everything to lose here. I’m the one who’s married.”

(This all seems a bit premature, but I’ll say whatever she wants at this point. I just like seeing her.)

“I understand, Betty. I’m just happy to know you and spend time with you. I’d never do anything to make you feel uncomfortable in any way or jeapordize your marriage in any way.” (But in reality, it was she who called me and started this whole affair. But whatever.)

“That’s good, Chaz. We can have a lot of fun together and I think you’re a sweet guy. I just need to set some guidelines at the onset of this.”

“I totally agree, Betty. You’re right. I promise to respect your wishes and will make every effort to protect your interests.”

(I can almost hear my father in this moment…)

“Thank you, Chaz. That means a lot to me. I just don’t want any complications.”

“Me either, Betty.”

“C’mere…” She pulls me to her and kisses me deeply. It felt wonderful to hold and kiss this lovely woman with caramel skin. Her raven tresses tumbled over her shoulders like a moonless river.

I wasn’t falling for Betty at this point. I had already fallen for her the first time I laid eyes on her in the store. It was instant. But I never dreamed I’d be here with her right now. It was all a miraculous dream. I felt resurrected after failing to become a rockstar in Los Angeles. Here I was still able to pull the talent. I still had my mad game no matter what I did for a living. I had come so far from the timid, loser of my early teen years. Now I could get the kind of girls I could never have imagined would even talk to me in junior high school. But here I was. Making out with the lovely Betty Ann.

Most men dream about getting women they fantasize about when they meet them in real life. But I had become a magnet for this in the summer of 1980 in Wildwood and later in LA.

We wrestled on her sofa like a couple of high school kids. I don’t even remember what videos I brought over and I know we didn’t watch them. It was exciting. It was probably something Betty missed in her life now. She missed the rush of a new guy. A new face. A young man. Boundless energy and a fiery libido in its absolute prime. I was just happy to be in this simple teenage-like intimate moment with her. We were like a couple of kids just making out on the couch and doing a little gentle touching.

“I really appreciate you listening to me tonight, Chaz. It means a lot to me that you’ll respect my wishes and stick to my rules. I needed that.”

“Of course. I completely understand.”

Betty smiled and held me tightly. Her warm perfume swirled about me as my face disappeared into her dark mane that was like ribbons of coal.

At that moment, I knew.

I knew what I had to do. I was now determined to a singular mission.

I was going to break EVERY ONE of those rules and Betty Ann was going to like it.

Check out my latest book LAWNDALE on Amazon!

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Wildwood Daze – Betty Ann – Part 1 – Home Video Center

Winter 1984 – Wildwood, NJ

Upon my return from California after failing to become a metal god, I took a job as a sales clerk at Home Video Center in Northfield, NJ. The last job I had in Los Angeles was at a video store called Videon. It was a new idea back when VHS & Beta were in their infancy. The owner of a chain of stores in LA called Music + decided that home video was going to take off and wanted to create a new line of stores that catered only to video. So I had a little experience in a new industry.

I was 22 years old.

It was a fun job, and I liked the people I worked with. We had 500 titles in both formats, VHS and Beta. We carried, all kinds of titles. Drama, comedy, horror, thrillers, kids movies, and also adult titles. (The adult titles were all stashed on the very top of the shelves so kids couldn’t see them.) It was funny how people rented pornography back then. There was no internet, and the only place you could view porn back then was in magazines, or some sleazy adult theater or peep show in a rough part of the city. Now video brought pornographic movies right into the homes of America for the first time. It was funny when people would rent porn. They would get a few legitimate titles and the porn box was always at the bottom of their stack or sandwiched in the middle. They had to hide their desires. But we were trained to be professionals and after a while you ring up the titles like anything else you do in a job. It’s simply another transaction. Like when I worked in a bank. The money loses it’s meaning because it’s just part of the job. You might as well be handling lettuce. The companies that made porn videos back then must have made billions of dollars. They already made their films on the cheap. (Every movie is about the same thing) and they already had all of the films, so they just attached themselves to a new delivery system to get their products into the hands and pants of America. But surprisingly, adult titles were a very small part of what we rented. People wanted quality films they could enjoy at home with their family and friends. It was a good job. We were selling entertainment. That’s a good thing. (But, please, be kind, and rewind the tape when you’re finished watching it!)

They had more movies in one place than I had ever seen. It was amazing, because we could rent up to three movies at a time for free. I saw so many films I had been dying to see for so many years and this was a huge win for a film guy like me. Home video changed the way people got their entertainment. We were no longer chained to local programming and cable TV. We could watch what we wanted when we wanted for a fee. This was the beginning of the way we get our entertainment today.

Here’s a post I wrote a while ago about how wonderful that experience could be when shared between family members.

My Father’s Chair

I worked the rental counter with a few other people, and they had one or two sales guys that sold VCRs, TVs and video cameras. When I think about that technology now and how groundbreaking it was, it all seems so ancient now that I can do all of the things that all of those machines did with my cell phone.

There were five owners, and they banked at First Fidelity bank where my dad was a regional manager. He got me the gig at Home Video Centers. Again, my father helping me find gainful employment. He told me to go apply and they naturally hired me. It’s funny how history repeats itself. My dad got me the job at Hunt’s Pier, Home Video, and later Circle Liquors. I got my daughter the hostess job at The Continental when she first moved to Philly in high school, then the gig at Bar Bom Bon, and later a part-time position at a local smoke shop during the pandemic. So it goes full circle. My father led by example, and he taught me to walk where he walked… not where he pointed. I’ve tried to do the same for my daughter.

The other four owners were silent partners. Brad ran the operation for the stores. (We also had a site in Vineland, NJ.) They had a manager that was in charge of the staff, named John. A cool ex marine that had a humorous intensity about him. I really liked him. I’m pretty sure he was married to Brad’s daughter and that’s how he got the job. Speaking of family, one of the partner’s daughter’s worked there too. Her name was Valerie and we used to call her Video Val. (I think because her monogrammed  license plates said that.) She was a sweet girl who loved all things Madonna. I mean, LOVED Madonna like I loved Aerosmith. So I got her passion. For those of you who didn’t grow up in the 80s, Madonna was the Britney Spears of the music scene back then.  I remember taking Val out for some gin and tonics and then we wet to see the film, Suddenly Seeking Susan, a movie that Madonna had a small part in. Val always liked me and we were good friends back then.

It was a good crew of people. The one owner Brad was in and out, or up in his office. John managed the place and there were a few guys who worked in the repair shop in the back. Can you imagine that now? There was a whole workshop back there where a few tech guys would repair and clean ppeople’sVCRs. I remember some guy brought in his front loading betamax and said it  something was wrong with it because he couldn’t put a tape in it. When the guys opened it up, they found a little toy car inside that his son had put inside it thinking it was a garage for his matchbox cars.

Sony Betamax ARABIA SL-T20ME RED PAL & SECAM Beta auto voltage *free shipping*

I have to admit, it does look like a little garage door on the front. You could jam a whole fleet of Hot Wheels in that thing. I’m sure the man wasn’t pleased.

It was a good group of people working together in a relatively new industry. I remember when I was back in California I went to a party at some rich dude’s house and he had a VCR. Nobody I knew had one of those back in 1982. It cost him around $1500 back then. It was new desirable technology back then and they could charge what they wanted for it.

We also sold some of the old big screen rear projection TV sets. That was an amazing yet primitive hunk of furniture and technology. They made them 36 inches up to around 40 inchesscreen-wisee back then. They were thousands of dollars but we sold a lot of them. Back then it was the best way to watch a movie at home or a sporting event. Some of them weren’t that bad, (Sony, and Mitsubishi made the best ones of course) but most of them really didn’t have much clarity as classic tube sets of the day. Little did we know that one day you could have a 50 inch flat screen that you could hang on the wall for around $300 from Walmart!

I remember one day this guy came in and there were a couple of us guys hanging out on the sales floor. The conversation went like this:

Guy: “Do you guys sell anything that I can use to get stains off abig-screenn TV?”

John: “Hmm… I could check in the back.”

Guy: “Okay.”

Me: “Actually, we have a product like that. It’s called, “Cums Off.”

We all burst into laughter, including the guy, who got the ‘big screen, you’ve been watching too much porn reference.’

Me: “I’m sorry sir, I just couldn’t resist. I would just turn off the set, unplug it, and use a little light soap and water on a cloth. Wipe the screen down vertically.”

It was a riot.

Working at Home Video Venters was a cool job. I watched all of LIVE AID while at work. It was on every TV all day and a magical day for a musician and music lover like me. It was amazing to watch all of the music stars of the day rock out in an all day live concert up in Philly.

I saw the whole MOVE thing happen in Philly as well at Home Video Centers. I watched as they burned down Osage Avenue on 30 TVs around the store.

I learned everything there was to know about VCRs, VHS, Beta, and wiring up audio and video systems to work together. I once rewired an entire media room including all the HIFI aspects of the system to make it all sing together in one room.

I saw my first Pioneer laser disc. I saw my first compact disc at that job. I remember putting the demo disc in a CD player in a 100100-wattstem and hearing the band Rush’s song, Tom Sawyer for the first time digitally. I was blown away by the power and clarity and sound of this new technology.

Plus, I’m surrounded every day by bunch of people who love film and watching movies. I remember going to see Hitchcock’s, The Man Who Knew Too Much with a buddy of mine at a small revival theater. It was amazing. I had never seen any older films in the theater in my life. Only new stuff. Just brilliant!

Oh, Betty? I’ll get to her in the next installment. Tune in next Tuesday. I’ve had too much fun writing about the video store!

Check out my latest book, LAWNDALE on Amazon!

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. 

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Wildwood Daze: At The Drive In

Wildwood, New Jersey – Summer, 1981

First, a little history…

The Wildwood Twin Drive-In owned by Fox theaters of Philadelphia opened on July 28, 1950, as a single-screen drive-in. In 1976 a second screen was added. This drive-in had a capacity of 470 cars.

The Wildwood Twin Drive-In closed after the 1986 season. The original address was Wildwood Boulevard (Route 47) at exit 4A of the Garden State Parkway.

The drive-in theater was the idea of Richard M. Hollingshead who opened the very first drive-in theater in Camden, New Jersey on June 6, 1933. It wouldn’t be until 1950 that Cape May County would have its own drive-in movie theater. Mel Fox, of Fox Theaters from Philadelphia opened the Wildwood Drive-In theater on a 13.5-acre lot on Wildwood Blvd., in Rio Grande. With space for 470 cars, a Simplex X-L projector and a sound system with Simplex in-car speakers, the drive-in was ready for its grand opening, Friday, July 28, 1950, with the showing of “I Wonder Who’s Kissing Her Now.” The box office opened at 7:30 pm with a 60-cent admission per car. Free popcorn was given to everyone on opening night. They ran two shows each night during the week and three shows nightly on weekends. The property was sprayed with DDT every week. Sometimes every night! (Darn mosquitos!)

In the Fall and Winter of 1981, my father taught me how to drive. We would go out each morning and I would practice driving our 1969 Volkswagen minibus. It was a four-speed manual transmission and had a blind spot on the back right quadrant of the vehicle. So it was fun to try to parallel park that sucker. Especially fun was learning how to K-turn the van. Each street had a crown for water drainage in Wildwood, so the vehicle would roll and stall out all the time as I struggled with the gas, clutch, and brake. But in time I figured it out, (with my father’s patience) and soon I could hold the van on a hill and even roll it back and forth on the incline using only the clutch and brake.

I passed my driving test and my dad gave the van to me. You can read all about the history of that family vehicle in the links in the above paragraph.

The Summer came around and I now had possession of the van. One of the first things I wanted to do was take my friends to the drive-in movie out in Rio Grande off the island. I always loved movies and especially horror movies so it was a natural progression for me to want to hang out there.

We’d drive out Rio Grande Avenue which turned into route 47. Delsea Drive as it’s better known. The reason route 47 was called Delsea Drive is that it runs from the Delaware River to the Atlantic Ocean. (Get it? Delaware to the Sea. Del-Sea!) When you passed the bay and the grassy sound and you’d arrive out in Rio Grande on the mainland. There were shops and roadside vendors and even a little mall out there. (It was more like a small enclosed shopping center) There were a few old motels out there and maybe a trailer park or two but what stood out was on the right was a drive-in movie theater.

I had heard of them as a kid and thought it was a cool idea. Just sit in the comfort of your car and watch a movie. You could eat drink and talk and nobody would bother you. When I was a kid I would sometimes see the big screen of a drive in while we passed it at night in the car. I just thought I had to experience that one day. So once I had the van, I was going to make that happen.

We pulled the van off the road and into the entrance through a grove of trees. Sort of like a little tunnel of trees that you had to drive through to get to the box office. The path was littered with broken seashells that crunched under your wheels as you rolled up to buy your tickets. It didn’t cost that much and people were always sneaking their friends inside the trunks of their cars. But we had the van and all they had to do was look inside and see who was in the car. As I said, it was cheap and we didn’t mind paying for whoever was in our crew.

We’d get there at dusk just to get a good spot and hang out a bit. It was cool. the surface of the lot had these humps of dirt built up that you’d pull your vehicle onto just to raise the nose of your car to point the car toward the big screen. You’d pull your car up to one of the speakers that hung on poles that were stuck in the ground all over the lot.

Drive-in Theaters Start Kickstarter Campaigns, Ask for Donations to Pay for Digital Projector Conversions | TIME.com

They were these big metal waterproof portable speakers that you unhooked from the pole and then hooked them on the edge of your driver’s side window. It had a volume control on it and that was it. Many of them didn’t work or were badly oxidized from being outside for years. But for the most part, they did their job. You don’t go to the drive-in for a rich film experience and superb audio quality. You go to the drive-in for the fun of it.

A lot of people back then would bring their kids with them. The parents got a night out and didn’t need a babysitter because most of the time the children would pass out and sleep in the backseat of their car or station wagon by the second feature. But for the most part, it was young people and teenagers like us just looking to do something different on a summer night. (You can only have so many nights on the boardwalk and in the nightclubs before you need a break!)

By the time we arrived at this drive-in, it was already 30 years old and its best days were behind it. The screen was a little banged up and so was the old wooden plank fence around the lot. But here’s the cool thing about that. Once night fell, you could walk over to the fence toward Delsea Drive and slip through a hole in the fence behind whatever stores aligned the fence. So we’d go over there and zip through the fence and no one would see us. Once outside the lot, we’d walk about 30 yards to a roadside liquor store and grab a few 8 packs of Miller ponies. We didn’t drink much back then and those mini beers were enough for us, and they were small enough to stay bubbly and cold on the floor of my van. We’d sneak back under the cloak of darkness and have our beer and snacks for the show. I wonder now why we didn’t just buy the beer in Wildwood, hide it in a cooler in the van and then go to the drive-in. Maybe we thought they would check the car and I know there was a “no alcoholic beverage rule” in place at that theater. So maybe that was it. But it was actually more exciting to pull a caper and sneak through the fence and get our beer.

We’d hit the snack bar and try not to get devoured by the hordes of mosquitos that ruled the place at night. I remember keeping a can of OFF behind the seat of the van just for that reason. We’d buy popcorn, nachos, soft pretzels, and whatever other kind of junk food they sold there. We’d load up and head back to the van.

I found this great video of intermission shorts on Youtube. I love how it takes me back to being at that beat-up old drive in theater. The campy voiceover, the crap animation, the photos of the “delicious” food which was terrible and even looks bad in the photos! Such great memories!

Once it was dark, usually just before 8 pm, the first feature would begin. As I said, the place had already been there for 30 years and all they normally showed at that theater during the week was horror movies. Mostly slasher films from the late 70s which were all the rage since the inception of John Carpenter’s Halloween. (I remember one evening we laughed through  Bucket of Blood and Demonoid!)

We loved it. Most of the films were bad but made in earnest by the filmmakers. We didn’t care. We’d watch them and eat, sip cold beer, and smoke cigarettes, and were in our teenage glory.

One night I recognized my friend Joe’s (Best bassist on the island) car a few yards ahead of mine. I thought I’d walk over and say hello. I tried to peek in the window, but they were all steamed up. I tapped on the glass and the back window rolled down. Then I saw my pal Joe with his shirt off and beneath him lying on her back was some pretty girl. I quickly backed away from his vehicle and apologized for interrupting his movie experience. (Which neither of them were watching!) So I realized that the drive-in was a cheap, mobile hotel for amorous couples!

One of my most enduring memories of that place was in 1984 when I took my girlfriend Betty Ann to the drive-in. She had never been to a drive-in movie so it was all new fun to her. We pulled up in her blue BMW 5 series and had a grand old time. We drank beer, smoked pot and saw Footloose and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, which was a fantastic night. She loved it and I found out first hand that the windows really do steam up pretty quickly! (I’ll be covering the full Betty Ann saga in a series this fall, so stay tuned!)

Once a group of us went to the drive-in and I pulled the van up on the hill sideways. I opened the sliding door on the right side and the passenger door next to me. I passed around the can of OFF spray and everybody grabbed a beach chair I had brought and sat outside the van. I went over to the two speaker poles that were at each end of the car and left them on their poles and just cranked up the volume on each one. So we had four speakers going. We all camped outside around the van and could hear the show. They played the film Purple Rain and everybody went wild over that. It was a spectacular night of music and laughter. (After that, who didn’t want to cleanse their soul with Appolonia Kotero in the waters of Lake Minnetonka?)

Years later they tore it down and put up a shopping center and if you went out there now you’d never know the place ever existed. The advent of home video rentals killed the drive-in movies.

It now lives only in my memories.

I’d love to hear your comments on what your experiences were at this amazing place!

Check out my new book, LAWNDALE on Amazon. It’s packed with stories from my youth growing up in Northeast Philadelphia!

My next book, DOWN THE SHORE, a collection of stories from my summers in Wildwood in the 70s will be released in May of 2023!

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. 

You can check out my books here: https://www.amazon.com/s?k=charles+wiedenmann&ref=nb_sb_noss_1

Lawndale – Thank you!

My author copies finally arrived!

I just wanted to take a moment and thank everyone who bought my book. It was a stressful time leading up to the release but it all turned out well and made for a great 60th birthday!

I was surprised how many copies sold and hope everybody got their orders promptly. I’ve been down this road six times before and it’s never an easy process.

If anyone out there is thinking of writing and publishing some sort of book I’d be happy to help in any way I can. It’s tough to do it independently because there’s no roadmap to guide you through the journey. But if anybody needs help I can assist you.

I’ve also loved all of the outpourings of love from the community. It really means a lot to me. I don’t write these books to make money and get rich and famous. I do it because I have to create. Whether it’s a picture, a story, or a song, I have to make things. It brings me a lot of joy knowing I put something there that wasn’t there before. It’s nice to be able to create for people so they can feel something. I’m not a great writer or a musician. I have zero formal training. I just like to make things and take it from there.

I know some really great writers and musicians. Many of them have great technical training to do what they do. But I’ve found it’s not really about that. We’ve all seen movies that looked great visually, but the story sucked or the characters or dialogue were weak. The greatest movies ever made have been about the STORY and the PEOPLE in those stories. Tales that make us feel something, or take us back to happier, simpler times in our lives.

Think about your favorite song. You don’t love and rock out to that song because it’s technically proficient or well produced. The greatest songs make you feel something. That’s what I strive for in my art.

If you got my book and liked it, I’d love it if you’d write a short review on Amazon to let people know what you thought about the work.

Also… I would love it if you could take a photo of yourself with the book. It can be anything. You holding it. Reading it. Your kid holding it. Your dog chewing on it. Anything fun. Be creative! I’d love to put those photos on social media to show that people have the book and are enjoying it. You can post your pic on your own page and tag me or post it to my page. (Or send it to me in messenger)

How about this… I’ll put all of the names of the folks who took photos and put them in a hat. I’ll pick one out at random and whoever I pull out wins a FREE signed copy of my book!

Here’s another idea…

My sister Jane and I have been chatting about maybe putting something together where we could all meet up in the near future. We’re all getting older and it would be great to see all the familiar faces from our youth again. She thought maybe some sort of a book signing and that would be fine, but I’d be happy just to see you all again, and meet some new people I didn’t know from the old neighborhood.

I’d like to hear from you all with some suggestions as to some good spots that would be convenient for us to all meet up. Maybe two different events? I have no idea. But I’m sure we could come up with some viable options and dates that would work for everybody. Let me know! We can chat on messenger or you can email me at: cwiedenmann8962@gmail.com.

Thank you again for making my birthday amazing. I wasn’t expecting the book to do as well as it has. Hope to hear from you all soon!

Tell your friends!

There will be a book about my summers in Wildwood in the 1970s!

Coming… Memorial Day – 2023!

Thank you for reading my blog. Please like, comment, and most of all Follow Phicklephilly. I publish every week on Tuesday.

You can see all 7 of my books here.

LAWNDALE – The 312 Magee Avenue Playlist

The Lawndale book is just one week away from being published!

While writing the Lawndale book I started to think about all of the music we listened to growing up in the house on 312 Magee.

There was always some sort of music playing somewhere in the house at any given time. Whether it was my mom listening to Andy Williams on the record player in the dining room while she did her housework, or us kids listening to our records.

My father always loved music and would listen to classical and operas in the basement while he worked or read his books.

We had the jukebox on the porch that had been loaned to us by a couple that my dad was friends with and we loved that thing!

There was the the 8-track player in the 1969 VW minibus that we all rocked out to on trips on the road with dad.

We listened to the radio in the kitchen and would hear all the new popular songs of the day.

I would sometimes bring a little record player to the dinner table and sit it on the seat next to me. My dad wasn’t home, and it would be just my mom and my sisters. I would put little 45 rpm records on and we would all sing to them. It was a riot!

I got into listening to some of my favorite songs and bands recently on Spotify and thought about creating a playlist of all the music we heard in our house growing up as kids. Not just the music we owned, but all the theme songs from our favorite shows that were on TV in the 60s and 70s.

At first I thought it would be cool to share it with my sisters for nostalgic reasons. But then I thought, wouldn’t it be great to share it with all of the people who might remember some of these songs from their past as well.

So I’ve decided to add to the anticipation of the Lawndale book coming out next week and share it with everybody as a soundtrack to the book.

Some of the songs you may not recognize but some will make you smile and take you back to a simpler time. This is an eclectic mix of music and themes from the 60s and 70s that were alive in our house at 312 Magee growing up.

I hope you enjoy it, and maybe you’ll listen to it in the background while reading my book! (Don’t worry if you don’t have a Spotify account. It’s free and you can just go on and check it out!)

Here it is! The 312 Magee soundtrack!

https://open.spotify.com/embed/playlist/5nQ0QYz4dBIphiU7hiIZR4?utm_source=generator

I hope you all enjoy listening to this as much as I enjoyed putting it together. I’d also be happy to add any songs I may have forgotten!

Enjoy!

LAWNDALE the book will be available on Amazon next Tuesday on August 9th!

Thank you for reading my blog. Please like, comment, and most of all, FOLLOW Phicklephilly! I publish every week on Tuesdays.

Wildwood Daze – Botto’s and the Office

North Wildwood, New Jersey – Late 1970s

Botto’s

One of our favorite hangouts growing up at the shore was the beloved Botto’s Arcade at 10th and Surf Avenue. It was 2 blocks from our house and was a meeting place for the local kids.

In the first half of the decade, it was a small market full of food staples, sundries, and beach stuff. It’s where we used to go to buy our kites and string. But because Russo’s Market at 9th and Ocean was such a juggernaut and go-to spot they sort of ran Joe Botto out of business. Just geographic competition. Botto, a retired Philly cop, was never happy about that, but shifted gears and turned it into an arcade much to the joy of the neighborhood youth.

Botto’s had everything we needed for an enjoyable afternoon or evening as an alternative to the beach and boardwalk. A phonebooth outside in case you had to drop a dime and make a call, and a soda machine full of ice-cold beverages stood out front. Joe’s wife normally worked during the day, giving out change for the machines inside and operating the bike rental part of the business.

The place was small, but just the right size for us kids. A regulation-sized, slate pool table in the center of the room, and a thunderous jukebox packed with 45’s of all the hits of the day parked against the front wall near the entrance. (It played A and B sides! This way, I could listen to Walk this Way and Uncle Salty!)

All around the perimeter of the room were pinball machines and video games. My favorite pinball machine, Flash was where I spent most of my time and quarters. They had some of the greats… Eight Ball Deluxe, Gorgar, Wizard, Playboy, El Dorado, and Joker Poker, to name a few.

But, they had all the classic video games of the day in there too. Space Invaders, Pac-Man, Super Breakout, and Asteroids.

Botto’s was a place where teenagers could hang out, play games, chat, flirt, shoot pool, drink soda and smoke cigarettes. The owners were cool, and there was never any trouble there. I’ve spent many a rainy day or health night in that arcade. The phrase “health night” came from my mother. She used to say to me, “You’re out every night! Take a health night!”

You never knew who you might run into while you were there, but it was always a solid meeting spot to hang and make plans for where you may be heading afterward. It was surrounded by motels so even though its core audience was kids from the neighborhood, they always got a few tourists in there as well.

Across the street was a place called Golf City. It was pretty much a waste of valuable real estate that was home to a miniature gold course. Fun for the little kids and they had a small arcade as well, but overall it was lame.

Botto’s was the cool kid’s place. I spent many wonderful times in Botto’s in my youth, but sadly it’s now long gone. What stands in its place now is an ice cream stand.

All that’s left to remind me of the original Botto’s in the brick face and the door and windows. So picture this place without the A-roof, the awning, the sign, the benches, the lights, and the rest of anything pink.

What’s left would be a pretty boring-looking spot. But, none of that was important. Botto’s was about what was inside. The people, the music, the games, and the laughter.

The Office

That’s not what it was called. It was a little game room on the third floor of The Flying Dutchman Motel.

Right there on the southwest corner of the 3rd floor!

The photo I used at the beginning of this post is the motel before they added the 3rd floor. But that’s what The Flying Dutchman looked like in the 70s.

We knew the owners and they were cool with us going up there to smoke cigarettes and spend our quarters on their vending machines in their game room.

The reason we called this little spot The Office, is because we used it not only as a place to hang out and play but to have meetings. If there was some local drama going down or some stories to be told, this was the place it all took place.

I remember trying to tell my older sister some convoluted story about some things that had gone down on Morey’s Pier or some other crazy news from the neighborhood one day. She was trying to understand what we planned to do about this matter and I simply said: “Office…now.”

We liked it because it was high up off the street. We had a view and also liked the games they had in there. Just two pinball machines and an old 1972 Pong machine. There’s a link I provided, but it was so basic it may have been the first video game ever invented. But a fun game! Pinball was still king, but video games were getting better with every coming season.

The biggest difference between this place and Botto’s was, this spot was quieter and more private. You could hang up there, sit at the card table they had set up in there, and just chat. It didn’t have the number of games and music that Botto’s had, but this was our spot. Most of all, it was unsupervised.

This is probably one of the most important aspects of this little game room.

I’ll let you in on a little secret. Pinball machines are designed so that you can’t rock them around too much or they’ll “Tilt.” What that means is, if you shake the machine too much or lift it up to slow the ball down or anything else to upset the machine while the ball is in play, it’ll light up, TILT, and the unit goes off and your ball drains down the hole. You’re done for being too rough with the unit and most of all trying to cheat.

But kids are creative, cunning, learning machines. You know that if the adults come up with some solution to thwart our fun or sustained play, we’ll probably work to come up with a solution to beat it.

So while the machine was on, we’d have one kid gently lift the lower front up off its legs and stack quarters under the legs, one or two at a time. This would flatten the play area on the board but not enough to TILT the machine. We’d get that baby up as high as possible. This would slow down the gameplay and go virtually unnoticed if someone walked in.

By applying this simple remedy, the game would be easier, you’d get a higher score and rack up more free games. That was the main goal. Free games! 

This also assisted with the legendary, “Back from the Dead.” What this meant was if you were in the middle of a game and the ball somehow got past your flippers, and towards the hole… if it was moving fast enough to bounce back out of the hole and back into play, it was always deemed a miracle, which was met with cheers from any onlookers. The ball literally came back from th dead!

So, we did that all the time up there.

Sometimes I would just go up there on my own and play pinball. I just wanted a little time alone to think and reflect on my life living at the seashore all summer. It was a brilliant and unforgettable few chapters from my young life.

Braces off, skin clear, and finally emerging from puberty!

Here’s a pic of me in 1978 on the 3rd-floor sun deck of The Flying Dutchman. The Office wasn’t just for pinball. It was also a great opportunity for me to meet the vacationing talent.

Pictured: Me with Ann and Gina Dougherty on the roof deck of the Flying Dutchman Motel -1978

Yea… tough times for Chaz in Wildwood!

If you liked this story, you’ll love my next book, Down The Shore, coming to a bookstore near you Memorial Day, 2023!

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly.

You can check out my books here: https://www.amazon.com/s?k=charles+wiedenmann&ref=nb_sb_noss_1

5 Signs Your Innocent Friendship Has Turned Into a Full-Blown Emotional Affair

Emotional affairs often begin as non-sexual friendships.

What is an emotional affair? How did your innocent flirting with someone you claim to be just good friends with turn into emotional cheating and infidelity?

I cannot count how many couples have come into my office with their relationships in shambles — with one spouse saying that their partner had an affair, with the other denying an affair occurred often proclaiming that they are “just really good friends” and that they “never had sex”.

So…was it an emotional affair?

In a monogamous relationship, people share both emotional and sexual information that is exclusive to their partners. They expose their weaknesses, mistakes, and innermost feelings.

We build trust with the other person because we make ourselves vulnerable. These conversations are valued and treasured by us because we know this information is reserved for us and only we have access to these aspects of our partner.

Emotional affairs often begin as non-sexual friendships. We confide in our friends perhaps because we feel our partner lacks understanding or they are unavailable.

This is particularly common with couples where one or both partners is a busy executive. When we lack access to our mate and need an outlet to talk to, we turn to our friends. And there is the always available social media, where platonic relationships can easily take root as deep and emotional friendships.

One important point here is that a majority of the emotional affairs begin as harmless friendships without any intention or plan to develop the relationship beyond that of a platonic friendship.

Unfortunately, we all have limited time, energy, and emotional resources available — and when these finite commodities are expended on the “friendship” rather than your partner relationship, there is a disconnection where the partner has cheated, emotionally.

The emotional affair is one where a person falls in love with another person but the relationship is not sealed with a sexual act. Over time, if the emotional affair continues (perhaps you flirt without realizing), it often leads to a sexual affair.

Emotional affairs can be devastating and destructive to your current relationship and family. In fact, emotional affairs can cause as much (or more) damage as physical affairs, but be more devious since they are less obvious.

Why? Because it leads to secrecy, deception, and is established primarily to gain an emotional high or to run away from negative experiences within the actual marriage itself.

One of my clients recounts, “I was so much more shattered by my husband finding solace and love with her. I could have more easily forgiven a one night stand because she wouldn’t have meant anything to him but as an object for sex.”

When someone falls in love and seeks such intimacy with that other person, when the time spent with the partner is superficial because their heart longs to be with someone else, the underlying trust is shaken.

Casual flirting or a crush don’t even begin to cover the irreparable damage such kind of “affairs” cause.

So, are you having an emotional affair or are you just friends? Are you on the path to an affair, even though nothing has physically escalated…yet?

Here are 5 signs you’re having an emotional affair (and you need to stop).

1. You have conversations you’re not too comfortable with your spouse knowing about

Do you find yourself hiding your phone (or getting a separate one), making sure your email and phone passwords are secret? Maybe you’re thinking “I’m glad my partner isn’t (reading, watching, finding) this (call, text, picture).”

These are signals the “friendship” boundaries have already been crossed.

2. You find yourself daydreaming or making plans with this person

Examine your mindshare. Does this person occupy your thoughts unceasingly? Are they on your mind when you go to sleep, when you awake in the morning and during most of the day? Whenever you are alone, do you think about them and seek opportunities to speak with them?

In a way, you begin to idealize this person. You may become more discontent with your partner and share concerns and problems with your friend while becoming more distant with your spouse. At times, you may even have disappointment that your spouse doesn’t do things like your friend does.

You, then, begin to find faults in your spouse for habits, beliefs, or approaches to situations that were never an issue and have always been present in the relationship.

Your tolerance for your mate is then less and they begin to irritate you leading to the belief that this person understands much better you’re your spouse ever did or could.

If you find yourself feeling more connected to your friend rather than your own spouse, then clearly some changes need to be made.

3. You’ve lost interest in being intimate with your spouse

It is a fallacy you think that affairs begin in the bedroom. Affairs actually begin in the mind.

First, emotional involvement often leads to our seeing our friend as having few, if any, flaws. This leads to our partner’s flaws becoming considerably more obvious leading to our being critical of our spouse and their habits and mentally comparing them to our friend.

While looking your best for work or going out is not an issue, the action of doing so for a specific person is entirely different. The action of being visually attractive to another person begins in the mind.

Expending considerable emotional energy and thought into dressing up for a friend is a signal that the relationship has a deeper meaning than that of traditional friendship.

Once you dress the part do you let your imagination play out romantic fantasies about your friend? Daydreaming and planning a new life with our friend is often a next step in the progression of an emotional affair.

This mental scenario with our friend is beginning to evolve into a relationship that we feel would be far superior to that of our partner. Directing your energy into cultivating a fantasy is not far from the fantasy transforming into a reality.

4. You’re spending less time with your spouse

Are you spending less time with your mate since the relationship with your friend has become a more significant part of your life? Are you are sharing personal problems, feelings, and thoughts with your friend instead of your partner?

Do you create ways to talk with or be alone with your friend? Do you stage opportunities where it is probable you will run into your friend and then the opportunity to speak with them appears organic? Do you find excuses to talk with them?

Whenever you have something exciting in your life or anything good or bad happens, do you rush to this person to share?

Whether it is communication, your daily life stuff, affection, thoughts, time or focus, does your spouse get less of your mind share while your friend gets more?

While there is nothing wrong with having a good friend, the problem comes when you begin to share less with your mate.

If everything that you used to give to your partner has become considerably less or completely transferred to this new person these are warning signs that an emotional affair is in the works.

5. You keep secrets and lie

Are you keeping the friendship with the other person a secret? Do you minimize the amount of time you spend with your friend to others? Do you omit details about meetings, private lunches or phone calls?

Do you guard passwords, access to your phone and social media accounts from being seen by your partner? Do you delete evidence from your phone, lie about your whereabouts or deny having communication with your friend?

These are also hallmarks of an emotional affair.

Now that you’ve realized that you’re on the brink of an affair without meaning to, what should you do next?

It is important to remember that even when such affairs do not cross the line and reach the physical stage, the impact is equally damaging and could put your marriage in a danger zone.

The intimacy and chemistry that is the core of an emotional affair have a deeper emotional intensity because you happen to be emotionally invested in it.

An emotional affair is bad, it can slowly disconnect you from your partner and you won’t even realize it. If you have such kind of friendship with the opposite sex, cut the relationship ASAP. Otherwise, it will take you down the road of a physical affair very soon.

 

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This July 4th, Americans will spend more on beer, wine than fireworks

Americans will spend $1.6 billion on Fourth of July beer and wine, surpassing the amount they are expected to spend on fireworks, according to a new report from WalletHub.

And AAA found that a record 48.9 million Americans plan to travel over the holiday, a 4.1 percent increase from last year.

“This holiday builds on the strong travel demand seen for Memorial Day, and with schools now out of session across the country, families coast to coast are eager to travel,” Paula Twidale, vice president of AAA Travel, said in a news release.
For those living in Philadelphia or spending their holiday in the city, Visit Philadelphia compiled an Independence Day guide describing the annual Wawa Welcome America festival, which includes the Party on the Parkway, free or pay-as-you-wish entrance to 22 museums and attractions, and a birthday party at the Independence Visitor Center with Betsy Ross.
AAA warned travelers of delays near major cities, and the mix of commuters and holiday travelers on Wednesday was expected to make it the worst day for traffic. Delays nationwide are expected to increase about 9 percent, but around major cities, commutes could take up to four times as long.
“With record-level travelers hitting the road this holiday, drivers must be prepared for delays around our major metros,” said Trevor Reed, transportation analyst at INRIX Inc., a Washington-based transportation analytics company.
The Fourth of July celebrations include an expected $1 billion being spent on fireworks, $6.8 billion on food, and $5.4 million worth of imported American flags, according to the WalletHub report. And 150 million hot dogs are eaten each year.
Although more Americans (61 percent) plan to have a cookout than celebrate with fireworks (40 percent), Philadelphia city leaders still encourage residents to leave the fireworks to those trained to set them off.
Last year, five people died from fireworks-related injuries nationwide, according to a report from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.
“While it can be tempting to get in on the action on July Fourth and other holidays, we always encourage Philadelphians to leave fireworks to the experts,” Mayor Jim Kenney said in a statement.
Most Americans do celebrate the nation’s Independence Day, but the National Retail Federation found in a separate report that total spending on food items is down about 5.5 percent from a high of $7.15 billion in 2017.
Still, Americans seem to be getting into the patriotic spirit. Two-thirds of Northeast Americans own an American flag and say they have themed-apparel, according to the report from the National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights & Analytics.
Americans seem to be spending more on Independence Day in the Northeast, too. The retailers group found that this region will spend an average of $78.40 on food, anywhere from about $7 to $12 more per person than the Midwest, West, and South.

 

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