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

Double 8

Philadelphia, PA    1973-1975

Before I begin this story I have to tell you something about my father. I said this about him in his eulogy. With my dad, anything worth doing was worth overdoing. Now, that didn’t apply to anything negative like booze or drugs or anything. My pop was a pretty straight shooter but what I meant by that statement was, he went big on anything he liked.

I mean, BIG.

I’ll give you an example. I think this was back in the ’90s. When my older sister’s son was little he spent a lot of time with his grandpop. (My father) He loved playing with toy trains with my dad, and of course, my father was a huge toy train collector. He had tons of toy trains. Lionel trains were his favorite.

He set up a little ring of track on the floor in a corner of the attic. This way they could go up there and run the trains and watch them go round and round. I’m sure this delighted my nephew. But when I saw it I said to my father, “Isn’t this just the beginning, dad?”

“What do you mean?”

“This is how it starts.”

“What are you talking about?”

“Aren’t you going to start building this little ring of track out bigger and bigger until it’s gigantic?”

“No. It’s for the boy.”

I even joked that he’d build a train layout so large that it would run the entire length of the attic. It would be an enormous museum-quality setup, with multiple lines and trains running on it, villages, buildings, cars, people, and whatever else he could turn it into.

 

Cut to a year or so later, and he did just that. It was the biggest train layout I’d ever seen. A giant wooden platform was constructed three feet off the floor. Multiple trains running on several different tracks. Lights, switches, several transformers to run it, whole villages and towns built throughout. It was absolutely brilliant.

If you went into someone’s house and went up in their attic and saw something like this, you’d say, “Who the hell built all of this?”

So, you get the picture. He liked to take something and go big with it. It was massive and beautiful. My father loved it. He once said, “My toy train layout. It’s the only world I can truly control.”

LAWNDALE

Let’s jump back to Christmas, 1972. We were celebrating the holidays just like always and it was great. We all got plenty of toys and everybody was happy. It was probably the happiest day of the year in my house growing up.

My dad knew a younger couple he was friends with that he knew from the bank where he worked. They were cool people and we all liked them. They were around a lot and were interesting, fun people.

They gave the family a present that year. Or, maybe it was for me. Maybe they gave something to each of my sisters but I didn’t notice. Because the present they gave was a little racing set.

Aurora made plastic models and HO slot car race tracks.

No one I ever knew in the 60s and 70s dressed like this in real life to play. (And who are those little guys driving the cars?)

I knew the name Aurora because I liked building little models when I was a kid. Aurora and Monogram made the best models, but Aurora had this line of slot cars and racing sets they manufactured. This was a fantastic toy.

In the box is enough track to make the double eight configuration, two controllers, and two cars. One was a little red Mustang that was okay, and an old tan Lincoln that looked like it was modeled after a car from the 40s. I liked the idea of a racing set and playing with little cars but these two they gave you in the set were kind of lame. But… it was so you would go out and buy more of the cooler cars they made.

Weekend Mornings with Slot Cars: Throwback Thursday

That’s a yellow late 60s Corvette. They didn’t give you that car. I can’t even find a picture on google of the old Lincoln the set came with. (I love how it says: The Double 8 is the most exciting road racing set in the WORLD!)

Here’s what the controllers looked like. You turned the wheel to the right to accelerate and left to slow down. There was a little switch on the right to change directions, and a brak button on the left which killed power to the car and it would stop short. It was so intense sometimes the little steering wheels would end up breaking from the sheer pressure of the hands upon them. Thrilling racing action! (lol)

In our basement, we had a pool table. We also had two boards that made a ping pong table you could place on top of it. So my dad set up the small race track on the ping pong table. He wired it all up and it was cool to race the little cars around the track. But my dad being the man he was, got interested in this little pastime. Not just for us kids, but for the adults.

He went out to the local Kiddie City and hobby shops in the area and started researching how he could expand the layout.

I don’t know how long it took, but probably only a few months into the Spring of 1973, and the little racing set was rapidly becoming larger.

I liked it because I could have some of the boys in the neighborhood over and we would play for hours down in that basement with the racing set. The raceway kept getting bigger and better.

From that one little gift, my dad turned it into an incredibly fun racing track. At one point he made a layout that was four lanes wide, with four controllers, and electric lap counters. He and my mom would be down there entertaining their friends, having drinks, and having these epic auto races while we kids were asleep in bed. I’m talking 100 lap marathon races that went on for a long time. Some people would be racing cars and others would act as spotters if a car fell off the track during the race. It was like Indianapolis down there.

My dad and his friend were famous for whipping out a “secret car” that no one had seen before just to make the racing more thrilling!

Dad even went out and bought a record album that was just the soundtrack from different real races around the world. Like Grand Prix and Le Mans! This way when they were racing the sounds in the background made it seem even more real. It was great!

Check this out!

Then the cars started. The Batmobile. The Green Hornet’s car (Black Beauty) A few Corvettes, Ferraris, Cheatahs, etc. In no time we had over 40 cars. All different colors, and even fleets of all the same model. (Like real racing teams!) I feel like at one point we had at least one of every car that Aurora made for slot car racing.

Yep, dad always went big and it was glorious.

Everybody had their favorite car, and mine was a white Mako Shark. I loved it because it looked like a Corvette Stingray and that was my favorite car in real life back then.

Boxed 1960s White Chevrolet Corvette Mako Shark Aurora Slot Car - TPNC

My dad was always bringing home new cars and cool accessories for the layout. The coolest thing ever was something called a Hop-Up Kit.

Inside this little box was equal to finding the Ark of the Covenant to me and the boys. For under a dollar you could soup up your car to make it not only faster, but handle better on the track.

Better pick up shoes and brushes to generate better power current into the motor, Bigger crown gears to make the wheels turn more revolutions per minute, fatter tires, bigger rims, and cool decals to dress up your cars. This little box of goodies changed the whole game. We had a few of these on hand at all times. My friend RJ and I would soup up our cars and beat everybody else’s cars.

I never bought any of this stuff. My dad just kept finding more cars, curves, controllers kept bringing them home. It was a toy that kept on giving and kept all of our friends entertained for hours. (My sisters and their friends too!)

Here’s my friends RJ McMeans and Wayne Kachelries going head to head, while my middle sister and I keep our eyes peeled in case a car goes flying off the track. (Look at that 8-foot straightaway!!!)

That curve you see closest to the camera is called a Daytona Curve. It was banked so you could go around it faster without crashing. We later added a Monza curb beside it. This was an amazing racing layout!

I’ll never forget all of the hours of fun we spent as kids in that basement at 312 Magee St. It was nice and cool down there and just a fun rec room for us growing up.

Later as teenagers, we’d play ping pong and shoot pool down there while listening to all of our records on my dad’s stereo. (The GOOD stereo!)

Even now, at almost 60 years old, I’d still love to play with a racing set like this!

I think a lot of people would agree with me.

Way better than video games!

Final Note: My youngest sister read this article and sent me the following photo. Apparently she saved 3 of her little slot cars all of this time and still has them! Amazing!!!

 

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

Rock – Ola

Philadelphia, PA – The early 70s

My dad had this couple he was friends with back in the late 60s and early 70s. He met them through the bank where he worked in Northeast Philly. They were a cool sort of hippie couple in their 30s. That period in our history was a great time of change in this country. But my dad liked them and they were nice people. They turned him on to the counter culture of music, film, and of course marijuana.

I remember going over to their house when I was a kid and they had a lot of cool, artsy stuff around the place. One of the things that struck me was this old-time jukebox. It was an actual working antique even back then. It was chock full of over fifty 45rpm records from the 50s and 60s. Cool!

My sisters and I were captivated by this massive cabinet full of flashing lights, swirling colors, and loads of great songs inside. It was an incredible piece of technology. It must have weighed over 500 lbs and made of solid oak. The front door swung open and you could see how it worked. You could also watch the operation through a little window in the front of the unit. The 45 rpm records were all stacked on metal plates and when you pushed the play button, would swing out and a little turntable would rise and pick up the platter and it would meet the stylus and play the record. Neat to watch. The heavy sound blasted out of a 15-inch woofer in the front.

Check this out:

My dad’s friends were going to be moving to a smaller place and told him that the jukebox was just too big to fit through the door of their new home. They asked if they could loan it to him and keep it at our house. Of course, my dad agreed, much to the joy of my sisters and me.

It sat in the corner of our enclosed porch at the house at 312 Magee Street for the rest of the 70s. We slowly began adding new 45 rpm singles that we had bought so we could listen to our music in this booming beast.

This will give you an idea of what it was like even though this one in the video is a little different from ours. (But we did have Jailhouse Rock in ours and played that song often. I think Treat Me Nice was on the B side of that single)

It was almost like we had this big entertainment robot living on our porch. Any of the kids could just push a button and music would come on. The girls could dance and the boys would simply rock out to the tunes.

I think the most memorable time of having this jukebox in our family was on Halloween. We’d have it lit and playing music, and when kids came to the door trick or treating they would all see it. No one had ever seen anything like it and they were all amazed at the sight of this technological musical marvel.

We had it on loan from them for over 40 years. It went to the shore house in North Wildwood in 1979 and remained there until a few years ago. The grown son of the couple wanted the jukebox back. In my opinion, after having the jukebox in our possession for over 40 years that it was rightfully ours. Possession being 9/10s of the law. But the right thing to do was to give it back to the family. We were no longer interested in the unit and it had been on loan to us that was an agreement my father had made with them back in the 70s so my sister wanted to honor that decision.

So it’s been gone for a while but I sometimes think back to all the fun we had listening to our music through that booming beast from a bygone era.

There I am in the early 80s next to the Rock-Ola!

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Freelance Commercial Writer

Happy New Year!

I’ve been writing this blog since 2016. In the beginning, it started as a hobby. A way for me to have a forum to tell stories about my dating and relationship exploits.

After about a year or so, I added the Dating and Relationship Advice articles to not only help my readers with their dating endeavors but to increase content which in turn, increased page views.

My goal was to at least reach 250k in page views by year 4. We achieved that goal early last year. During that time I added WordPress ads and was finally approved for Google AdSense. They run random ad buys on my site that generates revenue 24/7, 365 days a year.

So, all good. Between that and content links I place for advertisers, and banner ads I run on my site from clients and brands, it pays for the site.

But, when covid hit I found myself unemployed. No worries. Get paid by the government to write good content about my past and write and publish books? Yea, I’ll take that for a year and a half.

I knew that “grant money” would eventually run out and I’d probably have to go back to work in some form. But I had been in contact with a friend who was the former editor at a media site where we both worked several years ago.

She was building websites and writing articles for several businesses and was beginning to feel the stress of getting too many to write. So, she gave me the overflow. I had never written industry stuff in my life, so I was curious to see if I could get it done. But I figured, if I’ve been writing and publishing this blog for the last 5 years and have published 6 books, I’d probably be able to figure it out.

I started to write articles about subjects I knew little about. A solar panel company in Colorado, a stock photo company in Canada, skin and health care articles, lists of activities to do with your kids in Summer, storage facilities, a hot tub company, real estate and some IT stuff.

It was quite a challenge at first because it’s a completely new style and structure of writing I had ever done. But after a while, I picked it up, and off we went. It was at times a grinding experience and I really found out what it meant to be a commercial writer. It’s not sitting in the back of a bar sipping drinks and eating wings and writing about the girl I went on a date with last night. It’s not some cool romantic thriller novel born from my imagination.

It’s a daily 10 to 12 hour a day writing gig, with hard deadlines and many demands from clients. Sometimes I doubted myself but knew that if I stuck with it I could crank out quality content and get paid for it.

And I did.

The money’s good, and I’m going to see how long I can do this before I lose my mind.

Wish me luck!

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

New Car – Part 3

1986

I was working at Midlantic Union Trust Bank in Wildwood. Life was good. I had resigned to the world of the rat race. Short hair, and suit and tie every day. I looked good back then, and was making my way.

That’s me at my sister, Janice’s wedding. (Sup, ladies…)

One Sunday, I was driving out somewhere in the Villas just taking a drive and listening to my cassettes in the stereo. I was traveling north and it had been raining and the road was a little wet.

From the left at an intersection a green sedan pulled out. A Cadillac traveling south that was going to fast, swerved into my lane and struck my Subaru head on. I tried to pull away to the right, to deflect the impact but she slammed right into me. She had lost control and skidded right into the oncoming lane.

It all happened so fast. But then because your mind goes into hyperdrive, everything starts to move in slow motion. I saw as the woman fell sideways down on the seat in her Caddy.

I looked over at the passenger seat beside me. The cigarette that I was smoking was sitting on the cushion. I quickly snatched it up and put it in the ashtray. (Funny what you do when you’re on auto pilot.)

The cassette in the stereo continued to play as all the lights came on and the motor quit. It was the song, Critical Mass from Aerosmith’s 1978 album, Draw the Line. (Oh, the irony)

I couldn’t get out of my door, because it was jammed shut. I unhooked the seatbelt from across my hips. I then crawled out across the seats to the passenger door which I was able to open. I got out of the car, and felt like the wind was knocked out of me from the impact. I was also in a bit of a daze. I remember spitting out blood, but that was from when my tongue had jammed into my teeth and was cut on either side.

I slowly walked around the front of the car and the entire front end was destroyed. Radiator fluid poured from the wounded vehicle. I uttered the following words:

“Damn… I only had six more payments.”

Some people ran towards me saying they had seen the whole thing and it was all the Cadillac’s fault. Of course it was. I was just cruising along in my own lane when that woman came crashing into me.

Dazed, I walked across the street. (Left the scene of the accident) I went into a gas station and used the payphone. I called my dad and told him what happened, where I was and asked that he come out and get me. I had never been in a car accident before.

I hung up and returned to the scene of the accident. By then the police were there and I told them I was the driver of the Subaru. They interviewed me and the witnesses. An ambulance arrived and took the lady in the Cadillac to the hospital.

A wrecker came and moved the cars off the road. My XT coupe sat in the parking lot of the gas station where I had placed the call to my dad.

My father arrived and was glad I was okay. He said that when I called he had been taking a nap, and stated that when told him I had been in a traffic accident he thought he was dreaming. Odd, but here he was within a half hour. I remember him saying he originally didn’t think the accident had been that bad because I looked fine. But then he walked over to my car and looked at the front of it, he was surprised I wasn’t in worse shape than I was.

Another ambulance arrived, and at the recommendation of the police and my father, I let them take me to the hospital. I remember them affixing a support frame around my head and neck and putting me on a stretcher and placing me in the ambulance.

I was securely strapped in and off we went to Burdett Tomlin Hospital in Cape May Court House. I felt okay, but was having a bit of anxiety strapped to a gurney in the back of a van looking out the back windows as the sky and treetops went by.

When we got there they checked me out. I had been wearing a t-shirt, a flannel button down and a thick black peacoat. That’s three layers of clothing. I had been hit so hard that through all of that I had the beginnings of a yellow bruise on my chest from the impact. The seatbelt that went across my lap, had cut through my jeans and I had lacerations across both of my hips. (Right through my pants!) The cuts on either side of my tongue were minor and no longer bled. They checked all my vitals, and after some chatting and joking with the nurses, I was released to the custody of my dad.

He reiterated that he didn’t think it was that bad of an accident until he saw how badly damaged the front of my car was.

“After seeing that son, I will never drive a car again without wearing a seatbelt. I know now it saved your life.”

No one wore seatbelts back in the sixties and seventies. Some cars didn’t even have them! But after that day I never saw my dad drive without wearing one. So, good things can rise from the bad events in our lives.

The only after effects from the accident were, feeling a little dazed for a couple of days after the event, and a sore neck. I did notice that for a few weeks after the accident when I did drive a car, I was a little nervous and a bit more cautious when approaching an intersection.

The insurance came through after the usual nonsense and they had deemed the car undrivable. They settled, and the car was totaled.

I went back to the dealership, and got another XT just like it. It was identical to my former fallen steed. But you know what? It was never the same. It was simply a replacement to my first love. It was as if someone I loved had passed away and I got a girl that looked just like her, but it just wasn’t her. Make sense?

I drove that XT for many years after that, but eventually traded it in for  a’94 green emerald pearl, Toyota Camry. I was married and it was nice to have a big spacious car with air conditioning.

I’ve owned several cars after that, but I’ll never forget my first New Car.

The days when I was the one with the coolest car in town.

On a final note…

Here’s a shot of the last great car I owned and loved. A Mazda Millenia!

Check out those vanity plates!

I had a girlfriend named Kate that I was in love with at the time. She was my first muse and inspiration for Angel with a Broken Wing.

 

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

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New Car – Part 2

1984

I remember when my dad and I went to the dealership to look at the car. At that time they had a few white ones and a couple of blue ones. I really liked the white one. I had never seen a car like this before. I loved that it looked like a spaceship and had flip-up headlights like a Corvette.

We worked out the financing and my father basically made the deal. I was too busy drooling over the car. I had the VW minibus, and then the Fiesta, but this was a brand new car.

My car.

I remember when they made delivery of the car, I was so excited. I clearly remember this exchange with my dad.

“I love this car! It’s so beautiful! I can’t believe it’s mine!”

“You will when you start making the payments on it.”

My dad being the banker, made the deal on the financing, and didn’t want me married to a car payment for a long period of time. The sooner I could get it paid off, the sooner I’d have equity in the car, and be free of the payments.

But what that caused me was an incredible financial hardship. The payments were around $300 a month and I really wasn’t making much money back then. I was married to that car for years. It sucked. I wished he would have done a 60-month deal, but what did I know back then? Zilch. I just wanted to drive a cool car.

When you’re a young man and you get your first new car it’s like a rite of passage. It’s like the car becomes an extension of yourself. It becomes part of your identity because you don’t have much of one yet. It’s like someone handing you a box full of cool. It’s your chariot. The stereo booming, while you speed down the road in your machine of metal is a feeling like no other.

I know that many men never get past the importance of owning a cool car. Sadly, there are so many underdeveloped men that feel that they are defined my driving an exotic and/or expensive automobile.

I’ve known men that think that if they drive a high-performance car they’re successful or powerful. When in reality, most women don’t care about cars, and they’ve invested their money into a depreciating asset.

The moment you drive your car off the lot it begins to lose value. Why would you want to invest your money in something that’s a money pit? I remember talking to a man with real wealth who told me this: “Don’t look at what kind of car the guy drives… look at his house. Anybody can lease a nice car and live in their mom’s basement.

But at age 23 it was an incredible rush to own a cutting edge, never seen before, cool car. I remember it being described as the “technological flagship” of the Subaru line.

I found these photos in an old album of mine.

There’s my baby right in front of the house in Wildwood, NJ!

Loved that car!

I remember I was working at Circle Liquor in Somer’s Point, NJ. There was a girl named Lori that worked there that I was in love with. I don’t think she held the same feelings for me, but I did go out on a couple of dates with her. Her dad worked at the Showboat Casino, and I think she just worked there until her dad could get her a job at the casino.

I went to pick her up one night, and it was snowing and I cleaned all the snow off my car out front of her house so she could see the car. But she didn’t really care about what I was driving or me for that matter.

She was really pretty, and I just couldn’t get her to fall for me. She ended up going to work at the Showboat, but I stayed in touch with her.

I remember one night I was supposed to meet her for dinner in Somer’s Point. I drove up there and was at the restaurant. She was supposed to meet me there and didn’t show up when she was supposed to. I called my friend Ferd as to what to do. “Order Johnny Walker Black on the rocks and stay cool. She’ll show up.”

I was an anxiety-ridden mess as usual back then and my nerves were shattered. I ended up calling her on a payphone and talking to her. I may have spoken to her two times that night while I was waiting. She eventually bailed on our date and I knew I was dead in the water.

I sadly drove home in my iron steed.

I talked to my father about it, and he said the following. “Maybe she doesn’t want a guy who works at a liquor store. A warehouse type. She works at the Showboat now. She probably wants a better class of man.”

Thanks for grinding my self-esteem even lower than it already was, dad.

Snowstorm!

Those kinds of statements are what propelled me to get a job in a bank like him. I figured if I had a good job, I would be able to get a quality woman.

Little did I know that that would be the beginning of some of the worst decisions of my life. 20 years in banking. Marrying a girl who came from a nice family for all the wrong reasons. It was the beginning of me losing my true self. But millions of men have made the same choices and been miserable for decades.

I remember describing my future wife to my dad and why I wanted to marry her. His response was, “That sounds like very republican thinking.”

But you’re the one that told me to be more than a warehouse worker, dad!

They’re all equal now, and none of it means anything to me from where I stand in my present life, but these were defining moments.

I loved everything about the car. I just felt so good when I was in it and driving around. I remember when it was new I’d be stopped at a light and people in the car next to me would look at it and say, “What is that?”

It was that cool in the mid-eighties. I loved being that guy.

 

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

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

Listen to Phicklephilly LIVE on Spotify!

SUN STORIES – Tales From a Tanning Salon, Now Available on Amazon

Yes. It’s now available on Amazon.

https://www.amazon.com/s?k=charles+wiedenmann&ref=nb_sb_noss_1

I was working at a local media company here in Philadelphia. One of my advertising clients was a tanning salon. I became friendly with the owner. He was always complaining about his staff. I asked if I could start moonlighting there for some extra income.

He immediately hired me. One shift became two, then three, and within a month or so, I became full time. I was tired of working at the media company where I was currently employed. A publication that was no longer relevant in this city. Print was basically dead… but tanning salons were hanging by a thread.

But I enjoyed working there. It was a fun job. I met a lot of great people during my time there. But with every job, there’s always challenges… and temptations.

Sun Stories: Tales from a Tanning Salon, takes you on a sunny, and sometimes dark journey of my time working there. It’s filled with funny, unique, and sometimes cringe worthy tanning stories. But there were other forces at work there. What began as an easy part time gig, slowly evolved into a story filled with love, obsession, sex, and misadventure.

When I was editing Phicklephilly 2, I had a revelation. I realized that Phicklephilly 2 was all about the relationship I was in with my girlfriend, Cherie. The love affair, the passion, and the infidelity of that glorious celebration of two people coming together.

But, I looked at Sun Stories, and saw that it ran parallel to Phicklephilly 2. It was a complete documentation of my work life during that period. Phicklephilly 2 was about my relationship with Cherie, and Sun Stories was my work life.

They’re both happening at the same time. I have to release them together.

That’s my whole life between 2016 and 2018. It’s everything. I have to release them both.

Cherie. I loved her. But after Michelle and Annabelle, I was now armed with how to navigate my future relationships. Secure myself and see what happened. I’d never enter into another relationship without my armor on.

I was working at the media company that was the last cool paper in the city. When I think about going to that publication, I think of Ronnie James Dio. He once said that when he joined Black Sabbath to replace Ozzy Osbourne, he called it, the second coming… or going, of Black Sabbath.

That’s how it felt when I joined this dying publication. I loved all of the people I worked with there, but knew the paper was doomed. It’s greatest days had come and gone. I only did it because I was about to be fired from the start up where I was working. I had such high hopes for what I was going to build with that little start up. The money was great, and I’m forever grateful for that. But they never followed through with the investors to build it out into a national site.

That site is dead now.

It was heartbreaking for me to leave them, but I’m sure the owner was relieved he no longer had to pay me. Why did he never follow through? It makes no sense. I guess I’ll never know. We could have built something wonderful. I jumped to a local free publication and made a go of it. That old publication was in a state of flux, and the changes that unfolded for that sweet paper destroyed the very thing it once was. I worked hard at what I’m good at. Acquiring accounts and building the business.

But the writing was on the wall. They had brought in a fool to run the daily operations. He systematically destroyed the advertising department at the paper. Can you imagine that? The guy gets a job to grow a struggling business and all he knows how to do is ruin it.

He did that. All of the meetings. The Monday morning kickoff meeting. The Wednesday Sales Meeting. The Thursday One on One. He should be horse whipped. He broke the spirit of everybody who worked there.

There are no clients in any of your foolish meetings you silly asshole.

How could he be such a failure as a leader when he seem like such a nice guy?

Detritus.

My father passed away, and I was fed up. I was the only sales guy on the floor. Rocco was a fixture and an account rep. He can’t sell. The new manager brought in a couple of retards, and I could see there was no future there. The place was a rotten husk.

It kind of sucks, because back in the day, I LOVED that publication and the CITY PAPER. They were god to me. If you wanted to see what was up in Philly, they were the papers you grabbed. They were in honor boxes around the city. I would always read them every week. Everything I needed to know was in those sweet papers.

But, here I was working at this anachronism. It was over. My daughter will never touch a newspaper. It’s over. It’s been over since 2008. Print is dead.

Oh, but here we go…

Tanning is dead too.

I had a client who actually spent money with me to advertise his brand. I did my best for him. I believed in his products and services. I gave my all. I came up with creative ideas because I cared. I wrote killer copy for his ads. I did what I’m good at.

I liked it so much, I went to work there to escape the dungeon of selling print advertising in a paper whose epitaph had already been written.

But I had no idea it would open a flower I had never seen before.

This is the most lurid book I’ve ever written.

So let’s begin.

https://www.amazon.com/s?k=charles+wiedenmann&ref=nb_sb_noss_1

 

 

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

My new books, Phicklephilly 2 and Sun Stories, are now for sale on Amazon!

https://www.amazon.com/s?k=charles+wiedenmann&ref=nb_sb_noss_1

Listen to the Phicklephilly podcast LIVE on Spotify!

Phicklephilly Reaches 100,000 Visitors!

Well, we’ve reached another milestone here at Phicklephilly! We finally achieved 100,000 visitors!

 

When I started writing this blog 4 years ago, I never thought I’d reach these kind of numbers! Thank you to everyone who’ve taken the time to visit, read, like, comment and follow Phicklephilly. 100,000 visitors has translated into 168,000 page views so far. I hope to get to 200,000 by years end!

I’ve tried over the years to bring you the best, fun, and informative content I can. A lot has happened during 2020! Despite the obvious challenges we face in the world right now, I’ve taken this time to let my creativity flourish.

In the Spring, I released the book, Crazy Dating Stories. I compiled as many insane dates from hell from my life that I could remember. The book’s done well. Apparently people like to read about insane dating stories.

Summer brought the publication of my first work of fiction, Angel with a Broken Wing. That’s been a great seller and I’m so happy it’s done as well as it has. I have another work of fiction I’m currently working on entitled, Below the Wheel. It’s a hard boiled detective story that takes place in Camden, New Jersey. A couple of young private investigators get caught up in a serial murder case. I hope to publish that in early 2021.

100,000 Visitors!! Thank You!! | The Swiss Rock

I’m happy to announce the anticipated release of the sequel to Phicklephilly next week! The long awaited, Phicklephilly 2 will drop on the 14th! This book picks up where the first book left off. I was now fully ensconced in an exclusive relationship with my girlfriend Cherie, and how that all went along over two years. Michelle makes a few appearances, and there are some surprises along the way. (Some good… others, not so good.) I had a good time, but I really learned a lot about myself being in that relationship, and writing that book.

I can’t promise anything, but there is a possibility that the long awaited, Sun Stories: Tales from a Tanning Salon, may be dropping soon as well. I’m just working through some contractual things and issues in pre-production on that book. It’s a wild story that starts out with some interesting funny stories, but slowly transforms into a series of intense encounters with some of the female clients. I never expected any of that to happen, but life is what it is, and why not do it all with a great tan! If I get a green light on that project I may have that out sooner than later!

I’m hoping to publish a book that compiles stories from my young life in 2021 as well. Two of my sisters think it’s a good idea for a book, so I think it would be fun to write.

I have also been in talks with a long time friend and comedian of mine, about writing a comedy called, The Last Video Store. So there’s a lot going on here at Phicklephilly studios!

Thanks again to everyone who visited the sight! I will continue to bring you interesting and engaging content everyday!

Onward and upward!

 

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

My new book, Phicklephilly 2 is coming soon on Amazon!

 

https://www.amazon.com/s?k=charles+wiedenmann&ref=nb_sb_noss_1

Listen to the Phicklephilly podcast LIVE on Spotify!

Instagram: @phicklephilly    Facebook: phicklephilly    Twitter: @phicklephilly

Tobacco Road – 1977-1996 and 2008-2018

I started smoking cigarettes when I was around 14 years old. I was going on 15 but it was just something kids did back in the 70s and ’70s. Everybody smoked cigarettes. It was so widely accepted despite the health warnings. Everybody I knew smoked cigarettes. Back then you could buy a pack of smokes for $0.51 a pack at Rite Aid. That’s super cheap! A whole pack of cigs for half a buck? Incredible!

The odd thing was, at our young age, my friends and I always had a story ready if we were ever questioned by any of the shopkeepers in any of the stores where we bought them. The story was always, “Oh, these are for my mom.”

But no one ever asked us who the cigarettes were for. Ever. We had no problem buying cigarettes anywhere we ever went.

I remember my older sister taught me how to inhale.

When you start fooling around with smoking, your young lungs aren’t accustomed to breathing in toxic smoke. So you just puff them to look cool. But to get the full benefits, taste, and rush of smoking, you have to inhale the smoke. So one night my older sister showed me, my friend, how to do it. We were standing down by the bulkhead at 8th and JFK Blvd. in North Wildwood. She said, “take a small puff and then suck the smoke into your lungs like you’re being startled.” You suck it in really fast and in it goes. You get the full taste and then blow it out.

What I didn’t know is that once you do that, the nicotine enters your bloodstream and gives you that little rush that smoking cigarettes bring.

That is also the first day of your addiction to cigarettes.

I smoked and enjoyed cigarettes for the next 20 years.

Then my daughter Lorelei was born and I decided to quit smoking for health reasons. I didn’t want to sniff her baby head and have the smell of cigarettes present. But I was in my 30s then and firmly addicted to smoking with a 20-year habit. So I bought the Nicoderm patch. The patch is a sticker you place on your arm and it releases nicotine into your system without smoking.

Dosage & Steps | NicoDerm CQ

It was tough but I slowly got myself off cigarettes. It probably cost me $600 in patches but it eventually worked. I was free of smoking but as one ex-smoker once said to me, my blood was hungry for cigarettes for over 2 years after quitting.

But like anything else, if you stop doing it, it eventually fades from your life and you no longer want it.

 

Jump forward 10 years, and I was divorced for over 8 years and I started dating Michelle.   https://atomic-temporary-111921946.wpcomstaging.com/2016/10/31/my-michelle-2007-present-part-1/

I loved Michelle. Probably more than I’ve ever loved anyone else in my life. We would be out at night touring the city and pounding cocktails.

Michelle smoked cigarettes and sometimes she’d have problems lighting them in the evening breeze. Having been a long-time smoker, I could get a cigarette lit in a sandstorm with one match left on the beaches of Wildwood. I’d help her.

Me getting her Parliament lit and handing it off to her went from that to me taking one sweet puff.

Michelle worried I’d get re-addicted to cigarettes doing that. I assured her I wouldn’t. I told her, “I’ll only get hooked if I start buying them again, and that’s not going to happen.”

But back in 2008, I was madly in love with her and my life in general with her. It wasn’t long before I was picking up a pack of Marlboro Lights regularly.

I didn’t care. I felt alive with her and loved the taste of cigarettes again. There’s nothing better than a cold cocktail and a delicious cigarette. It’s like sex.

But like everything awesome, if you do it often enough you begin to tire of it.

 

Jump to 2018.

Michelle was long gone and all that remained was my tobacco addiction.

But things had changed. Cigarettes were now $10 a pack and I found myself growing tired of smoking in general.

I was older. Better in touch with who I was and what I wanted. I found that I don’t have an addictive personality. I have more of a compulsive personality.

I would buy a pack of cigarettes and only enjoy maybe 2 of them. My favorite was the one after work. The celebratory smoke of finishing the day. An addict craves their drug of choice all the time. I was sick of smoking but still doing it. My mind wanted to give it up I was sure, but I needed to bring the body over with my thought process. And in that lies the true challenge.

I was tired of the smell, the dirt, the ashes, the health risks, and most of all taking it on the chin for $10 bucks a pack!

The only part of smoking I liked was the actual act of smoking. Holding it in my hand, puffing on it, watching the smoke blow from my lips. Not the actual need to smoke. I no longer had that. No addiction, just an annoying holdover from my past life. Something I no longer enjoyed but just did out of ritual and habit.

(This factor will play out in another vice I would soon address.)

But what to do? I knew this chapter in my life had to end as I continued to evolve through my 50s.

I was moonlighting at the tanning salon one night and was cleaning one of the rooms. People are always leaving things behind in the rooms. I’ve found all kinds of things. Money, jewelry, drugs, underwear, etc. But this time I found a small, grey-colored metal stick with a tiny light on it sitting on the table. I had no idea what it was and just figured it was some sort of wifi gadget for a computer.

But I was wrong.

The girl who had left the object behind came back asking for it. I gave it to her.

“What is that?”

“It’s called a Juul. You smoke it. Like a vape pen.”

I had heard of people vaping but it all seemed weird to me.

“You can smoke that like a cigarette and nothing’s burning or making ashes?”

“Yea. You can charge it on your laptop, and you have these little pods you stick into it. They have different flavors and nothing is burning, no ashes, no smell, no real smoke, no carbon monoxide. It’s awesome. I love it.”

“Is there nicotine in that thing?”

Image result for juul

“Yea, but only 5%. Which isn’t much, but it’s so much better for you than smoking dirty cigarettes.”

I was sold. The next day, I went to my local 7-Eleven and bought the starter pack of Juul. The unit, a charger, and 4 pods with different flavors. Virginia Tobacco, Cool Mint, Creme Brulee’, and Berry.

I charged the unit up at work that night and liked the results. I’ve been smoke-free since May 2018 and have never looked back. I don’t smoke my Juul that much and have zero desire to have a cigarette. When I see someone smoking a cig now, it looks dirty to me, and wonder how someone could enjoy such a primitive filthy habit.

Ahh, the reformed smokers are the worst!

I’m so happy cigarettes are gone from my life for good.

I know what you’re all thinking… Oh, you’re still getting nicotine from that thing.

They make nicotine-free pods now, so you can simulate smoking with no ill effects.

Image result for cyclone pods

 

So now I can still enjoy the celebratory smoke after work with no addiction or health issues. I feel great and enjoy my Juul very much.

 

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

My new book, Angel with a Broken Wing is now for sale on Amazon!

https://www.amazon.com/s?k=charles+wiedenmann&ref=nb_sb_noss_1

Instagram: @phicklephilly    Facebook: phicklephilly    Twitter: @phicklephilly

8 Reasons You’ve Stopped Having Sex in Your Relationship-And How to Address It

THESE ARE THE MOST COMMON ROMANTIC ROADBLOCKS YOU MIGHT ENCOUNTER.

As a therapist who specializes in modern love and studies the science behind connection, I inquire about the sex lives of dating individuals and couples constantly. What I hear in my sessions mirrors recent data, which indicates an upward trend in the number of U.S. adults who reported having no sex in the past year. That number peaked at 23 percent in 2018, according to a report from the General Social Survey.

Social scientists, psychologists, and economists have weighed in on rationales for the “sex recession,” citing everything from the increase in social media and phone use to newfound awareness of unwelcome and assaultive sex. And while there are surely societal influences that may be impacting our sex lives at large, there are also elements that are unique to our individual relationships. That said, here are some of the most common interpersonal reasons people in relationships stop having sex, as well as how to address them.

1. You focus on cultivating intimacy but not desire.

Desire, our capacity to succumb to our pleasures without guilt or shame, is selfish by definition. On the contrary, long-term relationships are built on mutual respect and mindfulness of the other person’s needs. In order to have a thriving sex life, we must wrestle with the contradictions between our values and our innate desire. Intimacy thrives on security and stability, while desire feeds off newness and is stifled by routine.

One intervention is to find opportunities in your relationship to be sexually transgressive. Consider writing or stating an erotic fantasy to your partner. Identify a new space (room, city, state) to have sex in. Simply talking about breaking the rules, even if you don’t actually break them, can invite a playful and adventurous spirit into your sexual connection.

2. You don’t spend enough quality time together.

In 2010, research from the National Marriage Project found that couples who spend time alone with each other at least once a week are 3.5 times more likely to enjoy above-average levels of sexual satisfaction than spouses who did so less frequently.

Investing time and energy in your relationship promotes a connection and could lead to increased sexual satisfaction. If life feels “too busy” to carve out this time, consider scheduling date nights or sex like you would a meeting or workout class, to ensure it is prioritized.

3. You don’t know what you want—or how to ask for it.

Experiencing pleasure requires that we have a clear sense of what we want. Pleasure is sometimes viewed as self-indulgent and narcissistic, two qualities that most people don’t want to be defined by and therefore resist exploring. But instead of judging our preferences, we must own them. Masturbating on a regular basis can help nurture a relationship with ourselves. Through experimentation, we can identify what feels good and how we like to be touched.

It is our right to have our needs met—and clearly stating our sexual preferences to our partners is like giving them the road map to helping achieve that. Show or tell your partner how to satisfy your needs. You’ll both be better off for it (and so will your relationship).

4. You’re not comfortable with your body.

Several aspects of body image, including weight worries, sexual attractiveness, and preoccupations about the body during sex, predict sexual satisfaction in women, according to 2009 research published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine. Men are also impacted by these concerns; one 2016 study published in Psychology of Men & Masculinity found that around 20 percent of “normal” weight men report hiding an aspect of their body during sex.

This evidence suggests that it is not our bodies themselves that impact our gratification, but rather our feelings toward them. Implementing positive self-talk has not only proven to increase confidence but also to internally remodel the negative grooves in our brains. Additionally, building awareness of what we allow into our field of view by limiting our intake of body “inspiration” on social media can positively impact our self-concept.

5. You’re experiencing a life transition.

In all rites of passage—consider the shift from childlessness to parenthood, singlehood to coupledom, married to divorced, or rebuilding after an affair—there are role exits and entries, where we must let go of an old identity in order to inhabit a new one. Anxiety, depression, and inner conflict tend to ensue when we experience a role transition. Walking into the unknown, even if it’s the most beautiful uncharted territory, is going to ignite fear.

The primordial human response to fear is to self-protect and clamp up. Normalizing this transitory period by removing expectations to behave like you “used to” or “do better” may help you relax and therefore open up sexually. Start by executing small and approachable sensual acts that will support you and your partner in building a track record of success. Couples that view their sexual narratives as continuous know that transition periods are chapters and not endings.

6. Your sex life is a reflection of another impasse in your relationship.

Our sex lives can be a barometer for other roadblocks in the relationship. For example, if you’re constantly being told that what you’re doing is wrong, you may notice a decreased attraction to your partner. Power struggles outside of the bedroom bear down on what transpires beneath the sheets. Underneath each criticism we have about our partners is a wish, an unmet need longing to be granted. To break the negativity cycle, begin to phrase your disapproval as requests. When we state our desires with intention and vulnerability, making it about ourselves rather than others, there is a higher likelihood that they will be well-received and met.

7. Your technology addiction is inhibiting your sex drive.

Modern life provides ample material for stimulation. Having more modes of conveniently accessible distraction on our smartphones can intercept our appetite for human connection. Start to build cognizance of when, where, and how long you are using your phone. Get curious about how your engagement with technology may be distracting you from stressors in your life or impacting the quality of your face-to-face relationships.

Making intentional decisions to engage and disengage from technology—such as removing TVs, laptops, and phones from the bedroom space—may help you have more satisfying experiences with both your digital and human interactions. Keeping the bed sacred for sleep and sex can train the brain to associate this place with these two acts, increasing the likelihood of both.

8. You’re not in the mood (for a variety of reasons).

A lack of sexual desire may be influenced by physiological challenges, psychological issues, or a combination of the two. Certain health conditions, like diabetes, or medications, like anti-depressants, may impact how turned on you feel. Life stressors, subsequent worries, low self-esteem, and a history of sexual abuse can all promote sexual distance. Expressing these mind and body experiences to a trusted partner, friend, or therapist may reduce their grip on the sexual connection.

On top of sharing our truths, building scientific knowledge about how our bodies are wired, may reduce guilt and shame related to low desire or arousal. The sexual response cycle that we witness in movies and other forms of entertainment—which is desire, arousal, and then orgasm—does not align with most of our lived experiences. In consensual sex, many of us do not feel desire or arousal until the act begins. Meanwhile, some individuals may not even be seeking physical satisfaction with sex, but rather emotional closeness. Reducing the pressure to achieve orgasm may enable couples to enjoy more aspects of the journey.

Approaching our sex lives as living, and therefore malleable, gives us permission to change the dynamic at any time. Having the will to revisit the erotic narrative in a relationship encourages us to look deeper into our own desires and those of our partners, having the potential to lead to more and better sex. And if you’re not sure if your sex slowdown is a bigger issue than you might think.

 

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

My new book, Angel with a Broken Wing is now for sale on Amazon!

 

https://www.amazon.com/s?k=charles+wiedenmann&ref=nb_sb_noss_1

Listen to the Phicklephilly podcast LIVE on Spotify!

Instagram: @phicklephilly    Facebook: phicklephilly    Twitter: @phicklephilly

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