Sunday, 24 August 2014

Chicken Bone Beach.

I’ve been lucky enough to persuade Journalist and Broadcaster Robyn G. May from West Philadelphia to write a guest page on my Blog – this resulted from a serious conversation we had on the beach;

While we were walking along the beach yesterday in Shanklin on the Isle of Wight a thought crossed my mind.

The beach was sectioned off by several walls and the section we were leaving was very rocky while the one we were going to was much less rocky and I thought to myself;  ‘this must be the white only section’.

It’s sad to think of a segregated beach but unfortunately not so long ago that was the case.

Atlantic City is a resort town in New Jersey where families have flocked for over one hundred years.

Besides the beach it provided great entertainment for families including rides on the pier. Later casinos opened providing adult entertainment; gambling, shows, and concerts. The board game monopoly is based on the streets of Atlantic City. And until just a few years ago Atlantic City was the home of the Miss America pageant.

Now there are outlet stores to draw the shoppers, the Steel pier is still there but there are only a few rides left, an arcade and carnival games. The casinos are still open today although many are struggling. A fabulous multi-million dollar casino that opened just two years ago will be closing on September 5th.

New Jersey’s coast is lined with small town beaches that provide family friendly activities so not so many go to AC anymore. The shore towns range from quiet and quaint to loud and bustling. Most turn to Wildwood, which is the town with several piers of rides and even a water park.

I grew up going to Wildwood during the summer; AC was always a place for adults. In America you have to be 21 to gamble and drink alcohol. Guess where I went for my 21st birthday?
That’s right AC!

But AC is only an hour from Philly and a little over an hour from New York City so it still gets quite a draw, although not like in the past. Mostly people go for day trips and bus trips are a popular pastime for senior citizens. A few companies offer deals like pay $15 and get $10 back to play in the casino.

Atlantic City is full of history, including Chicken Bone Beach. I was in college when I found out about this historic part of the beach.

Growing up in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania there weren’t many remnants of segregation. People in the North are much more civilized openly when it comes to race relations, although behind closed doors things are just as bad if not worse than they are in the South. However, segregation as in “White Only” and “Colored Only” didn’t really exist.

Chicken Bone Beach was a section of Atlantic City’s beach which was “Black Only”.

[Sammy Davis Junior and his friends, forced to party on the “Black Only” beach.       

                    I know which beach I’d have wanted to be on (Neil)]

Until 1900 the beach wasn’t segregated but when customers from the south started vacationing in AC a section of the beach was designated to appease them and Chicken Bone Beach was born.

What you have to understand about segregation is that although they always claimed “separate but equal” this was never the case. “Black Only” facilities were always the worst, the facilities were provided to satisfy the law but there was no standard for quality.

Which is why being on that very rocky section of the beach made me think about Chicken Bone Beach.

Robyn G. May

(a don’t stop till you drop production)

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