Our life stages are unique, Kathy enjoys sharing her thoughts and stages through her writing and looks forward to learning about yours.
A Legacy in Ruins
I am posting this intimate and emotional story about the beloved town of Seaside Heights and its boardwalk. Initially, I wrote it as my feelings poured out in a fictionally based piece about Seaside Heights' beautiful and nostalgic promenade in New Jersey. Sadly, the boards again came under attack more than once. There was a magnificent re-build after the summer season 2012 hurricane. Then they succumbed to yet another storm where terrible destruction continued in a fire on the boards in September 2013.
I feel, as do so many, the sadness of this event is almost debilitating. We watched the evening news as the boards, re-built, went up in flames. This news added insult to a barely healed wound. However, this community is active in maintaining its beloved history and boardwalk of Seaside Heights. They also hold close the memories of the past. This community will always re-build whenever possible. May all who fought for the preservation of this fantastic boardwalk be blessed. May God smile upon the future of this community.
The Trio and Sandy The Storm Of The Shore
Samson was a Saint Bernard, known well by the surf-side shore town of Seaside Heights, New Jersey, for many years. Samson was always at the side of a scruffy old guy named Sid. Now, Sid had also made a name for himself in this community. He would sit on a boardwalk bench with a rolling basket and work amid the ocean breeze. He was an artisan who enjoyed watching the people's diversity strolling up and down the long-standing boards. Sid was a short, slumped-over, gray-haired, bearded gentleman. He donned a sports coat, regardless of the temperature. Sid was a fan of wine bottle creations, making his favorite workpieces from those bottles of cobalt blue glass. He would create various seascapes and other images as he would etch or paint the thick blue glass with meticulous precision and adherence to detail.
Samson was a friendly and gentle giant and sat prominent, almost regal by his master’s side. This gorgeous pup kept watch over his keeper like an angel on duty; he was at the same time super lovable. He welcomed the interested people who would approach him with gracious glee. The beautiful white, brown, and black patched coat was attractive, not to mention his size, which caught the passerby's attention. A young child would wander up to Samson, he would shake his head, and his long generous fur would fly up in the breeze and then lay back down and in place. After a fair shake, he would reach his nose for his toy ball and nudge it toward the attentive child to engage in a game of toss. It was a sweet, childlike interaction, and one Samson would only engage in with the children on the boardwalk. These two amigos, Sid and Samson, never apart from one another. They were a team.
Sid had formed his affections for wine bottle art as it was a way to connect to his illustrious past. He had come to the New Jersey shore area as a young man looking for work. He felt his chances favorable if he could go to a vineyard and offer his skill and physical capabilities to the winery owners. Renault Winery was well known for providing labor and other positions in the summer months. Sid felt confident he could do well in this environment as his family was Italian. His ancestors were winery workers; his grandfather even owned a small vineyard in Italy.
Sid’s parents had come to America when he was just an infant hoping to offer their young family the American Dream. His father taught him to honor God, work hard, and respect others while humble and thankful. He often reminded Sid, “To always look back to where he came from and forward to where God desired him to be.” He grew up in a Newark, New Jersey, row home. These small Jersey towns were places where people knew everyone, and secrets were minimal due to the living situational closeness.
Sid was familiar with the clamoring of neighborhood ladies as they hollered after one another’s children. The boy was often delivered to his young mother by one of the Italian grandmothers on the block. The young man's ear was secure and held between an older woman’s wrinkled and yet stiff, firm fingers. Sid was one of the many boys who would finish the chores and then meet up in the alleyways for a stickball pickup game.
This community raised their children with family values and a passionate work ethic, and they did it together. After his upbringing, it was no surprise that Sid would chomp at the bit to head out independently. At sixteen, he would get a summer position working at the Renault Winery in Egg Harbor Township, New Jersey. He knew this would be a great place to gain experience, and he also knew he could make a decent income in return for hard work.
The first summer at the winery, Sid worked in many capacities. He was coming to the winery in 1966; this year, the chateau-style hospitality house was famous and well-known for some twenty-plus years. This summer, a museum became a beloved addition to the property. The eloquent owner was Maria, Sister of John D’Agostino, who had taken over the winery after her brother’s passing in 1948. This year 1966, she created a museum on the property where she displayed her collection of wine glass art, some dating back to the thirteenth century. Maria entrusted young Sid during his first summer to be the polisher of the wine glass collection.
She shared the essential craft pieces and showed a soft Italian cloth technique to buff them after cleaning them. Sid connected with the stories and history behind each article in the museum. He felt a sense of pride, happy he earned his employer's confidence to keep the collection intact. Sid was also a fast and talented grape picker. They gave Sid ample opportunity to learn the business as he was open to any job that needed doing. The young man and hard worker never complained or questioned the need for a task. His work was so diligent that he earned the invite to come work at the winery year-round at eighteen. Excitement and passion grew in Sid for the opportunity he was allowed. The winery is where his artisan passion took hold as he began to create masterpieces of glass art on bottles and wine glasses alike.
Sid Falls in Love
After Sid became established as a year-round grounds worker at the winery, he would frequent the boardwalk on summer evenings. One such night he came to the pier with a group of his buddies visiting from Newark; they were eager to explore Casino Pier's rides and food. On one of those warm summer nights, Sid was separated from his crew for a brief time and found himself in a line at the candy apple stand.
He noticed the young woman who came to the line right after him; he found it difficult to keep his eyes front. She was a beauty, with her dark auburn hair wrapped in a scarf, keeping the wind from messing with her lovely curls. Her bangs fell to one side, and her eyes gleamed as she looked ahead to the candy apples behind the glass counter. She wore a casual pale pink blouse and a knee-length skirt in a dark navy shade, with a small white anchor patch on the bottom right corner. She also had the cutest pair of bright red tennis shoes with a new pair of fluffy white Bobby Socks.
Sid, seemingly entranced by this young woman, stammered and fumbled his order when he got to the counter. The older man waiting for him chuckled as he could see the blushing in the young man’s cheeks. Sid glanced back at her, hoping she had not noticed his embarrassment. He thought to himself, how on earth could he save face in this embarrassing situation. Then it popped into his head like a lightning bolt; he would purchase a candy apple for her. So, Sid added her apple to his order, as he stated to the stand owner, “and one, for the young lady, please?”
He paid the man who was now smiling and grasped the two apples from the merchant. He turned toward the young woman and said, “I hope it is okay; I got your apple for you.” She smiled with her eyes as she reached for the apple as they walked toward the bench side of the pier. Sid, at last, got the nerve to say, “May I ask your name?” She answered, “Why yes, my name is Isabella, Isabella Rosalina D’Agostino.” Sid knew this name; it was the family name of the Renault Winery owners. Sid was so excited to have a point of reference for his conversation.
He inquired, are you from the D’Agostino family that owns Renault Winery? Isabella grinned and also perked up at his knowledge of something having to do with her family name. She continued, well, yes, they are my distant relatives, but I am not from the immediate family that runs the winery. My family and I have been there for the occasional family wedding or special event. She went on to describe the winery in exquisite detail; as she spoke, it gave an entirely new and whimsical image of this familiar place in Sid’s mind.
Sid felt he was seeing the winery for the first time through Isabella’s eyes as she reminisced about frolicking in the vineyard as a young girl. The two ended up talking for hours, both equally involved and curious about what the other would say next. Isabella was intrigued with this young man, and after their first meeting, they rarely parted. After a proper courtship, the two married in the vineyard; they both loved so dearly.
They found a little cottage close to the boards where they could be between the two places they loved most, the winery and the Casino Pier Boardwalk. Many of their nights they spent strolling the pier and talking about their life dreams. Sid continued to work at the winery, but then he became more focused on his artwork, and he wanted to be closer to the boards, which was his favorite place to work on his creations. He took a job at one of the local restaurants, working in the kitchen. The work was steady, and it allowed him time to pursue his love of art.
Isabella became Sid’s biggest fan. She would wake early in the morning and pack him a sack lunch to take to his favorite spot on the boards where he sat and worked his craft throughout the day. The couple was desperate to start a family, and yet it evades them. They found out early into their union that Isabella had a weak heart, and to burden her body with the birth of a child could be life-threatening. The couple was assuredly disappointed. Still, their love was so genuine, and they knew their life together was unique and special.
Their trials, they would face together. Isabella spent hours on the boards watching her Sid as he crafted amazing pieces of art. She began to feel as though the many children frolicking on the boards were hers to guard. The parents worked hard to make a wage for their families; Isabella became their Mary Poppins. She looked out for the little ones and provided guidance or sound advice that some of the pre-teens or teens needed. Hence, Sid became a pied piper for the kids. He was a wildly cheerful guy, especially when with his Isabella. Isabella had a young and energetic spirit, even though her body often failed her.
Samson the Saint
The Sweet Couple of the Boardwalk
The couple went many years with their routine of being a staple to the boardwalk activities, but as they neared their sixties, Isabella was slowing down, and she wanted a companion for her Sid. As his wife, she knew the time approaching the boards with him might be difficult. Not wanting to worry her beloved Sid, she brought up the thought of adding a family member. They both decided, and after some discussion, went on a mission to find a pet to love. Sid had also been entertaining the idea of adding to their family as the two were often on the same thought, almost as if they were one heart feeling the same things. Thus, they adopted their beloved Samson at the nearby shelter.
Samson just a pup at three months, although he appeared much more substantial at this early age due to his breed. When Isabella saw his sad little face and felt his slobbery affection, there were no more questions; they had found their family member. They were walking him home, and with great spontaneity, Isabella was practicing names, and yelled out, Samson! Yep, ’it’s a great name; we will call him Samson. Their beautiful long-haired beast had his name. When Isabella looked at him, she said his long hair made her think of Samson's strength depicted in the Bible's stories.
Samson was a Fun Lovin’ pup, though he was a naughty one for eating shoes and socks. He loved to play, and he was a loyal servant to Sid and Isabella. The three would walk the boards at night, and Samson became quite the famous dog, as their pup was, an enormous Saint Bernard. He wore a small cowbell around his neck that jingled as he would stride past the onlookers out for the night’s entertainment.
The trio’s outings slowed when Samson turned five years old. Isabella, now nearing her late sixties, had suffered from her heart condition, and she could no longer go on their long strolls. Sid found a bicycle trolley, and for a time, they could continue their outings together on the four-seated contraption. It was a cumbersome unfortunate task, and he could not do that for long as his age was creeping up to him. One winter’s day, Isabella succumbed to her frail condition, and she closed her eyes, went to sleep, and then there were two.
Isabella’s funeral service was exquisite; she was a lovely soul cherished by her church family and community. She always did her best to look after the babies so the parents could enjoy the sermons. Isabella loved the Lord; she did all she could for others and took care of her Sid. The ever-content wife and mother of their Samson and many young children on the boards called her Gram. The whole community felt the loss, yet they knew she would go straight up to heaven, and Sid knew he would see his love again one day.
Sid and Samson lived a bit broken-hearted, but their routine remained the same every day they would leave their small cottage in town and head to the boards together. Sid was retired, yet he would never withdraw from his precious artwork.
If not for Samson, and with Isabella gone, his artwork would be all Sid had. But he had his sweet pup, and it was as if Isabella knew they would care for one another. The pair would work way into the night, making sure to eat and return home at a decent hour. However, Sid found extra comfort on the boards at night, now even more so with Isabella not present at the cottage. Often, if he imagined, he could see her walking down the boards with her hair blowing in the chilly night breeze while she headed for lemonade or some cotton candy, another of her favorites from the pier. He missed her, but somehow on their piece of the boards, he felt closer to his Isabella.
Sid was now in his late seventies, and he was a little worse for wear. His Samson was a loyal and dedicated companion as they traveled to their spot each day bright and early and stayed late into the evening hours. Each tide that rolled in had advanced their time together, and both were showing the signs of their age. The boards were their home, and Sid continued to share his creations, and Samson was always looking for a good game of toss.
When you saw the two of them sitting side by side, it almost looked like Samson had his paws in prayer position. Perhaps he did? Maybe he was speaking to Isabella, asking her to help him take care of Sid? One day in October, in the year 2012, a significant threat was facing the shoreline they loved and the place Sid called home for some fifty-plus years. The news was buzzing with the predictions of the impending storm a hurricane named Sandy. Sid had concerns, but he had no intention of leaving his small cottage only two blocks from the boardwalk pier. Sid knew no other place to be, so he decided, against officials' advice, that he would stay put.
Hurricane Sandy Rolls In
Sandy rolled onto the North-East Atlantic Coast on Monday, October 29th, 2012. This devastating storm was 900 miles wide; the shore towns in its path were unrecognizable. In some places, whole parts of the coastline changed forever.
There were challenges for many communities due to power outages and flooding in addition to the storm's brutal slam. The surge was incomprehensible, and this hurricane was overwhelming, and for so many reasons, life-changing. Many homes washed away or had damaged beyond repair, or at least not that of a quick fix. Seaside Heights was one area hardest hit. Casino Pier, destroyed.
The iconic pier ripped away, taking the long-standing roller coaster with it, which now rested in the ocean wake. It stood like a tombstone as the water washed around it, and yet it attempted to rise, representing so many memories of past days gone. Casino Pier was now a place with a spirited past, and the community vowed to put the pieces back together.
After this storm, people were still evaluating and damages, and it, was only then they realized the outstanding team of Sid and Samson had not reported in for an account. The residents understand that the storm surge flooded the small cottage where Sid lived—ransacking their simple cottage home. The clearing of downed power lines and debris was a tedious endeavor and a cautious one due to safety issues.
Days later, the firefighters could finally knock the door to Sid's cottage down; it was quite a job as an old willow tree leaned up against it. This event became a cloudy day for their town. They came to discover that Sid could not get out of his cottage, with no power and the cold temperatures caused by an additional snowstorm in the days following the wake of Sandy. Sid could not maintain his body temperature, and he had passed away while lying in his bed, which was at the highest point in their bedroom where he could find respite from the storm.
Sid made sure his beloved Samson had a warm blanket over him and food until there was none left and no means to get out and get to safety. The damage to the communities and Northeast was so severe that days before the news got out, no one had seen the dynamic duo in at least a week.
The Town Grieves a Trio
The firefighters were locals, many had grown up on those boards, and Casino Pier was their home. They busted the door down and entered the small cottage, hurrying their way inside to the bedroom area to find their very own Pied Piper Sid and his loyal companion Samson. Bobby Doyle was the first to get to the room, followed by Jim Flanagan and Chief Tony. All three men stopped in their tracks as they set their eyes on the scene before them. There in the tiny room was Sid; he was not breathing and in this state for some time, but right there by his side was old Samson, frozen like a statue, with his body almost spooning his owner, in an attempt to warm him. The two rested in each other’s arms and looked so very peaceful, almost as if they were smiling in complete comfort.
The men sat in reflection of their favorite trio. They could almost envision Gram, Isabella, dancing with a full cone of cotton candy, Samson as he scurries playfully, and Sid, always the jovial pied piper as they stroll along their Casino Pier in Seaside Heights, New Jersey.
This sad moment tore the firefighters' hearts as they fell to their knees in respect for the trio that so influenced their childhoods and even eventually their young families. They said a prayer, each of the men humble and thankful as they remembered what Sid had taught them. “To always look back where you came from and forward to where God desires you to be.”
The Christmas seasons would continue to come and go, but a new ornament would be available to the people in this community after this challenging season. The ladies auxiliary would provide for its production. In honor of Sid’s love for art, a simple glass ornament called the trio. On it would be Sid, Isabella, and Samson, strolling down the boards of their beloved Casino Pier, and a bright star would present in the top corner, shining down on this faithful trio of Casino Pier.
The Vibrancy of Love Lives Forever
This piece is a work of fiction with some truthful facts about the area, but so many stories like this could be about the beautiful shore towns and other communities, like in New York, also affected by this devastating storm. I wrote this piece so we do not forget those that will rebuild for years to come.
Hoping we are all aware and that we have a willingness to help our neighbors where and when we can. Sid and Isabella from this story did just that they were mindful of others' needs for a lifetime. They worked hard, loved, and followed God’s plan for their lives to the best of their ability. Samson was a loving, loyal companion because he too was love. In every tragedy, there is a rainbow. Often the clouds must clear, tears must shed, but God is in all things.
He allows for the trials, and He also brings healing. For every life torn apart and brought to Him, there is healing at work. It may be a seed that plants would later become a new vineyard of beauty and elegance during that time of turmoil. The storm was Sandy, the name meaning defender of man.
We have one defender; we need to trust Him and keep loving each other as He loves us through every valley and every peak. Remember, there are reasons for every season; look for the signs of love to guide you.
I wrote this as a Christmas story as long ago; a baby came to a humble stable to live amongst the poorest showing all are welcome in His house. A Christmas wreath is a circle symbolizing His love is eternal; candy canes are in the shape of a shepherd’s crook, and the colors of white and red symbolize His most precious sacrifice and His purity. Christmas trees are evergreen that stands for perseverance in adversity. It is symbolic we take it down, and then it goes back up again as a symbol of His death and resurrection.
The presents are a reminder of the first gifts brought to the Child to honor His birth. These are just a few of the signs and symbols, and the meanings may be different for you and your families. One thing remains through all the debate; God is Love!
"Love is patient and kind, as love does not envy or boast, it is not self-seeking, and it does not enjoy when others suffer or meet with difficulty. Love does not keep records of wrongs, and love is forgiveness." 1 Corinthians 13: 4-8
© 2012 Kathy Henderson
Kathy Henderson (author) from Pa on January 05, 2013:
Thank you so much for stopping by to read. Thank you for your kind words for all those still suffering. Hugs and blessing to you always.
Vickiw on January 04, 2013:
Lovely story. Like so many others I followed the terrible storm, and the incredible damage. I wished so much I could help. I still think of you each day. It must be so hard to carry on. My thoughts are with you, all the way from Canada
Kathy Henderson (author) from Pa on January 04, 2013:
WillStarr ~ Thank you for the nice comment. My hubby, Mark, is from Texas. His name Henderson, so now mine of course. My maiden name was Fogarty so I am quite the Irish girl. I have a wonderful Brother in law from Iowa. So I know nice people come from those parts. Thank you again for taking time to read. This story was close to my heart as, I know so many lives changed by Sandy. Have a blessed weekend :)
WillStarr from Phoenix, Arizona on January 04, 2013:
Beautiful work, Kathy!
(BTW, I too am a Henderson...originally from Iowa)
Kathy Henderson (author) from Pa on December 12, 2012:
Thank you so much for the read and the very nice comment. And yes so many still suffering losses and so difficult at this time. People are eager to help others though, and this is a blessing in a difficult situation. Peace to you :)
Kaili Bisson from Canada on December 12, 2012:
What a beautiful but sad tale, thank you for writing this. So many people have suffered as a result of that terrible storm. Sharing.
Kathy Henderson (author) from Pa on December 10, 2012:
Your comment meant so very much to me. This hub was so personal even though it was a fictional story. This weekend my family will be blessed to go on a day trip to help some more of the families displaced or still hurting from this storm. I am so sad to see the loss of memories by a storm that washed so much away. I know only by the Grace of God, do we live a moment in this life and as I said a rainbow comes in the wake of most storms. One thing the storms of life bring is the ability to appreciate the memories and the legacy's that never die. Thank you for your thoughtful comment and blessings to you and yours:)
Rolly A Chabot from Alberta Canada on December 10, 2012:
Hi Stages of Me... Tears filled my eyes as I read this hub and the many untold stories of the change Sandy created and you have captured the essence of the importance of sharing this with us.
We in Canada received just a sideswipe in comparison to what we followed on CNN.
Thank you for sharing such a beautiful story with us. You have a gift and I am so blessed to see you share it in such a profound way...
Blessings and Hugs from Canada
Kathy Henderson (author) from Pa on December 07, 2012:
Lord De Cross ~ I am doing well friends still hurting but such beauty coming from the trials. Our Church has taken many trips and continues to take trip with needs of the communities hardest hit. The outpouring of love and the humble acceptance of basic needs has been one of the most life changing things. To see people who lost so much and yet are praising God for the sheetrock being torn from their homes and debris cleaned up. Two older ladies jumping up and down after weeks with no heat when a crew of church helper were able to restore it. Their joy was amazing as the praised God and the helpers. You would have thought they one the mega millions by the joyful dance of praised they preformed. All very heartwarming to see at this time of year especially. May you and yours be blessed and may we all continue to help our neighbors any way possible. Merry Christmas and Peace to you :)
Joseph De Cross from New York on December 07, 2012:
I agree with Debbie, On Monday October 29, life changed for so many. I still remember those 8 hours of panic and fearing the worst. Hope you got back to normal, The Stagesofme.
Kathy Henderson (author) from Pa on December 07, 2012:
Thanks Debbie , so many friends still going through this and family affected as well. I remember summers at the shore almost every weekend in the summer months. It was my families home away from home in PA. I just felt a need to write about that Iconic area. Thanks for reading sweet lady. May you be blessed always and have a Merry Christmas
Deborah Brooks Langford from Brownsville,TX on December 07, 2012:
what an awesome hub.. I agree we do not need to forget what has happened to those in New York and New Jersey.. Cloud Explorer that lives in New York and Lord De Cross that lives in New Jersey experienced it first hand.. there was so much damaged so much heart ache.. thank you for this wonderful hub.. I will share with everyone.. God Bless you and Merry Christmas