Labor Day Memories by Scott Hand.

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Labor Day was always a sad memory for most of us who grew up here in Wildwood.  In my preschool days I would make friends with kids in the neighborhood whose parents or grandparents owned homes or second homes here in town.  I remember beach days and games of candyland and clue on rainy days and a serious crush on a girl named Krista during summer 1976!  I was 4 years old and already I was suffering with a heavy crush.  On Labor day those summer friends would return to their hometowns for the school year and it seemed by 5pm Wildwood would simply turn off like a switch had been flipped.  For Labor Day 1977 in addition to the goodbyes I would be starting school at Philip Baker so there was to be a change beginning that year in my life. 

I remember on Labor Day 1978, I was about to begin first grade and during   the summer my love for the movies took off after seeing “Grease” and “Heaven Can Wait”.  I chose “Grease” as my favorite for 1978.  After having such a wonderful school year the year before I was excited and looking forward to starting first grade which ended being even more memorable and rewarding than the previous year. 

Summer 1979 really was a blockbuster for me personally!  I had a bunch of new friends, we were frequenting the great Wildwood Boardwalk in all of its glory!  Castle Dracula was still scary to me with that animatronic Dracula that glided up on the balcony and gave that menacing speech and the ghouls that would hang out around the castle in make up and costumes.  There were many haunted attractions during this time as it seemed horror was very “in”.  Riding such classics as the Golden Nugget Mine ride, Jungleland, Tip Top, FLYER roller coaster, were highlights but the biggest one was came on a very hot and humid night in early August when my aunt took me to Hunt’s STRAND theatre to see “MOONRAKER”.  The Strand itself was mesmerizing with it’s enormous size!  1400 seats and a screen that was 150’ wide with illuminated plexiglass panels on the side walls, gold wallpaper and heavy burgundy curtain which hid the screen until showtime.  The movie itself has remained my favorite movie of all time and I have seen it so many times that I can quote the entire movie without it running. Labor day fell on September 3 and that meant the Strand closed for the season.  So, this was a different goodbye then what I had been used to.  I remember feeling sad that I would not be able to see any movies there till the next summer, 1980 but “MOONRAKER” proved to be huge as it extended it’s stay beyond the summer months and even returned for a 3 day run at Rio Twins theater just before Christmas!   My true love of cinema had now begun and I was staying on top of all the movies that were coming during the next several years!

Labor Day fell on September 1, 1980 and as I had only seen “Rough Cut” at the Strand theatre that summer I was gung ho to see “The Final Countdown” which was the last movie to be shown as the Strand would close on Labor day again.  I managed to convince my aunt to take me to see this but my aunt fell tired and passed it onto my mother who I knew would never sit through that movie.  Instead, I saw “Xanadu” at the Blaker theatre, despite a great soundtrack with music by ELO and Olivia Newton- John the movie gets lost in it’s ideas.  I remember feeling sorry to see summer go but I remember this being the first Labor day that I reflected on the summer itself.  I remember a lot of bike injuries that summer, my poor knee took a major beating summer as well my elbows.  Bike accidents were never fun!  This was also the first summer that we had our own pool!  I chose “Smokey and the Bandit part II” as my favorite movie from the summer as I remember it was a full house screening at the Ocean theater and the line where Buford’s son says “Hey Daddy, look at that big ugly alligator.  To which Buford responds “That reminds me, I gotta call your momma tonight. “ Which brought the house down!

As with this year’s labor 1981 Labor day fell on September 7th.  I remember that labor day being chillier than usual but it really was close to a great summer in my life!  I had been to the movies many times that summer as well as riding the rides with my friends.  We were having the time of our lives that summer.  I remember rain days watching “Smokey and the Bandit” with Anthony Wyatt and going to Big Top arcade playing my favorite video games and running into other kids and quoting lines from “Smokey and the Bandit”.  It was at this time I realized that my memory could hold all that information, all that dialogue.  As I only would pick one movie as my summer favorite I found myself in the unique position of a toss up between “For Your Eyes Only” and “Clash of the Titans”.  I did manage to see “FYEO” three times in the theaters that summer.

When Labor Day 1982 arrived, I remember it was close to a very rainy and dreary summer.  

When Labor Day 1982 arrived, I remember it was close to a very rainy and dreary summer.  So many days wasted on staying inside due to heavy rain and cooler weather, I remember going to the Strand to see, “Megaforce” during late June and still wearing a windbreaker and jeans.  On Labor Day 1982 my friends  and I got into football and remember playing in the lot next to my parents house.  My summer pick was “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan” which I saw twice.  Anthony and I were acting out movie lines all summer from a variety of different movies that we had seen.  Also, word had come that June 24, 1983 was to be the battle of the Bonds in the movie theaters.  Roger Moore would return as 007 in “Octopussy” and Sean Connery would also return as 007 in “Never Say Never Again”.  The excitement was on! I was ready for that day! But I was September 6, 1982 and June 24th was a long ways off.

As Labor Day drew near in 1983, I had one major question, “Where is Never Say Never Again”?  The June 24th Battle of the Bonds never happened as “Octopussy” moved up to June 10th and “NSNA” never appeared during summer 1983!  This was the first summer that I had video, though it was a CED video disc and I was collecting all the Bond movies. This summer really would be a finale as it was the last summer that my friend Anthony and I would spend summers together as well as the last summer that Sportland Pier operated.  Things would begin to change after this.