When you first roll into Atlantic City, you might think you’re in some abandoned town. You might see a prostitute or two, depending on the time of day. You definitely will notice the pawn shops next to the tiny churches. I presume the folks who sell of their life’s posessions could stand to say a prayer or two.
Then, you turn a corner. Up ahead, you see the outlets — from Ralph Lauren to Coach. In the distance, you will see the lights and colors of the casinos on the Boardwalk. In fact, once you reach the Boardwalk, you forget all about that other Atlantic City. You start to give luck a chance — and take a spin on the slots. You might do some shopping. Head to the buffets and pig out. You will definitely do some people watching.
Once a year in October, you might be watching my people. A bunch of Italian Americans pack themselves into three buses that leave from northern New Jersey early on a Sunday morning and head to the Boardwalk. Every year, there’s some story. One year, my cousin Salvatore’s wallet was stolen and he couldn’t report it because the bus threatened to leave without him. Another year the bus broke down and the people on board were ushered into the woods to wait for a replacement. This year was the first one that I agreed to join the herd. (For photos of our day, visit the “Atlantic City” photo album.) Aside from one of the older ladies getting confused about which bus to get on and losing my father in the Showboat, everything went swimmingly well. Maybe I’ll join the herd again next year. We’ll see.