I’ll always remember where I was when I first heard the news that Elvis Presley had died on Tuesday, August 16, 1977 not because I was a big fan but because I had the radio on while working my last and favorite summer job.  Let me back track a bit.

My father owned and operated amusement games on the Seaside boardwalk for many years so my summer employment options were pretty obvious.  From the age of 12 my “summer” job actually began Palm Sunday weekend and would last until the middle of September.

However by the time I was 21 I had tired of the boardwalk life and in the summer before I would attend a broadcasting school in Philadelphia I was hired for something very different.

Seaside Heights had two public tennis courts on the north end of town by the bay and they had put some money into resurfacing and lining them and installing new nets.  Tennis was gaining in popularity and the courts were getting used a lot but they had problems with people hijacking them for hours at a time while others waited to play.

One of Seaside Heights' public courts in 2019
One of Seaside Heights' public courts in 2019 (Kevin Williams, Townsquare Media NJ)

The decision was made to hire two attendants to be on site from early in the morning until late at night to check badges, take care of scheduling, minor maintenance and any other issues.

Therese Cortese and I got the jobs and also got a clothing allowance. They wanted us to look the part while working.  We would alternate who opened the courts at 8 a.m. and who closed them around 10 p.m. I guess we each worked a double on the others day off.

What I do remember was I got really tan that summer sitting in a beach chair during the day, played a lot of tennis (not very well) and generally speaking had the best summer of my life.  I was listening to the radio on that August day when they broke the news that Elvis had died which I’ll always remember. In September it was off to broadcasting school and by the following summer I was working in radio, something I’ve now done for more than 40 years.

Every time I go to visit my mother in Seaside Heights I drive by those courts and the memories of that summer of '77 come flying by.  That was the summer when New Yorkers were on edge because of the “Son of Sam” killer, Yankees manager Billy Martin and slugger Reggie Jackson almost came to blows, the Mets traded Tom Seaver and disco music was starting to take off.  Memories to last a lifetime.



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