Pizza by the Sea
By Larry G., South Philly
We grew up going down the Jersey Shore. Not the one from TV, but the South Jersey Shore. Ocean City. Sea Isle City. Avalon. Stone Harbor. Wildwood. Those great resorts making our summers special as we went from little kids to as local Philly celebrity Jerry Blavat called us “Yon Teens” , through college, post college and finally married adults with kids of our own.
So we continue the tradition. And those kids are now going through the rituals and passages which take them Down the Shore.
Like pizza. Manco & Manco Pizza
Plain, with toppings, any way you want the thin crust is perfect and we love the pizza so much that people will make the hour and a half drive in the winter time from Philly to get the pizza and then bring some back to finish baking at home.
When our daughter was six months old we took her to the beach for the first time. Of course we stopped in Mack & Manco. It’s a gotta have and gotta have it at least 5 times in a vacation week in Ocean City. It was the week after Memorial Day so the weather was great and the crowds had yet to come.
We walked into Mack & Manco and sat this adorable 6 month old in a red and white outfit on the counter. Immediately all the guys working there were drawn to the baby. We took a picture of her and to this day it is one of our favorite pictures with the her smiling on the counter and the guys making a fuss over her.
A quick stop at Mia’s Christmas Gallery and we bought an ornament of Mack & Manco to hang on our tree. It wasn’t fancy, it was one of those that is kind of fragile as it has the building outlined in thin metal. It can even get lost in the branches of a tree.
To further commemorate our shore visit we purchased ceramic booties It would remind us of the great times at the Shore. They were baby shoes tied together by a pink ribbon with the words written by a sharpie on the soles of the shoes “Baby’s First Visit. 2004.” We needed to be extra careful as the shoes clank together and could easily chip or break.
But there was a change coming. Mack & Manco changed its name for the summer of 2012 dropping Macs and calling itself “Manco and Manco.” Somehow when someone calls it Manco & Manco it just doesn’t sound right and makes you want to clean out your ears to make sure your hearing was OK. Maybe to my daughter and the children who when they are grown will go to the Shore will remember it as Manco & Manco.
I mean, not only us but the millions of people who have enjoyed the pizza over the decades will still call it Mack & Manco. We had some on our visit at Manco & Manco. Guess what? The pizza tasted the same. Great as ever. And we had it five times that week.
So the booties remind us of that precious first time we went to the Shore as a family. The walking on the boardwalk with her in the stroller. Only worrying if her diaper needed to be changed. And making sure she had enough sun screen to cover her up. Having the beach and salt sea air help her to nap in a big tent. (You can never have enough cover up from the sun for a six month old.)
We recently bought another ornament – a small wooden replica of the long paddle used to put the pizza and take out of the ovens. It has a prominent place on our tree.
And the yes, we will always have the ornaments to remind us that even though names change, memories of the Shore — and great tasting pizza — will always stay.