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Thursday, July 28, 2016

The "Macaroni Street In Ocean City, NJ" Story

It was an ordinary day.  Just entered the seashore town of Ocean City, NJ on 9th Street and made the first right.  Instantly realized I had taken the wrong turn and looked to see how I could turn around.  Then I saw it, in front on this beautiful little one-story beach home with the beautifully manicured lawn.  There stood a green cast metal sign telling the story of the street that I had mistakenly entered; street known as Simpson Ave.  It was in the late 1800s that people from all walks of life made their way to this island, a stretch of dunes and swamps that run for seven miles and was used by Native Americans who were drawn to the island by the abundance of fish during the summer months.  The island had at one time been known as Peck's Beach, named after whaler John Peck who had a camp on the island where he used to store freshly caught whales.  
Looking toward 9th Street on Simpson Ave.
Ocean City also was used for cattle grazing and eventually as a boating and picnic area for main- 

landers.  Eventually in 1883 a bridge was built to the island and soon the railroad followed.  It is said that a few English Methodist ministers founded the island, but many others soon came, including a large contingency of Italians who had fled their native land due to severe droughts.  It seems that many settled immediately across the bridge on what eventually was known as Simpson Ave.  The street, between 9th and 14th Streets, garnered the name "Macaroni Street."  It was a neighborhood of large Italian families and boarders who were hard laborers who worked long hours and weeks to help their families survive.  It is said that they not only help build Ocean City, but fed her; and they still do with many of the eateries tracing their origins back to the late 1800s.  
Looking west from 9th Street on Simpson Ave.
The aromas that floated in the air around "Macaroni Street" came from the homemade meatballs and freshly baked bread.  Chicken coups and rabbit pens were frequently seen in the neighborhood and the nearby beaches would provide the crabs, clams and conch needed for stews and soups.  Sunday was a day of rest when families gathered to celebrate their heritage.  Names such as Mario, Luigi and Manco, still occupy signs that hang from eating establishments in Ocean City as they continue to make their presence felt in this beautiful seaside town.  What a neat and enduring legacy. It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

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