We are at the Jersey Shore. Miles of thick sandy beaches, near devoid of pebbles and shells, run north and south from here in Bayville, Berkeley Township. New Jersey is amazing for that. As it is for being The Garden State. Blueberries as an example, I love them. I had two great bushes in my St Helena backyard. One of my dear memories of living there will always be going out back to pick blues with my young granddaughters. I love them, too. As it turns out, unplanned for, in our journey, we have followed the season. We’ve bought the anti-oxidant powerhouse, ( It’s that flavonoid, anthocyanin in the berry ), locally grown in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina and now New Jersey along our way. While Florida’s reign supreme for size and juiciness, their flavor was watery. New Jersey blues burst in the mouth with a delightful and tasty blueberry flavor. Yum. And they are nice sized, also. New Jersey is famous for other things. Like the extensive boardwalks that run along some beaches. They can be tacky, like Wildwood, but some, like nearby Seaside Heights, are a wonderful throwback to years gone by. Rows of pizza by the slice, ice cream, candy, fried clams, and arcade store fronts. Another thing New Jersey has fame for is organized crime of old…(and newday also). That brings me to this story. I go out to play golf at nearby Cedar Creek Golf Course. It is within a large park complex called Veteran’s Park. I am a single that is paired with another single, Anthony, and the cart pair of Ed and Bill. I find out quickly that Anthony and Bill are Vietnam Veterans. They play here because it is free for Vets. I loved hearing that. I am totally on board with veterans, especially combat experienced, having overflowing benefits. The more the better for these patriots is fine with me. So, Anthony, has two purple hearts, and a thick and wonderful NJ accent and has looks that could have landed him a spot on The Sopranos.
I am paired with him. Once he found out I had never played the course, he talked me around it with great info about where to aim tee shots, (the ball never goes where I aim, but it is fun to try), the contour of greens, etc. We get to hole 7 and he points out one of the few homes to be seen from this park and tells of the time that it was Al Capone’s Jersey home. Al Capone, what a shmuck, says Anthony. Then we get to 17, a short but severely upslope par three named “Heart Attack Hill”. Anthony plays often here and has been with a regular group for many years. Their numbers have diminished and one of the pals didn’t make it past the hill here a few years ago. They established a memorial to him at the top. Someone in the group started leaving a golf ball by the plaque as a token of honor as they played the hole. Anthony said that the balls were constantly being stolen by passing players who had no idea why they were being left. A year ago or so, one in Anthony’s group suggested to arrange the balls in a cross. They have not lost one since then.