Sea Isle City holds a special place in my heart for many reasons. And one of the first places that comes to mind for me is Nickelby’s Bakery and Deli. I got my first summer job there when I was 14 years old. Working the register because I was too young to use the deli slicer. I spent 3 summers there before moving on to other places.
Being down here, I’ve been understandably reflective on those years. I believe Nickelby’s is where I honed a work ethic that had already been planted by my parents. I was then, and still am now, a morning person. I arrived at Nickelby’s most mornings at 5:30 a.m. to start unloading the newspaper delivery to be ready for those diehards who would arrive by 6 a.m. for their papers. On the weekends, my father was one of them. I knew what every newspaper cost on both the weekdays and weekends. I also knew the cigarette order of all of the regulars, no matter how obscure. And I made pleasantries with all of the customers from Memorial Day to Labor Day. I loved it. And I was on the beach by 3 most afternoons.
Last night, I wanted to take the dog for a walk. Henny and Casey were hard at work on our puzzle so I bribed Ryan to come with me with a trip to Nickelby’s for candy. I love making that walk. Every year. But it’s even better this year as it’s part of the regular routine. Everytime we have walked there or the ice cream place next door at night, we’ve passed an older couple who sit on their front porch, watching the people go by. I’ve waved every night. But last night, we stopped to say hello. Jim and Mary have a St. Joseph’s University sign out front. My grandfather went there so we chatted about that, as well as summers in Sea Isle City. Bunker even got to say hello.
We got to Nickelbys and I asked Ryan to go inside and pick out a candy for him and something for Casey and then to come back out to hold onto Bunker while I went in to buy them. When he came out, he said “4 things.” I asked him what 4 things was I grabbing. And he kept saying the “4 things” inside. I thought maybe because it was late, they were low on the candy selection and there were only 4 things left. So I went in and found lots and lots of candy. I said to the woman behind the counter “my son came in and said he wanted 4 things. I have no idea which 4 things I’m supposed to be picking out.” She said “they’re all right here. He put them on the counter for me and said Mom would be back in to pay.” That kid.
I loved that he feels as comfortable at Nickelby’s as I do. He knew what he wanted and what he was supposed to do to get it. He’s a newly minted 8 year old, by the way. I didn’t care which 4 things he’d picked out. I was absolutely buying them.
Both of my kids are making their own memories of this place. And it’s exactly why we’re here.