Every one of us has a special place - the place we look back upon as being perfect in almost every possible way. It's the place we would do almost anything to go back to - even for a brief moment - to be able to relive an extraordinary time in our lives and to feel that special feeling just one more time.

For some of us, that perfect place was where we went to college or high school; for others it might be a vacation spot. Wherever it is, just the mention of it brings a smile to our faces.

My special place is the Jersey Shore.

I've often wondered why just thinking about the Jersey Shore brings such a big smile to my face; it's more than the fact that I was born there or spent many summers there when I was young. It's even more than the fact that I did so many of my firsts there.

It was about freedom.

Although Elberon, N. J. was only 52 miles from new York City, the trip took me from one world to another in slightly more than an hour - from a world with many rules and restrictions to one with virtually none.

The Jersey Shore also seemed to have countless exciting options - an endless list of incredible things for kids to do. We would go to a beach party one night and to the boardwalk the next; or head out to a summer stock show one evening and to a drive-in movie the next. During the day, we might play softball, go crabbing on the beach, or just hang out and have a black and white soda. With all the great options, we loved the thrill of waiting until the very last moment to actually decide.

The Jersey shore was perfect in almost every way; there were a million things to do and few rules to prevent us form actually doing them!

So, even though I thought of New York as my home, the place where I grew up was the Jersey Shore!

The Tougher Moments

In spite of all the good times at the Jersey Shore, there was so much freedom and so many moments when we could really let go that we were bound to go too far from time to time.

Once, showing off his new BB gun, one of my cousins shot his brother in the ass. It was trouble with a capital T (and those were the days of corporal punishment). BB's didn't look like they could do much harm, but they were more than capable of breaking the skin on a little boy's butt. And it was the broken skin that made it impossible to hide the event from those it needed to be hidden from.

But the good memories so outnumber the bad that when we look back, even the bad ones don't seem so bad now.