Mainland Regional High School"
I like to say that I wouldn’t give up my childhood experience for a million dollars. I really mean it!
Honestly, my life has always been somewhat of a dichotomy: the contrast between growing up in the pre-casino era in South Jersey and the fact that I was born smack dab in the middle of one of the hottest rock ‘n roll nightclubs in the history of the East Coast, Tony Mart’s truly a magnified window on evolution of popular cultural in our country.
I’ll always remember one incident that sharply focused my young emotions on the collision, or union, of these two lives. One night in the spring of 1972, my father gave me 10 rolls of quarters and told me to take it to the bartender at the main bar and bring his $100 in cash back to our house. So I delivered the quarters and got the $100 and turned and started heading back across “The Bar” towards our house. Suddenly I heard “Hey Carmen!” I turned and it was Bonnie Coin, one of the beautiful, popular girls from Mainland. There and then it dawned on me. The drinking age had been lowered to 18 and Bonnie had snuck in because she was 16; I had a revelation. The girls from Mainland were now going to be the girls at Tony Mart’s! In other words, I wasn’t going to be the precocious kid in the adult world of the Mart, I was actually going to become a player in that wild, crazy game.
After my controversial years as a student council leader, honor student and notorious radical at Mainland, I decided to go somewhere warm, Tucson, Arizona. But I always returned to Tony Mart’s to work those glorious summers of ’75 through ‘82 when we were part of “Eddie and the Cruisers”. We eventually sold the place in September of that year so Dad could cash in his chips and enjoy his retirement. So after the last “Drink and Drown” party we had the live testimonial to my Father. That phenomenal event in our family history was the last celebration for us in Tony Mart’s. The new owners tore it down in 1984.
Even though I accompanied my Mom and Dad out west to California and Arizona in the fall of 1982, we returned to South Jersey in the spring of 1983 so that I could start working on the State Assembly campaign of Alfred J “Bud” Bennington, a young attorney whom I met during his representation of Tony Mart’s as part of the influential law firm of Blatt, Blatt, Marrone and Biel Law Firm. Bud had made me a proposition: He would handle the remaining legal problems and cases for Tony Mart’s if I worked as a volunteer on his campaign.
He did not succeed in getting the Republican nomination for
Assembly that year but he and I developed a good working
relationship and I became his investigator and eventually the
personal injury claims manager for his booming practice in
Northfield. Those events led to my first years of service to
the Somers Point Republican Party from 1983 through 1985 when I
served as a campaign chairman and became the Municipal Chairman of
the Somers Point Republican Party for the first time.
The two greatest blessings of my life are that I was the son of Anthony “Tony Mart” Marotta and Maria “Mary Mart” Marotta and that I married Nancy McGrew Marotta. I fell in love with Nancy partly because I knew she would be a great travel companion. I never envisioned how impressive she would be as a partner in every way, every day of our lives.
We have traveled extensively, riding roller coasters all over the country and the world as members of the American Coaster Enthusiasts, which I served as the International Events Coordinator in the late ‘80’s. We traveled from coasters to cruise ships to festivals including our experience as “Charter Cruisers” on the Ultimate Rhythm and Blues Cruise beginning in January 1994 through “The Legendary Rhythm & Blues Cruise” from which we returned six weeks ago. During the course of our travels we went to the 1984 World’s Fair in New Orleans. When I arrived on Bourbon Street that year, I felt as though I was home on the Bay Ave. of my childhood. Our experience in New Orleans has changed our lives and our experience on the Blues Cruises and at the great music festivals of the world, especially the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, has inspired us to produce the musical events we love to share.
Unfortunately, Tony Mart only enjoyed his retirement for 4 years. After he died in Tucson on February 14, 1986, Nancy and I continued to spend time with my Mother and my brother in Tucson during the “off season” but we were always drawn back to our roots in South Jersey for those fabulous summers at the shore. I maintained my profession as a Claims Manager or Consultant for Plaintiff’s Personal Injury Attorneys during the past 29 years. I have been very gratified to help injured and disabled clients.
Shortly after the new millennium was celebrated, my second period of service to the Somers Point and Atlantic County Republican Party began. I was very fortunate to serve as the Chairman of the Somers Point Republican Party, a member of the Somers Point Planning Board and Arts Committee and win a position as a a Representative of Somers Point’s Historic First Ward on City Council. One of my greatest regrets is that we were unable to complete the $500 million dollar redevelopment of the Historic Somers Point Bayfront which my colleagues and I envisioned.
I love Somers Point as I love my childhood memories. The two are inextricably intertwined. One of our greatest pleasures has been the success and growth of the Somers Point Beach Concert Series that will celebrate its 20th anniversary this summer. We have been honored and privileged to lead the committee that produces this phenomenal music series.
Likewise we have been fortunate to produce many successful civic, charitable, political and commercial live music events. We are very proud of the wonderful “Mardi Gras on the Boardwalk” free music series that we produced in the summers of 2010 and 2011 at Kennedy Plaza in Atlantic City. We are actively planning live music events in Atlantic and Cape May Counties this year with substantive plans to produce music events in other states in 2013.
Nancy and I are very grateful for this recognition of our
achievements. Please join us at our future celebrations
honoring the legacy of Tony Mart. All you need do is
come to the Beach or the Boardwalk or any gig that looks good when
you visit Tonymart.com.