The Ocean City Life-Saving Station Museum recently opened a new temporary exhibit paying tribute to “The Stormy Sixties”. This display focuses on events, lifestyles and growth of that tumultuous time. The 1960’s was a decade of change for America and a very memorable one for Ocean City, Maryland. Although only one man, Hugh T. Cropper, presided as Mayor (1959 – 1970) the Town went through a lot of changes, development and challenges. There were riots, storms, cool fashions, condominiums and as always, a whole lot of fun! In fact, the 1960 O.C. Bureau of Information touted Ocean City as “The Hospitality Resort with Family Fun at Family Prices.”
This exhibit should be nostalgic for all of the “Baby Boomers” out there. Who could forget fun times at The Beach Club, sing-a-longs at The Irish House, your first trip to the newly opened Frontier Town or a ride through Trimper’s Haunted House? Remember the taste of Ernie’s Donuts or a delicious steak at Mario’s? Do you recall dancing to music of bands like The Admirals or The Red Notes?
Included in the display are many photographs, postcards and advertising from local businesses of that time. Some establishments vanished long ago while others are continuing to operate under the next generation of family members.
All was not fun and games during the 60s. The Labor Day Riots started things off and then in March of 1962 Ocean City endured a devastating Nor’easter that blew through town. Segregation was ending and the war in Viet Nam was beginning.
In an interview with Bunk Mann for his book Vanishing Ocean City, a local resident recalled a memory of the Labor Day Riot; “We were living over Soriano’s at the time and Art was called to the Fire Department. I was on the second floor porch and I could see the hoards of people coming down Baltimore Avenue. It was scary – I’d never experienced anything like it in my lifetime and my husband was out there in the middle of it hosing them down.” (Janice Davis, wife of Ocean City Firefighter Art Davis)
Another quote from Mr. Mann’s book deals with happier memories; “I got my first job at the Funcade Casino selling skeeball tickets and in 1969 I was elevated to cashier. I was the guy at the change booth and in the days before cell phones I was at the center of activity on 9th Street. In those days 9thStreet was the center of the universe! Everybody would leave messages with me to pass on to their friends and I knew where every party was.” (Rick Meehan)