Shortly after Sandy we revisited Seaside Heights.  This boardwalk town has always been near to our hearts, having grown up at the shore and it being the subject of our first episode.  Way back then we decided to show Seaside in four seasons because we weren’t satisfied with how the rest of the world viewed the Jersey Shore, a place with only a three month lifespan.  In fact, we first went there to shoot that episode in February. 

In early November of 2012 we went back.  It was hard to take.  ALL of the driving and viewing of our old homes and haunts were hard to take, a bit like seeing your childhood ripped apart.  But these weren’t simply the settings of our memories that were damaged, they were lives and livelihoods, homes and businesses and the very spirit of the people.  You could marvel and click away at images of the devastation for all the online likers, but being there, seeing it firsthand, talking to those digging through their lives, some even giving up on them, deeply affected us and made it impossible to leave without some promise to return.

Our guide through the depths of the destruction was Steve Grabowski, a Seaside cop, with a hometown pedigree, husband to the police chief’s sister, the daughter of the long-time Seaside School Superintendent Hugh J. Boyd, who the town’s elementary school was named after.  Grabowski spared nothing, took us and showed us everything.  Short of leading us into dangerous locations, he gave us the full tour of the boards and the town and even shared his personal reflections. 

As we were parting I told Grabowski that we’d return to see the progress.  I suggested that we’d revisit in a month or so. “Nah,” he suggested, “come back through out the year to get the big picture.  This will be an on-going story.”  We did and it was and it continues to be.   On September 12th a fire ravaged a large portion of the newly minted boardwalk, destroying landmarks and businesses along with it. 

Driving Jersey: This Boardwalk Life is another four seasons in Seaside...November, February, May and July. Through out our time there, we were always curious about the destruction, the reconstruction and the restoration, but it was the people we met that actually most interested us.  We went to see what happened and what would, but we realized, it's more about who.  This is a story about how a significant moment in time is reflected in what we think and say about it, our memories, our faith, our strength, our concerns...what now?  How soon? And is it worth rebuilding today, if it means it can be washed away again tomorrow?  Some questions had no answers, but what we took away is the feeling that this place is priceless because of the characters that gather there, who live there, who struggle there and love there...this boardwalk life, it comes, it goes, it's washed away and rebuilt upon the sand, before the open water that frightens and threatens us, but also always attracts what interests us most, each other.

Music for Driving Jersey: This Boardwalk Life was performed by Jon Francis and The Following.