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The boardwalk and the Phillies: Perfect combo

Most people are attracted to Atlantic City for the casinos or the free beaches. For us, it’s the boardwalk.

We go on daily treks on a small section of the boardwalk near our annual vacation spot.

We don’t get too far but it takes a good part of the day because we talk to everyone along the way.

We still talk about the new boardwalk, rebuilt after Hurricane Sandy wiped it out.

On our first day we encountered Stanley, like the tape measure, he said, as Ronnie tried to remember the guy’s name.

Ronnie rarely goes anywhere without a Phillies hat, a sure conversation starter at this time of the year.

Phillies fans are drawn to each other like magnets.

And so the conversation begins.

“Did you see that play last night?”

“Yup, watch every game.”

“What do you think of Lorenzen?”

“That was some no-hitter.”

A few minutes are spent talking about Bryce Harper.

Then the difficult ones. “What’s going on with Trea Turner? Where do you think Kyle Schwarber should be batting?”

Stanley’s wife and I stand patiently looking out at the ocean. A good place to be if you have to wait somewhere.

Ronnie works in his story. He has MS and was in a head-on collision.

The conversation skips right over the Eagles to the Sixers. What about James Harden? I have to interject that the Sixers have let me down too many years in a row and I am really not watching this year. Those who know me well have heard this statement before.

They pretty much talk over me so it’s time for me to grill his wife, whose name I didn’t get. I need to get details fast as I will probably never run into them again.

They met on a double date right out of high school and have been inseparable ever since. No, she doesn’t really watch sports but enjoys going to the games.

What happened to the couple who introduced them? They married other people but are both single and asked about each other recently.

Are you going to the fireworks tonight, I ask. Check out the band Sunday afternoon at the deck at the Golden Nugget, she tells me. They are a lot of fun.

We’re done. I know where I am going the next day and I got their life story.

Onto the next Phillies fan. And repeat.

Now and then there is someone who doesn’t speak English and has no idea what he is asking.

Or we encounter a Mets or Yankee fan. Ronnie still talks to them and says he’s sorry.

A family is riding a rented surrey and desperately trying to take a selfie. Ronnie waves at them and volunteers for me to take the photo. Of course I do because we’ll be asking the same of someone later.

A little farther down we encounter a woman standing on the side of boardwalk facing the casinos rather than the ocean. She is playing music on her phone with no ear buds and belting out the lyrics. She doesn’t care how good or bad she sounds and it makes me laugh.

We’ve seen a lot of that on this trip. It must be something in the salty air.

We watch a couple yachts go by and wonder what they cost.

For me, the highlight is the fishermen.

We see a young boy on the jetty with a small fish. He is on Facetime showing it to his mom. Then he throws it back because it’s not big enough to keep.

They’re trying for flounder, bass and a variety of others. This year the bait of choice is huge clams cut into fish-bite-sized pieces.

As we walk back toward Gardiner’s Basin, we see a guy land one. It’s a flounder and it is feisty. He gets it down on the boardwalk and pulls out the tape measure.

I can tell it’s close and I have not seen many caught this year so I want to stay to watch. I want to talk to him but he’s kind of busy. He can’t measure it because it just keeps flopping.

In the end he throws it back and rebaits his hook. It’s a nice afternoon and he’s doing what he loves.

Down on the sidewalk two guys are set up to fish off the sea wall. We are there for the moment that one of them has a bite. He’s reeling and reeling and the line goes slack. He pulls up a bare hook.

I tell him I’m sorry and move on. He doesn’t want to talk to me right now and it’s time for Ronnie to watch the Phillies pregame show.

It’s been a good afternoon relaxing and meeting people we’ll never see again.

We’ll be back next year.

Ronnie and Marta Gouger have their photo taken on their daily treks on the boardwalk.
The surreys are for rent along the boardwalk in Atlantic City.
An aerial view of a fisherman setting up early in the morning. You can see someone fishing at any time of the day or night on the boardwalk in Atlantic City.