I grew on on the Aisle , not normally capitalized, which was two adjoining piers stretching out over the bay with boathouses, (storage for small boats) built on them.
When tenants came down from Philadelphia for the summer they moved out their boats and moved in beer and beds. The border between the two , a clothesline with a bench beneath made out of splintery two by fours was decorated with Christmas lights. Beer parties nightly. One of the events the aisle hosted was the Miss Carson Avenue contest.
My aunt, many many many years ago established this contest, which lasted almost 50 years. It was a Cannery row, Popeye knockoff of Miss America. Contestants , usually ages 3 to 13, paraded up and down the boathouses on the wooden pier in bathing suits, in costumes, and had to have a talent.
Back in the day, one of the tenants of the boathouses, who was somewhat lacking in couth, taped corks to the nipples of 4 year oldand dressed her up as a mermaid. I remember this only because I was scarred by it. Personally, I refused to ever participate in this, much to my aunt’s dismay.
One year I was coerced into entering my daughter into this. She bravely and self confidently sailed down the aisle and produced her talent: telling a ghost story. “In a dark dark forest, there was a dark dark house. In the dark dark house there was a dark dark room. In the dark dark room there was a dark dark closet. And in the dark dark closet…..(dramatic pause) THERE WAS A GHOST.” She was crowned Miss Carson Avenue. It even made it into the newspaper. With photos. Not to diminish my child’s victory, but there were only 3 other contestants.
My first cousin once removed, (I have a lot of cousins) , Elizabeth, made the mistake of telling me that she wowed the crowds one year with her rendition of “Take me out to the ballgame.” In checking Press archives, I realized that the 1995 winner was another cousin. I can’t let this go. Three Miss Carson Avenues in one family? Are we inbred or what?
My aunt was heartbroken when no one offered to pick up the banner and carry on the tradition.