Published on March 18th, 2012 | by Charu Suri0
(PHOTOS) Back to the Future: Five & Dime Stores, Street Art in Cape May, New Jersey
In the 1998 American fantasy comedy-drama "Pleasantville", it takes a remote control and a setting that's so Back to the Future (aka 1950s) to help the plot thicken. Because of the novelty of the retro scenes (and because I didn't grow up in the U.S.), I found the entire concept of the idyllic family and scenes at the Soda Fountain really fascinating. I had never been in a Five and Dime store before, and had never tasted a proper root beer float. Hence, I found the movie all the more appealing because I treated it as a period piece. Over the course of the years, I found old fashioned soda shops, watched scenes from The Brady Bunch, and encountered countless TV shows and episodes where the phrase "Honey, I'm home" was widely used. So, I'm not now a stranger to the entire look and feel of the 1950s – 1970s anymore, especially since Mad Men is in full swing too. During my recent trip to Cape May, New Jersey, I couldn't help but marvel how deeply set in time this area is. We had stayed at a Wildwoods, NJ Bed and Breakfast and I found Wildwood, NJ to be more of a "seaside" town than I had envisioned, and while it was punctuated by modern condos and development it still retained that 1950s flavor. Cape May is almost all Victorian and Mansard style homes and I expected that, having read so much of the literature about the area before. But I wasn't really prepared for the beautiful street art that I saw there, completely unexpectedly, in a parking lot. Clear blue skies overhead made it a feast of blues. Most of the streets were quite deserted, except for a few passersby (it was off-season, after all). As you can see, even the parking lot was a bit empty, but the mural filled with scenes from the Cape May skyline, and the stylized, oversized sea creatures filled my heart with joy. There was something totally random yet beautiful encountering this sliver of street art when I predominantly expected "stuffy" Victorian homes and tea shops. This Five and Dime store/ Coffee House/ Soda Fountain (Margie D's) had me in splits because I had NO idea I would find such an outfit in Cape May, NJ. From the elegant red top bar stools to the yellow and red ketchup and mustard condiment dispensers sitting pretty on the counters, the explosion of colors screamed "retro." Even the workers, appropriately outfitted with bowties and caps, seemed something out of a movie set. Have you encountered any store workers wearing bowties these days? I'll be surprised if you have… Margie D's is also a great place to get a latte, a cappucino and just unwind. It's located close to the Fudge Kitchen on Washington Street Mall. Another aspect of "other worldliness" is the Trolley. These are parked at the Emlen Physick Estate, which is the site for the Visitor's Center and general information about Cape May. Visitors can also hop on the trolley for a guided tour around the resort area. While I've seen trolleys in other cities (San Francisco notably comes to mind), I haven't encountered them in too many U.S. destinations. They add such a period piece element to the traffic (I didn't notice any horse and buggy…that would have been pretty Amish!).