Summer Nites is a step back to the ’50s

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Summer Nites has six ’50s and ’60s themed guest rooms and two suites. Summer Nites has six ’50s and ’60s themed guest rooms and two suites.

Themed bed and breakfast served as post-World War II military hospital

When visitors vacation at a ’50s themed bed and breakfast here they receive a bonus in their knowledge bank of a largely forgotten part of Wildwoods history that precedes by a few years the images of the stars such as Elvis Presley, Marilyn Monroe and The Beatles that it showcases.

It is here at the corner of Atlantic and 22nd Avenues that in all of its manicured beauty, a 99-year-old house with six guest rooms and two suites functions as Summer Nites, where people come to enjoy life at the seashore in an upscale environment steeped in the past.

But 65 years ago, in 1947, when the nation was recovering from the wounds of World War II, the four-story house was used as a hospital to accommodate the overflow of military patients in the Wildwoods at that time.

Until recently, little has been said or written about this bygone place – until a woman from Ohio began investigating its past.

Dr. Sally Reed’s father, Dr. Samuel Pastorelle, was then a Coast Guard doctor who was in charge of the medical facility here.

Reed, a retired radiologist, lives with her husband, Robert, a retired ear, nose and throat doctor, in Alliance, Ohio. She was a child in the 1940s and recalled spending time in the Wildwoods while her father was assigned to medical duty.

For a while, she remembered little else about where that hospital was. Then 10 years ago her interest was revived when she found in the family archives a film showing military patients, some in hospital gowns, walking in and out of the converted building.

That started her on a research expedition, and one year while visiting her son, John, who owns a house in North Wildwood, she stopped at the Wildwood Historical Society’s George F. Boyer Museum in Wildwood, hoping that she could locate the site.

Robert Bright, then a historian there, set her on course to the location of the house, which was built in 1913.

Later she was to stay as a tourist at the same house in which her father attended to patients.

Reed has a soft spot in her heart for the house, not only because of her father’s involvement there, but also because of its ’50s theme.

“My father and I had many ’50s items in our house, just like at Summer Nites,” she said. “The ’50s were the happiest days of my life.”

She plans to donate a copy of the film to the museum.

Today’s owners are Rick Brown and his wife, the former Sheila Rudnick. It was Rick’s idea in 1995 to buy the house from a bank and convert it into a bed and breakfast. It was in such bad shape that it was said even a dog and its fleas would not have slept in its 37 beds.

Brown, a teacher who had retired after 32 years in the Wildwood school system, was a builder then, and his wife was a human resources research manager in the casinos.

“I didn’t have any idea,” said the ebullient Sheila, who went along with the plan anyway and opted for a ’50s theme rather than the stodgier Victorian image of Cape May. “I love those.”

So much so that she often dresses in the style of that time.

The Browns have done much to recreate the mood of the ’50s and ’60s, with authentically decorated rooms and suites memorializing Elvis Presley, Marilyn Monroe, The Beatles and others. As an indication of what might have been in Wildwood some years ago but never happened, Summer Nites includes two slot machines (the legal type), a beach room to enjoy indoors on rainy days, a disco room with a working disco ball on the ceiling, videos of 29 of Elvis’ 31 films, and photos of many of the stars of that time. All of the rooms are appropriately decorated to fit their themes.

Summer Nites is open year-long. Its rates vary from $115 to $230 a night during the off season and $155 to $280 a night during prime time.

Summer Nites is a step back to the ’50s Summer Nites is a step back to the ’50s

Rooms are decorated with memorabilia of Elvis, Marilyn Monroe, The Beatles and more. Rooms are decorated with memorabilia of Elvis, Marilyn Monroe, The Beatles and more.

The box car diner is complete with a 1953 Seeburg Jukebox, neon lighting and diner booths. The box car diner is complete with a 1953 Seeburg Jukebox, neon lighting and diner booths.


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