“Suddenly a thought crossed my mind…”
As I awakened today, a thought crossed my mind as I was meditating, praying and self-examining my recent actions, and the results that occurred subsequent to those actions I had inititated. The thought was comical and sorrowful simultaneously – that I was a graduate of a unique “college,” the “University of Atlantic City, New Jersey.” Manyy of you will question this – “What university of Atlantic City, NJ?” The city, itself, has been my “university” from which I finally graduated on June 28, 1990, when I left Absecon Island with my only child, my daughter, Alethea Joy Pergament, age 16 at the time (her birthday was June 6th.) to make a permanent home for the two of us in Key West, Florida. I have returned to Atlantic City since that time but have never resided there again. I first arrived as a permanent resident in the city by the sea, the alleged world’s playground, following the end of summer camp in August, 1961, at which time I was ten years of age and this was my enrollment as a “Freshman” in the “University of Atlantic City, New Jersey.”
During my “enrollment” in this beachfront college of hard knocks, political corruption, nepotism, crony-ism and all the elements that make for a great HBO series such as THE BOARDWALK EMPIRE, more fiction than fact by Nelson Johnson, given that he was not my father’s son and did not experience directly that which he learned through his research of ephemera and oral history about Nucky Johnson (no relation to Nelson) who was characterized as “Thompson” instead of Johnson in his book and HBO series. The book and series paid tribute to certain facts but failed to present the extent of what occurred, why it did occur and the enormous “good” that had been accomplished by this “boardwalk empire” in which my adopted father was a “big shot” as Exalted Ruler of the Elks and uniquely serving government as the Assistant Secretary to the Board of Elections for the County of Atlantic, New Jersey.
My schooling continued for many years and continued during my service as the executive appointed Administrator of Cultural & Heritage Affairs for the County of Atlantic, which I held from August 6, 1977 until April 18, 1986 when I handed my letter of resignation to then County Executive Dick Squires, the former Freeholder Chairman during Chuck Worthington’s initial terms for the newly chartered Executive form of government in Atlantic County. I had been hired by the County of Atlantic prior to Augsut 1977 and prior to the 1976 Bicentennial celebrations across the USA, to document on film what each of the 23 municipalities in Atlantic County would be doing to celebrate the 200th. anniverary of the republic of the United States of America. At that time, Bob Gasko was Freeholder Chairman and the funds set aside for the film project strangely disappeared. By the time the world knew, Murray Rapheal was Freeholder Chairman, stated that the issue was “ex post facto,” meaning “before I came into power as Freeholder Chairman so leave me the fuck alone about the missing funds!”
I left the area after that loss of funds to create films and continue my photography in a studio in Coconut Grove and a townhouse in Southwest Miami, Florida on Kendall Drive. I had received my animated amnd coumentary film degree, with honors, from undergraduate school in December 1974. My wife and I separated in March 1975 and by Memorial Day Week-End 1975, I was on my way to Miami to start a new adventure without the benefit of connections, a known last name, an inlfuential father or any other network resource, with the understanding that I can make it on my skills and talents and brains and did not require the asasistance of my familial connections to make my stand on this planet. While in Miami, a friend called me to describe what was happening relative to my daughter and my ex-wife and that it would be in my daughter’s best interest for me to return to Absecon Island to take control of a rather disgusting, negligent lifestyle that my pre-AA ex-wife was entertaining as Tony Palladino’s newest girlfriend after the previous one had been discovered dead in a Corvette under water. I was a shared custody parent at that time and spent the next 11 years and $125,000.00 to become sole custodial parent during the 15th. year of my daughter’s life. Mona Raskin, Esq. with Kenny Mackler’s office was my attorney at the time since my former attorney and family friend, Eddie Helfant, had been murdered at the Flamingo Motel restuarant one snowy evening and I had been told this woman ate “Rocky Mountain oysters” and could kick ass against anybody in a courtroom. This was correct and she did! judge Arthurn Guerrera awarded me sole custody and removed my daughter from her mother in the courtroom. There are anecdotes to this story that are best left unpresented as to why my ex-wife had to be brought into court from another state and why Federal marshals had been involved in the return of my daughter to New Jersaey. Given the recent death of Nicodemo “Little Nicky” Scarfo, allow me the opportunity to say that Mr. Scarfo and I had a discussion on a Sunday night in a tavern on Arctic Avenue with an Irish intermediary, the tavern named owner and city employee, and the result of that discussion was that my daughter was returned safely to me and the next morning, Mr. Scarfo was arrested and held on a weapons charge and never saw freedom again.
Quite a college experience for me was the time I spent in the “University of Atlantic City, NJ.”
Dr. Jeffrey W. Pergament, DD, Minister of Education, COTUM; CEO & President, CREATED ENVIRONMENTS, INC. (CEI)
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