If there is a ghost of summers' past, it resides in the Wildwoods.

At one point, the Wildwoods had over 300 mid-century motels designed with Doo Wop-style architecture. That means lots of colors, bright neon signs, and curved walls. It has a retro-futurism feel to it.

Caribbean motel in Wildwood. (Google Maps)
Caribbean motel in Wildwood. (Google Maps)
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During the '50s and '60s, the Wildwoods were an entertainment hub for doo-wop music and the birth of rock n' roll. In fact, according to Penn Live, the first “American Bandstand” national broadcast was filmed in the Starlight Ballroom in Wildwood in August of 1957.

As the decades have rolled on, many of these structures from the Wildwoods' golden age have been renovated or demolished altogether, but an effort is being made to preserve the retro influence that remains. New Jersey 101.5's Dino Flammia spoke with the group Preservation New Jersey, who recently conducted a presentation about the rise and fall of Doo Wop in the Wildwoods.

New hotels and several chains have joined in on the action. There's a retrofitted McDonald's and an Acme supermarket with a bright sign right out of the Doo Wop playbook. But perhaps the most impressive is this one-of-a-kind Doo Wop Wawa.

Joe Votruba photo
Joe Votruba photo
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It gets cooler, too. Check out the location at night.

This Wawa is located on 418 West Rio Grande Avenue, Wildwood, NJ 08260. Despite the fact this Wawa was built more than 50 years after Wildwood's Doo Wop days, the front of the building and the gas station area are both custom-made to fit in with the inviting architecture. How cool would it be if every Wawa location along the Jersey shore looked like this?

On second thought, perhaps having more than one custom Doo Wop Wawa would take away from the lore.

While the front of this Wawa certainly looks like you're about to walk in and order an egg cream before playing Fonzie in a best-of-5 foosball tournament, the inside could not be more standard.

Joe Votruba photo
Joe Votruba photo
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Much like many other Wawa locations set in present day, there was even a guy talking loudly on his phone while waiting for his sandwich to be made. We aren't as far from home as we thought.

Joe Votruba photo
Joe Votruba photo
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The next time you are in the area, you must pay this Wawa location a visit, even if it's just for the photo. Locals will tell you this location gets extremely busy, especially during summer. Not only is stopping there such a hard opportunity to pass up, it's also located in the perfect spot for people who are either arriving or departing Wildwood via the Garden State Parkway.

Want to see more of the Wildwoods' Doo Wop architecture? Check out Dino Flammia's gallery below.

The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 producer, writer, and host Joe Votruba. Any opinions expressed are his own.

Questions, corrections, or comments? Send Joe Votruba an email. Follow Joe on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Early Wildwood motels

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