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Born in 1947, Sharon Tera lived in Coney Island for the first 14 years of her life. Her parents, Ethel and Ise Tera, owned Ethel's Restaurant on the Boardwalk at West 19th Street. "Between my mother being Jewish and my father Japanese, we had a combination of that kind of food," Tera says. "So we had chicken noodle soup, we had clam chowder. Or you could just get fried shrimp in a hot dog bun." Tera shares childhood memories of mastering Skee-Ball at arcades run by the Fox family and the Nishizaka family, learning to develop photos at the photo studio next door, and having free run of Washington Baths and Steeplechase Park.
The family opened their first restaurant, the Japanese Tea Room, on West 16th Street in the 1930s. During World War II, Ethel changed the family's surname from Terasaka to Tera so the restaurant could get their deliveries. They retired and sold the restaurant in 1960 and moved to Tom's River, New Jersey, where Sharon went to high school. "But the most important time is age one to age 14 ," she says. "My mother wrote a letter to my friend: 'Sharon enjoys anything that resembles Coney island as that was where she lived her first 14 years of life.' But yeah, anything that resembles Coney Island I'm there."