In researching this story, we not only combed through stacks of archival documentation, we also spoke with several of Ocean City’s most prominent and respected citizens — all of whom were on the scene during Baker’s heyday at the heyday at the Carousel. While there was some disagreement about certain aspects of the time, there were other subjects about which there was absolute consensus. First, everyone we interviewed agreed that Bobby Baker's Carousel Motel was a source of unbridled fascination and enthusiasm among the local population. Second, for the way the Carousel catalyzed the growth of the town, and for the pride locals derived from it, Bobby Baker's image should be carved in stone alongside the those of Ocean City's most revered founding fathers. Third, virtually everyone loved him. This last one was especially intriguing, considering the infamy that is associated with his name. Internet-based accounts tie Baker to everything from greed and corruption to the assassination of JFK, yet like your family's most beloved uncle, the stigma of scandal seems to roll off his back like water off a South Carolina goose.
In many ways, Ocean City was just waking up to a new day when Bobby Baker pulled into town. Local boys were just discovering the joys of a California pastime called surfing. Commerce and tourism were already established, but with OC extending only as far as 41th St., it was hardly an international destination spot and certainly in the shadow of places like Atlantic City. But Baker knew that the New Jersey beach resort was rapidly declining and that tourists would be hungry for an alternative. At the same time, he needed someplace off the beaten path where his powerful D.C. associates could play outside the view of a headline-hungry press corps and an intruding public. Ocean City was the perfect place.