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Along Our Jersey Shore Part 2

Our tour guide and storyteller was just on his way out of West Creek (Jersey Shore Part 1)…

Leaving it by the way of the creek, the village looks its prettiest. Its white houses are compactly knotted in a clustering wood and above the topmost -waves of green a church spire impales the sky. It resembles an island, the low meadows pressing against it without a shrub or tree among the tall rank grasses, whose swaying is the only relief to their prostrate verdancy. Drifting through those meadows on a brilliant August day in the smallest of sloops; a warm sun and a sapphire dome of sky; the heat of the sun modified by a sea-breeze, and the blue feathered with distant waifs of cloud ; a pile of salt hay strewn in the stern for our comfort in reclining – such were the accessories that made idleness sweet, exertion vanity, and care a vapor, as we hoisted sail at the little landing and moved toward the ocean. The artist had been quiet so far, but now he burst into rapturous exclamations of delight at the colors, the shadows, and the forms, exacting attention to this object and that, as an artist will when he strikes a phase of nature to which his imagination is harmoniously responsive. The creek is a zigzag, and its straight reaches arc so short that in whichever direction the wind is, the tacks must be frequent and abrupt. Each turn brought something new in view to arouse the enthusiasm of my artist friend, and one moment ho eagerly directed my observation to the queer sail of a passing sloop and its flickering reflection on the water, or to the indolent attitude of the sunburned man at the tiller; the next moment to an old battered scow lying against the muddy bank with the long grass hanging over it and trying to hide its unloveliness ; the next, to a mass of drift-wood, washed into a little bay, upon which the sun, breaking through a bed of rushes, cast long yellow bars ; the next, to the village wrapped up in the foliage, that was now quite distant ; the next – but his discoveries were continuous and his raptures inexhaustible; what had been abandoned as useless, and things that would have been eye-sores to nine people out of ten, the play of the waving grasses and the reflections, were caught by him and declared to belong to the problematic region of the picturesque. Meanwhile a whole fleet of fishing boats were passing us on their way to the village, and our captain sitting astern was talking to us incessantly.

We had intended to hire the boat of Aaron Pharo for our cruise; but as he was away fishing, we accepted the offer of his brother to take us to him. Brother Bill is a celebrity from Cape May to Squan, and his character is so luminous that I think it would project itself in any community. A little boastfulness; a good deal of a certain kind of knowledge ; a clear perception of what is wrong, and a total inabilityto live up to the precepts which he reiterates oftenest ; much good nature, and no means to substantially gratify it; a flood of profanity and irreligion, with a Gulf Stream of sentiment mellowing parts, and putting around his nature some of the pleasant mistiness through which we now see it – these are some of the boldest headlands in his moral coast- line, and they are, after all, the salient features of many others; but what leaves him in one’s memory as a gleaming point of humor is the very oddest face I ever saw, and a most wonderful pair of trousers. The trousers he wore were of the comprehensive pattern referred to previously; they rose from the knees like a spring-tide to within a few inches of the shoulders, where a pair of determined -looking suspenders caught them, and they were as voluminous behind as a Chinese novel. His face is long and red, two high cheek-bones pressing against two saucer-like, deep-set eyes, with a craggy forehead hanging over them, and a comical seriousness flashing in them. His conversation covered a wide variety of subjects; it was his opinion that what is now New Jersey was recently, geologically speaking, part of the bottom of the sea, and in proof thereof he adduced the fact that oyster shells had been found very much farther inland than the present coast-line.

We passed out from the mouth of the sinous creek into Little Egg Harbor Bay, separating the outer beach from the main land, and sailed across to Beach Haven, the newest of watering-places, where we proposed to spend the night. Behind us was that emerald expanse of meadow limited by a broad blue hue against which West Creek village rose ; a fleet of small sailing vessels was in sight, and beyond the beach, which threw off a blinding reflection from its intensely white sand, was the ocean, with larger sailing vessels gliding north and south.

The landing at Beach Haven is inviting, but its promise is not fulfilled by a more intimate acquaintance with what is called “the only practical sea-side resort in America.” Pleasure-boats with white hulls and high, slender masts are harbored around the wharf, and more serviceable sloops and schooners find anchorage in the adjacent waters. The beach is not more than half a mile wide, and it fronts on the bay with an edging of salt meadows, which are half submerged and redolent of brine. A long path leads up to three overgrown caravansaries – these, with a row of bathing-houses, comprising the settlement, which is unique in several ways. It is called a “practical” sea-side resort because it is actually on the ocean, and the bay removes it from anything more than a mere suspicion of land air. The surf on the outer beach is boisterous, the waves throbbing in overwhelmingly, and the wind spends itself over the low- reach of sand, without a tree or elevation of any kind to break its force. For the first few hours of a visit one is amazed at the uuacconntableness of the taste which brings people here in search of pleasure. The light is intolerably glaring; the shore is flat and verdure less ; in times of storm the hotels are bleak and unsheltered, and in calms they are filled with mosquitoes. It is not accountable at any time, indeed, unless we give the visitors credit for a keener susceptibility to a very subtle and poetic form of nature than most watering-place habitués have. Charles Kingsley once said that marshes were one of the kinds of scenery he liked the best, and Lowell writes of them:

“Dear marshes!

vain to him the gift of sight

Who can not in their various incomes share,

From every season drawn, of shade and light –

Who sees in them but levels brown and bare!

Each change of storm or sunshine scatters free

On them its largess of variety,

For Nature with cheap means still works her

wonders vast.”

A quick appreciation of color and sensitiveness to the inarticulate pathos of the “mighty mother” are necessary to their apprehension, and it is in the marshes that reward will be found by those having such qualifications. But what most visitors came for and staid for were the evening hops, the bathing and yachting, all of which are much better at many other places we could name; and it is in view of this fact that Beach Haven is unaccountable.

We arrived on a Saturday evening. Fiddles were scraping and feet shuffling in the halls of the big hotels; the broad piazzas were crowded with loungers and promenaders, mostly fair maidens and stately matrons in refrigerant summer dress that reached their necks in diaphanous snowy muslins; the men were happy in a surfeit of tender attentions; and at the close of day all the yachting parties having come home to supper, the wharf on the bay was left to us.

The sun was setting on the brilliant plain of sedge as we looked landward, and beheld the spires of West Creek and Tuckerton rising out of the distant woods, which changed from blue to purple, and from purple to a smoky crimson, until the great globe of fire sunk well behind them and left them a chilly black. But before this, the whole sky was transformed into a sea full of flaming shoals; a mass of cirro-cumuli had become detached, and the fragments floated against the pearly blue of the sky and burned with the reflected glow. Green never before seemed so green, or so capable of many shades, as it did on the marshes, which, as the sun disappeared behind the woods, were momentarily tipped with gold, and then left to brooding green and blue. In the far north a storm was bursting of tumultuous clouds, which had also caught some of the rosy magnificence of the sunset, and were laced with the vivid thrusts of forked lightning. The night came upon us, advancing from a tender pearl blue to a steel blue, and from a steel blue to an unsympathetic gray, which grew darker until the last light from the west had been extinguished, and the stars pierced the sky with incisive brilliancy. The myriad stars that shone in the opaline moonlight night were as nothing compared in numbers with the gnats and mosquitoes ; but who would not have endured even greater torments for a sight so memorable? It was such a sunset as can be seen nowhere else than on those plaintive marshes and barren sands of the Jersey coast.

The sandy strip upon which the “practical sea-side resort” is situated is nearly twenty miles long, and is called Long Beach, its northern extremity being formed by the Barnegat Inlet, and its southern extremity by the Little Egg Harbor Inlet. The next island south is called Brigantine Beach; the Barnegat Shoals are northward. Along this desolate coast so many vessels have come to grief, and so any bodies have been washed ashore, that it is known among fishermen us the Grave-yard.

Treasures from many lands are gathered from wrecks, and a fisherman’s family is often helped through a trying winter by the provisions which the sea casts up. When an orange schooner is wrecked, there is dessert after every meal in the cottages; or should the cargo be prunes, that fruit becomes a common article of diet. A visitor is sometimes surprised to see foreign brands of olives and canned stuffs on the shelves of the village stores; he learns that they have been secured from a wreck ; and the host of one inn at which we spent a night had some excellent Maria Benvenuto claret, labeled, with grim suggestiveness. “Importation direct via Barnegat Shoals.”

Much queerer things than these are occasionally picked up. A forlorn old parrot, feeble from its un-English complainings, drifted in on a spar, and at another time a pair of Manx cats were saved from a wreck by a noted old beach-man, Caleb Parker, of Harvey Cedars, near the Barnegat Light, who has raised a family of eleven more, and meets a visitor at the door of his cottage with a purring retinue of his furry friends, one of them perched on his cap, two others playing on his shoulders, and the rest brushing his legs. “Dad” Parker is one of the heroes of the coast, and carries a silver medal presented to him for life-saving.

Fashionable summer resorts are new things to the outer beach. Formerly a small house was erected here and there for the accommodation of sportsmen and parties of fishermen, who came over from the mainland with their wives, daughters, and sweethearts for an evening dance. The gayety of one of these gatherings at Harvey Cedars was eclipsed by the startling announcement that a ship had gone ashore, and was making signals of distress; whereupon the whole company made for the beach, including the women in all their holiday finery, and not a ribbon or a flounce was thought of until the last man had been landed from the wreck.

The final installment of Along Our Jersey Shore

Along Our Jersey Shore

The following article is a fascinating account of a late 19th century trip along the Jersey coast. It was written up in Harpers Weekly in 1878. The language alone is so interesting, and I have taken some liberties to edit things – but not much as I wanted it to retain its original style. I have also broken it up into three installments, as it is quite long.

Here we go, on a trip back in time……

Is there a restaurant? The signalman’s face lengthened with amazement. “Restaurant!” he repeated, incredulously – “restaurant!” and then he, smiled provokingly. “Well,” I continued, “is there any place where we can get some pickled mussels, or something of that kind!” – a vision coming to my mind of the glass jars fild with the pale salmon-colored bivalves in bluish-white liquid which are displayed with other archaics in the one salty store of most sea-side settlements, like preserved babies in anatomical museums. The suggestion of this appetizing delicacy gave the signal-man’s mind a more serious turn, and enabled him to answer my first question with the gravity which its importance demanded. “Don’t know about pickled mussels,” he answered; “but you see that little house over the sand, just beyond the plank-walk?” We saw an un- painted, forlorn, orphan-like shanty in the direction indicated. “Well, you may be able to get a bit of something to eat there.”

Where were we, that the idea of a public larder was so preposterous? In a tower some fifty or sixty feet above the ground-level, on an open gallery surrounding a triplicate lantern with red panes to its windows; out before us beat the Atlantic – a great quivering plain, upon which ships were shortening or making sail, and over which they were stealing so noiselessly und mysteriously that they seemed to be intangible shadows in a dream. It all seemed like a dream: that immense platitude of green-gray irregularly speckled with the white of combing waves, upon which the fine-strung, nerve-like structures were spreading their wings; that serene arch of blue rising above the illimitable basin of water with a few shreds of cloud hanging from it; that low line of glittering white fretted with ermine surf; the fish-hawks that swept down from a self-sustained perch and flapped up again with something silvery in their beaks – yes, it was like a dream; and the breathing of the wind and the beat of the sea increased the lull. That was the picture as we looked seaward. Landward it was different.

We surveyed a crooked neck of cedars, sand hills, swamp, and beach, washed by a bay, every ripple on which was tipped by a diamond-like point of reflected sunshine; and the bay led into a river guarded by a line of bluffs moodily wrapped in dusky foliage, save where a clearing showed a scar of crimson earth. There was nothing like this in Newport, whence we had recently come; nothing like the solace and recreative quietude; nothing nearly so beautiful as this low-keyed symphony of wind, water, and sky. This sequestration from restaurants and hotels, from bathing-houses and Saturday-evening hops, from summer excursionists and modern improvements of all sorts, was the idealization of a worker’s springtime anticipations of a holiday vacation. Here we might muse and rest, renew and review ourselves, expiating (with a pipe of good tobacco) the errors of the past in a mental way, and easily forming better plans for the future ; here our nearest connection with the active world seemed to be that phantom-like procession of sailing vessels, which exquisitely illustrated the rhythm of nature, though less than three miles away was the landing of the Long Branch boats with their loads of social butterflies ;  here – ” It is not always like this here,” said the signal-man, breaking the spell. “When the wind’s blowing eighty miles an hour, it’s awful. Much as we can do to keep the lamps lit, and not easy to get ’em lighted.” It is not quiet and dream-like always anywhere in the world, alas! and the signal-man’s interruption was a timely reminder.

We were on the extremity of Sandy Hook, that narrow peninsula which stretches into the ocean like a hand of greeting and farewell to the vessels that pass into and out of New York Harbor through the deep-water ship channel which it borders. Our standpoint was the tower of the United States Signal Service Station; and, as the signal-man said, there are times when the fair sky, the harmonious breathing of the wind, and the soft pulsations of the ocean – such as tranquillized us – are substituted b y troublous clouds, a bitter wind, and a sea mountain high. Then, if the storm approaches in daytime, a warning flag is thrown out to mariners from the slender pole on the tower; or if it is night-time, the lanterns are lighted, and turn their red, sorrowful eyes upon the murky outlook. The wind blowing eighty miles an hour from the northwest on a January night! Sandy Hook in such times catches the full force of the tempest on the sea and the cold on land, and there is not a bleaker place south of the Arctic Circle. The sand is swept up and carried along in a low pelting cloud; the cedars bend toward the southeast, and many of them are permanently inclined in that direction, the prevailing gales having paralyzed their other side in infancy; the human voice is useless in the tumult, and the bed of sand seems to shake under the tread of the waves. While the signal-man stands before the lanterns with a match in his hand to light them, his mate envelops him in the shelter of a blanket, and effort after effort is made before success is obtained in igniting the wicks, the cold benumbing the men, and the wind extinguishing the flame. Also at dusk three light-houses scud forth their earliest rays from the Hook, and above them, on those magnificent bluff’s bordering the Shrewsbury River, are the two beacons which have filled many and many a heart with joy – the Highland Lights of the Navesink.

There is no settlement to speak of at Sandy Hook. A capricious Congress has appropriated money one year for some military fortifications, which have been neglected for several years following, and which are now seen in a condition neither useful nor ornamental – unmounted guns, stray blocks of granite, and other material being strewn about in that wasteful insufficiency which characterizes many branches of our military service. The fitful progress of these works has occasioned the building of a few houses for the laborers, one of which was pointed out to us as a possible resource in case of extreme hunger; and these, with the signal station, the three light-houses, and two telegraph stations for the collection of ship news, are the media between utter desolation and advanced civilization.

Sandy Hook is so extremely lonely naturally that one is not surprised to find the few settlers living in a mist, though the occupations of most involve constant pen and paper communications with the active world. From the signal station we crossed a tangled hollow of shrubs to the news office of the Atlantic and Pacific Telegraph, and climbed up a flight of mystifying stairs into a small room, with a window facing the sea. Under the window was a table, upon which a Morse instrument was ticking, and before it sat a young German, with a pipe in his mouth and his eyes fixed on that glassy reach of sea outside. He had been sitting there for six hours, and he would continue to sit there six hours longer, making note of all vessels coming and going, and telegraphing their names to the city. The maritime lists of the world were i a convenient place for reference; and when the commanders were thoughtful enough to exhibit their code numbers by flags, a consultation of these books established the identity of the ships. But it often happened that no signals were shown, in which case the observer had to depend on the sharpness of his eyes in reading the name on the bow or stem, and on his experience, in telling the nationality. He had been sitting there, day after day, for some twelve years, nearly always smoking a pipe, and dreamily intent on that shadowy procession in the ofting, from six o’clock in the morning until sundown, when another observer took his place, and kept watch over the water through the night. The forcibility of the analogy between the variable careers of the vessels and human life bad made a moralist of him, and given his mind a melancholy turn. He saw in their voyages a repetition of the vicissitudes which follow men and women on their earthly way – some fine clippers coming bravely home again through all the adverse winds, and others laboring in dismasted, or vanishing forever as they faded in the rosy Gray horizon. But the pre-eminent characteristic of the man was the accuracy with which he could tell the nationality of a vessel by some slight peculiarity, unnoticeable to others, in the shape of the hull or the arrangement of the rigging. The steamers of the great lines are nearly always distinguishable by well-defined differences in build or in the color of their smoke-stacks, but sailing ships are much alike. Still, an extra cord in the top-hamper, an additional sail, or a fuller curvature of the deck decided the bailing-place in the observer’s mind beyond a doubt, and other minor details often enabled him to identify the vessel by name without the use of the maritime records lying on the table.

It was quite fascinating to watch the gradual appearance of a ship through the observer’s window. At first the stranger would be like a tiny notch in the fine boundary line of sky and water, formulating itself by exquisite gradations until the beautiful thing dawned upon us in its full proportions, with its amplitude of sail puffed out, and a ruff of white foaming around her black hull. But more interesting and beautiful yet was the sighting of an inward-bound ocean steamer at night-time, a pale, glimmering point of light foretelling her rising above the horizon – that light which looked like a low-hung star, slowly becoming distincter, and quivering in the darkness, which made one of the sea and sky, with the sea and sky, with the least perceptible motion. An hour or two elapsed before the binocular glass availed in elucidating her outlines, and before that she had shown her colors, or the colors of the proprietary line, in flaring pyrotechnics, which burst in chromatic brilliancy amid the blackness. Her arrival was telegraphed to the city, and a few minutes later announced on the hotel bulletins.

The ship news man’s experiences coincided with those of the signal service man’s – an appalling succession of blustering storms, accompanied by an intensity of cold to chill the marrow. The room was not more than ten by twelve feet in size, and an enormous stove, which dwarfed the other contents by its extravagant proportions, stood in the centre; but, snug as the building is, in the winter gales a pail of water, placed on the floor within a few feet of the stove, freezes, though the latter is heated to incandescence, and the building itself trembles to its foundations.

We trod back to the steamboat landing along the narrow, much-indentured edge of beach, upon which large numbers of horseshoe crabs had stranded, and thence we went southward in a train, most of whose passengers were city people returning from business to their summer homes at Long Branch. That fashionable resort had no inducements strong enough to detain us, who were in search of the picturesque, and we continued in the cars to Whiting’s, some thirty-six miles farther down the coast, where we transferred ourselves from the New Jersey Southern to the Tuckerton Railway, by which we arrived at West Creek.

There is an implication of remoteness and queerness in the very name of West Creek. The traveler who finds it in his time-tables is quite sure not to make the mistake of supposing that it is much of a town, or a mushroom outcome of real estate speculation. It is old, probably; its inhabitants are fishermen, and the sea washes up to it through a slough in one of the wonderfully green saltwater marshes. That is the idea the name would convey, and it would not be very much out of the way.

The inhabitants are fishermen, farmers, and boat-builders properly, but in the course of a year they turn their hands to the harvesting of salt hay and ice, the cultivation of oysters and clams, or to almost anything else that will yield an honest penny. Many of them are old sea-captains, who in their day have taken large vessels on voyages to the farthest countries, and who because the sea when it once takes hold of a man never wholly relieves him of its charm, or allows inland life to be endurable, are satisfying their lingering cravings for the element by short and safe yacht cruises, spiced by the small profits and gentle adventurousness of blue-fishing. Others have been fishers from babyhood, their cradles seines, and their mothers’ apron strings trolling lines. By thrifty living the best of these have acquired the proprietorship of small cat-boats or sloops, and are enabled to exist comfortably and respectably. The ne’er-do-wells divide their attention among a variety of pursuits, and though they may never have possessed an unbroken dollar in the straitened course of their impecunious careers, some ingenuity has made each of them the owner of a boat – a crazy old thing usually, which has been condemned by their more prosperous neighbors, and so dexterously patched that it will just float and bear a ragged strip of sail.

There is one salient trait in the men of West Creek – they all wear trousers, which in itself is a fact sufficiently obvious to debar the claim of novelty; but the trousers are of such structural peculiarity that they form a new scheme in the philosophy of clothes, ceasing to be nether garments simply, and extending far above the hips to the armpits, under which they are braced with a firmness which conveys a suspicion that the rest of the body is suspended from the shoulders. A few inches more of length and a pair of sleeves added would make any other article of costume superfluous, except for ornament. Another thing that attracts the observation of the stranger is the superiority of the women in education and social refinement, which is so marked that it suggests a new force in civilization. An old and prosperous settler with a large family takes the boys and brings them up as he has been brought up – in freckles, toil, untidiness, and ignorance, or at least ignorance of schooling; if his desires are realized, they become keepers of the village store or hotel, or fishermen, or farmers, and they attain manhood with some independent property, a good deal of shrewdness, but without any polish of mind or appearance. The girls, on the contrary, are sent to school and liberally dressed; and when the father builds a fine new house, with a piazza and a Mansard-roof, they are adapted by education and training to grace it; and should a visitor sit down to dinner with them, and see their male relatives, unshaven and not fastidiously clean, eating in their shirt sleeves, he might wonder at the strength of the domestic tie which holds such difference together in contentment. When the pleasantly furnished parlor, decorated with many little feminine arts, is occupied by the girls in the evening, who are reading or sewing, and their brothers come in with acquaintances who are quite incapable of responding to any of their intellectual needs, the oddness of the phase is greater, and the contentment seems impossible.

To understand the geographical position of West Creek, it is necessary that the reader should know one remarkable and uniform feature of the Atlantic coast. From Long Island southward to Cape Fear, a distance of some six hundred miles, the main-land is separated from the ocean by a belt of dazzling white sand, intersected and broken into islands by narrow inlets, and at the portals of New York, Philadelphia, and Baltimore, by the New York, Delaware, and Chesapeake bays. In some places this outer beach is not more than a quarter of a mile wide, the surf almost drenching it from side to side, and in other places it is five miles wide. The sea encroaches upon it or extends it from year to year, widening here and shortening it there, and sometimes leaving dangerous shoals still farther out, upon which the waves break in terrific tumult. Few of the inlets are navigable, and most of them are constantly changing positions, new ones appearing after violent storms, and others being as suddenly filled in by sand. The water between the beach and the main-land is navigable to small vessels, and when the sea is heavy outside, it affords safe sailing to the many sloops and schooners trading between village and village along the coast. On the inner border the main-land meets it with a long, low, melancholy fringe of salt meadows, which retreat into cedar swamps and firmer ground.

From the dusky cedars and through the meadows West Creek flows, and on its banks, where it is not more than twelve feet wide, the village stands. The freshwater of such land-born streamlets, mingling with the salt of the ocean, and the flat reaches of sedge and rushes, make a paradise for birds, and in the gunning seasons sportsmen from the city drop into the village, but other visitors are seldom seen.

Aside from its population, West Creek has not much to show. It has several wide streets, over which some good old trees form an ample canopy, and between the cottages there are sturdy vegetable gardens or fields of corn. Wore it not for the seines which are spread in front of some of the houses or in the fields, and the salty invigorating air, it would have nothing to distinguish it from an agricultural settlement. We are forgetting, however, the old hotel with its long line of hitching posts under the piazza, and its invariable menu of blue-fish, mackerel, oysters, or sheep’s-head; and we are also forgetting the small-boy peddlers, who hawk fish from house to house in baskets, wheelbarrows, or other available conveyances.

The following article is a fascinating account of a late 19th century trip along the Jersey coast. It was written up in Harpers Weekly in 1878. The language alone is so interesting, and I have taken some liberties to edit things – but not much as I wanted it to retain its original style.

Part 2 of Along Our Jersey Shore

St. Elisabeth’s Chapel-by-the-Sea

This little church on 3rd Avenue in Ortley Beach is believed to be the oldest standing structure in Ortley. The building was originally built for Mrs. T. Robinson Warren in 1885. This New Brunswick, NJ native wanted to offer thanks for her daughter Cornelia’s return to good health. The church was her expression of gratitude. The family later turned the building over to the New Jersey Episcopal Diocese in 1916.

Much of the interior remains in its original state, although the outside has been changed somewhat. One big disaster the chapel narrowly escaped was a 1922 fire. This blaze started at the railroad tracks and quickly spread. It burned the 2nd Ave Victorian hotel, several cottages and the chapel. Fireman were able to limit the damage to the roof of building. Another near miss occured during the 1962 noreaster that damaged buildings up and down the New Jersey coast. Two summer homes adjacent to the chapel were washed away during that storm.

Saint Elizabeth’s holds services at different times, depending on the time of the year. You can find out what their current schedule is at their website.

the casino in ruins, before it was torn down

The following is an adaptation of an article from The Rudder. It appears this was a periodical that covered nautical topics, everything from news about different races to the latest technology used in building large ships. The article about the Sewell Cup race on the bay in August of 1900 was published in February 1901. This was the first race for the cup and it was won by a boat from the Island Heights Yacht Club.

RACE FOR SEWELL CUP

The gala event of the yachting season on Barnegat Bay occurred Saturday, August 9th, 1900. The Sewell Cup is presented in honor of the late United States Senator William J. Sewell and is a perpetual trophy to be sailed for annually by the yacht clubs of Island Heights, Seaside Park, and Bay Head, N. J. In a snapping breeze from W. N. West, with the twelve contesting yachts laboring under single and double reefs, on a course five miles to windward and return, the Island Heights Yacht Club carried off the honors by winning the trophy with the catboat Bouquet, owned by William G. Hartrauft.

At the starting point, off Seaside Yacht clubhouse, the waters were covered with gayly decorated craft and docks lined with exuberant supporters of the favored yachts.

Owing to results of a recent race, Lazy Jack, of the Seaside Park Club, was the pronounced favorite, but on the first beat to the windward mark she was shown a clean pair of heels by the Bouquet, and added further to her loss by taking the ground for a few seconds.

In this contest for the Sewell trophy (which has attracted wide attention along the Jersey coast) no professional sailors were allowed aboard, the contesting boats all being manned by amateurs. But the time made and the handling of several of the leading boats, notably the Bouquet, Mina and Lazy Jack, showed skill equal to and far more exciting in results than was witnessed two weeks ago, when the crews were made up of professional men.

Promptly at 1.30 the signal gun caused the whole fleet to plunge away, largely bunched under a wind that later carried away two masts and gave evidence that it was to be a battle royal, both for speed and endurance.

The Lazy Jack crossed the line first. Before the first leg was half over the contest had narrowed down to the Lazy Jack, Bouquet and Mina. Bouquet, while starting fourth, was the first to round the turning stake, and as the fleet came down the stretch before the wind the Bouquet, to the astonishment of many, was well in the lead, with Mina second and Lazy Jack third, the balance of the fleet making an inspiring sight as they closely followed, rocking and at times rolling heavily in the half gale that was blowing.

The boats finished in the following order (with corrected times):
H. M. S. Bouquet, I. H. Y. С 2.14.11

Mina, ” 2.17.2

Lazy Jack, S. P. Y. С 2.i/.i6

Mary E., I. H. Y. С 2.18.41

Edith, ” 2.25.54

Nemo, S. P. Y. С 230.9

Meta ” 2.38.59

Señorita, I. H. Y. С dismasted

Petrel, В. H. Y. С did not finish

Vim, ” dismasted

Nelly Bly, S. P. Y. С did not finish

Lizard, did not finish

The perfect handling of the Bouquet caused much favorable comment. She was captained by Albers Mulford, a crack sailor of the Island Heights Yacht Club, his crew consisting of Wm. G. Harfrauft, the owner; Howard Goldsmith, Ed. Woodward, Jr., M. Middleton, Chester Bryant, Wesley Lyon, W. Abbot, Chris. Golby, all of Philadelphia and Camden.

The handling of Mina by Harry Gifford was superb, while the crew of the Lazy Jack worked nobly.

The Sewell cup now remains at Island Heights for one year. On the arrival of the fleet at Island Heights it was found that the news of the victory had preceded them. The cottages along the river front were gayly decorated, and the fleet, with the disabled Señorita in tow, was enthusiastically received, amid the firing of guns, cheering, waving of flags, etc.

———————————–

Interesting to think what the bay, and Long Beach Island and Barnegat Peninsula, must have been like to visit during that time.

Sadly Gone

The end of Asbury Park’s role as a seaside resort area is a sad thing for many people that once played there. The palpable  sadness you can read about (save tillie and this photo essay) is partially a result of the fact that it has occurred in recent times . The decline of places like Long Branch and Atlantic City happened so long ago that there are way less people to bemoan their fate. Those that do remember those places are likely people that were children many, many years ago. They do not have much in the way of offering up their ideas on the internet. I’m sure thought these losses were just as hard to take in their time. There was also no modern day Bruce Springsteen to bring popular attention to the loss of those other places. So I would suggest all of this represents “progress” but still – it is difficult and sad to lose what Asbury Park once had if the amusements and beach were something you once enjoyed.

the casino in ruins, before it was torn down

The losses at Asbury were especially sad for many reasons. The beginning of the end began with race riots. A sad and difficult time for many people, for sure. The most recent episodes in the end to Asbury’s past too were both sad and somewhat indicative of what resort economies are like. For most people the shore is about memories built up around vacationing or otherwise enjoying themselves. For business people it is just that – business. What can yield the best return? Parting people from their money is the reason shore resorts built up in the first place. If there is some other way to make a buck there is a strong incentive to follow that instead. This is sad but true and most people do not want to really acknowledge that part of things when it comes to losing something they love – a tangible symbol of idyllic times from their childhood.

The loss of these symbols was even more shattering because of the way two of the most important elements of Asbury’s shore past were destroyed. The Casino, pictured above, has been largely torn down. The orginal carousel building and a portion of the structure that is part of the boardwalk is still in place, but the Casino as a whole is but a remnant shadow of its former self. The Palace on the other hand is gone.

The development that was supposed to replace the palace was a total failure. You could say it was torn down for nothing.

I don’t know the story behind much of what has gone on in Asbury, other than to know it is a long tale of many schemes and strange politics. What I do know is that I was at the Stone Pony somewhere around six years ago and saw that ugly skeleton of failure that sat on the beach then (scroll down this webpage to see some pictures of this place). It was very eerie to see that large shell of that unfinished building sitting there. It wasn’t just ugly, it was disturbing in a way that did not really make much sense. So from this many have suffered the loss of the Casino and the Palace being destroyed not just for some ignominious development that never came. They have seen their memories ridiculed by an overly public failed redevelopment scheme. Rather than the places around where these monuments once stood holding some shiny new progress in the form of nice new buildings, the scene is like the place where a senseless murder took place. No reason –  just sad loss, like the rubbing of salt in a wound.

At some point I think Asbury will get beyond all this recent sadness, failure and inability to move forward. The only question is will it be in the next decade or sometime longer in the future. It also remains to be seen what it will become. Shore boardwalk amusement areas are clearly dinosaurs. A few hang on and still thrive but it seems unlikely a new Seaside Heights boardwalk could be built – and succeed – today.

Photo attribution MRVJTod…..thanks for sharing this image!

The Jersey Shore, mainly yesterday.

I’m starting this blog for a few reasons and I think this first post is the place to lay this out.

First and foremost I want to learn more about the Jersey shore’s history. One way to do so is the old, well worn routine of – research, read and write.  Getting the first two in place has always been easy for me. The third one is the trick. Maybe a blog will help?

I think most places are neat but I spent a lot of time at the Jersey shore when I was growing up. So to me, it’s special. I also think you will find some interesting characters where ever you go. Provided you look. I will also be looking around to find out more of the past by asking those here in the present. This is my second reason for the blog. It will be nice to try and find others that know what they know – and that I don’t – and try to get them to share it with us. I don’t know how much time I will have to try and meet this goal. We will see.

My final reason is to try to have some fun while I learn. I have no idea what a good posting rate will be, if I will write regularly or not, how many people will even care…..but it will be whatever works. I’m definitely not going to stress about getting things done here if there is too much going on elsewhere. I am going to give it a go though.

Let’s see what happens!