“Down the Shore” – Part Four in a Series

caribbeanmotel_wildwoods1

The Caribbean Motel

My final post in my “Down the Shore” series is about the small beach community of Wildwood Crest. Noted for its independently owned “Doo Wop” motels with names like the Jolly Roger, Tangiers, and Blue Marlin of the mid twentieth century, The Crest is a favorite destination spot for families.

Wildwood Crest came into existence with the dawn of the twentieth century and its history  has more than its share of memorable happenings. The Baker Brothers, successful merchants from the farm community of Vineland, had visited the area known as Five Mile Beach on several occasions and were impressed by its natural beauty and expansive beaches. They were convinced of its potential as a resort and considered its development as a profitable business investment.¹

 

Now families love to visit the Doo Wop motels of Wildwood Crest. These motels were once in danger of being demolished and replaced with high-end condos. Thankfully, there has been a movement underway to save these special places as an important part of the area’s history. These motels have quirky decor that include fake palm trees, bridges over the center of their pools, and neon signs. Once the sun goes down it is a great fun to take a ride down Atlantic and Ocean Avenues and check out these motels all lit up.

Wildwood Crest is one of five municipalities in the state that offer free public access to

Wildwood Crest Beach

Wildwood Crest beach

oceanfront beaches monitored by lifeguards. And the beaches offer plenty of space for everyone!

A favorite event for visitors is riding the tram car on the boardwalk. For decades visitors have been reminded to “Watch the tram car, please.” It is a great way for families and the elderly to enjoy the boardwalk even though they may have issues walking. Take time to play skee-ball, eat a slice, and have some frozen custard.

I hope you have enjoyed my multi-part series of the Jersey Shore. If you haven’t checked it out yet, I hope you do!

Sources:

1: https://cresthistory.org/

“Down the Shore” – Part Three in a Series

If you enjoy Victorian architecture, beautiful sandy beaches, and not a franchise store in sight, I highly recommend you check out Cape May.  The entire city is designated the Cape May Historic District, a National Historic Landmark due to its concentration of Victorian buildings. You can enjoy a Kohr’s Brothers Frozen Custard while you check out the shops on the Washington Street Mall.

Henry Hudson, an English Sea Captain, first documented the peninsula that is now Cape May. It was 1609 and Captain Hudson was sailing his small yacht, the “Half Moon”, when he came upon a small peninsula situated between the Atlantic Ocean and the Delaware Bay. It wasn’t until 1620 that Dutch Captain Cornelius Jacobsen Mey came upon the same peninsula while exploring the Delaware River. Captain Mey named the area Cape Mey after himself; the spelling was later changed to Cape May. ¹

Cape May has catered to visitors since the 1600’s when Native American tribes summered here, but a community didn’t form in the area until 1685. In 1688, Quakers formed the first government based on strict moral order and Quaker piety. At this time a large whaling industry was beginning and many families from New York and New England, as well as a few original Mayflower families, were migrating to the area.¹

SunsetBeach

The rocks at Sunset Beach

Often referred to as “exit zero” on the Garden State Parkway, Cape May is actually an island right at the end of the state. I especially love Sunset Beach, home of the famous “Cape May Diamonds.” What are they you might ask? Well, you may not know it, but Sunset Beach is home to piles of amazing rocks, including quartz, which are made clear by the constant motion of the water as they move down the Delaware River.

Sunset Beach is also home to the USS Atlantus – The Concrete

Atlantus

The USS Atlantus

Ship. Due to a critical shortage of steel, during World War I, the federal government turned to experimental design concrete ships. An emergency fleet of 38 concrete ships were planned, by the United States Sipping Board. Only 12 of the concrete ships were ever put into service.² In 1926, the Atlantus was towed to Cape May. A Baltimore firm was attempting to start a ferry service from Cape May to Lewes, Delaware. During a storm on June 8th, 1926, the Atlantus broke loose of her moorings during a storm and went aground. Several attempts were made to free the Atlantus to no avail. It now sits in the water off the beach and can be seen during low tide.

At the end of each day at Sunset Beach during the summer, make sure to stay and watch the flag ceremony. All of the flags flown at Sunset Beach are veterans’ casket flags that families bring with them from their loved one’s funeral. It is a truly moving event.

As you can tell, I love going to Sunset Beach, but there are plenty of other things to experience in Cape May. Walking through Cape May is like walking through a Norman Rockwell painting. There are charming shops with lovely artwork, wonderful restaurants, and of course just walk down any of the streets full of beautiful Victorian architecture. I promise you, a day in Cape May is a day in heaven.

Sources:

  1. https://www.capemayoceanclubhotel.com/about-cape-may.php
  2. http://www.sunsetbeachnj.com/Things-To-Do/#Concrete-Ship

“Down the Shore” – Part Two in a Series

The Jersey Shore encompasses over 140 miles of beautiful coastline. Famous for its boardwalks, arcades, and amusement piers, each shore town has its own unique vibe. Seaside Heights, which developed a bad reputation thanks to a terrible television show, is popular with teenagers and young twenty-somethings, while Wildwood Crest is more popular with families. The shore region is made up to five different counties – Ocean, Atlantic, Cape May, Middlesex, and Monmouth.

Now I will say there is a “love/hate” relationship between the full-time residents of South Jersey and the seasonal visitors of North Jersey. Seasonal visitors, often called “BENNYs” (which stands for Brooklyn/Bayonne, Elizabeth, Newark, New York), are considered rude, litter the beaches, and generally act like idiots. As a life-long North Jersey resident, I’ve seen “BENNY behavior” first hand and it is embarrassing. NJ.com even posted an article awhile back about how to not be a BENNY. At the same time, however, the summer months play a key role in the economy of these shore towns by visitors spending a lot of money on vacation, which creates jobs,  generates tax income (via crazy parking costs and tickets), and other positive local contributions. When Hurricane Sandy destroyed many of these shore towns, BENNYs (and their money) were welcomed with open arms. Quickly, however, it returned to “BENNYs go home.” If you don’t act like an ass, for the most part, visitors are treated well.

If you ask most Jersey residents, North Jersey and South Jersey are practically considered two separate states, and at one point in history, New Jersey was two separate colonies. The so-called “Central Jersey” doesn’t really exist.

Nevertheless, the Jersey Shore has a fabled and rich history.

Many people today are unaware of the role New Jersey, and especially the Raritan Bay shore, played in the lives of many pirate legends in the late l7th and early I8th centuries. The waters between Sandy Hook and New York City were infested with pirates and French privateers. Blackbeard raided farms and villages near what is today Middletown, and Captain Morgan often visited the area.¹ To this day, there are many who still search the Jersey Shore for the hidden gold of these fabled pirates.

GATE-Sandy-Hook-Lighthouse-websmall

The 250-year-old Sandy Hook Lighthouse. 
NPS / JERRY KASTEN, Volunteer-In-Parks

The barrier island of Sandy Hook, part of what is known as “The Higlands,” has a long history that predates the formation of the United States. The oldest route to the eastern coast of the United States is the Minisink Trail which started on the upper Delaware River, came through northern New Jersey and ended at the Navesink River. Navesink means “good fishing spot” in the native tongue at the time. The trail was used by Native Americans, such as the Algonquin and Lenni Lenapi tribes. They came from all over New Jersey to spend the summer fishing and finding clams. The Newasunks, Raritans, and Sachem Papomorga (or Lenni Lenapis) were the most prevalent tribes and stayed the longest. These were the tribes which mostly traded with early settlers.² Richard Hartshorne purchased a 2,320-acre tract of land from the Native Americans which provided him with control of nearly all of Sandy Hook and Highlands which was then called “Portland Poynt.” Hartshorne and his family became the first permanent settlers of the area.² Built in 1764 to help reduce shipwrecks, Sandy Hook is home to the oldest operating lighthouse in America and a National Historic Landmark. A primary mission of the fort was the defense of New York Harbor. From 1874 to 1919, Sandy Hook also served as the U.S. Army’s first proving ground for testing new weapons and ordnance.³ The 1,665-acre area of Sandy Hook became part of the National Park Service in 1975 after the Army deactivated Fort Hancock. Today it is a beautiful area full of wildlife, historical buildings, great beaches, and of course that important lighthouse.

Before Atlantic City was known as “the little sister of Las Vegas,” it was known for its four miles of boardwalk, built in 1870. Since 1921, it has been home to the Miss America pageant. In 1853, the first commercial hotel, the Belloe House, was built at the intersection of Massachusetts and Atlantic Avenues.4

So as you can see, the Jersey Shore has a wonderful history. I hope you check back for my next post in this series.

Sources:

1: http://weirdnj.com/stories/mystery-history/captain-kidd/

2: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Highlands,_New_Jersey

3: http://www.visitnj.org/city/sandy-hook

4: http://www.cityofatlanticcity.org/about.aspx

Memorial Day Events 2017

MemorialDayMemorial Day weekend is upon us. While everyone enjoys an extra day off and barbecues, it is important to remember what the day is really about – remembering those who paid for our freedom with their lives. There are a number of events throughout the state where you can pay respect to these men and women we should never forget.

Memorial Day Ceremony at NJ Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial:
The annual ceremony will take place at 11:00 a.m. on Monday. In addition to honoring our Veterans, five Vietnam Veterans will be inducted into the “In Memory Program.” Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno will be the Keynote Speaker and musical entertainment by Sandra Ward. The Museum will remain open until 2:00 PM following the ceremony.

Fleet Week at Liberty State Park:
May 28, 2017; 10:00 AM until 05:00 PM
1 Audrey Zapp Dr.
Liberty State Park
Jersey City, NJ
Event is free and open to the public.
This family event features performances by the U.S. Coast Guard Silent Drill Team, the U.S. Navy Band and the U.S. Marine Corps band.  Attendees will also get to experience parachute, helicopter, and search and rescue demonstrations by the Navy and Coast Guard. Military tactical vehicles, a U.S. Navy dive tank. More exhibits will also be on display throughout the day along with kids activities, and more.

Bedminster Memorial Day Parade:
The parade will begin at 10am at the old Bedminster school on the corner of Elm St & Lamington Rd. A parade will follow down Lamington Rd, a ½ mile to the Far Hills ceremony which will take place at approximately 10:45 at the municipal building on the corner of Prospect St & Peapack Rd. (across from the fairgrounds). After the ceremony we will be serving hot dogs and refreshments in the fairgrounds.

Livingston Memorial Day Parade:
This year’s Memorial Day services will start at 9:30 am, Monday, May 29, 2017 with a ceremonial service at the Oval to commemorate those who have died defending the United States. At 10:00 am, after the ceremony, the parade will start on S. Livingston Avenue and will end at Congressional Way. In the event of inclement weather the Ceremonial Service will be held at the LHS Auditorium.

Oakland Memorial Day Parade:
The annual Memorial Day Parade and Ceremony, sponsored by the American Legion and the Borough of Oakland, will be held on Sunday, May 28th, 2017 beginning at 1:00 PM at Grove Street and Ramapo Valley Road. The parade will close with a ceremony in Veterans Park. Complimentary food and refreshments will be served at the American Legion Post at 65 Oak Street immediately following the parade.

Memorial Day Weekend Fireworks:
Sunday, May 28, 8:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.
Asbury Park Boardwalk
Ocean Avenue Between Asbury and Sunset Avenue
Asbury Park, New Jersey
For viewers who want to get in on a private viewing, The Mezzanine Room & Balcony of the iconic Paramount Theatre will be open to the public for a special birds-eye-view of the 2017 Memorial Day Fireworks, complete with music provided by a favorite Asbury Park DJ. Doors open at 8:00 p.m. and fireworks will begin at approximately 9:00 p.m. There will be a cash bar for guests 21 & up. All ages are welcome, (please note that children must be accompanied by an adult). Standing room only. This event will take place weather permitting. Full refunds will be issued if the event is cancelled due to weather.

NNJ Veterans Memorial Cemetery:
Memorial Day Service
Monday, May 29
11:00 a.m.
75 North Church Road, Sparta

Get Outside: Mount Hope Historical Park

Mt Hope Park 3

Starting on my lunchtime hike.

Every year I look forward to the warm weather. This year I have the added bonus of working from home so I can enjoy going outside at lunch more often than in the past. So today I took a light hike in the woods nearby – Mount Hope Historical Park.

This little gem is on the grounds of what was once a busy mining area. Mining began in the very early 1700s and continued until 1978. Now, it is a lovely little space that sits on a total of 6271 acres, known as the Mount Hope Tract. John Jacob Faesch developed the tract in 1772, with each mine owned by one or more companies. It is one of the oldest iron mining areas in the United States and provided iron ore until the mid 1950s. The state’s richest mines, the Richard, the Allen, and the Tboe are part of this site.

If you decide to check out this area, it is important to stay on the marked trails. There are many mines on the grounds and they are not all marked. Be careful for large or deep depressions in the ground, known as subsidence pits, as well as mine shafts.  You may find magnetite iron ore on the trails, what the Native Americans called Succasunny. Look for small black stones that are rectangular in shape that feel heavier than other rocks. Additionally, the rocks along the trail are representations of the mineral below ground. Look for rocks that are shiny black or red. Many of them contain large deposits of quartz.

Frog

My little hiking buddy today.

It doesn’t take long to leave the sound of the nearby roads behind you and take in all that is around you. I was hoping to find some sheds today, but no luck. I did, however, make a little friend of a frog that was jumping along with me on the trail!

There are multiple trails of varying levels of difficulty. I am not what I would call a “serious” hiker, but I am able to traverse the trails without much issue. As I have a bad ankle, I always feel that my trekking poles are very helpful when going up and down hills. There’s a pond at the end of the open space that I often fish with my husband. If you like to Geocache, there are several hidden throughout the park.

Like I said, it is a great little gem of an area.

If you decide to hike Mount Hope Historical Park, or any other hiking area, I would like to recommend a few things. I am not a hiking expert, but I do think it is a good idea to be prepared when heading into any wooded area.

Here’s my “standard” list:HikingBootsHikingEquipment

  • Solid hiking boots
  • Whistle
  • Bear spray/Mace
  • Trekking poles
  • Hat
  • Sunglasses
  • Water
  • Inhaler (I have asthma)
  • Tissues/Wipes
  • Neoprene straps
  • Phone and/or GPS

You may wonder what the straps are for. I use them normally to keep my pants comfortable in my waders when fishing. When I hike I use them from keeping little crawlers from taking their own walk up my pants leg. Tick season is expected to be quite bad this year, so it is important to do whatever you can to keep them at bay.

Mt Hope Park 1

Just a light hike on a lovely warm day!

It is also a good idea to keep a whistle and bear spray with you. While I did not encounter any bears or deer – like I said, just my little froggy friend – it is important to be prepared when heading into any natural area.

Always make sure you have a water bottle with you to stay hydrated and whether you hike in a small area or a large national park, keep your phone with you in case of an emergency.

So as the weather continues to improve, make sure you get out and enjoy these great little open spaces throughout New Jersey. Some may be closer than you think!

Remembering the Heroes: NNJ Veterans Memorial Cemetery

Since I was a kid, I liked going to the cemetery. I know it may sound strange. I grew up in a big Italian family and, unfortunately, as each family member passed, they would go to the cemetery. Once I was old enough to go a little further away from home on my bike, I would ride to the cemetery on weekends when it was nice. I would sit on the ground, clean the headstones of my loved ones and talk to them. When I was able to drive, I went more often.

Now that I live almost an hour away from Glendale Cemetery in Bloomfield, I don’t get there as often as I would like, but I am still fascinated by cemeteries. They hold not just our loved ones, but the history of our country.

nnjvmc-logoEnter the Northern New Jersey Veterans Memorial Cemetery.

If there is one group of individuals who should always receive our respect and care, it is our nation’s veterans. And those who made the ultimate sacrifice for us deserve our highest level of respect. The Northern New Jersey Veterans Memorial Cemetery’s focus is to make sure vets receive a respectful resting place in Northern New Jersey nearby their families.

It took a long time, lots of planning, and plenty of effort to get this cemetery in place. It is the only veteran’s cemetery that is privately owned and receives no funding from the State or the Federal governments. It relies on their small burial costs and donations to stay in place and available for vets and their families in Northern New Jersey.

This cemetery is the brainchild of John Harrigan, president of Wallkill Valley Chapter 1002 in Vernon, New Jersey. He took on the mission of creating this cemetery and enlisted the help of the Sussex County Board of Chosen Freeholders, VFW organizations, Associates of Vietnam Veterans of America, Sussex County, and services from individuals like Attorney Kevin Kelly, and businesses and organizations Mark DeVenezia of Mulch Concepts, Gardell Land Surveying, Pompton Lakes Elks Lodge 1895, and from the Sussex County Technical School. Local veterans’ organizations also have supported the effort.

The New Jersey State Legislature has approved the addition of the cemetery non-profit on the state income tax check-off list.

Now add my partner-in-crime Lisaann.

She is an amazing individual – a breast cancer survivor, a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution, Chinkchewunska Chapter; the National Society Daughter of the Union 1861-1865, and the cemetery’s Administrator and she can trace her blood line to many veterans who fought during the Revolutionary War and the Civil War. It wasn’t until she attended a good friend’s Father’s Military Funeral at the Veterans Cemetery in Goshen NY, that she decided she wanted to be part of the mission of the new cemetery in Sussex County. She takes her position seriously and does all she can to make sure the vets who are buried at the cemetery receive the care and respect they deserve.

They do fundraisers periodically, but rely heavily on donations from individuals. This iscemetery-enterance an important place in New Jersey for vets and their families. If you are able, I hope you will consider making a donation to this important location in New Jersey.

If you are interested in planning a service at the Northern New Jersey Veterans Memorial Cemetery, please reach out. I am sure Lisaann and John will help you plan a service fitting of a vet!

New Jersey and the Cranberry

As I have always said, New Jersey has many things to offer. One wonderful taste of Jersey is the cranberry.

New Jersey is the third largest cranberry producer in the nation, behind Wisconsin and Massachusetts. Agricultural cooperative, Ocean Spray, was founded by three growers in 1930, two from Massachusetts and one from New Jersey. Ocean Spray still grows cranberries in New Jersey.

Out of the roughly 700 farms overall that grow cranberries for Ocean Spray, about 20 are in South Jersey and they produce between 500,000 and 600,000 barrels of cranberries a year.

According to PineyPower.com, the North American cranberry industry has a long and distinguished history. Native peoples used cranberries as food, in ceremonies, and medicinally. They mixed cranberries with deer meat to make pemmican, a convenience food that could be kept for a long time. Medicine men used them as poultices to draw poison from arrow wounds, and women used the juice as a dye for cloth. In New Jersey, the Delaware Indians used them as peace symbols. They got their name, “crane berries,” from the early German and Dutch settlers who thought their blossoms resembled the neck and head of a crane.

So when you enjoy your cranberry sauce today, those berries may well have been harvested in New Jersey!