1962: On Long Beach Island, Then and Now


Wandering through the bound editions of 1962 Beachcomber issues, I was surprised to find so many businesses still here, especially Realtors (a word that didn’t exist 50 years ago). HCH in Harvey Cedars started life as Canetti Real Estate in the 1950s, then became Canetti and Hill when Elsie Canetti married Joe Hill, then Hardenbergh tacked on his name and now it’s HCH Sotheby’s. Inman Realty on 17th Street in Barnegat Light is still that: Inman Realty. But no more Inmans involved. Fifty years ago they advertised “over 200 building lots available.” An oceanside duplex in Spray Beach cost $10,700. A three-bedroom home on a 100 x 100 ft. lot in Loveladies Harbor was $11,500 up.

The prices of seafood then were rock bottom: scallops 53 cents a pound, swordfish and halibut 49 cents, salmon 75 cents. … In the Want Ad section Hance and Smythe offered painted and unpainted prams for between $50 and $100 bucks. A few ads further down, under the heading FREE FREE FREE, our editor (that’s me) was offering “children’s play yard picket fencing.” The kids outgrew it.

Hartman’s Amusement Center was located “two blocks south of the Lucy Evelyn” in Beach Haven and advertised midget autos and the Ferris wheel. (The old wooden schooner Lucy Evelyn burned down nine years later.) Hartman’s is now Fantasy Island.

There were lots of benefits for the proposed new hospital in Manahawkin. One had fashions by Sink ’r Swim – washed out of Harvey Cedars by the March storm and quickly relocated to Haven Beach. Another fashion show had styles by the Island Dress Store in Brant Beach, now the Island Shop – same family, same location. Surflight Theatre’s Joe Hayes was master of ceremonies at both events.

Harvey Cedars Esso, which became Exxon, and then went through several more name changes and is now Harvey Cedars Auto, is at the same location, 78th and Boulevard, and still operated by the Baum family. Their ad 50 years ago advertised “Touring Service.” I’m pretty sure that should have been “Towing Service,” which they still have. Just call 609-494-5478.

Beach Haven School marked its 50th anniversary … Mayor Harry Conklin stepped down after 18 years as a public official in that borough. Southern Regional High School’s budget for 1962-63 was twice defeated by the voters and the board instructed to cut a total of $100,000 from next year’s budget.

An unusual new approach was started in the fight to keep New Jersey beaches clean and free of litter. A helicopter pat­rol was introduced by H. M. Adams, commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Conservation and Economic De­velopment. It was to be on full schedule weekends and hol­idays throughout the summer, and make spot checks dur­ing the week.

Commissioner Adams said boaters observed throwing refuse into the water would be pictur­ed by the camera aboard the helicopter and addressed on the loudspeaker system. In addi­tion, the patrol officer (either a state police or Conservation De­partment officer) accompany­ing the pilot would use a radio to notify local enforcement officers on the ground and marine patrol boats on the water.

The “spy in the sky” was introduced to local officials by the commissioner in August. Those observing the pre-season run – intended to give them first­hand knowledge of the added patrol coverage now provided by the state for their beaches and waterways – included Beach Haven Mayor Charles P. Cranmer, Ocean County Freeholder Donald Rommell, Beach Haven Borough Clerk A. Paul King, and Richard Dunphy.

Commissioner Adams said the full extent of the law may be used against persistent of­fenders. He cited Act 2A-170-69.1 that provides that any person who discharges waste or debris from any ves­sel into coastal waters or tidal bays where it may tend to lit­ter any bathing beach or pol­lute the adjacent water is a disorderly person. Conviction as a disorderly person carried pen­alties up to a maximum of imprisonment for not more than one year or a maximum fine of not more than $1,000, or both.

From the Sand in my Ears column, I found a few references to the March Storm, and to a passing hurricane the September before, written by Fran Burtaine:

The U.S. Navy salvage technicians – almost 700 are in Beach Hav­en in the operation to refloat the destroyer Monssenare a quiet, dedicated, and, most of all, an uncomplaining group. We met one of the young men in a launderette. He said he was living in the tent city at Holgate. When we commiserated that it must be pretty miserable he said, no, they were comfor­table, but that they weren’t used to all the sand!

A pretty, new cottage on the oceanfront in Beach Haven, which nosedived into the Atlan­tic during the March storm, reveal­ed pilings about two-thirds as long as specified and paid for by the owner.

Almost not worth mentioning in comparison with the catastrophic storm that struck the Island without warning in March, the September 1961 hurricane was nevertheless worrisome at the time as Islanders followed her devastating and unswerv­ing progress up the coast. All indications were she would hit here with full force and resi­dents of all low-lying areas were advised to evacuate.

Inasmuch as you can’t get much more low-lying than the Island, a considerable number of us took off. Nick’s National Hotel in Manahawkin had a houseful of refugees, and in the tension of increasingly dire fore­casts it was a relief to be on the Mainland and to have com­pany.

The storm progressed north­ward more slowly than antici­pated and we waited through the second day with increas­ing tension. When the welcome word came that night that the hurricane had passed by leaving little or no damage, practically everyone relaxed in the bar. A friend ask­ed us to join her for a drink and we said we’d like to but it seemed unkind as our young son might feel left out. “If you’re worrying about him,” someone on the porch remarked, “he’s been playing pool in the bar for the last hour.”

Longtime Long Beach Is­land stringer for many regional daily newspapers, A.V. Stratton of Beach Haven was the star of his most im­portant story, molluskly speak­ing. Walking on the beach and occasionally picking up a stone or shell to skim on the water, he picked up a crab that was curiously heavy and hard as stone. Mr. Stratton used the petrified crab as a paperweight and, often, he remembers, as a hammer before deciding to drop it off at the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia one day when business took him to the city.

“The curator scraped it and tasted it and I thought, ‘He’s a nut,’ ” Mr. Stratton said. And then Dr. Henry A. Pilsbury, mollusk expert of the Academy, told Mr. Stratton his find was at least 100,000 years old. It since has been classified as an ancestor of our edible crab and dates from the Pleistocene Age, 500,000 ago, the only whole fossil of its kind.


Margaret Thomas Buchholz is the former owner of this paper and author of Island Album, Shore Chronicles, New Jersey Shipwrecks, and the recently released Josephine: A Memoir, 1917-1959, From Washington Working Girl to Fisherman’s Wife. She is co-author of Great Storms of the Jersey Shore. She can be reached at lbipooch@comcast.net.


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