1972: Frosty Ocean; Hospital Grand Opening


According to The Beachcomber of July 20, 1972, it was one of the coldest Julys on record. We reported, “Baffin Bay temperatures, loads of people on the beach but none braving the snow-white surf. There was a water-chill factor calculated to put off the most enthusiastic of ocean swimmers.” But I think the report of frostbitten toes tended by Surf City lifeguards is probably tongue in cheek. We reminded readers, then and always, that it’s that cool ocean and its breezes that set us apart from the sweltering mainland.

An oceanographer from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported that “on observation” from Maine to Virginia, the Atlantic Ocean has risen an unprecedented three inches in the last eight years. Asked to explain, he mentioned the melting glaciers and the extraction from the ground of vast quantities of petroleum. If it continues, he avers, within 30 years some low-lying coastal areas could be under water. Well, there is no doubt the water level is rising – it’s hitting doorsteps on houses in Tangier Island in the Chesapeake and Norfolk, Virginia – but we’re still here. Perhaps 130 years?

In the Easter issue we noted the Surf City Borough Council amended their dune ordinance, requiring those granted dune razing permits to post a $700 deposit to “insure the lowering is done according to borough regulation.” That our protective sand could be razed tells how far we’ve come.

The federal project to raise the North Jetty at Barnegat Inlet began as the first rock was dropped. The Army Corps of Engineers expected to complete it in three phases at a cost of $1.5 million a phase.

Two “girl” lifeguards, Marcy McNee and Lori Carrington, were manning a station in Surf City, a first on the Island – with the exception of WWII, when women did everything.

Even after over a decade of fund-raising, in June Southern Ocean County Hospital still needed $345,000 to open its 52-bed facility in Manahawkin. Officials cut the ribbon on Aug. 2. Over 2,000 visitors toured the building, the first hospital in the area since Dr. Dodd’s small Beach Haven hospital on Ocean Street closed in 1945.

Remembering the help received after the March 1962 northeaster, Islanders, under the guidance of “LBI Teachers’ Flood Relief,” sent goods and money to victims of Hurricane Agnes in Pennsylvania, still to this day that state’s worst natural disaster. Grateful letters of appreciation appeared almost every week. After a group of “long-haired hippies” showed up to man relief stations, the mayor of Scranton wrote, “Denounced as hippies last week, but today praised as the greatest young people in the world.”

In the battle between cyclists and motorists, vitriol swirled around the Beach Avenue “speedway” – letter writers begged for streetlights or stop signs. The Township’s new Bureau of Traffic Safety got $8,000 from the feds to use for radar equipment. Later in the summer, a woman complained, “The local militia has swooped down on Beach Avenue with Gestapo-like precision … regardless of how slow that car was moving. Better, why don’t the police cut this crap and start chopping down the acid-heads who roar around Beach Avenue between midnight and dawn on their souped-up bikes?” A voice of reason responded: “Some cyclists deservedly bring down the motorist’s wrath on others, and every cyclist knows his worst enemy is the car, but surely if each is aware of the problems they cause the other and respect each other’s rights, cyclists and motorists could exist peacefully on the same roads.”

Throughout the summer, Island officials and clergy supported a “Rally for Soviet Jewry” held at St. Francis Center. The organizers hoped to gain enough signatures to petition President Nixon’s support to gain release of Soviet Jews who want to leave the USSR.

Real Estate Prices: A three-bedroom duplex on Harvey Cedars’ Kinsey Cove rented for $125 a week. If you had Big Bucks, you could spend $1,300 for a bayfront home for the month of August. … A huge sub-dividable lot with a 4-bedroom house was listed for $84,500, pretty much the top of the market 40 years ago. … A 3-bedroom home in Ship Bottom went for $21,500.

Seven-year-old Neal Patrick of Florham Park caught a fish with a line attached to the snowbrush from his father’s car. His father, with a real reel, hooked nothing. … At the end of August, our fishing and boating columnist, Dick Clements, and daughter Linda, pulled in 43 blues and weakfish a few hundred yards off the beach.

Residents of Bay Terrace in Ship Bottom complained loudly about the foul stink of degrading eelgrass along the waterfront. … South Jersey mosquitoes lived up to their reputation as massive when they registered as blips on the new sensitive radar screens at Fort Monmouth.

Unique Advertiser: Under “situations wanted” in the classified, a young college man named Ken wanted to “enjoy a good meal after a hard day of house painting.” He offered “stimulating conversation” in exchange for a home-cooked dinner. He had several takers. … Another eye-catching ad was headlined “lost parrot” and it brought back the sadness when our daughter’s pet flew off over the bay, chased by sea gulls, and was never heard from again.

Margaret Thomas Buchholz is author of the newly released book Josephine: A Memoir 1917-1959, From Washington Working Girl to Fisherman’s Wife. Reach her at lbipooch@comcast.net.


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