1972: Polarized on Politics, Land Use, Sharing the Road


Forty years ago, Long Beach Island was politically polarized, and that cultural divide was reflected in the pages of The Beachcomber. After one of our columnists wrote in support of George McGovern for president, a letter writer reflected the chagrin felt by many of our readers: “I accepted The Beachcomber for what it purported to be: a weekly vacation publication providing entertainment, relaxation and entertainment. This season I am dismayed to note a new approach, designed to brainwash the assumable relaxed minds of the summer vacationers.” Another reader was more vehement: “The perpetrator of such hog-wash should be placed in a padded cell for the safety of LBI.” The letter with the most creative solution to our so-called liberal leanings: “Whenever a ‘liberal’ article is uncovered in your paper, we have little Tommy color it over with his crayons and draw one of those cute ‘Smiley’ faces over it. In this way The Beachcomber remains the same old good-natured friend we knew before the liberal takeover.”

Islanders in 1972 were divided by battles between conservationists and developers, by a vicious recall election in Beach Haven, by the war in Vietnam, by the ever-present battle between bicycles and cars, by the proliferation of billboards on the Causeway, by the pros and cons of abortion (we ran an ad for an abortion clinic), and by the length of a young man’s hair.

Attempts to put offshore oil derricks were ongoing, but Island mayors strongly opposed offshore industrial development, including a proposed nuclear power plant in the ocean off Brigantine. Earlier in the year, the Oyster Creek nuclear plant caused a major fish kill. Supporters claimed that there is “practically no danger of an accident in a modern nuclear plant.” Sludge was still being dumped into the ocean. And here we are, 40 years later, fighting the battle all over again. Through a 15-day campaign between Aug. 10 and Aug. 24, Clean Ocean Action will rally the public in an effort to create federal protection for New York and New Jersey from industrialization of the ocean.

In 1972 we wrote: “How long will it take until Ocean County becomes a tragic shadow of what was once an area of beauty, valuable for its water resources, pure air, cranberry and blueberry culture, fishing and recreational attractions. This destruction cannot be prevented unless a wise citizenry insists upon intelligent planning and sound land use control.”

After reading an article about polluting the environment, one letter-writer complained, “To this reader’s appreciation, your paper is a consistent supporter of environmental improvement. Good! But in actual week-to-week practice, you litter streets and sidewalks with your throwaway papers.” The following year we suspended door-to-door delivery.

A recall vote in Beach Haven tried to oust Watson Pharo, commissioner of public works. We opined, “Since so much of the substance of the brawl is of a partisan character, it’s difficult to ascertain much in the way of facts.” The recall failed, and Pharo got to stay with a good margin of votes behind him. ... Borough physician Dr. Joseph Clay, who Pharo said was charging too much for visits, resigned.

The Music Scene: Leroy Lewis on the organ at the Lighthouse Inn; Joni on her organ at Buckalew’s; The Coasters, Jerry Blavet and Bob Eberly at Joe Pops; Four Aces, Glenn Miller Band and Jackie Vee Quartet at Vacation Inn; and, best of all, the Rolling Stones concert in Philly. Our reporter wrote that Jagger was “small, sinewy and has a beautiful ass.”

In 1972, a handyman cost $2 an hour. … New Jersey Bell advertised an initial direct-dial three minute call for 10 cents; operator assisted calls ran from 20 to 50 cents (for person to person calls). Remember operators? … Miss Barnegat Light sailed every Friday noon for lunch at the Captain’s Inn. Fare: four bucks. … Oskar Huber advertised a redwood table and two benches for $26.88. … Tickets for the LBI Foundation’s annual house tour cost $10.

Mills Market in Ship Bottom reopened as DeFiglio’s Foodtown. … Manahawkin Airport reopened under new management. … Bonnie Earling was Miss Magic Long Beach Island. … Eric Englund wrote a weekly Sports Review. … Joe Britton, fresh out of Rutgers, wrote a series on Kundalini Yoga. … Phillies scouts came down to Beach Haven’s Walsh Field for a series of trials, on the alert for baseball’s next star. … Gateway Bar owner Emil Guida’s horse took first place in the Princess Stakes at Calder Race Course. … Beach Haven passed a “no-loitering” ordinance, making it illegal to “loaf or walk around aimlessly.” … The Garden Club of LBI presented its fourth annual standard flower show.

After years of inaction and indecision, planning for a sewage system began. For years, building was prohibited in low-lying areas with a septic system. … Ocean Acres was set for an 8,000-lot expansion. We estimated that will generate $40-$50 million in tax ratables, which will rise in excess of $200 million in less than ten years.

We thought hand sanitizer was something fairly new. Not so. We advertised “CRCs new antiseptic hand cleaner” for use on boats – better than saltwater. … Businesses banded together to crack down on shoplifters, arresting and prosecuting several.

The 20-year-old LBI Consolidated Grade School in Ship Bottom graduated its 6th-graders: Jill Svelling and Nicky Hartman got an Outstanding Art award; DeeDee Conway, Nicky and Cathy Groat shared the Presidential Fitness Award; Nicky and Penny Hedden shared the Citizenship award. Where is that award-winning Nicky now?

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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