1992: Piney Music and Jazz; Boulevard Hazards; ‘18th Century Dunes

Photo by: Neal Roberts BACK IN THE DAY: This 2012 scene from the Barnegat Light beach access at 12th Street is about the same as it was 20 years, and maybe even 200 years, in the past (except for the lighthouse and rooftops of modern homes).

Twenty years ago The Beachcomber started off the season with a long story and lots of photos about Albert Hall in Waretown, and the fine Piney and folk musicians who played there. In July, the building burned to the ground. Linda Rouse was the organization’s president: “What burned down was only a building. What is important is that the spirit of Albert Hall continues.” Four years later, they broke ground for a new building on Wells Mills Road in Waretown and the Sounds of the Jersey Pines resonates still, every Saturday night. (Learn more at alberthall.org.)

The music scene, then as now, was hot. Jackie Vee and Paul Presto were pleasing crowds at the Surf City Hotel. … No Discipline played at the Tide in Bay Village and the Gateway. Member of the band Al Bazaz was pictured rollerblading on the Boulevard. He did 10 miles at a stretch. … Blues were big and Junior Wells, Jude Taylor and Jeannie Brooks were headliners at the LBI Bluesfest at the Foundation. … Johnny Youth and The Verdict kicked off Harvey Cedars summer concert in the park series. Twenty years later, they are still there; this summer on August 1. … Lots of jazz on the Island. Two different events at the Foundation. Both Ed Polcer and the Eddie Condon All-Star Sextette and David Amram and his jazz quartet played. … At the other end of the Island, band music in Beach Haven’s Bicentennial Park. … Later in the summer Davey Jones of the Monkees did a gig of the group’s old songs at the Tide.

Real Estate Values: A 19th century cottage on 11th Street in Surf City was offered for $160,000. … A 5-bedroom home on Webster Lagoon in Beach Haven, $900,000. … Brant Beach bayside, $349,000.  And lots of Cape Cods for under $200,000.

Several accidents involving cars and bikes on the Boulevard – one in Ship Bottom, where a 12-year-old boy was flown to Cooper Medical Center in Camden; one in North Beach and another in Harvey Cedars – led to demands to lower the speed limit to 35 mph, which is where it is now. One letter writer asks for crosswalks allowing pedestrians the right of way the law provided, but which was not enforced. It is now. The Beachcomber advocated for an education campaign and a bicycle safety rodeo held by local police departments.

Marion Figley described the exceptional oceanfront in much of Barnegat Light – rolling, graceful dunes, two, three and four gentle hills deep -- the same now and as always: “With your back to the barely visible housetops, you could be on 18th-century Long Beach, as it was called then. Crowding against the dune fence near the street ends are pine trees, beach plums now in bloom, bayberry, holly autumn olive, other hardwood trees and shrubs. Cardinals, blue jays and other songbirds startle your passage, explode across the path, then scold raucously from inside a tree. In those shady areas, you might discover a box turtle lumbering slowly along, well camouflaged by decomposing leaf litter. Stoop down and you’ll see mouse tracks, part of the dunes’ food chain that includes the marsh hawk, often perched on top of a post.”

Also 20 years ago, Harvey Cedars, in attempt to keep visitors from walking on the badly eroded dunes there, installed new dune fencing.

A small blimp hovered over Island properties off and on during that summer. Sky-Shots took aerial photos for special events. If you had an outside party, you’d call, and the 17- foot-long balloon flittered over and shot the scene. … The Feds changed the channels in the Intracoastal Waterway – buoys replaced and renumbered, so boaters needed to update their charts. … A lobster got tangled up in young Jim Eble’s fishing line near buoy 106 in Little Egg Harbor.

A Rutgers University graduate student conducted an experiment that involved putting dye on 1,950 sea gulls’ nests on Egg Island in Great Bay so researchers could track their flight and nesting patterns. Gulls could be spotted overhead, sporting pink breast feathers. … Lifeguard Corky Friedman attempted a round the Island row in honor of his friend Kevin Heffernan, who died in a plane crash at the age of 23. Friedman pulled for 33 miles before the northeast wind forced him ashore, but pledges got the new lifeboat that was the real goal of the row.

Okie’s Butcher Shop received a big load of bull – it’s still there, looming at the edge of the roof. … Twenty years ago the world was pre-digital, so Lynn Photo had three locations to make it easy to process your film. Remember how long you had to wait to see the images? No instant satisfaction back in the day.

And way back in the day, 70 years ago, the Summer of 1942 was the first wartime summer on Long Beach Island. The army National Guard camped where the CVS on the east side of the Boulevard is now, also at the former baseball field in Beach Haven. The six Coast Guard stations and the St. Rita Hotel and Wida’s (now DaddyOs) were filled to capacity with combat-ready guardsmen. While soldiers raced up and down the two-lane Boulevard in jeeps, the Coast Guard combed the beaches on horseback with specially trained dogs, looking for any signs of an enemy incursion. Residents kept blackout curtains on seaward-facing windows so that German submarines couldn’t see the coast. Blimps patrolled overhead, searching for U-boats, and occasionally dropping depth charges on whales by mistake.

Margaret Thomas Buchholz is the former owner of this paper and author of Island Album, Shore Chronicles and New Jersey Shipwrecks, and co-author of Great Storms of the Jersey Shore. Reach her at lbipooch@comcast.net.


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