Beach Haven Library Fixture Calling It a Career

Oct 09, 2013
Photo by: Ryan Morrill Marge Cranmer at her desk in the Beach Haven Library

While libraries have gone high-tech since Marge Cranmer first took a job at the Beach Haven Public Library nearly 30 years ago, some things haven’t changed. Material borrowing transactions are still done manually. However, the modern age is evident when you notice the flat-screen computers for public use located throughout the building.

Still, the appeal of the library is its homey atmosphere, especially with its working firplace, giving you the feeling that you’re a guest in one’s home rather than in a public building. It’s something Beach Haven has been able do since its founding in 1924 since it is not part of the Ocean County Library System.

That’s why Cranmer has enjoyed working there as a library assistant. But she’ll soon be retiring at 91 years of age, and the library will be honoring her with a special reception on Wednesday, Oct. 16, beginning at noon.

“When she knows someone’s name, she doesn’t forget you,” said Jean Frazier, who took over as library director three years ago. “She is great at interacting with people.”

Cranmer said she became interested in working at the library when a job opened up after her husband, Joseph Cranmer, died in 1983. She met him, though, not on LBI but up in North Jersey, when she was working at a real estate office where another employee was related to him. He served in the Navy, and she was in the Navy WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service) in 1944.

After the war, they got married and moved to Beach Haven in 1946. There was a brief period in the late 1950s and early 1960s when they lived in Manahawkin in one of the first homes that became the Deer Lake Park development.

At that time, she was a stay-at-home mom. She has four children and six grandchildren and last year welcomed her first great-grandchild.

“We weren’t on the Island in the 1962 storm, but we took in about 18 people who had to be evacuated,” she said. “We moved back to Beach Haven a little after the storm because my husband had a plumbing business in Beach Haven and he was getting tired of the longer drive to get to work.”

When Superstorm Sandy came last year, she stayed with her son Jeffrey in Manhawkin.

“I thought I would have only been away for a few days, but I didn’t get back to my home (on Liberty Avenue) until New Year’s Eve,” she said.

Borough Historian Jeanette Lloyd, who is library board secretary, said Cranmer’s home “is one my favorites in our historical district.”

“It’s such a charming home,” said Lloyd. “At the library, she was very gentle and easygoing. She was usually quiet, but she was very engaging with people when they needed assistance.”

Lloyd said Cranmer’s husband’s parents were once caretakers of Beck’s Farm, which was established in 1874 and existed as a working farm until the early 1930s. It was located between Berkeley and Iroquois avenues, and the caretaker’s home on Iroquois Avenue still stands.

“Her husband’s family played a big role in the history of Beach Haven,” said Lloyd.

Cranmer said small town libraries “are becoming a thing of the past.”

“That’s why it is great to work here,” she said. “Beach Haven as I first knew it was much different. The crowds are a lot bigger in the summer, but being in here reminds me of the old Beach Haven.”

Cranmer said that after retiring, she won’t be a stranger.

“I can come here and talk to people, but I won’t be working,” she said with a laugh.

“For someone who has been with the library so long, we wanted to set aside a special day for people to say hello and thank her,” said board Vice President Ruth Strong. “If you needed help looking for a book, she’d quickly find it. We have a year-round population who enjoy using the library, and I’m sure many will want to come out.”

For more information, call the library at 609-492-7081.  

— Eric Englund

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