July 1962: Long Beach Islanders on the Beach ­– What a Parade!


Amazingly, after a half century, there are a handful of the very same businesses still cranking out food and drink. Buckalew’s is at the same Beach Haven location, but no more Tom Buckalew behind the bar. … Neptune Liquors is still loaded with bottles in Harvey Cedars, several owners over the years, but all retaining the Neptune name, with the addition of “Wines,” more popular now than 50 years ago. … The strangely shaped Sea Shell Motel & Club was new on the beach at Centre Street in Beach Haven 50 years ago. They advertised dancing every night until closing. … Otto Schmidt opened the Dutchman’s, with its prow-shaped bar, in 1952; the present building was built 50 years ago, and today is run by the third generation of the Schmidt family and still serves German beer overlooking the bay by the Causeway. But no Quelle back in the day.

Island Audio Video started life as Island Record Shop in 1957 and moved to its present location on 26th Street in Ship Bottom in 1959. Wayne Feaster worked there summers in 1970, kept the store open the winter of ’72-73 and he and Linda bought it in 1975. New LPs – that’s long playing records, to you young’uns – advertised under “Platter Patter” the summer of ’62 were Brothers Four, Bob Newhart, Ferrante & Teicher and The Highwaymen. Phonographs that played all four record speeds started at $19.95.

On Broadway in Barnegat Light, next to the diner, Barnegat Light 5 & 10, now The Islander – although still referred to by many locals as the 5 & 10 – was selling just what it sells now, a little bit of almost everything. ... Surf City Pharmacy at 6th Street is still a pharmacy. Fifty years ago it was also the post office and had a soda fountain and luncheonette on the south wall, plus sold the staple of all pharmacies then: Whitman and Fanny Farmer chocolate candies. Curiously, it advertised “unusual attractive gifts from Florida.” Bob, bring back the soda fountain!!!!

The Beachcomber didn’t have a lot of news back then, but lots of essays and observations. The following story could just as easily happen this summer:

I love a parade! — especially that unending unbelievable parade of unconcerned, unhurried, unabashed, unforgettable Islanders who walk, stroll, amble, march, jog, run, and oth­erwise navigate our sandy stretches of beach. They come in all sizes and shapes, all degrees of attractiveness, all shades of sunburn pink and glorious tan, all styles and colors of bathing suits, all manners and means for diverting or distract­ing attention, all ages and stag­es of growth. As they cross in front of us on the beach we play that wonderful game of chance in which you try to figure out WHO he (or she) is, WHAT he is, WHY he is, WHERE he is going, as a hundred little dramas of life unfold before us.

Three young women saunter by, each in a brightly colored two-piece bathing suit, their should­ers slightly slumped, their vis­ages showing a kind of expectant boredom. They say little to each other. Suddenly the lifeguard’s chair looms near. Noticing, very casually of course, the four young men clustered around the base of the guard’s stand, they break out into animated conversation. With a self-conscious effort to smile, laugh, giggle and chatter all at once, they steer their course past the island of males. They toss their salt-glazed curls, and look around with that we-know-you’re-there-even-if-we-won’t-look-at-you glance.

But the young men are deeply engrossed in an argument, pro­bably about the National League pennant race, or the racing potential of a Jaguar, and the girls are unnoticed. Another twenty yards up the beach their conversation comes to a standstill once more, the shoulders sag, and the bored look returns. With a sigh of relief, the girls relax their face muscles, which have kept their smiles in line, and their sto­mach muscles, which have kept their figures in line.

Unfortunately, the girls made their exit too rapidly, for a few hundred yards behind them four obviously interested young men are strutting impudently down the sandy stretch. They make their entrance with bronze-skinned bravado, play­ing the role of the athletes to the hilt. The tallest is their acknowledged leader, probably by warrant of his stature and the high-status hooded sweat­shirt he wears which says boldly across the back, “Pro­perty of Ohio State University Department of Athletics.” Two of his cronies wear unlettered sweatshirts and the third, most likely second-in-command, is the proud owner of a red warm-up jersey with a bold number 56 across the back.

The quartet stops every now and then to toss a football around, jovially push one of their number into an oncoming wave, or form a huddle for a manly discussion of that cute little number in the red bath­ing suit. It is obvious from their bearing and behavior that they own this particular part of the Island — and most of the rest of the world, too.

In contrast to their youthful vigor is the plodding ambulation of the three old fishermen who pass next along the waterfront. The first two aged anglers wear bait-splattered khaki slacks and weather-beaten windbreakers; their gnarled hands and wrinkled faces have been worn by the elements to a grey-washed mahogany; their bare feet sink easily and surely into the reassuring sand.

The third member of the fishing party is in sharp contrast to his colleagues – in sharp contrast, in fact, to the entire scene about him. Below the sea gull-white of his hair and the dead white of his untanned face, there is the clean laundry white of a freshly starched shirt, complemented by the crisp crease in his business-like navy pants and the stiff smartness of his striped tie. With dogged determination, the old city slicker follows the two old salts, trying to keep his well-polished shoes from sinking completely in the difficult sand. And it is not hard to guess who, in the ironic sport of fishing, will catch the first fish.

The parade continues. Bright-eyed youngsters skipping along in search of new adventures. Elderly couples, slowly strolling, enjoying the relaxation of the calm sea and soothing sun. Teen-age lovers, dazzled ro­mantically by the glint of the sea and the sand and the hap­py summer sun. Solitary walk­ers, brooding and reflecting on problems, or smiling to themselves at the wonder of the ocean. The commonplace and the rare, the quiet and the boisterous, the confident and the self-conscious, the meek and the bold, the intelligent and the dull, the pretty and the ugly – the whole wide panorama of people which makes Long Beach Island so distinct and yet so universal. What a parade!


Margaret Thomas Buchholz is the former owner of The Beachcomber and author of Island Album, Shore Chronicles and New Jersey Shipwrecks, and co-author of Great Storms of the Jersey Shore. She can be reached at lbipooch@comcast.net.




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