The Beachcomber

Local History Is No Mystery at LBI Historical Museum

Monday Night Speaker Series Has It Covered
By RICK MELLERUP | Jul 13, 2018

If you like local history, then the Long Beach Island Historical Museum, located at the corner of Engleside and Beach avenues in the center of Beach Haven, is the place to be on Monday evenings this summer. The museum, as has been the case for years, will host weekly talks by local historians, sponsored in part by a grant from Atlantic City Electric. The doors open at 7 p.m. and the talks start at 7:30, ending by 8:45.

On July 16, Reilly Sharp of the Barnegat Light Historical Society and Ron Marr of the LBI Historical Association will examine the changes World War II brought to LBI. They’ll be talking about Coast Guard patrols on the lookout for saboteurs landing on the beach, submarine warfare right off the New Jersey coast and rationing, among other things.

Storms of the New Jersey Shore will be the topic of discussion on July 23. The speakers will be Margaret Buchholz, a co-author of Great Storms of the Jersey Shore and former owner of the very newspaper you are reading now, and Scott Mazzella, author of Surviving Sandy. Expect to hear not only of Superstorm Sandy but also of the hurricane that smashed into LBI in September 1944, and the Ash Wednesday nor’easter of March 1962 that joined the ocean to the bay in several places on the Island and left a U.S. Navy destroyer high and dry in Holgate.

John Yates of the Tuckerton Historical Society will be the speaker on July 30. He’ll talk about the then-high-tech trans-Atlantic radio tower built by the German Imperial Government in 1912 in, of all, places, Tuckerton. At the time it was the tallest structure in the United States and the second tallest in the world, behind only the Eiffel Tower. Torn down in 1955, it lent its name to Tuckerton’s Radio Road.

Sometimes history may be right in front of your eyes, even in your hands, and you don’t recognize it. On Aug. 6, Cheryl Kirby and Sara Caruso of the Things A-Drift shop will show and discuss things they have found on the beaches of New Jersey and elsewhere over the years. Make sure to bring in any unusual, beautiful or rare thing you’ve found on a beach and they can probably identify it for you.

Beach Haven borough historian Jeanette Lloyd will speak on Aug. 13, discussing the baymen, boatmen, merchants and laborers who, through hard work, perseverance and mutual help, shaped the history and culture of the south end of LBI. Their stories will be told through letters, family histories, photos and new and never-before-seen material derived from 15 years of personal interviews.

You’ve heard of the Hindenburg disaster, right? Well, how about the dirigible airship Akron? Reilly Sharp will tell you all about it on Aug. 20, but here are a few basic facts for now:

The USS Akron, launched on Aug. 8, 1931, was just slightly smaller than the Hindenburg at 785 feet in length compared to the latter’s 804-feet. Unlike the Hindenburg, it wasn’t designed to carry passengers but rather was a flying aircraft carrier, carrying three F9C Sparrowhawk fighter planes that could be launched and recovered while the airship was in flight. Like the Hindenburg, however, the Akron would meet a grizzly end, crashing into the Atlantic off Barnegat Light in April 1933 after encountering severe weather. In the end, 73 of its 76 crewmen and passengers died while just 36 of the 97 people aboard the Hindenburg were killed. Indeed, the Akron disaster caused the greatest loss of life in any airship crash in history.

Finally, on Aug. 27, Ron Marr will be back with a talk titled “How We Got Down-the-Shore.” If you think battling summer traffic on the Garden State Parkway and facing construction-caused delays on the Manahawkin Bay bridge system are a pain in the, uh, butt, imagine what the trip was like in the days before automobiles. Marr will review the trials and tribulations of traveling to the shore from 1800 to the present, with photos and period illustrations.

The Monday night talks are just one of the LBI Museum’s many offerings. On Tuesdays and Fridays through Labor Day, the museum offers walking tours of the Beach Haven Historic District, starting at the LBI Museum at 10 a.m.

On Tuesdays and Wednesdays through Labor Day, Ghost Tours of Beach Haven begin at the museum at 7 p.m.

Monday and Thursday mornings through Labor Day are dedicated to children, with “Kids Makers Programs” starting at 10:30 a.m. and running through noon.

August will feature two special programs. On Thursday, Aug. 9, the museum will host its annual chocolate fair – “Everything Chocolate” – from 6 to 8 p.m. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for children and may be purchased at the door. On Wednesday, Aug. 15, there will be a guided bus tour of the Beach Haven Historic District from 10 a.m. to noon. Tickets are $25, and reservations, which can be made by calling 609-492-0700, are required.

On the Sunday of Labor Day weekend, the museum will host a bake sale from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Meanwhile, a craft and flea market benefiting the museum will be taking place across the street in Veterans Memorial Park from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The LBI Museum also has several autumn events scheduled.

If you enjoy what the museum offers, you can show your support by attending a fundraising dinner at Beach Haven’s Bistro 14 restaurant on Monday, Sept. 24, at 6 p.m. Reservations are required – call Sue Whiting at 609-290-5225.

Saturday, Oct. 27, will bring the museum’s annual Ghost Fest, running from 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. It will feature an open house, a ghost-maker workshop for kids, and the annual raffle drawing by the Jersey Devil at 3:30.

An even longer open house is set for Saturday, Nov. 24, from noon to 7 p.m. The museum will be decorated for Christmas; there will be an elves maker workshop for kids, caroling and a fire pit and marshmallow roast in Veterans Memorial Park. Oh, there will be plenty of Christmas gifts for sale.

Finally, on Saturday, Dec. 8, the museum and its Christmas shop will open at noon. The day will be capped off from 6 to 8 p.m. when there will be a community tree lighting ceremony in the park, featuring carols and, yes, of course, Santa Claus.

The LBI Museum will be open seven days a week from 10 a.m. through 4 p.m. through Labor Day.

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