Skelly Family Marks 60 Years of Summer Fun on LBI

Aug 09, 2017
Photo by: John Skelly

The story of the Skelly family coming to Long Beach Island for 60 years started with two best friends, GG and Marilyn, who married brothers, David and John.

In 1957, Gertrude (“GG”) and Marilyn Skelly rented Kohl’s Cottage for $75 a week on 21st Street in Surf City.

“GG called me up that summer and said, ‘We have a great cottage to rent, but we can’t afford it. Would you like to join us?’” Marilyn said.

After happily accepting the invitation, Marilyn joined GG along with GG’s husband, John Skelly, and her own husband, David Skelly.

GG was the first to meet the brothers, on her first day attending Shippensburg State College, and began to date John Skelly. She later transferred to Penn State and was a senior when she met Marilyn, a freshman at the time, during sorority recruitment.

“You were not permitted to socialize with the rushees, so we had to wait until the whole season was over,” GG said. “Then we arranged the blind date at the Corner Room at Penn State for Marilyn, and I cannot even guess how many double dates we had for that one year we overlapped at school.”

“(GG) told me, ‘I have the perfect person for you,’” Marilyn said. “Yes, it was her boyfriend’s brother.”

GG and John originally decided to rent Kohl’s Cottage that first summer because John’s friend Jim Miller brought both the house and the Island itself to the couple’s attention. The property also happened to be owned by Miller’s cousin Kohl.

Since then, the two couples have continued to rent on the Island, from Surf City down to Beach Haven, with multiple summers also spent in North Beach and Brant Beach.

The family spends one week on the Island each summer. This year, the family decided on three houses in Beach Haven in order to fit all four generations. Their family members travel from all over to get here, with Marilyn from Pittsburgh, GG from the Philadelphia area, and other family living in South Carolina, Oklahoma, Kentucky, Maryland and even Canada.

“We have 36 people down this year and are still missing some family members, but still this is the most we’ve ever had,” said Jim Skelly, son of Marilyn and David.

“Every couple of years we have had to start enlarging our quarters,” GG said, “because every year we came down, somebody had another child.”

Although they are scattered among different properties this year, all three houses sit on the same block.

“What’s nice about that is it gets the family close. The cousins get to know each other better. That’s the only time sometimes they get to see each other,” Marilyn said.

— Colby Alvino

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