Yearbook Collection Serves as Link to Area’s Past and Prominent Residents

By ERIC ENGLUND | Jun 14, 2017
Photo by: Jack Reynolds

After Barnegat Township historian Mary Catherine Kennedy died last December at age 88, her daughter Renee Kennedy has had the arduous task of organizing many boxes and files of countless items related to Barnegat’s past. 

But what she finds most intriguing is a collection of old Barnegat High School yearbooks, which were titled Lighthouse. Built in 1930, the school was located in what later became the Elizabeth Edwards Elementary School. The high school closed in 1957 when Southern Regional High School opened. Edwards was closed in 2003, and now is completely boarded up.

“I have almost every year,” said Kennedy. “When you see the senior classes in the early years, they numbered around 20. But by the time the school closed, the senior class had close to 50 members.”

Her mom’s class was 1946, when she was Mary Catherine Felter. Some of her accomplishments included winning the Ocean County American Legion Oratorical Contest, serving as an editor on the Lighthouse staff. She was also cited for “excellent scholarship” and her classmates voted her “the most studious.”

No surprise there. Kennedy had a 40-year elementary school teaching career, most of it in the Barnegat school system. She taught third grade and later specialized in teaching basic skills before retiring in 2010.

Kennedy’s mother, Maude Brown Felter, was a teacher at the old Barnegat Grade School, which was built in 1900 and stood where the fire company headquarters is located.

When the new Barnegat High School had its first graduation ceremony in 2008, Kennedy gave the official welcome.

Some of the advertisers in her senior yearbook were The Central Market Provision, Beach Haven; W.J. Noonan & Son in Brant Beach (catering especially to returned veterans housing), the Baldwin Hotel, Beach Haven; Conrad Brothers Lumber Company, Barnegat and Ship Bottom; A.W. Kelley Real Estate and Insurance, Beach Haven and Barnegat; and A. Roy and Son, Carpenters and Builders, Barnegat.

Scouring the yearbooks, you’ll find Margaret Buchholz, the noted author and former Beachcomber publisher, in the class of 1950. Then known as Margaret Thomas, the Harvey Cedars resident’s ambition was to “travel to Europe.” 

Emil Tum Suden, the former Surf City fire chief and public works director, was called “dependable” and “big man.” There was also an allusion to his mechanical abilities: “fixes faucets in chemistry.”

Of one 1956 class member, it was said he was “born to somehow talk all over from his toes to his fingertips.” That was the late Stafford Township Mayor Wes Bell.

Three graduates who would later be giants in the commercial fishing industry were the late George Svelling (1953), the late John Larson (1951) and the late Richard “Dickey” Myers.

It was said of Svelling, who was also a Barnegat Light councilman, had  “good looks and photographs like a movie star.”

The yearbook misspelled Larson’s name as “Larsen.” His nickname was “Johnny Boy” and was known as a “smooth dancer.” His wife Marion (nee Oliver) graduated in 1952. Her nickname was “Mouse.” 

A quote under Myers’ picture said, “The difficulty in life is the choice.” Other seniors profiled near him said  “college” when it came to future plans. With Myers it said “fishermen,” which was no surprise since his parents owned commercial fishing boats and docks in Barnegat Light.  

Two classes in the late 1940s had members who were to become prominent real estate/insurance executives: Allan Gilbert Anderson, founder of the G. Anderson Agency in Long Beach Township, and the late Joseph William Inman, who in 1961 founded Inman Realty in Barnegat Light. Anderson, a member of the ’47 class, had this quote under his picture: “Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.”

In 1948, Anderson married his childhood sweetheart, Marie Joyce Cranmer, who was also a member of that class. She died in 2015. Under her picture, she wrote, “All our dreams may not come true, but one consolation – neither do our nightmares.”

Inman, who graduated in 1948, used this quote: “Good humor is a splendid medicine for many of the ills of life.” 

In the 1946 yearbook, the junior class had “parting words of wisdom” for the seniors. Anderson wrote, “Stay as reliable as you can, and also stay away from boxing gloves.”

Another junior at that time, Howard Baum, gave the following advice: “Read a book on how to fix headlights.” Baum knew something about that, and plenty more, as he later became the longtime owner of Harvey Cedars Exxon, today known as Harvey Cedars Auto.

The late John Crowley (’47), who had a longtime law practice in the area, had this quote under his picture: “Men are polished though act and speech.” 

The Class of 1949 had two future elected officials, Charles Moffett, a former Beach Haven commissioner (who was his senior class president), and the late Kendall Klix, who was mayor of Barnegat Township. The 1951 class had former Long Beach Township Clerk Harold V. Gale. 

During World War II, the high school principal was William B. Marvin. In his “Farewell to the Seniors of 1942,” he said, “We congratulate those who have finished at the same time that we recall those who are missing – mostly boys who are working, or are already in the armed service. Believing that education increases one’s ability to serve, we urge the class of 1942 not to stop here. To the girls, we say, ‘Your country needs nurses, doctors, teachers and able clerical workers. To the boys, we say, ‘Your country at war needs not merely able seamen and privates, but also officers, specialists and skilled workers. Let us train to meet that need! At the same time, let us train ourselves in self-control so that we can serve not only in time of war, but in the better days ahead.”

 “I find so many familiar names, people who I grew up with and people who have had businesses,” Kennedy said. “You get that real small town feel when looking at the yearbooks.”

Eventually, she hopes to find a permanent spot to display her mother’s memorabilia and artifacts. For the time being, they’ll be housed in her basement.

“Probably everything Barnegat-related will go to the Barnegat Historical Society,” she said. “It will take quite some time for me to catalog and sort through everything. I still need to get into the attic, but that’s a winter project.”







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