Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Strathmere Memories - from Maurice J. Woolman

With permission, I'm sharing this email that I recently received -

'I was looking through your website ( this evening. The memories, emotions, and feelings of wonderful times at the beach came to life once again. I fondly remember my parents taking day trips to Whale Beach with my sister and I in tow. Friends of my parents had a home on the beach side of the highway, just north of a motel (I think it was called the Dolphin Motel). I remember walking across the hot sand and going through a break in the dunes to reach the beach. It seemed like it took forever the reach the water. Once, we had the good fortune to stay at my parents’ friends’ house overnight – it was awesome. I remember the water tank mounted to the side of the house, facing east so we could all “rinse off” after playing on the beach (true solar water heating). And I have fond memories of the diner/restaurant in Strathmere, where we had some incredibly enjoyable meals.

In the wee hours of March 6 1962, one of my brothers was born (we lived near Elmer). I can still remember the winds and driving rains at the time but was unaware of the devastation occurring at the beach. The images of that night will be forever stored in my mind. My sister and I did make it to Whale Beach that summer on Labor Day weekend with my father. I can still remember the bulldozers piling up sand from the beach to protect the highway. From just north of Sea Isle City to almost Strathmere, the beach was barren – not one house was left standing. The home of my parents’ friends ended up in the bay. I remember a Catholic Church was the northern-most building on the beach until you were almost in Strathmere. The little motel somehow survived intact, although it was now on the bay side of the highway. They later put a new foundation under it and opened for business. One other thing I remember most about this time is how the water line had moved so close to the highway…it was as if the line have moved 100 yards or more closer to the highway. From the 1998 photos on your website, it would appear the water line has moved even closer to the highway.

I had the opportunity to revisit the area about seven years ago and was amazed at the build up of houses and buildings along the highway. I remember thinking to myself, “had people not learned anything from the 1962 storm”? I now own a home and live in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. As to how I ended up here is a long story, but suffice it to say, those summers at the Jersey shore left a lasting impression on me, and my desire to be near but not on, the ocean. I hope to come back for a visit in the next year or so…nothing can quite compare with the Jersey shore and the wonderful restaurants.'

Maurice J Woolman
Ft. Lauderdale, Florida

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