Monday, March 28, 2011

Bertha Wittkamp Alley

A letter has been sent to the Upper Township Committee with a request to name an alley in Strathmere after  Bertha Wittkamp.
Here is a copy of the letter with details on just who Bertha was -

'Upper Township Committee - To whom it may concern,
We would like to propose that the alley that runs from Commonwealth Drive to Bayview Drive, between Winthrop Road and Seacliff Road in Strathmere be officially named ‘Bertha Wittkamp Alley’ in honor of lifelong Strathmere resident Bertha Wittkamp.

Bertha’s parents Gus and Carrie Wittkamp came to Strathmere in the late 1800s and they owned the West Jersey Cottage, a hotel that used to be bayfront on Winthrop Road. Gus was also the station manager for the West Jersey Railroad train stop in Strathmere. Their daughter Bertha was born in the West Jersey Cottage in 1901, making her the first baby born in Strathmere. Brother Harlan was also born there 2 years later. Bertha & Harlan attended the one room schoolhouse in Strathmere. The family owned and ran the West Jersey Cottage from the late 1880s to the 1940s. Bertha’s niece still lives year round in Strathmere today, making the Wittkamps the oldest family in Strathmere, having a member of the family in residence in Strathmere for over 115 years.

Bertha was a nurse who worked at the hospital in Sea Isle City. She was also a Red Cross nurse for many years. She lived her entire life in Strathmere sharing memories of her life growing up on the island, telling of when it was covered in beach plums and cows grazed freely. She also remembered when soldiers were stationed in Strathmere to patrol the beaches during both World Wars.

Bertha lived her entire life on Winthrop Road, first in the family hotel, then in the hotel annex next door, and then finally in the boathouse on the alley (which we propose to be named in her honor) behind the hotel after the boathouse was converted to living quarters. Over the years, many people in town referred to her as ‘Aunt Bertha’ and she rode in an antique car in the Strathmere 4th of July Parade, honored as being the first baby born in Strathmere.

Bertha passed away in 1991 and we would like to honor her memory and her lifelong love of her home in Strathmere by dedicating the alley to her. The alley is already maintained by the township and it is mainly used for trash collection and by the homeowners whose property is along the alley. It would be no cost to the township, just a symbolic gesture to honor a lifelong resident who meant so much to so many people. The sign for the alley would be paid for and installed by citizens in Strathmere.'

Homeowners along the alley were contacted and asked to sign the request that was sent to the township.
By 'citizens in Strathmere' -  we mean us, The Baker Family and anyone else who would like to help.

No comments: