Wednesday, March 31, 2010


I'm partial to many streets of Cape May, but my favorite must be Hughes Street. Hughes is the one-way street just east/south of Washington Street. I love to start on Ocean (it's 2 blocks closer to the mall from the Colonial) and walk or bike the street (of course, on a bike be sure to follow the rules of the road. In fact, don't bike the wrong way up Hughes. You may walk it on the sidewalk against the one-way sign, but do not bike it! Got it?). Here's a photo of that beautiful street to tide us over until the summer:

If you know Hughes Street, then you know this photo:

is just a little closer to the beach from where that intersection of Hughes and Ocean is, that I described above (you can see the Colonial/Inn of Cape May in the back).

But back to Hughes. If you walk up Hughes like I suggested, you're gonna end up at Franklin Street. I can't recall exactly where this house is, but it is on Franklin:

Well, this exercise was supposed to help me miss Cape May less, but it has made me miss it more. I can't wait to lazily walk and bike ride up and down those streets all morning into afternoon, with not a care in the world! Only a few more months!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Nancy J. Ori Photography

photo by Nancy J. Ori

Nancy J. Ori, the photographer who took that beautifully peaceful photo above, will lead several photography seminars in Cape May over the next several months. Read about the classes HERE and for more detail click over HERE. That photo above is so beautiful, I'm sure the classes are worth the time and money.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Friday, March 26, 2010

Ocean Drive Marathon Weekend

My favorite Jersey shore blogger, Jen Miller, has a new post about the Ocean Drive Marathon... you can read her post by clicking this link:
Ocean Drive Weekend

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One year I will run that race. It starts in Cape May, near Perry Street if I understand correctly. You run down beach drive to Pittsburgh, up over the bridge, over to Wildwood (the photo above is the Wildwood Boardwalk, I'd love to run the boardwalk as part of a race), up to Sea Isle to end, I believe. I'm about to eight miles in my running, I want to do this race each year but it's a bit far away for me. NEXT YEAR!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Salty Knitters are H-U-G-E

I think Joe Biden would say this is really a ******* big deal! Salty Knitters make network news:

Watch CBS News Videos Online

CBS) When night falls in West Cape May, N.J., and the coast is finally clear, the graffiti artists come out to ... tag the town with colorful yarns?

Over the last 3 months, a rogue band of mystery knitters who call themselves the "Salty Knits," has been hitting up -- and knitting up -- just about everything that doesn't move.

The knitters, who spoke to us on condition of anonymity - said they started out draping local objects with yarn sleeves and decorations to give their relatively boring hobby a much needed shot of adrenaline.

"It's entertaining," said one knitter. "It's a conversation piece for the rest of the day."

It definitely is that. You don't just walk past this kind of thing and not tell someone about it -- especially when you start seeing it on every single block.

Of course one man's art is another man's ugly sweater hanging in a tree. Not everyone appreciates the salty knitters. In fact someone was apparently so repulsed they went out the other night and took down just about every stitch. Dozens of pieces just gone, overnight.

The knitters have responded to the setback by knitting even more.

"We definitely want to keep doing it because we just put so much time into it," said one knitter.

The local police wouldn't talk to CBS News about the art or its disappearance. They wouldn't even say what would become of the yarn activists should they ever get caught in the act.

The only thing that's certain is that if they ever do get arrested they'll have the coziest bars in the county jail.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Margatet Montet on Cape May Point

Margaret Montet has a very nice, and new, article about exploring Cape May Point right here. That photo of the "cape may cactus" is part of her blog entry...

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Monday, March 22, 2010

Spring is Springing

Mike Brit, the British Birder of Cape May, has a new blog post about the arrival of Spring on Cape May island. The photo of the swamp is his.

And as an added bonus, check out Karen Margulis's blog; she posts a painting a day, and her painting yesterday was of the Cape May surf, as you can see below....

Happy Monday!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Cape May in Sports Illustrated

Sports Illustrated recently put their entire written history on the web. A search for the term "Cape May" gave me a few interesting articles...

From January 16, 1956, a five-page article about the Christmas Bird Count throughout the country. Pages 2-3 focus on Cape May; you can read the story HERE.

And more recently, on August 18, 2003, they shared the story of the National Lifeguard Championships, which took place in Cape May that year.

And finally, in a short but delightful August 16, 1954 ARTICLE, the Sports Illustrated reader learns that:

"Back in 1847 Henry Clay, relaxing on the beach at Cape May, was set upon by a horde of female admirers who cut snips of his hair for souvenirs, a fate such as might befall Eddie Fisher today. Cape May and its main rival, Long Branch, have given air-conditioned relief from the Washington summer to Presidents Lincoln, Grant, Pierce, Buchanan, Harrison, Hayes, James Garfield and Woodrow Wilson."

The second sentence includes the well-worn list of Presidents who spent time in Cape May, but that story of Henry Clay is priceless... at least, it's one I can never recall hearing previously.

There are a few other stories in those archives, but these are some of the high points. Thank you, Sports Illustrated, for the trip down memory lane.

Happy Sunday!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Now and Then

photo courtesy Victoriana Daily

Victoriana Daily has a nice blog post about the upcoming Spring Festival...


ET's History website has a nice blog entry with a news clip from March 1942, when a Navy Destroyer -- the Jacob Jones -- was sunk off the coast of Cape May by a German submarine. Hard to imagine.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Recent History Lesson

In my quest to bring more interesting Cape May tidbits to you, the audience, below you'll find THIS NY TIMES ARTICLE about what of Cape May's recent heroes -- Bruce Minnix.

Dr. Frankenstein of Cape May
Published: May 25, 1997

BRUCE M. MINNIX formed the word as if it were an epithet, a vile obscenity that would have shocked the refined sensibilities of Cape May a century ago.

Standing all of his 6 feet 4 inches, he folded his arms, frowned and, in a burst of curmudgeonly bravura, darkly said, ''Cutsey-poo.''

Thus did Mr. Minnix, 74, a Cape May innkeeper, television director and one-term mayor of Cape May, dismiss much of busy, pricey, gaily painted Victorian theme park he helped create.

''Please don't get me wrong,'' he said from the porch of the Holly House, his five-room inn on Jackson Street. ''My wife and I love this town, and we've loved it for almost 40 years. But Cape May has become so chic, so successful -- the development pressures are just incredible now -- that we have considered buying an apartment in New York, then renting a place here in the summer. And then we remembered that day in February when we went for a walk on the promenade that was so spectacular, and so we've remained.''

He paused wistfully. ''But it's hard not to think about how things were: tacky, shabby, slightly run down, shamelessly inexpensive, extraordinary in an peaceful, otherwordly kind of way, and underneath that peace and other-worldliness, an energetic community that was passionately concerned about its future. When Corinne and I arrived, I could wear long hair, a beard and bell bottoms and tell people I was a kook. Of course, I wasn't, but I could always pretend. Now, I'm known as Dr. Frankenstein, whether I like it or not.''

The sobriquet is not quite apt: Mr. Minnix is only one among many personalities who helped transform a faded, unfashionable coastal town into one of the state's toniest resort destinations. But the role he played in inventing Cape May's revival was crucial, in part because he arrived at a crucial time.

He arrived by a roundabout route. Born in North Carolina, Mr. Minnix came to New Jersey when his father, a dance-hall impresario turned traveling salesman, decided to put down roots in Rio Grande, a hamlet on the mainland west of Wildwood. Mr. Minnix recalled that his Southern accent so embarrassed him when he was enrolled in the Cape May County public school system at age 6 that he ''hitched to Wildwood on a daily basis, where I spent every afternoon in the movie theaters, learning how to talk from Cary Grant, Fred Astaire and Katharine Hepburn.''

At 12, during a summer in which Mr. Minnix worked as a barker on the Wildwood boardwalk, he and his mother went to New York City so he could audition for the role of Tom Sawyer in a film. Finalists read portions of the script on radio, with the audience voting for the favorite. Mr. Minnix won the audition but failed to get the part when he was judged too tall to play opposite a much shorter Huck Finn.

He continued to work summers as a barker in Wildwood and Atlantic City. When he was 18, he returned to New York and auditioned for theatrical roles. ''I was almost cast as Pulver in 'Mr. Roberts,' '' he said. ''But I was to play opposite Jackie Cooper, so once again I was deemed too tall to play a normal guy. After a while, I decided that if I ever went into show business, I would direct, where being tall makes it easier to make oneself heard.''

In 1948, after wartime service in the Navy and a degree in communications at Northwestern University, Mr. Minnix accompanied friends to New York to attend a party that ''lasted seven weeks,'' he said. After too many nights spent sleeping in the hall outside friends' apartments (including that of his future wife, Corinne, who was supervising tour guides at Radio City Music Hall), Mr. Minnix eventually found a job as a messenger boy at the CBS television studios. In 1949 he and other friends in the television and theatrical industries decided to spend a long weekend in Cape May, a town he ''hated because I grew up near it and it was a dumb town,'' he said. ''There was no roller coaster, no knock-the-bottles down, no girls like you had in Wildwood.''

But in 1949 renting an entire house for a weekend cost less in Cape May than in Wildwood. ''And we found to our surprise that it was much easier to just be ourselves,'' he said. ''If we wanted to carry on, we could go to Wildwood, but if we wanted peaceful walks by the ocean or just to be lazy on a porch, Cape May was absolute perfection. There was no feeling of having to see anything or do anything, or be anywhere at any specific time. It was a perfect escape from New York.''

After he and Corinne married in 1950, they came to Cape May every summer, eventually buying the Holly House inn on Jackson Street ''for a disgracefully low price'' in 1962. ''We had never intended to rent it out,'' he said, ''but one day there was a knock at the door, and the people who had stayed there last year wanted to give us money to stay there this year. We gracefully accepted their money and left them alone.''

By then Mr. Minnix had worked his way up from messenger boy to television director at CBS. Until 1990, when ''just about everybody who had heard of me had died of old age,'' Mr. Minnix directed daytime dramas including ''All My Children,'' ''Another World,'' ''The Guiding Light'' and ''As the World Turns.'' He also directed comedy shows starring Red Skelton and Jackie Gleason, an Off Off Broadway production of ''Never Too Late,'' and television specials and commercials. He made his Cape May house his official residence and commuted by bus to New York, spending two to four nights a week in a Manhattan pied-a-terre. Mrs. Minnix remained in Cape May to handle guests and raise their daughter, Tracey.

As a resident, Mr. Minnix found a community of innkeepers and householders whose interest in preserving the town's Victorian architecture clashed with real-estate agents and developers who wanted to tear down century-old neighborhoods to erect 6- and 10-story motels similar to Wildwood's.

IN 1968, when a developer wanted to tear down the Emlen Physick Estate, a Stick-style cottage at 1048 Washington Street designed by the Philadelphia architect Frank Furness, Mr. Minnix rallied the opposition. Told that the only way to save the building was to buy it, Mr. Minnix suggested raising money by offering walking tours of Cape May architecture similar to those he and other local residents were giving their out-of-town guests. Leading the first tours himself, Mr. Minnix channeled proceeds into a non-profit corporation, the Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts, which not only bought and restored the Physick Estate but also sponsored arts and preservation activities.

Mr. Minnix then rallied preservationists to create a season-extender, like the Miss America Pageant in Atlantic City each September, that would bring tourists to Cape May in October. Victorian Week, now a full two weeks of cultural and educational relating to American Victorian antiques and architecture, is the city's most famous seasonal event.

By the early 1970's, he had became the champion of the city's preservationists and reluctantly agreed to run for City Council. ''I told everyone I was an outsider, a kook with a beard and bell bottoms,'' he said. ''I was one of three reform candidates and I ended up with the most votes, which automatically made me mayor. As mayor I suddenly discovered I had to marry people because Cape May County has no justices of the peace. I think I married 200 people in four years. My weekends became quite busy.''

The high point of his political career occurred when he cleared away bureaucratic obstructions to placing Cape May's historic district on the National Register of Historic Places, halting the demolition of Victorian architecture in the central business district. Mr. Minnix removed restrictions that forbade restaurants to serve food outdoors, sparking the city's cafe-style restaurant renaissance. He also helped the Chalfonte Hotel, the ornate landmark on Howard Street, raise enough money to finance its preservation by fighting to get it a liquor license.

Mr. Minnix's outspoken, shoot-from-the-hip political style made more enemies than friends. ''I was miscast,'' he admitted. ''Because I had an outside source of income from television, I was beholden to no one, which made me slightly less eager to compromise. I believed, and maintained, that instead of tearing down what we had, to bring in something that developers thought tourists wanted -- which was the sort of thing that was going on just about everywhere else on the shore -- we should work with what we had and create something that was more pleasing to ourselves, with the hope that the tourists would also enjoy.

''My wife and I have always liked modern minimalism. We had no way of knowing that the old, heavy, tacky Victorian furniture that our generation hated would become the prized possessions of the next generation.''

Mr. Minnix was not elected to a second term. He retired from political life and stopped leading walking tours. ''I felt that I had started an avalanche of cutsey-poo,'' he said. ''This was not what I had intended.''

Michael Zukerman, the current director of the Mid-Atlantic Center of the Arts, acknowledged that ''one person's cutesy-poo is another person's stretch for authenticity.''

''It's true that in many ways what we're trying to do with the Mid-Atlantic Center is to recreate as much of the Victorian experience as possible for our visitors,'' Mr. Zukerman said. ''But we see ourselves as the storyteller of this area. We do 35 different kinds of tours, including tours of 50's-style motel architecture in Wildwood, and we've preserved the Cape May Lighthouse. We want to tell as many different stories as we can find.''

Fortunately for Cape May's Dr. Frankenstein, the invention has yet to overwhelm the inventor, who, like other innkeepers, has benefited financially from Cape May's current ten-month tourist season, as well as rents from a small outdoor mall of snack and beachwear shops that he owns on Beach Drive.

''We just don't have the same kind of fun that we used to have,'' Mr. Minnix said with a sigh. ''We used to have silly Halloween parties in the Physick House. That house is now a museum, and a very good one, but somewhat cold.

''Many of the people who are running the bed-and-breakfasts now have their noses so close to the grindstone that there's no time to just drop in, sit on the porch and catch the breeze. There was more time for that sort of thing 20 years ago, when we could sit around and dream up crazy things that would be fun and good for the town. I don't begrudge Cape May's popularity. I just find that it has come at a price that I'm grateful I haven't had to pay.''

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Cape May Web Coming Back to Life

It seemed to me last year that I always had at least two or three things to link to, write about, etc... but as the winter doldrums set in this January, the trickle of blog posts, news, etc... practically stopped. Well, it seems to be springing back to life (pun intended).

1. Click HERE for an absolutely gorgeous photo of the beach and the old military hulk along the shoreline;

2. Click HERE for a full blog post, with many photos (including the one above) of Cape May as seen by someone on Spring Break this week; and

3.Click HERE for a short news entry by Susan Tischler about a new addition to the entryway to Cape May.

Happy Thursday!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

How do I tie this in to Cape May?

THIS is too funny not to link to... if you have ever enjoyed watching Regis and Kelly (and really, who hasn't? Particularly on St. Patty's Day, you have to love the Reege), then you'll get a kick out of this video of a very young Kelly Ripa on the old 80s tv show, Dancin' On Air. To tie this in to Cape May, I'll note that I'm pretty sure I watched this show in Cape May back in the late 80s. So there you go! And here's that LINK for you again. Thanks to Jen Miller (no relation) for the great video!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Salty Knitters Website

I knew the Salty Knitters had a facebook page; I did not know they had a WEBSITE, as well. Click the site to read their perspective and see their works.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Midnight Knitter biggest thing since our Arctic Bird Frenzy

You may recall last Fall the arctic gull who had alighted in Cape May was a huge hit on the web. Well, the Midnight Knitters are even bigger than the gull. HERE is a great, thoughtful piece on the meaning of life in these United States, as seen through the reaction to the West Cape May Midnight Knitters. I highly recommend reading it.

And thank you to the Midnight Knitters from this blog proprietor. In my mind's eye the knitters are skulking out of Victorian Towers in the dark of night, in their grandma jammies, and wreaking havoc all over West Cape May. I'm probably wrong about that, but I like the image!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Great Writer Emil Salvini Writes About the Railroad

Tales of the New Jersey Shore is the blog of Emil R. Salvini- author of Summer City by the Sea- An Illustrated History of Cape May,NJ... probably the first Cape May-related book that really started me reading about Cape May... On his blog this week he has a VERY NEAT STORY about the railroad coming to Cape May.

Friday, March 12, 2010

"Mainly a Midwife" gives us a great Cape May photo and story

It's blog entries like THIS ONE which caused me to start this blog. Click that blog to time travel back to 1974, and be amazed by what's changed ... but more what remains the same. I have highlighted blog entries like this in the past, but lately haven't had much luck in finding new posts like this one (which includes the full version of the partial photo above). I will try harder to find good entries like this going forward. Happy Friday!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

A good yarn? West Cape May tries to unravel the mystery of the midnight knitter - pressofAtlanticCity.com

photo from CapeMay.Com

A good yarn? West Cape May tries to unravel the mystery of the midnight knitter - pressofAtlanticCity.com

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Odd News About Chairs...

Convention Hall's Chairs keep making the news. Click the link for video, or read the story here (but I recommend watching the video):

CAPE MAY-- From the stage curtain to the disco ball, everything must go here at Cape May Convention Hall.

“It's a great place it has such a great history,” said Cape May resident George Kaffenberg.

This place will soon be history, demolished to make way for a new hall. The city is selling all of the items left inside through an online auction, govdeals.com, and has attracted an illustrious bidder.

“We were contacted last week by Universal Studios, that is of course a movie production company, expressing interest in chairs that we have listed,” said Bruce MacLeod, City Manager of Cape May.

333 old folding chairs, now sitting in a dark corner, may find their way into the limelight. Though old and outdated Cape May officials say that's exactly what Hollywood is looking for.

“They recognize them as being from a 1970s style or vintage. It sounds like they have plans to do a movie from that time period,” said MacLeod.

They are just one of the many parts that make up the building that's been here since the 60s, and some are sad to see the historic hall go.

“You can feel it when you're here, you can feel the history,” said Cape May resident Eileen Purcell.

Bidding, however, will close this evening. The retro chairs that had Hollywood calling were sold for over $1,500. Unfortunately, officials cannot find out who the winning bidder is but will keep an eye out the next time they are at the movies.

“Maybe we will see it in a big movie that will win an Oscar and we wouldn't know the people but we would say hey I know these chairs,” said Purcell.

“I don't know if we would get mentioned in the credits of the movie for it but it has brought some attention to the city,” said MacLeod.

A city that many feel has a rich history to share, possibly one day on the big screen.

Monday, March 8, 2010

The People in Your Neighborhood

A very neat story about an American Original who lives in Cape May. Definitely worth a read.

Happy Monday!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Friday, March 5, 2010

Blue Pig Gets the Love

Another reviewer gives a hearty THUMBS UP to Congress Hall's Blue Pig Tavern. I have to agree with the reviewer that the Blue Pig is a wonderful place to eat.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

great lighthouse photo

A short little bloggy snippet HERE that is mostly worth checking out for the very cool photo above.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Library renovated

I spent many a summer afternoon at the Cape May Library doing summer reading to get ready for the new school year. And now I learn it's been renovated. But it looks pretty much the same to me. Thankfully.

Odd News

Universal Studios bids on Cape May Convention Hall chairs - pressofAtlanticCity.com : Cape May County

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I don't know how else to label this other than, ODD. I guess if there's something special about the chairs I would understand, but I don't remember anything unusual about the chairs in Convention Hall....

Monday, March 1, 2010

Artists' Take On Cape May

Some beautiful paintings, plus a very nice story about Cape May artists, can be found HERE at CapeMay.Com. Dreaming of warmer days, that's for sure.