Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Finding Your Vocation -- not your Vacation -- in Cape May

I Found My Vocation in the Bathroom...and You Can Too! is a blog written by a woman studying to be a nun in the Salesian order. She has written a four-part blog entry about her recent visit to Cape May, which is very thoughtful and full of nice photos. You can read Part One here, Part Two here, Part Three Here, and Part Four right here.

photo courtesy Ashley of the above-described blog

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Cape May Lifeguards: 100 Years On

Congratulations to the City of Cape May's lifeguards, who have been protecting lives since 1911. Philly.Com has a very nice story about the anniversary, which you can read HERE. Here's the intro to the story:

CAPE MAY - Like an army vigilant in a singular mission, a uniformed patrol took to the beach for the 100th time Saturday, the unofficial start of the 2011 summer season.

Despite the active surf - one of the most roiling at the New Jersey Shore as the Atlantic Ocean meets the Delaware Bay at the state's southernmost tip - the Cape May Beach Patrol can celebrate its centennial by reveling in a remarkable record: Not a single person has drowned on a beach it was protecting.

Read the whole thing.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Pink House Painting

Palooza Paintings by "Boran2" features a number of Cape May paintings, like the Pink House above. Click HERE for a number of his other Cape May house paintings.

painting by Boran2

Friday, May 27, 2011

Memorial Day Weekend 2011

The 931 Beach Avenue Guest House has a nice blog post summarizing events this Memorial Day Weekend in Cape May. The most important event of the weekend is the Monday morning 9am Memorial Day Service at the above-pictured Columbia Avenue Monument.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Introducing Going To The Shore Dot Com!

GoingToTheShore.Com is a newly-launched website featuring...what else... the Jersey Shore! They were nice enough to link to this little blog known as the Cape May Blog. Thus, I have to link to their site so as to return the favor. According to the site's front page, this website will have a wide-ranging focus:
We plan to have various recurring features that highlight the best of what the Jersey shore has to offer. We will post weekly events in each town and band schedules at most of the bars. I am going to do a weekly fishing update, with reports from various tackle shops in the area. There will be interviews with local business owners to find out some shore hotspots and insider tips. Since music plays a huge part in any trip to the shore, we will present a weekly shore mix with our own songs, as well as reader-submitted and “special guest” mixes. We also plan to feature hidden gems—special places that are off the beaten path but well worth a trip.

I think one of the better ideas they have is the creation of forums for each city at the shore. Of course, the "Spout Off" forum at the Cape May County Herald is an apocalyptic wasteland of vitriol and negativity (and parodied quite well at EZ's own "Spouty-Offy"), so I am not particularly optimistic that this good idea in theory will work in reality. But I sincerely hope to be proven wrong!

They already have posted a number of stories on the site. Here's a good one featuring CM Chamber of Commerce's own John Cooke.

Good luck to the proprietors of this new on-line venture!

Photo by Lori Campitelli of the Going to the Shore Website

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

A Great Blog Post for Today

I started Cape May blogging almost exactly two years ago (Memorial Day Monday is the official unofficial anniversary). I realized I was looking for Cape May info and bits of knowledge each day, and I figured there were probably others out there who would appreciate what I found.

Over the two years, I have become a bit more news-centric than I thought I would be. Blog posts like this one, on the other hand, are the types of blog posts that led me to start the blog. The Vintage Susie & Wings Blog is run by Susie, a "child of the 50s and all that implies," she says.

Although she is from Southern California, her family took her to Cape May earlier this month and the blog post I linked to above -- also right here -- hits many of the high points of a visit to Cape May. She highlights the Victorian homes, the beaches, the birds, Our Lady Star of the Sea, and many points in-between, with many, many great photos -- including the one above of the beach that I love. She ends her blog post with a comment I'm sure you'll answer the way she implies she would:

Does anybody else just want to sell everything you have except for your most cherished pieces,
pack it all up & move to Cape May with me??

One warning: A beautiful Joni Mitchell song plays when you click through to her blog. So if you're at work, make sure you have the volume turned down on your speakers.

photo courtesy Susie of the above-described blog.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Beach Theatre Foundation Tying Up Loose Ends

The Beach Theatre Foundation has announced its effort to pay back the small loan the City made to the BTF in 2007 in a way that should make everyone happy. Here is the BTF's press release:

Submits Plan To City of Cape May For Pledgors To Begin Payments

Cape May, NJ (May 24, 2011) The Beach Theatre Foundation (BTF) announced today that it had submitted a plan to the City of Cape May for pledgors behind the 2007 loan made by the City to the BTF to make re-payments prior to the loan's original maturity date of October 2012. Proceeds of the $100,000 loan were used by the BTF to lease the historic Beach Theatre for the 2008 season.

In a letter to City Manager Bruce MacLeod, BTF President Steve Jackson said, "the BTF has been approached by donors who have signed pledges with the request that we establish a plan for them to commence making donations to the BTF and for it to remit such donations to the City in payment on the loan." He continued, "we would collect donations, remit them to the City in an orderly manner, reduce the loan principal, and achieve releases for the donors. The mechanism is simple, and we feel it would be in the best interests of all concerned to institute it promptly."

The BTF provided the City with a signed agreement detailing the terms and procedures for the repayment process. Upon approval from the City, the Foundation would notify all pledgors behind the loan of the new repayment option..

Treasurer of the Beach Theatre Foundation, Bernard Haas, commented separately, "We believe we have developed a simple mechanism for early repayments that will be beneficial to all parties concerned. Additionally, the BTF again wants to sincerely thank the individuals who stepped forward in the fall of 2007 and demonstrated early and key support to save Cape May's last original theatre by standing behind the city loan."

Considering how small the loan was, I would think this should work itself out.

George's Place Gets the Love

The Courier-Post has a nice write-up of some of the great breakfast places in Cape May right here. The writer raves about George's Place. We love to slip into George's Place in the afternoon when it's less crowded. But anytime is the right time for George's Place.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Higbee Beach Gets State-Wide Attention

It may be short, but THIS is one of the best articles about Higbee Beach you will read in a newspaper or magazine. Thanks to Jersey Shore Jen who has really cranked out the great journalism lately.

both photos of Higbee Beach path from my collection

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Watch the Tram Car Please

Yes, I suppose I've now featured Wildwood twice in a week. So shoot me. There is such a good story in the Inquirer about the famous Wildwood tram car that I have to go outside my Cape May-centric blogging milieu and feature it. From the article:

Jack Morey, executive vice president of Morey's Piers, was inspired almost to poetry when asked to comment on the subject: "While much of what we consider 'amusement' is designed to be temporal and purposely quick to change, every now and then an object of fantasy can be so timeless that to eliminate it would be almost criminal, or at least a crime against culture. Great wood roller coasters, carousels, NYC taxis - and yes, the Wildwood tram car - are all in that category."

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Noteworthy Newspaper Reading

Down the Shore With Jen Miller, this Blog's favorite freelance journalist, wrote a great story about driving backroads to the South Jersey beaches. The Philly Inquirer published the story yesterday and you can read it HERE. I will be featuring other articles by Jen that have been published over the last few weeks, she has really upped her game and everything she writes jumps off the page.


The Atlantic City Press has a good follow-up story on recent court developments in the Beach Theatre saga. From the article:

The owners of the Beach Theatre have agreed not to tear the movie house down before Memorial Day - and because of a summertime ban on demolition, the building will remain standing until at least Labor Day.
"We were concerned about that. They could have applied for a demolition permit before Memorial Day. The building will be up for us to try and defend it over the next several months," Beach Theatre Foundation President Steve Jackson said Friday.


City Attorney Tony Monzo, who was preparing to join Frank Investments in defending the settlement and fighting an injunction, said the litigation can now proceed more slowly. The first issue before Judge Valerie H. Armstrong is whether to allow the foundation to intervene in the case. Monzo said a hearing is scheduled before Armstrong on June 27 in Atlantic City.

Frank Investments attorney Stephen Nehmad said they will fight the attempt to intervene. Both sides will be filing briefs with Armstrong.

Read the whole thing.

(that's a photo of a quiet Cape May backroad...)

Friday, May 20, 2011

Harbor Safari Returns for 2011

The Nature Center of Cape May is bringing back the Harbor Safari for another year.

The “Harbor Safari,” one of the Nature Center of Cape May’s most popular family programs for over a decade, is back with its walking and wading tour of Cape May Harbor.

Harbor Safari participants help nature center naturalists pull a 40-foot seine net through calm harbor waters to discover the incredible diversity of marine life living under the surface. Have an up-close experience with Horseshoe Crabs and learn why these living fossils are so important to migrating shorebirds and biodiversity.

Harbor Safari takes place each Saturday through June 11, at 11:00 a.m. Beginning June 21, the program will move to Tuesdays and Thursdays at 10:30 a.m. and continue through September 1.

The Harbor Safari fee is $10 for adults, $5 for children ages 3-12, and free for children under three years of age. For more information about this family activity and many others, contact the New Jersey Audubon Society’s Nature Center of Cape May, at 609.898.8848, visit our website at www.njaudubon.org/centers/nccm or become a fan on facebook at NJ Audubon’s Nature Center of Cape May.

If you look closely at the photo, you'll see a sign for the Nature Center's Harbor Fest. Harbor Fest this year will be on June 18th, and I plan to write more about Harbor Fest later. But you can click that link to read more about it. That should be a great event.

The Nature Center is located at 1600 Delaware Ave., in Cape May -- in the area of the Coast Guard Base.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Cool Cape May 2011

If you're in Cape May today -- or close enough to put yourself there -- then head on over to Exit Zero's HQ on Sunset Boulevard. PARTY WITH EZ! EZ is hosting a party to launch its new Cool Cape May book. It's at the Exit Zero store on Sunset, from 10-5 today (Thursday). And EVERYONE is invited. There will be cheese from Seaside Cheese, wine from Hawk Haven, food from Depot Market, and beer too.

Free Beer and Cheese in the most beautiful city in the world? Why are you not going to be there? Please make yourself some new friends at Exit Zero's office today, or get re-acquainted with some old ones, and celebrate the launch of Cool Cape May 2011!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Hearing Set on Beach Theatre Foundation's Intervention

Judge Valerie H. Armstrong will preside over the Beach Theatre Foundation's efforts to invalidate the settlement between the City of Cape May and Frank Investments regarding the Beach Theatre demolition. A scheduling hearing is set for today in the matter.

Monday, May 16, 2011

The La Mer Inn Mini Golf Course

Last week I wrote a short post extolling La Mer Inn and specifically recalling the great miniature golf course no longer on the property. John Cooke, the great new president of the Cape May Chamber of Commerce, was nice enough to mention the post in his twitter feed. And lo and behold, La Mer itself was nice enough to post several photos of the old golf course! You can see the photo above, and some other photos of that great old golf course, at this link. Thank you for the stroll down memory lane, La Mer!

photo courtesy La Mer Inn

Sunday, May 15, 2011

A Trip Up the Highway to Wildwood

No trip to Cape May is complete without at least one visit to Wildwood and its famous boardwalk. The Moreys' employees have a nice blog with insider-ey details about running a fun and well-known amusement park on that famous boardwalk and beach. I've enjoyed reading the blog's history of Morey's Pier's mascots -- you can read part one here, part two over here, and part three right here. I'm not sure that I remember Percy the Pelican and Safe Sam, but the photos do allow for a fun trip down memory lane.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

World Series of Birding

Susan Tischler of Cape May Magazine has written a nice description of this weekend's World Series of Birding. And while you're looking for the birds, remember... please don't feed the seagulls!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Friday's Post...Here Comes the Season

The Press has a nice story about the many events going on in Cape May County this weekend right here. From the article:

An estimated 10,000 visitors will be in Cape May County for a blockbuster of a weekend starting today — and Memorial Day Weekend is still two weeks away.
Visitors will be in the Wildwoods for the Sensational ’60s Weekend, the Spring Bike Rally and the Knights of Columbus Convention. Ocean City has the Spring Block Party and Cape May is hosting the World Series of Birding.

Read the whole thing.

The same paper also writes up the Beach Theatre Foundation's efforts to intervene in the purported settlement between the City and Frank Investments. Read the article for some more details than have previously been published.

Have a good weekend!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

La Mer ~ An Underrated Gem

It's about time I feature a hotel on the east side of the island called La Mer. When I talk about things I miss, I must mention La Mer's old miniature golf course. It's long gone but it was a very underrated course. I'm going to have to look hard to find a photo of the course.

But as for today... La Mer is a very nice hotel that was helped tremendously when the Army Corp of Engineers added sand to the east side of town a few decades ago. You will have a bit of a hike to get to the city center, but it's a beautiful walk or bike ride and well worth the few extra steps.

And as always -- when I endorse a hotel, restaurant, etc. - I am endorsing because I like it. I receive no gratuities/comps/what-have-you. Unfortunately!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Breaking News Regarding Beach Theatre

The Cape May County Herald is the first to break the news that The Beach Theatre Foundation intends to seek an injunction to nullify the settlement reached between the City and Frank Investments. Here is the full text of the press release:


Cape May, NJ (May 10, 2011). The Beach Theatre Foundation, Inc. announced today that it expected shortly to file suit in New Jersey State Superior Court to nullify a litigation settlement reached last week between the City of Cape May and Frank Investments, Inc. allowing demolition of the town’s last movie venue, the Beach Theatre. In a motion to be made for a preliminary injunction, the BTF will claim the settlement was defectively adopted by the City Council and further was illegal because the demolition permit being recognized by the City already had expired under New Jersey’s 2008 Permit Extension Act. The BTF said it was necessary to intervene in the matter to preserve the integrity of the hearing process already underway in the local Zoning Board of Adjustment so that any demolition would occur only as permitted for Historic District property. In its suit, the BTF maintains the Council shirked responsibility to defend the lawsuit, despite having good defenses against it.

Beach Theatre Foundation President, Steve Jackson, commented, “We believe the settlement resolution passed last week by the City Council was both disgraceful and invalid. It was a back room political deal, violating open and transparent government, and illegally honored an invalid demolition permit. The Council’s imprudent surrender struck a grievous blow against the cause of preservation in Cape May, setting back a movement for which Cape May has been famous for 40 years. The action disregards two respected City bodies, our Historic Preservation Commission and Planning Board, both of whom have been urging designation of the Beach Theatre as a historic site for over a year and threatens loss of the City’s National Historic Landmark status, which is now on watch status by the National Park Service. To begin with, the Franks’ lawsuit was improperly commenced, as they already were conducting a ZBA proceeding, had not exhausted administrative remedies with the City, and had no business being in court.

Even so, the Permit Extension Act is clear-- the Franks’ first demolition permit was not extended, and the City was not prevented from arguing that it had expired just because the City solicitor initially concluded it had not. In short, the City agreed to settle a trivial lawsuit by giving the Franks everything they asked for, and the public should be told why the Council deliberately chose to lose a winnable case.”

Jackson continued, “It’s clear to us the Franks brought their suit because their case in the ZBA
was foundering against the weight of scholarship upholding the provenance of the 1950s era Theatre. So, we were shocked at how the Council could have ignored the overwhelming record compiled in the ZBA hearings and input to the Council itself, that included scores of experts, witnesses, and citizens and mounds of documentary evidence showing the Theatre merited the recommendation of the two noted boards. Instead of aligning itself with preservation and community values on which the tourism and economic lifeblood of the City depends, the Council served a home run pitch to the Franks, aligning itself with those responsible for the derelict state of the Theatre.”

Jackson concluded, “We hope to pursue our action so that the historic nature of the Theatre is recognized. We understand that, as owners, the Franks have the right to do what they’d like with their property. Our purpose has never been to stop that, but the law requires them to try to market it at a fair price first -- hopefully to someone interested in preserving it-- before they just knock it down.”

Time to pass the popcorn. This could get interesting.

Beach Theatre Foundation logo pictured above.

Leith Hall makes the Press

The AC Press has a nice article today about Leith Hall and its owners, one of whom is a great cook. You can read the article HERE.

I recommend reading the whole thing; here's the beginning to ... whet your appetite:

Elan Zingman-Leith was probably one of the few 12-year-old boys who rushed home from school to watch Julia Child whip up something great in her kitchen.

But Zingman-Leith's childhood obsession now is paying dividends for him - and his guests. As owner of Cape May's Leith Hall bed-and-breakfast inn, Zingman-Leith makes his guests breakfast in the morning, snacks for afternoon tea and then prepares dinner for himself and his wife, Susan, at night.

Check it out.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Monday News & Notes

Margaret Montet has a new blog post about her recent tour of Cape May homes. Check it out.

The AC Press has endorsed the process used to reach the moment we are at now regarding Convention Hall. You can read that editorial

And finally, if you're a birder than you certainly know Richard Crossley. a Star-Ledger columnist shares a nice article about Richard's new birding field guide. According to the article,

Crossley is using modern photo technology to revolutionize the traditional field-guide format. His new book, "The Crossley ID Guide: Eastern Birds" (Princeton Press) is not the old-fashioned naturalist’s handbook of hand-drawn species mug shots. Crossley took more than 10,000 photographs of birds and their habitats and created composite images of birds in the field.

Worth checking out.

Have a great Monday!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mother's Day 2011

I don't share too many personal photos or memories here, but today I make an exception. My love for Cape May - and many other things - comes from my Mom. She passed away two years ago due to a terrible disease, and not a day goes by without thinking about her. She would have loved to see her grandchildren grow up, and she would have loved to spend time with them in Cape May each summer as she did with me and my brothers while we grew up.

That's a photo of her with my four children from about five years ago in the lobby of the "new" Congress Hall. Many, many years earlier, my mother, brothers and I stayed there before Curtis Bashaw fixed it up, and even though it was broken down I have many great memories of that time with my Mom at the "old" Congress Hall -- and many other old Cape May hotels. Both my father and father loved Cape May, but my Mom most of all.

I miss you Mom.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Insight into Cape May's Ghost World

I may occasionally tease on the subject of ghosts in Cape May, but there is no denying that Craig McManus -- Cape May's resident ghost expert -- has carved quite a successful niche out for himself. You can read about how Craig created the niche by clicking this link to the Media Bistro blog, which features Craig and a few other self-published authors and how they achieved success. Here's a snippet of the story:

Craig McManus is the resident psychic medium of the seaside resort of Cape May, New Jersey. His self-published book series, The Ghosts of Cape May, grew from a weekly column in the local paper, Exit Zero. Drawing from his experience in the wine business, McManus was able to write, format, print and distribute the books on his own. With over 30,000 paperbacks sold, McManus’ success relies on his strong ties to the community: in addition to the books, the medium holds séances in the local Victorian-era bed and breakfasts and also has a partnership with the Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts and Humanities for a Ghosts of Cape May Trolley Tour.

Read the whole thing.

I may not believe in ghosts, but I believe in ghost crabs. You can see the photo above, and other nature photos by Ray Duffy, right here.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Philly Inquirer Features Fateful City Decision

The Philly Inquirer writes the best story to date about the City Council's strange manner of resolving the Beach Theatre dispute. The key quote from the article comes from Steve Jackson:

"We are extremely disappointed by this action, shocked to say the least," said Steve Jackson, founder and president of the Beach Theatre Foundation. "It appears to us as if City Council has acted in defiance of its own laws and circumvented due process to have taken this vote in such a secretive manner. On top of that, I think they have broken the law morally in a town where historic preservation is supposed to be key."

I suspect Steve speaks for many others with these comments.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

City Council Signs Off on Elimination of A Piece of Cape May History

The City Council announced yesterday that it had awarded the contract to build the new Convention Hall to Ogren Construction. The Mayor again promised that the Hall would be open for business by Memorial Day 2012. This Convention Hall story was nice but also expected.

But the bigger news of the day was the City Council's decision to settle the lawsuit with Frank Investments and sign off on the elimination of a piece of Cape May history. One could infer that the City Council hoped the Convention Hall news would bury the Beach Theatre news. The Beach Theatre Foundation ("BTF"), and nearly all supporters of maintaining the historic nature of Cape May, were disappointed with the City Council's decision. Jim Testa, a member of the BTF Board of Directors, sent a letter to the Council members reacting to the news. He gave his permission for his letter to be re-printed here. Here it is:

To Members of the Cape May City Council

Ladies and Gentlemen:

I write to express my profound personal disappointment over your decision today to settle the Beach Theatre demolition permit litigation by allowing the theatre to be demolished. That decision will go down in the annals of Cape May City government as a disgraceful example of abdicating political responsibility to safeguard the best interests of our community for the mere sake of expeditious case management.

Your surreptitious manner of passing on the settlement today, with no notice to the public of the resolution you were taking up, compounds your irresponsibility with lack of respect for due process and fair play.

Even if one questions the quality of the legal advice that concluded the initial permit obtained by the owners had expired, Council’s lack of fortitude to stay the course of defense in the litigation through a judicial determination of the merits of the case under the Permit Extension Act is both shocking and inexcusable. A Council that had virtually no case on East End parking meters in 2010 at least had the courage of its convictions to try it in court, even though it lost. Yet, this year, while avoiding your duty on the substance of the historic designation urged on you by two boards and scores of experts and citizens, and faced with a situation where historic assets still could have been protected through the ZBA process, you elected furtively to cut and run from defense of the very advice you accepted. In forfeiting numerous elements of what may have been a good defense, you also subverted the City’s own permit appeal process and wasted the time, money and exhaustive efforts of your constituents, turning a dubious outcome for the Franks into an grand slam win.

Where courage was needed, you cowered and evaded. Where analytic skill and maneuver were called for, you fumbled. Where leadership was required, you failed. A worse and more disgraceful outcome for community values could not have been imagined, excepting perhaps for loss of the City’s National Historic Landmark designation, which your actions surely have hastened.

The citizens of Cape May have every right to be ashamed of your conduct and to hold you accountable for it.

Very truly yours,

James A. Testa

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Frenchtowner Visits Cape May

The Frenchtowner.Com site provides a travel guide featuring stories of its members travels throughout the world. Here's the site's description of a recent visit to Cape May. Always interesting to get visitors' takes on Cape May.

photo courtesy Frenchtowner.Com

Monday, May 2, 2011

Wetlands Institute and its Webcam

Hat tip to Jersey Shore Jen for pointing out that The Wetlands Institute in Stone Harbor has a live osprey webcam. You can track two birds as they make their home off of Stone Harbor Blvd. Yeah, it's not exactly Cape May but it's close enough (and I've linked to the Wetlands Institute previously).