The Bayman: A Life on Barnegat Bay

Overview

A native son of Barnegat Bay shares an insider's chronicle of a culture that has all but disappeared. Merce Ridgway, bayman, musician, and storehouse of folklore and philosophy, opens our eyes to a beautiful, simple way of life barely imaginable to most Americans today. It is a story that celebrates the bay, the Jersey Shore, and the Pine Barrens from a man who traces his family's roots in New Jersey to the 17th century, and whose great-grandfather was first keeper of records of the Barnegat Life Saving Station. ...
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Overview

A native son of Barnegat Bay shares an insider's chronicle of a culture that has all but disappeared. Merce Ridgway, bayman, musician, and storehouse of folklore and philosophy, opens our eyes to a beautiful, simple way of life barely imaginable to most Americans today. It is a story that celebrates the bay, the Jersey Shore, and the Pine Barrens from a man who traces his family's roots in New Jersey to the 17th century, and whose great-grandfather was first keeper of records of the Barnegat Life Saving Station. The Bayman shares, with all who will listen, a lifetime of wisdom, values, generosity, and truth — all of it bounty from the bay.
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Editorial Reviews

Asbury Park Press
An accurate, colorful account of the waterman's trade... a clear view of life in the pines and on the bay before the population boom started.
Beach Haven Times
If anyone wants to understand what it is about this nearly vanished lifestyle that has created such a fiercely dedicated following, here it is, explained in a way that makes you feel the sun, the lap of the water, the cries of the shorebirds or the smell of freshly cut cedar... But readers don't have to be fans of pinelands and bay culture to enjoy Ridgway's almost musical text. Ridgway alternates from fond memories of days gone by to bitterness about the loss of a lifestyle, but mostly, we learn about a man and the impact that his environment has made on him.
The Trenton Times
"A wonderful book about a vanishing world."
Wooden Boat
A fascinating, salty work about a nearly lost way of life
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781593220198
  • Publisher: Down The Shore Publishing
  • Publication date: 8/1/2006
  • Pages: 222
  • Sales rank: 1,409,961
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

An authentic voice for the folklife of New Jersey's Pine Barrens and the traditions of the Jersey Shore, Maurice "Merce" Inman Ridgway, Jr. is part of a culture that has virtually disappeared. Born in the tiny Pine Barrens hamlet of Bamber, Merce's family roots stretch deep in the sugar sand of southern New Jersey. The family has the sea and pines in their blood going back to their arrival on these shores in 1679. Since that time, generations of Ridgways have made their living from the traditional seasonal occupations of the pinelands and the sea.

Merce worked as a bayman catching clams, oysters, crabs, and fish from the vicinity of Barnegat Bay and in the Pine Barrens. Son of a musician celebrated by folklorist Dorthea Dix Lawrence, the author is well known as a songwriter and musician in his own right. In 1983, he represented New Jersey at the Smithsonian's Festival of American Folklife in Washington, DC. After an end to impromptu sessions in legendary Albert brothers cabin deep in the Pine Barrens, Merce produced the "Sounds of the Jersey Pines", a weekly folk music stage which continues to this day in Waretown. This led to the establishment of the Pinelands Cultural Society in 1975; Merce was a founder and the first president.

Deeply concerned about the Shore environment, he was first president of the Baymen's Association for Environmental Protection; member of the first executive board of the Commercial Fisherman's Council; and the Coalition for Survival. Performing at the New Jersey State Folk Festival in New Brunswick in 1995, Merce was honored by Rutgers University for distinguished contributions to the traditional arts of New Jersey. Ocean County named October 14, 1995 "Merce Ridgway Day" to honor him for his work to preserve the region's traditional cultural heritage. He received the Hurley Conklin Award from the Barnegat Bay Decoy and Baymen's museum in 1996, honoring those who have "lived their life in the Barnegat Bay tradition."

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