Island Album: Photographs and Memories of Long Beach Island

Overview

Islands are mythic places. Crossing water to reach them, it is easy to feel that we are leaving the complexities of everyday life for an elemental world governed by the natural rhythms of sun and wind and tide. Albums, in contrast, root us in our past, preserving the everyday life of childhood, of animals, people and places we have loved. Island Album presents us with both the idea and the reality of one New Jersey barrier island. Here is Long Beach Island in the days of pound fishing and great hotels, but here, ...
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Overview

Islands are mythic places. Crossing water to reach them, it is easy to feel that we are leaving the complexities of everyday life for an elemental world governed by the natural rhythms of sun and wind and tide. Albums, in contrast, root us in our past, preserving the everyday life of childhood, of animals, people and places we have loved. Island Album presents us with both the idea and the reality of one New Jersey barrier island. Here is Long Beach Island in the days of pound fishing and great hotels, but here, too, are individual fishermen showing off their catches and a gaggle of summer waitresses posing for a group picture in their brief spare time. Children of every decade personify summer as they romp on beaches and mess about in boats. Teenagers are teenagers, recognizable at work and play, from the 1920s through the 1960s. Houses evolve from simple shanties into Victorian "cottages" and finally modern structures with walls of glass. But all are home to the families gathered for the camera on porch and dock. The text, drawn from interviews taped over a ten-year period, combines descriptions of life on the Island with what the Island represents to those who have known it well. Here are stories of sailing and fishing, of treks by car, train and foot, of beach camping, lifeguarding and coastal rescue, of violent storms and the endless struggle to resist a hungry sea. There is, of course, some regret for the loss of wilderness and the slower pace of much of the last century. Yet something quintessential about Long Beach Island remains. This fragile strip of land between bay and ocean captures the imagination today as much as ever, and this loving evocation of its past can only enhance its present. This fascinating story, told in nearly 340 photographs and the reminiscences of generations of people who have called Long Beach Island home, will delight those who know, and those who have just discovered, this place apart.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781593220211
  • Publisher: Down The Shore Publishing
  • Publication date: 5/31/2006
  • Pages: 207
  • Product dimensions: 10.70 (w) x 13.20 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Foreword

Somewhere in the bottom drawer of your bedroom bureau is a photograph album, half full of family pictures, carefully labeled and properly enticing. It is only half full because whoever was doing the pasting and labeling got tired of the job, or overwhelmed. So on the top shelf of the hall closet sits a box of unsorted photographs, still in the envelopes from the drugstore, waiting for a place on a page. This is a family album, the Island family. Chock full of memories. Margaret Thomas Buchholz has done the gathering and sorting and arranging. There is no narrative as such, just the comments of those who were and are part of the Island. There are some that run a paragraph or two but mostly they are snippets snatched from the past, a kind of haiku floating on the wings of memory. There is, wisely, no attempt to order the pictures chronologically, but rather by subject, so we can see the stages of the causeway bridge, the great hotels, Barnegat Lighthouse, the Lucy Evelyn and Islander's homes. The pictures will be nostalgia to some, quaint to some, sad to some, whether you regard the Island as the place where summer lives, or home. Margaret is one of the latter, living in the house by the bay she grew up in, still fascinated by storms and the leave-behinds of wrecks and the diaries of ancient mariners and the letters of her predecessors. You see pictures like these occasionally - in the old post office in Ship Bottom, on some restaurant walls or perhaps in somebody's album, but she has cast a wide net and caught the Island in its many phases in nearly 340 photographs, some more than 100 years old. She is also intrigued, as all of us who live under the sea wind must be, by the constant struggle between the sea and the engineers, and some of the pictures are reminders of how that contest hasn't been settled yet. Everybody calls Long Beach Island "my island," and everybody is right, for it belongs uniquely to each of us. But you might have trouble recognizing it in some photographs - the wide open expanse of dunes south, the lonely road north, the railway locomotive so huge and seemingly out of place on the sand. My favorite shot is of a man holding a shotgun, standing in a bare tree, one of the last of the Harvey Cedars' cedar trees. You might find yourself in here, frolicking on the beach in a bathing suit you can't believe you wore, or as one of the lifeguards in a 1952 lineup, or rocking on the porch of the elegant Engleside Hotel, or you may find your parents or grandparents. I'm in here in a photograph I'd completely forgotten about. And if you don't see yourself you're likely to see your house in one of many aerial views. I found the first house we ever rented, the house my father finally bought after years of renting, and the house I now live in. Sound familiar? It's a pattern many of us followed. Beach parties, fishing parties, grand views, intimate peeks, a mini-history of beach fashions, whispers from a now never-to-be-forgotten past, they're all here, plus the family members who made them. Put this next to your own family album. It's our island and this is its record.
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