This Winter in Ocean County, 1922-23!
Welcome to another era in Ocean County's past, one century ago this winter!
Let your mind wander as you consider life around December 1922 and January 1923, courtesy the New Jersey Courier and Ocean County Review weekly newspapers, from the Ocean County Library archives, and peppered with items of maritime interest (around a 20 minute read).
BREVITIES AND EDITORIALS
(written by NJ Courier editor, William H. Fischer, as he sat at his desk above Main Street near Washington Street; it was much like a collection of online social media updates seen today)
Boys and girls had a little skating on ponds and cranberry bogs last week.
Toms River Yacht Club has started a syndicate to build a racing sneakbox for next summer, if enough members are interested. A third of the amount needed was subscribed by a few members last Friday evening.
A holiday dance will be given at the Toms River Yacht Club on Friday evening next, December 29, in honor of the young folks, who will be home for the holidays.
The rains and snow of the past ten days have broken the drought. Some cranberry bogs that were bare are now flooded. Wells have again a little water, that had been dry. The swamps and streams and springs are also fuller. The supply is below normal yet.
The “Peach Orchard Tract” at Cassville has been bought by the Lakewood Farm Lands Co., of Lakewood and will be cut up into five and ten-acre farms.
Toms River merchants as a whole never had a better Christmas trade, nor were there ever more shoppers from out of town. Toms River has an importance as a shopping center that would easily be increased by co-operative action on the part of its business men, if they would be willing to work together.
Christmas day a blue heron, that looked as if it had just been killed, was seen dangling from a tree along the north bank of the river, where somebody had hung it by the legs. Not far away the tracks of the heron could be seen on the sand of the river bottom through the clear water.
The boy or girl who got a sled for Christmas was overjoyed with the little snow on Friday morning.
The only objection I have to seeing the Sheriff Frank Aumack property built up is that I will lose two good friends, when they chop down those two big elms. Those two elms are the finest pair of trees in town—Philemon and Baucis, so to speak [Philemon and Baucis, in Greek mythology, a pious Phrygian couple who hospitably received Zeus and Hermes when their richer neighbors turned away the two gods, who were disguised as wayfarers].
The Chamber of Commerce is working for a new school house at Toms River and recently appointed a special committee to that end. The committee had a session, with Architect Clinton Cook, of Asbury Park, whose plans have been favored by the School Board, and also two meetings with the School Board. The C. of C. members feel that a town like Toms River cannot afford to be behind with its schools, as at present, when all the grades from the first to the seventh, inclusive, are being run on half time.
You can see that the days are getting a little—just a tiny little longer in the afternoon.
Christmas week was a hard luck week for some citizens in Pershing [section of Toms River]. Barzillal Johnson lost a horse and Capt. Ben Asay lost a 300-pound porker.
The west side of Main Street, in the business block, which for many years was one of the charms of the Toms River village to the visitor as well as to the resident, with its big mansions sitting back on the hill, spacious lawns and big trees, is evidently soon to be a thing of the past. Business is crowding out the lawns and trees, and business fronts will before long line its whole block. It is the way of growth, that charm and beauty are often sacrificed to utility. The growth of the business section in any town or city, makes just such changes. We can't be exempt.
The Ladies' Auxiliary of the Toms River Yacht Club will hold its semi-monthly card party this evening, at the home of Dr. and Mrs. Frank Brouwer. Its business meeting for the month will be at the home of Mrs. Harry Mathis, on Wednesday next, January 10.
Fire Company No. 2 gave a dance at the opera house on Friday evening last. This company has not yet raised sufficient funds to pay for the Chevrolet car.
School teachers and pupils from colleges and distant schools, at home for the holidays, have mostly returned. And there are quite a bunch of them.
William Klein, a poultryman on the Main Shore Road, at Quail Run, below Pine Beach entrance, bagged a fine buck in his back yard on Wednesday morning of this week.
The Double Trouble Company has bought the cranberry bog on Jake's Branch, at Beachwood, just south of the Main Shore Road, from Mrs. Frances Falkenburgh, Henry A. and George C. Low.
Here it is the middle of January and neither river nor bay has been closed up with ice yet; enough ice to skate on has been on ponds and cranberry bogs, and on some of the river and bay coves, that is all, and only for a short time.
William T. Harvey, of Bayville, is wrecking the old Potter store, on Water Street, which, while occupied by its owners, the United Feed Company, and William L. DeGraw, was burnt down on Tuesday before Thanksgiving day. There is considerable good lumber left in the frame of the unburnt portion.
January is sliding by.
Coal continues scarce along the shore.
The wood cutters are busy cutting oak into fire wood. This is so all over South Jersey.
A.B. Newbury has broken ground for a residence and chicken farm on Lakehurst road, west of Wright's Bridge. He will put up buildings for a 500-bird flock, and will put the birds on the plant next fall. Sutton and Snyder are at work on the house.
Dandelions are blooming in sunny lawns.
Plans are being prepared for Judge M.L. Berry's proposed new building on Main street, in front of the Sheriff Aumack mansion.
Pretty much all the oak wood within easy haul of town is being cut off and burned this winter. If we have a few more winters without coal, what will we do for fuel?
Edward S. Fritz, who is still working on the Toms River dam, was in town last Friday. “Never say die” is his motto, and he lives up to it.
THOSE OLD LIFE-SAVERS
Another year has slid past and nothing has been done for the relief of the men who served on the coast in the days of the Life-Saving Service, and were retired for disability, growing out of their service. Most of these men are now old; many of them unable to work, even for an occasional day at a time; some of them are in dire need; and all of them would look at the troubled seas ahead, breaking over the bar of death, with a kindlier feeling toward their land and more certainly of succor in their last years, if Congress would but take note of their condition.
The men who served in the old Life-Saving Service were not housed so well, and had a great deal more danger in their duties than in present days. It is but a few years ago when the beach had its wrecks after every storm—from the fleet of schooners that in those days traded north and south. Today the Coast Guard Service, living in comparative comfort, with but now and then a taste of danger, is well cared for in case of injury or disability. The veterans of the L.S.S. were surfmen bred, could launch a lifeboat in the teeth of a storm, dared wind and wave and sleet and snow. Now they are old—and forgotten. A rich government can succor all Europe, but it forgets its own employees who risked life in its service and were disabled in work as heroic, and in danger as great as that of the brave and gallant soldiers on the field of battle.
It is time that these few men, who are being so fast taken away by the hand of death were given their due by Congress.
The one-room school has been for the past fifteen years relegated to the dump heap by the school men of the country. The fad has been to close wherever possible one-room schools and carry the children to the nearest graded school. The indictment made by the school men against the country school contains so many and such damning counts, that it has in most places jumped its bail and fled away in sheer terror of the charges. The schoolmen may be all right—but once in awhile facts have a strange way of suddenly confronting fads, and chucking the fads off the highway into the brush.
Last year and this, for instance, the best attendance in any school in Ocean County has been Cedar Crest, a backwoods, one-room school. This school has had for the first quarter this year, a perfect attendance, not a pupil being absent or even late. One of its pupils wrote the essay sent to represent Ocean County in a national and state essay contest.
Figures from attendance records of county schools, as given out by the County Superintendent, and published in our news columns, show that the best attendance has been in some one-room schools, and that some of the two-room schools furnish the second best attendance records, outstripping both the high and grade schools in the large towns...
NEWS FROM HOME
It is not a thing of beauty, its print is sometimes blurred,
But I like to read its pages; yes, I read it every word.
When I am feeling kind of blue, it will drive away a frown
Just to read the little paper from my Old Home Town.
I like to read of those I knew in days of long ago;
I like to know what's happening to Mr. So and So.
No matter what my spirits are, if they be up or down,
I like to read the paper from my old Home Town.
I am going back some day to see the folks I left behind;
I want to see the places that still linger in my mind.
'Twill always be the same to me, no matter where I roam--
The town I left when but a boy will always seem like home.
Next to going back again, the thing that is most near,
Is the little weekly paper; it always brings me cheer.
So, no matter what my troubles, if they be up or down,
I always like the paper from my old Home Town.
Send it to me every week, no matter what the cost;
If I miss a copy I feel there's something lost.
I want to get it regular, where'er I chance to roam--
The little weekly paper from the town I once called home.
Sent in as a clipping, origin unknown, by a Courier reader in Pine Beach.
REVIVAL OF SMUGGLING
Apparently there is no attempt made by the Federal Government—save that put forth by the prohibition enforcement officers—to stop the smuggling of liquors on the coast. The Coast Guard service, as the name borne by its ships—revenue cutters—indicate, was originated to stop smuggling as a trade. But the revenue cutters have no interest whatever in smuggling of liquors.
Any one who has a knowledge of the coast knows that with active cooperation between a few fast revenue cutters at sea and the coast guards on the beaches, smuggling could be reduced to a minimum. If the trade of the smugglers is to be revived, big importers in New York of high-priced, yet small, articles may find it more profitable to smuggle their furs, laces, jewelry, art objects, etc., via the rum-runners route rather than by the old way of buying up customs officers in New York port. The unlawful drug trade in narcotics has already, it seems, taken advantage of the smuggling by rum-runners to get their stuff from Germany and Japan into the United States. If President Harding, Attorney General Daugherty and Secretary Mellon mean what they say, when they talk of enforcing the prohibition law, they could readily cut off at least 75 per cent of the smuggling, by putting a Coast Guard officer of the type of Captain McLellan, who was so long on this coast, in charge of the Coast Guard cutters and patrolmen, and telling him to clean it up.
LESSON OF USEFUL LIVES
No editorial ever written, no sermon ever preached, no oration ever delivered could be so forceful or so eloquent as a busy, useful life. Ocean County, in the past fortnight, has lost three men whose lives had been of that sort. There is a choke in the voice when we meet on the street and speak to one another of the death of “Neal” Kelly, of “Doctor” Austin, or of “Jimmie” Holman. These men occupied a large place in the thoughts and affections of their communities. Kelly and Holman were of old county families and had spent their lives here, with widespread interests, one in the oyster industry, the other in the cranberry industry, and both had been prominent in the development of his particular industry, so that to him the county owed much for its material development. Dr. Austin came here in 1905. For years, as a pastor at Toms River, since then as a comer and goer among us, he was loved at Toms River as it is given few men to be loved by a community...
P.R.R. DEALS HEAVY BLOWS AT FUTURE OF SHORE RESORTS
RAILROAD VOTES TO GIVE UP ISLAND HEIGHTS SPUR
[2023 Note: this marks the beginning of a 50-year reduction and elimination of passenger rail service to the Toms River area and most of Ocean County, with passenger service to Toms River ending in the 1950s, apart from one final special passenger train “saying goodbye” to Toms River in March 1972, something residents and officials often lament. Freight service to area sand and industrial supply plants continued but declined and was ended by Conrail when they said the bridge crossing into Toms River was too weakened for their trains in December 1981.]
If the plans of the Pennsylvania Railroad are carried out, the thriving Borough of Island Heights, and its companion summer resort of Money Island, are facing ruin. It is stated on what seems indisputable authority that the Island Heights Railroad Company, the subsidiary of the Pennsylvania Railroad, which owns and operates the spur from Pine Beach Junction, across Toms River, via the railroad bridge, to Island Heights, has voted by its board of directors to ask the Utility Board of New Jersey to allow it to discontinue service to Island Heights. The reason alleged is that this service is costing more than it brings on, or does not pay, and further, that it will be necessary to repair, or rebuild, the railroad bridge across Toms River, and that this will add another $100,000 to the expenses [$1.76 million in 2023 dollars]—and there is now way of getting this money.
On the other hand, to discontinue the service would spell ruin to both Island Heights and Money Island. Communities that now have railroad service, and have been built upon railroad service would go backward instead of forward were that service stopped.
The nearest depot to Island Heights that could be reached by land with the Pennsylvania Railroad service there wiped out, and the railroad bridge removed, is that at Toms River, a distance of four miles. What effect it would have upon the commuting population of Island Heights to have to add a four-mile trip by auto to the railroad journey to and from Philadelphia, can be surmised.
There could be but one way of relief, and that would be to compel the county to build an automobile bridge across the river, where the railroad bridge is now, and maintain a draw tender there, or, otherwise, for a private corporation to thus build and maintain a bridge, charging toll. With a bridge across the river at this spot, the railroad depot at Pine Beach could be made to do service for Island Heights and Money Island also.
The Island Heights railroad bridge was built in the early eighties [1880s]. Prior to the construction of this bridge, access by rail to Island Heights was via Toms River. Passengers left the train at Toms River, and either drove to Island Heights in carriages, of which there were a number running, or else went by sailboats, there being a considerable fleet at Toms River in those days, or by steamboat, as there was a good-sized steamer running from Toms River to Seaside Park, via Island Heights, capable of carrying two or three hundred passengers. One of these steamers was a side-wheeler, the Florence, and another a screw propeller, the Seaside Park. These took on passengers at about where the Central Railroad depot now stands [today where the two billboards stand on Route 166 when driving northbound into downtown Toms River; the roadway that separates the station site from the riverfront was not there and Flint Road was the original main highway] also at other times from the dock near where the Crabbe boathouse is now, and again from the cove on the east side of Cedar Point, where a large dock was built out into the river, and a spur run to it from the Central Railroad line.
When the Pennsylvania Railroad, in the early eighties, built its road from Whitings to Toms River, and announced that it would cross the bay to Seaside Park, and also build a bridge across Toms River, it aroused a great deal of opposition at Toms River. The boatmen fought the bridges in the courts, alleging that the draw spans that the P.R.R. proposed for both bay and river bridges would interfere with navigation. In the end the railroad won, and the bridges were both built.
It is understood that the Island Heights Association, which was at that time developing Island Heights, and which saw the necessity of a railroad communication if they were to make a success of their resort, built the Island Heights bridge and railroad and leased it to the Island Heights Railroad Company, a creature of the P.R.R., for a term of ninety-nine years, one of the considerations being that the railroad should provide service for the length of the lease. There is probably but one member of the original Island Heights Association still living. Rev. Ananias Lawrence, of Island Heights. The stock in the old Association, after it had sold its lots, and the borough had been formed and had taken over its streets, was sold for a song, and its owners would probably have little or no interest in fighting to retain the railroad services.
This is, however, not the first attempt to abandon the railroad to Island Heights. Something over a year ago the Pennsylvania Railroad officials worked a squeeze play on Pine Beach, by which they hoped to compel the residents of Pine Beach to be the real applicants for the stoppage of the Island Heights trains. The railroad took away the station agent at Pine Beach, alleging that the spur, running from Pine Beach to Island Heights, cost so much that they could not afford to maintain an agent at Pine Beach. The citizens of that resort naturally replied that they should not be made to suffer for losses made by running trains to Island Heights. At that time the railroad's real motive was explained in The Courier, prominent residents of Island Heights were aroused, and the whole matter had to be abandoned till a more favorable time. That more favorable time is supposed to be now.
However, it is not likely that Island Heights and Money Island will allow themselves to be deprived of railroad service without a protest. Island Heights Borough would lose so