Life is not a disaster movie. This is generally a good thing. But one important way in which real life falls short is its lack of a boffo end scene. Real life is full of messy loose ends and aftermaths that won’t quit.
The rest of the country may have moved on from Hurricane Sandy, but Sandy hasn’t moved on from the Northeast, as evidenced by this item by Mark Di Ionno of the Star-Ledger on the Keyport (NJ) Steamboat Dock Museum. The museum collection was a unique take on the area’s history as a steamboat hub, moving Jersey produce and timber to consumers in New York City. Read how the museum volunteers performed a sad triage as the storm approached, “putting red dots on the things we knew we had to move,” as a longtime coordinator said.
Volunteers managed to save a lot — maps and deeds and photographs; examples of glass that reflected the local bottlemaking industry. But they just couldn’t move everything in time, and Sandy’s raging storm surge gutted what was left. “Heartbeaking,” says one of the museum’s founders.
Slowly, volunteers are salvaging what they can, and thinking about a new home for the Steamboat Dock Museum. Here’s wishing them well as they do what local history buffs around the country do best — reclaiming a unique heritage for future generations.
The Genealogical Society of New Jersey, as noted previously, was compelled to reschedule their annual meeting last month, what with Superstorm/Hurricane/Whatever It Was, We Hate It Sandy reorganizing life for everyone in so many unwelcome ways.
The rescheduled meeting is this Saturday, Dec. 8, at 10:30 a.m. in the Pane Room of the Alexander Library at Rutgers University.
Gayle Ann Livecchia will speak, appropriately enough, on “Using University Archives for Genealogical Research.” UPDATE: The society announced a change in speaker and topic: Claire Keenan Agthe will speak on “Copyright for Genealogists.” Date, time and place remain the same. And hey, it’s also a great topic.
The meeting and lecture are free and open to the public, but do RSVP by emailing Programs@GSNJ.org.
The Alexander Library is at 169 College Ave., New Brunswick. Check the Genealogical Society of New Jersey website for more information!
It was 20 years ago, but I can still hear it as if it were yesterday — the voice of a friend on the phone as we battened down the hatches for Hurricane Andrew, knowing we were leaving but overwhelmed at choosing what to take and what must stay.
“Grab whatever photos you can,” she said. “Grab the things you can’t replace.”
Here in New Jersey after Hurricane Sandy, every day brings new stories of good news and bad news from towns we love. And in yesterday’s New York Daily News came a heartening tale about reuniting storm survivors with those irreplaceable family photos.
Jeannette Van Houten set up a Facebook page to post more than 3,000 family photos that were found strewn around Union Beach, New Jersey, a small seaside town destroyed by the storm. It’s giving families — many who have lost everything — a chance to reunite with some treasured mementos.
Van Houten’s Facebook page can be found here.
Among the many, many events rescheduled or relocated due to Sandy’s trip through the Northeast is the annual meeting of the Genealogical Society of New Jersey (GSNJ). According to membership chair Joan Lowry:
Due to the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy and the potential for additional bad
weather this week, GSNJ has postponed the Annual Meeting that was to be
held this coming Saturday, 10 November. The meeting will be rescheduled
shortly. More information will be posted on GSNJ website and by email as
soon as it becomes available.
My heart hurts so much tonight. The power loss and our rapidly chilling house seemed beside the point as we sat in our shadowy kitchen, peering at the photos sliding across the screen of the smartphone, and I had to believe what the captions said.
That this had been a boardwalk. An amusement pier. A row of little shops where you could grab a Coke or a tube of sunscreen or some boardwalk fries.
The Jersey Shore, to those of us who really know it, has always been so much more than the loudmouthed reality show that stole the name and made it a punch line.
“That was my childhood,” said my oldest, staring at a neat row of concrete blocks on the smartphone screen. The caption called it the Spring Lake boardwalk.
“Mine too,” I said.
Well, not Spring Lake, in my case. But Manasquan. Point Pleasant. Wildwood. Ocean City once. Seaside Heights for sure, as a teenager – who didn’t?
I have a sister who lives a mile from one of those former boardwalks. Walking the boardwalk along the Atlantic, the sun just rising, the salt breeze blowing and the day just starting, is one of the joys of her life.
I can’t reach her yet. I know that on Monday, as the storm was prowling off the coast, we talked about what we were dreading and what we thought we were prepared for.
But nothing prepares you for the sight of nothing, in place of something that was so beautiful and uplifting to the spirit.
And no, it will never be the same, as my kids keep saying. I want to hush them, and say they are wrong, but they are not. And yes, it does break my heart.
I do believe it will be back, though. It will be just as wonderful. Different, but wonderful.
Perhaps to come to terms with what we are just beginning to understand, my kids and I began talking about the summers, all the summers down the shore. I wanted them to have the shore the way I had the shore when I was little, and they did.
Just as I did, they have memories of the good stuff and the bad stuff and the sometimes scary stuff, like the ride at Seaside Heights where my older child was too scared to get on until the operator said, “See this coin? I’m going to put it on the floor, and it’s not going to move.” And she rode, and it didn’t.
Or like the first time my youngest got rolled by a wave at Long Beach Island. She was maybe a year old, and I thought I was standing in a good spot but you know how tricky the Atlantic can be. One of those breakers got us good, and broke her out of my hold, and she went pinwheeling, somersaulting through the shallows as I splashed after her frantically.
Oh no, her first wave and it’s a horror show! She’s traumatized for life, I was thinking. My husband and I dragged her up and shook the water off her and thumped her back, crying, “Are you all right? Are you?”
She beamed up at us, grinning ear to ear.
“More!” she said.
The shore will be back. And so will we.