Saturday, January 30, 2010:
Snows flying again. Won’t be even remotely as severe as that pre-Christmas storm of 20-ish inches. We do have 2 to 3 inches out there, with the area of western Little Egg Harbor having the most snow to show hereabouts.
I was out there doing some digging as the first scattered flakes arrived, nosing around like a reconnaissance team. Then, before I knew it, I was covered, the ground was covered and, most of all, a bunch of old bottles I had dug – and thrown to the side for later pick-up – were not only covered but out of sight. I’ll get them come thaw.
As I headed out and onto major roadways, that odd snowfall phenomenon was taking place: old people, dressed for nuclear winter, had all shuffled out to their vehicles to drive who-knows-where at the slowest possible speed at which said vehicles will travel. They defend their 2.3 mph approach to the snow-glazed roadway by screaming how horrible the roads are. Then what in bloody hell are you doing driving around?! “Well, my coupon for Depend underway at Rite-aid runs out today.”
Anyway, I also spent some time at my regular hangout, Norm Cramer’s antique store, Two Shore Birds, on Rte. 9 just past Gasco, West Creek.
I spend loads of chat-time there, most often sitting around taking in tons and tons of stories by a nonstop flow of old-timers and other assorted stump-jumpers, an expression Islanders once used to describe backbay and mainland coastal folks.
The best historical accounts often center on the other side of history -- you might call it the backside of history and not be far off. The wildness factor of life back in the day is often through the roof, especially when the boys get to lettin’ loose about the rowdiness, partying and admirable hanky pankying that went on.
It’s cool as all get out to see an 80-something gent detailing his younger-days conquests, from finagling gals into the backseat of an old Buick convertible to poaching deer out of the same car, by driving drunkenly through a corn field blasting away at whatever jumped into the high beams.
Of course, there’s easily as much chatter about removed gall bladders, triple by-pass surgeries and who keeled over and died last week – and what wild things the deceased had done back in his wilder days. It seems that when someone croaks, any and all lifelong secrets about that person are out the window. Whatever you do, don’t die.
Today I listened in as Bill F., a former owner of Charlie’s Bar, now the Dutchman’s, talked about a stuffed striped bass head that hung on the wall of that pretty rough and rugged old bar – which had every wall decked to the hilt with old firearms and assorted nautical things. The chandelier was made of old military ordnance shells. The bass head was taken from a 40-something pound striper, the largest local bass taken to that date (1940s). The massive mouth of the fish was agape. Hidden inside was a speaker, clandestinely attached to a microphone beneath the bar. When newbie anglers came in during fishing trips to the Island, they would inevitably be drawn to the huge fish head. As they marveled at it, all of a sudden, booming right out of the fish’s mouth, “What the hell you lookin’ at!” Guys would knock over their buddies trying to jump back from the pissed off fish head. My kinda place.
Bill also told a very visual tale of the old railroad trestle that was once fully visibly out the window of Charlie’s. The tracks carried trains heading on and off LBI. During the biggest storms, the bay would rise right to the trestle’s top, sometimes even covering the tracks. “When the train would come across, it would look just like it was riding on the water,” recalled Bill.
Being a huge fan of the local railroads, that ride-on-water ghost train image is beyond cool to me. “We never thought about taking a picture of it at the time. It was just life down here,” added Bill.
Photographs of trains actually crossing Manahawkin Bay are now worth a mint. I can’t imagine what a train steaming ahead splashing atop the bay water would fetch.
Not surprisingly, per that account, the trestle was wiped out for good in something like 1935.
Apropos sidebar – bringing history and present together: Train service to LBI was stopped between 1923 and 1926, after a severe series of storms (most notably 1920) freaked visitors so badly they quit coming here in the summer, fearing they’d be trapped on Island when the “Big One” hit.
From Villiage Harbor Fishing Club:
From: Peter Grimbilas
Subject: Fw: NJ S221 up for hearing Monday Senate Environment & Energy Committee.
To: "Peter Grimbilas"
Date: Wednesday, January 27, 2010, 5:08 AM
Members of Reef Rescue along with the New Jersey Outdoor Alliance have been relentlessly pounding Trenton's doors to get our legislators to realize how important artificial reefs are to the recreational angler. We know most of them are not only listening but agree with our reasoning! The TRAPS MUST GO!
Well, it's a new legislative session. Our Traps Off The Reef bills have been reintroduced to the Senate and Assembly. The battle resumes but with new players. Our 'road block' has retired and we have more friends than ever before in Trenton including a new Governor that has vowed his support. Our time is now!
The Traps Off The Reef bill will be heard by the Senate Environment and Energy Committee on Monday, February 1 ant 10:00 AM. The hearing will be in Committee Room 10, 3rd floor, State House Annex, Trenton, NJ.
It's extremely important to show the committee as much recreational support as possible. We need bodies! Please try to attend this critical hearing. You know the commercial side will! If you need a ride, call the phone number below. TRAPS OFF THE REEF!!!!!!!
Captain Pete Grimbilas
Reef Rescue, Chair
BLACK SEA BASS UPDATE
While attorneys for the RFA are still sifting through the recent federal response to the black sea bass legal challenge issued in November after the emergency closure of that important coastal fishery, the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council has asked the federal government to take emergency action to increase the 2010 black sea bass catch in federal waters, which range from three to 200 miles offshore. News reports show better days may be in store for New Jersey wreck fishermen.