Two Centuries of History on Long Beach Island

By John Bailey Lloyd

11 1/2" x 8 3/4"
191 pp.

ISBN 0-945582-97-8



More Than a Treasure of Trivia, Lloyd’s Book Is a ‘Living History’

Reprinted, in its entirety, from Long Beach Island’s The Beachcomber, August 19, 2005, with permission.

Every time people pass the shack on the Causeway, they wonder who owns it, who built it, what was it for. John Bailey Lloyd knew. Whenever people go to the north end of the Island, they wonder how Old Barney got its name. John Bailey Lloyd knew. And what was the Mansion of Health all about, and was there really a swamp where Surf City now sits, and when was beer ten cents a glass?

John Bailey Lloyd knew, and in two marvelously entertaining books, told us. Six Miles at Sea: A Pictorial History of Long Beach Island and Eighteen Miles of History have been perennial best sellers here, but each time Lloyd finished one, he found out more stuff and discovered more pictures and heard more stories. He put some of these into an occasional newspaper column and was finishing work on a third volume when he died two years ago. And now his publisher, Down The Shore, has brought out Two Centuries of History on Long Beach Island, which expands our knowledge and appreciation and enjoyment of "this blessed isle" and makes us miss Lloyd all the more.
Few places can boast their own historian but JBL, as he was known in almost paired initials to LBI (he once joked that if took his English version of John – Ian – he’d be IBL), was not a fusty, archive-bound regurgitator of dim and moldy pasts, but a live-in, live on part of this place – knowledgeable, affable and eager to share. Because he kept learning, so did we.

Where his previous works tended to treat eras and auras, the new volume deals a lot with people. You’ll learn about the man who financed the Union Army during the Civil War and relaxed by shooting curlews in the bay. You’ll read how Butterfly became Madame. You’ll visit the man who grew rye on a farm in Beach Haven, and the one who grew orchids on an estate where nuns now blossom in Harvey Cedars.

You will also discover how LBI towns got their names, plus learn the names that have disappeared under the sands of time. Do you know where Bond’s, Venice Beach, Silver Sands were? How about the Frazier Tract, the Sewell Tract, the Webster Tract, Beach Arlington?

As to who Thomas Lovelady was, not even JBL could find out, but what’s a history without some mystery?

You will find out where all those Cramers and Cranmers came from, and whether they’re related; the truth about shoobies; how a woman started the beach patrol; and how acetylene lamps lit the boardwalk in Beach Haven – the boardwalk that was blown away in the 1944 hurricane, the last one to actually come ashore here. Its ferocity and destruction made it the Storm of the Century until the northeaster of 1962, but both didn’t affect LBI as much as the blizzard of 1922, which chewed off a chunk of the Island – there is no longer a First, Second, East Third or Fourth Street in Barnegat Light. In fact, there was almost no more Barnegat Lighthouse as the sea chomped away at its base. After the storm was over, the town fathers sent out a call for wrecked cars to form a kind of metal rip-rap jetty around it, later replaced by a "steel petticoat" filled with concrete, which is still doing duty today.

You can dip into this book anywhere and find yourself absorbed. Beach "cottages" in the 1920s were as large as some of the mansions going up today – "palatial dimensions and elegant interiors," said one newspaper at the time. They bore such names as Nearsea, All Breeze and Saltaire, or Idlease, Dun Rovin’ and Money Sunk, or the so-called Shakespeare cottages – Portia, Rosalind, Sylvia and Audrey – named for the Bard’s heroines. (No Juliet, Ophelia or Lady Macbeth, though, nothing grim.)

Two Centuries of History – the name sort of continues JBL’s numerical run – is not just a treasure of trivia; it’s a living history, and not only of the Island but the ports and pinelands on the mainland – "This is fairyland," gushed the Philadelphia Mirror of Tuckerton in 1875. But of the cedar bogs in the Pine Barrens, a visitor wrote, "the silence of death reigns in these dreary regions: a few interrupted rays of light shoot across the gloom; and (except) for the occasional hollow screams of the herons and the melancholy chirping of one or two species of small birds, all is silence, solitude and desolation."

The book is full of photos still so vivid you almost imagine being there yourself, with kids watching the pound boats come in or elephants parading in front of the Engleside Hotel or the Hindenberg flying over the Island, the swastika on its tail clearly visible.

Did you know the Engleside kept a dairy herd to provide fresh milk for kids? That a pond in Holgate "grew" ice during the winter for use in the summer? That there was an airport in Holgate…? I’ll stop now, but almost every page holds a surprise. Get a copy yourself and plunge into a nostalgic bath of a past we all somehow share.

And glimpses of the future, too, which is our present. "I hazard but little when I assert that this place must, at some distant day, be one of the most popular resorts for that numerous portion of our citizenship who, eschewing mere fashion and show, desire to spend their vacations in quiet leisure," prophesied one correspondent in 1875. And JBL has recorded it all.

Like every Down The Shore publication, Two Centuries of History is meticulously mounted and handsomely put together, sized for the coffee table but stuffed with fascination. (Design and layout are by Leslee Ganss, one of Down The Shore’s secret strengths.) In the preface, publisher Ray Fisk talks about how JBL "enlightened and charmed" us. So, in fact has Down The Shore, searching out new looks at life on our beaches and bays, bringing back works long out of print, and steadily advancing appreciation of the treasure that is the Jersey Shore.

Copyright c. 2005, Jersey Shore Newsmagazines.

John Bailey Lloyd was born in Johnstown, PA., and had been on Long Beach Island since 1942, when he was ten years old — in time to see old landmarks like the boardwalk, the Engleside Hotel and the vast emptiness of the Island as it once was. With time out for service in the Coast Guard, graduate school and some travel, he has spent nearly every summer here. In 1977 he and his wife, Jeanette, and their two sons became permanent residents and moved into the family's Victorian summer home in Beach Haven.

A graduate of Mount St. Mary's College in Emmitsburg, Maryland, Mr. Lloyd had a master's degree in English from the University of Michigan and a master's in library science from Rutgers University. He worked in the reference department at the Ocean County Library in Toms River, and the Bishop Historical Library there.

P.O. Box 100, West Creek, New Jersey 08092
email • fax (609) 597-0422

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Down The Shore Publishing Corp. The words "Down The Shore" and logo are a registered U.S. Trademark.