Historic Places in South Jersey

Historic Places in South Jersey

A discussion of historic sites, and events, with the purpose of sharing, encouraging participation, and networking.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Sittin' On the Dock of The Bay

You may find the seashore crowded and the highways daunting, but I can vouch for the Bay with one caution (at the end).  I've been spending a lot of time this summer cruising on the rivers and enjoying road-trips to some of the little town names I come across in my readings about NJ history. 
For example in studying for my volunteer work at Bivalve, Bayshore Discovery Project, I get the impression that the shuckers lived in Shellpile, captains of boats lived in Mauricetown, business owners in Port Norris and ship builders and carpenters as well as waatermen in small towns adjacent to these such as Dividing Creek.
I have always wanted to visit Dividing Creek since I met the name in read the old South Jersey Magazine with a running series of diary entries from said hamlet. 
I've driven to Port Norris a couple of dozen or more times over the years, but had never gotten to Mauricetown (pronounced Morristown by the locals, but I have to pronounce it Maurice like the French so my friends don't get it confused with Moorestown).
On the 100 degree Saturday just passed, a friend, my trusty dog Blizzard and I set off to find these towns.  The air-conditioning in my car works very well, so we were comfortable and carried bottles of water for us and the dog, and picnic lunch and Jersey peaches.
First, we found Mauricetown and it is lovely.  the Victorian gingerbread houses and the quiet shady streets bring back an atmosphere of a time long-gone.  The houses are beautifully maintained and many have the names of the captains who once lived in them.
Dividing Creek, a more modest architectural relic of the past, has two enticing cemeteries, but it was too hot!  I wanted to look for the names I found in the books I've been reading by Margaret Louise Mints (Men The Sea and Industry, Lighthouse to Leeward, and Dallas Ferry), but that exploration will have to wait for fall.
Finally we ended up in Fortescue passing through several other hamlets with familiar names in between.  In Fortescue, we went to the Bay where many men were fishing, and decided to let the dog stretch his legs on the beach, but we were quickly driven back to the car, not by heat, but by voracious giant green flies who could strike and bite faster than you could swat.  Four of them traveled with us for a few miles, but though I am a vegetarian, I have no problem with killing flies or mosquitoes and we killed one and got the others out the window, but not before we each got bitten one more time.  Those fishermen must have been slathered with repellent.
The drive back was delightful, as it always is coming home from the Bay through farm country and the small towns such as Gouldtown and Fairton.
Today, I am off to Greenwich to visit the Prehistory Museum again and to have lunch at the Marina.  I would have visited the Native American artifacts collection at the Bridgeton Library which I am told is wonderful, but they aren't open till the last Sunday of the month.
Remembering Dad.  Two of the things my father loved when he was younger and lived in New Jersey and Pa.  were Sunday family drives to all sorts of places, especially in the summer to Pa. caverns (cool) and his fishing trips with his fellow ironworkers.  They met down at Fortescue and went out on chartered boats.  He loved those trips and being at Fortescue this Saturday was almost like a brief visit with him.  It is a cliche of those of us who are my age and have lost their parents that we wish we'd been less self-centered and asked more about their lives and interests.  I wish I could ask my Dad about his fishing trips at Fortescue, how he found out about it and who he went with and what he liked best (and if he ever ran into those giant green flies).