- Cape May NJ Travel Guide and Vacation Planner Blog

Month: July 2000

The Dollhouse Museum at the Goodman House

goodmanhouseAs an intern at, one of my many jobs is reading e-mails that you, our faithful readership, send to Many times, visitors recount their fondest memories of Cape May. They spout statistics and ask intriguing questions, most of which send me running to our local history buffs. Throughout the e-mails one word seems to resurface in our readers attempts to describe Cape May — magic.

For the typical local resident, the magic of Cape May fades rather quickly during the hectic summer months. I look in awe at the tanned, happy faces of tourists passing by the office window on their way to the beach or the Washington Street Mall. It is a refreshing and odd occurrence when the magic of Cape May is rediscovered, as it was for me this past month when I visited the Dollhouse and Miniature Museum of Cape May in the Goodman House at 118 Decatur Street.

I must say I was a bit reluctant when I was first assigned to write this piece on a dollhouse museum. As a child I rarely played with dollhouses — the delicate and quaint pieces were just not for me.

dollhouseWhen I walked into the Goodman House, and subsequently the Dollhouse museum, I felt surrounded by history as most first-time visitors of Cape May feel as they enter this historic landmark city.

I was in awe of the more than fifty houses from all over the globe, filled with antique dollhouse furniture from France, Germany, England and the United States. The museum was very visitor friendly, every ounce of space was utilized, but I didn’t feel overwhelmed at all. Actually, it was the opposite – I felt like my eyes couldn’t open wide enough to see the nooks and crannies of each petite house.

The woman behind this collection, Libby Goodman, was as interesting as the collection itself. She’s traveled to Europe, read extensively and sat through many an auction to compile her collection — or should I say collections. The museum not only includes dollhouses and dollhouse furniture but also mini-collections of antique children’s toys such as stoves and baby carriages, china and tea sets, as well as antique children’s furniture.

Goodman, who opened the dollhouse museum in 1998, takes pride in and has much passion for collecting. She’s done extensive research and suggests that new collectors of dollhouses or collectors in general, do the same. Goodman said there are three things necessary to have a collection — disposable cash, time and knowledge. She also said that it’s necessary the person who’s collecting, collect something he or she truly enjoys.

Libby Goodman

Libby Goodman

“I think it’s almost criminal to have a collection like this and not share it with the public,” Goodman said as she reflected on one of the first times she thought of opening a house museum.
For the past few years, the Goodman House has participated in the Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts Historic House tours during the Christmas season, and the dollhouses had such a warm reception that Goodman, with the support and encouragement of her husband, decided to open her own house museum.

dollhouse1The exhibit currently on display at the Goodman House is titled “A Century of American Dollhouses, 1900-2000,” and includes collection pieces from the Dollhouse Preservation Society. The society is a group of Delaware Valley collectors striving to raise the public’s awareness of the beauty, historical significance, and value of antique and collectable dollhouses.

The dollhouse museum is really a two-part collection because almost all of the houses acquired came empty. So the art of dollhouse collecting encompasses the craftsmanship of architectural design as well as interior design.

My favorite dollhouse in the exhibit just happens to be the oldest. It’s a Victorian dollhouse — Queen Anne style — from 1900. It is made completely of wood, some of which has been painted, while most of it is just shellacked, allowing the natural beauty to shine through. On the porch of this house was a couple getting married. The wedding scene, coupled with the detailed architecture, captures the almost fairy tale, whimsical world of a seven-year-old child imagining his or her own story of “When I grow up…”

dollhouse2The endurance and sheer passion needed to keep a collection such as Goodman’s up and running is quite inspiring. Throughout the past ten years, when Goodman says she seriously started collecting, her collection has taken her to many places throughout the world, and has also introduced her to many new and dear friends. With great conviction Goodman said, “I fully expect my dollhouses to carry me to 100.”

This, I can’t dispute. Goodman has seemingly found her fountain of youth in the craftsmanship, beauty and stories within her dollhouses from the past.

Museum Hours
Thursday, Friday and Sunday
1-5 p.m. and by appointment
Adults $4, Children $2
(children under 3 years – free)
For additional information, call the Goodman House: (609) 884-6371

Award Winning Winery

Visitors to Cape May might be surprised tolearn that they can experience and savor some billhayesfine,locally produced and award-winning wines.

The Cape May Winery and Vineyard, owned by Bill and Joan Hayes located less than a mile north of the Cape May Canal, has been producing three reds and two whites for some time now.

The reds include cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc and Merlot; the whites, Chardonnay and Riesling. New this year will be a traminette, which is a variation of a German white wine.

At present, there are only three sources for these wines. All are restaurants located in Cape May: Oyster Bay Steak and Seafood Restaurant, the Peter Shields Inn and Godmother’s Italian Restaurant.

winery2The winery’s 1998 cabernet franc won a gold medal as the best vinifera in the state during this year’s Commercial Wine Competition. In all, the winery has earned 21 medals since it opened in 1995.

The winery and its first 5-acre vineyard sit on a 7.5-acre plot of land on the north side of Townbank Road just east of Seashore Road. Bill Hayes is preparing and cultivating a second 6.5-acre plot on Shunpike.

During its opening year with a little over two acres producing grapes, the winery’s production was only 225 gallons; 75 gallons of red and 150 gallons of white. The two wines sold that year were a Vintage 1994 Premiere Red and a Vintage 1994 Chardonnay.

Today, five acres are producing grapes. With four acres at least three years old, wine production is expected to reach more than 3,000 gallons this fall.

Barring natural disaster, Hayes expects about 1,000 gallons of cabernet sauvignon, 400 gallons each of cabernet franc and Merlot, 1,000 gallons of Chardonnay, 200 of Riesling and perhaps 50 gallons of traminette.

Production last year came to about 2,300 gallons and the three restaurant outlets handled 90winery1 percent of the wine. The remaining 10 percent was sold at the winery.

Under the rather complicated state laws governing farm vineyards, the winery is allowed to establish five outlets for its wines. But Hayes cannot expand until his production gets higher.

“I have just enough to supply the three restaurants,” he said.

The Shunpike land will be ready for two acres of grapes next spring but those vines won’t produce wine for a couple of years. Hayes expects to have 10 acres of productive vines by 2004-2005.

Bill and Joan recently expanded their home and its basement winery. They’ve added a wine tasting room, which they plan to open to the public by Memorial Day, 2001.

Proper soil, appropriate weather conditions, and a lot of work and knowledge are required to produce fine wines.

With water on three sides, the Cape May peninsula has an ideal microclimate for the vines. It rarely gets super cold and there are established breezes. When planted, the vines are aligned so as to take full advantage of the prevailing winds.

wineryThere are about 800 plants to the acre. Row spacing is nine feet and vines are planted six feet apart within the rows. This works out to 54 square feet of land per vine.A drip irrigation system provides water to each vine. This provides both quality grapes and a better yield.

Vineyards have several enemies including mildew and birds. An entire crop can be wiped out within a matter of hours should large flocks of birds be allowed to get at the grapes.

Proper canopy management and vine alignment to assure adequate aeration helps prevent mildew, and netting is placed over the vines before the grapes reach maturity as a defense against birds.The wine making process starts as soon as the grapes are harvested.

First, the grapes are moved through a crusher which also removes the stems and then the primary fermentation process is started.

For white wines, the skins are removed immediately and the juice placed into stainless steel tanks for two days allowing the sediment to settle. For Chablis-type wines, the juice is transferred into a stainless steel tank for a couple of months. For Chardonnay-style wines, the juice is places in wooden barrels.

With red wine, however, the juice and skins are placed in a vat and inoculated with yeast. Thewinery3 skins add color to the wine, and the tannin and flavor are  imparted into the juice.

Twice daily during this phase, a ‘punch down’ takes place. This is a traditional European process where the skins are pushed into the liquid so they maintain contact with the juice and not dry out.

During this two-week period, plus or minus a few days depending on the wine, the sugars are reduced to alcohol and the juice becomes wine.

When this phase ends, the skins and seeds are removed for the reds and the wine is placed into steel storage vats for two months to settle out the sediment. The wine is then transferred into oak barrels for whatever aging period is decided upon. Blending, if desired, can also take place at this time.

The Chalfonte Hotel: The Beginning

Henry Sawyer

Henry Sawyer

A simple carpenter stares death in the eye, and lives to build one of Cape May’s living treasures. A story rooted in American history, the tale of Henry Washington Sawyer is one of courage, strength and pride.

It was by drawn lot that the fate of a man, a town and an entire county was sealed.
The date was July 6 in the year 1863.
The place — Libby Prison.

“They had hoped for a release, but here was an order which in a moment clouded the whole prospect. Escape, of course, was impossible. The drawing was inevitable. After being formed in a hollow square, a slip of paper with the name of each man written upon it, and carefully folded up, was deposited into a box, whereupon the captain informed the men that they might select whom they pleased to draw the names, the first two names drawn to indicate the men to be shot.”

The words seen in  italics throughout this story are those written by a Richmond Dispatch reporter (unless otherwise noted) during the years of 1863 and 64 – an eyewitness to all that unfolded.

Humble beginnings

ChalfonteHenry Washington “Saeger” was born May 16, 1829 in Whitehall Township, an area of farm lands in Pennsylvania. Though born of German descent, his family were proud patriots of the United States, giving Henry his middle name in honor of the thirtieth anniversary of George Washington’s death. At age nineteen, Henry decided to leave the family farm. His father was greatly incensed over the decision threatening Henry with disownment. From the moment he left until the day he died, Henry never again laid eyes on his father.

He studied carpentry trade and in 1848 set out for Cape May, New Jersey, a town in the midst of a construction “boon.” Upon arrival, he changed his name from Saeger to Sawyer — a literal translation. The German word “saeger” means carpenter or sawyer. Henry felt Cape May’s deep-routed Anglican heritage would be more receptive to a more Anglicized name. And he was right.

He married a local girl with strong Mayflower ties by the name of Harriett Ware Eldredge and had two children. Henry picked up odd jobs throughout town building a shed here, and an outhouse there — nothing terribly elaborate.

It was April 15, 1861 when President Abraham Lincoln issued a proclamation calling for volunteers in the recent War Between the States. And it was the same day, Henry went home early from work, put his tools into a closet, had something to eat, kissed his wife good-bye and rode to Cape May Court House to enlist. He was the first man in the entire county to volunteer.

In fact, so early did he enlist there was no regimental organization or company ready or likely to be for weeks so Sawyer went to Trenton offering the governor his services in the name of the Union cause. The governor accepted and sent Henry to Washington, D.C. with secret dispatches for the Secretary of War. All mail and telegraphic communication had been severed when the Confederacy took possession of Baltimore. He faithfully delivered. Four days later he was chosen as one of the guards to protect the Capitol and made a private. Within sixty days, he attained the rank of second sergeant and then second lieutenant.

The war

prisonDuring the early days of the war, the enlistment period was only ninety-days. Volunteers were called “thirty-day men” and by August, Henry’s enlistment time was up. He again offered his services to the governor, his previous service record considered “meritorious,” and was commissioned second lieutenant, Company D, First New Jersey cavalry in February of 1862. By October, his military conduct so commendable, he was promoted to captain.

It was June 9 in 1863 at the Battle of Brandy’s Station — combat which pitted more than 20,000 Union and Confederate soldiers against one another — that Henry was severely wounded and left for dead. A bullet passed through his thigh and another through his right cheek exiting out the back of his neck on the left side of his spine.

The Wednesday, March 23, 1864, edition of the Philadelphia Inquirer newspaper ran the following account, “Captain Sawyer was taken prisoner in the cavalry combat at Brandy Station in June last. This was the closest cavalry fight of the war. Towards the conclusion, Captain Sawyer received two wounds from pistol bullets. Notwithstanding, he still kept the saddle until his horse was shot, when the latter sprang up into the air and fell dead, throwing his rider with such force as to render him insensible. When he recovered consciousness, Captain Sawyer saw Lieutenant-Colonel Broderick lying near, and crawled up to him, but on examination found that he was dead. While by the side of Colonel Broderick, Captain Sawyer was seen by two rebel soldiers who took him prisoner, and, after washing the blood from his face pronounced his wounds very dangerous, if not mortal. But in a few weeks he improved so much he was sent to Richmond and confined in Libby Prison.”

Built between 1845 and 1852 by John Ender’s Sr., Libby Prison was named for a Captain Luther Libby, who leased the building at the outbreak of the Civil War. Legend has it that the Libby was given only 48 hours to vacate the premises after the Confederacy confiscated the building for use as a hospital and prison. So quickly was the building converted, the captain didn’t have time to remove his “L. Libby & Son, Ship Chandlers” sign and thus the name Libby Prison made its infamous way into history.

Second in reputation only to Andersonville, prisoners at Libby Prison were held in the “dungeon,” a vault in the cellar only 6 feet wide with no place for light or air, except for a 6 inches square hole cut into the door.

Sawyer assumed he would be exchanged for a Confederate prisoner of war — a common practice between sides. Unfortunately, two rebel officers had recently been executed by General Ambrose Burnside — and the Confederacy was screaming for retribution.

Less than a month later, Sawyer’s fate seemed sealed.

The verdict

“It was suggested that one of the chaplains should be appointed. Three were called down from an upper room and the Reverend Mr. Brown, of the Sixth Maryland, accepting the task, amid a silence almost deathlike, the drawing commenced. The first name taken out of the box was that of ‘Captain Henry Washington Sawyer, of the First New Jersey cavalry’ and the second that of ‘Captain John Flinn, of the Fifty-First Indiana.’”

Furthered the reporter witnessing the lottery, “When the names were read out, Sawyer heard it with no apparent emotion, remarking that some one (sic) had to be drawn, and he could stand it as well as any one (sic) else. Flinn was very white and depressed. The drawing over, the prisoners were returned to their quarters and the condemned proceeding under guard to the headquarters of General Winder, Provost-Marshal General. Here they were warned not to delude themselves with any hope of escape, as retaliation must be and would be inflicted, it being added that the execution would positively take place on the 14th, eight days hence.”

It’s interesting to note the human response to imminent death. Flinn became sullen and withdrawn. Hopeless. Sawyer, as the account continues, “as desperate as the situation seemed, did not disrepair, but, reflecting that if by any means his situation could be brought to the knowledge of his government, he might still be rescued, and asked permission to write to his wife, which, being granted on condition that the authorities should read the letter, he immediately did.”

Provost-General’s Office,
Richmond, Va.
July 6, 1863

My Dear Wife:—I am under the necessity of informing you that my prospects look dark.
This morning all the captains now prisoners at the Libby Military Prison drew lots for two to be executed. It fell to my lot. Myself and Captain Flinn, of the Fifty-first Indiana Infantry, will be executed for two captains executed by Burnside.
The Provost-General J. H. Winder, assures me that the Secretary of War of the Southern Confederacy will permit yourself and my dear children to visit me before I am executed. You will be permitted to bring an attendant, Captain Whilldin, or Uncle W.W. Ware, or Dan, had better come with you. My situation is hard to be borne, and I cannot think of dying without seeing you and the children. You will be allowed to return without molestation to your home. I am resigned to whatever is in store for me, with the consolation that I die without having committed any crime, but it fell to my lot. You will proceed to Washington. My government will give you transportation for Fortress Monroe, and you will get here by a flag of truce, and return the same way. Bring with you a shirt for me.
It will be necessary for you to preserve this letter to bring evidence to Washington of my condition. My pay is due me from the first of March, which you are entitled to. Captain B—— owes me fifty dollars, money lent to him when he went on a furlough. You will write to him at once, and he will send it to you.
Farewell! farewell!! And I hope it is all for the best. I remain yours until death.

H.W. Sawyer,
First New Jersey Cavalry

The account continues, “After preparing this letter, with a conflict of feeling which we may well imagine, Sawyer and his companion were placed in close confinement in a dungeon under ground (sic). Here they were fed on corn bread and water, the dungeon being so damp that their clothing mildewed.”

In front of the dungeon door stood a 24-hour guard whose purpose was to rouse the prisoners every half hour by calling their names and demanding they answer. This left little time for sleep. But it is known, too, that rats were so numerous inmates were reluctant to close their eyes anyway. It is thought too, that Sawyer and Flinn’s cell was situated next to a room used to store dead bodies. Much like a garbage can, guards would wait for the bodies to fill the room before removing them. Add to this the heat of summer. An insufferable situation.

The Encyclopedia of the Civil War says this about Civil War prison life, “Life in prison brought out unexpected capabilities and unsuspected deficiencies. This was not always the reverse of the traits shown in the world outside. Often the strong and energetic men preserved these characteristics in prison and the weak became helpless. The veneer of convention often peeled away, showing the real man beneath, sometimes attractive, sometimes unpleasant.”

“Men who were confined for any length of time, stood naked, stripped of all disguise before their fellows. Where conditions were particularly hard, the stories of the attitude of some of the prisoners toward their companions are revolting. In Andersonville, organized bands preyed upon the weak and upon those who managed to retain or obtain some desired necessity or luxury. The possession of a little money, a camp kettle, a blanket or an overcoat was sometimes the occasion for jealousy and covetousness which led to a display of primeval characteristics. The trial and execution of a number of prisoners by their companions in Andersonville is well known. In these prisons where the prisoners cooked their own food, the possession of a skillet or tin pail raised a man much above the level of his fellows. He might gain greater riches by charging rent, such as a share of everything cooked, or a button, a pin, a sheet of paper, or tobacco. Life in the prisons was a day-to-day affair with nothing to do but pass the time. Games were created from whatever material one was able to find. Many a rural checker champion owed his skill to the practice gained in prison. Cards were used until the spots were worn off. The chess players at Libby Prison would get so excited over a game that men would pass out, caused in part by their extremely weakened condition. For a time this game was forbidden for this reason.”

Sawyer and Flinn’s “eight day, hence” turned into nine months.

A dilemma

Cape May County was initially reluctant to choose sides in the War Between the States. The county was a fragile “border region,” lying precariously close between the feuding areas and subject to pressure from both the North and South. Relying on tourism from both regions as its foremost industry — a South Carolina secessionist flag flew on a Cape May City hotel — city father’s were hesitant to aggravate either. Visitors from the southern states made up a large proportion of the summer population. And slave owning itself was an inherent part of Cape May County life. Some county businessmen were vehemently opposed to abolition.

A local newspaper editor suggested the break between the North and South might be avoided, calling the secessionist “rumblings” during Lincoln’s 1860 election “more smoke than fire.”

Henry Sawyer’s tragic letter home finally forced county officials make a decision. Cape May County joined the Union cause. In fact, many historians today believe the county was part of Harriett Tubman’s Underground Railroad system.


“The 14th came at last, but still Captains Sawyer and Flinn remained unmolested. Sawyer had estimated right; his letter saved him from the rebel clutch. Immediately upon receiving it, his true-hearted wife hastened to lay the matter before influential friends, and these at once proceeded to Washington, presented the case to the President and the Secretary of War, who without delay, directed that General Lee, son of Robert E. Lee, and General Winder, son of rebel Provost-Marshal General J.H. Winder, then prisoners in our hands, should be placed in close confinement as hostages, General Butler being at the same time ordered to notify the Confederate Government that immediately upon receiving information, authentic or otherwise, of the execution of Sawyer and Flinn, he should proceed to execute Winder and Lee. This action, prompt and unmistakable, and more significant, perhaps, to the enemy, because of General Butler’s known resolution of purpose, produced the desired effect. Sawyer and Flinn were not executed.”

But still nine months went by, Sawyer and Flinn oblivious to the deal. Richmond newspapers still vehemently insisted the execution must and would take place, the public view still a matter of speculation. But it must be told, Richmond newspapers also spoke of Sawyer’s “unfaltering courage, steady and calm.”

Said the Richmond Dispatch, “There was no bravado, no affectation or calm recklessness, but there was no faltering: only the steady, calm courage of a brave man: to use the captain’s own words (if we may do so without impropriety), he was determined that New Jersey should have no cause to be ashamed of his conduct.”

The March 23, 1864 Philadelphia Inquirer’s chronicle of his homecoming reads, “Captain Sawyer, of the First New Jersey cavalry, who has been a prisoner in Libby Prison for nine months, arrived in this city Monday. Captain Sawyer, from long and close confinement (being entirely without meat for the last forty days of his imprisonment) is, of course, somewhat weak; but he is in good spirits and hopes to rejoin his regiment at an early date.”

Sawyer remained in active service until August of 1865 when he was discharged with the brevet of lieutenant colonel. At the close of the war, he was offered the rank of lieutenant in the regular army. Sawyer declined.

Flinn never recovered from the ordeal at Libby Prison. He died just six months after he returned home of alcoholism.

Chalfonte2The homecoming

Sawyer received a hero’s welcome in Cape May City. He was given a medal of honor from the Pennsylvania Legislature and served on Cape May City Council for nine years. He was at one time superintendent of the United States Life Saving

Service for the coast of New Jersey and a member of the New Jersey State Sinking Fund Commission. Sawyer eventually became proprietor of the Ocean House, one of Cape May’s largest hotels and in 1875, built Sawyer’s Boarding House on Howard Street. In 1876 Sawyer changed its name to the Chalfonte Hotel.

After the Civil War, wealthy southern visitors returned to Cape May during the summer months. Ironically, under the ownership of Colonel Henry Sawyer, the Chalfonte Hotel became one of the foremost resorts in Cape May which catered to southern culture and gentry.

His was not a grudge to bear.  Said Sawyer, “After the war, where once blood flowed, flowers now grow. We are one people again and the greatest country of the world. All is forgiven.”

Parking Meters: Are we being ripped off?

Ever put a quarter in the meter and check your watch, just to come back a half an hour later tometer1 find a ticket tucked neatly under a windshield wiper?

Maybe your watch was running slow? Or perhaps the meter running fast?

Eleven-year-old Ellie Lammer of Berkeley, California, was sure Berkeley’s meters were wrong in her town after her mother inserted an hour’s worth of quarters only to come back a half hour later to a ticket.

Ellie decided to check them out. She found the four minutes her nickel was supposed to pay for actually paid for only two and a half.

She was mad.

Ellie decided to conduct a random sampling of meters for her sixth grade science project. And the results were startling — though most meters were giving the customer extra time, 28-percent were actually short-timing the parker.

Her findings ended up in a local newspaper and her school project forced local officials to change the meters.

A reporter in Seattle, Washington, picked up on Ellie’s story and conducted his own investigation. He found 30-percent of his city’s meters cheating.

Then a group of sixth-graders in Somerville, New Jersey, decided to check their town’s meters — 38-percent came up short.

When read of these stories, we decided to do a little investigating of our own.

For years, it’s been rumored that Cape May meters cheat. Many inserted an extra quarter just to ensure they wouldn’t get a ticket. Of course, these were the old mechanical meters — time kind of wound up on a spring. The meters wear out after time.

But what about the new digital meters? Cape May recently installed these high-tech time keepers throughout the city after raising parking fees from .50¢ to .75¢ an hour and increasing parking fines from $18 to $20.

The public hasn’t taken too well to the increase. Complaints at City Hall led to newspaper headlines as far away as Philadelphia — town’s too greedy, all a big rip off, they chastised.

So just how accurate are the meters? And are we being ripped off in more ways than one? decided to find out. It wasn’t an easy task.

We chose ten locations throughout town and timed five meters at each place. That’s fifty meters. We checked the Washington Street Mall, of course. And Beach Avenue. We timed meters in the historic district and directly across from City Hall.

Our results from all meters were unanimous. Cape May meter-feeders get what they pay for. Not only are the new meters giving the allotted time, more than 25-percent gave an extra minute.

The following is a brief breakdown of meters. Five meters were timed for three twenty-minute periods at each location.

It’s fair to say that Cape May is fair. At least for now. The meters we checked are all brand-new and perhaps even direct from the factory. Once winter rolls around, the meters all come down, oiled and repaired.

Who knows what will happen next season?

We will. Cape plans to randomly spot check Cape May’s parking meters annually. We’ll keep you posted.

In the meantime — got change for a dollar?

Jen Heinold’s Investigation

“As a life-long local of Cape May, I have become accustomed to the ever-present parking issues of this town.  In Cape May, quarters are worth their weight in gold.  As a child, their value equaled a game of skee ball which in turn yielded enough prize tickets to redeem a friendship bracelet or pocket-size water gun.  But as an adult, and someone who works by the beach in Cape May, I find myself hoarding quarters so that I can feed the parking meters throughout town.
When given the assignment to go out on the streets of my hometown and complete an investigative report on the accuracy of parking meters, I was excited.  I’ve watched my fair share of 20/20 investigative reports and as an aspiring journalist, with stars in her eyes and a bit of curiosity, I eagerly took to the streets.
Armed with nothing more than a notepad, a roll of quarters and the Cape May staple, a cup of WaWa coffee, I was ready to go. I had a simple strategy in my investigation: beat the crowds.  In order to do just that, I woke up bright and early and made sure that I was on the streets by 8 a.m.  Since much of my research was done between the hours of 8 and 10 a.m. – before meters are in use – I did attract some attention.  Few people actually talked to me but I did overhear many whispers of, “Should we tell her?” and “Does she know?”  Of course, there were those, too, who doubted themselves, asking, “When do the meters start?”
Throughout the investigation I was stopped by two men, both of whom assumed that I was a meter maid or rent-a-cop (the local’s affectionate term for a summer policeman) in the process of giving them a $20 parking ticket. When I assured them that I was not, their sighs of relief could be heard throughout town.
In the end, I was proud when my research found that most of the meters in Cape May are fair and accurate.  Even though this investigation may not give me the chance to sit in the anchor chair next to Diane Sawyer, I did have fun. And in true Cape May style, I was able to work on my summer tan as well.”

Here are some results:

Lyle Lane

Meter No. 40 Time In: 1:08:20 Expired: 1:29:00

Carpenter’s Lane

Meter No. 54 Time In: 12:32:00 Expired: 12:52:00meter2

Beach Drive Boardwalk

Meter No. B96 Time In: 9:30:40 Expired: 9:51:00

Beach Drive between Madison & Philadelphia

Meter No. N134 Time In: 9:10:40 Expired: 9:31:00

Washington Street across from City Hall

Meter No. 12 Time In: 8:54:00 Expired: 9:14:10

Broadway & Mount Vernon

Meter No. 12 Time In: 2:20:08 Expired: 2:41: 34

Congress Place

Meter No. 18 Time In: 3:08:12 Expired: 3:28:46

Parking Lot behind Collier’s Liquor Store

Meter No. 14: Time In: 3:36:17 Expired: 3:57:02

On the Street with Jennifer Brownstone Kopp

“July is a hard month to find a parking space in Cape May, let alone 25 of them in an afternoon. I had my faithful side kick with me — my soon-to-be eleven year-old daughter. It was terribly hot so we decided to drive the route in comfortable air-conditioning. Did I mention I was driving a Ford F-150 truck big enough to sleep eight comfortably? So huge I have trouble parking it at the supermarket’s lot? So enormous that I’ve ended up sitting — quite embarrassingly — on top of other cars bumpers? So gargantuan that I nearly wiped out all of Parking Terminal C at the Philadelphia Airport in one fell go-around?

You get the picture.

Driving forced me to find that empty space in the areas we’d designated, one with an expired meter, and one I could ease the truck into. It was no day at the beach, believe me.

Fortunately, I had the help of my daughter. I’d pull up as close as possible close to an empty space, and she’d hop out to check the meter. If it was expired, I was then faced with a decision — could I maneuver the truck into the spot without causing serious bodily damage?

My daughter had a merry time of it. We played “hangman” in the truck as we waited for the meter’s time to run out. She learned that Brussels is in Belgium, not England, after completely stumping me in a game. And I learned how to park. Well, at least a little better.”

Cape May Carriages- Oh So Pretty…But Are They Cruel?

They’re talking about it in New York. They’re arguing about it in Philadelphia. And in both cities, the town of Cape May crops up in the conversations. They’re discussing the use of horse and carriages as entertainment. Animal rights activists are scrutinizing the trade, noting the animals suffer cruel treatment and work long hours. Both proponents and critics point to Cape May as example. “They do it in Cape May,” they say.  takes a look.

Horseand.In Philadelphia, animal rights groups called for city regulations over the horse and carriage businesses, maintaining the horses shouldn’t work in hot weather over 89 degrees. City regulations currently have a 94-degree limit for horses.

Philly’s horse-drawn carriages were resurrected in 1976 during the Bicentennial celebration. Through the years, regulations cropped up governing the trade; the first in 1986 – limiting the number of hours horses could work to ten a day, and particular routes for buggy rides were mapped out in 1993.

In New York City, animal rights groups are accusing horse and carriage operators of forcing their horses into ill-fitting bridles, shoes and blinders. Activists point to mistreatment on numerous occasions. One carriage horse was electrocuted after stepping onto an electrical box, and another collapsed and died in her stable during 100-degree heat.
Most recently, in Philadelphia, carriage horses, found in an abused, neglected state, were rescued and taken to a country stable.

The clip-clop of horse’s hooves along the pavement and the slow rolling carriages pass Victorian gingerbread homes just as they did 120 years ago. A tourist in his car is stuck behind the slow-moving carriage. He honks his horn in frustration, then finally zips down a side street, leaving the horse and carriage as it ambles at a leisurely pace amid the falling leaves. Times may have changed in Cape May, with automatic bank-telling machines popping up, bed and breakfasts replacing stately Victorian residences, and traffic meters squeezed on tiny, tree-lined streets.

Yet the horse and carriages of yesteryear remain with Cape May, one of the few re-sort communities with this particular brand of nostalgic conveyance. Traditionally, back when Cape May attracted Philadelphians who traveled by rail, horses and carriages were the only mode of transport through town besides the toe and heel express. You either walked, or you rode in a buggy.

At the beginning of the 20th-century, the horse gave way to the automobile. Cobble stoned streets once accustomed to hooves now yielded to tires, as families packed their cars for a jaunt to the New Jersey shore. For a while, it seemed the sensation of riding in an open-air carriage pulled by horses would be another experience mothballed into the realm of antiquity, shelved in a museum, never to be experienced by tourists in Cape May again.

In 1982, Beverly Carr changed all of that when she received permission from city council to begin carriage rides throughout the city. Carr, president of Cape May Carriage Company, started with one horse and now has a fleet consisting of 22 horses, five large carriages for seating groups, a special wheel-chair-accessible carriage, nine white carriages for weddings and special occasions, a few training carriages, and a sleigh for snowy days. The carriages run half-hour tours through the central historic district asking $40 for two-person private evening carriage rides and $8 for adults and $4 for children for larger group rides.


Carr, raised with horses, said inspiration hit her for Cape May carriage rides after she saw carriages in Charleston, S.C. (see sidebar) “I thought, why don’t we do that down here? It’s a nice, quiet way for people to go downtown. It’s great for weddings because people like the Cinderella thing with the carriages,” Carr told
It has been said Cape May ranks among the country’s top ten “most desirable cities in which to get married.” And perhaps that’s true. Besides traditional church weddings, Cape May City’s mayor marries over 100 couples annually. For weddings, Carr’s company goes all out. Specially trained white homing birds are released at the weddings, a flurry of white flapping wings rising heavenward and home-ward back to Carr’s stables. Carr said she’s also proposing to have a carriage built resembling the one in the fairy tale Cinderella, to give the right happy ending to the ceremony.

Besides the fancy carriages are the 22 horses themselves, the crucial elements of Carr’s DovesSmbusiness. On Carr’s eight-acre farm in West Cape May, the horses can be seen romping in fenced-in fields. Graceful as they may look, these animals are 2,000-pound draft horses, a mish-mash of Percherons, Belgians and crossbreeds. Because of their large size and subsequent capacity for fieldwork, these particular horses are utilized by Amish farmers in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.

To say that Carr is a horse lover is an understatement. Professionally, she belongs to the American Driving Association, the Carriage Association of America, the Carriage Operators of America and the Brandywine Driving Club. “I drove ponies when I was a kid. It was fun. As I got older I rode horses a lot,” Carr said. “I learned from the Amish how to drive horses. “If anything, Carr said she runs a clean company. Before working, the horses are bathed to eliminate pungent, equine odors, and wear special diapers to prevent their waste from falling in the street.

Life on the farm is an equine paradise for Carr’s horses, complete with wide fields perfect for galloping. The horses are pampered and properly maintained. According to Carr, each horse received shoeing from a qualified Amish blacksmith, a horse dentist cleans their teeth, and a veterinarian tends to their medical health.

HorseKissWbThe horses also eat well, consuming 25 pounds of food a day, roughly a quarter bail of hay. Carr said her horses work in day and evening shifts, one lasting from ten in the morning to three in the afternoon and the other from six in the evening until eleven. Horses are rotated between day and evening shifts, each walking half-hour trips with ten minute breaks in between. If the weather is too hot of cold, the horses won’t work, Carr said. “The horses are acclimated to the climate, but you need to water them and cool them off between walks,” Carr said.

The Cape May Carriage Company works its horses during the prime summer tourist season, from June to September. During the fall months, carriage rides also run through town, but aren’t as intense as the summer crowds. Carr condemns owners who neglect their horses, adding it only stains the whole carriage business by generating negative press.
“People who overwork their horses are doing a disservice to their horses and to the carriage AcerWindustry,” Carr said. “Unfortunately, people seem to think all horses live that way. You always have to defend it.”

Carr said one tourist, after witnessing the horses pulling carriages wrote a letter to the local Chamber of Commerce condemning the business as cruelty to animals. Carr wrote back and explained her horses aren’t overworked at all and they rest between walks.
“We go the extra mile.” Carr said. “A lot of people recognize they are happy, well horses.”

Visit the Cape May Carriage Company web site