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Month: July 2003

Confronting the Past: A Trip to the Historic Cold Spring Village

What do you do with your family on weekends?
Civil War re-enactors take their families– and the rest of us — back in time.

Historic Cold Spring Village (HCSV) recently played host to the Confederate re-enactors of Company E, the 17th Virginia Volunteer Infantry and Battery A.,sittingintent2 1st North Carolina Artillery.
When I went to see what it was all about, I expected to see grown men in uniform. I didn’t expect women and children gathered around campsites, dressed and acting the roles of Confederate families waiting alongside their husbands, fathers, and yes, grandfathers for their  marching orders.
Because I enter Cold Spring Village via Route 626, (locals know this as Seashore Road) instead of off Route 9, I don’t immediately see the campsites or the artillery canons. As I meander through the recreated 19th century village. I see plenty of soldiers strolling the soggy 22-acre site on this quiet Sunday afternoon. Two inches of rain fell the day before, putting a damper on Saturday’s activities, but the sun is shining now.
countrystoreMy first stop is to check-out the Country Store, circa 1790. It is the former Marmora Sharp House, moved to HCSV from Marmora, NJ, and inside, baskets hang over a brick fireplace. Bonnets are scattered about. Jellies and preserves line the shelves behind the counter. “Penny” candy is near the cash register. I can hear my footsteps on the wooden floor and I think, hmmm I’ve always wanted to can fruit and make my own preserves. I should buy a book and really do that, especially now that strawberry season is here. And while I’m at it, I think, looking over at the fireplace, wouldn’t it be great to at least know how to cook over the hearth? What if I find myself stuck someday in a wooden cabin with no electricity or running water?

Before I get too distracted, I better look for the soldiers. I spy a campsite up ahead, but am tempted to stop in and see the Dennisville Inn. This circa 1778 dennisvilleinntwo-story building was the last stagecoach stop for folks traveling from Philadelphia on the way to Cape May. The current inn, which is celebrating its 225th birthday, features a restored tavern and dining room.
The gentleman in the room is very thorough and explains that the inn was a stop-over not a sleep-over and that lunch was provided in the dining room. Gentlemen could then retire to the tap room if they had business to discuss and while there, they could play a game of skittles. As I leave, I’m thinking hmmm…but I’d really like to hang out in the taproom with the men and discuss business and play skittles. I wouldn’t want to be left in the dining room where the ladies were encouraged to stay afterward to wait for the next schoolhousestagecoach to knit or chat or do whatever ladies do. Come to think of it, I’ve always wanted to learn how to knit. I should a get a book and learn how to do that. What if I end up stranded on a sheep farm and without knowing how to turn wool into yarn?

O.K. I’m really heading for the campsite now. I can see the smoke from the campfire up ahead. I’m sorry, I just can’t resist stopping in to see the Marshallville Schoolhouse. I’ll only be a minute. Circa 1825, the schoolhouse, my brochure tells me, is a good example of the use of local materials in the architecture of our region – our region being Cape May and Cumberland Counties. The gentleman in the schoolhouse is explaining how kids had inkwells in their desks and used quills to write with. As he talks, I remember that as a kid I had an “ink pen” which I used with an ink bottle, and ink blotter. I also remember that I was always spilling the bottle or dripping ink over the white linen table cloth where I wasn’t supposed to be using it. I think maybe I should go back to the ink pen. What a neat way to write to people, instead of e-mailing them.

Finally, I come up to the campsite. I’m struck by how neat it is. Tents and cots are clustered about and Claire Juechter is sitting with John Murphy and three-mickeyyear-old Mikey Snyder, who by the way is cleaning his rifle, just as a kid would during the Civil War. Claire, dressed in bonnet, petticoats and 1800’s attire has been participating in Civil War re-enactments for five years. “I was working at the Village when I got interested. I love history and I love theater. This is a great way to combine both,” she said.sittingintent3

I want to chat more but I hear the canons going off and ask her where the artillery soldiers are. I scurry off past the topographers and engineers’ stand and find Battery A, 1st North Carolina Artillery already assembled. A man facing the onlookers explains that each of the five men has a separate function in preparing the canon to fire. Suddenly, one of the five is yelling “Fire.” And fire it does. The boom echoes throughout the trees disturbing the wet stillness of the canons3afternoon. Smoke billows over the soggy grounds. After firing a few rounds the artillery brigade walks off the field in perfect formation.

I meet up with Bud Sundstrom of Cape May, who tells me that he has been an artillery re-enactor for the past 5 or 6 years and that he looks forward to traveling to Gettysburg next month where 100 canons will be assembled and 20,000 re-enactors will be on hand July 4,5, and 6. He’ll be on budsundstrom2the Union side that day, a member of the Sixth Iron Brigade. He’ll also be a Union man when HCSV hosts its annual Civil War Weekend September 13 & 14. He tags himself a Civil War buff who took his interest one step further when a friend invited him to come along one weekend.
As I walk up the path to see the Topographers and Engineers, I spy wee Mikey Snyder walking down the path with his grandfather J.L. Snyder, who tells me Mikey’s father is back at the campsite, and I think what a great thing this living history business is – grandfather, father and son coming together for a trip not just back in time, but to a very specific era – minisoldierandgrandpopeach person with a specific task or skill. In other words, they pretty much stay in character at the Village.
One character who looks a little off is Victoria Ervine ofVictoria is on the left speaking with Mikey Ocean City. I think, when I first see her, wow this is a very effeminate looking soldier – not that there’s anything wrong with that – and then he said something to me. and I thought wow,  this guy’s voice is – well there’s something off here. It’s not exactly Cold Spring Village’s “Victor/Victoria” but she then explained.
“Oh yeah. I went to the closet this morning and I looked at the Confederate soldier’s clothes and I thought, I can do this. I’m usually a Southern woman. Many times I do Susan B. Anthony at the Village. Myvictoriaandhusband2 husband (Norman) is a soldier or he does the life of Allen Pinkerton ( who started the first detective agency in the U.S.). Being a Southern woman can be exhausting. You’re always on. I like this. I just sit back, and pretty much relax.”
Victoria’s been an historical re-enactor for ten years.  A friend who was teaching women’s’ studies in Chicago introduced her to the life of Susan B. Anthony and Victoria tried re-enacting. She’s been Betsy Ross too; but today she is a soldier.
In addition to Confederate and Civil War weekends, the Ervines’ bring their act to schools as well. Victoria really decided to stretch trek into history during last September’s Civil War Weekend when she and a few other members of the group turned the Dennisville Inn into “Victoria’s Palace.”  Victoria turned herself into – well – a lady of the evening.”The Provost Marshall arrested me during the antislavery rally and put me in jail” she said.

weaverI bid the soldiers a fond farewell and make my way ’round the other HCSV houses.
At the Lewis Corson Gandy Barn (c1880) a lady shows me how to make rag rugs. At the Heislerville House (c1850) a man explains the art of tinsmithing. This place is filled people who understand the skills of the past, one specialty at a time.
I am reminded of Ray Bradbury’s novel Fahrenheit 451 about a society which bans books and the reading of them. Rebels in the society run away to a wooded land where each member chooses a book, reads it, memorizes it, then destroys wanderingsoldierit. They spend their days reading the books to each other.
They become a living book just as the people at Historic Cold Spring Village become a living museum of history and they way life was in the 19th century.

So what are you doing this weekend? Why not expose your family to the past? Me? I’m going over to the Philip Hand House (c. 1824) to see how they spin wool from the Village sheep. ‘Cause you never know…

If you go..
Historic Cold Spring Village is located at 720 Route 9 Cape May, NJ, just a 5 minute drive off the island of Cape May.
There are entrances to the Village. One is off of Rt. 9 and the other is off Seashore Rd.
The Cape May Seashore Lines Train also makes stops at the Village.
Please visit the following web site for more information
Historic Cold Spring Village web site www.hcsv.org


Going Back in Time: Historic Cold Spring Village

sittingintent2What do you do with your family on weekends? Civil War re-enactors take their families– and the rest of us — back in time.

Historic Cold Spring Village (HCSV) recently played host to the Confederate re-enactors of Company E, the 17th Virginia Volunteer Infantry and Battery A., 1st North Carolina Artillery.

When I went to see what it was all about, I expected to see grown men in uniform. I didn’t expect women and children gathered around campsites, dressed and acting the roles of Confederate families waiting alongside their husbands, fathers, and yes, grandfathers for their  marching orders.

countrystoreBecause I enter Cold Spring Village via Route 626 (locals know this as Seashore Road) instead of off Route 9, I don’t immediately see the campsites or the artillery canons. As I meander through the recreated 19th century village. I see plenty of soldiers strolling the soggy 22-acre site on this quiet Sunday afternoon. Two inches of rain fell the day before, putting a damper on Saturday’s activities, but the sun is shining now.

My first stop is to check-out the Country Store, circa 1790. It is the former Marmora Sharp House, moved to HCSV from Marmora, NJ, and inside, baskets hang over a brick fireplace. Bonnets are scattered about. Jellies and preserves line the shelves behind the counter. “Penny” candy is near the cash register. I can hear my footsteps on the wooden floor and I think, hmmm I’ve always wanted to can fruit and make my own preserves. I should buy a book and really do that, especially now that strawberry season is here. And while I’m at it, I think, looking over at the fireplace, wouldn’t it be great to at least know how to cook over the hearth?

The Dennisville Inn

The Dennisville Inn

What if I find myself stuck someday in a wooden cabin with no electricity or running water?

Before I get too distracted, I better look for the soldiers. I spy a campsite up ahead, but am tempted to stop in and see the Dennisville Inn. This circa 1778 two-story building was the last stagecoach stop for folks traveling from Philadelphia on the way to Cape May. The current inn, which is celebrating its 225th birthday, features a restored tavern and dining room.

The gentleman in the room is very thorough and explains that the inn was a stop-over not a sleep-over and that lunch was provided in the dining room. Gentlemen could then retire to the tap room if they had business to discuss and while there, they could play a game of skittles. As I leave, I’m thinking hmmm…but I’d really like to hang out in the taproom with the men and discuss business and play skittles. I wouldn’t want to be left in the dining room where the ladies were encouraged to stay afterward to wait for the next stagecoach to knit or chat or do whatever ladies do. Come to think of it, I’ve always wanted to learn how to knit. I should a get a book and learn how

Marshallville Schoolhouse

Marshallville Schoolhouse

to do that. What if I end up stranded on a sheep farm and without knowing how to turn wool into yarn?

O.K. I’m really heading for the campsite now. I can see the smoke from the campfire up ahead. I’m sorry, I just can’t resist stopping in to see the Marshallville Schoolhouse. I’ll only be a minute. Circa 1825, the schoolhouse, my brochure tells me, is a good example of the use of local materials in the architecture of our region – our region being Cape May and Cumberland Counties. The gentleman in the schoolhouse is explaining how kids had inkwells in their desks and used quills to write with. As he talks, I remember that as a kid I had an “ink pen” which I used with an ink bottle, and ink blotter. I also remember that I was always spilling the bottle or dripping ink over the white linen table cloth where I wasn’t supposed to be using it. I think maybe I should go back to the ink pen. What a neat way to write to people, instead of e-mailing them.

mickey

Mikey Snyder, age 3

Finally, I come up to the campsite. I’m struck by how neat it is. Tents and cots are clustered about and Claire Juechter is sitting with John Murphy and three-year-old Mikey Snyder, who by the way is cleaning his rifle, just as a kid would during the Civil War. Claire, dressed in bonnet, petticoats and 1800s attire has been participating in Civil War re-enactments for five years.

sittingintent3“I was working at the Village when I got interested. I love history and I love theater. This is a great way to combine both,” she said.

I want to chat more, but I hear the cannons going off and ask her where the artillery soldiers are. I scurry off past the topographers and engineers’ stand and find Battery A, 1st North Carolina Artillery already assembled. A man facing the onlookers explains that each of the five men has a separate function in preparing the canon to fire. Suddenly, one of the five is yelling “Fire.” And fire it does. The boom echoes throughout the trees disturbing the wet stillness of the afternoon. Smoke billows over the soggy grounds. After firing a few rounds the artillery brigade walks off the field in perfect formation.

canons3I meet up with Bud Sundstrom of Cape May, who tells me that he has been an artillery re-enactor for the past 5 or 6 years and that he looks forward to traveling to Gettysburg next month where 100 canons will be assembled and 20,000 re-enactors will be on hand

Bud Sundstrom

Bud Sundstrom

July 4,5, and 6. He’ll be on the Union side that day, a member of the Sixth Iron Brigade. He’ll also be a Union man when HCSV hosts its annual Civil War Weekend September 13 & 14. He tags himself a Civil War buff who took his interest one step further when a friend invited him to come along one weekend.

As I walk up the path to see the Topographers and Engineers, I spy wee Mikey Snyder walking down the path with his grandfather J.L. Snyder, who tells me Mikey’s father is back at the campsite, and I think what a great thing this living history business is – grandfather, father and son coming together for a trip not just back in time, but to a very specific era – each person with a specific task or skill. In other words, they pretty much stay in character at the Village.

One character who looks a little off is Victoria Ervine of Victoria is on the left speaking with Mikey Ocean City. I think, when I first see her, wow this is a very effeminate looking soldier – not

Mikey Snyder with grandfather J.L. Snyder

Mikey Snyder with grandfather J.L. Snyder

that there’s anything wrong with that – and then he said something to me. and I thought wow,  this guy’s voice is – well there’s something off here. It’s not exactly Cold Spring Village’s “Victor/Victoria” but she then explained.

“Oh yeah. I went to the closet this morning and I looked at the Confederate soldier’s clothes and I thought, I can do this. I’m usually a Southern woman. Many times I do Susan B. Anthony at the Village. My husband [Norman] is a soldier or he does the life of Allen Pinkerton [who started the first detective agency in the U.S.]. Being a Southern woman can be exhausting. You’re always on. I like this. I just sit back, and pretty much relax.”

Victoria’s been an historical re-enactor for ten years.  A friend who was teaching women’s’ studies in Chicago introduced her to the life of Susan B. Anthony and Victoria tried

Victoria and her husband

Victoria and her husband

re-enacting. She’s been Betsy Ross too; but today she is a soldier.

In addition to Confederate and Civil War weekends, the Ervines’ bring their act to schools as well. Victoria really decided to stretch trek into history during last September’s Civil War Weekend when she and a few other members of the group turned the Dennisville Inn into “Victoria’s Palace.”  Victoria turned herself into – well – a lady of the evening.

“The Provost Marshall arrested me during the antislavery rally and put me in jail” she said.

I bid the soldiers a fond farewell and make my way ’round the other HCSV houses.

At the Lewis Corson Gandy Barn (c1880) a lady shows me how to make rag rugs. At the Heislerville House (c1850) a man explains the art of weavertinsmithing. This place is filled people who understand the skills of the past, one specialty at a time.

I am reminded of Ray Bradbury’s novel Fahrenheit 451 about a society which bans books and the reading of them. Rebels in the society run away to a wooded land where each member chooses a book, reads it, memorizes it, then destroys it. They spend their days reading the books to each other.
They become a living book just as the people at Historic Cold Spring Village become a living museum of history and they way life was in the 19th century.

So what are you doing this weekend? Why not expose your family to the past? Me? I’m going over to the Philip Hand House (c. 1824) to see how they spin wool from the Village sheep. ‘Cause you never know…

wanderingsoldierIf you go…

Historic Cold Spring Village is located at 720 Route 9 Cape May, NJ, just a 5 minute drive off the island of Cape May.

There are entrances to the Village. One is off of Rt. 9 and the other is off Seashore Rd.

The Cape May Seashore Lines Train also makes stops at the Village.

Please visit the following websites for more information:
Historic Cold Spring Village www.hcsv.org
Cape May Seashore Lines Train www.capemayseashorelines.org


Cape May Nightlife

My date and I spent a rainy Saturday night in June hitting some of the bars in Cape May  that we think single people looking for a good time should try out. We were on foot, so we focused our attention on a few that are found on and around Beach Ave.

Our trek started at the King Eddy (King Edward Room in the Chalfonte Hotel, Howard Street, 2 kingeddyblocks from the beach). This Southern Plantation style building, celebrating its 127th anniversary this season, is host to several musical events every summer. At the end of a typical performance the audience spills out of the Henry Sawyer Room into the King Eddy, so, by 10ish the place is usually happenin’ — it’s a theater-going kind of happenin’, laid back, sophisticated, cozy.  Tonight Paul Klineburger is tending bar and he makes a super Mint Julep (in the style of the Old South)

But on this particular Saturday night, it really isn’t happenin’. For a couple of reasons.  One, it’s only 9:30 for heaven’s sake, but we had to start somewhere. Two, the Henry Sawyer Room was dark this night so it was really only hotel guests and passers-by filling the bar and the tables.  After a bit of chat with the bar customers, we finished our drinks and move on.  But we say don’t miss the King Edward.  Especially when Jilline Ringle begins her cabaret run at the Chalfonte on July 2.

Off we go to Cabanas on the Beach – four blocks away at Beach and Decatur.  When we arrive, “The Jinx” is just getting ready to start their first set.  Scott, the man in charge wants to know if we want to buy a VIP card – a pass for whenever they have a cover charge.  We decline.

The bar is full and the tables alongside the bar are quickly filling up. There is a constant buzz jinx2around the pool tables at the far end of the room. The crowd at Cabanas varies according to who’s on stage. On this night the mood is young and single. By the middle of The Jinx’s first set, girls are standing against the rail facing the band. Tattooed Ronnie who shares vocals with Kelly works the room like a segment on American Idol leaping off the stage and making his way around the bar – mike in hand. By the end of their second set, the dance floor is crowded. It’s noisy and jumping but we must move on. We finish our drinks and just four steps down the pavement is the stairway to Martini Beach.

Conveniently, Martini Beach is right above Cabanas. Jason, our bartender informs us, this restaurant/bar, is a classier place to linger.  A mermaid hangs over the bar.  A neon martini glass lights the far wall.  By the time we arrive, dinner (which by the way is served in a small narrow room with an ocean-view shared by the bar) is over; so the music is cranked up – a mix of Disco and 80s funk.  No dance floor, so I’m forced to sway and move my head as though only the upper half of me could dance. But it’s fun…

My date takes a drag on his unfiltered Camel, sits back in his chair, looks over and says, “You’re scaring me.”  His fears are squelched after he gets a taste of “Mickey’s Dirty Little JasonSecret,” a vodka martini with olive juice and giant olives served straight up. I have a Key Lime Martini which tastes just a little too much like Key Lime Pie.  Duuuhhhh . What did I think it was going to taste like? Key lemon? I prefer “Mickey’s Dirty Little Secret” …but I manage to drain my Key Lime thing… no problem.

I could have stayed in this small, intimate room the rest of the night. The crowd is mixed–  30s,40s, 50s, locals, tourists, people looking for a nice place to hang and talk. Kinda nice. Hmmmm.  No no. Duty calls. We must be off!  But not very far at all.

All rightie then. Carney’s and Carney’s Other Room are just a few more steps away after I manage to deal with the long narrow stairway down from Martini Beach.  We open the door to “Carney’s Other Room” first. Now, you know the place is having an off night when everyone – all six of them – look up from their drinks as you as though you were the newest stranger in town. “Ahh, on second thought, I think we’ll go on over to the other Carney’s.  Not the Other Room Carney’s – the original – well maybe it wasn’t that Carney’s. But the one … next door… whatever!”

We approach the door minder who wants five bucks a pop for a cover; or we can pay  $25 for a VIP card. We negotiate. It’s an assignment after all.

O.K. Let me just say that tonight – if you’re looking to be where the action is – this is the place to be. “Bigg Romeo” is just finishing a bigg set. The dance floor is mobbed with beautiful young people having a great time.  The place absolutely exudes sensuality from the tacky flashing lights on the dance floor to the cave-like decor to the gorgeous babe dancing in the tight T-shirt with the cowboy hat .

I am tempted to switch to club soda. But then I can’t comment on the drinks. Hhmmmm. So I order something light. Suffice to say it’s chilled and wet.  Besides the drinks are secondary to the band and the crowd.  Wait – did I just see a girl in a wedding gown? No. I saw two girls in wedding gowns. Who knew?

June, as we all know, is El primo wedding month and it’s also the time when young brides, carneysbridetheir grooms, and their entire wedding parties move on to Carney’s for some after-wedding-party partying. The one bride is named Karen Stoner- her first time using her new name we figure since she and her new hubby just came from the Southern Mansion where their reception was held. She says she really doesn’t have time to talk. Even if she wanted to, I couldn’t hear her; so I had her write her name on my notepad.

We must leave Carney’s before Bigg Romeo takes to the stage again. It’s getting late and we still have more stops to make. Besides I’ve been made!  People are asking me why I’m trying to take notes in a bar after midnight.  Well fercryinoutloud, the tape recorder idea didn’t work, that’s why!

The Rusty Nail is kind of a locals’ bar, at the west end of town on Beach Ave near Broadway, which puts it kind of out of the loop for bar-hopping. If you can manage the 6 block walk however, it’s worth the effort.

First of all, it has breathing room. A big hackin’ horseshoe bar, large dance floor, spacious dining room, and the management  generally books some really good music.  Tonight it’s the sindiraymondSindi Raymond Band.  This couple — I don’t know if they’re a “couple,” but he’s a boy and she’s a girl and there are two of them O.K.? — this couple has a fresh, smooth sound.  They’ve played in Wildwood since the mid 90s but are new to Cape May.  Even though we’re approaching 1 a.m. the bar is still full.  People seem pretty mellow but shortly the crowd thins. Everybody is liking the music.

Unfortunately, we can’t stay long, I have two more stops before closing time. Tyring to clear my head a bit, we saunter back along Beach to Perry and go downstairs to the Boiler Room in boilerroomthe Congress Hall Hotel.  My first impression was that I had just crashed someone’s wedding. My date didn’t have that sense since by now, I think he was approaching senseless. He plants himself at the bar while I go to investigate.

I hear the band but I can’t find them. How is that possible?  A semicircle of gorgeous sophisticated young adults, girls in long slinky dresses, guys in suits and tuxes – are all standing facing away from the bar. I make my way to the far corner, still following the sound and there they are! – The Benderz – down in the orchestra pit. Well, not really an orchestra pit, but a place that’s certainly set below sea level. I sense if I’m not careful I’ll trip into the band.

Apparently the happy couple are from Texas, or one of them is from Texas. In homage to this, The Benderz sing a pretty good rendition of Garth Brooks’  “I Got Friends In Low Places.”  I benderzwould say that on a normal, non-wedding kind of a Saturday night, this would certainly be on my “A-list” of places to stop and even on this night, everyone is having a great time and it’s infectious. I want to stop now and stay a while longer… Can’t.

Our last stop (it’s going on 2 a.m.) is the Ugly Mug. I figure this late at night, it must be pretty ugly by now. Well, it is, but not in the way I thought it would be.  We’ve been to “the Mug” before and know more than a few of the namesakes on the hanging mugs personally. Great local bar. But this night we’ve gotten there just a bit too late. Just a handful of people left, who prod the guitar player, Wesley Ochs, to play “Sweet Caroline,” and a bunch of lame requests.  When we hear him saying, “I can only play so many Jimmy Buffet songs in one night!” we figure it’s time to go home. Besides, I’m feeling like the night is SO OVER now anyway. I’m really, really glad we walked. I could never find my car keys or even my car.

That was our Saturday night in Cape May. We hit fewer than half of in-season Cape May night spots Though I got a fat headache from the assignment, I’m ready for Part II.

A couple sober tips for newbies in Cape May: The local newspapers are full of info on who’s playing where.  But be sure to log onto CapeMayAfterDark.com. It’s the web site to keep abreast of “what’s happening where” at night in Victorian Cape May.