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CapeMay.com Blog

Month: September 2010

American Redstart

This American Redstart took a ride in a fishing boat. Photo courtesy Steve Teitelman.

My husband was fishing about 12 miles out when this American Redstart alighted on his shoulder. After hopping on his head for a spell, it then proceeded to walk down his arm and settle on his shoulder. He stayed with my husband for about 30 minutes for his ride back to shore, finally resting on the instrument panel to stay out of the wind. With 2 miles left to go, his little friend decided it was time to go and did just that.

I wanted more information about this little bird than what was contained in my abbreviated bird book, so I contacted a friend who sent me this information:

Wow, what a cool experience! This bird is a male American Redstart–which is a warbler. It was probably a bird that bred further north in the US this summer, and has left the breeding grounds. It’s very likely that this bird was undergoing a long distance migration to Central or South America (where it will spend the winter), and got fatigued and looked for a place to rest. Out at sea, there aren’t many options! Typically, small birds like this will migrate at night, and then put down in the morning sometime to rest and refuel before nightfall. Most songbirds like warblers tend to migrate over landforms, though, sometimes get blown out to sea and get off course. Most likely, the ride your friend gave this Redstart may have saved his life by giving him a break and safe place to rest for a bit. I don’t think I know anyone who’s had a Redstart walk on their shoulder. Warblers like this tend to spend most of their time in treetops, and are quite active and rarely come close enough for a good look.  So, your friend is lucky!

We think so too!

Susan and Steve Teitelman
Cape May


Bathing Beauties: Cape May’s Swimwear History

Miss Philadelphia beach. Sandy Deacon MIller is second from the left. (Click to enlarge)

This story originally ran in the July 2008 issue of Cape May Magazine.

It is 1950, well, maybe ’51. The war is over and optimism abounds. Corsets have gone by the wayside, and designers are creating more revealing swimsuits that hide faults in a woman’s shape. They achieve this by adding stretch-tummy control panels to hold in the stomach and they use bra cups and boning to give bust support. Thus is born the strapless swimsuit.

In Cape May that summer, Sandy Deacon (Miller) was named Miss Philadelphia Beach. She did not win the coveted title of Miss Cape May Beach Patrol that year, but enjoyed the September ball at Convention Hall anyway.

The Skinner Twins, Margaret and Barbara, on Congress Beach in the late 1930s. (Click to enlarge)

“The lifeguards picked a girl to represent their beaches,” Sandy recalled. “We would go down to the Christian Admiral Hotel and have our picture taken. The contest would end at Convention Hall shortly after Labor Day where we would parade out in our evening dresses and bathing suits. I came in third that year.”

A lot has changed in the way we dress for the beach since the ’50s, but think of how much things changed leading up to the “I like Ike” days. Cape May has from its inception been about families coming to the beach. Fortunately for Cape May Magazine those very families have kept their own chronicles of those lazy, hazy days of summer. Many of them have shared their family photos with us and we hope you enjoy them as much as we did. And a special thanks to Don Pocher for sharing his collection of turn-of-the-century postcards with us.

1932. Gladys Wilsey Downs at center, mother of Cape May resident Marjorie Wetherill. (Click to enlarge)

Let’s turn the clock back to the ’30s. Swimwear was getting briefer and more risqué. The backs were often scooped out so that a woman’s tan would show off at night in backless dresses. Little skirts to hide the thighs were popular. But the age of the contour suit and costumes with higher cut legs made a splash when swimming stars like Esther Williams and Dorothy Lamour hit the water with their synchronized performances.

The roaring ’20s ushered in the athletic tank suit, a popular choice for both men and women. The tank was ideal for the “androgynous athletic figure” that characterized the ’20s. The tank featured often unflattering stripes or abstract patterns. Those with less than perfect figures covered them up with wraps. New on the scene was the bathing cap. It was tailor made for bobbed hair and similar to the cloche hat of the same era.

Margaret Suelke and her sisters, Mrs. Patterson and Mrs. Gimmel. 1910. (Click to enlarge)

Now let’s go back even further to the Victorian era when women were covered from head to toe. Women typically dressed in black, knee-length, puffed-sleeve wool dresses. They often had sailor collars. They were usually worn over bloomers. The later Victorian swimsuit outfit was still cumbersome, but more practical than the earlier serge or dark flannel bathing dresses. Edwardian swimsuits were very similar to Victorian styles in that they were still made of wool and included bloomers with an over-dress. The dress was now short-sleeved or sleeveless and was worn with black stockings and laced footwear.

And then there was the Great Cape May Speedo Caper of the early ’60s. According to then Mayor Frank Gauvry the rumors that an ordinance was passed banning speedos worn by men over the age of 12 from beaches simply to reduce the number of gay sunbathers was really not true. “It was the Canadians,” he maintained. “We passed the ordinance after a lot of merchants, residents and visitors complained about the Canadian men who were wearing nothing but a jock strap on the beach.

The women would take their tops off. Now the women eventually got the idea, but the men didn’t. So we had to pass an ordinance.” The speedo ban was repealed in 2005, thus proving that what goes around comes around.


Best of Cape May 2010 Results

Every year, we ask the readers of CapeMay.com to give us their opinions on the very best Cape May has to offer, from accommodations to beaches to crab cakes. Here are this year’s winners and runners up, as selected by you.

Best Bicycle Route: The most popular answers were Sunset Boulevard and the Promenade, reminding you to ride early to avoid traffic! We had two very detailed write-ins for this category that we wanted to share with you:

John Schneider: From Ellie’s bakery to the Promenade down Pittsburg Avenue to Vermont Avenue to Washington Street back to Ellie’s.

Mark Miller: Start on Hughes Street, up Ocean, left before Washington Street Mall, head out to West Cape May, all through West Cape May into Cape May Point Sunset Boulevard & the Promenade.

Well, that’s it! We hope you enjoyed this year’s round-up of the best Cape May has to offer. Thanks to all of you for voting and helping to celebrate our seaside town!


25 White Marlin releases in a day

Forget Earl. That was nothing! The real news out of Cape May right now is a marlin bite that’s nothing short of “World Class.” If you’ve ever wanted to experience this type of action, now is the time. A large fleet of boats is fishing out of Canyon Club Resort Marina during our “Marlin Month” and many are experiencing claims of 15 to 25 releases per day. For more details, contact South Jersey Tournaments. For a slip, contact Canyon Club’s Dockmaster at 609-884-0199!