- Cape May NJ Travel Guide and Vacation Planner Blog

Month: November 2010

3rd Annual Jazz Brunch Aids Animal Outreach

The Merion Inn hosted the 3rd Annual Jazz Brunch for Animal Outreach Sunday Nov. 21. Jazz and animal; lovers joined together to enjoy a hot southern-style brunch and cool jazz with jazz pianist George Mesterhazy, vocalist Paula Johns and friends providing the entertainment. Proceeds will help local no-kill animal foster/adoption service, Animal Outreach. This year’s celebrity bartenders were musician Gordon Vincent and veterinarian Dr. Bob Moffatt.

Photographs by Jennifer Brownstone Kopp

East Lynne Theater Company Celebrates 30 Years

The East Lynne Theater Company celebrated both its 30th anniversary and the fact that its fundraiser fell on Veteran’s Day with a nod to the Stage Door Canteen. “Celebrity” guests read from scenes prepared for the entertainment of a sold out crowd at Aleathea’s Thursday, Nov. 11th.  Celebrity guests included West Cape May Mayor Pam Kaithern, former Mainstay innkeeper Tom Carroll, Shirley Stiles, John Kelly of the Cape May County Chamber of Commerce, Margo Lassner and Glenn McBrearty.

Photographs by Jennifer Bownstone Kopp

Cape May’s own George’s Place on Triple D

Cape May’s very own George’s Place was featured on the Food Network show Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives in the episode A Triple D Thanksgiving on November 15th. Guy Fieri was in town filming the episode this past August.

Fun Fact: The “Guy Ate Here” stencil can be seen on the back of the George’s building. Catch a glimpse of it the next time you’re in town!

Watch the episode

Original Airdate: November 15, 2010 at 10p.m. EST

Catch the reruns:
Nov 19, 2010, 9:00 PM ET/PT
Nov 20, 2010, 12:00 AM ET/PT
Nov 20, 2010, 5:00 PM ET/PT

Visit George’s for yourself!

George’s Place
301 Beach Ave
Cape May, NJ 08204
(609) 884-6088

If you tuned in, let us know what you thought of the show!

Birds of a Feather…

My younger sister is both a birder and a librarian. That’s about it. Give her a bird and a book and she is SO happy.

She migrates every Spring and Fall to Cape May Point , NJ , to witness the great bird migrations there. The Point is a major stopover for about 1000 gigabytes of feathered travelers. Raptors galore. Shore birds, too.

There’s one beach bird that runs along the surf edge, dodging the dying waves and pecking the sand for who knows what. It’s called a Sanderling, and, like friends of a feather they flock together along the spit, frenetically pecking for prey.

Eventually they rest, lifting one skinny leg against their bellies…for warmth they say. However, given my extensive observations during many years as a beach bum, I have concluded that the real reason they stand on the one leg is because if they picked it up, they would fall down. Peterson and Audubon missed that one.

There’s an observation platform at the State Park by the lighthouse for sister and the usual gaggle of watchers. They are variously armed with an array of binoculars and spyglasses…instruments that resemble something any seasoned astronomer would be proud of. Some of the telescopes are mounted on tri- or monopods and backed by a digital camera with a flash unit apparently purloined from an airport runway. They take pictures of birds.

My own house is inhabited by Swift Swallows which, I am told, host lice. They skim water from my pool, add dirt from my garden, and put same under my eves to build their adobes with over 1000 mud spits per nest. I am further told that their nest may not be removed as the birds are ‘protected’. Well they can stay anyway as they are likely in a family way and they dine on tiresome insects.

But as for ‘protected’ I wonder about that. Few animals have so benefited from human encroachment on their habitat. Check under any bridge. They have adapted to the shelters we have provided for them. (I think maybe mice, rats and coyotes have also so benefited.) According to “Desert USA” (online): “During our expansive 20th century, (swallows have extended their) breeding season range dramatically, both northward and southward, capitalizing on nesting sites offered by newly constructed bridges and buildings.” They are doing better than the Homing Pigeon and Osprey, thank you.

They harbor even more unique attributes. Besides being exceptionally cantankerous, known to flog the competition, they have the weird habit of moving their eggs to another nest and sometimes winding up with some other bird’s orphans in theirs, resulting in a clutch of mixed parentage. Wouldn’t that confuse an ornithological genealogist?

Two of my swallows fell to the patio while thoroughly engrossed in their act of procreation. They were apparently unfazed by the fall. Now that’s preoccupied.

Cape May Capers

Text by Joyce Cabots Newbegin. Photographs appear courtesy of the author.
Originally published in the August 2008 issue of Cape May Magazine.

Joyce Cabots

Some consider the exciting send-off – The Fourth of July – as the highlight of the summer vacation season. To others, especially members of the Cape May Cottagers’ Association, it remained Labor Day weekend. In theater parlance, the Fourth could be called a “curtain raiser,” while the bittersweet Labor Day holiday is considered the “final curtain.”

The annual July Fourth cocktail party during the post World War II years welcomed Cottagers to Cape May for the season. A musical variety show, at first known as The Pennywise Revue, named for the late Joseph P. Barker’s snappy, newsy gossip sheet, was always held at Congress Hall. Later, from approximately 1946 to 1962, the show called The Cape May Capers closed out the season at The Green Mill Club of Cape May. The Howard Street building tragically burned in 1965.

Younger members of the cottage colony performed lively and sophisticated musical numbers in the original Capers revues, coached and directed by Philadelphia dance instructor, Miss Ursula R. Naughton.

Naughton assembled an appealing but neophyte group of juveniles and emerged with a dazzling show at season’s end. These productions packed the house with Cottagers and their guests and often earned thunderous applause.

Joyce Cabots, solist, singing "Tea for Two"

One such summer show comes to mind with vivid clarity. On this, the 70th anniversary year of the Cottagers, it seems apt to take a backward glance.

It was a balmy July morning. A cool sea breeze tempered the hot sun. The deep blue sky was cloudless. The ocean glossy, except for ripples made by sailboats skimming across its surface.

A short, blond teenager in blue polo shirt and chino pants casually strode along the boardwalk, hands in pockets. He stopped for a moment to gaze at the seaside vista. Then, he sauntered down the exit ramp at Howard Street and crossed Beach Drive. As the youth approached the Green Mill Clubhouse, his round face broke into a wide grin. The sound of music from a rehearsal piano filled the air. The tune, There’s No Business Like Show Business, with its upbeat tempo made Jim want to skip along in cadence.

He entered the clubhouse through its double screen doors and surveyed the group gathered in the large building.

“Hi, Jim. How’s it going?” asked a member of the male octet.

“Hi there, Jim,” said a tall brunette in pink shorts set and black tap shoes.

“Hi everybody,” he answered. “Where’s Miss Naughton?”

“Right behind you,” said Deedee, featured solo dancer.

Jimmy whirled around to be confronted by a frowning Ursula Naughton.

“It’s about time,” she said.

“You mean I’m late?” Jimmy’s large blue eyes showed genuine concern.

“What time is today’s rehearsal, girls?” She turned to a group of her dancers.

“Ten o’clock,” they chorused.

Naughton stood with hand on hip, smiling smugly at Jim Bateman.

“Oops, sorry,” he said. “But I have my script ready. Here it is.”

She scanned it quickly, then returned it. “Fine. Let’s hear the opening monologue right now. Then we’ll bring on the tableau followed by the pony chorus line.”

Ursula then addressed her pianist.

“Okay, Vince, I want A Pretty Girl Is Like A Melody as background. Then, swing it to bring on the Ziegfeld girls.”

“You want the opening pianissimo? Just work behind him nice and quiet?

“Right. Afterwards, forte – when the Ziegfeld tableau comes onstage.

“Got it,” said Vince.

Vince Bruno, an accomplished musician often featured at Arnold’s Café on Beach Drive, along with his partner, Vito La Monica, showed great patience.

Rehearsal began when Jimmy Bateman stepped up to the microphone on behalf of The Cottagers’ Association of Cape May to welcome the audience to The Cape May Capers.

The era was the late 1950s, long before Bateman, then appearing with The Children’s Theatre of Philadelphia, became Henry Gibson of stage, film and television renown.

Beach Club Cottagers Association party, early 1960s. From left, Mr. & Mrs. Bert Euler, Dr. & Mrs. H. Chandler Bernard, Dr. & Mrs. Joseph C Cabots

Ursula Naughton rushed toward the stage. “Whoa, hold it.”

“What’s the matter?” asked Jim.

“Too subdued. Give it more punch. We’ve got to get the audience’s attention. Wait a minute! I’ve got an idea. We’ll have the Ziegfeld showgirls in place, rather than parading on. Everyone understand?”

“Then, Jimmy walks onstage and steps up to the mike. Once the whistles quiet down you’ll be able to deliver the welcome. At least we’ll have their eyes focused on the stage.”

“Miss Naughton, you’re destroying my self confidence,” he said jokingly

“Nothing personal,” she grinned. Then, to Vince, “Hit it.”

She raised her hand as a signal to the pianist. Ursula pointed to Jimmy and then sang the words: “A pretty girl is like a melody…” Six opening bars and then you come in. Ready, GO!”

Director Naughton often worked 16-hour days as supervisor of The Green Mill Club of Cape May. The teenaged members respected and admired her understanding that a thin veneer of strictness covered a gentle, kindhearted nature.

She turned and faced the stage, clad in her favorite rehearsal outfit: beige overalls over a striped tee shirt with socks and sneakers. Her attention focused on the line which paraded onstage, then separated into two sections, exiting in opposite directions.

“Very good! How did you manage it? That’s the first time Joanne followed the others. Congratulations!”

The Ziegfeld showgirls, especially Joanne, beamed brightly at the compliment.

“Alright, pony line in place. Eight bars of intro to Nola then Zip, you’re onstage with the prancing step. “What comes after that?” she asked a tiny blonde

The girl paused briefly: “Step, slide, cross, step together?”

“Right, Stephanie. Good. Don’t forget it. I’m watching this one. Carefully.”

Image appears courtesy of Betty Steger

The pony line went through its paces. These were the ingénues, youngest and newest members of the company. Ursula Naughton watched for awhile and then covered her face as the ragged line undulated like a snake dance. One girl, eyes fixed on another dancer’s feet, still managed to turn in the wrong direction.

Naughton propped her left foot up on the seat of a Bentwood chair, bent her elbow and leaned on her fist, exasperation clearly showing in her face.

“That’s all for now,” she said as they finished their routine. Go behind the screen and PRACTICE! We’ll run through this number later.”

“Let’s have the octet next. Have you got the medley, Vince? They’ve changed their sequence. We start with The Lady Is A Tramp.

“Change noted, music ready in a few seconds,” the pianist said, leafing through music in his portfolio.

Naughton addressed young Bateman: “Jim, I want to see you before the big Top Hat number.”

“Now?” he asked, looking up from a card game.

“Yes. We have a lot to go over.”

As the two conferred, the male octet presented their medley of show tunes providing a smooth, mellow contrast to the preceding numbers.

“That’s coming along. Lead tenor could be a little stronger, but you’re doing all right. It’s a good sound,” Naughton said.

She then crossed the floor to a group seated near the Coke machine. “Quiet everyone” The buzz of chatter hushed suddenly.

“Roxy is going to coach some of you in the time step. Anyone who needs help, and you know who you are, go to the end of the hall and rehearse. That I Got Rhythm number is fast. You’ve got to know the routine cold!”

“All right. Top Hat, White Tie and Tails is up next. I want you all working with your canes today. They’re in the office, behind the desk. Put them back when you’re through.”

After a flurry of activity to gather the canes, the group lined up just offstage. Jimmy was featured in the number, backed up by eight dancers. It recalled dances made famous in films by Fred Astaire. The rat-a-tat-tat of canes and the click of taps hitting the wooden floor emphasized the persistent musical beat.

This rehearsal with its intense, precise drilling became typical preparation for the Capers. Although it precluded leisure activities, the fledgling performers flocked to auditions and regularly attended rehearsals.

Saturday night show time arrived midst great anticipatory excitement. Except for minor glitches, the performance evolved smoothly. The grand finale proved memorable with frequent audience applause.

Several of the engaged soloists performed swan songs, signaling final Capers’ participation. Some cast members, stirred with sentiment, wept. Others ebulliently waved to friends seated nearby. A surge of excitement passed through the ensemble who now stood hand-in-hand, swaying in time to the music.

A solo dancer ran to the wings and brought director Naughton onstage for a bow. The assemblage thundered an ovation, many of them rising from their seats. Miss Naughton bowed, then graciously nodded to the orchestra, led by Vince Bruno. Bateman gave his director a congratulatory kiss and bouquet of red roses.

Jimmy Bateman, aka Henry Gibson, made his broadway and screen debuts in 1963. He died in September 2009.

A coda: Ursula Naughton never married. In a way, her students, including Capers’ participants, were her children. She found coaching and encouraging young people among the most fulfilling aspects of her creative life and career. Her fondness was reciprocated. Fledgling performers flocked to auditions and regularly attended rehearsals.

This revue was supported by The Cottagers’ Association of Cape May for the benefit of the Ambulance Fund. For most young participants, it marked the end of stage performances, but for Henry Gibson it was merely a stepping stone. He changed from a song-and-dance man role, but continued to pursue a theatrical career. Soon he became a dramatic actor in New York City. In the 1970s his success included a featured spot on the television comedy, Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In. Motion picture parts soon followed.

It seems the spark for some professional careers such as his was generated on a small stage in a private club at a South Jersey resort. The impetus for fame occurred at The Green Mill Club of Cape May, New Jersey.

The finale theme music proved apt: There’s No Business Like Show Business.

Holiday Travels with Fido

The holiday season is upon us! It’s exciting, it’s chaotic, and to most of us, it’s just plain fun!! And it’s mostly all about the kiddos, right? So much so that at the last minute you’re like AAARRGGGHH – what are we doing about Fido? Or Chloe? Or Pepper??? If you’re staying home, you have no worries, but if you’re traveling over the holidays, then you have some thinking to do!

There are several things to consider when traveling with pets – during the holidays and throughout the year.

Lots of people, me included, prefer traveling with their pets. I think this is the most fun. HOWEVER, it is imperative to think ahead. Will the pet be welcome where you’re staying? Are you staying in someone’s home, and does that someone own a dog or cat or hamster that may or may not welcome your intrusion? Make sure you think about it first!

If you’re traveling to Cape May, NJ with your pets there are more and more pet friendly accommodations all the time, it seems. The Billmae Cottage, The Marquis de Lafayette, the Highland House, to name a few. And consider a local pet sitter, so you AND your pet can enjoy your vacation! If you are staying at one of the above mentioned places, we will come and walk your dogs, feed them, etc., if you are going out sightseeing or having dinner. We will even come sit with your pets while you’re out. Pet sitters will do anything to make your visit more enjoyable and less worrisome! If you are looking for petsitters along the route, check out Pet Sitters International. They can give you loads of petsitters who pretty much do what we do!!

When flying with pets, just make sure you actually speak to a person at the airline with which you are flying. Then, double check what they tell you by going on their website. Cats are usually small enough to take in the cabin with you, as well as some tiny dogs. Larger animals, obviously, have to be crated and travel in cargo. However, if it is very hot (80 degrees or hotter) and you are trying to fly with your pet, airport authorities may turn you away at the airport. It will be too hot in the cargo section of the plane, and they will not transport your pet. Make sure you check into this as well, because it is not something the airlines make very clear at all!

So! If you’re traveling out of town for the holidays and are traveling with your pet(s), make sure to look for pet-friendly accommodations before you book, and check with the airlines regarding current regulations. And if you’re traveling to Cape May for the holidays, check us out  – McCullough Pet Sitting! We provide every pet sitting service you can imagine!