- Cape May NJ Travel Guide and Vacation Planner Blog

Month: June 2011

Harbor Fest Celebrates 100 years of Boating

Cape May’s 4th Annual Harbor Fest celebrated the 100th anniversary of the construction of the Harbor. Beautiful weather encouraged a large turn out of people. Everything from a Scallop Challenge to a kayaking and canoe regatta was offered Saturday June 18.

According to Mark Allen’s article, Cape May Harbor Sails to 100, which appears in the June 2011 issue of Cape May Magazine, “One hundred years ago, what is now the harbor area was a vast tidal marsh crisscrossed by a random network of creeks. The largest of these waterways, Cape Island Creek, meandered in shore from the old Turtle Gut inlet past the docks at Schellenger’s Landing (the Lobster House today) and roughly defined the western boundary of Cape May itself. The creek was tidal, muddy, and navigable only by shallow draft vessels.”


Flag Day in Cape May – the Local Connection

Although the idea for an annual day honoring the Flag is believed to have started in 1885 when a Wisconsin schoolteacher, BJ Cigrand, arranged for the pupils to honor June 14 – which was the 108th anniversary of the official adoption of The Stars and Stripes – as ‘Flag Birthday, ‘ it was Colonel J Granville Leach, whose father Joseph Leach, founded The Cape May Ocean Wave, who as historian of the Pennsylvania Society of the Sons of the Revolution, pressed the mayor of Philadelphia on April 25, 1803 to adopt a resolution requesting the city and all others to display the Flag on June 14th. Leach went on to recommend that thereafter the day be known as ‘Flag Day,’ and on that day, school children be assembled for appropriate exercises, with each child being given a small Flag.

In 1894, the governor of New York directed that on June 14 the Flag be displayed on all public buildings.

Flag Day – the anniversary of the Flag Resolution of 1777 – was officially established by the Proclamation of President Woodrow Wilson on May 30th, 1916. While Flag Day was celebrated in various communities for years after Wilson’s proclamation, it was not until August 3rd, 1949, that President Truman signed an Act of Congress designating June 14th of each year as National Flag Day.

Sea Grove Farm

This article first appeared in the Spring 2009 issue of Cape May Magazine.

Margaret Rutherford

David Rutherford is a farmer, rare for having grazed his Guernsey and Holstein cows in meadows alongside the Atlantic Ocean. Rutherford, his father and grandfather were born on farmsteads along pastoral Sea Grove Avenue at Cape May Point. The family arrived in 1815, and David has spent his entire life farming and gardening on the mile stretch of Sea Grove that was home to his Ocean View Dairy.

He and his wife Margaret chose the most pristine site for a home they built in 1972. It sits down a long gravel lane with an alee of crape myrtle and native cedars. Brick gateposts, reminiscent of English estates, mark the entry. It is here, on about 12 acres, that David and Margaret spend their days, guardians of all things beautiful.

Their Arabian chestnut horse gazes freely on the manicured lawn bordered by colorful perennial gardens. “He is a very spoiled horse,” says Margaret of Roby. “He threw me so many times I gave up riding,” she says. “Now he is David’s pet. He eats all the figs from our trees despite carrot treats.” He is 24 years old, but appears a colt ready to win a race at Pimlico. “He’s never worked a day in his life,” says Margaret.

David is hand-sowing grass seed on a large plot he has just disked and raked. In a few months it will be a lush green “salad” for Roby’s pleasure. The peace of the place is shattered by the lusty cockle-doodle-do of a rooster, one of the 100 or so Rhode Island Reds picking at their grain outside the red barn. “Oh, he makes a fuss when he senses a threat to his flock,” says Margaret, her Westie, Pearly, in tow. She retrieves a basket of eggs just collected by David. They sell their organic eggs at Westside Market under the name Rutherford Farm.

Margaret shares her favorite spot on the rear porch with her 35-year-old orange tree, showing off several small fruits. The view is a dramatic long vista of the gardens Margaret has designed since moving here from their renovated milk house, a charming stone dwelling with a tin roof further down Sea Grove. From the porch, the swimming pool sparkles on the left and David’s seven-acre forest lies dense on the right, but accessible via his hand-hewn pathways. Straight ahead is a large lily pond, centered with a fountain spurting a high water spout, surrounded by colorful plantings. Perched as the focal point is a statue of Venus, said to be born of the sea. Beyond lies dune grass, the dunes and the ocean.

Over the seasons, the sea winds have sculpted Margaret’s bird friendly bayberries, hollies, nandinas, native cedars, magnolias, winterberries and vibernums . Under her garden hat, with pruning shears in hand, she works the beds, and plots new ones. She is an admitted plant addict. She loves finding unusual specimens that will flourish in her ocean spray environment.

David is a self-proclaimed bush-whacker, and proud of it. He forged his own tool for pruning his forest of black walnut, wild cherry, sassafras, red cedar and white pine. Though 82, he never gives up tackling the stubborn invasive under-story of poison ivy, porcelain berry, honeysuckle and wild rose that choke out his annual planting of seedlings. His woods are part of a state forest stewardship program, a partnership with land owners, to protect and preserve fragile ecosystems and native vegetation so important to wildlife. David is a man of few words, yet he yields to stories about growing up a farmer along the ocean dunes.

“My grandfather hired out his team,” he says. “After the tourist season, his horses pulled in the docks for winter keeping at the steamboat landing at the Point. His horses dredged and shaped Lake Lily.

“My father and I operated the dairy farm. We were looking to expand our farm in the 1950s. The township had some non-tax producing land [for sale] that went bankrupt in the Depression. It was called the Cape May Beach Land Company, headquartered in Philadelphia, and would have extended Cape May Point to the east. Lots were advertised for $150 each! We did buy the land, and all that remains of that failed development is a piece of sidewalk in the field.”

Margaret and David Rutherford have been part of this landscape during 48 years of marriage. Margaret’s family summered at Cape May Point. Her brother was a friend of David’s, and so they knew each other. But they were smitten one summer’s evening when, by happenstance, they met on the rocks at Alexander Avenue to watch the sunset.

Soon after Margaret realized the sad end to summers were part of her past. Marriage meant staying on forever, farming, gardening and watching sunsets with David and all things leafy, furry and feathered.

West Cape May Strawberry Festival packs ’em in

The Annual West Cape May Strawberry Festival was held June 4 in Wilbraham Park. The weather was perfect and vendors offered a wonderful selection of strawberries in every form from chocolate covered to plain to strawberry motifs on handmade ceramic bowls. Food of all kinds was there for the offing including local favorites like J.B.’s Barbecue. The blues band Bluebone entertained the crowd.


No Frills Farm

This article first appeared in the Spring 2009 issue of Cape May Magazine.

It is a sure sign of spring when the Taylor Brothers, Charles and Kenneth, open their No Frills Farm for another season. Better than the Farmer’s Almanac, they have a sense of when it’s time to plant. By late April, their simple roadside stand is laden with hundreds of healthy little plants ready to begin life and expectation in garden soil.

The Taylors have farmed this acreage on Seashore Road for generations – since Colonial times. Their property in its heyday stretched from the base of the Canal Bridge to Stimpson’s Lane. Today Charles farms 50 acres. In deference to the Taylors before him, he cultivates with a collection of vintage tractors: a 1972 Massey Ferguson diesel, a 1957 Farmall, a 1951 John Deere, and his favorite, a 1937 John Deere that is started with a manual flywheel with an engine designed to switch from gasoline to kerosene.

No Frills Farm is a favorite stop for locals and summer people alike. The farm’s rustic handwritten sign was first hoisted in 1980 when the Taylor siblings decided to turn their old dairy farm into fields for growing New Jersey fresh produce which they would sell at a stand with an honor box. For several years, there was not a Taylor in sight, just a fruit jar and later, a lock box in which to stash cash for premium picks of tomatoes, cantaloupe, corn and green beans. Business grew and so did the incidents of thievery. The honor system was replaced with a clerk, happily for the customers on the days Aunt Nancy McPherson minds the stand, selling her homemade beach plum and pepper jellies.

Charles studied agriculture and horticulture at Cumberland Community College, and in 1990, the Taylors decided to add greenhouses to the spread of antiquated barns and a silo. Their attempts at growing plants from seed and seedling plugs were an immediate success. No Frills began offering spring plants that would grow easily in Cape May area gardens: tomatoes, eggplant, cucumbers, zucchini, yellow squash. Soon customers were pleased to find flowers, too: zinnias, cosmos, dahlias, celosia, marigolds. Charles has a penchant for geraniums and enjoys propagating heirloom and scented varieties: apple, apricot, nutmeg, rose, lime, lemon, strawberry, peppermint and chocolate, to name a few of the many.

Brother Kenneth, meantime, began growing herbs in the greenhouse and now has a flourishing business. The wooden tables at No Frills offer a variety of sage, basil, parsley, thyme and lavender. And there are large clay kitchen garden pots already planted with a basic arrangement of herbs for cooking.

“A secret of our customer base is not only keeping our prices for the frugal, but we harden off our plants,” says Charles. “We gently reduce the heat in the greenhouses as the plants mature, forcing them to develop deep root systems for their size; developed roots versus being top-heavy. That way, in Cape May’s unpredictable spring temperatures, the plants will have a good chance at survival once planted. They can hit the ground running.”

Each season brings new challenges and products. Charles has been growing more flowers for cutting. One of his more successful marketing ventures has been arranging little bouquets of colorful annual blooms in Snapple bottles for a dollar apiece. “Our customers are very sensitive to our brand,” says Charles. “If we upgrade, we are scolded, ‘No Frills is getting frilly.’” No chance of that, he insists.

Tomatoes – plants for sale and the crop of 10 or so varieties from the field – are a mainstay of the business. Charles enjoys experimenting with new varieties, especially heirloom tomatoes. The names alone are fascinating: Amana Orange, Aunt Ginny’s Purple, Banana Legs, Box Car Willie, Mortgage Lift Red, Jersey Devil and Hillbilly. There are dozens more. “The tomato study is interesting,” says Charles, “but let me point out that I hate the most loved Jersey crop. I hate tomatoes.”

Charles shapes his farming schedule around his teaching profession. He is a special education assistant at Teitelman Junior High School. At 39, he is a bachelor who says he’s still looking for the “right one” to join him at No Frills Farm with his dozen goats, dozen chickens, dogs, cow, ewe and antique tractors.

The Lights are out but not for Long

The Cape May Star and Wave reports that the beacon at the Cape May Lighthouse is out. Facebook fans report it has been out since April 27, but help is on the way in the form of the U.S. Coast Guard which is charge of its maintenance. A Coastguard spokesman, according the Star and Wave report, confirmed that the necessary part needed has been ordered and should arrive sometime, hopefully in the near future.

Who’s New, Who’s Moved, Who’s Gone 2011

Glitter Girl takes over half of the Shirt Outlet

It’s June, and time for’s annual – Who’s New, Who’s Moved, Who’s Gone and Who’s turned it over to someone new update. Let’s begin with Breaking News –  Steve White of Seaside Cheese Company, Park Blvd in West Cape May, told over the weekend that he expects work on Cafe Fromage – which will be a room right off the cheese shop – should be completed by July. What fun – cheese, snacks and wine without leaving the store. Good luck Steve.

Over on the Washington Street Mall in Cape May,  although the Mall had a huge turnover last year, it’s looking pretty much the same this year, with just a couple of changes.

In the 500 block, The Shirt Outlet in Liberty Way, by the Lemon Tree Restaurant, has moved into one store and revamped the second. 106 Liberty Way is now called Glitter Girl. The newly renovated Glitter Girl specializes in jewelry and accessories.

Moonstruck Boutique @ 503 takes over The Nest

In the 400 block in City Centre Mall, Candles of Cape May is gone. No one has taken the space as of press time.

In the 300 block Best Darn Kettlecorn is out and Bathtime has expanded into that location.

Behind the Mall on Carpenters Lane, Tradewinds is gone. Rowehouse Tile is in. They sell ceramic tile and art. In Carpenters Square Mall, Crepe May to Go is out. No one in as yet.

Lili's Therapeutic Massage takes over Maggie's Restaurant

Over at Congress Hall, we noticed the hallway is dotted with little bistro tables for patrons to enjoy their morning joe and that Tommy’s Folly has expanded across the hall, next to Victorious.

On Lafayette Street, The Nest is gone and Moonstruck Boutique @ 503 is in. A longtime retail store, Whiskers on Ocean Street, is gone and now has a booth at the Antique Emporium on Perry Street. As of press time, the old location is still vacant.

The y.b. Eat Place takes over Sean's Restaurant

In the Washington Street Commons, the slot vacated by Maggie’s Restaurant last summer is now Lili’s Therapeutic Massage. One Cape May fixture at the Commons is sadly missing this year – Oma’s Doll Shop is gone –  but good news – you can still order your favorite dolls on line – Coming soon to that location – New York Hot Bagels.

Lots of changes down on the beachfront beginning with Sean’s Restaurant, a couple of doors down from Akroteria. Sean’s is out and one of our favorite restaurateurs, Yiannis (John) Karapanagiotis of George’s Restaurant has encouraged his younger brother, Peter to open The Y.B. Eat Place. That’s Y.B. as in younger brother. New look, new menu. Give it a shot. How could you be disappointed by anything made by the Karapanagiotis brothers?

Pete Smith's Surf Shop takes over Sunglass Hut

The Sea Shanty takes over Louie's Hot Dog Shop

Also along the beachfront, clothing boutique Accents is gone and the Well Center for Massage, of 110 N. Broadway, West Cape May, has added another location. Looks like this is the year for the massage. Must be a lot of stress out there.

In the Beach Theatre shopping “concourse” – somewhat ironic given that the Beach Theatre has been closed for two summers now – Shades of Cape May is out (and relocated last summer onto the Mall) and Pete Smith’s Surf Shop (also in the Washington Commons and formerly located in the now demolished Solarium) is in. Louie’s Hot Dog Shop is out as of last summer and The Sea Shanty is in and it looks like they’re hoppin’.

The Beach House is in; Henry's on the Beach is out

Across the street is one of the biggest changes – Convention Hall is demolished, as well as the Solarium and is currently a big giant hole – but a Cape May tradition – Henry’s on the Beach is out and  – The Beach House – is in. Readers will be happy to note that they are still serving breakfast, lunch and dinner seaside and bonus – you can watch construction of the NEW Convention Hall while you dine – or at the very least listen to it, depending on seating arrangements.

Cape May Variety is in; Mermaids is out

Across the street at the Macomber, the cute little gift shop Mermaids is out and Cape May Variety is in – selling newspapers, cigarettes and beachside sundries.

The ever-changing shopping center in West Cape May

Over in West Cape May, the little shopping center across from the 7-Eleven at the corner of Broadway and Sunset Boulevard, seems to always have new tenants, except for Brothers Pizza who have been there it seems forever. Currently, the eateries next to Brothers are Blue Moon Ice Cream and Jo Jo’s Mediterranean Grill.

Dock Mike's Pancake House takes over Mangia Mangia's spot

And across the street, right next to the’ll never believe it – Mangia Mangia is gone and it is now Dock Mike’s Pancake House, as in  Dock Mike’s at South Jersey Marina which is now Wallace’s of Whaler’s Cove fame.

Going out of town, as you know Copperfish moved from its location near the Schellenger Bridge two seasons ago. Last year, Latitudes went in. They are gone and Diana’s – a breakfast, lunch and dinner eaterie, is in.

Well that’s it for this year, unless you know of some new places or some old ones. If you do, let us know.

Happy Trails.