I love this classic little Jersey food stand! Talk about character!
The one thing about Hudock’s Custard Stand is that it is a piece of New Jersey nostalgia to a time when things were just a little slower and when you visit, they still are. When people come here to dine, there is not a cellphone in site and people sit in the chairs or at the picnic tables and just talk to one another. Or admire the beautiful views of the surrounding farms. On a warm sunny day, there is nothing like a cup of ice cream or a footlong hot dog to make you forget your troubles.
Where you order food at Hudock’s
Hudock’s keeps things simple and friendly when you…
Open: Every First and Third Saturday of the Month (Please check with the website on weather conditions)
Admission: Free but donations accepted
My review on TripAdvisor:
I have been wanting this charming little museum for several months. This is one of the featured historical museums in Southern New Jersey. The museum is representing the local farming and manufacturing industries as well as life in a farming community at the turn of the last century.
The museum was started in 1994 in a partnership with the town of Woodbine, NJ and houses the history of Dennis Township. It is an all-volunteer museum, and the docents were really helpful describing all the displays that surround this small former schoolhouse. Their Friends of the Dennis Township Museum group does a nice job walking you around the museum…
The Bergen County Firemen’s Home Association sponsors two barbecues at the NJ State Firemen’s Home in July and August
It was a spectacular day for a barbecue!
After having to cancel our June Barbecue because of bad weather (there was a rain storm all day on our date in June), we lucked out on our first barbecue on July 10th, when we had the most spectacular sunny and warm day with no humidity. It was the same for our second barbecue on August 21st. Clear sunny skies and low 80-degree weather had the residents of the NJ State Firemen’s Home coming out in droves to enjoy good music and delicious food.
The August barbecue was especially special. The crowd included a large contingent from the Maywood Fire Department to help celebrate the 99th birthday of Maywood’s own George Steger, a guest at the firemen’s home…
It is tough when you lose a fellow fire fighter but when it is someone you have known for your entire time on the fire department and someone you have worked with for years, it hurts even more.
We recently suffered the loss of our fellow brother, former Chief Chris Semenecz of the Hasbrouck Heights Fire Department. Chief Semenecz joined the Hasbrouck Heights Fire Department in November of 1984 and was an active and productive member until his retirement from the department in October of 2021. He always put his best into his work for the fire service.
Chief Semenecz to the far right with Chief Moots first to left, Chief Roccamo next to him and Chief Monohan to the immediate left of him (members Bernie Valente and Hippen Shah in the middle) at the 2019 Installation Dinner
Chris had been a long-time member of the former Engine One Company (before we merged the Department in 2019) serving as its Treasurer, Lieutenant, and Captain in 1989-1990. He then did his rotation as Second Assistant Chief, First Assistant Chief and then Chief of the Department in 1992-93.
Chief Semenecz standing for Inspection with Chief Roccamo at the Hasbrouck Heights Fire Department Annual Inspection
He also served many other positions within the Department as well. He had served as a Fire Inspector in 1987, was EMT Certified in 1986, served as a mechanic for the Engine One Company from 2000-2004 and again from 2013-2018. He served as the President of the Exempt Association and the Treasurer of the Relief Association of the Hasbrouck Heights Fire Department.
Chief Semenecz was proud of his time on Engine One HHFD
On top of running his own business in business transport, he also served on the Hasbrouck Heights Borough Council from 1979-1981 and again from 2013-2015 and running for Mayor of the Hasbrouck Heights in 2014.
Heros are not born but over time they contribute to a community in many ways. Chief Semenecz showed that you can wear many hats in life, a devoted husband and family man both to his wife, Jayne and his family, active member of the Hasbrouck Heights community including being a Hasbrouck Heights High School Alumnus to assisting Santa each year in the department’s “Santa Around Town” celebration greeting members of the community during the holiday season.
Chief Semenecz welcoming in the holidays with other members of the Hasbrouck Heights Fire Department including special guest, Mr. Snowman. Chief Tim Moots, former Captain Bernie Valente, former Secretary Justin Watrel and Chief Angelo Roccamo.
Chief Semenecz showed that being a hero can be accomplished in many different ways but of him giving of himself to everyone surrounding him.
He will be missed!
All the members of the former Engine One Company congratulating Chief Angelo Roccamo in becoming Chief in 2019 of the newly formed Hasbrouck Heights Fire Department
Santa is going on his next journey in life. We wish him all the best!
I visited the Bergenfield Museum recently, a museum that I have to admit I never knew existed and I know almost all the museum in Bergen County and was surprised what an informative museum it was not just showcasing the history of Bergenfield but of Bergen County. Room by room the museum is filled with displays on the history of the town, and it has progressed through the last two hundred years.
The Bergenfield Museum at 100 Cooper Street
The museum is located in the back of Cooper Park towards the back of the pond. The museum is part of a complex of barns that were once small manufacturing companies owned by the families that owned the house. The…
The Members of the Bergen County Firemen’s Home Association in July 2022
It was a spectacular day for a barbecue!
After having to cancel our June Barbecue because of bad weather (there was a rain storm all day on our date in June), we lucked out on July 10th when we had the most spectacular sunny and warm day with no humidity. Clear sunny skies and low 80-degree weather had the residents of the NJ State Firemen’s Home coming out in droves to enjoy good music and delicious food.
With a menu of hamburgers, hot dogs, barbecue ribs and chicken, corn on the cob, baked beans and chili, macaroni and potato salads and fresh watermelon for dessert residents and members had a wonderful lunch under the shade trees and tents that were set up on the lawn outside the home.
We followed all COVID protocols to keep the residents and…
The one thing I refuse to do on Father’s Day is to spend the day at the cemetery. I know that is some people’s idea of honoring one’s family members but it is not mine. I went on Friday and paid my respects to my father (whom this blog is dedicated to) and spent time remembering some of the good times we had in past. I dropped some cut flowers from our gardens (some of which he planted) and said a small prayer. Then I left.
My idea of honoring my father and spending Father’s Day with him is to do something that we would have shared together. We were always running around somewhere and exploring something new and doing something fun. That is how I wanted to honor him. By being active and giving him a toast at Sunday dinner.
I had gotten a pamphlet on the historical sites of Salem, Cumberland and Cape May Counties last summer when I was visiting Cape May County and the Jersey Shore for the NJ Firemen’s Convention that is every September (See blogs on Trips to Cape May for the NJ Firemen’s Convention and for the Christmas Holidays-the other historical sites are noted there):
The Chalfonte Hotel at 301 Howard Street in Cape May, NJ
I thought what might be a nice trip is to explore the southern part of New Jersey and spend some time learning about the history of this part of the state. There were so many sites to visit and they spread from Pennsville, NJ in Salem County to Cape May in Cape May County. There would be too much to try to see in two days plus I wanted to take a trip to see Woodstown, NJ, a small town that had an interesting looking historical downtown when I visited it two or three years ago.
I had seen almost all the sites in Cape May County (The Cape May Firemen’s Museum, the Cape May Historical Society/Colonial House, the Cape May Lighthouse, the Cape May Zoo, Cold Spring Village, WWII Tower, Sunset Beach, The Emil Physick Estate and the Wildwood Aviation Museum) with the exception of a few smaller places and figured that I could see them during my time at this year’s NJ Firemen’s Convention after the meetings were over at 1:00pm.
So I planned the remainder of those for September. There were a few small historical societies with very limited hours that I just could not drive to with enough time. This covers a lot of area and the roads are mostly one or two lane highways in this part of the state.
Trying to find a hotel room for one night during the college graduation season was trying at best. Most of the chain hotels like Holiday Inn, Hampton Inn and Fairfield Inn by the Turnpike which I expected to choose from had gotten horrible reviews online as dated and dirty so those were out. There were no Airbnb rooms anywhere in south Jersey and the only two B & B’s in the immediate area were both booked for the weekend.
I was ready to give up until I Googled small hotels in South New Jersey and I found The Inn at Salem Country Club at 91 Country Club Road, a small inn that was just south of Downtown Salem, which was my starting point for the tour that weekend. I called the innkeeper, Yvonne that afternoon and was surprised that the room that I wanted, The Meadow Room, was open for Saturday night and was listed as $125.00 a night. I immediately booked the room and planned the trip.
The one catch was they were hosting a graduation party at the inn and could I check in on Friday morning. That was perfect for me as I wanted to start my trip visiting Woodstown, NJ and walk around the downtown. So, finishing all my projects at home, off I went at 7:00am in the morning for my trip to South Jersey.
I had decided to get off the New Jersey Turnpike earlier and head down the local Route 45 and take it down to Woodstown and drive through farm country. It was such a spectacular sunny and clear morning that I decided to make a few stops along the way with enough time to check in.
My first stop was at Rosie’s Farm Market Stand at 317 Swedesboro Road in Mullica Hill, NJ. This small farm stand has everything you need for the perfect picnic or to bring to someone’s home for a party. There are all sorts of fruits, vegetables and snacks and beverages to choose from. It has that classic “Jersey Market” look even though it is now surrounded by development.
After I walked around Rosie’s looking for something I could not find in our own farmstands in Bergen County (same items), I headed down the road, turned the corner and headed south down Route 45. I drove through the cute little town of Mullica Hill. I did not have time to stop and explore the town but noted to come back this way so that I could walk around the downtown.
Then I continued the drive down Route 45 on my way to Woodstown and then onto Salem. Route 45 is one of the most picturesque roads that I had been on with its rolling farms and lush landscapes. Things were just beginning to grow, and you could see the fields of corn and plants with an occasional winery popping up here and there. It shows that crops are changing in New Jersey farmland. With all the TV and movies, you see about New Jersey, this is the part of the state that they never show. You can forget sometimes how rural the state really an hour from my house.
I reached Downtown Woodstown, NJ by 9:00am and stopped to look around. I had driven through Woodstown when I went to visit mom after the Firemen’s Convention and thought it a unique and interesting little town with all the Victorian architecture. I walked around the downtown businesses and walked around the neighborhood admiring the care families have renovated these old homes.
I walked through some of the businesses that opened early like the flower shop and independent bookstore. The owners were super friendly, and they were explaining their businesses to me. I thought that was very nice of them. Most of the restaurants with the exception of the diner were closed. It was nice to see all the beautiful homes and cultural sites so close to the downtown.
I planned on coming back later that weekend, so my next stop was downtown Salem. Again you go from a downtown area to farmland again and it is so scenic along the highway with the large fields and watching cows’ feed. Here and there you see new construction but for the most part the area has not changed much since my initial visit six years ago.
The funny part of Downtown Salem is that it just jumps out at you when you cross the bridge. It goes from farmland to the small city of Salem. When you drive it, you start to see all the beautiful historical homes and architecture that reflex the city’s past. Most of the homes are either Victorian or Federalist in design but as you drive past City Hall and the government buildings, you see how run down the city really is now.
The last time I had been here was about four years ago on my way to see my mother and it is still rundown. If Salem was located in Bergen County, you could not touch these homes or any of these buildings for under a million dollars. People all over town assured me that this was not true here.
Downtown Salem, NJ by the Salem County Historical Society is the nicest section of the Downtown
I could not believe that the town still looked this bad when I drove through it to get to the inn which was located by the Delaware Bay. When you drove through the south side of the downtown, the further you got away from the downtown core, the better the neighborhoods got until you hit farmland and marshes closer to the bay. Off a very obscure road I found the Inn at the Salem Country Club at 91 Salem Country Club Road.
The Inn at the Salem Country Club at 91 Salem Country Club Road
I have to say that I was impressed by the entire stay at the Inn from the check in to the check out. My host, Yvonne, could not have been more welcoming and friendly and made the early morning check in easy. I got the key, got my luggage into the room, let her know that I would return after the party planned that evening was over and went on my way for the afternoon. It would an afternoon of a lot of running around. The one piece of advice she gave me was NOT to eat in Downtown Salem. She recommended either Pennsville or Woodstown for dinner that evening. I would discover later that evening what she was talking about.
After settling everything in at the Inn, I headed back up to Downtown Salem to my first three sites that I wanted to visit on the historical listing, The Friends Burial Ground and the Oak Trees, The Salem County Historical Society and the Salem Fire Museum plus I wanted to walk around the downtown area to see any progress in gentrification (there was none).
What surprised me was the Internet was wrong about all the hours and days. All the sites were supposed to be open by 9:00am and they were all open that day. The Salem Fire Museum which I had looked forward to seeing was not open that day, the Burial Ground’s gate was locked but I was able to walk in on the side of the cemetery and the Salem Historical Society did not open until noon. At this point it was 10:30am.
Since the cemetery I could access by the side of an old house, I was able to spend the first part of the morning walking amongst the historic tombstone and graves of the ‘first families” of Salem, NJ. As I walked amongst the headstones of each row, I began to recognize the names of the families with the names of homes in the area and streets I had just traveled down in Salem.
Friends Burial Ground at West Broadway in Downtown Salem
The family names of Reeves, Thompson, Abbotts, Wister, Bacon, Griscom, Waddington, Sickler, Lippencott, Goodwin, Bullock, Woodnutt and Bassett were arranged by family plots and neatly buried in rows. Many families were buried by generation so that you could the transition from father to son and mother to daughter. It was sad to see so many children who passed before their parents.
The old Oak Tree that once dominated this cemetery fell in 2019 and all that was left of it was a stump where it once stood. Smaller offshoots of the tree that are now about 200 years old still line parts of the cemetery and hold their own natural elegance in its place.
The Salem Oak before it fell
I finished walking through the cemetery and walking through this part of the downtown (Downtown Salem is so impressive but totally falling apart), I still had an hour before the other museums opened. Having not eaten since 6:00am that morning, I needed another breakfast.
I stopped in the Salem Oak Diner at 113 West Broadway is a small diner across the street from the cemetery. I thought it looked a little dumpy from the outside, but it is the traditional diner experience when you go inside with the loud waitresses and the big menu.
The menu was reasonable, and the waitress was really nice. I ordered the French Toast and Scrambled eggs which was delicious. The eggs were scrambled in clarified butter and had that rich flavor to them. They gave me three big slices of French Toast which was loaded with Cinnamon and caramelized perfectly and served with plenty of butter and syrup. God, it hit the spot and I devoured the whole thing. I think the waitress was impressed on how fast I ate it.
After breakfast was over, I worked off the second breakfast walking this part of downtown. It was really quiet in the downtown area, and I could see why. There were no stores or other restaurants either open or there. So many store fronts in this downtown are empty which is so sad because not only is it a county seat but such a beautiful downtown.
My next stop was the Salem Fire Museum at 166 East Broadway, but it was still closed. I found out later that the museum was only open once a month on the first Saturday of the month. I confirmed this when I went to the Salem County Historical Society down the road, and they called for me. I guess for the next time.
My next stop when it opened at noon was the Salem County Historical Society at 83 Market Street which I had visited a few years before. This is such a wonderful historical society and one of the best I have ever seen. Their displays are so well put together and such interesting exhibitions. When I had visited it the first time, I have about a half hour to run around. I had plenty of time to visit on this trip.
The Salem County Historical Society at 83 Market Street
The Society is housed in two connecting homes with an interesting core of the house that was originally built in the early 1700’s. The Society has two floors of displays and an extensive library that people use in search of town and family history (See reviews on TripAdvisor and VisitingaMuseum.com).
The dress Sarah Hancock Sinnickson wore to George Washington’s Inaugural Ball
What I found impressive about the Society is the extensive number of important artifacts that the museum houses. I took a highlights tour with one of the members and he really pointed out some interesting items to look at in the collection that was on display.
They have an impressive collection of Revolutionary War items including belt and shoe buckles and a ring with a lock of George Washington’s hair. They were several artifacts from the locally prominent Hancock family including the dress that Sarah Hancock Sinnickson wore to the ball of George Washington’s inauguration.
There was an exhibition of local ice cream companies including an early Bassett family display of the family that still runs their ice cream company out of Philadelphia. There was an early cylinder phonograph of Edison’s that still had all the cylinders. Upstairs there was an interesting clock display where I learned the meaning of why the Roman numerals were created for the clocks the way they were (they wanted the four to be IIII instead of IV because it looked symmetrical).
“The Keeping Room” at the Salem County Historical Society
Downstairs I toured “The Keeping Room” which was the original section of the house from the early 1700’s. This is where all the cooking and work was done for the house as it was not just the heat source for the home but the light as well during the darkest months of winter. When I had been there at Christmas a few years earlier, this was decorated for the holidays with a tree and garland.
I am just impressed with the work that the Society did during the lockdown to make this such an interesting museum. They really put a lot of effort into the displays and explanations of the artifacts.
After I visited the three sites in town, I went down Route 49 to my next stop driving through the outskirts of Salem, the city. I could not believe how run down the homes were in the neighborhoods. Such beautiful Victorian and Federalist homes just rotting away. The whole city looks so sad.
Just when you think you have seen everything, you cross this one road, and you are out in the farming community again. Then its rows and rows of fields and farmhouses. Talk about extremes.
Just after the turnoff to the Hancock House Museum that I was going to visit next, I stopped at the historical site of the old Quinton’s Bridge. The bridge had held an important place in transportation of goods for the area and into Philadelphia. The patriots had to hold this bridge to cut off supplies to the British. As small as the creek is today, you did not have the modern transportation of today back in the late 1700’s so controlling this bridge was important. We lost many people, but we held the bridge (See review on TripAdvisor and VisitingaMuseum.com).
Today it is just a modern bridge in an isolated place in the middle of nowhere. There is a small town just south of the bridge, but you have to use your imagination back to a time when this was the only road in the area and the major hub of transportation in a vibrant farming community.
Video on the Battle of Quinton’s Bridge
I doubled back down a few country roads and visited the Hancock House at 3 Front Street in the small community of Hancocks Bridge. The town consists of a few roads of small turn of the century homes and surprisingly no businesses in what was once downtown.
The Hancock House used to sit on the busiest road in the area as it made its way through towns like Greenwich and Bridgeton. I assume before Route 49 was built; this was the only way to travel through this area as part of the home was a tavern for travelers.
The tavern part of the house faces the road and the home itself is across the street from the old Hancock Bridge. This once vibrant home and farm was an important part of the Revolutionary War history as the family played a big role in business and politics in the area.
The house itself needs a lot of work. The State of New Jersey runs the park and it needs a good painting and plastering. It also needs someone to come in and work with the decor and displays. There are some rooms that have period pieces and the furniture matches what would have been in the house but some of the rooms are barely furnished.
There are no family heirlooms in the house and the tour could have been a little more interesting as the state tour guide could not answer my questions. When another couple came in to take the tour, I took a guidebook and walked the grounds myself. I learned more about the family this way.
The Hancock House at 3 Front Street in Hancocks Bridge, NJ
I walked the grounds of the house and could see why this road was so important. Like any other area of the state, when a new highway is built, the old one and what was located on it become part of the past. Outside the tourists and the people that live in the town, I am sure that no one ventures here. There was not even a restaurant in the area to eat at in town.
After visiting the Hancock House, I took the small country backroads that were once a major part of transportation in the area down to Greenwich, NJ, a small town south to visit their treasure trove of historical sites and homes. There were a lot of twists and turns down these quiet roads before you get to Greenwich, a town of an interesting mix of historical homes.
I took my chances to see if the Nicholas Gibbon House would be open and I lucked out in that it had just reopened for tours that month (See reviews on TripAdvisor and VisitingaMuseum.com). There was just myself and the tour guide, so I got a personalized tour of this statuesque home. Not only did Nicolas Gibbon and his wife live here but after them members of the Wood family moved in and were the family that founded the WaWa chain of stores.
Nicholas Gibbon moved to the area in 1730 when he inherited some 300 acres of land in the area and built his house here. According to the tour guide, he stayed until 1760 when he was trying to get a church built here and the local Quakers discouraged it. He and his wife moved from the area and the Wood family moved in and stayed in the house until the 1920’s.
Each room in the home is beautifully decorated with period pieces including portraits of Nicolas Gibbon’s nephew and his wife and silver from the Hershey family. The downstairs kitchen with the hearth and cooking materials was very interesting. Upstairs there is a “Everything Room” with clothing, hats, shoes, Civil War weapons and quilts. I took my time to tour the house and then the grounds before the home closed for the day. I was next off to the Greenwich Tea Burning Monument down the road.
Greenwich Tea Burning Monument at Ye Greate Street and Market Lane
The Greenwich Tea Burning Monument was fascinating in that I never knew this existed or even happened. About a year after the Boston Tea Party, a small handful of citizens, including a future Governor of New Jersey from Greenwich burned a shipment of tea that was being stored in the town. I had come to find out that there were five instances of this radicalism on the East Coast.
The dignified sculpture was dedicated in 1908 in honor of this heroic act before the start of the Revolutionary War. I took my time to study what happened and never realized what New Jersey’s role was in trade before the war. I opened the small gate and paid my respects to these brave men who risked a lot to protest the “Tea Tax”.
Just down the road from the monument is the Museum of Prehistory at 1461 Bridgeton Road, which I had a small amount of time to visit before it closed for the evening. This little museum was a real surprise because it was not even on my list of places to visit.
I just made it to the Museum of Prehistorical History after visiting the Nicolas Gibbon House. This small but unique museum is housed in one big room of the building and each section has a different artifact featured.
The was an extensive display of Lenape and Native American artifacts in one case line showing off the collection of arrowheads, spear tips and fishing and stone cooking equipment. There was a collection of fossils of fish, bone and plants and a selection of pottery. There were even fossils of dinosaur eggs.
The gentleman working there that day let me stay extra before closing and was a student studying paleontology, so he was able to give me an explanation on the specimens. From what he was telling me that the museum was looking for more space and may be moving in the future.
The Old Presbyterian Church and Cemetery at 54 West Avenue South in Bridgeton, NJ
Visiting the Old Presbyterian Church and Cemetery was an interesting experience. Trying to get from Greenwich to Bridgeton should have been a straight run but there were no names on the signs, and you just had to figure it out. I found the right road and it led me right to the cemetery.
The Presbyterian Church is only used now for special occasions and events but is an elegant building that sits on top of a bluff overlooking the downtown area. During the daylight hours you are allowed to roam around the cemetery looking at the gravesites (See my reviews on TripAdvisor and VisitingaMuseum.com). So many famous politicians, war heroes, founding fathers of the City of Bridgeton and entrepreneurs at the turn of the last century are buried here.
What I found interesting about the cemetery was the family plots with the generations of people buried next to one another and their stories. It was sad when the parents buried their children and then died a few years later. Trying to figure the narrative of these families can be heartbreaking.
The really sad part of such a historic cemetery is that it is so overgrown. I was walking through in some parts a foot of weeds. I know that taking care of a cemetery this size must be hard, but I would think there would be more care of the dead considering this is a destination for historians.
When I finished touring the church grounds, I took a tour of the Bridgeton Historical Downtown. It was such a waste to see a bunch of old buildings falling apart and most of the businesses closed or small run-down businesses located in them. A block away was a more modern downtown with newer buildings. The shopping district caters to the very large Hispanic population that lives here and is great if you are looking for provisions for a picnic.
After I left Bridgeton, it was almost 6:00pm and I headed back up Route 49 to head back to Salem. I was trying to figure out where to go for dinner and taking the advice of the Inn, I planned on heading back up Route 45 to Woodstown to find a place.
On the ride back up the highway, I passed Hudock’s Frozen Custard stand and saw all the people outside enjoying hot dogs and ice cream and I had to stop. It was so classic Jersey that I had to see what it was all about and trust me, it is worth the stop. Their food is delicious and extremely reasonable.
I just wanted a snack to tide me over as I was traveling around and had no lunch. So, I ordered a foot long hot dog and a Coke. Trust me, when they said foot long, they meant it. The hot dog was really big, split down the middle and grilled and they topped it with mustard and relish. It was out of this world and just what I needed after a long day.
At Hudock’s Custard Stand, a foot long hot dog is A FOOT LONG!
I took my hot dog and Coke and sat outside with all the families enjoying their meals and just sat and watched the field sway by and enjoyed the sunshine. Talk about a perfect early evening treat. The hot dog was perfectly grilled and crisp when I bit into it.
When I went back again in September, the weather was just as nice, and I stopped again for lunch on my way to Pennsville to visit Church Landing Farm. This time I had a hamburger and French Fries with a Coke ($8.55). That hit the spot after a long day of driving. The burger was cooked fresh for me, and the fries just came out of the fryer and still sizzled. I just sat at one of the picnic benches and relaxed under the shade of a tree. It was nice watching the few cars drive by and admiring the farm that surrounded the hot dog stand.
A trip to Hudock’s is a trip back in time to a less rushed time
Later that afternoon, I stopped back at the Custard stand they have and had two scoops of their homemade Peach Ice Cream. For $3.85, I thought that was very fair. You got two very large scoops of ice cream in a paper cup made with homemade peaches that were still in season. Yum! Hurry quick because Hudock’s closes the first week of October for the season.
It was nice to just relax and watch the other people having such a nice time talking and eating. For a moment I felt like it was 1975 again and I was a teenager. This is how nostalgic the place makes you feel. When you see a free showing of “Jaws” coming soon I felt like I was stepping back in time. It was nice to just sit for an hour and just relax.
I agreed with the Innkeeper when I got back into Salem a little after 7:00pm. It was still sunny and bright but the crowds outside both the only Chinese take-out place and pizzeria in downtown Salem looked pretty shady so off I went back up Route 45 to Woodstown and decided on Papa Luigi’s at 39 North Main Street for dinner.
I was surprised on how both the restaurant and the downtown were so quiet that night. I know it was Father’s Day weekend, but it was not like a major holiday, and I would have thought people would have been out and about.
Papa Luigi’s at 39 North Main Street in Woodstown, NJ
I was the only one eating at the restaurant that evening and the waitress could not have been nicer. It was the two of us and the delivery person and one other person outside the two cooks that evening. I ordered a Cheesesteak with Cheese Wiz and one of the best I have had outside of Philly. They really loaded in the meat for me, and the Wiz is the best way of topping it. I just sat there reviewing my notes of the day and planning the next morning starting with my first lighthouse visit.
Papa Luigi’s makes an excellent cheesesteak with Wiz
As I was driving back from Woodstown to Salem at 8:30pm, the sun started to go down and I wanted to see it before it totally set on the Delaware Bay. What was breathtaking was as I drove down Route 45, I could see the sun starting its descent over the fields of corn and wheat and the sunshine against the farmhouses. I made it back into Salem and then driving south to the bay area, I got the last glimpses of the sun as the party was cleaning up.
I stood on the lawn of the Inn watching the last of the sun peek under the horizon of the Delaware and the dazzling colors that it made. The sun fully set around 9:00pm (God, I love the Summer Solstice time) and watched as the stars started to come out. What a view! With all the craziness in the world and all the radical strife, this is what should get people to think about how Mother Nature can still surprise us with her magic.
The dazzling Delaware Bay view from the Inn’s lawn
I did not stay up too long after that driving so much during the day and slept soundly all night. I could not believe it the next morning when I had slept over eight hours which I never do. I was showered, shaved and up and adman by 9:00am and got packed and ready for breakfast. That was another wonderful part of the stay.
After I was packed up, I stopped downstairs for breakfast. Since there are no cooking facilities on the property and events are catered, they ordered in breakfast for me from the Diamond Grill at 534 Salem Quinton Road, a diner located down the highway from Salem. The order came in pretty quickly and I ate on the patio of the Inn overlooking the bay. Since there were only three rooms at the Inn and everyone else was gone, I had the patio to myself that morning.
I just had a simple breakfast of pancakes and fresh fruit with some orange juice (Yvonne lets you order what you wish off the menu provided in your room the night before) and had the table set up for me on the corner of the patio. The food was delicious, and the pancakes were large and had that nice, malted flavor.
While I ate, I got to watch the boats pass by and birds sway over the bay. I did not leave until the check-out time of 11:00am because it was so relaxing to enjoy breakfast and not have to rush anywhere.
My first stop the second morning was a trip down both Route 49 to Route 41 for my first stop, The East Point Lighthouse in Heislerville, NJ at the edge of Cumberland County. The lighthouse was located on the westernmost part of the natural preserve on the shoreline. Getting to it took a lot of twists and turns down the road but at the end of the road it offered the most amazing views of the ocean.
This little lighthouse is one of the best I have seen in a long time. There is so much care put into this historical site. When I parked at the end of the street, I noticed on all sides of the lighthouse were barriers protecting it on all sides from the advancing bay.
After you buy your tickets at the Gift Shop, you walk along the dunes that protect the lighthouse that are nicely landscaped with sea grass, tiger lily’s and black-eyed Susan’s. The gardens are really beautiful at the beginning of the summer. It is a short walk to the lighthouse from here.
The lighthouse itself is nicely furnished with period furniture and antiques and each room reflects what the family’s role was in the lighthouse function. There was a lighthouse keepers office, a complete kitchen with pot belly stove and a living room on the first floor
The second floor is the bedrooms where you can see where the family slept, and the children conducted themselves with their own social life. The rooms contained a lot of period furniture and clothing, and the children’s bedroom was loaded with all sorts of toys from different eras. There was even a handmade dollhouse with homemade furniture that decorated it and a picture of the man who made it.
In real life, no child would have this many toys in this era, but the tour guide explained to me that after they finished renovating the lighthouse, they put out the word for donations for furnishings for the lighthouse. They were over-whelmed with donations. People must have been downsizing their family heirlooms.
Each room in the lighthouse was nicely decorated and reflected the times. On the top floors were the functions of the lighthouse and an explanation of how the lighting worked. This is still a functioning lighthouse so educational to see how it worked and how it functioned today. The tour guides are really good at explaining how everything worked.
After the tour of the lighthouse and walking the grounds (See my reviews on TripAdvisor and VisitingaMuseum.com), I left as the site was getting busier and headed up the highway to Mauricetown (pronounced “Morristown” like its northern counterpart) and headed up to visit the Mauricetown Historical Society.
The Mauricetown Historical Society like many of the spots on the historical listing is only open for a few hours twice a month so you have to plan your trip here accordingly. Make sure to take the hour-long tour as they cover not just the history of the house but how it was furnished, decorated and the story of the people who lived here. It really makes the house come to life.
What is interesting about the town and the neighborhood is that it was an old fishing, shipping and trade village and all the homes on this side of town that faced the Maurice River were the Ship Captain’s so the homes are bigger and more elaborate than the ones further in town. Still after driving through the town, it is a picturesque and quaint looking town with rows of historical homes and colorful landscaping.
The Mauricetown Historical Society at 1229 Front Street
The tour of the Mauricetown Historical Society was very informative on the life of a sea captain and his family and the history of Mauricetown and its business functions for the area. This town was a big shipping area during and after the Revolutionary War and its location made it perfect for restocking and ship building. Sea Captains made their fortunes here and their homes reflected that affluence. This was the home of Captain Edward Compton.
When you enter the Mauricetown Historical Society, you are greeted into the parlor area of the home and a display of military items including uniforms, weapons, and equipment used for battle. They even had one of the earliest artifacts with a pair of sharpshooter glasses that had just been developed.
The Military display at the Mauricetown Historical Society
The living room had been redecorated to reflex the time after the Revolutionary War and its changes at the start of the Victorian era. Early wallpaper had been found underneath the paneling that had been placed on top and new one had been recreated to match the original. Period furnishings and instruments decorated the room.
The upstairs had bedrooms that were decorated to reflex the Victorian era with heavy furniture and a collection of quilts. Their collection of quilts was really interesting in that they had one they displayed with the names of the sea captains and their family members. Genealogists used the quilt so that families could trace their ancestors back to that time. They also had another quilt of all things found in nature.
There was a display to Captain Bacon, a local resident and his wife, Carolyn and their life together in town. There was another display of pictures of the town through the years and how it developed. There was a display of period clothing from the Victorian era to the 1920’s. I could see that even though it was a bit more formal, times have not changed that much.
They displayed the Oyster and Fishing Industry, and they had all sorts of equipment on display including the rakes and even had the bridge key for the old Maurice River Bridge to show how they turned the bridge to let the boats through. The last display was a wonderful collection of children’s toys and dolls (all of these homes have big displays of toys) and you could tell by the quality how lucky some of these children were because these playthings were not cheap even then.
In the backyard was a cookhouse that was kept separate from the house that was built in the 1880’s. A modern kitchen was not added until the 1940’s. Also in the backyard is the Abraham and Anna Hoy House, a small house that was considered an example of the average person’s home in the early 1800’s. Over the years it has been added to but the Society brought it back to its original early 1800’s design. You can see where the cooking facility was located and the loft sleeping space above it for the children of the house who used it in the cold months of the year.
The tour gave a very detailed explanation of life at that period and the tour guide gave a wonderful description of the time and life in the house. After the tour, I took time to explore the grounds around the house and of the surrounding neighborhood to admire the other old homes. It is an interesting town to explore.
On the first day of my trip in September, I stopped at the Dennisville Township Historical Society Old School House at 681 Petersburg Road in the town of Woodbine, NJ. This small one room schoolhouse is packed with all sorts of artifacts.
The Dennisville Township Historical Society Old School House at 681 Petersburg Road
There are displays on businesses that used to be in the area such as the Mason Basket Company, who used to make all the baskets for apples and peaches for the local farms, the local shingle factory that prided itself on making the shingles for Congress Hall in Philadelphia and the local cranberry blogs.
There are pictures of the historic Methodist Camp that was located here, a display on local Veterans and their artifacts, pictures of home management on the farm and in rural New Jersey, an antique pipe organ and pictures of the local renovation of the Ludlam family cemetery. There is a little bit of this and a little bit of that displayed at the museum and well organized in this former one room schoolhouse. The docents were also really nice.
The Museum of Cape May County at 504 North Route 9
The Museum of Cape May County changed their hours the week before and now it is only open on Wednesday and Friday afternoon, so I had to plan to visit it another time when I was in the area. I was a little bummed because it had nice grounds that I took a moment to walk. That is when I went back to the Cape May Zoo (see above) which was a madhouse that afternoon on a beautiful sunny day.
On my way back up Route 41, I debated stopping in Millville but there was no time if I wanted to get back to Pennsville to see the Church Landing Farm. I had tried twice to stop in to see the Potters Taven in Bridgeton but then double checked the guide and found out that it is only open on Sundays in July from 1:00pm-4:00pm so I will not be visiting it this summer, so I continued from Downtown Bridgeton to Pennsville.
Potters Taven at 49-51 West Broad Street in Bridgeton, NJ
Between the traffic and the distance and not being able to find the cross street, I did not get to the Pennsville Township Historical Society until ten minutes to 4:00pm and no one would answer the door. I knocked on both with four cars outside hoping that I would catch someone to give me a tour of the home but to no avail. I was able to see inside at some of the antique furnishings but that was it.
I was able to walk the grounds of the farm and it was spectacular. You really have to see the views of Delaware Bay and the fantastic views. The grounds have all the separate buildings on it that were closed as well but at least I got to view everything. For the next trip.
The Pennsville Township Historical Society-Church Landing Farm at 86 Church Landing Road
When I visited in September, I made it a priority to visit the museum and arranged my Sunday schedule so that the Church Landing Farm was my last stop on the way home. After lunch at Hudock’s, I made my way up Route 49 to the museum. What was nice was I was the only visitor at the time, so it was just me and the two docents touring the house and grounds.
What an interesting tour of the house and of the displays in the sheds that are on the property. The farmhouse was built by the Garrison family between 1840-1845 and was the home of lawyer and gentleman farmer, Donald Garrison. The house was lived in by generations of Garrisons until 1973 when the last living member of the family, Anna Locuson died. At this point, the house was in disarray.
In 1991, with the help of Atlantic City Electric, the Pennsville Township Historical Society was formed and has maintained the house since. The artifacts in the house are all donations and are of the period that the family lived in the house over the years with the exception of family portraits on the first floor. The upper floors are displays of a children’s room and the room of an adult. They also have a nice research library on town and family history.
On the grounds there is a series of sheds with different themes and displays to see. As they unlock each shed, they show you the magic of their artifacts. There is one shed with a Floating Fishing Cabin, one with artifacts from the fire and police departments and the military, another of high school memorabilia, another is a wash house and my favorite, one of the Pennsville Beach Park, a former amusement park that was located in the current park until 1969. It has all sorts of signs, rides and former parts of rides and attractions. These sheds were the highlight of the trip. Everything is so well maintained and displayed on the property.
I also walked the grounds again and admired the view of the Delaware Bay and the Delaware Memorial Bridge. It must have been something before all these things were built and it just had a view of the bay.
I needed to stop for a quick snack, and I noticed that on this Father’s Day Sunday not much was opened around the area. I came across Four Seasons Doughnuts, an old-fashioned doughnut shop on Route 49 and stopped in. I got the most delicious sugar topped jelly doughnut ($1.50) and devoured it quickly. The doughnut selection that time of the day was not as big, but it was enough to tide me over until dinner. I was ready to see my last site of the day.
Four Seasons Doughnuts at 275 North Broadway in Pennsville, NJ
In September, I doubled back to Hudock’s to the custard stand for ice cream. It was only fifteen minutes away from the site. I ordered some homemade peach ice cream and just relaxed on the picnic tables again. It was such a beautiful day, and I did not want to leave that spot. Looking at the farms was just so nice (see prices and pictures above).
Hudock’s for ice cream is so nostalgic
I got to Fort Mott State Park by 5:00pm and it was still bright and sunny outside. I love these long summer days when it is light out until 9:00pm. By the time I got to the Finn’s Point Lighthouse, the Visitors Center was closed but it looked like it had not been open. The stairs were overgrown, the sign on the door was dated 2019 and the fence around the lighthouse had a lock that looked rusty. So, I only got to admire it from a distance. It really is an interesting lighthouse as it slender and further away from the water than the other lighthouses that I had seen before. I read that you cannot walk in if it is too cold outside or too hot. I traveled further into the park.
Finn’s Point Lighthouse at Fort Mott and Lighthouse Road
Fort Mott State Park was a real treat. I never knew this place even existed. I had never heard of the fort before today. Fort Mott State Park is interesting in that it was designed after the Civil War facing the State of Delaware across the bay and was designed to protect Delaware Bay. Most of the construction happened after 1897 and gun emplacements were located the below concrete and earthen embankment.
There is also a fire tower, guard house, former warehouses and battery’s protecting the fort. By the end of WWI, the fort was considered obsolete and by 1943 was decommissioned. The State of New Jersey bought the land in 1947 and by 1951 it was opened as a park.
I was able to tour through the gun embankments and climb the stairs to see where the guns were once based on. The views were amazing of the bay, and it was a clear shot if boats tried to come into the bay. I passed the fire tower that was closed for tours that day and I visited what was the Ordnance Warehouse which is now the gift shop and a small museum of artifacts from the old fort. This includes equipment, pictures and photos of when the fort was in service. This part of the park should not be missed as it is fascinating to see how the fort was run and its role during the war.
The best part of the park is to just stroll along the long grass lawn that leads to the views of the Delaware Bay. The views are spectacular and on a sunny day, it is just a please to look out at the bay and enjoy the views. There are also nice picnic grounds that were full of families enjoying the early evening of Father’s Day. I spent time here relaxing before my long trip home soaking up the sunshine.
After my trip to Fort Mott State Park, since the sun was still high in the sky and it would not get dark until almost 9:00pm, I decided to double back through Salem, go back up to Woodstown to have dinner and see the farmland one last time before leaving the area. It is such a scenic trip home and I wanted to see all of it one more time before leaving the area.
I stopped in Woodstown and walked around the downtown one last time. A lot was closed on Sunday, and I was surprised that more restaurants were not open. I decided on a quick slice of pizza at Gus’s Pizzeria at 14 Main Street. It was okay but I would not make a special trip to go there. There are other places to eat.
My last stop of the trip back up was stopping in Millica Hill, the quaint little town I first encountered when I got off Swedesboro Road to go down Route 45. I stopped and looked at all the old buildings and restaurants that they had. Most everything was closed for the day and only one restaurant was open and there was only one couple there. They also had a Historical Society in the downtown area that I noted for my next trip to the area.
As I finally got to the New Jersey Turnpike, the sun was setting in the distance. As I said before, it is so nice to have these long days to drive and explore. It was an eye-opening trip and I saw so many interesting places and got a better grasp of our state’s history and its place in both the Revolutionary and Civil Wars.
I was an interesting and relaxing weekend and the best way to spend Father’s Day. It was a trip that my dad would have enjoyed.
The Doll House at the Boulevard Circle in Hasbrouck Heights, NJ
The Little Doll House on the Boulevard Circle in Hasbrouck Heights has been a landmark in town almost eighty years. The little house stood in the back of 122 Boulevard since I had moved into town in 1988 and was always painted the same way as the Neil Parrott Reality Company.
The Doll House was built in 1943 by owner Issac V. Young for his grandchildren and then the house was purchased by Neil Parrott for the family realty business. It was used as a playhouse for client’s children while their parents’ conducted business inside the office.
The Historical sign at the Circle in Hasbrouck Heights, NJ
I took time out of my walking project in Manhattan after finishing the Chelsea neighborhoods, walking the 13-mile Broadway walk for the sixth time and preparing to do “The Great Saunter” on my own next week to go ‘down the shore’ as we say in New Jersey (it’s never ‘Down to the Shore”, that takes too long).
I had never been to Somers Point, NJ before. It is a small waterfront community across the bay from Ocean City, NJ, which is a popular resort and recreation town. Somers Point is low key with wonderful restaurants and bars, a popular waterfront and beaches on The Great Egg Harbor Bay and beautiful little turn of the century beach homes and a town steeped in history. I read about three historical spots on Shore Drive in the heart of the Historic District and had wanted to visit them.
Somers Point, NJ by The Great Egg Harbor Bay on Shore Avenue by the Somers Mansion
There was also a traditional ‘Jersey Shore” seafood restaurant named “Smitty’s Clam Bar (The Clam Bar at Smith’s Cove as it is known officially) that I had read about in the magazine “Edible New Jersey” back in 2019 and had wanted to try it. It had been on my “to do/to eat” list for three years but COVID closed the place and it just opened back up a few weeks ago. So there was some things that I wanted to do and see at this quaint Jersey shore town.
I had to plan this visit like I was going abroad as the historical societies were only open a certain hours and were not going to stay open past those times. This on top of the fact that schools were just letting out for the summer and the chance of getting to the shore with no traffic on the Garden State Parkway would be next to impossible after this weekend. So off we went at 8:00am to get to Somers Point by 10:00am. It really was two hours with traffic (of course) especially when you go past the Newark exits. The airport exits still do create traffic jams all over the highway even if you are in the fast lane.
We managed to get to Somers Point by 10:30am and the traffic out to the town was minimal. Most of the traffic was going over the bridge to Ocean City, NJ with its popular boardwalk. It was nice turning off to the quaint bay side town of Somers Point, NJ. The nice part was all the destinations that we would be going to were within three blocks from one another and the main road back to the Parkway.
The three historical sites that I wanted to visit were the Somers Point Historical Society, which specializes in the history of the town, the Atlantic County Historical Society, which specializes in the history of the entire County of Atlantic, NJ and the Somers Family Mansion. For a late lunch, we would be eating at Smitty’s Clam Bar on the bay which I had read about in an article in “Edible New Jersey” so I was looking forward to dinner there.
The three historical sites did not take much time to see even with a guided tour. Each took about an hour and we were able to see all three with plenty of time to tour the historical district of the town and the shore line. The area around the bay was pretty compact.
Our first stop was Somers Point Historical Society at 745 Shore Road (See TripAdvisor and VisitingaMuseum.com). This small historical society was founded in 1987 as a result of the “Save Old City Hall” campaign and helped establish the historic district with the State of New Jersey. The building was originally a Baptist Church that was built in 1886 and was the town library before it became the historical society.
The Somers Point Historical Society at 745 Shore Road
The Somers Point Historical Society is a pleasant little museum that features the history of the town. The Society is concentrated in the main room of the old church with displays on all sides.
The Somers Point Historical Society displays are in one large room
There is a display on its nautical past with shipbuilding and fishing industries, the region’s retail past with a trolley system that used to run around the shoreline to Atlantic City, and town historical display of the Somers family, the founding family of the town and relics from the USS Somers, named after Commandant Richard Somers.
The memorial to Commandant Richard Somers and the USS Somers
Items the museum features on Shipbuilding and Fishing
Each display gives a glimpse of the town and how it has changed from primarily a community of nautical businesses to a year-round community of tourism and recreation. Once the Garden State Parkway was constructed, it opened all these small towns by the shore to the entire state and changing the population growth.
The museum even showed the changes in transportation to the community with an old trolley system that used to travel up and down the shore for things like shopping and entertainment. It is amazing that almost fifty years since they got rid of the trolley system, they saw how useful it was and energy efficient.
The ‘Christmas shopping at the shore’ display
When talking with the volunteers at the museum what is nice is that they co-sponsor all sorts of special events like lectures and movie nights with the Ocean City Historical Museum. Their next event is showing the film “High Society” with Grace Kelly, a frequent visitor of Ocean City with her family.
The Somers Point Historical Society is filled with all sorts of artifacts of the town and really brings Somers Point to light. The only problem with the museum is that it is open very limited hours so plan your trip accordingly.
The next site that we drove to be the Atlantic Count Historical Museum at 907 Shore Drive, whose mission is to present the story of the entire county’s history. They have an extensive collection of objects from before the founding of the County (even before the State was founded) until today.
The library at the Society is used by people checking out their family’s genealogy and background with the help of the librarian and the history of the town. They have an extensive collection of records of Somers Point in the library.
The Atlantic County Historical Society at 907 Shore Drive
Most of the exhibitions are in the lower level of the museum where our tour guide, Sid, took us around and showed us the different displays. I have to say that each display is somewhat overloaded with historical objects that needed a clearer definition. Each one represented a room in a home over a period of time, but the artifacts were from different eras with some from the 1880’s to others being from the 1920’s and 30’s. They were very interesting but just needed less on display.
The Living Room had multiple items as way of entertainment with musical instruments and things like radios and phonographs. The furniture came from both the 1890’s with classic Victorian looks and 1920’s furniture that was in fashion of the day.
The Dining Room was set from the 1920’s but would have been at home in the 1930’s or 50’s as well as formal entertainment was the highest form of flattery and it was the job of the host to show off their best crystal, china and silver to their guests.
For recreation, there were all sorts of board games, puzzles and other amusements that adults and teens would have played over the years. They also had an extensive toy section with dolls, dollhouses, clothing and objects to prepare children for their roles in life.
Children’s playthings changed during the Victorian age to about the 1930’s
The bedroom and manner of dress changed as well, and the Atlantic County Historical Society has an extensive collection of clothing both men’s and women’s that includes coats, hats, gloves and shoes. Even in the bedroom display, you can see how the roles started to change during the Industrial Revolution.
The Bedroom display had all sorts of items needed to make living more comfortable including quilts, chamber pots and basins. There was even a bedwarmer, but these items were no longer part of the household as fireplaces and then steam heat came into the home.
Even the local industries of Shipbuilding and Fishing came into play in the displays both in the lower level and the upper level with the advent of tourism and modern swimming, sunning and dining at the shore.
Shipbuilding and Fishing were big industries in Somers Point
An early rolling chair from the Boardwalk in Atlantic City with amusement advertisements to show the modern-day leisure with the five-day work week.
The upstairs even had a complete office to former Senator Frank “Hap” Farley who helped open up the State of New Jersey to tourism with the opening of the Garden State Parkway.
The recreation of Senator Farley’s office on the third floor of the museum
After our tour, Sid gave us the history of the museum and how they were making changes with the museum displays and the programing they were planning in the future. There is a lot to see and do at the museum but take your time to wonder around the museum on your own.
Our last stop on the tour of historical sites was the Somers Mansion, the home of the Somers family from the 1700’s to the 1930’s.
The family mansion was lived in by five generations of the Somers family and the house had been added onto over the years. The home was built between 1720 and 1726 and was lived until the last family members moved out in 1937. The home was deeded to the Atlantic County Historical Society in 1937 by the last two family members living in the house (Somers Mansion NJ Park.com).
It became a NJ State Park site in 1941 and the home was stripped back down to its original look from the 1700’s (it had a more Victorian look with all the additions over the years). Inside the home, the mansion has been brought back to the late 1700’s to early 1800’s.
Inside I hate to admit there was not much to look at nor could you take pictures inside the home. There was some period furniture both upstairs and downstairs and there was a china cabinet that held some of the family china that was donated to the house as well. In fact, all that was left from the family that the tour guide told us was the china, a bedwarmer, and a few pieces of furniture.
The “Keeping” or “Everything” room was on the first floor with a giant hearth for cooking and heat and where all the housework would have been done and the back part of the main room was for dining. You have to climb with a rope banister (not the safest thing) to the upstairs where there was a bedroom with a fireplace and a smaller room in the back with a spinning wheel and crib for a baby. There was not much to see in the house. The tour guide did not seem too interested in telling us the history or any stories of the house, so we made our way outside to see the replanted gardens.
The local Garden Club of Somers Point planted a recreation of the old kitchen garden with fruits and vegetable that would have been used in the colonial kitchen.
The recreated ‘Kitchen Garden’ of the Somers Mansion
The Kitchen Garden was planted for the summer season and all the things that the family would have served on their table for the main meal were planted in the backyard. The garden club did a nice job keeping the grounds and the gardens looking nice. The inside of the house needed a lot of work along with a curator to design all the objects inside to look like a period home.
After the tour of the three sites, we took a driving tour of the historical part of the town, driving all the side streets between Bay and Shore Roads. There were a lot of homes big and small that dotted the streets all in different conditions. You could see that a lot of the homes were built at the turn of the last century.
Having some time before our late lunch at Smitty’s, I got nostalgic, and we stopped at the local Dairy Queen at 501 Shore Road for a snack. I had not been at a Dairy Queen in years, and I knew exactly what I wanted. I wanted a Banana Split which is my favorite thing at Dairy Queen. Yes, the price had gone up over the years and the little yellow plastic container that they used to serve it in is no longer part of it, it still tasted the same as it had in 1972 and that is what I loved about it. My aunt had the Chocolate Chip Mint ice cream and we just sat outside at the tables and talked about the visits.
The irony was that when we got back in the car and still had what I thought was an hour and a half before dinner, I found out that Smitty’s was open the whole time. The Internet was wrong about the times, and they opened at 11:30am during the summer months. I thought they opened at 4:30pm. So, I had no appetite for dinner.
At first, we could not find the place because there is no sign that says “Smitty’s Clam Bar”. It is actually named “The Clam Bar at Smith Marina” at 910 Bay Avenue. “Smitty’s” is a nickname the locals have given it over the years. I had just read and the people at all the historical sites confirmed that they just lost their lease, and the marina has been sold so this will be their last season operating. So, I was glad we visited when we did.
‘Smitty’s Clam Bar” The Clam Bar at Smith Marina at 910 Bay Avenue
“Smitty’s” is one of those classic Jersey shore restaurants that has never changed since its opening except for the prices. You go there for deep-fried everything and I got a kick out of the waitress when my aunt asked her what she recommended and she said, “Oh, the Salmon with the Miso sauce and fresh vegetables is really good.” I looked at her like she was nuts. When I said that we came down for the fried fish she gave us more time with the menu.
The lunch specials at “Smitty’s”. There was no Salmon with Miso Sauce here.
I ended up ordering the New England Clam Chowder ($3.95) which was thick and rich and loaded with clams and touched off with cream. The reviewers were right about it, and it lived up to its reputation. What didn’t live up to the restaurant was its prices. The entrees were all $3.00-$5.00 more than the menu posted online and that really surprised me. Thank God I brought enough cash because they are still a ‘cash only’ restaurant.
This was the reason why I saw so many people on the outside counter sharing meals. Most of them probably did not have enough cash. In the era of COVID and people not even accepting cash as payment, I could not believe that the restaurant still had this archaic form of payment.
The counter on the outside of the The Clam Bar
Since I had just downed a banana split a half hour before lunch, I just shared some of the fried shrimp and French fries that my aunt was having ($14.99 at the restaurant/$9.99 online) and then we shared a piece of the Key Lime Pie ($4.99). I have to say that their Key Lime Pie also lived up to its reputation. It was rich and sweet, and you could taste the tartness in each bite. It really was the best way to end the meal.
The Fried Shrimp with French Fries and Cole Slaw at Smitty’s
After lunch was finished, we walked around the Marina for a bit. It really looked like a place on Martha’s Vineyard or even some of the places I knew on Long Beach Island that I had seen in previous late summer days. I can imagine that it will be going upscale as soon as its sold and the classic look will be gone.
Smith Marina where The Clam Bar is located. How much will this change in the future?
(*Note to all readers: Smitty’s just signed a contract with the marina and will be open in the summer of 2023)
We drove down Bay Avenue after lunch and stopped by the small beach where the last of the swimmers were finishing up for the day. I have to say one thing. Somers Point, New Jersey is a really charming town.
As we headed out of town on Shore Avenue passing all the sites we had visited in the morning, I wondered how many people in town appreciate all the little ‘gems’ located right at their doorsteps. For those of you who have not visited, it is a nice day out.