Beach Haven — Six Miles At Sea: A Pictorial History of Long Beach Island, just reissued and expanded for its 30th anniversary, is one of the classic LBI history books by the late John Bailey Lloyd. It includes additional pages and newly discovered historic photos from Jeanette Lloyd and John Bailey Lloyd’s collection and the LBI Historical Museum with generous assistance from Ron Marr, museum president. Additional images came courtesy the Barnegat Light Museum, The Maritime Museum, and editor Margaret Thomas Buchholz.
The 30th anniversary edition with a new color cover is a fitting tribute to the legacy of John Bailey Lloyd, who made LBI history his lifelong passion. In its pages you’ll travel back to Edwardian Beach Haven, discover the origins of Barnegat Lighthouse, and know the fortitude of the men of the U.S. Lifesaving Service. You’ll experience nature’s fury – the ’44 hurricane and the March ’62 northeaster – and learn how the Island’s shifting sands have dramatically changed its southern end. You’ll discover where bootleggers smuggled alcohol ashore during Prohibition, and delight in favorite watering holes “When Beer Was Ten Cents A Glass.” You’ll revisit World War II, when hotels boarded soldiers and the military patrolled beaches on horseback. “Ducks, Guns, and Money on Old Barnegat Bay” explores the era of adventurous aristocrats drawn to this shore for the sport of water fowling.
Here, too, you’ll learn the origins of LBI’s eclectic town names: Ship’s Bottom, Beach Arlington, Long Beach City, Peahala, and Harvest (Harvey) Cedars.
You’ll take the train to one of the grand old hotels and later learn about the first automobile highways to the shore. You’ll even learn the origin of that enduring phrase “Six Miles At Sea.”
Each person will find a favorite chapter, one that brings back memories such as the chapter on the Lucy Evelyn, a schooner turned gift shop that in its day was as great an attraction as the Barnegat Lighthouse. The 800-ton, three-masted tall ship was towed from New Bedford, Maine, in 1948 after being bought by Nat Ewer and settled in the marsh off Ninth Street in Beach Haven. Nat and his wife, Betty, ran the unusual and successful shop until the ship caught fire in 1972 and burned for three days.
Did you know that baseball thrived in Beach Haven long before the automobile bridge connected it to the mainland? Tuckerton was Beach Haven’s fiercest rival, and the players and their families and fans would sail across the bay to play on Beach Haven’s glorified sand lot. Baseball legend Roger “Doc” Cramer got his start on the Beach Haven team and was picked up by the Philadelphia Athletics, later played for the Boston Red Sox and played in the World Series of 1945 for the Detroit Tigers.
Lloyd’s pioneering writing about Long Beach Island has been an inspiration for reconnecting with our past, notes Ray Fisk, head of Down The Shore Publishing.
“From the 1980s into the 2000s on Long Beach Island, there was one person who captured the heart of the community with its history, the stories and the memories of Islanders. That person, John Bailey Lloyd, passionately shared all of it in his books, in standing-room-only talks at the Long Beach Island (Historical) Museum, in newspaper columns and features, in conversations at his Beach Haven home, on the street, and in his job as an Ocean County reference librarian,” Fisk recalled.
Lloyd’s historical writings began with a series in three local weekly papers: The Sandpaper, The Beachcomber and the Beach Haven Times sponsored by Bay State Bank.
His first book, a slim paperback filled with photos and extensive research, Eighteen Miles of History on Long Beach Island, was the first book published by Down The Shore, in 1986. With that book, he found a new calling as the celebrated, unofficial historian of Long Beach Island. Until then, the Island had only one history published – The Lure of Long Beach, produced in multiple editions by Charles Edgar Nash and sold at his sister’s gift shop, the Lucy Evelyn.
By the 1970s, as building booms remade the Island, it lost vacant lots, open space, historic homes as well as simple Cape Cods and beach bungalows, and much of the collective memory of its past also disappeared. Historic structures such as the old hotels, train depots and community gathering places vanished. By the early 1980s, Islanders seemed to yearn for someone to remind them of what once was, explained Fisk.
“With his historical newspaper stories and the success of the paperback Eighteen Miles of History, John Bailey Lloyd exerted a kind of gravitas – people came to him from far and wide with memories, photographs, historical accounts. There was an outpouring of Island history, and people saw John as the one who could document this vanishing past for future generations.”
From those newly donated historical photographs and ephemera, a new book took form, picking up where the slim Eighteen Miles left off. Six Miles At Sea went to press in late 1989 – the first large-format hardcover about Long Beach Island, said Fisk.
With accompanying photographs, in 31 topical chapters, Lloyd covered the history of Long Beach Island. The interest in local history grew, and soon Eighteen Miles was expanded and re-issued as a large-format companion volume. Through the 1990s until Lloyd’s death in August 2003, residents and summer visitors would be drawn to his talks at the Long Beach Island Historical Museum in Beach Haven.
“Often crowds jammed the big wrap-around porch, craning their necks to hear his program inside,” said Fisk. “His talks attracted all generations of Islanders and, it’s fair to say, influenced many. Perhaps some of the current post-Sandy construction boom that reference the style and elegance of the big old hotels and beautiful homes of a century ago owe a small bit of gratitude to John’s passionate research and writing about the early years of Long Beach Island.”
His widow, Jeanette Lloyd, just celebrating her 77th birthday this month, said she “absolutely loves what Ray Fisk and his wife, Leslee (Ganss), have done with the book.” Jeanette has added much to the history of LBI by working to make the Long Beach Island Museum the popular museum it is. She also has worked tirelessly to create and maintain a historic district in Beach Haven.
“Ray and my husband got along beautifully; it was as if they came out of the same test tube,” said Jeanette. “They had a mutual admiration society going. John was Ray’s first author, and 18 Miles was his first published book.” Jeanette noted that Marion Figley was the editor of that first edition.
When John died, his contribution not just to Long Beach Island, but also to Jersey Shore history was noted with articles in publications from The New York Times to The Star-Ledger and Bergen Record.
“It was Ray who got John’s obituary into The New York Times. That was splendid of him,” said Jeanette.
She said many of the new photos in the book came from the large collection her husband had created over 30 years. “Some of the original photos were given back to their owners, so we worked to find similar, sometimes better ones to supplement or replace the ones in the first edition.”
Leslee Ganss did a lovely job at digitally tinting the cover jacket, and if you take off the jacket, John Bailey Lloyd’s signature has been reproduced in the cloth cover, said Jeanette. “I think that was splendid, too,” she said.
A third volume in an Island history trilogy, Two Centuries of History on Long Beach Island, also by Lloyd, was published posthumously. Lloyd had also written fiction and essays, and contributed to three videos about Island history.
The 30th anniversary reissue of Six Miles At Sea adds more pages and historical photographs, updates locations and references that have changed since the 1980s, and includes the evocative new color cover. But the writing and the passionate voice of John Bailey Lloyd remain for new generations to discover.
“… Years of writing and research have led me to one simple truth: Everyone who ever came to this island – with the possible exception of the shipwrecked – came out of pure enjoyment and returned year after year for the same reason. As you turn these pages you will soon discover how little difference there is between us and all the generations that have come before. We share a happiness that is rare, indeed. That is what Long Beach Island means. It always will.” – John Bailey Lloyd, from the Preface.
Six Miles at Sea: A Pictorial History of Long Beach Island 30th Anniversary Edition hardcover retails for $38. It contains 31 chapters, more than 250 historical photographs and illustrations, and is available at LBI area booksellers, gift retailers, New Jersey bookstores, and online at down-the-shore.com.
— Pat Johnson