ANDY ZAHN: Remembering a REAL March Storm (1962)

From the book "Great Storms of the Jersey Shore" © Down The Shore Publishing

From the book “Great Storms of the Jersey Shore” © Down The Shore Publishing

Cape Charles Wave

March 9, 2015

Long Beach Island, NJ, “14 miles of beach 6 miles at sea.” That’s what the sign says. Connected to the mainland by a causeway and a high level bridge. The bridge was built in 1957-1958 and replaced the old drawbridge. The drawbridge, no longer in use, was shipped to Chincoteague where perhaps millions of people used it to see the Pony Penning and enjoy the ocean as well as enjoy the Oyster and Seafod Festivals.

In 1962 we were new to the area and very broke. We rented a house in Manahawkin for $75 a month and were about eaten alive by the Jersey mosquitoes. Manahawkin is on the west side of the causeway, so logically we crossed over the bridge and bought a 60′ x 100′ lot from the town of Ship Bottom for around $2,500. There were several lots for sale in an area created by material dredged from the bay, and we selected the one with the highest elevation.

We joined the Teachers’ Credit Union, hocked the title to the car, wheeled and dealed and finagled (I was a math teacher), and had a tiny three bedroom house erected on our lot for around $9,000, bought a washer, dryer and refrigerator, and for about $13,000 we were homeowners! The mortgage was 20 years at 6% and principal with interest came to $65 a month! My first monthly payment reduced the principal by 10 cents and so we made extra principal payments to speed thing up.

Ship Bottom is about a mile wide from the ocean to the bay and we were a few houses from the bay. On the 5th of March we walked on the beach by the ocean and it was flat calm. I never saw the ocean so calm with not any breakers. Wally Kinan, the weatherman on TV, gave no hint of any unusual weather the next day.

When I awoke on March 6 the wind was from the northeast and howling. Driving rain mixed with snow. The new high school was already overcrowded and the 7th and 8th grades came in on a late shift, so I just watched the storm and waited to go to work. [Read more…]