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Thursday, May 3, 2012

Shipwreck Shopping

There has been quite a bit of publicity about the likelihood of a Super Walmart being constructed on Rt. 9 in Little Egg Harbor Township. There appears to be two sides regarding the desirability of the project. Those who are against the project as creating undesirable traffic and congestion problems and those who are in favor of the project which will bring shopping closer to home and thus more convenient. 

Convenience, it seems, is extremely important in today's society. I got to thinking about shopping in our area near the turn of the 19th century. Not only were there no chain stores in the area to make shopping convenient, but there were few stores of any kind. Most goods of any consequence had to be shipped in by sea or rail or the buyer would have to travel by wagon to a far off city for a major purchase. Sometimes that trip would take days.

While reading an old scrapbook with news articles clipped from the late 1800's thru the early 1900's, I discovered another unexpected alternative to shopping which was made possible by the trecherous seas in our area - shipwrecks. 

A beached schooner

You may wonder what shipwrecks have to do with shopping. If so, please read the following article about the wreck of the Charlemagne Tower, Jr. The last sentence provides the answer, so read on. It seems that our ancestors were a rather resourceful and thrifty lot.

March, 1914 news clipping
Unknown Newspaper

Sometimes, shipwreck shoppers would become impatient and resort to trickery to move things along. When schooners ruled the seas, a common trick of tying a lantern on a tall stick attached to a donkey and walking him back and forth on a dark beach sometimes induced a shipwreck. An unsuspecting captain, unfamiliar with the local waters, would mistake the bobbing and swinging lantern for another ship and unwittingly steer too close to shore causing a beaching of the ship or a shipwreck. Either way, the locals would end up with the cargo. They would help unload the beached ship's cargo to lighten the load to re-float the ship or would gather the items that floated onto the beach from a shipwreck.

In the market for a few household items? How about meeting me on Long Beach tonight for a little shipwreck shopping? I'll bring the lantern and stick. You bring the donkey!

Pete S


  1. My take on the Walmart project as posted on FB. A lot of people are worried about the traffic, keep in mind that it's not a sporting event, the people will not be going in at the same time and leaving all at once. As far as the Mom and Pop stores who have plenty of opportunities to move into the town of Tuckerton, they would have their own product line other than walmart. Walmart doesn't sell everything under the sun. And Acme definitely needs competition, they have some SOME good sales but they are over priced. I was hoping Shop Rite would come to town but that never happened as mentioned in the past, well before the walmart project was even heard of. Missed opportunities for them. We do need jobs here and walmart will bring that. I do agree about the supercenter needing to be on 539, but they saw an opening and jumped on it, and it so happened to be on Rt. 9. Also keep in mind that walmart will be serving the area south of Manahawkin at the midway point, everyone north of that point will continue to go to Manahawkin. New Gretna will have a great opportunity to have options and be able to save on gas.

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