You won’t find it on a list of the world’s most romantic or beautiful beaches. It isn’t well-known like other New Jersey beaches: Wildwood, Cape May, or Atlantic City. However it stands out in my mind and memories as my favorite and a wonderful, magical place.
As a city kid in Philadelphia there was nothing like going "down the shore."
East Point, New Jersey lies at the mouth of the Maurice River in Maurice River Township, Cumberland County, New Jersey in the US. It is where the river meets up with the Delaware Bay. It isn’t on the ocean although it is salt water. I didn’t know or care about that when I was a child. All I knew was that we were going “down the shore” to Aunt Mary and Uncle Ed’s place on the beach. An older couple, they were my father’s Aunt and Uncle. With no children of their own and my Dad an only child his children became like theirs. My sister and I would spend long weekends and sometimes an entire week at the shore with them.
My uncle built a long wooden pier. It was elevated high above the water. Yet, when high tide rolled in the water nearly touched the pier’s wooden floor. It was then that we dragged chairs to the end of the pier, to sit, crab and fish. Our bounty yielded the evening’s supper.
My uncle taught us to have great respect for the sea. I had no idea I was in the bay. I thought it was the huge Atlantic Ocean. It felt powerful. I remember walking the beach with him at low tide. We’d collect shells and watch the shore birds. It was there that I first saw a horse shoe crab. My uncle explained that they were prehistoric creatures over 450 million years old. He said their blood was blue. They were sacred and we should respect them and all the creatures of the sea.
He also showed us that if we dug down into the sand there was a clay like matter that was black. We would dig it up, fashion pots and other items then let them dry in the sun. They’d become hard as rock. We’d take whatever we’d made home with us where they would languish on our dressers for a while until our Mom made us throw them out.
But the thing I remember the most is going with Aunt Mary and Uncle Ed to stand in the water at low tide as little waves washed in and out lapping at our ankles. He told us about King Neptune who ruled the sea and all its waters, Neptune’s wife, Salacia, and their underwater kingdom. He told us they were magical. “Look,” he’d say, pointing down at our feet. In the water and around our ankles were tiny blobs of phosphorescence.
It was magic as were all my childhood days and nights at East Point.
I am Philadelphia born and raised. I moved to Milwaukee, Wisconsin when I married my husband, Richard. We have one daughter, one son-in-law, and two granddaughters. In addition to Milwaukee we have lived in Vermont and now New Hampshire.
I retired from my position as the palliative care and oncology chaplain at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center a little over two years ago.
Now I write, read, sew, knit, and rug hook-not necessarily in that order. With deep appreciation for all that libraries have meant in my life I represent my local library volunteeing one day a week at a local nursing home where I discover the residents' book preferences and bring them library books. Mostly, I visit and listen to their stories.