Ideas, idle gossip and occasionally important odds ‘n’ ends… by Jack Wright
I LOVE living in Cape May. I must do because I’ve been here for eight years now and I’d only planned to come down “for the summer”, taking a short break after quitting a job at a magazine in Manhattan. I always figured I’d go back to New York, the magical city that, while growing up in Scotland and then working in London, I’d always dreamed of making my home.
But I’m still here.
I don’t know if I can quite put a finger on what it is that I love about Cape May. One of our columnists, the adorable Meghan Kunz (she writes Confessions Of A Cape May Lover – see page 39) often remarks on how friendly and special the people here seem to be. I don’t know about that – I don’t think that any one town has a monopoly on cool, lovely people. I think most places have their mix of friendly folks and, well, other folks. I know a lot of great people in Cape May, but I knew some great people in Scotland, London and New York City, too.
(Maybe it’s because this place is so small that you keep bumping into those special people – at the Wawa, the post office, local non-profit fundraisers, Collier’s Liquor Store…)
What else is beautiful and seductive about Cape May? The beaches, for sure. They are often ranked among the best on the east coast by leading travel magazines, though I have to say that the vast majority of my time there is spent in the fall, winter and spring, when I can walk my pooches (and clean up after them), enjoying sunrises that feel more like the beginning of creation than the start of the day and sunsets more glorious than their July and August brethren (anyone who has stood on the promenade on a bright December late afternoon will know what I mean).
People also rave about our restaurants and, to be sure, for such a small island we have some great places to eat. I don’t honestly know if it’s fair to keep insisting that we are still the “Restaurant Capital of New Jersey” more than a decade after being anointed as such by The New York Times, but we DO have a remarkable selection of places to dine.
What else? Cape May is famous for its collection of Victorian architecture, which, along with San Francisco, ranks as the finest in the country. The city’s Historic District is small but I never tire of riding my bike on streets such as Hughes and Columbia, and then past the Chalfonte Hotel, which drips with Victoriana.
Cape May also has a harbor that’s home to the second-most lucrative commercial fishing port on the east coast (and the fourth in the country), although you wouldn’t know it from the perplexing lack of evidence around town. There aren’t many stories in the local press about the fishing industry and the city makes very little mention of it in promotional material (the recently-introduced Harborfest is a step in the right direction).
I think it’s amazing that such a serious local industry exists in a town that is known to most people only for its tourism. And I wish there was a way to integrate our rich fishing lore into the fabric of the city. It’s something to be proud of.
So what IS it that makes Cape May such a special place to live?
Does it NEED to be one particular thing? Could it be a mixture of all of the above? Is there a point to my ramblings? Well, yes, there is, actually. What I really want is to hear from YOU. What do YOU love about Cape May?
And, please, I want details. Don’t say: “I love the restaurants!” If eating here is your primary pleasure, tell me about your favorite places and dishes, your favorite tables and waiters.
What we are planning on doing is compiling a readers’ list of all these best things – for the next issue of our beautiful color issue.
There’s an incentive, too. We will award $50 gift certificates to the Exit Zero Store and Gallery (a truly wondrous shopping experience) to the five entries we like best.
Get thinking and get writing. But don’t worry about the quality of your writing. A series of bullet points or just some rambling notes are fine, but DO think about the details – the people, the places, the things that you love about this place.
Do one of the following:
Write an email to me at email@example.com with I LOVE CAPE MAY in the subject line.
Or send a letter to: I LOVE CAPE MAY, Exit Zero Publishing, 109 Sunset Boulevard, Suite D, Cape May, NJ 08204.
Or fax it to (609) 770-8481.
I can’t wait to hear from you! Go on, make the effort. Cape May is worth it.