Ideas, idle gossip and occasionally important odds ’n’ ends
First, the good news. The city council have finally agreed on a plan for the new convention hall. Demolition of the existing cowshed should begin in November, with pilings being driven a few months after that. Construction of the hall would begin around May of next year (which should be quite a nice sight for the summer visitors), with the whole kit and caboodle finished by Memorial Day, 2012.
And the bad news? The hall will not be the 34,000 square-foot gem that was originally conceived. Instead, we will get 20,000 square feet and a lot fewer bells and whistles – which means a lot fewer opportunities for raising revenue. And overall, we will have a much less interesting and exciting centerpiece for this beautiful city. But you know what, some people (including some council members) are a little too short-sighted and conservative for our liking and seem to forget that their city hall colleagues from Cape May’s Victorian heyday were always thinking up grand schemes that would maintain the city’s tourism economy. We think that those guys would be shaking their heads in disappointment if they were to witness the small-minded thinking of today’s administrators. But let’s move on…
*AFTER months, nay years, of convention hall nonsense, you are likely in need of a drink, and a laugh. Hey presto! You will have all of that when the first-ever Cape May Forum launches next weekend – Friday, October 8 through Sunday. The theme of this inaugural event is “Humor: Can It Save the World?” You can check out the whole program on their website, www.capemayforum.org, but we’d like to pick out some highlights.
Two of New York City’s most sought-after professional comedians, Sassi Keegan and Mary Dimino, will entertain guests at the Rusty Nail on Sunday evening, October 10 with their interactive 90-minute Comedy Club show. This is great family fare (PG-rated) – you can fill yourself with some tasty appetizers and be entertained for just $35 per person, all inclusive, plus a cash bar.
We also like the sound of keynote speaker Dr John Morreall’s presentation, which is called “From the Pilgrims to the Simpsons: A History of Humor in American Life.” Count us in! Doc Morreall’s show is on Saturday, October 9, at 10am at the First Presbyterian Church on Hughes Street, and admission is $25. We know – getting up early to go to church on a Saturday morning might not SEEM like the funniest thing to do, but trust us, we saw the Doc work his magic with a talk at the church in July. He was good. Funny AND thoughtful. Just like the perfect date.
To make your reservation for any Cape May Forum event, call the office at (609) 770-2626. Space is limited, so DO call ahead for tickets.
*If you get the chance, visit one of the old Victorian homes in this town. This past weekend, Laura Schmeider, a beloved relative of the EZ extended family, rented out the beautiful, teal home at the corner of Decatur Street and Carpenter’s Lane and offered us a peek inside.
After being paralyzed from the waist down by a rare tumor Laura has spent the past month in physical therapy and has since gained the ability to walk with the use of a cane. Next step is a grueling course of chemo. And what did she want to do before undergoing her treatment? A weekend in Cape May.
The simple act of walking through one of these houses is worthwhile. Ornate banisters bend their way up three floors to one of the many bedrooms – one of which had a windowed turret and a sitting chair. Sitting on the front porch, having a glass of wine, it was easy to imagine the history of this town, the sights you would have seen when gazing off of this front porch 100 years ago. Eventually, though, the only thing we could think about was how wealthy the original owner of the house must have been.
So, we sent our resident historian Ben Miller a text message and asked him for some info on the place. Sadly, all he could come up with was that 132 Decatur Street was built in 1895 for a local man named Aaron Roseman. But, Ben assured us that Mayor Edmunds, the original owner of the Merry Widow, which is a somewhat comparable house in a similar location, was indeed loaded.
With his email, Ben also included a picture of the Merry Widow from the mid-1980s. The building was discolored and tattered, the roof a patchwork of tar paper, loose shingles and boards. The picture struck us as a metaphor for the town: it is important that we not let Cape May stagnate. It is important that we grow and improve. While many people have fond childhood memories of this town and don’t want it to change, we have to remember that if we just let it sit the way it is, it’s going to crumble around us.
That’s all… enjoy your week, folks!