Sand diggers are having a great time at Stone Harbor
Spending time on the beach, bathing in the ocean, digging in the sand and having a fun time were the primary reasons why so many families ventured to the seashore in the early 1900s. In the absence of telephones, the penny post card was the sure way to stay in touch with the folks back home and let them know just what was going on. Those simple notes indelibly recorded their author’s splendid moments and those who collect Stone Harbor post cards sometimes find the written messages equally as important as the scene or picture shown on the front.
Reading these simple missives today, we realize that messages about kids digging and playing in the sand, bathers swimming and riding the waves, taking photos, and even complaints about mosquitos are not terribly different than those one might post today on the social platform known as Facebook.
Here are just a few examples of handwritten notes found on the backs of some of this collector’s post cards.
Aug. 10, 1922 – “Boys are having a fine time. Uncle Eugene Mildred went fishing today. Expect fish for supper. Everybody is well. Boys dig deep holes in the sand. Bathe everyday. Aunt Alice”
Aug. 6, 1923 – “I am here over this week end and I am certainly having a fine time. I have even been in the ocean. I was bathing and I got my eyes and mouth full of salt water. I came down by machine with relations and it was certainly a fine ride. I am going to Christiana next Sunday I think. Sincerely, Helen Morton”
Aug. 18, 1920 – “Dear Sister, This is our house. We would have room for you yet. Wish you were here. We were in bathing today. It’s great only it’s too cold. The nights are so very cool. We went to Wildwood this afternoon in a boat. The kiddies think it’s fine. Anna”
Illustrated here is a “timeless” post card image bearing the caption “Sand Diggers on the Beach, Stone Harbor, N.J.” and we can see youngsters having a great time doing what kids really like to do at the beach and that is digging in the sand along the water’s edge. This is both a classic and a quintessential scene that many of us can readily remember and perhaps even relate to. In addition, a sturdy beach patrol life boat facing the surf and ready for action is another key feature shown near the center of this image. This particular card was postmarked at Stone Harbor on July 9, 1935 and interestingly reveals the names of several children, most likely all from the same family, that were personally penned on to the picture side. The names added to the beach scene include from left to right: “Dick, Sen, Judy,
Ester, Ophelia and Twins”. While it is doubtful that the names added actually reflect the real names of the persons depicted in the photo, most likely the mother or the actual sender of this card was having some fun with the addressee, a young boy, perhaps her son, attending a summer camp in Lakeside, Connecticut. The writer informs Master Seneker Wall at Camp Quarta the following message: “Dear Sen, I hope you are enjoying your first time in camp. The weather and water has been dandy so far. The twins and I go swimming every day. We were up at Eismanns rolling some balls. I won a box of salt water taffy. Good for me. Write soon and let me know how you like it. Love, Ester”
In this case, I personally think that a picture such as this showing the young “sand diggers” on the beach is definitely worth a thousand words and is certainly worthy of our attention! What do you think?