Tuesday, June 04, 2013
Another Sandy Casualty by the family of my dad's lady friend
Another casualty of Sandy occurred this past week. As a result of the violent tides carrying three or four feet of waste water, the foundation of a house that dates to 1904 or earlier was deemed too seriously damaged to repair and elevate.
The house stands at 223 Second Street in Beach Haven. It is a simple house, probably originally built in Tuckerton in the 1880s as a gun shop. Originally it had two rooms. It has long been thought that in 1904 it was floated across the bay to Beach Haven and then up Dock Creek, which is now Dock Road, then across Main Street to its site on Second Street.
Sam Shourds bought the house and the property from Archibald Pharo in 1905 for the sum of one dollar. The gun shop had been cobbled together and had a keel from a wrecked ship, painted baby blue, as its main beam. Sam was a bayman, making his living fishing, clamming, hunting, raising grapes for wine, and chickens for his dinner. He also, like all the baymen, scavenged the beach after wrecks to see what could be salvaged and sold. Sam was married to Nellie O’Donnell, an Irish immigrant, who worked as a laundress.
John Daniel was the nephew of Nellie O’Donnell, the son of her sister who lived in Ardmore. When his father died in the influenza epidemic of 1918, John, who was 10, was sent to live with his aunt and uncle. He lived at 223 for almost his entire life.
In 1933 John Daniel married Kathleen Fitzsimmons, another Irish immigrant. The young couple moved into the house at 223 when Nellie Shourds died and Dr. Dodd told John Sam would not live long and he had better move in with him. Sam lasted for 12 more years. Our mother used to say it was her good cooking.
Year after year, the house was added on to. A kitchen, a front porch, three bedrooms, a bath, a laundry, and a bedroom on the first floor that was rented to a butcher from the American Store.One of the last rooms John Daniel added was a tiny room for his first grandson, an aerie supported by a single steel pole. Later, a family room was added where Kathleen Daniel watched the birds and served hundreds of cups of tea to her many friends: half and half and four teaspoons of sugar. (Her blood sugar was perfect.)
It was a comfortable house, always full of friends. Our Irish mother planted everything in the garden, as long as it was green, reminding her of the green hills of Donegal, where she was born.
We were in the house during the hurricane of 1944, no water came in. The northeaster of 1962, the Ash Wednesday Storm, was bad but the house took in no water. The northeaster of 1992 was a bit worse, a few inches in the front rooms but nothing to be alarmed about.
Then Sandy roared in on October 29, 2012. We had 38 inches in the first floor for three tides, and the water ravaged the old foundation, even shifting the house on the old piers. We tried to save her, but the call for a 10 foot elevation was too much. The old house couldn’t do it.
Since 1904 there has been a member of the family living at 223. The street was always full of families and children: the Olivers, the Robinsons, the Spragues, the Parkers, the Strattons, the Joneses. We Daniels were the last of the originals, except for Sarah Osborne, who was a Stratton, and still lives in the house she grew up in.
The old house was full of joy: roast beef dinners for the Barnegat High School basketball team. Meetings of the Kit Kat Klub. Lawn parties celebrating everything from a four-year-old’s birthday to a party for a 45th wedding anniversary. The visits of relatives from Ireland. Midge Carmosin, mother’s charge as a nanny in Philadelphia who remained our friend forever. College friends who visited in the summer and never went home. The garbage truck crew – Kenny, Larry, Bo, Snapper – who parked the reeking truck in front of the house and stopped in for a glass of milk.
Demolition has yet to be scheduled.