Another year has come and gone and somuch has changed for me. In Feb. 2018 I wrote a blog about 2017 and saw how vastly my life had changed.
Two years of my life have been spent away from Virginia and as I enter my third year in Cape May…I can’t help but realize how much I have grown.
I went from relying on my parents for everything, to supporting myself and living on my own. I learned how to navigate living in a different area; I learned how to live on my own for the first time; I learned how to live with roommates; I learned how to cook; I learned how to cope with being alone during a loss; I learned how to live alone in general.
I also learned how difficult it can be when you’re struggling but feel like there isn’t much you can do because of your environment. It’s not a good feeling and there is nothing I hate more than being stuck. It’s grounding and humbling, but it can be really rough to realize you’re the only one who can change your path.
My wish for 2019 was to make a change. I was waiting for it to find me, but it turns out I found it on my own.
In a whirlwind of a single weekend, I applied, interviewed and accepted a new job position with the Cape May County Herald Newspapers. I am now their Content Marketing Coordinator.
Working at the Victorian Motel put me on the path to adulthood. It was my first real job and I learned a great deal about the industry and myself. Ultimately, hospitality was nothing but stop on my life’s path to a full-time journalism career.
I found a wonderful home with the Cape May Star and Wave Newspaper for over a year and a half. My intention was never to leave, but full-time journalism work comes so seldom. Who would’ve thought a municipal meeting beat would become a passion of mine. Connecting the locals to the government by reporting on those meeting was my bread and butter.
My work will still appear in Cape May Magazine in 2019 – a column on local books.
I am excited to continue to grow, learn more about myself and increase my writing capabilities and responsibilities in 2019.
The Washington Street Mall will soon be a little brighter with the illumination of the Hanukkah menorah.
Light up the Night is a Hanukkah event sponsored by Beth Judah Temple of Wildwood. It is scheduled for 6 to 8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 8, and is open to everyone. Visitors can join Rabbi Ron Isaacs and the Beth Judah community in front of City Centre, 421 Washington St.
The event is expected to be an uplifting Hanukkah celebration and will include the lighting of the menorah, fellowship, song and traditional holiday snacks of latkes and sufganiyot.
The menorah on the mall was built by Harry Hirsch, the original owner of the Montreal Beach Resort. The Montreal is now owned by Hirsch’s sons and grandsons.
“My father built the menorah thirty years ago, and we maintain and store it every year,” Larry Hirsch said. “It’s displayed outside City Centre, which is one of our properties.”
The current political atmosphere has seen a rise in anti-Semitism in the United States, including the shooting at a Pittsburgh Synagogue in October.
“I feel this event is about sharing traditions with everyone,” Larry Hirsch said. “If the results bring greater understanding and harmony, then we achieved our goal.”
The event was held last year for the first time in many years
“It’s really nice to have a time of recognition of the Jewish holidays, to have a bit of something that displays your beliefs and followings,” Hirsch said. “I think it is great and it allows everybody to appreciate and celebrate together.”
Isaacs will lead the service and sing Hanukkah songs. The event is open to everyone of all faiths.
“It’s a great community event that people come to just to celebrate and learn a little bit about Hanukkah, that they might not have known,” Hirsch said.
Isaacs has also led the Shabbat at the Shore event the last six years, which is put on during the summer by the Montreal and the Hirsch family.
Hanukkah is an eight-day Jewish celebration to commemorate the rededication during the second century B.C. of the second temple in Jerusalem. Hanukkah means “dedication” in Hebrew.
According to legend, Jews had revolted against their Greek-Syrian oppressors in the Maccabean Revolt. The Maccabees defeated their oppressors and returned to Jerusalem to liberate it and clean their temple. They dedicated their newly restored temple on the 25th day of Kislev, the Hebrew calendar, which is why Hanukkah typically falls during November or December.
The Maccabees went to light their menorah in celebration of dedication, but they only had enough oil for one night. The miracle of Hanukkah is that the menorah remained lit for eight days, the story goes.
Traditional Hanukkah food includes fare fried in oil, such as latkes (potato pancakes) and sufganiyot (jelly donuts). An original Jewish custom was to give Hanukkah gelt (money) instead of presents. Gift giving at Hanukkah began in the 1920s, which has prompted many Christians to refer to it as the “Jewish Christmas.”
Hirsch’s favorite part of the service is eating latkes.
“Seriously, it’s an event that brings smiles to everyone’s’ faces,” he said.
A traditional Hanukkah game of dreidel is played with gelt (chocolate coins). A dreidel is a four-sided top with letters on each side, from the Hebrew alphabet. Each letter refers to an acronym of the phrase “a great miracle happened there,” or in Hebrew, “Nes Gadol Hayah Sham.” In Israel, ‘there’ is changed to ‘here,’ making the phrase “Nes Gadol Hayah Po.”
Hanukkah beings this year at sunset on Sunday, Dec. 2 and ends sundown on Sunday, Dec. 9.
“My hope for the future of Jews and celebrations is that we enjoy them in harmony,” Hirsch said.
There are many stereotypical generalizations made about every generation, especially millennials. One such suggestion is that millennials are historically ignorant.
The Huffington Post stated millennials are the most educated generation in U.S. history. The millennial women who work at the Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts and Humanities (MAC) are anything but ignorant about history.
Millennials travel with an “Instagrammable” destination in mind. Instagramability is the concept that a trip will be in a photogenic location, with photogenic activities that millennials can post on their social media channels, specifically Instagram.
“Millennials don’t want to take away any of the real history in a place,” MAC Marketing Assistant Leslie Weidel said. “When millennials go somewhere, we want to be immersed in culture and history, but things need to be updated.”
Bed-and-breakfast inns are a unique experience which may attract millennials. More B&Bs are becoming listed on Airbnb, a vacation rental website. Millennials opt for Airbnb because the prices are comparative to a hotel.
“MAC works with the B&B community and other historic homes,” Director of External Affairs Eliza Lotozo said. “We hope they remain relevant. The problem for Cape May is that if we are going to keep progressing and appealing to new demographics, we have to make it accessible for our age group to live here.”
Cape May attracts a lot of family and baby boomers, and millennials are visiting more and more for special occasions.
“People I talk to think B&Bs when they think Cape May,” Weidel said. “Being my age now they are going on honeymoons and contact me about Airbnbs to find something sweet and comfortable.”
Marketing to millennials is all about the presentation.
“Cape May has beautiful sunsets, Victorian homes and the Instagramability is already there,” Lotozo said. “It’s a selling point that you use as your marketing, to remind people about the beauty of Cape May and all there is the capture. It’s not changing what we have but how we present it.”
MAC is on Instagram to tell visitors who they are, why they do what they do and why it is important to Cape May.
“Social media is something that we have been leveraging more and more by using it for our events,” Lotozo said. “It gets to people not just outside of town but reaches people who are already here. It has increased awareness and engagement.”
Instagram Insights allows MAC to track who they are reaching and see who their customers are.
“Working for MAC is doing something important,” Weidel said. “I am so happy to be part of an organization that is important to the town. I really feel like I’m doing something that is great and appreciated.”
Weidel works on MAC’s social media to help market and promote the organization’s hard work.
“It has been able to bring us a little closer to our customers to create more conversations around our events and offerings,” Lotozo said. “We want to tell why MAC is important to Cape May.”
MAC was founded as a nonprofit in 1970 by a group of people in town, interested in preservation.
“When MAC was formed 48 years ago, it was formed by people in their twenties,” Lotozo said. “It started as a grassroots community movement by a group of B&B owners in their mid to late twenties who were renovating these buildings.”
The group originally gathered together to save the Emlen Physick Estate on Washington Street.
“It’s something relatable, this group of people was our age and had a town that they loved and wanted to save something,” Weidel said. “So they took up arms to do so. Nothing in my lifetime here has been threatened enough to galvanize a group together. It’s a nice reminder it can be done.”
MAC’s most popular activities include their variety of trolley rides around the historic district and the lighthouse climb.
“Visitors and local kids probably had first experiences with MAC when they were young,” Lotozo said. “A big focus on what we’re working towards is engaging with the local community, who can come and experience their own history.”
MAC offers many different programs that cater to both their local audience, with its lunch and learn sessions in the winter, and for tourists and vacationers, such as summer festivals.
“It’s not necessarily changing your offerings but marketing what you have,” Lotozo said. “Offerings cool to millennials include open mic night at the Mad Batter, Howard Street Ramble at the Chalfonte, the spring and fall jazz festivals, the singer-songwriterweekend. Even the local breweries and wineries have festivals, in addition to MAC’s festivals.”
Cape May is anything but a sleepy Victorian town. MAC’s aims to show visitors they can come down for a mid-week stay or a weekend stay and find something to do.
“At MAC, we try to extend our season and offer new trolley tours,” Lotozo said. “We find oddities and bizarre stories that have relevance to our town or Victorian heritage. It’s a different option if you’re not looking for a standard tour.”
If Cape May had a strategic marketing campaign that incorporates all the things available in town, perhaps it would give potential visitors a fuller picture.
“A cohesive approach to market Cape May would show we’ve got a whole family friendly, romantic destination,” Lotozo said. “It would create communities of interest and here we have some younger travelers who want to experience unique things. What do we already have that we can tell them about.”
MAC’s marketing approach is to market Cape May.
“It is with the assumption on our part that once visitors arrive, they are going to climb the lighthouse and take the trolley tours,” Lotozo said. “We want to answer the question of who is MAC and market Cape May as a destination with history. And have a stronger connection with the community.”
It was not quite an SOS to the world, but a simple message in a bottle.
A lyric from “Message in a Bottle” by The Police came true for Isidro García of Galicia, Spain, when a message in a bottle washed ashore on the beach in Con Cerrado, all the way from Cape May Point.
Inside of the wine bottle was a plastic bag that contained a note with the sender’s contact information, a $1 bill and a lottery ticket from David Kembel, who had thrown the bottle in the Delaware Bay.
For 20 months, the bottle made its way across the Atlantic Ocean, finally washing ashore on the small island of Illa de Arousa in March.
Kembel and his family have been vacationing in Cape May for more than 25 years. They started throwing bottles into the ocean with messages enclosed as a fun thing for his kids to do when they were younger.
“I never expected a bottle to go as far as Europe,” Kembel said. “I was really surprised to hear from someone so far away.”
He said he gets replies to his bottle messages every three years or so.
“Who knows where the rest of the bottles are floating since this one took almost two years to get to Spain,” Kembel said. “Other bottles have ended up in Cape May, the Villas and Delaware. Some hit the beaches two miles down in just a few days. The Villas takes longer because the currents in the Bay are pretty crazy.”
Kembel heard from someone who found a bottle this past week in Townbank, just a few days after sending it off.
“One year a lifeguard found a bottle in the ocean while paddling on his surfboard, it only traveled about three jetties,” Kembel said. “Last year a guy found one in Cape May and he was a talk show host. He called me for his show on the radio. To hear him talk about it and be so excited was worth it.”
Kembel said he enjoys hearing the excitement of those who find his bottles.
“The first reaction of my father when he and his friend found the bottle in the sand was to ignore it, they thought it came from a nearby village,” Cris García Santiago, García’s daughter, said. “It was my father’s friend, Juan ‘Chicho’ Manuel, who took the bottle and it was impossible to open, so they crashed it against a stone to see what was inside.”
Cris Santiago, 19, is studying translation and interpretation in college and acts as a translator between her father and Kembel.
“We have the lottery ticket and David’s letter yet,” Cris Santiago said. “It was barely readable after deteriorating in the sea. It was an awesome experience. To be honest, we did not have much hope when we contacted David because his email was nearly impossible to decipher, but we had good luck.”
The Santiagos’ lottery ticket was not a winning one. It would have been $1,000 a week for life.
“No one has won the lottery yet, by the way,” Kembel said.
The local media in Galicia picked up the Santiagos’ story and shared it over the radio, television and local newspapers.
“Keeping in touch with the finders fades over time,” Kembel said. “One year a school teacher found one and we emailed back and forth with the class for a good six or eight months. It’s usually one to two notes, a Christmas card or two and that’s it. It’s fun to see where they come from and where they come up.”
Kembel is a retired healthcare lawyer and lives in Montana.
“Even though we are in Montana, we have to come back every year to Cape May Point to get our beach fix,” Kembel said.
No one has ever accused Kembel of littering.
“Nobody has ever said that, most people are interested in what is going on,” Kembel said. “When people find them, they get a chuckle.”
Kembel has been in touch with García since the first response.
“I sent a note to one of my colleagues in Germany when I heard about this,” Kembel said. “One of them is from that part of Spain and he had heard and seen about the message in the bottle on the news. He thought it was funny because they knew about it but didn’t know it was me. It’s a small world.”
The peak of the summer is here in Cape May, with temperatures in the 80s and nary a parking spot in sight.
The massive increase in summer population has Cape May bustling with activity from out-of-town visitors.
Year after year, both newcomers and return guests find themselves back in Cape May for vacation. Stores, restaurants and motels all see repeat guests return to spend another vacation in Cape May.
Even the most adventurous of travelers have a favorite destination. Perhaps that explains the phenomenon of people returning here, summer after summer. Emotional attachments to Cape May are evident when guests return not only to the city but to the same property.
Visitors enjoy noticing what has changed around the city, including shops that have closed and the new ones that have taken their place. Finding what is new in town is always a surprise for return vacationers.
It’s not vacation until you’ve had your coffee
Coffee fanatics noted that Café Buongiorno closed at 414 Washington St. and a familiar Cape May Staple, Coffee Tyme, opened a new store in its place.
Coffee Tyme greets their return customers over the span of the summer season, especially now in its two locations.
“We have return customers for every week in the summer,” Coffee Tyme owner Jesse Lambert said. “I actually have some customers memorized.”
In addition to the new location, the flagship Coffee Tyme remains at 315 Beach Ave. Both shops have new products available.
“We just got our metal straws back in stock and they are already selling fast,” Lambert said.
Creating connections with customers is a special way to connect with people, making for a strong business and memorable experience among travelers.
A vacation in Cape May is easy, but choosing where to stay is arguably the most important aspect of a vacation.
The Victorian Motel, located at 223 Congress Place, finds that their clientele is largely repeat customers.
“Cape May is a comfort zone to a lot of people who have a nostalgic connection with returning here,” Victorian Motel Manager John Cooke said. “Many people we speak with, consistently refer to Cape May as their happy place. It might account for the 75-80 percent repeat clientele which the hotel enjoys.”
Return guests to the Victorian Motel choose it for the prime location at the end of the Washington Street Mall. The motel is one block away from the beach and has a pool. In 2017, the Victorian Motel was voted best kid-friendly accommodation by Capemay.com’s “Best of Cape May” contest.
“We’ve watched several generations meet each year for the same week,” Cooke said. “As well as watching the teenagers of many families grow up around the pool each summer. The guests refer to themselves as beach families.
A passport full of stamps is desirable to those who love to travel, but for others, beach chairs and sunblock fill the car with a familiar feel and smell of the start of vacation.
The emotional attachment to Cape May is more than love for the town, extending to the businesses and experience. Returning to the same place has benefits; it’s not just a redundant vacation. For some, summer isn’t truly done until a vacation is had in Cape May.
Editor’s note: Puzzled at seeing a number of women of the millennial age group sporting tattoos, i asked writer Rachel Shubin, a millennial, what attracted that generation to having permanent artwork on their bodies.
Tattoos are permanent, but generational ideals are subject to change. Millennials enjoy indulging in the latest trends and tattoos are no exception.
The public image of tattoos has changed in the thousands of years they have been available, surging in and out of popularity for the last hundred years.
For some millennials, their tattoos are permanent artwork forever frozen in time on their body. For others, the tattoos are a declaration of their identity.
“I have been surrounded with tattoos my entire life,” Madi Musinski said. “A lot of my loved ones have tattoos. Tattoos are like a piece of artwork. It’s an investment to get a tattoo on you forever, because a piece of artwork would fade over time.”
Musinski, 22, works at Mayer’s Tavern as a server. She has previously filled in as a barista at Magic Brain Café.
“Millennials want tattoos because of the permanence it has,” Musinski said. “Sometimes stability is rare in life and a tattoo is meaningful to you. I got the chemical structure of coffee, to represent this part of my life which is very valuable to me. It is always there to bring me nostalgia and to remind me of better times and my love of coffee.”
Perigee Moon Body Art at 301 Broadway in West Cape May, is a millennial-owned tattoo shop that Kirsten Ewing, 31, operates with a group of millennial women.
“I am so grateful for the work that I get to do every day,” Ewing said. “We have the best service job in the world because we get to sit on edge of society and have people come to us when they want to etch something that’s important to them on their skin forever. It is magical, beautiful and spiritual. For for me personally, it gives me a reason to exist and connect with people.”
Perigee Moon has been open for over three years. While their clientele ranges in age, local millennials frequent the place to get inked.
“I have been tattooing for eleven years,” Ewing said. “When we first started we had the intention to create a healing and safe space that everyone could feel comfortable getting a tattoo in and broaden the spectrum of people getting tattoos. I had previously worked in thirteen studios and I was the first female artist in half of them. We wanted a safe atmosphere where the clientele and artists were comfortable.”
The idea of creating a comfortable tattoo shop atmosphere was appealing to the millennials working at Perigee Moon. Millennials know how to cater to their age group. The harsh image that tattoo shops bring a rough crowd is anything but true of Perigee Moon.
“It’s a great thing because it changes peoples’ minds all the time,” Tattooist Destanie Pickin said. “People who never thought they would step into a tattoo come here. And they are happy when they leave, which makes us feel good that we changed their minds.
Pickin, 27, explained that the thoughts about tattoos is different for older generations. Baby boomers are often quick to criticize millennials’ choice to permanently mark their bodies. Perhaps it is because getting a tattoo is not something they were able to do when they were the same age.
“It’s a different though process that is changing. Many of the people who were ashamed to be themselves get tattoos at an older age. Millennials choose bold, positive and beautiful statement pieces. They love themselves and their tattoos are done tastefully,” Pickin said.
Pickin gets to meet clients from all different walks of life. Tattooing is a type of therapy that is healing for both the artist and the client, she said. Ewing said they connect with people on a serious level.
Some millennials opt for ink that has a strong personal meaning behind the design. It is a way to mark a time in life where they are working to establish themselves personally and professionally.
“People come to get tattoos because they want to remember something, or feel better about themselves,” Tattooist Caity Biggers, 28, said. “Sometimes they get tattoos for closure.”
Millennials getting tattoos consider the placement and size, as well as if their permanent artwork will impact their careers.
“I have been tattooed for half of my life and it’s a lot easier than it used to be,” Ewing said. “People get work with them. When I go to a fancy boutique I get followed and that’s annoying. But if that is the worst I deal with, I’ll be okay.”
The clientele of the shop includes many members of the United State Coast Guard and Lower Township Police Department, per Pickin.
“We have tattooed boutique owners here,” Ewing said. “The community has been gracious and accepting and very loving of us which is really wonderful. The town has embraced us.”
It is not uncommon for millennials to make tattooing a family affair. Biggers has often had multiple generations of a family as clients.
“I get grandmas with their daughters and granddaughters,” Biggers said. “My grandma always wanted a tattoo but never wanted to go into a tattoo shop.”
Parents who come in with their kids, but don’t chose to get a tattoo are offered a temporary tattoo.
Millennials’ parents often tend to fall in the baby boomer category. The baby boomer generation’s upbringing has them associate tattoos with the military or even on the opposite end of the spectrum, criminals. Their conservative upbringing tends to cater towards clean, non-tattooed wholesome looks.
“I think the pendulum of tattoos is swinging back to what they used to be,” Tattooist Tessy Mitchum, 30, said. “Those who get tattoos now get whatever they want and do more self-examination and self-discovery.”
Tattooed people often feel judged by non-tattooed people.
“If I get pulled over by a cop, I pull my shirt sleeve down over my tattoos,” Ewing said.
As more and more millennials get tattoos, it will be harder to find people without a tattoo.
“Tattoos all have a belief behind them,” Ewing said. “How can you discriminate against someone who is saying what they believe through their tattoos.”
The Pew Research Center estimates forty percent of millennials have at least one tattoo.
“It depends on where you are in society,” Musinski said. “There was a time when tattoos were representative of negative things. I don’t know why people of older generations look down at the younger generations and think they are doing something wrong. They were in the same position years ago. Older people care adverse to change and millennials are doing something they could not do.”
If a millennial goes for a job in a conservative setting, they might want to hide their tattoos. Employers are prohibited from discriminating against candidates based on gender, age, disability, etc. There is no federally protected class for people with tattoos.
“To me, it is like someone drawing a mustache on the Mona Lisa,” Cape May Star and Wave Newspaper Editor Jack Fichter said when he asked me to write this article.
As for the writer of this article, I am 24 and have five tattoos. I never thought I would have any permanent ink on my body because I am terrified of needles.
My parents are from the baby boomer generation and though my mom has come around to not dislike my tattoos, my dad still does not like them. Perhaps it is because my grandmother would not have approved. She did not even like pierced ears.
The Jewish culture particularly dislikes tattoos. Jews associate tattoos with the Holocaust, when they were tattooed by Nazis with an identification number in concentration camps. The Torah states “You shall not make gashes in your flesh for the dead, or incise any marks on yourselves.”
I grew up hearing that I would not be buried in a Jewish cemetery if I had tattoos on my body. It depends on whom you ask. Despite knowing that typically my religion did not approve of tattoos, my first tattoo has my Hebrew middle name, Batyam, written in Hebrew characters under an anchor. Batyam means daughter of the sea.
I got over my fear of needles by getting tattooed. There is something calming in knowing you are making a permanent change to your body that only is temporarily painful. Relinquishing control to a tattooist is scary for anyone, but the artists want you to be happy with the art that you will carry for the rest of your life.
For me, my tattoos all carry a serious meaning about my life story and each one is very personal. They should be, if I am going to live with them for the rest of my life.
Like Musinski said, my tattoos are so representative of the person I am today and strive to be in the future. And I truly believe I will still like my tattoos sixty years from now, because they will hold even less of a stigma in the future
A week ago, I started getting push news app alerts that there was a potential shooting incident in Annapolis, Md.
I closed my eyes and wished that it wasn’t another mass shooting. We are currently living in a world where mass shootings occur far too often, because (among many issues) the current administration is in bed with the NRA.
I was sitting at my desk, writing an assignment for my local newspaper. I immediately switched into investigative journalist mode and started combing Twitter to find out what kind of setting the shooting had taken place.
The shooting was probably still ongoing, but reports were pouring in that it was at the Capital Gazette newspaper office. I felt sick to my stomach.
Though I don’t work in a newsroom, I am a journalist who writes for a paper. I work in an office, a desk job at a motel. I felt like that could have been me.
It’s one thing when shootings occur at school, because school is a place that everyone should feel safe. But work is also not a place you should expect to be gunned down by a crazy person. You should not have to hide from a shooter under our desk.
The shooting today in the Capital Gazette newsroom in Annapolis, Maryland cannot reasonably be separated from the President’s mission to villainize the press as “the enemy of the American people.”
In February, Trump Tweeted that the news media is “the enemy of the American people.” He continually attacks the free press, and again on Monday he reiterated his “enemy” stance, a few days before the shooting.
I saw a Tweet from an intern at the Capital Gazette, saying there was an active shooter and to send help. I started seeing more Tweets from staff at the Gazette, revealing the details of the shooting. They were literally reporting the news while under attack.
The police confirmed they caught the perpetrator and the situation was contained.
Soon after, the news was released that five employees of the Gazette were killed. As always, the White House sent thoughts and prayers.
We’re paid for shit. We work like dogs. People, including the president, disparage us at every opportunity. Now they’re shooting us down in our newsrooms. I’ll still be back tomorrow. Because the people at the #CapitalGazette matter. My colleagues mater. Journalism matters.
No one should feel unsafe at work. But the fact of the matter is, we live in a world gone crazy. Trump continues to attack journalists and calls the media “fake news.” The only way to dispel his disregard for the First Amendment, is to continue to write.
Journalism matters. Reporters matter. We want to share the truth with the world. As the Editor of the Capital Gazette so eloquently said, “We will continue to honor our dead. But we will also remember those who remain. They were journalists. And so are we.”