Reporter mourns closing of Newseum, shrine to journalism


Special to the Star & Wave

It is unusual to hear of a museum closing in  Washington, D.C., but after 11 years, the privately funded Newseum has put visitors on deadline to visit before the doors are closed on Dec. 31.

The Newseum was founded to inform the public of the importance of a free press and the First Amendment. The seven-level museum is interactive and contains numerous artifacts from the history of journalism. For a writer like me, it is the most incredible museum I have ever been to and I have never been bored in my many visits.

While the Smithsonian museums are free, Newseum tickets run between $15 to $25. The upside is the ticket grants you a consecutive two-day entry to the museum. Ticket pricing is one of the reasons the Newseum has had serious financial losses.

In January, it was announced Johns Hopkins University would purchase the building for $372.5 million for their D.C.-area graduate programs. A Jan. 25 article in The Washington Post reported the Newseum would look for another location, which turned out to be a fruitless search.

My first visit to the Newseum was not to the actual exhibits, but to the gift shop. (I’m a gift shop addict and I will judge a museum based on what memento I can take home). Based on the journalism-inspired gift shop, I asked my mom to take me back to see the entire museum.

My most recent visit to the Newseum, April 2019. I took a picture holding my press pass with the press pass display.

The Newseum starts before you even walk in the door, with the First Amendment façade and the popular display of “Today’s Front Pages.” The display shows a rotation of the present day’s front pages from every state and D.C. and a few international newspapers. The top floor has interactive front page displays, allowing visitors to read the front pages of multiple papers.

It is recommended when visiting, you take the top-down approach of starting on the sixth floor and working your way down. The fifth floor has limited time galleries and the ones I have seen ranged from reporting from the Vietnam War, President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination, the Washington Nationals and most recently, Rise Up: Stonewall and the LGBTQ Rights Movement. Seeing the changing exhibits is a treat – you never know what you will learn.

My must-sees include the door from the Watergate Hotel.

Every visit, my absolute must-sees in the Newseum include the door from the Watergate Hotel, which the burglars infamously taped open. The “Inside Today’s FBI” exhibit is a fascinating look into today’s current focus on the fight against terrorism in a post 9/11 world. Items in this exhibit include the actual Unabomber’s cabin and the running shoes of a Boston Globe reporter who was running the Boston Marathon then began to cover the Boston Marathon Bombing. Previously, this exhibit also featured belongings from the D.C. snipers and a Klu Klux Klan outfit.

The most powerful exhibit of the Newseum is the 9/11 gallery. This part of the Newseum has front pages from dozens of newspapers on Sept. 12, 2001. Additionally, the exhibit features video footage from the day of the attacks.

Visitors can write their memories of 9/11 to be filed away and displayed in the exhibit. There is also an antenna from the roof of the World Trade Center and a tribute to William Biggart, a photojournalist who died covering the attacks. His camera was found at ground zero and visitors can see the photos he took in his final moments.

While I was in college, I wrote a paper for my tourism class on the Newseum. I wrote about the most profound part of the 9/11 exhibit is the permanent box of tissues encased in stainless steel. The footage is intense and emotions run raw while visiting this exhibit. The last time I was there, my dad did not want to go in as he said he lived through that day (he was on his way into Arlington and could see the smoke coming from the Pentagon).

Standing with my parents in front of the Berlin wall piece at the Newseum.

The bottom floor contains a piece of the Berlin wall. The other exhibits include a history/timeline of newspapers and magazines, memorabilia such as the suit O.J. Simpson wore at his trial, an interactive newsroom, the internet, TV and radio gallery, the Pulitzer Prize photographs gallery, the First Amendment Gallery, press freedom around the world and a journalists’ memorial, for those who died on the job.

For a young journalist like me, seeing the Newseum close is like a slap in the face. In a time where politics and so-called “fake news” run rampant, the Newseum was a place to reflect on just how integral the Freedom of the Press is to the history of the United States. In my college journalism classes, I learned how the media acts as the fourth estate, the unofficial watchdog. Who will be there to provide the history of journalism to the public, without the Newseum?

Another View: Lottery may be only chance for millennial dream

Photo by Joseph Parker Creations//CapeMayRachel©

Special to the Star & Wave

If I had a dollar for everyone who asked me if I plan to stay in Cape May long term, I would have made $3 this week.

Instead of replying, “Why are you asking me that,” I give them the typical answer. My parents plan to retire here; I just beat them here.

The real answer? Yes, for the foreseeable future, I plan to live in Cape May. I am following a dream I have had since I was a tourist visiting here every summer. I do not have a five-year plan, I don’t even know what I’m eating for dinner tomorrow night.

When I graduated from George Mason University in 2016, I thought I was going to find a full-time journalism job. Realistically, I probably could have found said job if I stayed in Va., commuted into Washington, D.C., and lived with my parents.

I knew living in Cape May and having a full-time journalism job were probably not congruous, but I was determined to make my dream of living at the beach a reality. Just shy of three years later, I have not only relocated to Cape May, but I have had two journalism jobs, one that was full-time.

I have come to realize I cannot get offended every time someone asks me about my future, if I truly do not know what the next few years will bring. I have often felt the reason people ask me the question about my future in Cape May is because they think my choice of residence is holding me back from my career.

There’s a difference between a job in your field and living somewhere you hate and having a job in your field and living somewhere you love. I am currently in the medium or gray space, where I love where I live, I love what I am writing, but I still wonder about my future. But I think it is OK to feel that way, being only 25.

The experience I have had in the job field in Cape May has shown me I can do the hard work. It is also frustrating to realize in this economy, it is almost impossible to bring in the income needed to survive. It is a struggle fellow millennials understand entirely.

A Sept. 25 CNBC article said 66% of millennials do not feel on track when it comes to saving for retirement. The No. 1 reason is housing costs. It is true – rent is a big expense, which makes it hard to save for the future.

I grew up being told to save money, but it is a lot easier said than done. Some days, it feels fruitless, when you consider the state of the world. I hear about the stock market going up, then closing with low scores. I hear about NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) saying the Earth is heating up every year by two degrees Fahrenheit. I also cannot forget how the ocean levels are rising. Soon enough I might be living oceanfront. Basically, it will be so warm on Earth and the sea level so high by the time I am “retirement” age, that saving money hardly makes sense.

Will millennials be able to retire? A Sept. 17 Forbes article said “we have melting ice caps, mounds of garbage in landfills and in the middle of the sea, and deforestation happening at alarming rates. It’s no wonder some millennials wonder if saving for retirement is even worth it.”

I feel like at this point in my life, I want to enjoy my choice to live in Cape May, do what I love for work and hope I hit the right lottery numbers.

Beloved UPS driver delivered joy along with packages

Photo by Barb Sobel/Good Scents.

Special to the Star & Wave

Good things come in brown packages, especially if United Parcel Service (UPS) employee David Neal was delivering them.

A loyal UPS employee of 31 years, Neal, 56, died of cancer on Sept. 17, 2019. He leaves behind his daughter Rhiannon Neal, sons Stas and Dawson Neal and the Cape May community who grew to know him over the years.

Neal was beloved by the residents of Cape May, who interacted with him both in their home and work deliveries. Neal was known as “Booger” and always had a bad joke to deliver along with his packages.

“He had that [Booger] nickname when I started working at UPS about twenty years ago,” UPS worker Glenn Bratlie said. “I actually didn’t know his name was Dave for about five years because everyone just called him Booger. That was his sense of humor.”

What do cows love to read? Cattle-logs, is a joke from Neal’s arsenal.

“We knew him as Booger and he was never without a joke,” Summer Sun owner Dana Fiocca said. “I’m not sure why he was known as Booger, honestly. Most people knew him as that. He delivered to us three to four times a week in the offseason. His slow, deadpan, ‘thank you for choosing UPS for your shipping needs…enjoy your freight,’ was perfection.”

Many local Cape May businesses routinely receive daily UPS deliveries.

“He was such an important part of our business, The Bird House of Cape May,” Sharon Flanagan said. “We saw him daily if not three to four times a week. We gave him a key to our store during the offseason so he could bring in packages on days we were closed.”

Flanagan said even after they closed their store, Neal would still deliver packages to the West End Garage for them, especially if shippers ignored their new address.

“He didn’t have to do that, since UPS would charge extra for shipments with incorrect addresses,” Flanagan said.

If a package delivery went awry, Neal would to go above and beyond to assist the community.

“I have had numerous bridesmaids who used Rent the Runway and poorly planned,” Cape Resorts Wedding Director Krystina Kennedy said. “Thanks to Booger, I was always able to save the day, but only because I would call and beg him to adjust his route. He once brought me a dress to the hotel that was supposed to go to my home because I poorly planned.”

Neal took extra care to make sure packages were not left out in the rain, when he was making a delivery.

“Dave gave me his personal phone number and I called him when I had 150 of my Saving Higbee books being delivered in the pouring rain, while I was in Connecticut,” Cape May resident Carol King Hood said. “He called me and my books were safely delivered to a friend’s home. Dave will be greatly missed. I considered Dave a friend, not just a UPS delivery guy.”

Even if the forecast predicted inclement weather, Neal was a step ahead on protecting packages from rain.

“I met Dave 28 years ago when he carried 30 cartons of T-shirts into my backyard to put under an overhang because it looked like rain,” Colors Owner Steve Haley said. “I loved that he did that, but I also didn’t love that I had to take them back into my van in the driveway, it didn’t rain.”

Haley said Neal provided great service and a good joke. Neal would deliver Haley’s home deliveries to Colors, so they could keep up in the summer.

Cape May resident Jacquelyne Kocis knew Neal from his deliveries to both her home and work.

“I loved this guy,” Kocis said. “He never left my packages in the rain and was so good to my family. I had been wondering why I hadn’t seen him around or yelling at the door, ‘it’s just me.’”

Neal is remembered as kind to everyone he crossed his path with, both two and four-legged. Cape May Point resident Connie Campanella said she still tells her dog ‘It’s Dave’ when a package arrives.

“He always had a great smile and a joke about my little, nasty dog Muffin, who constantly barked at him,” Cape May resident Debbie Sundstrom said. “He would just leave my things on the porch. He was such a sweet man.”

If Neal saw one of his customers in the street, he would flag them down to deliver the package in person.

“Dave was a great guy,” Cape May resident Lynn Jefferis said. “He would let my young grandson ‘help’ him carry in packages. Many a time he would flag me down on the street to give me a packaged so I wouldn’t have to wait for him to get to my house, as I was at the end of his route. He truly was one of a kind.”

Neal’s ability to memorize faces and connect the with addresses was uncanny.

“I’d see Dave making deliveries at the Cape May Tennis Club and say to him 750 Park Bvld., and he’d reply, ‘Hello Mr. Fischer,” West Cape May resident Steve Fischer said. “All you’d have to do is give him an address and he’d know your name. Amazing.”

Neal’s energy resonated with the town, as he could make a bad day a good one, just by his personality. Jim’s Bait and Tackle employee Dennis McVay said Neal was always happy to see him and ready to tell jokes.

“Dave was a breath of fresh air and a ray of sunshine,” Cape May Point Deputy Mayor Anita VanHeeswyk said.

With Neal’s personality, it comes as no surprise he befriended the people to whom he delivered, especially if the visits were frequent.

“My wife and I considered him to be a best friend,” Cape May resident Doug Cranstoun said. “He always stopped in my garage to see what hot rod I was working on, because he delivered all the parts. He would ask, ‘So what is this for,’ and I would point out where it goes and he would just smirk. He said he could drive it faster than me.”

The Cape May community noticed different UPS delivery people in the past few months, many wondering if Neal’s route had changed.

“He was a character that will not be forgotten,” Cape May resident Jennifer Papendick Tozer said. “Had he reached out to the Cape May community for help, there would have been a shortage of beef and beer for miles. I really hope he knows how much he was loved.”

Cape May resident Terryl Chapman said Neal brightened up the day with his positivity, strong efficiency and quick wit.

“He made everyone feel special,” Chapman said. “He was a friend to our whole community. He wasn’t ordinary. I think people like Dave are living the love and are so happy to pass it along, that they know how much we love them and don’t need to be told, because they are living in love.”

As for the writer of this article, I knew when I heard Neal had died after a battle with cancer, I wanted to write a tribute to him. I saw Dave more times than I can count, from both home deliveries and ones to the motel where I used to work.

Neal was kind enough to deliver packages to me at work, when they required signatures. He even told me while I was at work, he delivered my bedframe, it was sitting at my house waiting for me. I sheepishly told him I was expecting a futon the next day.

Like Fischer said, Neal’s knack for blending together addresses and faces was remarkable. He knew the addresses of all three places I had lived on the island and could spout them off without being prompted.

I’d always ask Neal, “How are you doing?” to which he would reply, “Living the dream.” I think he truly was living the dream. For over 30 years, he delivered smiles along with UPS packages.

The entire Cape May community will miss Neal’s deliveries, jokes and energetic spirit.

A visitation for Neal was held on Saturday, Sept. 28 at Middleton-Stroble and Zale’s Funeral Home in Somers Point. His obituary can be read here.

Beautiful frustration

Living at the beach sounds like a dream, right? And in so many ways, it really is a dream. Then summer comes and August soon after, and anyone who lives here will tell you, “it’s August,” and leave it at that.
I last blogged in December (oops, time flies when you’re writing at your day job and then do not come home and feel like writing more), hopefully, I can try to start blogging more!
What the phrase “it’s August” means, is living at the beach is great, but the rise in visitors to town makes living here a little less enjoyable. I speak for myself when I say this fact, without knowing if everyone who lives here feels the same way. It goes without saying, we need tourists to survive and keep our economy thriving. I am not and will not ever discount how important tourists are to Cape May – in fact, I was a tourist for over twenty years!
Why is it less enjoyable? It’s because we go from a small town, maybe 1,000 to 3,000 people in the winter, to a number that swells well over 10,000 in the summer! It’s a lot more cars and traffic than we are used to dealing with. And I don’t know about you, but I get a little impatient sometimes.
But then I remind myself (rather, my mom reminds me when I call her to complain) that everyone is excited to be on vacation and to just be patient. It might be easier said than done, but soon enough it will be the fall and back down to the normal and lower population.
So what’s it like to live at the beach? I’ve been asked this question numerous times and every time I answer it I’m sure it sounds great. I mean, I can go to the beach whenever I want! Since Memorial Day Weekend (so about over a month), I’ve only been a handful of times. In the past, I would go fairly often after work. Lately, I’m so exhausted when I get home, I can’t really muster up the energy to go sit on the beach. What is it like to live at the beach? I go to the beach maybe once or twice a week in the summer, especially if it is really hot outside.
An upside to summer in Cape May is the seasonal stores and businesses are open and places also have extended hours. On the one hand, it’s great to have more places to eat and visit, but the parking is difficult (not to mention more expensive now!). Even so, it is nice to have a variety of places to choose from. What is it like to live at the beach? I get to enjoy a lot of local seafood/cuisine.
Living at the beach is either a glass half full or glass half empty sort of deal. It really depends on how you look at life. I could not imagine commuting into D.C. for work, constantly sitting in traffic and lamenting life in a busy town, only getting a few days a year to get to spend on the beach.
On the other hand, living in Cape May means I get to go to the beach whenever I want, not go on vacation in the summer (the busy season) and hopefully be able to squeeze a few days “vacation” to visit my family and friends in Virginia.
For the days where I do not feel like my life in Cape May is ideal, I remember life is what you make of it and I get to work a job in my field of study.

Reflecting on 2018

Another year has come and gone and so much 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.

Happy New Year!


Cape May Rachel




Washington Street Mall to hold Hanukkah celebration

Special to the Star & Wave

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.



MAC successfully using social media to reach millennials


Special to the Star and Wave

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.”



Message in a bottle reaches Spain from Cape May Point

Special to the Star & Wave

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.


Left to right: Isidro, Cris, Pedro and Emma. Provided by Cris.


“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.”



In August, visitors on way to Cape May — again

Special to the Star & Wave

The peak of the summer is here in Cape May, with temperatures in the 80s and nary a parking spot in sight.

August Sunset. CapeMayRachel©.

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’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.

Tattoos help millennial women establish identity

Special to the Star and Wave

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.”

The chemical structure of coffee. ©Madi Musinski.

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