Cape May Kiwanis Club

  Cold Spring Lifesaving Station
   
   
  Kiwanis Club of Cape May Clubhouse Building
History of Our Club

A group of local men met with a representative from Kiwanis International at the office of Assemblyman Ralph T. Stevens on December 16, 1923 with the purpose of organizing a Cape May Kiwanis Club. They formed a temporary organization and elected a slate of officers: Dr. V.M.D. Marcy, President; George P. Wentzell, Vice President; Ralph T. Stevens, Secretary; and Jay E. Mecray, Treasurer.

The fledgling group held its first luncheon meeting with 57 members at the Focer & Mecray Building January 17, 1924. Kiwanis District Governor Robert Rendall of Jersey City presented the Charter to the Club. The new service club had a splendid first year. They donated their first Kiwanis Scholarship, $100, to the most valuable member of the graduating class of Cape May High School. In the Fall they sponsored a movement to acquire land and develop an eighteen hole golf course in Lower Township.

The Cape May Kiwanis Club continues to be the most active service club in Cape May, and is the only Club in the country that owns its Clubhouse, the old Cold Spring Lifesaving Station #136.

History of Our Clubhouse Building

The U.S. Lifesaving Service (USLS) set up lifesaving stations manned by Keepers and surfmen to stem the loss of life from shipwrecks along the coast. The Cold Spring Lifesaving Station, established 1868, is one of 20 in New Jersey. This existing building, built in 1891 on Beach Avenue at Philadelphia Avenue, is an example of the Bibb No. 2 style, named after architect, Albert Bibb, with nine stations of this style built between 1886 and 1891. The U.S. Lifesaving Service operated the Station until 1915 when the Treasury Department moved the USLS into the Revenue Cutter Service which eventually became the U.S. Coast Guard; it operated as an active Coast Guard station until 1935.

Notice the life saving boat ramp at the right front of the building and the number 136 painted on a large deck behind the building. The number identifies the station for airplanes. The Cold Spring Lifesaving Station 136 is now the Cape May Kiwanis Clubhouse.

In 1939 Charles “Nick” A. Swain of the Cape May Kiwanis Club bought the abandoned building from the USCG, at auction, for $120 with the idea of using it as a Boy Scout Headquarters. Nick had been tipped off by a Coast Guard officer, with a Boy Scout son, that the only other bidder was a junk man who planned to demolish the building for its materials, and had bid $100, so Nick bid $120. The Club membership jokingly chided him for paying too much when $101 would have won the auction. A condition of the auction was that the winner had to move the building off the government’s property in 30 days. The Kiwanis paid $1000 to a Wildwood House Moving Co to move the station and put it up on a good concrete block foundation. Being solidly built, the weight of the station, actually broke the mover’s equipment during the short half-block move; but he prevailed and eventually seated the old building on its new foundation. Today it serves as the Cape May Kiwanis Clubhouse. (1041 Beach Ave.)

 

Glancing Back: Albert B. Little and Armistice Day
By Robert W. Elwell, Sr., as published in the Cape May Gazette-Leader 11/9/2006

Armistice Day, now called Veteran’s Day, has just passed. Although most adults know why it is celebrated on November 11th, I have a sad feeling that most of today’s children do not know. Growing up I learned that Armistice Day was when the First World War ended and that the armistice was signed on the 11th month, of the 11th day, and on the 11th hour, and therefore celebrated at that time. Cape May had several men who served their country during World War I. In the years right after the end of World War I the City always made a big celebration to honor those who had served and to remember those who had died. Armistice Day of 1921 was carried out in Cape May with an elaborate celebration considering in the winter months at that time there were not the tourists and visitors to add to the festivity. Then again, it was little old Cape May celebrating its home town boys.

In the morning at the 11th hour until noon, exercises were held at the high school. It was reported that everyone enjoyed the services. The Rev. George T. Hillman, Mayor Melvin and S.C. Ogden delivered the addresses of the day. The glee club of the high school rendered several selections which were a great credit to the school and to the faculty. The school children took part by giving recitations. Harold Hand recited the President’s proclamation; Sam Lummis recited Flander’s Field, and Jean Walters recited “Whose Debtors We Are?” After the speakers, the flag was lowered to half-mast and a firing squad fired a salute. The bells then tolled and two minutes were devoted to silent prayer. Throughout the town all places of business had closed from 11:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. The local newspaper reported, “Never before was an order obeyed so well as the one to close for three hours on Armistice Day.” This showed that not only the ones who had been in the service liked to remember the day, but even the ones who stayed home showed respect to the soldiers.

That evening a large parade took place at 7:30 p.m. The parade was led by Lt. John J. Spencer. Mr. Spencer, during the war, had been in charge of the Wissahickon Barracks and he led the parade with military bearing. (Spencer, in later years would be prominent in the City of Cape May and become the Chief of Police.)

Also in the parade were 50 night riders who were led by Walter P. Taylor. Mr. Taylor was known in the community as being one of the best in the county when it came to horseback riding. Floats in the parade consisted of the Cape May Light and Power Company float which represented the Goddess of Liberty overlooking the grave of the Unknown Soldier. The Red Cross float received much applause as the parade moved along because it had three of Cape May’s charming school girls on it. Also in the parade were units of the American legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars who were well received along the line of march.

Glancing back, the one World War I veteran I well remember as a boy was Al Little. He was the son of Mr. and Mrs. John C. Little. Through his letters sent home during the war years there has become somewhat of a recorded history of his experiences. His first thrilling experience was when the ship “Henderson” on which he sailed for Europe caught fire and burned. He and many of his buddies lost all their possessions as a result. Upon arriving in France Al was detailed to the paymaster’s quarters. Some of his duties that he performed while stationed at that location were to censor letters and after that he ended up driving a six ton truck for many months. While driving on one trip he had to drive through a blinding snowstorm from Lille to Dunkirk by way of Ypres, France. He reported in his letter that five inches of snow lay on the ground and the road was very rough and rugged. He left Lille at 10:30 in the morning and arrived at his destination at 7:30 in the evening. Along the route of travel he saw many strange things and awful sights while in the vicinity of the towns. On another trip he drove 75 miles in a blinding snow storm over slippery roads to Lille. He passed through “No Man’s Land” on the Flander’s front. He ended up being snow bound many times before reaching his destination. On another trip he had to stay in Lille overnight where he reported accommodations were meager. He had to sleep in an attic along with a number of Belgium and English troops. Their beds consisted of two blankets only, with the thermometer registering 18 degrees. He also wrote that he would never forget his experiences in France and that they would always be vivid in his memory.

  Albert B. Little Athletic Field Memorial

From France Al was transferred to Eastleigh, England where he was rated Electrician Class I. He told of being on leave and visiting an English camp where he met an officer of the Imperial troops who presented him with what was described as a very fine leather jacket. In his last letter before he came home he expected to get a 15 day furlough and his intention was to return to France and hunt up some of the other Cape May boys. Albert Smith, Frank Shields, and others were still serving at the time. From France he expected to go into Germany and back to England by way of Scotland. From England he wrote he was hoping to sail on one of the German ships that was captured and taken over by our government to carry troops back to the United States. These ships were manned by American sailors and Al Little had been assigned to duty on one of them as First Class Electrician. Although Al never found any of the Cape May boys in France, his brother George did meet up with Corporal Albert Smith.

As a young person hanging around the Cape May fire house, I remember Al Little as being a member of the volunteer fire company. He was also the City electrician and in charge of the fire alarm boxes to which he gave loving maintenance to. He also was a dedicated member of the Cape May Kiwanis Club and served a year as President. He was always on hand for the Pet Parades and he helped with many of the other children’s activities. Sadly, while working at the old Convention Hall he fell from a scaffold and was killed.

Kiwanian Little was so well liked by the townspeople as well as the Kiwanians, that in September 1959 they dedicated and named the Athletic field on Lafayette Street in his memory. Hundreds of children play around the dedication memorial stone on the playground at the Kiwanian Little Athletic Field on Lafayette Street almost daily. It is a shame that they may never know who the man was and what his accomplishments in life were.

 

Past Presidents of the Cape May Club  (* denotes deceased)

* Dr. V. H. D. Marcy 1924
* Floyd C. Hughes 1925
* Dr. J. C. Moon 1926
* T. Millet Hand 1927
* F. Mulford Stevens 1928
* William Spring 1929
* Leslie Tenenbaum 1930
* T. Lee Lemmon 1931
* Charles A. Swain, Jr. 1932
* Lewis T. Stevens 1933
* Daniel J. Ricker 1934
* Albert B. Little 1935
* Steven J. Steger 1936
* William Dwyer 1937
* L. Wallace Douglass 1938
* Clifford Sharp 1939
* Everett A. Cresse 1940
* Edward Griffin 1941
* Clarence Fisher 1942
* John J. Spencer, Jr. 1943
* Herbert Harris 1944
* Mark Frymire 1945
* Harry J. Kunz 1946
* Everett V. Edwall 1947

 

* Andrew Knopp 1948
* Raymond A. Adams 1949
* Herman Stansell 1950
* A. Gregory Ogden 1951
* R. Archie Swain 1952
* Harry A. Lehman, Sr. 1953
* William B. Marvin 1954
* Charles A. Swain, Jr. 1955
* R. Archie Swain 1956
* Charles L. Carr 1957
* Boyd W. Lafferty 1958
* Cecil F. McCullough 1959
Charles A. Swain, III. 1960
* Fred Barthelmess 1961
* Fred Barthelmess 1962
* Steven J. Steger 1963
* Max L. Kurland 1964
* W. Harry Reeves 1965
* Richard M. Teitelman 1966
* Byron Jackson 1967
* Charles Tryon 1968
* Harry Gilbert 1969
* Maurice Catarcio 1970
* Anthony Ferrante 1971

 

Robert Fite 1972
J. Richard Ogden 1973
Louis C. Dwyer, Jr. 1974
Frank A. Ross 1975
Charles F. Vogdes 1976
* Dallas C. Small 1977
James R. Washington 1978
Harvey L. Williams 1979
Robert Smeltzer 1980
* John Veldhoven 1981
Donald Dodson 1982
David Danaher 1983
W. Edwin Hutchinson 1984
* Arnold Nyblade 1985
James Rochford 1986
E. Richard Keller 1987
* Andrew Andreychak 1988
* George Jarden 1989
Gerald Reeves 1990
Rick Swain 1991
* Irving Geldman 1992
John Koitsch 1993
* Clayton Reid 1994
Paul Lundholm 1995

 

Thomas M. Hand 1996
Terrance O’Brien 1997
Lawrence Notch 1998
* Donald Booth 1999
Jean Davis 2000
Rocco DeNote 2001
Duane Tebo 2002
Ralph Bakley 2003
Neil Fisch 2004
Jack Wichterman 2005
Robert W. Elwell, Sr. 2006
Anthony Williams 2007
Richard Williams 2008
Robert Morris 2009
Harley Shuler 2010
Jim Waldie 2011
Jennie McCaney 2012
Thomas Hynes 2013
Carol Hackenberg, 2014
Leonard H. Wilmore, 2015
Kim Ford, 2016
Kim Ford, 2017/Current