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Centre St, Choppy Water and the Colonial Theater
This is one of our favorite images. The old postcard below is entitled "Beach and Centre Streets, Beach Haven NJ" and it was postmarked July 14th, 1929. We are now several blocks north of our other Beach Avenue photo. The penciled message on the card simply reads, "Guess...It's nice down." and was sent to Lansdale, PA. The young boy, wearing knickers and striped socks, clutches a small box and his trusty sand shovel. Was he headed for the beach when enlisted by the photographer? Or was he headed home?
In the photo, he stands in the middle of the street, (a very risky act today!) with a "Go To The Right" vertical traffic marker less than ten feet away to his right. The view is looking south, and over the lad's left shoulder is Walsh's Department Store on the southwest corner of the intersection.
It was Walsh's Department store that commissioned these hand-colored postcards to be made. Today, across Beach Avenue from Walsh's is currently a vacant lot - with a recently placed "SOLD" sign on it. The lot is currently being used by the Surflight Summer Theatre as a large open area to work painting backdrops and other scenery.
Recognize what is currently in the Walsh's building? Here's a hint - that boy would be enjoying ice cream right now if he were around seventy years later. The building is now home to The Show Place Ice Cream Parlor.
You knew that we would have to throw in a "trick" one somewhere - and here it is...
The postcard on the left dates back to 1938 and shows the Beach Haven Fishing Pier extending out from the Beach Haven boardwalk over the Atlantic Ocean. Boardwalk? Fishing Pier? What boardwalk? What fishing pier?
Well, if you stroll to the beach at Berkeley Avenue, you'll see the old pilings (above) still visible. These are some of the last reminders of the days when Beach Haven did have both wooden structures. The hurricane of September 14th, 1944 destroyed them.
The Colonial Theater in the center of town, on Bay Avenue, has entertained generations. In these two remarkable photos, we can see that the skyline here has not changed in fifty years! Look at the outline that the rooftops make against the sky. There is no difference from the 1940's to the year 2000. Even the row of ventilation shafts on the theater roof remain unchanged. Virtually every building shown in the top photo survives today.
UPDATE: Here's what it looks like in 2007 - the Colonial Theater is now a True-Value Hardware store!
What has changed are the tenants! Back in the 40's, the Centre Street corner of the Colonial Theater building housed Dr. Thompson's Dental Office, with another business at the opposite corner (where two movie posters are currently displayed). Next to the theater building was the Power and Light Company (now Coneheads Ice Cream), Peterson's 5 and 10 cent store (now the vacant Fur & Leather City store) and a restaurant (now a Shoe Store).
Please note an amazing coincidence - the three main cars shown in the lower photo (one parked and two in motion) are in the same spots as three cars in the middle photograph!
Photo was taken on the southeast corner of the intersection of Centre and Bay, on the sidewalk in front of Kapler's Pharmacy.
Here are other cards showing the same block. Notice that the one on the right is an earlier image, when there were no buildings adjoining the theatre! The one on the left is from 1920, the one on the right is undated - but earlier.
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COPYRIGHTę 1999-2012 Bruce A. Clark SixOfOne AT netreach DOT net