No. 550
Crime, Eccentricity, and the Sporting Life in 19th Century America.
December 3, 2021

New Jersey’s Great Wash Day.

Farmers with their wives and buxom daughters enjoy their annual bath in old ocean, at Spring Lake Be
August 18, 2015
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Entrance to Juneau Company WharfLocation of the shootout on Juneau Wharf 1898Circa 1930s-1940sJeff Smith collection(Click image to enlarge)        ntrance to Juneau Company Wharf  Here is a new addition to my photograph collection. The above is the cropped, close-up showing the entrance to the Juneau Company Wharf where Soapy Smith and Frank Reid shot it out in the Shootout on Juneau Wharf,
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Soapy Smith's Soap Box - 12/1/2021
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[Editor’s note: Guest writer, Peter Dickson, lives in West Sussex, England and has been working with microfilm copies of The Duncan Campbell Papers from the State Library of NSW, Sydney, Australia. The following are some of his analyses of what he has discovered from reading these papers. Dickson has contributed many transcriptions to the Jamaica Family […]
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Early American Crime - 2/7/2019
Via Newspapers.comHere’s a new category for the Fortean section of this blog:  Mystery Holes!  The “St. Louis Post-Dispatch,” March 19, 1985:There is a mysterious hole in the ground, discovered last fall, in the northwestern part of the state of Washington on the Colville Indian Reservation, not far from the Grand Coulee Dam. A chunk of earth 10 feet long, 7 feet wide and 18 inches to 2 feet deep
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Strange Company - 12/1/2021
 Martha Place, driven by jealousy, strangled her stepdaughter.Read the full story here: The Brooklyn Murderess.
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Murder By Gaslight - 11/27/2021
Youth With Executioner by Nuremberg native Albrecht Dürer … although it’s dated to 1493, which was during a period of several years when Dürer worked abroad. November 13 [1617]. Burnt alive here a miller of Manberna, who however was lately engaged as a carrier of wine, because he and his brother, with the help of […]
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Executed Today - 11/13/2020
She Liked Her Lager Beer. | Hard Knocks and Horsewhips.

New Jersey’s Great Wash Day.

Jersey Wash DayFarmers with their wives and buxom daughters enjoy their annual bath in old ocean, at Spring Lake Beach, N. J. 

Once a year the New Jersey farmers and their families have an annual wash in old ocean. They enjoyed this luxury at Spring Lake Beach, N. J. last week. They drove to the beach in wagons from all over the surrounding country. Fully 5,000 bathed. Farmers’ wives forgot the flight of time, forgot their dinners and their offspring and just sat around in groups in the moist Atlantic and gossiped.

But the prettiest sight of all, the most original bit in this whole study of farmer life, was the girl who came to the shore, like Sheridan, from twenty miles away, in her bathing suit and wore that same suit all day. She was wet all the time, but her head was dry and clear, and on that head she wore the best creation of her rural milliner’s art.

There were five thousand farmer folk and more than that number of visitors at the washing place. The beach was black with wagons of every imaginable variety. There were hundreds of buggies in which person about to be married had driven over to the cleaning ground. There were mule wagons and wagons that spend the best part of their narrow history carting hay; there were ox teams and dog teams and goat teams and push carts. Every one of these was loaded down with farmers and their chubby offspring. As soon as the beach was reached the horses or mules as the case might be, were unharnessed and their heads turned to the wagon body. Harness was piled on the ground and all minor considerations gave way to the grand work of the occasion.

Those who didn’t come in bathing suits proceeded in this fashion to prepare for the great event. A sheet was stretched about the rear end of the wagon and within this enclosure an entire family disrobed and donned their bathing suits.
All good things, however, must end somewhere and “Salt Water Day” ended for the farmers “after the ball,” that is, after their youngsters had danced themselves tired on the extemporized waltzing platform. Then oat-filled steeds were reharnessed to the wagons full of sleepy children and the journey to distant homes begun.


Reprinted from National Police Gazette, September 2, 1883.