Sunday, June 26, 2011

Certified Historical - The World Famous Anchorage

Brief History of the Anchorage Tavern from the back of the take-out menu.

The World Famous Anchorage Tavern Est. 1888
823 Bay Avenue, Somers Point, New Jersey 08244
(609) 926-1794

The Anchorage Tavern is the oldest, continuously operated business establishment in Somers Point. Built (circa) 1874, it was first known as the Trenton Hotel and catered to seasonal visitors, mainly fishermen and bird gunners who took on the hunting of birds as a sport. Ducks were sold to restaurants while the feathers of other birds were used to adorn hats that were a fashion in those days. The sheer numbers and variety of the avian species produced the bird eggs that inspired early Dutch explorers to give Great Egg Harbor its name.

Known as the Anchorage Hotel since 1888, Victorian era spindles once lined the porch, and at the turn of the century the ballroom was built as an addition. For a time the hotel catered to the New York and Philadelphia society, when men dressed in tuxedos and women wore long gowns to dinner and strolled on the porch to enjoy the summer breeze.

In August 1905, as can be seen by the newspaper clipping on the wall, Daniel Reagan, the proprietor at the time, advertised “cheerful rooms,” for $8 and $10 a week, with “fish, boating and bathing” being the primary attractions.

On a Sunday morning in 1910 the pastor of St. Augustine’s Church in Ocean City took the steam ferry to Somers Point, walked down Bay Avenue and served the first public mass on the bar in the ballroom of the Anchorage Hotel. Charles Collins was the owner of record at the time.

The Anchorage was not always a saintly haven however. Prohibition rum runners used the same small inlets and side creeks that were once used by pirates, smugglers and Colonial revolutionary militia. The rum runners found Great Egg harbor a friendly port and the Anchorage Tavern a popular watering hole. At times the Anchorage was known to sport slot machines and its patrons were known to enjoy games of chance.

For awhile the bar was owned by Judge Larry Brannagan, who was known as the local Judge Roy Bean and “the law east of Patcong Creek.” Hannah Somers, a descendent of the town’s founding family, was also a proprietor for many years. Her longtime bartender, John Coyle kept a parrot named Teddy, which picked up an atrocious vocabulary from the locals at the bar.

After prohibition, the Anchorage was issued the fifth city license C-5. In 1938, the hotel was purchased by Lucille Cornaglia Thompson, who operated the hotel and bar until she sold it to her brother, Andrew “Henry” Cornaglia in 1945. The Three Keys, who once performed before the Queen of England, were the house band for many years when the Anchorage was known for its find Italian pasta and sauces.

With the death of Mr. Cornaglia in 1965, his son Andrew assumed the business and he attracted a new, younger clientele who enjoyed playing pool, shuffleboard and the juke box. The younger crowd made it a tradition to meet at the Anchorage before heading out to Bay Shores, Tony Marts, Steels and other establishments that featured rock & roll bands. The Anchorage became famous for serving seven beers for a dollar and the 7 for 1 T-shirts are now collector’s items.

The William Morris family acquired the Anchorage in 1993, restored the building, upgraded the kitchen and kept the nostalgia alive.

Don Mahoney, who had previously ran the kitchen for a number of years, purchased the Anchorage in 1999, and continues to serve good food and drinks to a new generation of patrons as well as those who return to remember the good old days.

The Anchorage Tavern, a Jersey Shore legend and tradition for over a century.

(By William Kelly, author of “300 Years at the Point” – a history of Somers Point, NJ)

Charles Carney pours a beer at the old Anchorage

Charles Carney pours a draft beer for John "Wolfman" McGonigle and Boo Boo Saylor at the old Anchorage Tavern.

Legendary Somers Point Bartender Charles Carney

Legendary Somers Point Bartender Charles Carney

Charles Obit simply read:

Carney, Charles F. 77 of Somers Point, died peacefully on February 18, 2006. His daughter Colleen, a son-in-law David, Carole and his pal Andrew were at his side.

Charles was a legendary bartender in the Somers Point area. He began his career at Steel's Ship Bar, went on to Mac's, Gregory', Mothers's, The Med., The Shangra-Laa, Crab Trap and the world famous Anchorage.

Charles is the brother of the late Frank. He is survived by his brother George (Violet)of Collingswood, NJ; his childrean Charles and Sean of Miami Beach, Fl. Colleen (David) McIlroy of Sunset Beach, CA and his partner and soul mate Carole Rubino of Somers Point. Relatives and friends are invited to his viewing Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2006 from 9:30 to 11 Am,m St. Joseph Church, 612 Shore Raod, Somers Point. Followed by a Mass of Christian Burial at 11AM. Interment Seaside Chemetery. In lieu of flowers the family requests memorial contributions to the DOn MacBeth Memorial Jocky Fund, P.O. Box 18470. Encino, CA 91419. Arrangements by Terranova Funeral Home Inc.

But the last time I saw Carole I promised her that I would write more, and now I'm fulfilling that promise.

More to Come - BK

Last Call at the old Anch

Some of the last bartenders at the old Anchorage Tavern in Somers Point.

From left, James Dean, Boston Rick, Ed Margrum (age 88), Bruce the beard and Charles Carney.

This photo was taken on the morning after the last night party when everyone drifted back and helped clean up the mess. Boston Rick was last known to be tending bar on South Street in Center City Philadelphia. Bruce, Ed and Charles have passed. James Dean disappeared.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

77 pound 4 oz Striper - one lb Short of Record

Caught off Block Island Rhode Island by Peter Vican, this striper is one pound short of McReynolds record.

McReynold's World Record Striper Mount

Albert McReynold's World Record Striper Mount - Riptide Bait & Tackle, Brigantine, NJ

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Carmen and Nancy Marotta on the AC Boardwalk

Carmen and Nancy with the late Herman "Roscoe" Ernest.

Read Carmen's tribute to Roscoe in the AC Weekly :

Carmen and Nancy Marotta are back on the boardwalk in Atlantic City, helping produce a series of concerts at Kennedy Plaza this summer.

While the Chicken Bone Beach shows have been going on for a few years at the same location, the Mardi Gras Marotta is promoting is relatively new and successful because of the exceptional talent brought in by Carmen and Nancy.

Carmen literally grew up in the music business since his father was the legendary Tony Mart - Anthony Marotta, who took a small Somers Point rathskeller and made it into the "Showplace of the World."

At the same time the best acts played Steel Pier, Tony Marts nightclub in Somers Point featured top flight hit acts in a much more intimate setting.

After Tony Marts was sold, Carmen opened The Classic American Cafe in New Orleans with Levon Helm, of the Band fame, where he made the acquaintance of all the jazz greats. He then dabbled in politics for awhile, but kept his fingers in the music business by helping to book good shows for the annual Good Old Days Picnic and Friday Night Beach concerts at the Point's municipal beach.

Although there's still some bars, clubs and cabarets that feature live bands, most of the best action this summer is taking place out doors, in public, and they're also great places to take the family. Plus they're free, thanks to the local institutions (Like the Somers Point Recreation Dept. and Atlantic County freeholders, and other sponsors), who picked up the slack to make these shows happen.

Carmen and Nancy aren't new to Atlantic City either. Actually they are coming back to the old Hood, err Wood, since Tony Mart got his start selling hot dogs and hoagies on the boardwalk, and his wife's family started the famous White House sub shop.

"Some of the hottest, new cutting edge music in these genres is coming out of New Orleans," says Carmen. "You have these big jam bands, like Dave Matthews and some of the other bands that are playing at the Dave Matthews Caravan, and they are influenced by and their mentors are people like the Neville Brothers and George Porter Jr."

"We're starting earlier, and we were able to build on the success of last year's shows. Last year was our first season, and we were only able to do eight, but this year, we felt confident enough to plan 13."

There's a good mixture of classic bands, like Commander Cody, Fabulous Thunderbirds, Otis Clay and Roomfull of Blues, really good local acts - (ie. Danny Eyer and Billy Walton) and some real Louisiana Legends like Cyril Neville and Terrance Simien & his Zydeco Experience.

■ June 27: Commander Cody Band.
■ July 3: Battle of the Guitar Heroes — Jersey Shore Champ Billy Walton versus Mississippi Challenger Vasti Jackson.
■ July 11: The Fabulous Thunderbirds featuring Kim Wilson.
■ July 18: The Music That Made Tony Mart’s Famous performed by the Tony Mart Allstar Band including Danny Eyer and others.
■ July 25: Cyril Neville and Tribe 13.
■ Aug. 1: The Otis Clay Band.
■ Aug. 8: Jumpin’ Johnny Sansone and his band, with special guest Susan Cowsill.
■ Aug. 15: The Soul Rebels Brass Band, The Billy Walton Band.
■ Aug. 16: Jimmy Thackery and the Drivers, The Soul Rebels Brass Band.
■ Aug. 17: Terrance Simien & the Zydeco Experience, Lil’ Martha.
■ Aug, 22: Bonerama.
■ Aug. 29: The Curtis Salgado Band.
■ Sept. 4: Roomful of Blues, Honey Island Swamp Band.

Then there's the Chicken Bone Beach jazz shows, that pick up where Kentucky Avenue left off. While Carmen tends to bring in the New Orleans style jazz, the kind that were featured at Tony Marts back in the heydey, the Chicken Bone Beach shows are more of a Big City jazz.

Chicken Bone Beach is what the locals affectionately called the beach patronized by blacks during segregation, and was popularized primarily by the bar tenders, waitresses, cooks and musicians from the Kentucky Avenue Clubs who had been up all night. Sammy Davis Jr., his mom, Dizzy and Duke were all there, and the chicken came primarily from Jimmy's Joint, just across the street from the legendary Club Harlem, now a parking lot.

Date / Time HEADLINERS 8:30 to 10 PM ARTIST 7 to 8 PM

July 7 Bootsie Barnes & Friends Dahi Divine Legacy Quintet
July 14 Dave Valentin ZAMAR featuring Keith Hollis
July 21 Barbara Walker Eddie Morgan REK'D 4 Jazz
July 28 Monnette Sudler Tony Day Quartet
August 4 Dominick Farinacci CBB Youth Jazz Ensemble
August 11 Tia Fuller Budesa Brothers Trio
August 18 Helen Sung Dwain Davis Quartet

Concert funded in part by the NJ State Council of the Arts/Department of State through the Atlantic County Office of Cultural & Heritage Affairs, Comcast, Harrah's Entertainment, PNC Bank, Kinematica Inc, Kramer Beverage Co. COORS, Atlantic City Electric, Just 4 Wheels, Atlantic City Convention Center, City of Atlantic City and ZEO Brothers - Tune in to Stockton College Radio Station WLFR – 91.7 Wednesdays Chicken Bone Beach hour 7 to 8 PM Phone: 609) 441-9064 or (609) 841-6897 Email: Visit our websites: Atlantic City Free Public Library or 609-345-2269

Then there's the Somers Point Beach concerts, which start at 7pm every Friday night all summer long. Don Kinsey and the Kinsey Report kicked things off last Friday. Just bring a beach chair and sit back and enjoy.

19th Annual Somers Point Beach Concert Series

June 24 The Eric Lindell Band:
National recording Artist Singer Songwriter, Guitarist Hot from New Orleans!

July 1 The Jeremiah Hunter Band:
Premiere Rock ‘n Roll Party Dance Band featuring members from The Soul Survivors and Fullhouse

July 4 (Monday) The Bob Campanell Band with Danny Eyer:
Our own Jersey Shore Rock ‘n Roll Pop Icon with his favorite lead guitarist

July 8 Jim Morris & The Big Bamboo Band:
Caribbean Key West Melodies from Radio Margaritaville

July 15 The Billy Walton Band:
Searing Rock Guitarist from South Side Johnny’s Asbury Jukes

July 22 Edgardo Cintron Band with Dane Anthony
Latin Sounds with a Tribute to Santana

July 29 Dr Bobby Fingers with “Ernie T” Trionfo:
Popular Music Sing a Long Party with sizzling lead guitar

August 5 Jumpin’ Johnny Sansone with Special Guest Susan Cowsill:
New Orleans Rhythm & Blues & Louisiana Rock 'n Roll

August 12 Kenny Neal and His Band:
World Renown Award Winning Blues & Roots Recording Artist

August 19 Curtis Salgado Soul Band:
The Man who taught the Blues to the Blues Brothers with his World Class 9 Piece Big Band

August 26 The Reba Russell Band:
Tennessee Country Blues Diva from Beale Street

September 2 The Terry Hanck Band:
World Class Honky Tonkin’ Roots Rock Saxophonist/Lead Singer

September 9 Ed Vezinho/Jim Ward Big Band with Rosemary Benson:
16 Piece Contemporary Big Band with Sensational Vocal Styling

Begins June 17th At The William Morrow Beach / Municipal Beach Park, Located Between Higbee And New Jersey Aves On Bay Ave in Somers Point. Free shows Fridays Start At 7PM, From The Third Friday In June Until The Second Friday in September. Hosted By: The Somers Point Recreation Department.

Visit for photos, video clips & more.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Somers Point, New Jersey USA

SOMERS POINT, NEW JERSEY – “Small town charm on the bay.”

As it has for centuries, Somers Point has provided fine fishing, boating, sailing, dining and entertainment for both area residents and visitors alike.

Situated just across the bay from dry Ocean City, Somers Point has been allocated more than its share of liquor licenses, and boasts many good bars and fine restaurants, and is known especially for locally caught, fresh seafood.

It has been said that “Somers Point is a drinking town with a fishing problem.”

Founded by Quaker families as a self-sufficient plantation over three hundred years ago, Somers Point is located on Great Egg Harbor bay, a safe harbor that takes its name from the large numbers of bird eggs found by early Dutch explorers. The inlet, bay and Egg Harbor river waters have continually served sailors, fishermen, hunters, crabbers and clammers since colonial times, and for the local Indians, for 10,000 years earlier.

Natural attractions include the High Banks at Kenney Park, overlooking the bay and barrier island of Ocean City, which provides a public boat ramp, picnic tables and other facilities and is where the annual Good Old Days picnic is held on the weekend after Labor Day. Greate Bay Golf Club, a championship course designed by the legendary Scotsman Willie Park, Jr. is over the bluff.

There’s also a municipal pier at William Morrow beach on Bay Avenue, where Bayfest is held in June, a classic theater and movie house that is undergoing restoration, and thriving marinas that feature an annual boat show.

Many fine restaurants and nightclubs enhance the Historic District and make for a popular, chic residential neighborhood in a community that also boasts fine schools, churches and Shore Memorial community hospital.

The historic restorations of the Anchorage Tavern, Mayer’s Inn and the old City Hall, now the town’s library, have significantly maintained valuable traditions that allow new generations to experience the same venues as their parents and grandparents.

The spirit of the old rock & roll joints – Bay Shores, Tony Marts, Mothers and the Dunes, now lives on at new places that feature live music and every Friday night all summer when free concerts are held under the stars at the William Morrow municipal beach.

Gregory’s, Charlie’s and DiOrio’s are three local bars and restaurants that are operated by a new generation of the same families for over a half-century.

The bars, restaurants and music all seem to fit with the boats and marinas to make for a unique neighborhood that has undergone many changes over the years, but maintains that small town charm on the bay.

A Tale of Two Fish - World Record Stripers


Funeral for Maury Upperman's world record striper at Gregory's in Somers Point. (above)

Albert McReynolds broke that record with one of his own, and one that still stands today.

Maury Upperman and Albert McReynolds are not terribly well known to most people, but they are legends among fishermen who know their stories are true.

The current and previous world record striper fish were caught off the South Jersey shore by local, fishermen Maury Upperman and Albert McReynolds, one from a boat and the other from the end of the Atlantic City jetty during a N’easter.’

Roccus saxatilis, as it is refered to by scholars, is better known as a rock fish, or locally as a striper, because of the beautiful multi-colored brown and blue scales that run lengthwise along its body.

The striper is prized, not only for its beauty, but its size, fighting spirit, filet texture and taste. It is the filet mignon of fish, except it can’t be bought in seafood markets or restaurants at any price.

Because of its popularity, the striper was over fished, especially by commercial fishermen at sea in nets, and the Atlantic States Marine Fisherman’s Commission officially declared it a sporting fish that only sports fishermen could fish for with rod and reel.

A sixty pound striper could be over five feet long, as big as a man, with the largest recorded striper being 125 pounds, probably over 40 years old, and caught by commercial fishermen off Massachusetts. Local commercial fishermen out of Atlantic City and Cape May say they have caught stripers over 100 pounds but must release them by law.

Although it once almost disappeared completely, the Indians would be happy to know that - like the bald eagle, black bear and wild turkeys, the striper has returned, but not in great numbers, so it is still a rare and hard to catch.

Striper was served at one of the first meals that the local Indians shared with European settlers, and how to catch them was one of the first survival skills learned and passed on from one generation to the next. Stripers caught in local waters, provided by local rebels, were one of the staples in the diet of Washington’s army during the revolution.

They were once so plentiful that they were used as fertilizer.

Now they’re prized as a rare local delicacy, one you can’t buy at any price, and can only enjoy if you know someone who caught one.

To a fisherman, one striper is worth a hundred blue fish or flounder, and your striper fisherman is not your typical recreational fisherman who takes a boat out for a weekend afternoon when the weather’s nice to enjoy a day on the bay and if they’re lucky, catch some fish.

For serious striper fishermen, there’s no luck involved. Some recreational fishermen have caught the bug and taken up the hunt for a striper, some have even made it their avocation, and some have tried and never caught one.

Hot fishing spots are a fisherman’s biggest secret, and those who are successful at it try to keep their secrets to themselves, but how to catch a striper is no secret.

According to those who know from experience, much of it is in the timing – the time of year, the time of day, the tides, the period of the moon, the water temperature and weather conditions all play a part in whether you catch a fish.

You also need some basic equipment, a good rod (Fenwick) and reel (Penn), 25 pound stern line and bait, of which there are many varieties

Because the striper is at the larger end of the food line (next to man), it eats practically anything. It cruises with its mouth open and takes in whatever is in its path, but rejects what is not familiar or not tasty. If it doesn’t swallow the hook they usually slip away even after they’re hooked.

For the most part, your typical striper fisherman will swear by eels, baby bunker, but there’s something to be said for artificial lures, since the two biggest stripers ever caught with a rod ad reel were caught with artificial lures.

Caught back in the Sixties, “Big Ben,” once the world heavyweight striper champion of the world, was weighed in by Maury Upperman and registered 62 pounds, 9 ounces,

It took its name from the name of the handmade bucktail lure Upperman used to catch it.

Brothers Maury and Bill Upperman were brothers who lived Downbeach in Margate, and made their own artificial lures, pouring spoonfuls of lead into small, oval shaped molds they hand painted and attached to a hook and, a lesson passed on from the Indians – fuzzy hairs from the tail of a white-tailed deer.

The Upperman Bucktail lures were popular because they worked, and they worked so well they were marketed and made standard issue as part of US Navy pilot survival kits during World War II.

The day he caught the big one, Maury Upperman was fishing with his brother Bill and three other, local serious fishermen, Clay Adams and Elmer Gregory. They all had their own boats, but on this day they were aboard Ike Beach’s “Rascal.”

They were just off Island Beach State Park, just north of Barnegat when Maury Upperman reeled in the Big One.

Three fifty pounders were also caught and brought aboard the Rascal that day, but Maury’s 62 pound 9 ounce fish became the new New Jersey state and world record.
Dubbed “Big Ben,” the fish was brought back to Elmer Gregory’s Somers Point bar where it sat on black draped buckets of ice, given a proper funeral and viewed by hundreds of worshiping fishermen who stopped by to pay their respects.

The fish was then gutted, its filets enjoyed by the Uppermans and their friends, the hide treated by a professional taxidermist and mounted on Gregory’s wall over the dining room door for decades.

There was a marked decline in the numbers of stripers caught from the 1960s to the 1980. By 1982 the numbers of stripers being caught had declined measurably, making them even more prized by serious fishermen. The fishermen also noticed that as their numbers decreased, the size of the ones being caught increased.

In the middle of a blazing, three day ‘Noreaster in late September 1982, Atlantic City lifeguard Albert McReynolds decided to go fishing. McReynolds knew that stripers chase other, smaller fish, and that during a storm, the striper runs up close to shore. The weather was treacherous, with heavy winds, driving rain and high tides over running the rocks – perfect striper weather.

Setting up his lines in the most precarious place at the end of the Vermont Avenue jetty, McReynolds held on and caught two stripers that night, leaving the one whopper flopping in the jetty rocks while he reeled in the big one, the one that would be the next world record striper.

Just as a golfer needs a witness to certify a hole in one, Atlantic City fireman Pat Urman was also fishing on that jetty that night, discounting accusations that McReynolds actually obtained the fish form a passing commercial fishing vessel that disposed of an unwanted catch. That was just a rumor spread by other jealous fishermen.

McReynolds took his fish to Campbell’s Marina on the Margate causeway, where it weighted in at 78 pounds, 8 ounces and 53 inches, and probably would have weighted more if McReynolds didn’t keep fishing and let it lay on the jetty for awhile.

Even before it was weighed in word spread among the local fishermen and Elmer Gregory, who was with Maury Upperman when he caught the previous record, went over to check it out. Then McReynolds, with bragging rights, went over to Gregory’s where he bought the bar a round.

A plastic mold of the fish was made, and was at the front door of Campbell’s Marina for many years.

Just as Upperman’s “Big Ben” Bucktail lures became popular and were marketed in national magazines, McReynolds also benefited financially from his record striper, earning hundreds of thousands of dollars in prize money from equipment manufactures, and popularizing 20 pound test lines and Rebel lures.

To show it wasn’t a fluke, McReynolds went to Florida where he caught a world record shark, and held two world records at the same time.

When Maury Upperman died his family retrieved “Big Ben” from Gregory’s wall, and it has since been eclipsed as number two behind McReynold’s fish. Corky Campbell has McReynolds mount, which currently hangs from the ceiling at the Riptide Bait and Tackle shop in Brigantine.

They did meet one day, when Dick Russell, author of “Striper Wars” was in Somers Point to promote his book.

The book is all about stripers, focuses in on the problems of how legislation has tried to preserve them, and gets into the ongoing battles between the recreational fishermen and the commercial fishermen who want to catch them again.

Dick Russell presented his slide show and gave his talk in Gregory’s dining room one afternoon, so Upperman brought “Big Ben” by and Campbell brought in McReynold’s current world record, and there was a meeting of the mounts.

They were different in some ways, “Big Ben” being a few inches longer, while McReynold’s fish being big fat cow.

But they were both caught by serious, local fishermen on artificial lures, and their world record rankings have endured the test of time, as they still wait for someone to come along and reel in one in that’s bigger.

William Kelly

McReynolds photo: