Page 65

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Page 65

The Old Fogey

D

Ah, those good old Cape May days... by Jackson D’Catur

O YOU know what marvel I found when beach combing the other morning? Can you guess? What’s that? You did not know I was a beach comber? Why, next you will say you have not heard of Cape May’s sacred tradition of just that very thing! And I do not mean the tractor that trundles up and down our fine sands dragging a rake, with which to snag litter, discarded unmentionables and unconscious Shoebies. No, I mean the great and hallowed Society of Beach Combers. They came over on the first ships from London, but of course were not combers of beaches then, but of sewers. Toshers, as they were called, were those lithe little lads and lasses who scoured the underbelly of that great city looking for lost coins, knocked-out gold teeth, discarded jewels and hastily dropped ill-gotten gains. In Cape May they found no maze of sewers, but miles of beaches with what Combers call “nodes”: those rare places on Earth where tides and currents conspire to deposit

all manner of riches on the sand every high tide. And our sacred band have shouldered the duty of collecting the items that appear there and stowing them away for safety, lest people come to harm/mischief/riches. I remember the time a Nazi U-Boat was washed up, with what turned out to be an Enigma Machine aboard. And the time we found the remains of that Flying Saucer that escaped from Area 52 (Yes, 52. Do you really think there is not something even more secret that Area 51?). These aren’t even our most remarkable

finds. We have found all sorts of treasures on these beaches over the years, including: a case of Faberge Eggs, a Perpetual Motion Machine, Walt Disney’s cryogenically frozen corpse, Jimmy Hoffa (in 387 separate boxes), a bookcase of original works from the Great Library at Ephesus (with handwritten annotations by Alexander Of Macedonia) and several functional Frankenstein’s monsters. Not to mention a king’s ransom in gold, gems and the like. But sometimes, darker things wash up: the original Curse of Wildwood (by a witch, who condemned the people of that city to forever be afflicted both mentally and physically), The Black Spot (which kills anyone who touches it) and a score of genies in lamps. Those last are dreadful chaps, who truly deserve eternity in a tiny vase. But this week, I found something of inestimable value, and of such rarity as to topple empires and unseat kings. Yes, friends, I discovered an unused, pristine, sealed liquor license for our fair city. It makes the Holy Grail look dull. (Which, by chance, I found yesterday.)

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