Root Beer Lake – My Memories of The Jersey Shore

South Jersey, as it is known, has a strange geographical “thing” going on.  Doesn’t that sound professional?  I don’t know what to call it and I really do not care what it is suppose to be termed.  It is a pine forest mostly made up of some kind of pygmy pines and white sand mixed in with dirt and rivers and streams all made of Root Beer Water.

Yes, I said Root Beer Water!  The water is the color of root beer or sassafras tea.  I think the color is from cedar trees – but whatever.  Like I said above, I really am not interested in the science behind it.  This post is MY memories of the shore.  And as through the eyes of a young child – it’s root beer water.  Of course, I do believe my Uncle Runny supported my imagination on that and he probably was the source of that belief.  He even told me that if I drank the water from the faucet of their tiny summer cottage – the water that stained  your sinks brown and smelled and tasted of metal – my hair would curl.  I drank a lot to no avail.  I still had straight hair.  Very disappointed.

The days my mom told us to pack our swim suits and towels because we were going to Lanoka Harbor, well, they were some of the best memories.  My Aunt and Uncle and cousin Paul had a lovely little cottage set among tall skinny trees where the ground was spattered with dirt and fine white sand.  It smelled delicious.

We all crammed into this cottage and slept – who knows where.  We ate on the screened in porch.  We waved to the neighbors.  My Aunt would hand us bowls and tell us to go across the street to pick wild blueberries so she could make a pie.  I hated blueberries then.  But I loved the idea of picking them ourselves so she can make a pie that I never ate.  Love them now and can’t get enough of them.

Later we would hop on bikes (me on the handle bars of cousin Paul’s) and rode fast down to the bay beach.  There was a giant metal swing set in the sand.  Other days – or sometimes in the same day – we took off on bikes in the other direction and swam in the creek.  The creek was the finest and coolest root beer water.  You could see your feet in the sand and schools of little black minnow – type fish swam around you, tickling.  My older brother and Paul swam out to the bridge that ran over the creek and climbed up and jumped in.  They were my heroes.

Uncle Runny liked to go to the boat docks.  I have no idea why, other than to look at the boats and talk to people.  Maybe he had a boat…..  Maybe we went out on  it…… I do not remember that.

Uncle Runny was a very kind man.  He was a very quiet man.  I rarely remember him having long conversations, especially with me.  He had three sons.  I think a little girl was a curious thing to him.  But he was so kind to me.  I remember watching him in the water.  He loved to swim.  He would get out there, even in the ocean, and just swim back and forth.  When he was ready for company, I went out with him and he just smiled and watched me jump over waves and encouraged me to just float over the waves.  Good times.

When I got my driving permit and I drove my mom and younger brother to visit the family at their cottage (thought my mom would have a heart attack when I passed someone) my Uncle Runny had just gotten a new giant cadillac and said to get in and drive him to the boat docks.  It was like driving on air.

I have no pictures of those days.  No pictures of Uncle Runny.  A couple of Aunt Marion (his wife and my mom’s sister) after he passed and she was quite older. But the images never leave my mind.  Very special times.

So, back to Root Beer Water.  Some days we loaded into the car and went to Root Beer Lake.  There are three lakes in the nearby town of Forked River (For-ked River).  I believe they use to be (at least one or two of them) cranberry bogs.  The one we frequented had a sandy beach and a concession stand with colorful awnings.  It was great to swim in root beet water – so cool and refreshing.  This lake had a road under the surface that was higher than the lake bottom where we swam.  It went across the lake and my brother and cousin walked across every time.  Still my heroes.  I tried to go once and had a fear I would fall off the road into deep, deep water.

Those were such good, sweet memories.  I do hope we have made sweet memories for our children.  And now we are making memories with our grandchildren. Life goes on.

Here are some pics from the web I found of the Pine Barrens of South NJ.  Check out the Root Beer Water!

Pine Barrens
Pine Barrens
Things to do in Root Beer Water
Things to do in Root Beer Water
Thirsty for a Root Beer?
Thirsty for a Root Beer?

Thank you for joining me in my memories of childhood at The Jersey Shore!  Take time to make new memories for yourself and your children and grandchildren.  They last forever!


cate b

Road Trip!

Two weeks ago my husband and I plopped ourselves in the back seat of our son’s car.  Road Trip!  We were heading to the east coast, a two day drive.  We were greeted with, “Are you ready?  Let’s go!”, spoken by our lovely two year old grand daughter, Lucy.  She was so excited.  Of course she was not fully aware of what exactly we were doing, but the excitement of Papa and Mammy coming too was delightful.

We left at night so she would sleep.  It worked well.  As daylight dawned this is what I saw sitting next to me:

IMG_3368IMG_3369She will get even when she hits about thirteen.




After cleaning up the throw up in the car – contained in her car seat, thank goodness, we were on our way for day two of driving.

I have to say this child was a trooper.  She was excellent in the car and she loved Cracker Barrel –



My husband and I usually go to the east coast about once a year to visit our son and family.  We were just there in October, but when our youngest son suggested we come along with him and his wife and daughter we couldn’t resist.

This particular area of the eastern seaboard is where we spent over twenty years.  That is the longest we have lived as a family.  I was born and raised in New Jersey and the Jersey shore is familiar to me.  I love it.  Living there, however, was harder than visiting.  It is a tourist county all summer long for Philadelphia, New York, Quebec, etc.  I loved being a tourist and this was the first time my son’s wife was there to see where her husband grew up and to meet the rest of the immediate family.  Same with Lucy.

But on a particular day walking “The Promenade” along the beach (it’s equivalent to a boardwalk but paved, no boards – they washed away years ago in a storm and replaced with pavement) I broke down when my son asked if I was enjoying myself.  Truth was – I was enjoying myself.  So much that I didn’t want to go home to the mid-west.  I’m old enough to know this was a passing emotional moment.  I knew the difference in being a tourist and a local.  It’s just that I miss the familiar so much sometimes.  And the most part of that is my family there.

I’ve only been in the mid west a little over four years (see my blog entitled Cate, Plain and Tall).  I really do like it here and as in any form of culture shock I am finding my new familiars.  Let’s face it, there is no beach or ocean here or really good pizza.  So I am adjusting.  I have new loves.

So after that little meltdown I moved forward.  The time with our family was fantastic and aw old friends as well.  Then came the day to pile back into the backseat of the car……… with little miss Lu.  She is one of the loves of my life and can do practically no wrong……. but waking up in a moving vehicle and seeing large blue eyes staring at your face can be quite unnerving.  Shiver.  She was delightful and I forgive her for throwing various items into my face from time to time.  No blood, I’m OK.

When we would settle into a hotel on the halfway points she would pace while us adults fell asleep.  It was lovely to find her in between Papa and I sound asleep.

Such sweetness to being a grand parent.  Lucy fell in love with her much older boy cousins and her aunt and uncle.  Such memories to treasure.

I would jump back in the car in a heart beat to travel again with these kids – well, give me a week to stretch out.

Here are a few pics to bore – I mean share with you 😉


IMG_3386Her is her first beach experience – not liking

the sand in her toes.

On right – it got a little better.

Oh, and here is where I got stuck on the beach.  Yes, stuck.  I couldn’t get the stroller through the deep sand and over the sand dune.  I couldn’t carry her – that would have been much like carrying a large tree in deep snow and I’m way to old for that!  I actually called her dad to carry her over the dune and then walked her home the two blocks!  And for the record, he did agree how hard it was!




IMG_3394Cousin snuggles.



















IMG_3471And finally, on the last day, success!  The sand was good.










Enjoy!  Make memories!

cate b

My Irish Eyes Were Smilin’


Yesterday was St. Patrick’s Day. So to celebrate I made up a few “Irish Blessings”. Total fun – I love the Irish!

This one is Irish/Scottish:
“May the wee bairns of the loch be ever with you
and may the wee folk of the clover
never darken the doors of your emerald hut”

“May the cry of the banshee never drift across the waters
and darken the gates of your shamrock garden”

“May the potatoes of your field forever fill your bellies
and may your grains produce much stout”

“May the lucky stars and rainbow marshmallows
forever fall into your pot o’ gold each mornin'”

Be blessed and always remember to laugh 😀


%d bloggers like this: