An author’s look at the women of the Jersey Shore

By Sierra Morrison

Karen Schnitzpahn, author of the book, Remarkable Women of the New Jersey Shore — Clam Shuckers, Social Reformers and Summer Sojourners gave a speech about her book on March 9 at the Cherry Hill Library. 

Schnitzpahn covered social reformers such as Margaret Mace, Doris Bradway and Joy Hancock. Schnitzpahn said the following, “Mace is known for opening a hospital at 2410 Atlantic Ave. at Wildwood, N.J. and delivered 6,000 babies. Bradway was mayor of Wildwood, N.J. in the 1930s and New Jersey’s first female mayor. Hancock was a female veteran of World War I and World War II and helped recruit women in the military. In 1967, President Johnson honored Hancock.”

Additionally, the author mentioned summer sojourners such as lifeguards, entertainers and entrepreneurs.

Schnitzpahn said, “Doris Pflug was Belmar’s first female lifeguard.” Pflug’s career as a lifeguard started in the 1940s, when men were fighting overseas during World War II. Pflug’s duties include removing litter from the beach by placing them in 100 pound sacks that she carried around and setting up beach poles that anchored safety ropes.

Famous entertainers mentioned were Sonora Carver, Grace Kelly and Patti Scailfa. Schnitzpahn said, “Carver was well known for her Steel Pier diving horse act in Atlantic City, N.J.” The diving horse act involves a rider and their horse diving into a body of water from a predetermined height. Later in life, Carver became blind. Despite being blind, Carver continued with the horse diving act.

Kelly was a famous actress and princess of Monaco. Kelly’s family originally resided in Ocean City, N.J.

Scialfa is a songwriter best known for her album, Rumble Doll and the wife of singer Bruce Springsteen. Scialfa grew up in Deal, N.J.

A famous entrepreneur mentioned was Sarah Washington. Schnitzpahn said, “Washington was an African American entrepreneur that created Apex Beauty Colleges, Apex laboratories, Apex News and Hair Company, Apex Drug Company and Apex Enterprises in Atlantic City, N.J. during the 1920s.   

Finally, Schnitzpahn answered questions from the audience. Asked how she became interested in the women of the Jersey Shore, Schnitzpahn said, “I became interested in Women’s History as a teen during the 1950s when my mother went against the norm by wearing jeans instead of skirts.”

After answering questions, members of the audience lined up to purchase Schnitzpahn’s book.


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