6) The Towns Around Asbury

Wanamassa, Page 1

Image 1.6. The likeness Chief Wanammasoa is on the side of the firehouse.

"Why Not" visit Wanamassa? Margaret Widdemere, a popular and prolific WW I-era writer, penned a novel whose title asked this question. At least, "Why Not" do something a little adventurous? The book is about a spirited girl of 18 who inherits $3000 from the strict great-uncle who raised her. Now that she's rich and free she can realize her dreams, one of which is the purchase of a bungalow in "Wanalasset," New jersey.

Image 2.6. The bridge from Asbury Park to Wanamassa, near Asbury's Sunset Landing. Click HERE to see a few old postcards of the bridge.


Around the turn of the century, Wanamassa was largely a lakefront community; a popular place to rent a bungalow and a canoe and experience the tranquility of rustic living (with the benefit an ocean minutes away). Canoeing from one place to another was a popular pastime and often a practical activity. It must have been delightful to paddle from one place to another through the intimate tree-sheltered branches of Deal Lake. The views of homes along Wanamassa's banks were compared to views obtainable in Switzerland.

Branch, Tributary, Prong ...

Natural boundaries, usually a lake, define many of the small towns up and down the north Jersey shore. So it is with Wanamassa. If you look at the Deal Lake Reference Postcard, you will see that Wanamassa appears a small pointed peninsula situated between Asbury Park and the west end of Interlaken. It breaks Deal Lake's first branch into two small tributaries. These narrow, three-sheltered, channels go under Wickapecko Dive, which is the main road through Wanamassa (The local Indians used to employ these tributaries are canoe-highways out to the beach.)

The north tributary (of Deal Lake's south branch) divides the town from Interlaken and, at Wickapecko Drive, from Ocean township (see image 3.6., below). The south tributary (5 / 10ths of a mile from the others) is the Asbury Park border here. The latter itself beaks into two little prongs as it goes under Wickapecko Drive, forming a tiny peninsular community that is still known by its development name, Colonial Terrace. The bridges that go over these tributaries are short and flat almost seamlessly blend in with the landscape.

3.6. The "end" (or "prong") of the north tributary of Deal Lake's first branch as seen from across Wickapecko Drive, looking west. There are three other such views from Wickapecko in Wanamassa as Deal Lake "tapers out." Actually, this north tributary itself "prongs" just before Wickapecko and forms a small new peninsula.

When I was a child, the ends of the tributaries fascinated me. Viewed from Wickapecko Drive, these extremities were thrilling and mysterious because I was never sure what was back there (and never thought of figuring it out - didn't want to). Maybe it was another world. Maybe the local Indians still resided in that region. Just like the orange sunset effect behind the proscenium in Asbury's Mayfair Theater, the western effects could linger behind the trees at the ends of Deal Lake. What magical possibilities existed!

On the south Wickapecko bank of the north tributary (just to the left of the above photo) is Wanamassa's "shopping district" or its "Main Street" (Wickapecko Drive).

4.6 Nice "hometown" stores on Wickapecko Drive, Wanamassa, with just the right touch of "weather" to them. The corner firehouse is in the foreground; the drugstore is in the background. The group of trees in the distance is where the north tributary goes under Wickapecko (as shown in Image 3.6.). A new firehouse now stands across the street from the old one and replaces an light blue house that served as a dress shop.

This section is little more than a block of stores that occupy one side of the road (the other side being a parking lot). A firehouse and a pharmacy are the two most enduring fixtures of this street. (Until recently, a tobacconist - Fred Petit's Colonial Shop - and a hardware store were part of the perennial lineup, both having been there since I was a child.) Garrity's red brick Exxon Station, just around the corner from the firehouse, on Sunset Avenue, has been in the same location for more than fifty years.

5.6. One of the famous pale yellow Wanamassa fire trucks in front of the new firehouse, which is directly across the street from the old one.

The area between the shopping block and the southern tributary is mostly residential. Colonial Terrace Golf Club, a charming nine-hole course, is on the north prong of the south branch's tributary, as this tributary splits in two. (There are two other golf courses, both within a mile of this one, which I will mention in a later chapter.)

6.6. The Colonial Terrace Golf Course.

Colonial Terrace is the first real course I played golf on (and the last, though I enjoyed it very much). My friend George Zuck of Rumson took me there and showed me the basics. It's a challenging, well-kept little course, with many trees and, obviously, water hazards provided by a weedy "prong" of Deal Lake.

By the way, it's about time I mentioned that Wickapecko (as in Wickapecko Drive) means Pond of Plenty. This is probably a reference to Deal Lake (which used to be called Great Pone).

Please click on "Next Pone" (I mean "Next Page") to see more of Wanamassa.



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