Monday, July 13, 2015

Prologue - Episode 2 The Murder of Harry Anglemeyer

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xPrologue - The Murder of Harry Anglemeyer 

There's a statue just outside the front door of the National Archives building in Washington DC called “Justice” and inscribed with the words “What is Past is Prologue.”

It's often said to mean that we are doomed to repeat history if we fail to learn it's lessons, or as Peter Pan said, “This has all happened before and it will happen again." But actually it comes from the Bard William Shakespeare's “Tempest.,” a play about a shipwreck, said to be based on the true life adventures of Captain Somers, whose ship ran aground in Bermuda in a storm.

Captain Somers, the admiral of the Jamestown Colony fleet, is said to be related to Quaker John Somers, who came from White Ladies, England and founded Somers Point, the quaint mainland bay side community across the bay from Ocean City. In fact, Ocean City was once John Somers' cow pen and was called Cowpen Island.

“The past is prologue” line from the “Tempest” comes at a time where they are discussing a murder, and actually refers to how the past gives reason, meaning and motive to what is about to happen.

Antonio says: “We all were sea-swallow'd, though some cast again, and by that destiny to perform an act whereof what's past is prologue, what to come in your and my discharge.”

Antonio is rationalizing that the murder is an act of fate because of all that led up to that moment, so the past has set the stage for the next act – murder.

And so it was the murder of Harry Anglemeyer that served as the Prologue to the Summer of '65, as it occurred on the previous Labor Day, 1964, the final day of the summer when the tourists and shoebees had one last fling before packing it in to go back to school or work and the real world. That was Harry' Anglemeyer's last day on this earth as he made his rendezvous with destiny at the Dunes.

Harry was a young and successful boardwalk merchant who owned a chain of Copper Kettle fudge shops on the Ocean City, Sea Isle City, Wildwood and Atlantic City boardwalks. A suit and tie member of most of the local civic organizations, Harry made waves for his opposition to Ocean City's strict blue laws that prevented many businesses from opening on Sundays.

While the ban on the sale of liquor was a key element in keeping Ocean City “America's Greatest Family Resort,” Anglemeyer thought that the ban on retail business on Sundays was bad for the local economy, and there was mounting support for Antlemeyer's campaign to do away with the Sunday blue laws.

Although he had a girlfriend, Harry flouted some homosexual tendencies, which annoyed some of his more reserved and conservative civic club associates, so after a few anonymous complaints, on a day when the Mayor was out of town, the head of Public Safety – D. Allen Stretch ordered a loyal policeman “to get the goods on Anglemeyer,” which resulted in morals charges.

But the plan backfired when the Cape May County prosecutor indicted the cop too, since he admitted that he was party to the immoral act that was alleged.

Anglemeyer was acquitted at the first of two trials, and he insisted the second trail proceed although they offered to drop the charges, he wanted to vindicate himself.

And so it was on Labor Day 1964 when Harry did what he did almost every night – he went bar hopping in Somers Point, joining the line of cars as they trickled over the causeway, occasionally stopping for awhile as the two bridges opened for boats.

Harry's first stop in Somers Point was just off the circle at Steels Ship Bar on Bay Avenue, where the patrons were an older, quieter crowd than the young college kids who flocked to the rock and roll bars – Tony Marts next door and Bay Shores across the street.

Harry bought drinks for a couple of young girls he knew who used to work for him. He told them he was bar hopping around the Point and asked them to join him, but they declined as he also mentioned he had to meet someone at the Dunes later on, and didn't seem to enthusiastic about that meeting.

From Steels Harry stopped at the Anchorage Tavern, where he greated Andrew, the young 21 year old owner who had just taken over the place from his late father. Harry then went up the street to Gregorys where he told the bartender Charles Carney to give him a short one – placing his thumb and forefinger a half inch apart as a sign to let up on the liquor in his drink. Harry had one short one at each of the places he stopped, which also included the Polynesian joint at Stinky Harbor, what is now Carolines, and O'Byrnes, which later became Mothers, an after hours joint that Andrew also owned. Harry then went a few miles down the road to the Dunes, which was so crowded the parking lot was full and cars were parked along both sides of the road.

Because the music in Somers Point bars ended at two in the morning, places like O'Byrnes, just on the other side of the creek, and the Dunes on Longport Boulevard, were popular after hour joints. Others were Jack's Grove, which became the Attic and Boatyard, and is now the Elks, and Brownies in Bargaintown. They were all located in Egg Harbor Township, which didn't yet have a police department so there was little fear of the law at these places. 
The Dunes was purchased by the N. J. Dept. of Fish, Game and Wildlife and is now a nature preserve.
From one wildlife to another. 

The Dunes was owned by John McLain, who also owned the historic General Wayne Tavern outside Philly, and John McCann, a prohibition era beer Barron from North Philly. They also jointly owned Bay Shores and built the Dunes because Bay Shores had to shut down at 2am and they needed a place for their customers who wanted to keep the party going.

The Dunes was open all night and most of the day, but the bands didn't begin until midnight, and played until the late hours of the morning, so it was night time when you went in, and since there were no windows, it was quite a jolt to walk out into the glare of the sun.

Their T-shirts read “Bay Shores” on the front and rising sun on the back with the inscription: “Dunes 'Till Dawn.”

Sitting on a bar stool at the front door of the Dunes, young John McCann, Jr., the son of one of the owners, took a $2 cover from everybody going in, and had a wad of cash in his left hand as he shook Harry's hand with the other and let him in without paying the cover. McCann would later be elected to city council and serve as a Republican mayor of Somers Point and like his father the bootlegger, young McCann would be arrested for importing tons of cocaine and die in prison. But in the summer of '65 he was the kid who took the money at the door of the Dunes.

Harry and McCann exchanged a few words about the success of the summer season, and once inside Harry walked past the bars and the band on the stage and went up a flight of stairs to the private Sand Piper Club, which was for members only.

While they often hung from the rafters and danced on the bar downstairs, you could barely hear and feel the hum and vibes of the music as the Sand Piper Club was pretty quiet, and good for conversation. But when Harry arrived there were only a few patrons at the small bar and sitting around the tables. Harry had his usual, a short one, and then sat there and waited. He told the bartender he was waiting for someone, but didn't say who, and after awhile, before the sun came up, Harry left the Sand Piper Club to meet his rendezevous with destiny alone.

From there we know from a teenage couple who were making out in a parked car, that Harry had an argument with another man in a suit and tie, and the other guy punched Harry once and he went down, hitting his head hard on a concrete abundment. The other guy then just walked off.

According to the young couple, three young men, one in an Ocean City high school football jersey, picked up Harry and dragged him a few feet and put him in the driver's seat of a parked car. They then walked away while the young couple went back to making out.

Harry was still alive at that point, and if the three “Good Samaritans” as they were called, or the young couple had called an ambulance or drove him to the hospital, Harry would have lived and maybe would still be alive today.

So it doesn't appear that the guy who hit Harry actually wanted to kill him, but that was the result, and it was still murder.

By the time the sun came up, Harry was dead and someone had killed him, a murder – some would say a political assassination that would remain unsolved, as justice would never be served, and as those who figured it out, for good reasons.

Harry died before the bikers came to town, so he wasn't around the following summer when things got crazy, but his murder would hang like a dark cloud over the island community of Ocean City, especially during the Summer of '65, when Harry's spirit could be felt during the on going proceedings – and in some quarters, Harry's ghost still lingers.

Harry Anglemeyer's murder served as a prologue to the Summer of '65, giving it meaning, and provides a motive for the powers that be to continue their treachery and reactionary policies that would result in the man made catastrophe that was now coming, a train wreck that couldn't be stopped.

As a Shakespearean play if it wasn't so tragic it would be considered a comedy, though in the end, Harry was the only mortal fatality, and for the survivors it became a comic farce.

ON DECK – EPISODE 3 – The Beach and Boardwalk – As It Was in the Summer of '65

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