Monday, January 28, 2008

Down the Shore with...Mary Beth Temple

Mary Beth Temple is a woman of many talents. This freelance writer has written about everything from Lighthouses to knitting -- literally. She's author of Touring New Jersey's Lighthouses and The Secret Language of Knitters.

Mary Beth also spent a lot of time at the South Jersey Shore and *hopefully* will be signing copies of her book along with me at Cape May's Harbor Fest!

1. What do you consider 'your' shore town and why?
Definitely Cape May. Childhood vacations were spent in Atlantic City (pre-casinos), Long Beach Island, or Sea Isle City, but Cape May was the town I gravitated to as an adult planning my own summer stays. I love the architecture and the history, and the air of relaxation. When I go down the shore I want to relax and enjoy the ocean, not run around to rides and clubs - or listen to other people run around to rides and clubs. Cape May is quiet, which is just what I want.

2. A lot of people go to the shore just to eat -- what's your favorite foodie memory?
My very oldest memory of beach food was a restaurant in Atlantic City that sadly is no more. I can't even remember what it was called, but it was on one of the smaller piers, and served breakfast in a hot frying pan brought right to the table. When I was small I thought this was the coolest thing in the whole world, and the fact that you could get pork roll for breakfast made it even cooler. Now I spend my time on the search for the perfect crab cake. Even if I don't find it, I have a hell of a good time looking!

3. Where did the lighthouse book idea come from?
My sister Patricia Wylupek is both a talented photographer and a lighthouse junkie, so we decided to do Touring New Jersey's Lighthouses together with her photos and my words. The New Jersey Lighthouse Society hosts an annual weekend event in which all eleven standing lighthouses are open to the public at the same time, and visitors are encouraged to try to see all eleven over the course of the two days. We thought it would be great fun to have a book that not only had great photos, but included a bit of the history of each of the lights on the tour.

4. Which one is your favorite?
Is it cheesy to say that I love them all? Not only how they look but the fact that each one offers a glimpse into the social history of the times they were in service. Architecturally I love the Twin Lights of Navesink, located in Highlands, NJ. My first memory of climbing up the spiral lighthouse steps was "Old Barney" - Barnegat Lighthouse. And of course I love the the beauty of the Cape May lighthouse and visit it every summer.

5. What's one thing about NJ's lighthouses that people might not realize?
I think it is easy to forget what a formidable adversary Mother Nature can be - the lighthouses remind us that we enjoy the sea at her discretion.

My biggest surprise was the story of Tucker's Island, which I learned about while visiting the Tuckerton Seaport to see their lighthouse replica. The fact that there was a whole island that went from a small homestead in the 18th century to a popular resort in the 19th century, only to be swept completely away in the 1920s - well, I had never heard the story before and I found it fascinating. There are even photographs on display at the Seaport of the original lighthouse crumbling into the sea.

6. How did you get from lighthouses to knitting?
My sister may be addicted to lighthouses - I am addicted to knitting and crocheting. I am never without a project or ten going on, so what better topic to write about than the one I love? The Secret Language of Knitters is a humorous knitting dictionary about the terms and acronyms we knitters use in groups and online.

7. Any good knitting shops we should know about?
When going on vacation, I tend to spend more time packing my needlework projects than my clothes, but I can't resist dropping by Fiber Arts Studio in Cape May to see what's new.

8. What's next?
The next two books are The Log Homeowner's Handbook (spring '09, Storey Publishing) in which I tackle one of the other subjects that interests me - contemporary log home construction. Then back to needlework with Hooked for Life: Adventures of a Crochet Zealot, due out from Andrews McMeel, also in the spring of 2009. I will have a very busy rest of this year - can't wait until August to go down the shore!

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