Many tales of shipwreck and disaster along our shore have we heard from the lips of father or grandfather , of the days when only sailing craft handled our coast-wise trade. The “lea-shore” in time of storm was the terror of the old-time sailor, but in these days of steam navigation, when the vessel is in no way dependent upon “searoom,” the sailing of the sea has become much less dangerous, and wrecks during these later year have been few and far between.
Then too, before the year 1872, there was no established live-saving service, the efficiency of which has since so guarded our coast that disaster has been very largely averted.
Then each villager was a volunteer life-saver, for in the days before the summer resident had discovered our sea-shore, nearly every inhabitant of our little village had been born within the sound of the ocean’s roll.
Far removed from the City and all its distractions, without even a railroad connection, the happenings along the beach—next to a wedding or a funeral—was about the only excitement our little town could furnish, and every eye and ear were keen to its summons.
Every garret held its spy-glass on a way-high handy beam, and every scuttle was a look-out frequently visited. If anything unusual was sighted along shore—a ship in peril or a whale—the family horn was blown, which signal the next neighbor passed on. In this way a rally was raised, and the beach seen peopled with volunteers ready for any emergency.
Well we remember the old pewter horn which, with his gun, hung high in grandfather’s kitchen, too high indeed for the meddling of small intruders.
We remember too, as a great favor, being allowed to have a try at blowing it, but as the horn was 4 feet long and its blow the equal of its size, it required more knack than our youthful propensities in that line could muster. At the sound of the “rally” every man left his plow or his trowel; his horn or his sermon as we do today at the alarm of the fire sire, and made for the beach.
With the passing of the old days and the elder people, we realize that so much which was fact to them is fast becoming tradition to us and seen to be lost in oblivion unless we, as a Colonial Society, shall perpetuate an interest in the things which belong to the earlier days.
The anchor of the Lykens Valley is in St. Andrew’s Dune Church yard, and in the church is a tablet inscribed to the men, who, 18 out of 20, gave their lives s the toll of the sea in that awful storm. The tablet bears also this inscription which those who watched the breakers that morning can and will appreciate:
--“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore will we not fear though the earth and the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea.”
Text courtesy Lizbeth Halsey White Files, Southampton Historical Museum Archives and Research Center