Fundraiser brings some history to the museum sidewalk

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A photo shows some of the bricks purchased in a fundraiser for the George F. Boyer Museum. Many of the bricks include messages that are also reminders of Wildwood history. 
A photo shows some of the bricks purchased in a fundraiser for the George F. Boyer Museum. Many of the bricks include messages that are also reminders of Wildwood history.

Wildwood---Pedestrians on the Pacific Avenue sidewalk of the George F. Boyer Museum will soon be able to walk on history and then step inside to learn more about it.

As the museum of the Wildwood Historical Society prepares to celebrate its 50th anniversary, it is sponsoring a fundraising campaign for the purchase of brick pavers that will contain messages and will be placed in front of its facility situated between Spencer and Spicer Avenues. Already 136 commitments amounting to $15,000 have been made and the goal is to reach $30,000 by the time the museum celebrates its anniversary at a party on June 15.

But while their goal is to raise funds for general improvements to the museum that once was a funeral parlor, the museum’s leaders are learning that their campaign is also enriching Wildwood history from the donors whose bricks and brief messages are triggering bigger stories of Wildwood’s days gone by.

“We started soliciting for brick pavers last spring and it turned out that so many of them weren’t just words, but had wonderful stories behind them,” said Anne Vinci, president of the historical society.

Typical of the memories of the past is the brick dedicated by Henry and Joan Haraschak, now of Wyomissing, Pa. whose brick says “Honeymoon 55 years.” What it doesn’t say is that they have spent their wedding anniversary in Wildwood every year since their marriage and will be back again on June 14, the day before the museum celebrates its 50th anniversary and holds its big annual post card show

“We raised three children and brought them there every summer until they were old enough to get there on their own,” recalled the father, who is now 81. His wife is 79.

They also bought another brick in honor of Joan Haraschak’s brother, Vince Van Groski, a drummer who played at the Hurricane Club for the “Frankie Brent Revue.”

An enthusiastic advocate of the brick project is Michael Priano, now of Louisville, Ky., whose father was in the Coast Guard when he discovered Wildwood and later brought his family there every summer. The brick has more than the usual salutation of this kind. It reads, “Thanks for all the memories dad and mom Happy 80 and 75th birthday in 2012. Love Chris Mike and Greg Priano.”

Then to add an even more artistic touch to it Michael Priano, a professional art director and designer, converted it into a pictorial montage with the brick and its words as the centerpiece and early life photos of the family surrounding it.

The mother was presented with the montage last year at her birthday party in Pittsburgh.

“It was an emotional time,” Priano realled. “My mother broke into tears.”

Susan Fox-Hirschman, who now lives in Annandale, Va. but was born in Wildwood and attended high school there, has purchased a brick honoring her father, who, along with her grandfather, was famous in Wildwood’s early history. The brick reads, “Oliver Fox Wildwood A Native Civic Leader Musician Haberdasher ‘I Buy My Sox at Olly Fox.’ Loved by All.” Olly was the son of E .Z. Fox, a native of Latvia who came to Wildwood and is credited with starting its park system with the help of his son.

Hirschman, who attended a high school reunion here last year, recalled that her father was also a musician who played with the Charlie Spivak big band and helped organize a band and establish a bandstand in Wildwood.

“My father really loved Wildwood,” she added.

The committed brick pavers, which are scheduled to be in place by the June 15 celebration, also include the names of seven former mayors or their families in the Wildwoods. The oldest belongs to Robert. J. Pierpont who was mayor from 1927 to1933. Next came William H. Bright who served in 1933 and was part of a family tribute that also included John, Oliver and Robert Bright, “early settlers of the Wildwoods;” Doris Bradway; B.C.Ingersoll Jr.; Anthony Catanoso of North Wildwood and his wife; Lewis Vinci of North Wildwood, and Victor DiSilvestro, father of Wildwood Mayor Victor DiSylvester.

The brick paver with possibly the biggest historical importance is in the name of George F. Boyer and his wife, Dorothy. Boyer is the historian who started the museum and wrote the book, “Wildwood, Middle of the Island.” The donation was made by their son, G. Bruce Boyer, and daughter, Kathy Maher.

Donations are still being accepted for the project. The cost of a 4-by-8-inch brick with inscription is $100. For an 8-by-8-inch brick with inscription the cost is $225. Call 523-0277 for reservation. orfqrthr of Wildwood mAYOR vICRTOR dI father ofg Wildwood Mayuor vICTOR DFiD

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