The Bayman: A Life on Barnegat Bay

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9781593220198: The Bayman: A Life on Barnegat Bay
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A native son of Barnegat Bay shares an insider's chronicle of a culture that has all but disappeared. Merce Ridgway, bayman, musician, and storehouse of folklore and philosophy, opens our eyes to a beautiful, simple way of life barely imaginable to most Americans today. It is a story that celebrates the bay, the Jersey Shore, and the Pine Barrens from a man who traces his family's roots in New Jersey to the 17th century, and whose great-grandfather was first keeper of records of the Barnegat Life Saving Station. The Bayman shares, with all who will listen, a lifetime of wisdom, values, generosity, and truth -- all of it bounty from the bay.

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From the Inside Flap:

"A wonderful book about a vanishing world." -- The Trenton Times If anyone wants to understand what it is about this nearly vanished lifestyle that has created such a fiercely dedicated following, here it is, explained in a way that makes you feel the sun, the lap of the water, the cries of the shorebirds or the smell of freshly cut cedar... But readers don't have to be fans of pinelands and bay culture to enjoy Ridgway's almost musical text. Ridgway alternates from fond memories of days gone by to bitterness about the loss of a lifestyle, but mostly, we learn about a man and the impact that his environment has made on him. — Beach Haven Times An accurate, colorful account of the waterman's trade... a clear view of life in the pines and on the bay before the population boom started. — Asbury Park Press A fascinating, salty work about a nearly lost way of life. -- Wooden Boat Merce Ridgway's book is a type of love story, full of poignant remembrances of young love, mature respect and righteous indignation over the pollution and habitat loss of Barnegat Bay...Though he is now far from his beginnings, Ridgway's love of Barnegat Bay continues. It continues in his music and in this generous book. — The SandPaper

About the Author:

An authentic voice for the folklife of New Jersey's Pine Barrens and the traditions of the Jersey Shore, Maurice ''Merce'' Inman Ridgway, Jr. is part of a culture that has virtually disappeared. Born in the tiny Pine Barrens hamlet of Bamber, Merce's family roots stretch deep in the sugar sand of southern New Jersey. The family has the sea and pines in their blood going back to their arrival on these shores in 1679. Since that time, generations of Ridgways have made their living from the traditional seasonal occupations of the Pinelands and the sea.


Merce worked as a bayman catching clams, oysters, crabs, and fish from the vicinity of Barnegat Bay and in the Pine Barrens. Son of a musician celebrated by folklorist Dorthea Dix Lawrence, the author is well known as a songwriter and musician in his own right. In 1983, he represented New Jersey at the Smithsonian's Festival of American Folklife in Washington, DC. After an end to impromptu sessions in legendary Albert brothers cabin deep in the Pine Barrens, Merce produced the ''Sounds of the Jersey Pines,'' a weekly folk music stage which continues to this day in Waretown. This led to the establishment of the Pinelands Cultural Society in 1975; Merce was a founder and the first president.


Deeply concerned about the Shore environment, he was first president of the Baymen's Association for Environmental Protection; member of the first executive board of the Commercial Fisherman's Council; and the Coalition for Survival. Performing at the New Jersey State Folk Festival in New Brunswick in 1995, Merce was honored by Rutgers University for distinguished contributions to the traditional arts of New Jersey. Ocean County named October 14, 1995 ''Merce Ridgway Day'' to honor him for his work to preserve the region's traditional cultural heritage. He received the Hurley Conklin Award from the Barnegat Bay Decoy and Baymen's museum in 1996, honoring those who have ''lived their life in the Barnegat Bay tradition.''

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9780945582625: The Bayman: A Life on Barnegat Bay

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Publisher: Down the Shore Pub, 2000
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Book Description Down the Shore Publishing, United States, 2006. Paperback. Condition: New. Illustrated edition. Language: English . Brand New Book. Once, marine life ruled the bay waters of New Jersey. Those who gleaned the treasures of the bay did so with respect. But like the creatures that make the bay their home, the culture and folklore that made the life of the men who worked the bay a treasure in itself is fading away.Merce Ridgway — a lifelong bayman like his father, grandfather and great-grandfather before him — vividly and warmly recalls the vanishing traditions of living, working and raising a family in harmony with the bay in his book, The Bayman: A Life on Barnegat Bay, just released in a trade paper edition by Down The Shore Publishing.An authentic voice for a disappearing culture and endangered environment, Merce tells it like he lived it.Few traditionalists have the sense of time and place to realize their everyday actions are tomorrow’s history. Merce Ridgway stored the details of a bayman’s livelihood in his head and his heart until the time came to put truth to paper. The result is an insider’s chronicle of a culture that has all but disappeared from the Jersey Shore.Nowhere else has the bayman’s life been so accurately detailed, and no other account of a waterman’s trade includes such scope of folklore and family. In his quest that we come to know and love Barnegat Bay, The Bayman shares secrets that we could learn only from a lifetime of sitting on the docks, hoping to talk at the end of the day with these men whose experience runs deep. We learn by getting closer, by tracing the life of the scallop, by weathering a whipping northeaster, by understanding the fellow baymen’s unwritten "code of the bay." Merce immerses the reader in a time and a culture gone by in a way that only a good storyteller can. After each recollection, we’re left asking the writer: "Tell us one more." Philosophical, without pretensions, this account is a Foxfire-like scrapbook of Pinelands lore as much as it is a diary of a bayman’s view. As Merce leads us through the steps of building a garvey, the traditional Barnegat Bay work boat, he starts at the beginning — hearing the sound of a bear growling beyond the sawmill. As he describes the habits of the blue-claw crab, he speculates on how they communicate. His wife, Arlene, adds rural recipes from the bay and Pine Barrens and a genealogy that traces her husband’s roots to English nobility. Singling out one relation, Merce credits his great-grandfather, Captain and first keeper of records of the Barnegat Life Saving Station, for the penchant to write it all down.Readers will find themselves in the Pinelands woods along with young Merce, smelling the cedar chips as they fly freshly cut from his father’s axe. They’ll laugh at the frightful notions of school that are typical of any five-year-old, then realize his wonder at seeing electric lights for the first time when he enters the classroom. They’ll hear his father, a folk musician celebrated by the Smithsonian Institution, warbling through the radio that is powered by a car battery. They’ll pull up a chair as the Pinelands Cultural Society is born of Saturday night singalongs in the Albert brothers’ woodland cabin. They’ll cheer as Merce tells the Shellfish Council what he knows and what he’s seen.But more than just a storyteller, Merce is an advocate for protecting the endangered environment and culture that humbly sets apart this pristine region of an otherwise suburbanized and industrialized state. Merce’s tales of politics, greed, and over-harvesting send out a strong warning that when the treasures of nature are taken for granted, they disappear.The author laments not just the loss of an authentic American folk culture, but the loss of the environment and natural resources the culture survived on. His experiences divulge some reasons for that. When a living came from the bay one clam at a time, or from each pull of 16-foot oyster tongs, baymen knew the water intimately and recognized when outside forces were doing wrong. Today, preservati. Seller Inventory # AAS9781593220198

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Book Description Down the Shore Publishing, United States, 2006. Paperback. Condition: New. Illustrated edition. Language: English . Brand New Book. Once, marine life ruled the bay waters of New Jersey. Those who gleaned the treasures of the bay did so with respect. But like the creatures that make the bay their home, the culture and folklore that made the life of the men who worked the bay a treasure in itself is fading away.Merce Ridgway — a lifelong bayman like his father, grandfather and great-grandfather before him — vividly and warmly recalls the vanishing traditions of living, working and raising a family in harmony with the bay in his book, The Bayman: A Life on Barnegat Bay, just released in a trade paper edition by Down The Shore Publishing.An authentic voice for a disappearing culture and endangered environment, Merce tells it like he lived it.Few traditionalists have the sense of time and place to realize their everyday actions are tomorrow’s history. Merce Ridgway stored the details of a bayman’s livelihood in his head and his heart until the time came to put truth to paper. The result is an insider’s chronicle of a culture that has all but disappeared from the Jersey Shore.Nowhere else has the bayman’s life been so accurately detailed, and no other account of a waterman’s trade includes such scope of folklore and family. In his quest that we come to know and love Barnegat Bay, The Bayman shares secrets that we could learn only from a lifetime of sitting on the docks, hoping to talk at the end of the day with these men whose experience runs deep. We learn by getting closer, by tracing the life of the scallop, by weathering a whipping northeaster, by understanding the fellow baymen’s unwritten "code of the bay." Merce immerses the reader in a time and a culture gone by in a way that only a good storyteller can. After each recollection, we’re left asking the writer: "Tell us one more." Philosophical, without pretensions, this account is a Foxfire-like scrapbook of Pinelands lore as much as it is a diary of a bayman’s view. As Merce leads us through the steps of building a garvey, the traditional Barnegat Bay work boat, he starts at the beginning — hearing the sound of a bear growling beyond the sawmill. As he describes the habits of the blue-claw crab, he speculates on how they communicate. His wife, Arlene, adds rural recipes from the bay and Pine Barrens and a genealogy that traces her husband’s roots to English nobility. Singling out one relation, Merce credits his great-grandfather, Captain and first keeper of records of the Barnegat Life Saving Station, for the penchant to write it all down.Readers will find themselves in the Pinelands woods along with young Merce, smelling the cedar chips as they fly freshly cut from his father’s axe. They’ll laugh at the frightful notions of school that are typical of any five-year-old, then realize his wonder at seeing electric lights for the first time when he enters the classroom. They’ll hear his father, a folk musician celebrated by the Smithsonian Institution, warbling through the radio that is powered by a car battery. They’ll pull up a chair as the Pinelands Cultural Society is born of Saturday night singalongs in the Albert brothers’ woodland cabin. They’ll cheer as Merce tells the Shellfish Council what he knows and what he’s seen.But more than just a storyteller, Merce is an advocate for protecting the endangered environment and culture that humbly sets apart this pristine region of an otherwise suburbanized and industrialized state. Merce’s tales of politics, greed, and over-harvesting send out a strong warning that when the treasures of nature are taken for granted, they disappear.The author laments not just the loss of an authentic American folk culture, but the loss of the environment and natural resources the culture survived on. His experiences divulge some reasons for that. When a living came from the bay one clam at a time, or from each pull of 16-foot oyster tongs, baymen knew the water intimately and recognized when outside forces were doing wrong. Today, preservati. Seller Inventory # AAS9781593220198

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