Posted: Wednesday, September 12, 2018 12:01 pm
By KRISTEN KELLEHER/Sentinel staff | 0 comments
OCEAN CITY – The children of the late Edna Streaker May, known to many as the South End Tale Spinner for her storytelling abilities, continued a tradition their mother carried on for more than 30 years.
The family displayed thousands of pictures of Ocean City from the early 1900s on in a local church in late August.
Streaker May, who moved to Ocean City as a child in 1925 and stayed there for the majority of her life, had an affinity for Ocean City’s past. In some ways, Streaker May herself was part of Ocean City history.
When she was young, her family lived in a house her father built on 58th Street in the summer but would spend the winter in downtown Ocean City because her father did not drive.
Streaker May lived in the home on 58th Street for most of her life.
Don May said his grandfather bought the lot the house was built on for $600.
For decades, Streaker May shared her passion for local history by displaying her extensive collection of photographs annually at Union Chapel By The Sea, on 55th Street in Ocean City’s south end.
In previous years, Streaker May would schedule speakers about Ocean City’s history and current events to accompany the displays.
Streaker May would reserve one night of the display to show the approximately 500 additional slides she had. She organized her last display in 2015.
Streaker May died in September 2016 at age 90, according to her obituary. She graduated from Ocean City High School in 1944, was a member of Union Chapel By The Sea, served in the nursery at the Ocean City Presbyterian Church for more than 25 years and was the secretary for the Ocean City Historical Museum. She was married and had six children.
Don May said he and his sisters wanted to continue the tradition.
“It was my mom’s passion to let people know the history of Ocean City,” said Shelly May, one of the Tale Spinner’s daughters.
Her mother knew the history of Ocean City.
Shelly May, of Somers Point, said that a person could pick up any picture and her mother would have a story about it.
Her collection of pictures date from the early 1900s to within the last five years. Most of these pictures, according to Don May, were given to Streaker May by local families and individuals.
Some of the pictures were taken by Streaker May herself.
“She would still have us take her around (Ocean City), and she’d say, take a picture of that for me, and we would,” Don May said.
He said that she would take many pictures of the construction of a new home in the area or the destruction of an old one.
One particularly interesting picture, according to Don May, is an aerial picture of portions of Strathmere and the southern end of Ocean City.
The picture, which was taken between the late 1950s and early 1960s, includes an area that no longer exists.
Don May said that a 1962 nor’easter wiped out some of the area and portions of it became part of Corson’s Inlet State Park.
Other pictures show trains running through the 51st Street area, ice frozen off of the Ocean City Boardwalk in 1915, a disabled plane on the beach in 1986, pictures of flooding during Superstorm Sandy in 2012, and an article about bootlegging in Ocean City and southern New Jersey during prohibition, among many items.
Fran Dunbar, of Rochester, N.Y., is part of Streaker May’s extended family and came to the display while in town for the Lake family reunion. Four Methodist ministers, Ezra Lake, S. Wesley Lake, James Lake, and William Burrell, bought what is now Ocean City to create a Christian resort in 1879.
Dunbar brought six of her grandchildren with her to the display.
“We had to come check it out,” she said. “She has some phenomenal pictures. To me, it’s very awesome to look at all of these pictures from history and see how much Ocean City has changed and the storms it’s weathered and it just keeps coming back.”