The Dowager’s Diary: Week One Hundred and Seventy-Two

June 9-16, 1918

Kate Roosevelt’s escapades encompassed trips back and forth from New York City to the Jersey Shore, sometimes traveling by rail, motor as she referred to her “old Buick Four” Touring Car and steamer. From a pier in New York City, day-trippers or weekend vacationers could board a steamship headed for a section of Long Branch, New Jersey known as Pleasure Bay. On June 9, 1918, Kate wrote, “To supper at Pleasure Bay in Long Branch.”

The City Beyond the Bluff by Sharon Hazard

The book, The City Beyond the Bluff, the Life and Times of Long Branch, that I researched and wrote described the development of this spot located along the Shrewsbury River. “Due to the surge in accessible transportation, an entire section of Long Branch was developed. It was known as Pleasure Bay. Thomas Gedney Patten, Sr., a summer resident of Long Branch and a member of the New York Stock Exchange, combined the services of his Patten Steamship Line and the Atlantic Coast Railroad to transport passengers from New York to the Jersey Shore. For those who wanted to vacation for more than a day, he built the Riverside Hotel and for day-trippers, the adjacent Riverside Park sitting along the banks of the river that fed into the Atlantic Ocean.”

Steamship, Thomas Patten

The grounds were called Pleasure Bay and offered all sorts of entertainment. A fish pond; games of chance; balloon ascensions; shooting galleries and a floating stage were some of the attractions, all designed to lure visitors who used Patten’s steamships to come down for a day of fun and cool breezes. Pleasure Bay became a popular destination for those who couldn’t afford the price of a hotel along the nearby beach and boardwalk but had enough money to enjoy a day’s outing.

Pleasure Bay’s Park

The floating stage was big draw.  Gilbert and Sullivan light operas and musical comedies were performed to the delight of the audience gathered on the shore or watching from the water. Vaudevillian Charlotte Greenwood broke into show business on this stage. Many years later, she recalled, “People in rowboats smacked up against the stage all through our act. We were on right after Fink’s Mules.”

Floating Stage at Pleasure Bay

The meal that Kate Roosevelt was served while dining at Pleasure Bay most likely was a clambake. Green corn, clams, potatoes and chickens were roasted together under a bed of seaweed and served on long wooden tables, family style.

Clambake Served Family Style

A round trip ticket on one of Patten’s steamships was fifty cents, a cheap fare for a day’s fun.  Kate Roosevelt might have been one of the last passengers to sail to the shores of the Shrewsbury on the line. The company went bankrupt in 1918.

Sharon Hazard’s Dowager’s Diary appears on Thursday.

On WAT-CAST, listen to Sharon talk about the series.

Photo One:
Steamship Landing at Pleasure Bay, Long Branch, New Jersey
Edward Thomas Collection<

Photo Two:
City Beyond the Bluffs by Sharon Hazard
By Winslow Homer, painted in Long Branch, New Jersey
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston<

Photo Three:
Steamship, Thomas Patten
Edward Thomas Collection

Photo Four:
Pleasure Bay’s Park
author collection

Photo Five:
Floating Stage at Pleasure Bay
author collection

Photo Six:
Clambake Served Family Style
Library of Congress