Family History in Strathmere
The photos below show the building right after it was built, before the pool was added. There are views from the street and the bay.
In the late 50's they bought the McCullough property on the highway and remodeled it as another annex to the motel. They referred to it as the Highway House, now it is called the Strathmere Motel.
The photos above show the McCullough house right after the Panuntos bought it. There was a sign for the motel on the side of the building along Commonwealth. Betty's sister Anna rented the front porch on the Sherman side of the building before it was remodeled. She ran a candy & ice cream store in the porch for several Summers. She later opened a similar store in Philadelphia. The photo below shows Betty next to the corner of the house. The 2nd photo shows the ground that became a parking lot, and where the sign for the Strathmere Motel stands today. The third photo shows a view of the porch that was for Anna's candy shop, out front are Ronald & Loretta Panunto on the grass, unsure of the adults
Below shows the building right after it was remodeled.
Two color photos show the pink exterior and the bright colored adirondack chairs in the back yard.
After the storm of 1962, they purchased the lot and the three homes next to the Bayview motel that was owned by Mrs. Fox. They filled the property in, bulkheaded it and converted it into a parking lot for the Bayview Motel. They also built a marina where they put boats into the water and sold gas.
Charlie Shaffer, who used to run the Starfish party boat out of Florrie Andress's dock when the inlet was still open, also worked as Mr. Panunto's carpenter. Charlie helped Jim with the building during the winter months when no one came down to fish.
Jim and Betty next bought about 40 acres of land on Whale Creek in Whale Beach with the intent of building a housing development, but since there was no public water in Whale Beach, he purchased the Corson's Inlet Water Company with the intent to run water lines from Strathmere to Whale Beach to serve his development. He installed new water pumps and controls at "the Water Company" and began filing in the Whale Beach property and built a garage there just off the highway. However, at this time the State of New Jersey passed an environmental protection policy that prohibited further development of wetlands so the project had to be abandoned.
Jim and Betty's kids, Ronald, Loretta, and Irene grew up, had families of their own and were no longer in a position to help keep the Strathmere businesses running so Jim and Betty started selling them off. First they sold the Water Company, then the propoerty in Whale Beach, then the Highway House, then the Bay House, and finally the motel on the bay. It was the first that they built and the last to be sold off. Jim Panunto died in Strathmere, and his wife and oldest daughter, Irene, now live offshore in Mays Landing. Irene sold her Strathmere house, and Jim's brother Mike passed away and his wife sold their Strathmere house that Jim had built for him.
So the only remaining Panunto in Strathmere is Jim and Betty's youngest daughter Loretta who still summers in the house that dad built for her back in the mid 60's. Ronald Panunto met his wife of 40 years, Fran, in Strathmere. Her grandmother, Mrs. Rebstock, used to rent one of the houses from Mrs. Fox right next to the motel. She was Loretta's best friend. Strathmere holds a lot of good memories for the Panunto family.
Above - Irene & Ronald Panunto playing on the beach with a friend, around 1947.
Some houses on the end of Tecumseh can be seen in the background.
Below shows Loretta and Ronald out on the beach. In the first 2 photos they are playing on what they use to call 'The Indian Rocks' They were the remnants of a house that was destroyed in the hurricane of 1944. The beachfront house was built in the early 1900's by Gilbert Smith. The exterior walls of the house were all concrete with tile details. The kids are on the outside wall that featured a large tile design of an indian in profile. The ruins were visable for many years after the storm.
Photos were donated to the site by Loretta Panunto. Family history provided by Ronald Panunto.
All photos Copyright © The Panunto Family, Do not copy or reproduce.