If you ever want to know more about Ocean County History: Tim Hart is your go-to guy.
The Manahawkin resident is the official appointed Ocean County Historian and he is the Ocean County Cultural Heritage Director. Other titles include Deputy Director at the Tuckerton Seaport and board member for the Southern Ocean County Chamber of Commerce. With all of these local organizations, Tim Hart is certainly in the know and a great example of a Mover & Shaker.
Here is our interview with him:
Ocean Happening: What motivates you every morning?
Tim Hart: Engaging people about their sense of place and how today fits into our understanding of the past and our aspirations for the future. I love to hear stories of people finding their place, fitting in and connecting to others in a particular environment and how that environment both limits choices and provides opportunities.
OH: What inspires you the most and why?
TH: People struggling to survive and thrive with joy and sharing under difficult challenges. We or our ancestors have all been strangers in a strange land at some point. We will ultimately be judged by not what we are born with but what we make of our lives. My parents and my family are my greatest inspiration.
OH: As a local historian, what is your favorite local historical topic?
TH: Any topic that challenges our understanding of our surroundings. The US Life Saving Service as a creation of as a solution to the problem of local ship wrecks and devastation on our Ocean County coast. The unique story of the American Revolution as it plays out against the backdrop of our unique environment. Fishing and agriculture each have unique qualities of Ocean County that compare with the best of any place that I know of in this world. History is really not about the past. History is the context of the present and the building materials of our future.
OH: Which of your achievements are you most proud of?
TH: Education, engaging people about their sense of place & time and getting them to see that local stories are the playing out national issues in real people’s lives on a local level. I love to take students on tours through places they know on a daily basis and show them what is hidden in plain sight. I am proud to have taken part in saving buildings such the Manahawkin Train Station, the Old Baptist Church, Cavalry cottage and Cedar Bridge Tavern. I like to think that the schools in Stafford Township, All Saints Regional Catholic School and Southern Regional are better for my participation. I have never actually done anything on my own. But sometimes people like John C. Bartlett, Jr., Carl Block or George Czurlanis have allowed me to be a part of a larger project such as helping to preserve the monument at the Affair at Egg Harbor in Little Egg harbor. So, I am most proud of those who have allowed me to help, like gardeners in the field.
OH: What has been the biggest challenge that you have overcome?
TH: Shyness about meeting new people.
OH: What is the biggest accomplishment that you would like to achieve over the next 5 years?
TH: Making Ocean County historic resources available on line.
OH: How do you think your friends and co-workers would describe you?
TH: Passionate champion for collaboration between those who create arts and interpret history.
OH: What is your favorite place to go in Ocean County?
TH: Unique environment of Barnegat Bay and Pinelands. Places like Cedar Bridge Tavern or Barnegat Branch Trail that you can live in today and the past at the same time hoping for the future. Some places like the pinelands are timeless and some like standing a Huddy Park or Hanger 1 in Lakehurst are filled with historical context such as the explosion of the Hindenburg or the battle for the block house.
OH: If you could go back in time and talk to yourself ten years ago, what advice would you give?
TH: Do not wait to capture the stories of those you meet before we lose them. People often let the perfect get in the way of the good. Better to save some memories and photos than to lose them all.