BELMAR, NJ — With the recent dedication of the Belmar Post Office to a local luminary who helped propel the nation into space exploration, the Belmar Historical Society has delved into its archives for artifacts highlighting the borough’s postal service history.
A tribute to the late Walter S. McAfee, a world-renown astro-physicist who lived in Lake Como, is included in the society’s latest exhibit at the Belmar Municipal Building, 601 Main Street.
On the cutting edge of satellite communications and missile guidance technology, McAfee first made history in 1946 at the Evans Signal Laboratory in Wall as part of Project Diana when he calculated the speed of the moon — a breakthrough achievement that heralded the beginning of space exploration.
In August, the U.S. Postal Service dedicated the post office building — a community landmark that has stood at the corner of 13th Avenue and Main Street for 82 years — in his honor.
The current display includes a variety of items from years gone by, including a postal registered return receipt from 1889 when the Belmar was briefly called Elcho and a photo of a plane taking off from the Belmar beach used on envelopes for the sector’s first authentic air mail, according to the BHS.
There is also a photo of the “Class of 1946-47” postal employees, and 1936 newspaper articles reporting the opening of the current building, which was bought by the federal government for $73,700, including land and equipment.
But before that, the post office served the public from five other locations throughout the borough, and another interesting tidbit: There have been 11 Belmar postmasters appointed by 12 presidents beginning in 1877 by Ulysses S. Grant — the current one being John Mutcher III.
An all-volunteer, nonprofit organization, BHS welcomes donations of Belmar memorabilia to add to its historical archives at its museum, located at 900 E Street in the annex of the Union Firehouse. The museum is open to the public every Monday from 2 to 4 p.m., every Thursday from 10 a.m. to noon, and the second Saturday of each month from 1 to 3 p.m., or by appointment.
In addition to offering museum tours, free history classes and conducting research to further its mission to save and preserve Belmar’s history, BHS invites the public to join its ranks, attend free Belmar history classes and learn to serve as a docent to give tours.
TAPinto Belmar/Lake Como is Belmar and Lake Como’s only free daily newspaper. Accredited by the New Jersey Press Association, it is the official electronic newspaper of both municipalities. As a locally owned news organization, TAPinto through its advertisers is able to publish online, objective news 24/7 at no charge. Sign up for its free daily e-News, and follow it on Facebook and Twitter.