The two-story dwelling at 21 4th Avenue was not just a house to Joseph and Ellin Ward, their 11 children and 24 grandchildren. It was their life. But it was no match for Superstorm Sandy.
TOMS RIVER, N.J. — The two-story dwelling at 21 4th Ave. was not just a house to Joseph and Ellin Ward, their 11 children and 24 grandchildren.
It was an escape from the bustle of daily life in northern New Jersey, a vault for family relics, a matchmaking service and, for 50 years, witness to the big and small moments in the lives of the Wards.
The house that was a hub for the Ward children and their friends, that held up as more than 20 people shared two bathrooms and five bedrooms every summer for five decades and produced upward of 45 meals a day in the tiny kitchen, was no match for Superstorm Sandy.
The storm enveloped the shores of Normandy Beach with 20-foot waves and 80-mph wind gusts that drove oceanfront homes across the street into the Ward house, knocking it off its foundation. The front of the structure collapsed sideways, like a listing boat, while other parts were compacted or buried under other houses and mounds of sand.
For the Ward family, the loss of the ranch-style memory-maker was more than just the loss of brick and mortar. It was the loss of a lifestyle that hearkened to the Jersey Shore of yesteryear. Here, generations of the same families spent every summer in the same Shore town, and the children played every day in the same plot of sand by the water and visited the same ice cream shop every night. It was the loss of family history and memories that felt as though they were a part of the very structure.
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