My husband Eddie and I were living in Old Bridge NJ for many years, and although we enjoyed our time together there, there was no place like Cape May that made us feel like we were home.
For several years we visited Cape May every May, for our birthdays, and every September for our Anniversary. And sometimes we would treat ourselves to Christmas in Cape May.
From the first time we visited, we had the feeling we belonged here. Almost as if we had lived her in another life. And who knows? Maybe we did. It was magical for a girl from Brooklyn and a boy from the Bronx. And every time our vacation ended, we were extremely sad and
counted how many days before we returned.
People would ask us why we kept returning there. And what was there to do? The answer was very simple……we felt at home. From the time we were in the car on our way, our stress began to fade away and it felt like our blood pressure lowered. We would get giggly when we saw the sign that says Welcome to Cape May. And when we were on Lafayette Street on our way to our Bed and Breakfast, we used to say, “Don’t bother me now – I’m on Lafayette Street”. Silly but it made us happy.
We dreamed of one day living in Cape May but never thought it would happen. We had responsibilities and did not think we could afford a home here. After our parents had passed and on our next visit to Cape May in September, we were vacationing at a B&B and the Innkeeper was also a Realtor. He mentioned North Cape May to us. We knew nothing of that area since we rarely left Cape May island. All we ever wanted to do was walk around town, shop on the Washington Street Mall, eat at all the wonderful restaurants that we loved such as Tisha’s, The Blue Pig, Peter Shields Inn, Union Park Restaurant at the Macomber Hotel and so many others. We loved to sit on the front porch in our rocking chairs and have afternoon tea-time and after dinner we loved to watch the sunset at The Cove or at Sunset Beach. It was heaven!
We drove around North Cape May and realized it was a lovely community, the homes were less expensive and the taxes were lower, and it was only about 7 minutes to town. We saw an adorable ranch for sale in North Cape May. It had a Gazebo, a screened-in porch, a built-in
pool, and a pool house. And we loved the circular driveway. It was in a lovely hidden neighborhood with five dead-end streets. The only people that visited were homeowners, guests, or delivery people. It needed a lot of work, but I could envision what it could be. So, we bought it!
That was 11 years ago. We moved to North Cape May and did not know a soul but given how this community is so welcoming it didn’t take long for us to have many friendships. I joined an organization called Family Promise of Cape May County. We help families with children who
become homeless, and we put them up and support them for 3 to 4 months until they get back on their feet and can afford to go out on their own. It is such a wonderful organization and we have made life-long friends through Family Promise. After volunteering there for a few
years I was asked to join the Board of Directors and I am currently the Board President.
My husband, Eddie, got a job at the DMV that is walking distance from our home. I am an actor, so I joined the Cape May Stage as an Usher so I could see every show. It is an Equity Theater and the talent is extraordinary. I not only ushered there but I also was honored to
perform there several years ago in a play called Mistakes Were Made, alongside a wonderful actor, Michael Basile.
I am also a Children’s Author and I was happy to get my books in the Cape Atlantic Book Company on the Washington Street Mall. After living here a couple of years I began to work in the bookstore. It thrills me when my books are purchased while I am there and I tell the buyer I am the Author. They get extremely excited and I ask if they would like to personalize the book and autograph it for the children they are buying it for. This makes them very happy and warms my heart. Many people, both local and visitors, have bought all my books and have
been so supportive, and tell me how much the children love them. As I am writing this, I am working on my fifth book which is being illustrated presently.
Our dream has come true and since home is where the heart is, our hearts are in Cape May. And we LOVE it!
Mary Ann Castagnetta has been a resident of New Jersey for over 35 years after experiencing a wonderful childhood in Brooklyn, New York. She had always wanted to put Bubble Gum Dreams in book form after telling this story to her son John, who is the character in the book. However, life got in the way and she has been busy performing in Community Theater for over 30 years. She performed in many Musical and Non-Musical Productions with her favorites being Nunsense and Steel Magnolias. She was also incredibly happy to make an appearance on the Gene Simmons Reality TV Show, Family Jewels and was thrilled to spend 3 days with him.
After writing Bubble Gum Dreams, children asked her to author another book since they loved the first book so much. She then wrote Elephant Soup?, Rosie Ravioli's Cape May Adventure (where all of the 96 people and 4 dogs are actually real people) and finally her latest book, Haunted Vacation, and is working on a fifth book currently.