Alan Mays

Alan Mays

Posted on 03/24/2016


Photo taken on March 24, 2016


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Two Has-Beens, Asbury Park, New Jersey, 1934

Two Has-Beens, Asbury Park, New Jersey, 1934
A photo for the Vintage Photos Theme Park with a discussion of the flip side (what’s on the reverse of a photo).

Two Has-Beens, Asbury Park, New Jersey, 1934 (Back)

Handwritten description on the back of this photo: "Morro Castle, H.B. L. H. Miller, H.B. Two Has Been's. Asbury Park, 1934."

I purchased this photo after noticing how the young man, identified on the back as "L. H. Miller," was posing in front of what seems to be an almost ghostly ship. I didn't really understand what "Morro Castle" referred to, but I liked how the location--Asbury Park, New Jersey--and year--1934--were written on the back. When I checked Wikipedia later, however, I discovered that Morro Castle was the ship's name, and I found out how it ended up at Asbury Park in 1934.

As the Wikipedia article explains, "SS Morro Castle was an ocean liner of the 1930s that was built for the Ward Line for voyages between New York City and Havana, Cuba. The ship was named for the Morro Castle fortress that guards the entrance to Havana Bay. On the morning of September 8, 1934, en route from Havana to New York, the ship caught fire and burned, killing 137 passengers and crew members. The ship eventually beached herself near Asbury Park, New Jersey, and remained there for several months until she was towed off and scrapped [on March 14, 1935]."

The burning ship drifted until it was just yards away from the Convention Hall pier at Asbury Park, where it became a macabre tourist attraction. An article on the History Bandits site, Dark Tourism and the SS Morro Castle as a Visceral Seaside Attraction, provides further details about the disastrous fire and includes aerial photos that reveal how close the doomed ship came to colliding with the Convention Hall.

Given such a terrible tragedy, though, it's hard to imagine why L. H. Miller thought that he was such a "has-been" that he could compare himself to the Morro Castle. Or could it be that someone else wrote on the back of the photo, intending it as a tasteless joke to suggest that Miller was past his prime?

Whatever the case might be, the photo reminds us of the fate of those who died or were injured aboard the Morro Castle more than eighty years ago and leaves us wondering what happened to L. H. Miller.

red-eye, William Sutherland, Tractacus, Stig Baumeyer and 2 other people have particularly liked this photo


Comments
lisabee73
lisabee73
How interesting! One of those postcards where finding out more gives rise to even more questions.
2 years ago.
William Sutherland
William Sutherland
Terrific images!

Your beautiful capture is greatly admired

Historical & Architectural Gems
2 years ago.
wintorbos
wintorbos
I think people just took a more lighthearted view of tragedy back then -- disastrous events weren't nearly as uncommon or unexpected as they have since become.
2 years ago.
╰☆☆June☆☆╮
╰☆☆June☆☆╮
Your beautiful capture is greatly admired

Historical & Architectural Gems
2 years ago.
Deborah Lundbech
Deborah Lundbech
wow, powerful image and Story, Alan. Certainly leaves me wondering about L.H. Miller.
2 years ago.