Betty Higbee

Location of Interview
Collection Name

New Jersey’s Delaware Bayshore


The Bayshore Center at Bivalve’s Oral History program is dedicated to preserving the oral history and culture of New Jersey’s Bayshore region by saving for posterity the oral histories and material culture connected with the Bayshore region, by creating a repository of recordings and data that can be used for research, by preserving, treasuring and celebrating the environment, history and culture of the Bayshore region and by sharing the heritage of the Bayshore region today and with future generations through program related activities serving visitors, students and scholars.

Date of Interview

Betty Higbee of Fortescue, New Jersey, is owner and operator of Higbee's Luncheonette.. She was born and raised in Cedarville, a nearby town, and attended high school with her late husband, Clarence Higbee, who was affectionately known as Bunky. The couple got married almost fifty-seven years ago and had four children together. Bunky was a lifelong resident of Fortescue, having lived there for seventy-six years. He was born and raised in the same house that Betty and he later lived in, making him a fourth-generation resident of the small house. The Higbee family has a deep-rooted history in Fortescue. Her son, Jim, owns and operates a charter fishing boat and Higbee's Marina. Betty's husband, Clarence, was born and raised in Fortescue, which was known as the "Weakfish Capital of the World." After experiencing two floods that resulted in significant losses, Betty and Bunky decided to build a bigger house, where Betty currently resides. Bunky passed away two years before the interview was conducted in 2013. Despite the loss, Betty continues to live in Fortescue, cherishing the memories and the deep connection her family has with the town.

Scope and Content Note
The interview with Betty Higbee, conducted by Rachel Dolhanczyk on September 16, 2013, provides a rich narrative of life in Fortescue, New Jersey, and the personal history of the Higbee family. The conversation begins with Betty sharing her personal background, her marriage to Clarence "Bunky" Higbee, and their life in Fortescue. She talks about the history of their family home, which has been in the Higbee family for four generations, and their decision to build a new house after experiencing two floods. Betty discusses the history of Fortescue and recreation on the Delaware Bay, past and present including, fishing, cabins and hotels, businesses, marinas and speakeasies. She also explains the devastation caused by Superstorm Sandy and the challenges facing charter fishing boats and recreational fishing with current regulations and enforcement. She also discusses the economic impact of the Sandy, particularly on local businesses, citing the example of a local restaurant that was unable to open, resulting in significant financial losses. The conversation concludes with Betty sharing some local customs, such as residents gathering on the beachfront with their golf carts to watch the sunset. The interview provides a valuable insight into the history, culture, and resilience of the Fortescue community.

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