Until this time, the Sandlass Baths, Highland Beach served day trippers and locals who filled the river and ocean beaches at the summer resort. The late 1940s middle class grew larger when the baby boomer population was born after World War II. This population explosion placed a new emphasis on the family. The difference was evident at the beach resort in this new era; the focus changed from adult excursion parties to family and child-friendly activities. As a new decade began in the 1950s, the resort’s identity as a bathing destination was transformed. The business operation evolved into a private beach club for the ever-increasing local families in Highlands and the surrounding towns.
The conversion from a public bathing establishment to a private beach club opened the five hundred bathhouses to memberships during the summer months. The third name change, to Sandlass Beach Club, reflected the club’s new identity, and it was quickly filled to capacity. Often, the members affectionately shortened the club’s name to Sandlass Beach. The Bamboo Room cocktail lounge remained open to the public as the “popular” night spot. As his father had done in the past, Henry leased the Bamboo Room to well-liked local men, including Norton Smith and Jerry O’Reilly (Highlands) and, later, William Hoag in partnership with Dr. Louis Mellaci. Smith and O’Reilly quickly designated the interior of the club, The Trade Winds Room! Beginning on Decoration Day and throughout the summer months, Louis Michaelson’s orchestra played nightly in the 1950s.
Jerry O’Reilly and Norton Smith leased the Bamboo Room (Trade Winds Room) at Sandlass Baths, Highland Beach, circa 1950. Courtesy of the Chris Brenner collection.
Generations of families returned on a yearly basis with children and grandchildren in tow seeking the enjoyment of a shared summer experience. Faces became familiar year after year as the children grew and families expanded, all wanting the same magic of a summer vacation in a favorite spot. Even though trains and steamboats had disappeared, the experience remained. Similar to his father, Henry Sandlass added activities by introducing some new sports attractions to the property, including side-street volleyball games (after hours), a tennis practice board, a softball field (evening games) and a croquet court (side lawn). Families found pleasure in a multigenerational setting at Sandlass Beach Club.
A Fleischmann family picnic in the late 1940s near the bungalow owned by Lori’s grandparents Bill and Sybilla Fleischmann. Courtesy of the Lori Fleischmann collection.
Learn more about Highlands and Highland Beach. Stories and artifacts of a bygone era await you in Gallery 1 at the Twin Lights Museum. Read the recent book, Sandy Hook’s LOST Highland Beach Resort, found in the museum store recounting a fanciful era in a town glittering with stars from Broadway and the early years of silent film.
SANDY HOOK’S LOST HIGHLAND BEACH RESORT
THE PERFECT GIFT FOR THE HISTORY HOUND ON YOUR LIST!
TLM Museum Store Online, Order Here! https://www.twinlightslighthouse.org/product-page/sandy-hook-s-lost-highland-beach-resort
ARCADIA PUBLISHING & THE HISTORY PRESS