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Thursday, July 25, 2024


Most Memorable Moments by the Cape May County Bar Association 4.26.2006

By Rick Racela

Having been a member of the Cape May County Bar Association for over four decades, I have many fond memories of my experiences, especially during the early years. 
Although the organization has never been especially large, in the late 60’s and early 70’s it was particularly small, even by local standards. Most of the meetings (and they were held monthly) were attended by about 20 or so attorneys and were frequently conducted at Zaberer’s in North Wildwood or at the Tuckahoe Inn in Beesley’s Point.
Some of the “regular” attendees included Marvin Perskie, Nate Staller, Henry Gorelick, Gus Goetz, Judge George Francis, George James, Bob Garrett, Bill Hughes, Jim O’Neil, John Callanan, John Mead, John Corino, Mort Greenberg, Ron Taht, Andrea Cafiero, Bill Baliette and John Gilbert.
As time went on, a few of the new young “whipper snappers” started attending such as Ken Calloway, Vince LaManna, John Callinan, Alan Gould, Bill Serber, Jules Konschak, Art Ford, Bob Mairone, John Groon and Jim Waldron (forgive me for those I have forgotten). 
The meetings were fun, usually included absolutely no business, and were highlighted by witty and caustic exchanges primarily between and among Marvin Perskie, Nate Staller and Henry Gorelick. 
No one in the room was immune from their “zingers” although, in retrospect, I think I got off relatively easy probably because I was a recent “graduate” of a clerkship with the well loved Assignment Judge, A. J. “Andy”  Cafiero.
Judge Cafiero was known for his warmth and good humor, and his vicinage included not only Atlantic and Cape May County but also Cumberland and Salem.
One of the highlights during that time period was the Bar Association’s annual boat excursion.  During the summer of each year, Bob Kay and Palmer Way, both of whom owned sizeable yachts, acted as hosts and donated their skills for an outing that began at a dock in Wildwood, went out into the ocean and traveled around Cape May, and eventually concluded with a dinner at a local yacht club. 
Spouses were included and it was pretty festive event, noted for excessive imbibing, which routinely put the safe arrival at our destination in serious doubt. 
Nevertheless, I was thoroughly impressed with the whole event, rarely having set foot on a vessel larger than 15 feet and never having seen the inside of a yacht club.
But what impressed me the most was how kind and good-humored everyone was and how much they all enjoyed each other’s company.
I was particularly proud to think that, as a young kid from Sea Isle who had never even met a lawyer before I went to law school, I was so warmly welcomed into a group of professionals who were not only highly competent but, most of all, were exceedingly generous and very, very human.  I feel the same way today.
(ED NOTE: This is one of a series of articles on “most memorable moments” by members of the Cape May County Bar Association. They first appeared in the 100th anniversary issue of the association’s newsletter, “Justice Matters.”)

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