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Wednesday, April 24, 2024

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Woman Authors Book About Wildwood Home

As a young child

As a young child, Meredith Trede loved leaving her Irish-Catholic neighborhood in New York City to come to Wildwood to visit her aunt, uncle, and cousin, in a place she thought was ShrangriLa. The family home was a couple blocks from the boardwalk. 

By Karen Knight

WILDWOOD – As a young child living in a one-bedroom apartment in an Irish-Catholic tenement house in New York City, Meredith Trede thought she had come to Shrangri-La whenever she visited her aunt, uncle, and cousin in Wildwood. 

Two blocks from the beach and boardwalk, her memories of time spent with her family are interwoven in a new book of poetry she has published, “Bringing Back the House.”  

The 82-page book tells the story of family secrets and reconnections through things left behind in the house as she reclaimed it, is rehabbing it, and making new memories. 

“The whole experience was traumatic for me,” said Trede as she reflected about the deaths of her cousin, aunt, and uncle and all the belongings left behind.  

“They never threw anything out, so there was every letter my uncle wrote my aunt, every Valentine’s Day card, every Christmas card. Some of what’s in the book is verbatim from the cards and letters. Other poems in the book are about how I felt. I had to get it on paper and somewhere along the way, I realized I had a book.” 

Trede tells the story of how her aunt, who was 17 years old at the time, apparently fell in love with a man who was 31 years old and married at the time. They eventually were married at least 25 years, however, and had one child, Trede’s cousin, Louise, born in 1938 and named the same as her mother. 

“My uncle and aunt were apparently quite in love,” Trede said, noting many of the letters she found tell “a love story, but also include a lot of apologies.” 

Trede said she learned of her uncle’s family, who she never met, during an emotional journey when she realized her “uncle was not who he said he was, but then I remembered him for who he was. He hid his family, though.” 

Her uncle, Joseph Jacoby, was a newspaperman who eventually had an advertising agency in Wildwood in 1941.  

“The paper back then was the Wildwood Leader, and we found an editorial in the paper thanking my uncle for all he did in the community,” she said. 

Trede believes her aunt was a “traditional wife” during her marriage to Jacoby, taking care of her husband and daughter. Jacoby died in 1962, and two years later, Aunt Louise married Pastor Atwood Smith, from the Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, across the street from where she lived. She was active in church-related activities. 

“The house doesn’t really have any historical value,” Trede noted. 

Trede’s cousin, Louise, lived in the house until her death in 2007.  

“There was no will, she just left some wishes on a yellow sheet of legal paper,” Trede said about her cousin. “I ended up being administratrix for the estate, so we had to go through everything.  

“I’m at the front-end of the (baby) boomer generation, and so many of us are going through the same thing, of going through an older person’s house and wondering what do you keep, what do you throw out,” she continued. “You go through a lot of emotions.” 

She recounted an incident where one of her sons was helping her go through the house to determine what to keep.  

“He came out with one of those old-fashioned hair dryers with the hose and the bonnet and asked what he should do with this. I just burst out crying, and he said we’d look at it later, but it’s all those memories that just came out.” 

Eventually, Trede bought the house from the estate and has been rehabbing it “ever since.”  

“It’s a way of finding back all those memories,” Trede said. “My poems tell a story. I’ve even had some people read it and tell me they usually don’t like poetry, but they liked this book.”   

Contact the reporter, Karen Knight, at kknight@cmcherald.com. 

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