Written and photographed by Reilly Platten-Sharp

There once was a little girl with black hair whose first steps were in Long Beach Island sand. But Margaret Thomas’s footprints are the kind that do not blow or wash away. She has become an inseparable part of Harvey Cedars and the Island in her time, a soul touching generations into the past.

Her grandfather, John Warner Kinsey, first brought her father’s family to the Island as manager of the oldest hotels. Her great uncle, Mayor Josiah “Bo” Kinsey, oversaw much of the town building and growth. Her father, Reynold Thomas, followed in his uncle’s footsteps as mayor and local fixture for most of his life. Her mother, Josephine, was the epitome of a trailblazer who left her mark around the world before leaving hers in Harvey Cedars.

So, it was fated, it seems, that the lady of Bay Terrace who was given nicknames as varied and beautiful as beach sunsets would live her life to the fullest in the best tradition of Harvey Cedars. The “Poochy” who so many have been fortunate to call a friend and a part of the very soul of the Island has lived fully, loved fully, endured fully, and laughed fully, all while never ceasing to cherish the ordinary that is so extraordinary around her for ninety years. Margaret the basketball player. Margaret the cheerleader. Margaret the beachcomber. Margaret the writer. Margaret the historian. Margaret the mother. Margaret the grandmother. Margaret, the daughter of Reynold and Jo. These are just a few of the many sides to an ordinary lady who is extraordinary because she has been true to herself, her family, and her Island, never forgetting where she came from, where she has been and where she has yet to go.

Those hundreds whose lives were touched by Poochy and could attend, with countless more around the world and smiling down were present in spirit, gathered on the occasion of her birthday on April 15 to ensure she knew what she meant to them and the Island community. From her first steps in Harvey Cedars sand to the ones she made yesterday, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow must have had Margaret Thomas in mind when he wrote:

Lives of great [people] all remind us

We can make our lives sublime,

And, departing, leave behind us

Footprints on the sands of time;

Footprints, that perhaps another,

Sailing o’er life’s solemn main,

A forlorn and shipwrecked brother,

Seeing, shall take heart again.

Recommended Posts