Sometimes all it takes is one look to fall in love. That’s what happened to Lyntaga Smith 15 years ago in Atlantic City, New Jersey, when she went to her friend Bob’s house and saw his treasure trove of sea glass. From that point on, Lyntaga has been an avid beachcomber, collecting on the sandy beaches almost every single day. As she puts it, “the simple beauty of a piece of sea glass with the thought it was once just a broken shard of glass that has been transformed over time…is really incredible to me.”
Her love of sea glass inspired her to found Sea Me Glow, an online store that sells jewelry, décor, and more, and which she hopes to one day make her sole means of income. All the glass sold by Lyntaga has washed up on the Atlantic City shoreline from old businesses and shipwrecks along the coast. Her most treasured find are an old Johnston & Co Atlantic City soda bottle that was fully intact and a beautifully tumbled aqua-colored bottle stopper, both of which she found on the same day! Next on her bucket list are dice, dominoes, and a billiard pool ball (since Atlantic City is known for gambling), as well as a clay pipe, a bottle with stopper still inside, perfume stopper, and a light bulb.
Although there isn’t a large population of beachcombers in Atlantic City, that doesn’t mean Lyntaga always goes to the beach alone. She loves to take friends and family and expose them to the world of beachcombing, especially in the winter when the tourists are gone. As Lyntaga puts it, “They think it’s beautiful and they are so happy that I have found something that gives me such joy and peace, and I am able to showcase the beauty of sea glass and open up the eyes of others to see the beauty that is all around us.” Her family also worries that one day her house will be made of sea glass, with storage bins, bottles, and jars filling up her home.
Lyntaga thinks that she is the only African-American sea glasser in Atlantic City, even though the city has a large Black population. The majority of locals do not know about beachcombing, because they were never exposed to it, and so most beachcombers in Atlantic City are tourists. But, as she says, “I want to change that narrative in everything that I do in the sea glass world along with promoting positive narratives about my city of Atlantic City.” Although Atlantic City sometimes gets a bad reputation in the media, Lyntaga emphasizes that there is a rich history and culture in the city.
There are tons of things to do in Atlantic City besides beachcombing, and they are known for some of the best foodie experiences. Two of Lyntaga’s favorite eateries are Fish Heads, a food truck that sells the best fish, shrimp, and chicken in the summer, and Girasole, a local Italian restaurant. And if that doesn’t sound fresh enough, the city is great for fishing all year round. For those interested in local art, the Atlantic City Arts Foundation hosts one of the best visual arts festivals in New Jersey, showcasing local artist work with murals all over the city, along with other pop-ups and events.
Lyntaga is also hoping to start giving tours to those interested in the beaches of New Jersey. What Lyntaga loves most about beachcombing is the stories behind every piece of glass, and she hopes to share those stories with the world.
This article appeared in the Beachcombing Magazine July/August 2020 issue.