The new OG boardwalk in action.  August, 2014. Paul Goldfinger photo ©

The new OG boardwalk in action. August, 2014. Paul Goldfinger photo ©

By Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger

The purpose of this meeting was to review the progress made by the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association in 2014.  This complex organization has numerous components including operations, programs, finance, development, youth activities, beach front and many others.  Dr. Dale Whilden presided at the session which was held on Labor Day morning at the Tabernacle.  One by one the department heads reviewed their activities and thanked those who worked as a team for the good of the group.  If you were someone who were interested in the intricate details, you probably would have been present.  So the purpose of this post is to go over the highlights:

1. Dr. Whilden said that the organization had to consider the future, and that a five year plan would bring the group to their forthcoming 150th anniversary. He said that there were “changes” in our society where increasing secularism was a challenge for a religious based group such as the CMA.  Many ideas are being discussed currently to decide “how to reach the next generation.”    But overall, he was happy to report that the CMA has been having an excellent year. 

2. Grove Hall has been a successful venue for religious retreats, and a large Roman Catholic group from the Trenton Diocese met there and had such a good meeting that they booked for next year.  In fact, that venue is already booked for each weekend through the rest of 2014. 

3. Lew Hiserote of the Program Committee was pleased with the successes this summer.  He said, “We are moving up in just about everything.”   This year the Saturday night shows in the GA were reduced from 17 to 12 with an average audience of 1,600 people.  Attendance for the choir festival rose to over 3,000, and the Sunday morning services averaged about 1,000 each time. All of the religious events experienced a rise in attendance including the boardwalk pavilion services and the bible hour.

4. Jason Tramm the musical director hopes to increase the amount of new music and to have more “masterworks” such as the Handel Messiah which they performed last week.  He says that words and music together create a “powerful” effect.

5. The damaged  roof of the Great Auditorium remains a challenge because of the unavailability of the special stainless steel, zinc coated roofing. Jack Green reported that a decision will be made by October as to how to solve this problem. The current roof is already 35 years old, and any replacement materials must match that patina and also cannot contain lead, as was the case back than. The CMA is determined to avoid another winter with a temporary roof. 

6. The new boardwalk has been a success, and the next step is to do the north end from Seaview to the Asbury border. The same Trex material will be used.    But the old wooden areas near Sea View Avenue which survived Sandy will be patched but not rebuilt to match.

7. Peter Herr, the head of finance, said that the group was $ 1/2 million “in the hole” at the end of 2012 due to Sandy emergency spending. But, by the end of 2013, they were up $20,000.  20% of the budget depends on contributions, much of which comes in towards the end of the year.  The Together Fund is essentially “done”  at this time.  Despite the sometimes precarious finances of the CMA, he mischievously noted that Atlantic City was “going down” after nearly 40 years, but the CMA has lasted for over 140 years.  (applause!)

8. FEMA payments have been slow, but meanwhile boardwalk bills are paid by the Neptune bond issue and the Together Fund.  FEMA should pay 90% of the cost of the boardwalk.

9. Bill Bailey, the Director of Operations, seems to be involved whenever hard work is needed. He received more thanks than anybody else in town. He also reported that the CMA purchased 1200 jumbo rolls of toilet paper this summer.

9. The refreshment services group achieved its goal of $60,000 turned over to CMA.  They sold 1,000 hotdogs during Bridge Fest. They will be on duty for the double whammy next Saturday:  big flea market and then Father Alphonse concert at night.  Come for breakfast: pork roll, egg and cheese sandwiches.  Some say that their hotdogs are the best at the Shore.

10. Ladies Auxiliary made a record $47,000 this season.  

11. The lifeguards, under the chief Jaimie Doyle mad 154 rip current rescues this summer. Plus there were 47 this past week as currents and big waves were active for several days running. 20 kids went missing this season, but all were found.

OG lifeguards. Eyes on the swimmers. Paul Goldfinger photo ©  August 2014.

OG lifeguards. Eyes on the swimmers. Paul Goldfinger photo © August 2014.

12.  The North End project is on hold.  There is an existing contract on that project, but all bets are off due to changes in the laws post Sandy that will effect planning for the North End. The OGHOA has a committee which is supposed to be following the progress of this situation.

13. The 80 active GA ushers have put in over 50,000 man hours in 2014.  They are looking for some young men to join the group.   The age range is 16-90.  So, if you are 90 and can stand up, they want you.  They will be working until the Live Nativity in December. 

14. Joan Knust of the Beautification Project showed photos of the amazing plantings around town including the boardwalk urns, the display at the top of Broadway, and the beautiful beds making Stokes look good near the GA.  They will have their annual fund raiser later this month.  (see our Wassup Dept.)


JOHN CAFFERTY AND THE BEAVER BROWN BAND:  A musical tribute to our beautiful new boardwalk

Hey Pete.  Instead of Asbury, how about joining us in Bradley Beach. The bagels are better.  Artwork by Sue Gioulis.

Hey Pete. Instead of Asbury, how about joining us in Bradley Beach. The bagels are better.

Cartoon art by Sue Gioulis.  Blogfinger caption. 2014.


An Ocean Grove Labor Day block party.   Paul Goldfinger photo. ©

An Ocean Grove Labor Day block party. c. 2012.    Paul Goldfinger photo. ©

 By Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger

Today, the Asbury Park Press ran an article about summer tent life in Ocean Grove featuring an elderly resident who has stayed in a tent for 48 consecutive summers.  The article stresses  life as it occurs within  “tent city.”  The piece talks about   the family values, youth programs and religious activities which characterize that life style.   But the writer never mentions the context of “tent city” within the town of Ocean Grove.

In the  article, there is this quote : “The tent community is not a vacation spot for people to come to visit Ocean Grove,” explained J.P. Gradone, the association’s executive director and chief operating officer. “It’s for people engaged in the mission of the camp meeting community — the mission being spiritual birth, growth and renewal.”

Here is a link to that article:   Tent article link

Gradone’s comment shines a light on the fact that the CMA offers a life style which is specific to the “camp meeting community” and, thus opens the door to a conversation we might have about the different “communities” within the town of Ocean Grove.

Some time ago I got to interview Scott Rasmussen when he was the President of the CMA. We spoke briefly after the annual Labor Day public meeting.   I was curious about the role of the CMA within the larger presence of a diverse and often secular community called Ocean Grove. I was aware that some people thought of Ocean Grove as being synonymous with the CMA, and that is not so surprising given the history of the town and also given the reporting by the media.

Most of the time, media reporting about Ocean Grove stresses the religious background of the town as if this were the Ocean Grove of 1920 when the OGCMA actually governed here and when life in town was mostly about the Camp Meeting Association’s activities. Articles about the town almost always focus on the tents, the history, the Victorian architecture and the religious life here.  But things have changed considerably, especially since 1980, when Neptune took over and when the CMA changed its focus, perhaps to its great relief.  

The media doesn’t understand the wider context because it is complicated and not worth their effort.  So they continue to stereotype the town and never seem to get what it actually is about now.  However, at Blogfinger, we try to consider that larger context and we recently wrote about it during our interview with social scientist Steve Valk.   (Steve Valk article )

What Scott Rasmussen said to me that day was that the CMA, although tied to the town of Ocean Grove in so many ways, was going to stay focused on its religious mission which is  influenced by the 19th century Camp Meeting and “Holy Leisure” movements.* 

And that is basically what it has done, although, as we have seen after Sandy, there is no impenetrable separation between the CMA  and the town of Ocean Grove writ large.   And so, when push came to shove regarding the storm damage, the community came together in a remarkably revealing way—a way that indicates that the town has become a diverse place where the component parts, including the CMA, merge to create the actual town of Ocean Grove. Those parts are not always clearly defined, but they are worth recognizing and understanding even as they change over time. 

A new tradition in Ocean Grove: Illumination Night 2014.  By Paul Goldfinger ©

A new tradition in Ocean Grove: Illumination Night 2014. By Paul Goldfinger ©

So, while the CMA continues to define itself narrowly within a broader context, the people of Ocean Grove also need to look at our town and to try to understand  that while separations within this town do exist, there is a necessary and unavoidable merging together that occurs  to create the Ocean Grove that we now see.  Steve Valk pointed out the need for our diverse components to work together for common purposes.  

One advantage of such understanding and cooperation is that others, such as the media or outsiders, don’t  get to define us.

 LAURIE DAMERON:  “Blue Moon/ I’m Beginning to See the Light”

 * Ref:  Holy Leisure—Recreation and Religion in God’s Square Mile. Troy Messenger. Unniversity of Minnesota Press. 1999.

Sounding the conch at the OG beach. Photo by Lee Morgan.  August 30, 2014  ©

Sounding the conch at the OG beach. Photo by Lee Morgan. August 30, 2014 ©

By Lee Morgan, citizen reporter @Blogfinger.

Barbara and I enjoyed a late-day visit to the beach today.  Watching the hangers-on riding the waves was a joy.  Suddenly we experienced the inimitable sound of the conch alarm coming from the life-guard stand behind us. The sound traveled to those still in the water as the remaining guards beckoned those far out from shore to come in.  It was surreal, to say the least.  The OG lifeguard with whom we spoke explained that he had modified the shell for the purpose of being heard above the cacophony of the beach.


Here is a video from Key West:  How to blow a conch shell:

KEVIN KLINE AND JONATHAN PRYCE from the movie “DeLovely”   It’s about Gabriel, a biblical angel, who is said to have blown a trumpet–not a conch shell.

Carl Hoffman has appeared on Blogfinger in the past.  He likes to see his picture on line, and this time we wanted to show him posing with his cute Mt.Tabor Way cottage where he has done some nice floral decorations.


We asked Carl to step back a foot, and this is what he did.  It's hard to find good models any more.   Ocean Grove, August 30, 2014. Paul

We asked Carl to step back a foot, and this is what he did. It’s hard to find good models any more.
Ocean Grove, August 30, 2014. Paul Goldfinger photo ©



Mike (L) and Frankie at Mt. Hermon Way on Delaware  All photos by Paul Goldfinger © August 30, 2014

Mike (L) and Frankie at Mt. Hermon Way on Delaware All photos by Paul Goldfinger © August 30, 2014

By Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger

The last time we saw Mike Pallotta the knife sharpener, it was the summer of 2011.   We posted a story then about Mike  (see link below)  who is from Brooklyn but comes to this part of the Shore each summer with his old truck, his grandson Frankie Pallotta, and his dog Danny. 

Mike says that Ocean Grove is his favorite shore town to visit with  his mobile sharpening service. He drives into the towns around here and rings his bell.  Then he pulls over to the curb and he is open for business.

Today we spotted that famous truck on the corner of Delaware and Mt. Hermon Way, right near my house.  Eileen grabbed her kitchen knives and we ran across to welcome Mike and Frankie back. They both seemed happy to be here.

The neighbors quickly started to line up with their knives including Joyce, Meredith, Melanie and Joe.  Sandy was busy slicing an eggplant when Joe heard the bell. He stopped her in mid-slice, took her knife  and raced outside to have Mike sharpen that knife.  Joe  probably looked like the demon barber of Fleet Street as he hurried across the street, knife in hand.

Joe Varone holds up the truck while waiting for his knives.  Mike works in the rear.  ©

Joe Varone holds up the truck while waiting for his knives. Mike works in the rear. ©  If Joe drops a knife on his bare feet he will be Toeless Joe from Kokomo.

Frankie will soon start college at Hofstra and he will commute from his home in Brooklyn. Meanwhile he has continued the family tradition of working with Grandpa Mike in the knife truck. Frankie carefully collects the knives from the customers and then, when the grinding is done, he wraps the knives in paper and gives them back .

Mike sends the sparks flying as he grinds away.

Mike sends the sparks flying as he grinds away.

I stood in the back of the truck where you can watch Mike work at his grinders. The truck engine roars to a start, and the grinding wheels begin to turn.  His work area is carefully lit, and Mike is totally absorbed in his task.  Sparks fly. This is a craftsman that you don’t want to distract.  Mike liked the article we did on him in 2011, so he allowed me to move slowly and quietly into position at the back in order to get some photographs of him at work. It’s like photographing a sentimental piece of history. One neighbor recalled seeing trucks like this on the streets of Brooklyn where she grew up.

Mike said that the toughest town for him is Spring Lake because the houses are so big that they can’t hear his bell.  I offered to announce any future OG visits on Blogfinger, and he promised to email us when he plans to return.  He is careful to make no promises, but he thought maybe before Thanksgiving—definitely a day where a sharp knife is essential.

Mike and Frankie are two cheerful guys. Frankie’s a good natured, good looking kid with a natural smile. Mike seems to be a man who loves life. He is kind, likable, and competent.  If you meet a guy from Brooklyn, the talk generally turns to food, but, imagine this, Mike thought a Bradley Beach bagel was excellent.  Talk about putting a reverse spin on the ball  (Don’t ever play softball against a Brooklyn windmill pitcher).  So Mike was going to stock up on Jersey Shore bagels before heading home. There must be a NYC ordinance against that.

Danny the chicken dog.

Danny the chicken dog.

Danny the dog is a pit bull who is afraid of his own shadow.  He hid under the front seat and wouldn’t come out for a photo, but I managed to get Danny to smile before he changed his mind.

We urged Mike to return to the Grove. He grinned and agreed to return.

link to Mike the Knife Sharpener  2011         Mike the Knife

ANNETTE HANSHAW with an old song  (“That’s You, Baby.”)    which seems to be about Mike.



One Sided Conversation

NYC.   By Moe Demby, Blogfinger staff.

NYC. By Moe Demby, Blogfinger staff.


“I hear them whispering when I walk by….…I know it’s me they’re talking about.”


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