Downtown Ocean Grove in front of Nagle's. Paul Golfinger photograph ©  Click to enlarge.

Downtown Ocean Grove in front of Nagle’s. Paul Golfinger photograph ©  Click all photos to enlarge.

By Eileen and Paul Goldfinger, Editors @Blogfinger.

We were downtown last night, and there was a live show in front of Nagle’s. That may seem extraordinary, but for Main Avenue in the Grove, it’s business as usual. This is a very special place. A piano is placed in front of the restaurant/ice cream emporium , and tables and chairs are arranged in a rough circle around the “stage.” At the piano is a certain woman who has been performing her summer show for years. Her name is Alla Axelrod  and she sits at the piano, talks to the crowd, makes music and backs up a variety of vocalists who toss her a key and off they go.

Valery belts out a few standards.  ©

Valery belts out a few standards. ©

Alla does a fine job keeping up with the singers regardless of where the tune  takes them. Even when the singer’s intonation heads south , north, or both, somehow the music still sound good. A sour note? No problem—the audience smiles and claps. It’s musical special sauce which is really about the power to enchant which music brings. Alla Axelrod is having a variety of singers perform with her this night. One is a teenager named Kaitlin, another is Valery  from Manhattan, and then there is Lucille of Ocean Grove.

A man walked up to Alla. He had a dog and a parrot. If he had wandered into a bar, we could have a good joke. He placed the parrot on her head. Then he placed the parrot on Valery’s head. Then he, the dog and the parrot moved on. Everybody smiled and laughed. Special sauce again. Last week we spotted a woman on the boardwalk with a parrot—a coincidence? Or magic?   Or is it Hitchcock and the birds?

A lively audience had gathered around, and they enjoyed the show while eating ice cream. The Nagle’s ordering window was constantly in motion, and there were lots of small children with their parents and friends—happy to be outside at night.

Nagle's pick-up window. ©

Nagle’s pick-up window. ©

Heading west on Main Avenue, diners were still eating al fresco at Yvonne’s. At Day’s, the line for their ice cream was long, as usual.

Alfresco at Yvonne's  ©

Alfresco at Yvonne’s ©

Ocean Grove on a Saturday night is a unique and  special experience. Besides the downtown scene, over at the Great Auditorium, The Beach Boys are singing a medley of their greatest hits, and you can hear them quite well from the lawn seats or even a couple of blocks away by some of the tents or in the park at New York Avenue. A woman on a bench there is getting some good vibrations, singing with the boys.   You could even hear the audience inside and out singing, “Help help me Rhonda…”

And of course, the special sauce requires a special ingredient which is always present. What? Yes, of course—-the ocean.  Walk a few blocks and visit the ocean at night.  Go on the beach, listen to the music of the night, put your toes in the water, or walk on our new boardwalk. The total effect is a sense of being in a magical place where everyone is enjoying themselves and everyone feels totally comfortable. The children add immeasurably to that sense, and it is all soothed by the music, the twinkling lights in the shops, the porch people, the tent people, the Great Auditorium inside and out, and by the warm ocean breezes.

It seems like everybody is outdoors. There is no honky tonk or irrational noisemaking. Nobody acts weird, and no kids are screaming at each other. Even the dogs don’t bark. Unlike the magical kingdoms of Disney, this feels real, because people actually live here. It is a hometown unlike many others, even those which are at the Jersey Shore. What other town is like this one? Not too many.

Bewitched and bewildered.  ©

Bewitched and bewildered. ©

A little girl in a long red t -shirt is standing in front of Nagle’s clutching an ice cream. She seems a little bewildered by all the people, especially in a nighttime setting when she might normally be in bed; and then Mom leans over and scoops her up to safety. Another magical moment in Ocean Grove.




The Beach Boys.  Photo by Rich Amole,Blogfinger staff. ©

The Beach Boys. Photo by Rich Amole, Blogfinger staff. ©

Saturday Night the Grove welcomed back the Beach Boys band.  The Band has a number of talented artists but now contains just one original member Mike Love.  Bruce Johnston, a good friend through the years, continues to support the band with his voice and on instruments.

The Grove had a special treat with the appearance of John Stamos on drums, guitar and singing.  John is well remembered from the “Uncle Jesse” character on “Full House” and later on “ER” medical drama.

Mike continues to do all the old favorites and mixes the list nicely as not to keep the menu stale. He also paid tribute to the late Carl Wilson with one of his original sound tracks singing “God Only Knows” while the band played backup.

This evening I found my seat behind the GA with some friends with a nice view through about 150 feet behind the open doors.   The attached photo is of course John Stamos and Mike Love.   A fun fun fun night was had by all.   –Concert review by Rich Amole.




As Time Goes By

An Ocean Grover, now in her ’80′s,  was in her ’20′s when this photograph was taken with her daughter, who is now in her ’60′s.  She asked me to make a copy for her daughter.

There is so much wonderful detail in this image including the tiara and the bonnet. Then the gowns with crinolines.

The way the they are looking at each other is full of mutual love and pride.  And the image, although beautiful and happy in a way, reminds us all of time going by.

Paul Goldfinger,  Editor @Blogfinger



c. 1954.  Photographer unknown.

c. 1954. Photographer unknown.


This is the Aurora in Ocean Grove.  It is a former hotel, now a single family  (albeit a big one) home.  Many have photographed this scene, but no one produces a unique image like Bob Bowné.  Bob, a professional fine art photographer,  is a regular contributor to Blogfinger.

The Aurora by Bob Bowné of Ocean Grove. ©  Special to Blogfinger.

The Aurora by Bob Bowné of Ocean Grove. © Special to Blogfinger.

RUBY BRAFF  (trumpet)  AND DICK HYMAN  (organ.)    From their album America the Beautiful.

Paris playground.  Eileen Goldfinger photo © 1991

Paris playground. Eileen Goldfinger photo © 1991

PAUL DESMOND  “Where is Love?”  from the movie Oliver.

Eileen: A Portrait

College student. Washington, D.C.  Paul Goldfinger photo ©

College student. Washington, D.C. Paul Goldfinger photo ©



Pink citizen rises to ask Bernie a question. On the menu are half donuts, juice and coffee. Pink lady tries to read the eye chart and gets to

Pink citizen rises to ask Bernard Haney a question.    Questioner tries to read the eye chart and gets as far as “Ocean Grove.”  Ann Horan leans against the wall .  Can’t find a  seat?      Blogfinger photo from the SRO place in the back.    On the menu are half donuts, juice and coffee.  Blogfinger photo ©


By Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger

Bernard  (“call me Bernie”) Haney, the Neptune Township Tax Assessor (ie Land Use Administrator) came to the OGHOA meeting this morning, clearly determined to discuss the new system of valuing and inspecting homes, but he had to field some questions that he did not want to discuss regarding an increase of quarterly taxes by 11.4%, a subject raised on Blogfinger on July 25 by Grover David Hepler, who was present at this meeting.

A grim crowd contemplates taxes. David Hepler wears black.  Blogfinger photo ©

A grim crowd contemplates  taxes. David Hepler wears black. Committeeman Eric Houghtaling in dark blue.  Blogfinger photo ©


About 80 Grovers were present for this SRO meeting in the Community Room, and as expected, there were lots of questions for Bernie. He said that if anyone wanted to discuss their own situation regarding their assessment, they should make an appointment to see him (732 988 520 ext 248; email: bhaney@neptunetownship.org.)

Blogfinger has already covered the new system in our recent post on June 25  (  Interview with Neptune Tax assessor  ) where you can see Bernie’s portrait,  but clearly, and as expected, many citizens don’t understand the new system, and, despite Bernie’s best efforts, I suspect that many still don’t understand all of it.

However, to summarize:

1. We are currently undergoing a re-evaluation (cost=$1 million) of the 12,000 taxable properties in Neptune with the goal of getting everyone’s assessment to 100% of value instead of the 82% which we currently have in Neptune.  This is a county-wide project. In July 2015 you will learn what your taxable assessed 100% value is.

After this, there will no longer be re-evaluations every ten years—only yearly  assessments.   The assessed values will move up or down with the market (i.e. sale prices) as will the tax rate. Next year Bernie expects the ratables to go up by “25-30%  across the board,” but he doesn’t expect much of an impact on our taxes.

2. The town and education budgets and the home values determine the tax rate, which in turn determines your taxes.   As the home valuations go up, the tax rates go down. The amount of your taxes is established by the County as they look at the budgets and the home values. But the amount of tax dollars needed each year is equal to the budgets, and, as Bernie says, “The bottom line is the bottom line”

3.  Bernie said, “I don’t control the budgets or the tax rate.” So he was not going to discuss those specifics or the alleged 11.4% tax increase for the 3rd quarter of 2014. He was skeptical of that 11.4%, so he offered to “do the math” with Dave Hepler in his office. Mr. Hepler said that the alleged storm losses of $95 million in ratables (out of $2.4 billion) should not result in an 11.4% increase in taxes.

4. Some people (including me) think that our taxes are capped at 2-3%, but they are not capped at all. What is capped is the township budget, so I think that should produce an “in effect” cap on the taxes.  But, of course,  if  $95 million in ratables are removed from the tax rolls (re: Sandy) then taxes can go up even if the budget stays the same.

Quite a few questions were left unanswered as Anne Horan, the President of the HOA, cut the questions off in order to get to HOA “business.”

Ken Buckley, HOA board member, visits the refreshment table.  Blogfinger action photo. ©

Ken Buckley, HOA board member, visits the refreshment table. Blogfinger action photo. ©

A number of us left at that point realizing that the smoke had not totally cleared on these tax issues. A light rain was beginning to fall in the Grove. Parking was difficult on this July Saturday. I had brought my camera in case a brawl had erupted, but no such luck. Some Blogfinger fans smiled and said hello. HOA officers? Not so much.

NIKKI LONEY  from her album Falling in Love:  “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes.”


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