Monmouth University Library in West Long Branch

Monmouth University Library in West Long Branch. December 2015. Paul Goldfinger photo. ©

In 2002, a professor at Monmouth University, Dr. Karen Schmelzkopf, published a paper in the Journal of Historical Geography  entitled, “Landscape, ideology, and religion: a geography of Ocean Grove, NJ.”  It is a remarkable academic study which shines a light on important issues in Ocean Grove’s history including physical, cultural and political variables and interactions.

She concluded her paper by saying:  “Yet Ocean Grove continues to be a fascinating combination of the private and the public, the religious and the secular, a pronounced example of the way ideology and landscape produce and reproduce each other.”

Below are two Blogfinger links where Dr. Schmelzkopf is mentioned.  One has a link to her paper.

She contacted me today to say that she was asked to give a talk about her paper on Ocean Grove by the History Department for their Monmouth Forum speaker series on July 27, 2016, 1:15-2:15 pm,. in the Library, room 206  (the incredible former Guggenheim mansion)   She will discuss her paper plus “adding some recent controversies.”

She is a fan of Blogfinger, so she evidently has been keeping an eye on us.  In 2014 I had contacted her regarding the roll of the gay community in the OG turnaround of the 1990’s. Her paper talks a lot about the OG Homeowners’ Association, but undoubtedly, quite a few other subjects will be discussed.

Lunch will be available, and the event is free.  If you wish to attend, please RSVP to hwilliam@monmouth.edu.

For those of you who are interested in those dynamics as they pertain to Ocean Grove, this would be an important lecture for you, if you can make it.  Eileen and I will attend.

Directions:   Drive on Main Street in Asbury Park until you reach Deal Lake.  Bear right along the lake and then turn left across the bridge onto Norwood Avenue.  Take Norwood through Deal, and you will come to Monmouth University.  Continue straight until you bump into Cedar Avenue.  In front of you is the magnificent MU library.  Drive in and park.

Dr. Schmelzkopf says she likes the music on Blogfinger, so here is something by Annette Hanshaw.  I think this Professor of History will like it.


Link 2014

The True History of the Ocean Grove Turnaround in the 1990’s.


Link 2015:

FACTIONS—Will the groups and networks in Ocean Grove protect the town’s future? An editorial.

  1.  Ever since 2008, the Township Committee has appointed two members to be involved with negotiations about the Redevelopers Agreement  (which has never been finalized.).  Randy Bishop has been one, since the start, and he is always the one to be the spokesman  for the project at public Township Committee meetings.  Now Carol Rizzo has become the #2 Committee negotiator.  That negotiating  subcommittee should be reporting on its activities, but at a very long Committee meeting on July 25, they said nothing until a citizen inquired.  Then it was revealed that the two sub-committeemen did meet with the Camp Meeting Association recently.  Why?  This process is about as transparent as my wife’s mushroom barley soup.
  2. We know that WAVE has the option to buy the North End land, but there are many hoops to jump through before that could happen. Meanwhile, the CMA still owns the land, as far as we know.
  3.  Two Neptune Township dumpsters are sitting on that private land, and those dumpsters were noted to be brimming over yesterday  (today they are not.).    But what could they be dumping? Perhaps they are removing stuff having to do with the White Whale renovation.  Is the Township r doing contractor work for a private company and why are they doing that?  Are the private owners of the White Whale paying for those Neptune dumpsters?
  4.  Why was Committeeman Michael Brantley inspecting the North End property on July 27, 2016, at 11 am?  He wasn’t going swimming.   He was dressed in a business suit and was with two other “suits.”  Shouldn’t he explain himself since the North End Redevelopment Plan  (NERP) is a public project?  Doesn’t this look peculiar?
Committeman Michael Brantley at the southern edge of the North End Redevelopment project. Blogfinger photo. 7/27/16

Committeeman Michael Brantley at the southern edge of the North End Redevelopment project. Blogfinger photo. 7/27/16

5. The Township Attorney said that he was unable to report publicly at the Committee meeting about the North End negotiations because he hadn’t heard from the WAVE lawyer!  What are we? Chopped liver?



Sunset Lake. Asbury Park, NJ. 7/26/16 Paul Goldfinger photo ©

Sunset Lake. Asbury Park, NJ.  Try crossing this bridge when you come to it.    7/26/16 Paul Goldfinger photo ©



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By Paul Goldfinger, Photographic Editor @#Blogfinger

Sojourner Truth was a runaway slave, an abolitionist, a feminist and an orator.  She used photography to finance her activities.  In the 1850’s, carte de visites were popular–a form of calling card.   A photograph  (albumin print) would be mounted on a  4 1/2 x 2 1/2 cardboard card.  Ms. Truth’s cards had her picture on it which included her motto: “I sell the shadow to support the substance.”   She sold them by mail and at her lectures.

A new exhibit will be shown at the Berkeley Art Museum  and the Pacific Film Archive   (California) called “Sojourner Truth : Photography and the fight against slavery.”  It will run from July 27 to October 3.

This is from the exhibit brochure:   Truth could not read or write, but she had her statements repeatedly published in the press, enthusiastically embraced new technologies such as photography, and went to court three times to claim her legal rights. Uniquely among portrait sitters, she had her photographic carte de visites copyrighted in her own name and added the caption “I Sell the Shadow to Support the Substance. Sojourner Truth,” foregrounding her self-selected proper name, her agency, and her possession of self.

COUNTERPOINT    “Ezekiel Saw the Wheel.”  from  Let Me Fly: Music of Struggle, Solace, and Survival in Black America.

Wesley Lake bridge. Park your car in OG and then walk across the great divide.  Photo by Paul Goldfinger. ©  Undated

Wesley Lake bridge. Park your car in OG and then walk across the great divide. Photo by Paul Goldfinger. © Undated. Click to enlarge the bridge to the lush life.


Any information about gates on foot bridges crossing Wesley Lake? These were re-introduced around 1995, but I have heard they existed much earlier.
Currently the gates are locked at midnight. There is a proposal to lock the gates at 10 pm. This might discourage patrons to Asbury Park bars from parking for free on streets in OG closest to AP. It also might cut down on inebriated people causing a public nuisance late at night and getting into their cars and scratching our cars (and taking off a mirror or two) as they try to drive on our narrow streets.

JOHN COLTRANE AND JOHNNY HARTMAN   “Lush Life”——-On which side of the bridge might you find it?

Here is a link on this subject (2013  BF)


Hey Louis, quit reading Blogfinger---we're heading for the Avon Pavilion. (Ocean Grove/Blogfinger artist Sue Gioulis made the cartoon.)

Hey Louis, forget Asbury—we’re heading for the Avon Pavilion. (Ocean Grove/Blogfinger artist Sue Gioulis made the cartoon.)

1.  Song of the Week:     JOSH GROBAN    From Les Miserables


2.  On Sunday, July 24, Blogfinger had over 1700 visits including 16 foreign countries, among which were Turks and Caicos Islands, China, Ireland, and Equador.    Topics attracting the most interest were Illumination Night, potable water at the beach, and Opening the gates. On Tuesday, July 26, the most popular articles were about the Monmouth University lecture and the Hotel Arlington.

3.  From Mary Lou:   “As if we do not already have a huge problem with space for parking…the township wants residents to put their recycling cans far enough out into the street so the workers can see them, otherwise the bulk, etc. will not be picked up. I read about this yesterday on an OG forum…a resident called the township to complain about her cans being passed by twice in the same month. The clerk responded with this very “intelligent” solution.”




Dune grass progress

Ocean Grove dune grass. July 25, 2016. Blogfinger photo. ©

Ocean Grove dune grass.  Planted by volunteers  late October, 2015.   Paul Goldfinger photo 7/25/16.. ©   Click to make it grow. Don’t walk on the dunes.




Top 7 security tips for staying safe:

By Carol Rizzo,, Neptune Township Committeeman.

  1. Do not keep your passwords on a piece of paper or keep them all the same. Nor should you used the “Remember me” option at logons for the password. If a thief comes into your house, or you lose your phone or your laptop, you’ve given them the keys to your kingdom.

My special trick is to use best loved phrases and interject numbers for letters. (Itw@sthew0rst0ft1mes) , This makes is hard to guess even with high powered computers. I have a different password for each one of my bank, credit card and other important accounts and they are kept on my computer in a password protected file.


  1. When you get an email from someone you know (or think you know) with a url link to a site, (http//….) DO NOT OPEN IT!!!. Instead open up a new email and copy and paste the message to your friend and ask them if they did send it to you and why. Often the links take you somewhere but they also install malware so they can return later on and take over your computer or record your keystrokes.
  1. If you get an email from a bank or credit card company or any company that you have a relationship with, DO NOT CLICK ON THAT LINK!!!. If a bank or a Credit Card Company wants to contact you, they will send you a letter with your name and address, the last 4 digits of your account and a phone number for you to call. In fact I got one like this this morning. The underlined Unlock Access would ask me for my username and password and then who knows what would happen. They would probably tell me everything is alright and thank me!

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  1. Keep your security software up to date! Everyone should have virus scanning, anti-malware program running and a firewall enabled.

The $50 or $60 for this software is well worth the price considering the aggravation of trying to change all your accounts not to mention trying to file claims with banks. Just look online for reviews of the various packages. Some are easier to use than others. (AVAST, Kaspersky, McAfee, Symantec, Trend)

  1. Enable your WIFI password & keep your WIFI password protected and DO NOT share it with anyone outside of your family members. Most WIFI can be “sniffed” by thieves driving by and if you have left your WIFI open, you are potentially exposing any information like you bank password and account to anyone in the neighborhood.
  1. Do not use public WIFI in malls or outdoor spaces to log on/access to any site where you have data or information you want to protect. Typing in your username and password into your bank account is easy to snoop.
  1. When you post in Facebook, the default distribution is to your “friends.” Whenever you post, you can change the selection of friends by putting your cursor on the friends’ box and either selecting specific people or creating a group of special friends. This way you can be sure you are not telling people who are casual acquaintances or friends of friends of friends that you are vacationing in the south of France and that you will be away a whole month.

EDITOR’S NOTE:  Here is another example of a fraudulent bank email.  I received this even though I have never had a Bank of America account.  But if you did and you received this email, you might panic and click on “Click Here.”   That log- in could result in money being removed from your account.  —

Instead forward the email to your bank’s security department.  You can also call your bank  to make sure your account is OK or check your account at the bank’s web site.  You can also make a copy of that email and take it to a bank branch.  PG



This photo was part of a NY Tines article on July 5  (linked in our Asbury Hotel piece).  Photo by Tony Cenicola. They had a Mermaid Parade (a la Coney Island)  ©

This photo was part of a NY Times article on July 5 (linked in our Asbury Hotel piece). Photo by Tony Cenicola. They had a Mermaid Parade (a la Coney Island) 


Could her name be Denise?  Here are  Randy and the Rainbows :

July, 2016 note:  This article was originally published on Blogfinger in August 2009, only two months after the blog’s e-birth. Needless to say, we had few visitors back then.  The story of the Ocean Grove “gates” is pivotal in the history of this town and  should be re-told occasionally so that those who are unfamiliar with the details can gain some perspective as they view life in the Grove now.  We re-posted it  in 2011 and then again now.

By Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger:

The year is 1875, and the Camp Meeting Association’s first President, Rev. E.H. Stokes said, regarding the gate closure on Sunday, “There is no human probability that these rules will ever be revoked.”  That same year, the President of the United States, Ulysses S. Grant, came to Ocean Grove on a Sunday.  A wooden picket fence with a swing gate blocked his way at the entrance to town, and he had to leave his horses and carriage and walk one half mile to his sister’s house on Wesley Lake. Then he went on to the open air auditorium, where 5,000 adults, children and Civil War veterans waited for his arrival.

Of all the “blue laws,” the ban on parking of all-wheeled vehicles and the ban on driving such vehicles into town, from midnight Saturday to midnight Sunday, was the one that seemed to best define the spirit of those Christians who came to Ocean Grove each summer for the chance to relax with their families and to praise God in a most unique environment. Only police, fire, doctors’ cars, and ambulance units could enter and leave.

Ocean Grove gates-1 - Version 2

In 1916 two stone pillars were erected, and a chain was used to prevent access into the town’s two entrances. A policeman would be in charge of opening and closing the “gates” and he would remain stationed in a little gate house at the Main Avenue entrance. That little house still stands. On Sunday nights, before midnight, a festive atmosphere would prevail, until the officer on duty allowed the folks to drive back into the Grove.

Some people moved to town just because of those Sunday rules, and, for most of those who lived in Ocean Grove, part time or full time, they totally supported the idea of Sundays free of noise, clutter, and secular distractions.  They didn’t care that they could not go to the beach, play ball, garden, smoke, play cards, drink alcohol, dance, buy food, mow the lawn, hammer a nail or even ride a bike. To them it was unthinkable that this rule might be abolished, because they thought that if it ever happened, Ocean Grove would never be the same.

Ocean Grove had received a charter from the State of New Jersey in 1870, which allowed the Camp Meeting Association to govern the town, including making laws (ordinances) and enforcing those laws with their own police department and municipal court.  The CMA governed in Ocean Grove, while the homeowners paid property taxes to Neptune Township. Ocean Grove received some services from Neptune, but Neptune considered the Grove to be a sort of private estate or gated community and thus they expected Ocean Grove to be somewhat self sufficient, even though Grovers paid full taxes. This tension between Neptune and Ocean Grove regarding taxes and obligations would be a point of recurrent stress for many years to the present.

As time went by, it became apparent that there were those in town who were not so enamored by the blue laws or by the CMA governance. Periodically there would be arguments about this, and in 1921, there actually was a secular Borough of Ocean Grove that lasted one year. After that, there was a suit, and the courts returned the town to the CMA over the issue of the “blue laws.”

In 1975, a lawsuit emerged and eventually made its way to the New Jersey Supreme Court in 1977. It was brought by The Ocean Grove News Service which wanted to be able to enter the town for one hour each Sunday at 2 am in order to deliver the Asbury Park Press. For years, the CMA had made an exception for those deliveries, but they tightened the rules so the deliveries were blocked, and the News Service sued.

The NJ Supreme Court went beyond the suit and considered the question of how a religious organization could govern a town, but they eventually decided to avoid church vs. state issues and, instead, they made a narrow ruling, based on “freedom of the press,” that allowed the newspaper deliveries to take place. The vote was 4-3.  The three in the minority would have taken governance away from the CMA. The ruling did not abolish the chains or change the authority of the CMA, other than in a one hour lowering of the barrier, once per week.

Just as that controversy quieted, another storm blew into town. A man named Louis Celmer, Jr., of Belmar, was arrested by the Ocean Grove Police for drunk driving. He was convicted in the Ocean Grove Court, but he sued in 1977 on the grounds that the court was illegal. The judge in the Monmouth County Court agreed that the OG court was unconstitutional and reversed the Celmer conviction and the Sunday closings.

The chains were temporarily taken down pending appeals, causing confrontations at the gates that summer, with people blocking traffic and setting up lawn chairs in the streets. At one point, according to a police officer who was there, a near riot ensued. Since the judge had thrown out the CMA rules, Neptune Township tried to help the CMA by approving an ordinance which banned parking in Ocean Grove on Sundays. So you could drive into town, but since you couldn’t park, you had to keep driving, or leave.

In 1978, The New Jersey Superior Court ruled that the OG Court was constitutional and they reversed the Monmouth County decision. The chains were now lawful once again. Many people became interested in the issues at stake. Letters to the editors of the APP from ministers, priests and even a rabbi encouraged support for the Sunday rules. It was said that 90% of Ocean Grovers wanted the ban to continue.

In 1979, the Celmer case was appealed again and went to the New Jersey Supreme Court. This time the composition of the court was different compared to the 1977 case.

On June 21, 1979, the situation in Ocean Grove was changed forever. The court voted 7-0 and said, “The 1870 charter is unconstitutional and of no force and effect.”   The ruling stated, “The Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association of the United Methodist Church can be delegated neither the power to manage public highways or other public property, the power to make laws, nor the power to enforce Board rules through establishment of a police department and municipal court. These functions must hence forth be exercised by the governing body of Neptune Township, of which Ocean Grove forms a part.”

The court expressed its admiration for the CMA and its goals in Ocean Grove. The ruling said, “This way of life need not be abandoned on account of today’s decision. The Association may continue to adopt rules which it deems necessary to protect Ocean Grove’s unique cultural and spiritual characteristics. The inhabitants of Ocean Grove and indeed all others who so choose, remain free to voluntarily abide by those rules.”

Rev. Harold Flood, President of the CMA, said on June 28, 1979, in the Ocean Grove Record, that the CMA ordinances were no longer enforceable. He referred to the “former ban on Sunday driving and parking” and he asked that Ocean Grovers cooperate. He said, “The best we can do is to obey the law, and the law says our gates are open.”  The CMA Board then voted to take down the chains permanently.

But in the Asbury Park Press, Rev. Flood was quoted as saying that the parking ban would continue, because it is enforced as a Neptune ordinance approved by the State.  So the CMA, in collaboration with Neptune Township, tried to continue the Sunday ban by disguising it as a parking ordinance. The plan was to keep the “gates” open, but have the Neptune Police enforce the Sunday parking ordinance.*

That strategy would not work, because a group of Ocean Grove citizens, led by Mr. Joseph Krimko (subsequently the Mayor of Neptune Township) and Mr. Art Liotti, raised money and sued on the grounds that the Neptune ordinance was illegal. The case was decided in appellate court, and the ordinance was thrown out “three zip” as Mr. Krimko described it, in a recent interview with Blogfinger. When asked why he and his colleagues brought the suit, he said, “It was the right thing to do.”

So the chains came down permanently, and Ocean Grove did not fall into the sea. It did not wind up like other religious towns, including Ocean Grove, Australia, which was founded by the same Rev. Osborn who founded Ocean Grove, New Jersey. The Australian town no longer attracts Methodists. It is now a magnet for surfers.

Today, in Ocean Grove, New Jersey, some people still come because they love the spirituality of the town. It still is a traditional place, especially on Sunday, and the Camp Meeting Association continues its religious mission with great vigor. The CMA activities, the Victorian architecture and the town’s history all add to that special “flavor” which is still present and which suggests a place from 100 years ago.

The changing demographics have contributed considerable diversity and a secular tone which add zest to the mix.  Now  (2009), in the town’s 140th year, it remains a one-of-a-kind special place to live in and visit, with elements of both the old and the new complementing each other.

Acknowledgments:  Mr. Ted Bell (Ocean Grove historian and author), Mr. Joseph Krimko  (former Ocean Grove Police officer and Neptune Mayor), Mr. Joseph Bennett (former Neptune Township Clerk), staff at Asbury Park Library and Neptune Township Library, and  “The Other Side of Ocean Grove” by Mr. Ted David.

Historical note:  We had some difficulty establishing the exact date in 1979 or 1980, when the chains came down permanently. The written materials and oral histories were unclear on this point. My best guess would be June 1979, after the Supreme Court ruling, but there were some indications that the chains were up and down a few more times into 1980, before they permanently left town.   —-PG

*Editor’s note: 2016.  Regarding that peculiar collaboration between Neptune Township and the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association in 1980, a collaboration designed to ignore the freedom ruling of the NJ Supreme Court and constrain the citizens and visitors in OG, it reminds me of the current collaboration of the CMA and the Township regarding  the plan to turn the North End of OG into Asbury Park South—something that is not in the best interest of the citizens of this town. What else has that partnership accomplished in the past for the “benefit” of those who live here?     Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger.

BROADWAY CAST OF HAMILTON   “Raise a Glass to Freedom—The Story of Tonight”




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