Reposted from 2010 with the comments. Blast from the past, with a memorable last line:
By Mary Beth Jahn, former mayor and Committeeman. She is the only Committeeman ever to comment on Blogfinger.
Hey OG Resident – Oh My!, guess what? I was one (a Grover), too, from 1993 to 2006. I lived in the big orange apartment building on Main and Pennsylvania. I got used to throwing my blinkers on for a few minutes in the fire zone, unloading the car, and heading for the 100 blocks of Heck or Abbott to park on Saturdays until the Aud. let out.
The bus service was there when I moved in, and it came in darn handy when the train to NYC went down. In 1993, the majority of the Grove was serving mental patients, so the renaissance with stores and eateries has been and continues to be a delight and a true wonder of how determined citizens who are willing to take a gamble on a magical place can turn it around.
There was a time when Ocean Grove was much more isolated – no Dunkin’ Donuts (though we briefly had a Wawa there), no Windmill, no West Grove Square. Not all progress is bad. I’ll agree the density went wildly out of control in the 70s, 80s, and probably the the 90s, but when the state is paying you $1,600 per person, it was hard for owners of large hotels to turn that money down. As for the triage bus the county has asked us to house, fuel, and insure, I haven’t spoken to one first-responder who says we shouldn’t have it, especially as the southern Monmouth area consolidates services.
That aside, what are the things you love about the Grove? All that seems to be getting lost here. I can’t tell you how many people in town I initially met at the old Wachovia ATM. The Jersey Shore Arts Center is pretty amazing. Shuffleboard is tons of fun. The Historical Society and Camp Meeting have great events. There’s Nagel’s and Day’s and the Starving Artist. Smuggler’s Cove and Ocean Grove Flowers always have the perfect gifts for any occasion. For a town that size, that’s hardly shabby.
We all control our own quality of life. There are certain things we have to learn to live with, especially in a small area. When we let the negative aspects take over the positive, sometimes you have to make choices. I personally learned to turn a blind eye to parking on summer weekends so it didn’t make me crazy. I knew what it was when I moved there, so it wasn’t like I hadn’t signed up for it. I’m not saying that’s the approach everyone should take, but at some point, with this much anger roiling around some folks, maybe it’s time for some contemplative thought about focusing on the positive rather than the negative.
I moved out of the Grove for two reasons: one was that I was still not in remission with my severe rheumatoid arthritis, and therefore, unable to perform most home repairs, which would have left the bulk of any work we could do ourselves on my sister, which wasn’t fair. Second, we still weren’t sure whether I was going to fully go into remission (which I have, thankfully), but to be on the safe side, we needed a home which we could afford if I ended up on disability. So far, so good.
I miss the smell of the sea when I walk out the front door, walking down the street to the ATM and News and Such, and spending time on the boardwalk. When I think back on my time in the Grove, those are the things I remember most, not circling around blocks for a parking spot, and I suspect most people, when they remember this summer, will remember the great beach days, dinner parties, drinks on the porch with friends and family, Frisbee on the beach, and the like.
The sheer tininess of this town is part of what gives it the magic it has. We can choose to grasp the magic and work toward solutions, or we can become bitter and ruin an entire beautiful summer’s worth of memories.
Which side are you going to choose – the magic or the tragic?
THE DUBS (music added 2017)