Archive for the ‘Blogfinger feature article’ Category

Torro Shoe Repair and Leather Works. Ft. Myers, Fla.

Torro Shoe Repair and Leather Works. Ft. Myers, Fla.  By Paul Goldfinger © 2015.

By Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger

I went into the Torro  Shoe Repair and Leather Works shop on McGregor Avenue in Fort Myers, Florida, not far from the Edison and Ford estates.  The sign in the window offered cheerleading and kick boxing lessons. Inside, it was a small space with several machines to fix shoes and the sort of disarray that only occurs in places where artists or craftsmen work.

Somehow old-time shoe repair shops  like this survive because some leather items are too good to be disposable. My belt came from Pennsylvania via Bill’s Khaki’s, and I needed two holes added.

This is not a belt to throw away when the size needs adjusting. I’m a sucker for handmade items that have patina, enduring parts, mechanical mechanisms, and classy old-fashioned  styling, so this is the ad from Bill’s that got me to purchase their English bridle leather belt with a stainless steel buckle—this belt had “meaning:”

For years, customers have asked us to make a belt that goes perfectly with our khakis and jeans. But making a belt just for the sake of it wasn’t compelling… the belt had to have meaning. Then we found Floyd, a second generation Amish harness maker whose workshop lies deep in the remote mountains of Pennsylvania. This belt was our first collaborative effort. The end result explains why we went to such great lengths to bring these belts to you.”   

I never met the Torro craftsman who fixed my belt at the rate of $2.00 per hole.  I imagined him to be old-world. perhaps Italian, in his manner, wearing a soiled apron that was tinted by hundreds of cans of shoe polish—-the kind that you had to rub into the shoe.  I thought he might have Puccini playing on the radio.   But he never materialized , and there was no music.

Instead,  a pretty, slender, young  blond woman came out from the back. She had no patina or other signs of aging or handmade workmanship, but she did have style. Maybe she was the kick boxing instructor.

Anyhow she told me to leave the belt and come back later.  I said, “Don’t I get a ticket or something?”    She said, ” I just handed it to you.”  Uh oh, my cover was blown.  I was so busy being distracted that a tiny orange ticket wound up in my shirt pocket.  On it it said only “2 holes.”

Did I feel loved at Torro?  Not really, but I did enjoy the visit. And, my pants no longer tend to drift south.

PINK MARTINI from their album “Hang On Little Tomato.”




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Ralph Bunche in 1963 at the Civil Rights March on Washington. Internet photo.

Ralph Bunche in 1963 at the Civil Rights March on Washington. Internet photo.


By Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger


Ralph Bunche (1903-1971) reminds me of Paul Robeson because both were involved in the civil rights struggle for African-Americans long before the “Civil Rights Movement” actually began. Bunche wrote books about that subject and he became the first black to win a Nobel Peace Prize–he won the award in 1950 for his work in Palestine during the ’40’s. He grew up in Los Angeles, graduated UCLA summa cum laude, and received his Ph.D. from Harvard.

During WWII he worked for the OSS (the precursor of the CIA) and he also was instrumental in the formation of the United Nations. For over 20 years he was the chairman of Political Science at Howard University.

In 1963 he marched with Martin Luther King on the occasion of the “I Have a Dream” speech. He also was on the march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama.

Ralph Bunche walked the walk and talked the talk, and society valued him greatly during his lifetime.

We remember Ralph Bunche today on Blogfinger for his role in racial justice, but also because he was a great man who performed  good deeds all over the world;  and I have my eye on his memory specifically for the work he did in mediating peace–an “armistice”– in 1949 between the new State of Israel and the Arab side—Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon and Syria.

He said,    “I have a bias in favor of both Arabs and Jews in the sense that I believe that both are good, honorable and essentially peace-loving peoples, and are therefore as capable of making peace as of waging war …” – Ralph Bunche, 1949

In Fort Myers, Florida, there is a lovely beach dedicated to the memory of Ralph Bunche. Ironically, it was the site years ago of a segregated beach for local black citizens.

Bunche Beach, Fort Myers, Florida. Jan. 18, 2015. By Paul Goldfinger ©

Bunche Beach, Fort Myers, Florida. Jan. 18, 2015. Photos by Paul Goldfinger ©

Bunche Beach. Jan 18, 2015. ©

Bunche Beach. Jan 18, 2015. ©



JOHN BARRY   “Coney Island”    From the motion picture Across the Sea of Time



2020 addendum:  There was a historic separate beach for African-Americans in Asbury Park  (see Helen’s comment).  This photo from 1908 refers to “Negroes” at that  segregated beach.  It is from the Internet:   (“history in photos.blogspot.com.)



Paul Goldfinger photograph. Bunche Beach, Fla. 2019.





The Moonglows



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Lovely old house along Bridlemere Avenue. It is likely to be worth a mere million Interlaken bucks. Blogfinger photo Nov. 2013

Lovely old house along Bridlemere Avenue. It is likely to be worth a mere million Interlaken bucks. Blogfinger photo Nov. 2013.  Click to enlarge.

By Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger

This is the third time we have posted something about Interlaken, New Jersey, a .4 square mile borough near Asbury Park and just about 10 minutes from Ocean Grove.

I like to drive through that town. It is picturesque and feels like the English countryside. It has a quiet elegance, and there is water on two sides  (north and south)—branches of Deal Lake.

Interlaken is north of Asbury Park

Interlaken is north of Asbury Park.

Its history is fascinating.  It was bought from the Lenni Lenape Indians and became a farm. A well-traveled doctor (probably a plastic surgeon)  purchased over 300 acres of the farm and proceeded to turn it into a town in the late 1800’s.

At first it was part of Ocean Township  (like Ocean Grove), but in 1922 it seceded and became an independent borough.  Curiously, Ocean Grove became a borough in 1925, but it lost its designation because of the”blue laws”—talk about the blues in the night.  Ouch!

Interlaken means “between lakes” and is named after a town in Switzerland which is between two lakes. For that matter, Ocean Grove is between two lakes, but somehow the ocean trumped the lakes in naming OG.

The street names are fascinating, because the avenues are named after English lakes, while the cross streets are named after—-you’ll never guess—islands in the Hebrides (in the Irish Sea.)  So if you drive through that town, you will see street signs that say, “Buttermere, Bridlemere, Bendermere, Grassmere and Windermere.”  I guess “mere” means  “lake.”

But if you think that the homes there are merely Victorians or Colonials, guess again. They tend to be beautiful grand manor houses like they have by the lakes in Switzerland or, perhaps like some along the Irish Sea.

Another cottage for two along Bridelmere Avenue

Another cottage for two along Bridlemere Avenue. Blogfinger photo. click left

The town in 2010 had 820 people according to the census. It is more white than Ocean Grove having 0% African Americans. But it does have .49% Native Americans which means half of a Lenni Lenape—so it’s a guy named Lenni who lives on Buttermere.  Actually it seems that there are 4 Native Americans in Interlaken, so those 4 should demand a casino in that town.

Below are links to our two prior posts about Interlaken, which amounts to a total of one Blogfinger post for every 270 Interlakers.  I wonder if they have a town musical instrument called the “Interlakenspiel” which you play with a mallet while standing between those two arms of Deal Lakenmere while the Interlakers engage in beer drinking and merrymaking.

Here is the Jagersburger March from an album called:  “German Beer Drinking and Merrymaking Songs” by the Munich Meistersingers

Blogfinger Interlaken link one

Blogfinger Interlaken link two

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Dennis Burlingame in Ocean Grove. Jan. 12, 2014. Paul Goldfinger photo ©

Dennis Burlingame in Ocean Grove. Jan. 12, 2014. Paul Goldfinger photo ©

By Paul Goldfinger , Editor @Blogfinger  (re-posted from Jan, 2014)

Dennis Burlingame was born on Mt. Tabor Way in Ocean Grove. The 58 year old school-bus dispatcher has been seeking treasure on the beaches around here for over thirty years. Now he lives in Neptune City, but today, like some sort of Jersey shore archeologist,  he was on the hunt with his metal detection gear on the beach in Ocean Grove.  You can find people who enjoy this hobby in different places such as old battlefields or historic camp grounds.

Dennis mostly hopes to find either coins or jewelry on the beaches of Monmouth and Ocean counties. Today he didn’t find much. I asked him if the prospect of tons of fresh sand on our beach might produce some  surprises like historic  coins or jewels from some sunken ship wreck, like Mel Fisher found when he discovered the wreck of the Atocha, the Spanish treasure ship, off Key West.  But no, I couldn’t fire up Dennis’ imagination . He said that all that sand from far out* would produce nothing that he would find interesting.

According to Dennis, the best beach for metal detecting  around here is Belmar because the beaches there are  big and attract large crowds. He does have fond memories of a diamond bracelet that he once recovered from the sand.  He also recalls the clammer in Barnegat Bay who lost overboard a gold bracelet with diamonds and rubies.  The man took a bottle and created a marker.  He then hired Dennis to find the bracelet, and Dennis was able to return that expensive item to the owner.

We met Dennis as he was walking off the beach to return to his 4-wheel-drive truck.  He said it was time to give up the quest for today. His roof at home was leaking, and that was #2 on his to-do list.

* FYI   The sand used for replenishment is being brought from out in the surf of Sandy Hook.

Dennis  does spend a great deal of time by the beautiful sea, as do some characters  depicted in this video from 1919 into the 1950’s in Atlantic  City.  If a certain bathing beauty catches your eye, just put your cursor on the image and click the pause symbol.  Then click the play symbol to resume.  —–PG  (a man once asked another, “What do you think of bathing beauties?”    The response, “I don’t know, I never bathed one.”)

And here is Jessica Molaskey with a more modern version:

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Two generations join the Town-Wide Yard Sale on Heck Avenue in Ocean Grove.  2016.    Paul Goldfinger photo ©

By Paul  @Blogfinger:

I had purchased a new Garmin GPS, so I placed my old one out on a table at our yard sale—- marked $10.00.  A man came by and spent about 15 minutes studying it carefully.

Man:  Does this GPS have night-time lighting and does it work?

Me: Yes

Man: How old is it?

Me: About 3 years.

Man:  It’s too much money.

Me: (feeling charitable:)   OK  $5.00

Man  (taking out his wallet and staring into it)  I don’t have $5.00

Me: You can have it for free.

Man:  No, I don’t want it. I want one with all the latest features.

Me:  Sorry, but you need a new one for that.

Man: Walks away.


KENNY VANCE from his new album.  Kenny—We miss you in Ocean Grove:  —–PG



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You get a choice on Blogfinger. It’s freedom of speech, and that’s what we want.


By Paul Goldfinger, MD, Editor @Blogfinger.net

In recent days there has been a brief discussion on the social media site “Nextdoor.com” about Blogfinger’s policy of allowing anonymous commenters to express their opinions.  Nextdoor insists that all posts be under the person’s full real name.

Kennedy Buckley, a trustee of the OGHOA and a member of Nextdoor.com, said this publicly regarding our policy:   “Comments without a name = fake news.”  This condemnation by good old “Grover Ken” trashes over 90% of the comments on Blogfinger.

But what Kennedy forgot is that he was a regular commenter on Blogfinger for years.

When he was commenting on BF, 90% of the time he signed in as “Ken,” and that was done because he didn’t want to reveal his full name, and, only on rare occasions, would he would sign in as “Kennedy Buckley.”

And, at times, he would contribute using pseudonyms such as “The Dreamer.” “The Nag”  “Biased” and “Curious”  and there were many others as well—we lost count.   And then, one day, he stopped commenting because he joined the silent majority at the OGHOA’s Board of Trustees.

So I guess the H in HOA for him means “Hypocrite.”   Or maybe we could use the term “Double standard.”

And this, by another Grover on Nextdoor.com named Diane Giangeruso:  “If you can’t give your name then you can’t give your opinion on the permit parking. Speak up and be proud 🌞”

As for Diane Giangeruso’s comment, you can see the defect in what she said using her real name.

Although that website Nextdoor should be very useful if you are looking for an endodontist or a Portajohn, I doubt that it will be a good forum for serious debate because of the real name requirement.

THE ANDREWS SISTERS: We send this song out to Kennedy Buckley of Ocean Grove–a guy who can’t make up his mind.

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THE BLOGFINGER ARTICLE BELOW IS FROM MARCH 19, 2014.  Read it to see where we were over 3 years ago.


It was a fun game of musical shovels as officials tried to spell

It was a fun game of musical shovels as officials tried to spell “Neptune.” By Paul Goldfinger ©

This is where the project will end---at Founders' Park. Desilting is a separate project from the wall restoration seen above. Blogfinger photo March, 2014.

This is where the project will end—at Founders’ Park. Desilting is a separate project from the wall restoration seen above. Blogfinger photo March, 2014.



AP Sun photo March 19, 2014. ©  Read the thermometer. Mayor Bradley presides. Vito Gadaleta is in the tan jacket. 

By Paul Goldfinger, Editor  @Blogfinger

March 19, 2014,  Ocean Grove:      A chilly groundbreaking ceremony was held today next to the broken-down cement retaining wall adjacent to Founders’ Park.  Officials from the Wesley Lake Commission, Asbury Park, and Neptune Township came together to officially announce that the $1.5 million project to rebuild portions of the wall in Ocean Grove and to desilt the Lake are now in full swing.  The event was chaired by Neptune Mayor Michael Brantley who has a long interest in trying to improve the situation at Wesley Lake.  After years of frustration, he seemed almost giddy today as he organized a photo-op of officials with ceremonial shovels trying to spell “Neptune.”

Wesley Lake is one of a number of coastal lakes in this vicinity, including Fletcher Lake,  which have been deteriorating over time due to a multitude of  ecologic issues including storm water running off the streets containing chemicals and bacteria and then streaming into the lakes. Contamination causing degradation of  natural conditions endangers the health of fish and causes  promotion of weeds as well as silt buildup on the bottom.  Oxygenation of the water becomes impaired and there is the accumulation of garbage on the bottom or just floating by.

Wesley Lake. Paul Goldfinger photo 2013

Wesley Lake. Paul Goldfinger photo 2013  ©

The Wesley Lake Commission is composed of representatives of both towns (there is a similar cooperative group at Fletcher Lake,)  but in the case of Wesley Lake, the Commission has been wrestling with these current issues for at least the last ten years, with efforts being frustrated by lack of adequate funding to reverse some of the problems.

I attended a meeting several years ago of the Friends of Wesley Lake, a now defunct group of concerned citizens that tried to motivate residents to make the Lake better, but the best that they could come up with was to sponsor a cleanup day–to pick up garbage in and around the Lake.

We heard some activists from Ocean Grove and Asbury Park speak at that meeting  who expressed their frustration over a problem that seemingly was insurmountable due to  financial issues and which included a worrisome situation involving oil and gasoline contamination of the soil on the Asbury side.

A few years ago, the Commission determined that it would cost about $12 million to fix Wesley Lake and its related problems such as the streetscape along the lake, the OG wall, the condition of the fish, and storm water management.   Neptune Township recently commissioned a survey of the depth of sediment buildup in the entire lake.  They found that silt accumulation was minimal on the Asbury side due to dredging that was evidently done when AP built their metal retaining wall about 5 years ago.  But on the Ocean Grove side, the silt buildup had to become part of the current project. Desilting will also be done at Fletcher Lake to complete the dredging goals.

Then came Sandy, and that superstorm caused further deterioration in the Lake and in the crumbling cement retaining wall on the Ocean Grove side which has been declining for years.

At today’s event, the Mayor told us that $1.5 million had been raised  (beginning in 2013)  in the form of grants, mostly from a Federal agency, the National Resource Conservation Service (Dept. of Agriculture). Other sources brought the funds to well over $2 million.  So now we are seeing reconstruction of 400 linear feet of wall which will extend from the boardwalk end to the Founders’ Park end.  The remaining cement wall to the west will have to wait for more funds at another time.

The current project, being done by Precise Construction, will rebuild the wall by using temporary steel sheet pilings, front and rear, to hold back the dirt and the water, while the permanent structure is restored using reenforced concrete which, according to Neptune Engineering Chief Leanne Hoffmann, should last at least 50 years. A separate project will be done now to desilt along the Ocean Grove wall out to 30 feet.  Desilting is another way to say “dredging. ” The new terminology is preferred by the DEP.  45,000 cubic yards will be removed and dumped somewhere.  The project should be done by Memorial Day.

Among the speakers today  were Vito Gadaleta, the Township Business Administrator and Peter Avakian, the Commission Engineer. Also present was Neptune Committeeman Randy Bishop of Ocean Grove.     The mood was happy because these officials and the citizens of Ocean Grove and Asbury Park have waited so long to see meaningful progress.

The meeting concluded with participants  heading over to the west end of the Lake to check out a big thermometer which will track future financing towards the $12 million needed for future continued progress which, by the way, will include restocking with fish.

When this project is over, church bells may ring in the Grove   (you know what’s coming)

THE FIREBIRDS   (no, not the Willows or the Diamonds)




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Total solar eclipse. 2017 By Wikipedia.

By Tom Costantino, Roving Citizen Reporter.


I just got back from Tennessee and so reporting that Ocean Grove was successfully represented by at least one person (me) and 1 dog (Marigold) in the path of totality for the 2017 solar eclipse.

I made a last-minute trip with an old friend. We drove south for 12 hours, adjusting our target destination based on hourly weather forecasts.  We finally settled on a small town just south of Knoxville, TN.  We arrived at 3 am.


Madisonville, TN. A perfect place to watch the solar eclipse. All photos here and below by roving Blogfinger reporter Tom Costantino. ©

Madisonville, TN was about as close to the centerline of the eclipse as you could get and an accidental destination for us.  We had 2 minutes and 38 seconds of total eclipse. The next morning we learned about a nearby park where the town was hosting a gathering for the big event.  So, we headed over, set up our chairs and sun tent, and waited.


Our sun tent. In the foreground is Marigold. On the phone is my old friend Whatshisname. August 21, 2017.

It was all they said it would be: the slow crescendo of the partial eclipse, the diminishing light with stars eventually appearing, the cooling temperature, the crickets thinking it was nightfall.

Then the famous diamond ring appeared, and cheers erupted from the crowd. Time seemingly stood still for 2 minutes and 38 seconds. It was truly a most unique experience. Then came the 2nd diamond ring and it was over.

I was not equipped to take any photographs of the actual eclipse partly due to the last minute nature of the trip, but also on advice for first timers to just enjoy the fleeting moment with your own eyes and no distractions  (good advice.)

Although it was an amazing experience, it was not life changing for me and so I did not instantly decide to become a life-long eclipse chaser or a monk.

Heading home. We need a space ship.

So we packed up and headed home. The trip back was a little longer but even still—well worth it.


DEATH CAB FOR CUTIE.    “Meet Me On the Equinox” from the soundtrack to the Twilight Saga—New Moon.


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Nippers on the beach at Ocean Grove, Australia. January, 2017.

Nippers on the beach at Ocean Grove, Australia. January, 2017. It’s confusing, but these nippers are in their winter clothes and help remind us of our girls in their summer clothes in New Jersey.

Hi Paul,

“I thought this might be of interest. I work for a global company and recently had a late day call with a colleague of mine in Melbourne, Australia. (5:30 pm in NJ and 9:30 am in Australia)   I knew of our “sister town” outside of Melbourne and asked my colleague if he ever heard of Ocean Grove Australia?

“He told how he was just in Ocean Grove this weekend and then sent me the attached picture titled “Nippers at Ocean Grove”  My colleague’s daughter, second from the end on the right, was participating in a u12 girls “life saving carnival”.

“He knew nothing of Ocean Grove NJ and how our towns’ histories are linked, and he was thoroughly surprised. It’s truly a small world. Cheers!”

Mike O.   ” O”  is for “Ocean Grover of New Jersey, USA, ” but our OG was founded first.

Wiktionary definition for Nipper:     “A child aged from 5 to 13 in the Australian surf life-saving clubs.
Of our movement’s 153,000 members, over 58,500 are nippers (5-13 years). This equates to nearly 40% of our total membership and shows just how significant the junior movement is within surf lifesaving.”

“The Nippers program, for children aged five to thirteen, promotes water safety skills and confidence in a safe beach environment.”

Editor’s Note:   Blogfinger has posted a number of articles about OG, Australia.  Below are someBF  links from 2013:





THE AUSSIE BUSH BAND   “Home Among the Gumtrees.”

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Parmagiano cheese wheel at Mario's Italian market in Fort Myers, Fla. 1/27/16. Blogfinger.net photo. ©

Parmagiano cheese wheel at Mario’s Italian market in Fort Myers, Fla. 1/27/17. Blogfinger.net photo. ©

By Eileen Goldfinger and Paul Goldfinger,  Editors  @Blogfinger.net.  Photography by Eileen Goldfinger.

If you think that you can’t get authentic Italian cuisine in Florida, you haven’t visited Mario’s Meat Market and Deli in Fort Myers (southwest Fla).  This remarkable food store has customers lining up at the counter where you can get incredible breads, meats, sauces, homemade sausage, cheeses, wines, desserts,  and custom sandwiches.  For example, one of their specialty heros is called  “The Italian” and consists of salami, pepperoni, capicolo, provolone, lettuce, tomato, onion, hot peppers oil and vinegar on a superb role with sesame seeds.   Some people can’t wait to get home, so they chow down at tables arranged outside.

The people at the counter were remarkably helpful and cheerful.  Some of them are professional cooks, so they will tell you how to prepare , for example , an authentic meat dish “braciola”

We were there picking up supplies for an Italian dinner that Eileen was planning and we stumbled on a “rare” culinary event.  Representatives from a large cheese manufacturer (“Leone”) from the mountainous Verona region of Italy were getting ready to “open” one of their huge wheels.  They were readying a parmigiano cheese called Monte Veronese, made from cow’s milk,  specially prepared for Mario’s.

Getting ready to open the wheel. Mike Tuccillo (sales manager for Leone L.) Mario Pica store owner, Gabriele Leone R.) © Blogfinger.net photo. Ft. Myers, Fla. 1/27/17

Getting ready to open the wheel. Mike Tuccillo (sales manager for Leone L.) Mario Pica (store owner,) and  Gabriele Leone R.) © Blogfinger.net photo. Ft. Myers, Fla. 1/27/17

What was unique about this wheel was that it had been aged for five years, much longer than most cheeses from that northeast region where much of the Italian cheese-making occurs.  The storage facility is kept at 80% humidity and 61 degrees F.

No one knows how long wheels have been the motif for storing cheese, but this variety has been made for nearly 900 years.  To open the wheel requires great skill and experience if it is done in the traditional way—- manually with knives.  Usually they use machines.

Gabriele Leone, the owner of the Leone company, brought out some special tools.  He worked very carefully, but after watching this demonstration, I was amazed that he still has all his fingers. He was cheered on by the company’s bilingual American representative Mike Tuccillo and by Mario Pica, the owner of this remarkable store.

Eileen Goldfinger photo. Blogfinger.net 1/27/17 ©

Eileen Goldfinger photo. Blogfinger.net 1/27/17 ©

When he finally opened the wheel, it was a very special event and the performance received a round of applause.  Then Gabriele began to offer chunks of the parmigiano, which is a hard cheese that tends to crumble. It is usually sold as wedges or grated.  It should be stored in the refrigerator where it can last for up to 6 months. If a little mold begins to appear, just cut it off.  We tried some, and it was delicious:  fragrant and tasty.

Photo by Eileen Goldfinger. Blogfinger.net/ 1/27/17 ©

Photo by Eileen Goldfinger. Blogfinger.net/ 1/27/17 ©

Mike explained that the company is beginning to export their unique aged products to America.  Thanks to Mike, Gabriele and Mario for giving Blogfinger access to this very special event.


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