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Ocean Grove menorah. The eighth night of Hanukkah.   December 23, 2014. By Paul and Eileen Goldfinger. ©

Ocean Grove menorah. The eighth night of Hanukkah.  Image by Paul and Eileen Goldfinger. ©  The happy couple are Eileen’s parents–American born in Brooklyn, NY.

 

By Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger

Today, Nov 28, is the first night of Hanukkah when the first candle is lit.  Here is my brief version of the real meaning of Hanukkah. It is not the Jewish Christmas, nor is it primarily about a miracle of the oil , nor does the name “Festival of Lights” accurately describe the point of it all either.

To understand what Hanukkah is really about, you need to focus on a brief moment in history. The year was 168 B.C. The Greek Seleucid empire ruled in Syria, while the Egyptians ruled in the Holy Land. The Greeks drove out the Egyptians and introduced a Hellenistic life style to the region.

Jews had lived in the Holy Land since the time of David, and much of the time they were able to practice their religion, but the Greeks wanted to ban the Jewish religious customs and convert everyone to a Greek way of life.

A rebellion occurred led by a Jewish guerrilla army called the Maccabees (means “hammer”.) A three year war ensued, and the Jewish fighters won back their religion and the rule over their country.

Fast forward to the late 19th century in Europe where oppressed diaspora Jews decided to press for their greatest wish—-a return as pioneers to Israel. This Zionist movement drew inspiration from the Maccabees and they trained while in Europe to become fighters.  When the early Zionists made their way back to Israel, they worked the fields with hoes in their hands and rifles on their backs.

In 1948, when the State of Israel was restored, the new Israeli armed forces beat the odds and defeated the invading Arab armies. They were inspired not only by the Maccabees but by the horrors of the Holocaust including the courageous defense of the Warsaw Ghetto, and they swore, “Never again!”  They would become a formidable defensive force. To this day they are called the IDF—Israel Defense Force.

IDF women. Internet photo

IDF women. Internet photo

So Hanukkah is about having the will to fight for religious and national freedom. And that Hanukkah spirit is at play again today as the Israelis face an existential threat in the Middle East.

Hanukkah is  a minor Jewish holiday, but, putting aside the candles, the gifts, the dreidels (spinning tops,) and the latkes (potato holiday pancakes,) there is a heart and soul to the holiday which is about freedom through strength, faith, and courage.

KENNY ELLIS:  Ocho Kandelikas  (8 candles)

And, something more contemporary:    MATISYAHU

Matisyahu. Internet photo.

Matisyahu. Internet photo.

 

 

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

Parmigiano 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 taking numbers and  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, capicola, 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 “braciole.”

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 preparing 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.

 

DEAN MARTIN:

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This is onboard one of the US Air Force's C-17 on one of the evacuation trips 
from Tacloban to Manila. Thank you, America. From Norm Ginsburg of Elberon

This is onboard one of the US Air Force’s C-17 on one of the evacuation trips 
from Tacloban to Manila.
Thank you, America. From Norm Ginsburg of Elberon

 

During the last few days we have had about 600 hits to view this post.   (August, 2021)    None came from the Philippines, so they must be Americans.    How wonderful to remember!

 

THE IRISH TENORS.  From the album “Heritage”   Irving Berlin, a Jewish immigrant,  wrote “God Bless America.”

 

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Robert Capa, Life Magazine photographer went into Omaha Beach with the American troops.

Robert Capa, Life Magazine photographer landed  at  Omaha Beach with the American troops. They landed at Easy Red/Fox Green sector. June 6, 1944.

 

By Paul Goldfinger, MD    Editor @Blogfinger

Robert Capa landed with the troops and shot quickly with his Leica 35 mm camera.  He handed over his film to an aide who got the film out  to a boat and then on to England for processing.  Unfortunately, an overzealous lab tech ruined most of the exposures except for a few. The image above is one of them, and the Capa D-Day collection is among the best examples of American photojournalism.

There were 12 surgical teams that went in on D-Day, but only 8 made it to shore.  Medics quickly organized the wounded. Medical stations and field hospitals were quickly established on shore.  Of the wounded who made it to a medical station, less than 1% died.

 

During the month prior to D-Day, American factories manufactured 100 million doses of the wonder drug Penicillin. There were 4,644 U.S. Army nurses who were stationed on the European front in 1944. They landed on the beaches on June 10 and walked 5 miles or more to field hospitals.

 

Normandy, a few days after D-Day, aircraft bring in containers of blood for transfusion. *

Normandy, a few days after D-Day, aircraft bring in containers of blood for transfusion. *

 

D-day cemetery in Normandy. Submitted by Ted Aanensen, Blogfinger staff ©

D-day cemetery in Normandy. Submitted by Ted Aanensen, Blogfinger staff ©  Colleville-Sur-Mer, France.

 

* Reference:  Time Magazine D-Day 70th Anniversary Tribute  (re-issue of the 2004 Time Classic)  Available at Wegmans Ocean.

 

MARTHA WAINWRIGHT.  From the soundtrack of the film  The Aviator

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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.  Re-post from Jan. 2020.   For Black History Month.

 

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

 

 

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.  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 is a link to a prior BF post  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

 

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Krista the badge checker at work on the OB boards. Blogfinger photo ©

Krista the badge checker at work on the OG boards. Blogfinger photo ©  Re-post from 2015.

By Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger

Every few years I decide to write something about beach badges. Here is a link to our last outing on that subject where we have a picture of a seagull with a beach badge and a discussion about senior citizen badges.    link to beach badge article

Today we decided to interview an Ocean Grove badge checker. She was working the beach entrance near the office. Her chair and umbrella were positioned so that no one could sneak by. Whenever a customer appeared, she stood up, unless she was perched on the top railing.

A woman tried to walk past, but the checker stopped her. “Oh,” said the woman, “I paid but I forgot to get the wrist band.” She did an about face and walked off.     I snapped a few candid shots of the checker, and then there was an opportunity to speak to her. This is how it went:

BF : Hi, I’m Paul from Blogfinger. Here’s my card. I’d like to interview you, but you should keep working, and I will talk to you in between. What’s your name?

K: Krista

BF:   What’s your last name?

K: Do I have to say?

 

BF:   No–not necessary. Is this your first year here as a badge checker?

K:  No, I’ve been doing this for five summers and I’m not a badge checker; I’m a step guard.

 

BF:  Where are you from and what do you do in the off season?

K:  I’m a college student—a sophomore at Ocean County College, majoring in liberal arts.   I live in Seaside.

 

BF:   I used to hang out in Seaside with my high school friends. We used to peek into the Chatterbox and wish we could get in.

K:  Oh, that place is gone.

BF:   Ocean Grove is a lot different than Seaside, isn’t it?

K: ` There is a huge contrast. Ocean Grove is a Methodist town.

 

BF: Do the young guys in Seaside Heights still wear those sleeveless T shirts?

K: You mean “the wife beaters?”

 

BF: er…..Do guys hit on you here for dates?

K. Never, but there’s one old guy who brings me little gifts, food and coffee. He doesn’t ask for anything. Besides I have a boyfriend. He’s in Korea.

 

BF. Be careful what you say about old guys, there are plenty of them in Ocean Grove. How old are you?

K: 19

 

BF  (two bike riders speed by. It’s 9:50 am) If someone rides a bike here after 10 am, is anyone enforcing the rules?

K:   I do.

BF: Do you jump up and run after them?

K:  No, I just yell at them.   I have to sit in my chair.

BF:  You could carry your chair while you chase them. Is this job boring?

K:  Sometimes. But I meet a lot of characters, especially towards the North End by Asbury.

 

BF: What do you do when it’s slow?

K: I read my newspaper and my book of short stories.

BF:  You can’t read a newspaper here; it would blow all over the place.

K:  No…..I read it on my phone.

BF:  Oh……

BF:  Do tourists ever ask you funny questions?

K:  One asked me ,”When are the dolphins coming?”    I thought, “As if I know.  Do they think I have a schedule? ”

 

BF: What if it rains?

K:  We can go home, but we don’t get paid.

 

BF: I’ll take your picture and you can have your boyfriend see it in Korea. Just send him a link to Blogfinger.

K:   OK

BF:  Oops, my camera battery’s dead . I can use the candid  photos from before.  (I thought,  “What a lousy reporter I am–no backup battery and I’m thinking dead battery jokes.)    I go to get another battery and then return. Krista poses for a formal portrait:

Krista in her office. Blogfinger photo

Krista in her office by the Non-fishing Pier.  Blogfinger photo ©

K: It’s my break.   Bye. I’m going to visit my sister.

BF:    Bye. Stay out of the sun.

K. OK.

So I headed north and checked the sign for the forbidden bicycle hours. I thought it was 8 am, but it is 10 am to 3 am. Do people really ride bikes on this boardwalk from midnight to 3 am?   And if they did, who in the world would stop them?

It’s funny about language. When wrist bands replaced most beach badges, the name “badge checker”  became obsolete. But why “step guard?”  And how about the word “girl?” If I had referred to Krista as a “checker girl,”  that would be wrong—-right?      Remember the “hat check girl?”    But feminists would bellow.    If she’s a woman, which she certainly is, then at what age did she become one?   She undoubtedly was a girl when she first became a checker in the Grove five years ago.

Anyhow, have no fear, the steps of Ocean Grove are protected by fine woman step guards, and at least one man step guard whom I saw. He’s about 16 years old. Is he a man or a boy? Among Jews, a 13 year old boy becomes a man at his bar mitzvah (He says, “Today I am a man!”), but the bar mitzvah “boy”, taking a look at a delightful 20 year old woman in a miniskirt dancing the hora at his party realizes, in his heart, that he is not really a man; he’s still a boy, but shhhhhh don’t tell anybody.

THE RONETTES   (sending this out to Krista’s boyfriend with the the US Air Force in Korea):

PATRICK RIGUELLE AND JOHN TERRA

 

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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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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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