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By Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger

(This piece is re-posted. It was first presented on Blogfinger in July, 2014.)

It was Saturday night, July 18, 1925, at 8:15 p.m., when vocalist Paul Robeson and his accompanist Lawrence Brown strode onto the stage of the Great Auditorium to present a concert of “Soul Stirring Negro Spirituals” (1)  to an integrated audience of three thousand people. Mr. Robeson, an imposing black man, was twenty seven years old. He was already famous as a screen and stage actor as well as a singer.  He was a true Renaissance man who would become one of the most popular performing artists of the 1930’s and 1940’s.

Robeson, who was born (1898) and raised in New Jersey, was an All-American football player and Phi Beta Kappa at Rutgers University and an honors graduate of the Columbia University Law School. As a college student, Robeson was friends with the Day family who owned Day’s Ice Cream “Gardens” in Asbury Park and Ocean Grove. He had a summer job as a singing waiter at Day’s. (3)  When he came to Ocean Grove for his 1925 concert, he had just completed a triumphant run at The Provincetown Theatre in New York, where he performed the lead role in Eugene O’Neill’s “All God’s Children Got Wings.”

He had friends at the Algonquin Round Table in New York City, and it was there, with the encouragement of his colleagues, that he decided to do a concert tour with an entire program of “Negro” spirituals and secular songs also known as “slave or plantation music.” This would be the first time that this music would be performed in concert, and he would appear with his close friend Lawrence Brown, also an African-American, who was a gifted composer, pianist and singer. The two would work together for thirty years. The first stop on the tour was The Greenwich Village Theatre in New York City, and then, three months later, he appeared in Ocean Grove.

The concert was reviewed by the Asbury Park Press, which said, “Robeson showed an intelligent appreciation of his task and a splendid voice.” They called him “a talented son of this state” and they described “great applause” in the Auditorium. Among the songs which he and Lawrence Brown sang were “Go Down Moses,” “Weepin’ Mary” and “Swing Low Sweet Chariot.”

The following month he performed his concert in Spring Lake. They would tour for five years, all over the world, with this program. Later, Robeson would become the third most popular radio artist in the USA in the 20’s and 30’s. In the 1940’s he was the highest paid concert performer in the country and he was also successful as a recording artist. He would sing in the first production of “Showboat” and he would play Othello on Broadway and in England. He would star in eleven movies.

But his visit to OG that night was not only about music; it was also about recognition of African American culture and the elevation of that folk music to high art. In addition, Robeson always was about hope for African Americans, and performing that music was his way to offer pride and encouragement to his people. In 2004, when Barack Obama gave his “Audacity of Hope” speech at the Democratic convention, the first example he cited was, “…the hope of slaves sitting around a fire singing freedom songs.”

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Robeson would accomplish much in his life, but his greatest contribution would be his tireless and life-long advocacy for civil rights. In 1925, Martin Luther King wasn’t born yet, and the “civil rights movement” would not begin until the 1950’s. Imagine how much courage was required for a black man to step forward publicly on behalf of racial justice at a time when lynchings were still occurring in this country. In 1921 a race riot in Tulsa, Oklahoma resulted in the deaths of 20 whites and 60 blacks. In 1922, an anti-lynching bill was defeated by filibuster in the US Senate. In 1925, the year of the concert, there were 17 reported lynchings in the US. Jim Crow laws could be found in many states, but Paul Robeson pressed for racial justice wherever he went and for his entire life.

Robeson had been “eagerly” (1) looking forward to his concert in The Great Auditorium. It is likely that he was aware that many “extraordinary African Americans” (2) had appeared there in the past, including the famous Marian Anderson (1921),  Booker T Washington (1908), the singing evangelist Amanda Berry Smith (late 1800’s) and many renowned black  preachers. The Ocean Grove Historical Society has documented the African American History Trail in our town. (2)

In 1998, the Ocean Grove Historical Society celebrated the 100th anniversary of Robeson’s birth by a day-long commemoration featuring lectures, dance, a book signing and an exhibition. The centerpiece of the program was a re-creation of the 1925 concert in the Auditorium. They brought the noted African American bass Kevin Maynor, who used the original program and reproduced the concert from 73 years earlier. This remarkable event was made possible by a committee of Ocean Grovers led by Rhoda Newman (chairman), Kevin Chambers, Phillip May, Jr., and others.

Paul Robeson’s contributions have been recognized many times in the form of tributes at Carnegie Hall and NJPAC, plus many articles, books, exhibits and documentaries. He is a part of Ocean Grove’s musical heritage which includes Enrico Caruso, Duke Ellington, John Phillip Sousa, and Pearl Bailey (2). Paul Robeson died in 1976 at age 77. Five thousand people attended the funeral in Harlem.

Paul Robeson sings “Swing Low Sweet Chariot” from The Complete EMI Sessions 1928-1939, remastered 2008.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS:

1. Asbury Park Press Archives (Asbury Park Library)

2. Ocean Grove Historical Society Archives (Ms. Rhoda Newman)

3. Mr. Kevin Chambers, Ocean Grove Historian

4. Ocean Grove Times Archives (Neptune Township Library: Mrs. Marian R.Bauman, Director)

 

 

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Steamed fish. Prepared 6/19./20, by Eileen Goldfinger in OG with Vivian’s recipe. Blogfinger photo. © Click to enlarge

 

Vivian Huang’s Delicious Steamed Fish:

1/2 pound cod fish (loin)

2 tablespoons finely grated fresh ginger

5 scallion (3 thinly sliced on the diagonal & 2 for garnish)

1 1/2 tablespoons of fish soy sauce or oyster sauce

3 tablespoons chicken stock

2 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 clove garlic finely grated *

Place fish on a microwave safe plate and top with 1 tablespoon ginger and garlic. Cover completely with plastic wrap and microwave for 4 minutes on high.

Sauce:

Heat oil in a small sauce pan until it simmers. Add remaining ginger and sliced scallions.

Add fish sauce and stock. Simmer for 2 minutes.

Remove plastic wrap from fish. Pour any juices from the fish into the sauce pan and simmer for another minute. Pour the sauce over the fish, garnish with the 2 whole scallions.

Serves 2

* Vivian’s recipe did not contain garlic; that was my addition (Eileen Goldfinger, food editor @Blogfinger).

Editor’s Note: Vivian Huang is an expert in Chinese cuisine. She is not a professional chef, but she is an excellent home cook who was born in Taiwan.

This recipe is a superb example of heart-healthy cooking. The fish is steamed.  Cod fish is low in cholesterol,  high in protein, and rich in  nutrients such as calcium and potassium. This 2020 version by Eileen was prepared in June, so there are lots of heart healthy accompaniments shown in the photo above.

A small amount of extra virgin olive oil is used in the recipe which, in the prevention world, is considered to be a “good oil.” Ginger has been utilized for centuries for its medicinal benefits, and garlic is an herb with reputed health benefits in heart disease. The recipe is low in fat and calories and it contains, of course, omega-3 fish oils.

Note that Paul Goldfinger, MD and Eileen Goldfinger, BS,  have written a book called Prevention Does Work: A Guide to a Healthy Heart.

Eileen’s recipe section stresses sea food preparation. The book is available at Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com

MUSIC. If you want some authentic Chinese sea food, you should take a slow boat to China with a really good friend, catch the fish yourself, and let the crew prepare it. Then eat it under the stars.

Here is Renee Olstead with Carol Weisman:    — PG

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By Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger    (Reposted  from original article 2013. Now, 2020, we are finding renewed interest in the Emburys as revealed in our archives.)

Ocean Grove is known for its music programs. We have live music on the beach, in the parks, in the Auditorium, and on Main Avenue, but here’s something you may not know about.

The Emburys are a group of shore guys who love to get together on a street corner or in an echo chamber like the Casino and bring back that authentic acapella doo-wop sound. This is how that early form of rock and roll developed, especially in the inner cities of New York and Philly. Boogie is the guy who sings bass and is one Grover whom many of us know. The bass always stands out in these groups.*

We found them on a Sunday afternoon performing an old tune by “Shep and the Limelites” in front of the Pathway Market at the corner of Mt. Hermon Way and Pilgrim Pathway in the shadows of the Great Auditorium where, just the night before, the Beach Boys were doing the surfing thing.

But today, it was doo wops, and the guys hit the harmonies and the high/low notes with no backup instruments. This music is not easy to do. A small crowd had gathered to give them some deserved applause.

*Boogie,” Robert Napolitano, passed on April 27, 2017.

KENNY VANCE AND THE PLANOTONES: “Looking for an Echo”

And this is the full monty version by SHEP AND THE LIMELITES of “Daddy’s Home” (“ratta-tat”)

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Central Park. New York City Street Series. By Paul Goldfinger ©

Central Park. New York City Street Series. By Paul Goldfinger ©

 

RODNEY CROWELL.  “Even Cowgirls Get the Blues.”

 

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Pat Brenan of Neptune has been attending every Planotone concert for thirty years.

Pat Brenan of Neptune has been attending every Planotone concert for thirty years, dressed as Kenny and his guys do. Paul Goldfinger photo © 9/7/13. Ocean Grove, NJ. Great Auditorium.  Re-post from 4 years ago.

2013:   The official count for last night’s Doo Wops concert was 2,700, but it sure looked like more than that—downstairs practically all full, and the balcony seats about 1/3 full.  The crowd was wide awake, alive and well.  We lost count of the standing O’s, whistles, shouts and applause.  Each of the three performing groups thanked the audience for helping to keep a musical era alive—an era of nostalgic, romantic and understandable music.  This was music that you could dance slow with, under low twinkling lights in gyms decorated with crepe paper.

That music, in OG last night, clearly was attracting some people who were born after the actual Doo Wop times of 1950’s going into the ’60’s when it helped form the basis for rock and roll. The Beatles found inspiration in performers including Little Richard, Buddy Holly, Jerry Lee Lewis, the Drifters and many others.

Last night, the show opened with the Duprees–not my idea of a Doo Wop act, but they are polished performers. The Duprees have had many hits during their 50 year history (1962-2012) and they do put on a musically excellent show. Unfortunately the loudness of their presentation sometimes made the music a bit muddy.  The personnel of this group has changed many times over the years. The current group are all fine singers.

The Duprees are celebrating their 50th anniversary with a new album, and I did like their rendition last night  of the Bobby Darin hit “Beyond the Sea” from that album.

THE DUPREES, from their 50th anniversary album:   “Beyond the Sea.”

Shirley Alston Reeves, age 72, came on stage with two young women backup singers and her band.  She is the real deal,  and, although she did some girl group songs by the Supremes, the Chiffons, etc, which the audience loved, she really came alive when they did music by her old group:  The Shirelles.

“Will You Love Me Tomorrow”  undoubtedly broke a few hearts again in this audience.  One item that kept eyes on the stage were the two backup singers who, by some magic, managed to keep those low cut red gowns aloft.  Shirley also wore red, but her outfit was wisely  more demure.

THE SHIRELLES: “Will You Love Me Tomorrow”

But, the Great Auditorium came really alive when Kenny Vance and the Planotones were introduced by Big Joe Henry for act II.  Their entrance set the stage as they came on doing the Planotone walk.  Kenny, who is now 69, has revised his show and made it funnier, edgier and musically more interesting, while retaining the infrastructure of his best hits and perfect falsetto.  Those guys, in their black suits, their porkpie hats and shades—always not taking themselves too seriously—lit up the place with their presence and the quality of the music.  Johnny Gale, the guitarist and musical director, was superb, as usual, in multiple rolls on bass, guitar, and vocals.  He even did some fine blues.

The group  opened with an old favorite, but one that I had never heard before by them:  It was the Five Satins’  “In the Still of the Night” which the Planotones did in a totally unique way.  But later, Kenny again mesmerized an audience with his version of “Gloria”

Here’s a link to our article about that song and its importance to Doo Wop history, and you can hear Kenny Vance sing it.

Gloria link

And here is a song that Kenny seems to do at every concert.  Angel Baby is beautiful, but he always gets the audience to sing along, and that is especially poignant when  a few thousand people participate in the Great Auditorium.

KENNY VANCE AND THE PLANOTONES with “Angel Baby.”

—Paul Goldfinger, Music Editor @Blogfinger.net

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Paul Goldfinger, Editor.

Phillip Seymour Hoffman*  was a great actor, although he sometimes made weird movies. In 2010 he directed his first film called “Jack Goes Boating.” It’s supposed to be a romantic comedy, but the four characters are depressing. I forced myself to watch it for the sake of the soundtrack, but we couldn’t get  past the first half.

The music, on the other hand, is varied and interesting. We recently posted one of the songs on BF — a re-do of “Blue Moon,” which is quite wonderful.  Here is the link:

The song which opens the film, however, is “The Rivers of Babylon” by a reggae style (“rock steady”) Jamaican group from the 1960’s and 1970’s called the Melodians who had embarked on some Rastafarian themes in their work, resulting in an international hit called “The Rivers of Babylon” recorded in 1969.

The song was chosen to open the movie, and I really liked it. Then I listened carefully to the lyrics (I’m always first attracted to the music — then the lyrics.)

It turns out that the Melodians were using parables taken from Psalm 137 which tells the story of the invasion of the ancient kingdom of Judah in 586 BCE. This Jewish nation was destroyed by the Babylonians who , after demolishing the first holy Temple, carted off most of the Israelites to Babylon (now Iraq).

The rivers in the song title refer to the Euphrates and Tigris rivers. What does this Bible story have to do with the movie? — I ‘m not sure.

The middle east around 586 BCE.

The middle east around 586 BCE.

But here is “The Rivers of Babylon” from Jack Goes Boating. —   (*Phillip Seymour Hoffman passed in 2014.)

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Bacall moving in Bogies direction without any cold weather to propel her. Key West:   Bacall moving in Bogie’s direction without any change in the  weather to propel her.  (Internet photo)

 

By Paul Goldfinger, MD, Editor @Blogfinger  (Re-post from BF 2014)

 

A Ph.D. psychologist who lives in the Grove, collects seashells, and wears glow-in-the dark chartreuse sneakers, has evolved a hypothesis over 30 years or more having to with the behavior of women in late autumn, as the temperature grows cold.

 

He prefers to be sort of anonymous, but he is convinced that his observations, which have been consistent over the years, are true and real, even though they have never been subjected to scientific scrutiny. We’ll call him Walter after Walter Reed, MD who helped find a cure for yellow fever.

 

Walter says that his concept has its roots in human biology, specifically the procreation of the species. He refers to the mechanism as being “of mammalian origin.”  Basically the idea is that women are innately understanding that they must survive the winter and do so by finding a mate who can “keep them warm and have sex.”

 

The behavior reveals itself in a “subtle nuanced manner” since women, by nature, tend to be social and interested in the “other gender.” So what Walter has observed is that women, late in  autumn, become more friendly to men. It is an “extension” of how they normally behave, but men will find women to be more attentive to them than usual: to offer to have coffee, or to come visit, or to have conversations. Men may miss this phenomenon unless they are looking for it. I would guess that it would be more apparent to available men.

 

According to Walter, women become more agreeable, smiling more and being more polite. He sees women as being “warmer” towards men than usual as the weather gets colder.   He refers to this behavior as “controlled” but also being  “frenetic” beneath the surface, behavior which he describes as “scurrying” while, at the same time, being more sociable and personable.

 

The end result is often an increase in coupling, relationships, engagements, socializing and dating . Have any of you experienced Walter’s theory?

BERTIE HIGGINS.  “Key Largo:”

 

 

 

 

 

 

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By Paul Goldfinger, 2013 ©

By Paul Goldfinger, 2013 ©

BUDDY HOLLY:

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Stuffed Flounder With Shrimp

Eileen Goldfinger, Food and Garden Editor  @Blogfinger

Fish:

2 flounder fillets

1/4 teaspoon chili powder

1 tablespoon Smart Balance  margarine

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1/2 lemon

Stuffing:

6 medium shrimp, diced and peeled

1 scallion, diced

1 shallot, minced

1 small celery stalk, diced

1/2 teaspoon ground garlic

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

pinch of salt

4 tablespoons Eggbeaters

1/4 cup Panko bread crumbs

Prepare the stuffing:

Put the margarine and the oil in a 10 inch non-stick pan and heat on medium.

Add shrimp, scallion, shallot, celery, garlic, black pepper and salt.

Sauté until scallions soften, and shrimp turn pink, approximately  5 minutes.

Remove from pan and place in a bowl to cool.  Turn off heat under pan.

When the stuffing is cool, add Eggbeaters and Panko bread crumbs to the mix.

Prepare the fish:

Re-heat the pan on medium and add a little more oil if  necessary.

Rub the chili powder on both sides of the fillets. Lay the fillets, skin side down on the counter (the skins are removed), place half of the stuffing in each fillet. Pull the two ends of the fillet together, over the stuffing, and secure with a wooden toothpick.

Cook the fillets in the pan until they turn brown and then turn them over and brown the other side. While they are cooking, squeeze the juice from the lemon over them.

serves 2

Cookin’ Music:   Clifford Curry with “Mamma’s Home Cookin'”

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Crew-members: Doolittle raid on Japanese islands, April 18, 1942. 16 B-25B bombers took off from the deck of the USS Hornet.

By Kennedy Buckley of Ocean Grove, New Jersey   (Re-posted from 2012 on Blogfinger.)

I was 9, visiting Ireland, when the war started in 1939. To get home we embarked from Scotland, and Mom bought me some toy soldiers and a tank for the sea voyage home.

The bombing of Pearl Harbor was what changed life in the US; now we were in the war instead of watching. Lots of small banners with a blue star in the center started appearing in front windows, meaning a family member was in the service. My two older cousins from Philly went in, and  one would become an officer in the paratroopers (more about him later). Dad’s younger brother with no children was drafted — my dad not. Soon there were multiple flags in many windows.

Nobody was allowed to go up on the roof of my uncle’s tall apartment building in Brooklyn because a spy could see all the ships in New York harbor awaiting convoy. All  windows had to have heavy  drapes to prevent light shining out. If light could be seen, an Air Raid Warden blew a whistle until you fixed it. Rationing books were needed to buy food and things. Tin cans and tin foil were saved and collected for the “war effort.”

There was little car driving (gas and tires were rationed) so Esso (now Exxon) printed war maps instead of road maps on which you could follow the battle front as the Allies went through Europe and the Pacific. War news was really bad, defeat after defeat; however, our spirits were raised with very welcome GOOD news about a daring air raid on Tokyo by B-25 bombers flying off aircraft carriers. (The 70th anniversary of that raid just passed–in 2012.)

This family had 3 members serving. The service flag hung in many windows.

As the war went on, many of the BLUE stars in the windows started changing to GOLD, signifying the death of that serviceman.

Many of our neighbors in the tenements were Italian. Each family had a small storage room in the cellars. Italian families made wine there and stored it in big bottles. When V-E Day came, the celebrating started in the afternoon by bringing the wine to the street for huge block parties that went on into the wee hours. EVERYBODY drank. I was 14 and my buddies and I got falling drunk for the first time, rolling around in the street — nobody cared.

Newsreels of color war footage of the island by island battles in the Pacific were shown in the movie theaters. They were so gruesome that when the atomic bombs were dropped, nobody complained — soon after came V-J Day.  It was the end ….of that war.

4 brothers from the Demby family of Bayonne, NJ (Paul’s family) returned home after serving in WWII. Three were in the Pacific, and one (Marty) was in the convoys that plowed through the North Atlantic with supplies for Russia and England. PG family photo. 1945.  Front l to r.  Ben (Bronze star valor), “Duke” (subs), rear: Al on left (Sea Bees) and Marty  (Coast Guard).

 

Postscript by Ken:

The soldiers came back home in droves to try to begin a normal life. My cousin Jimmy, the paratrooper, was already back recuperating  in an Army Hospital. He had jumped twice in Europe, D-Day in France and later in Belgium. He lost most of his men in the 2nd jump and was badly wounded. He never really resumed a normal life. He married (I was in the Wedding Party) a wonderful, beautiful woman,  an ex-Rockette. He was in and out of Veterans hospitals until he died in his early 30’s.

I fear for the returning veterans from our recent and current wars. Will they get enough care? I really worry.

Kennedy Buckley   (Note:  Ken Buckley died earlier this year in Ocean Grove.)

 

MUSIC from that era:  A lot of the music was sentimental and often catered to the imaginations of homesick GI’s who literally spent years away from home and loved ones.

Here is Peggy Lee with the Benny Goodman orchestra with a song that undoubtedly reminded many GI’s of their girls back home.  —PG

 

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