Archive for the ‘Editorial’ Category

Ocean Grove evolves. Autumn 2022. Paul Goldfinger. Click to enlarge. Who are we?


The OG Underground surfaces on Pilgrim Pathway. Paul Goldfinger slice-of-life photo. Dec. 2022.  Who are we?




By Paul Goldfinger, MD.   Editor Blogfinger.net December 2022.  Article below is from 2011 but updated to 2022.


Blogfinger is currently   (2011)  running a poll which asks, “Should there be a prayer at the start of each Home Owners Meeting?”

We have over 130 participants so far, with 52% voting no, 44% voting yes and the rest are undecided. There are a variety of reasons why someone would vote one way or another, but having 52% vote “no” means that Ocean Grovers are very careful to be respectful towards their neighbors, because no one has publicly complained about that prayer.

Religion has played a central role in the life of Ocean Grove, and does today, so it is not surprising that there is a tradition of prayer prior to Home Owners meetings, even though the organization itself is secular.

Ocean Grove is a unique, quirky, fascinating and diverse town, and most of its residents prefer not to disturb the delicate balance. We have had some clashes, such as the pavilion controversy of 2007, but most Grovers are used to the religious practices here; they see them as part of the fabric of life and they don’t want to quarrel, even those who are not so keen on religion themselves.

It is interesting, however, that this poll, if conducted 25 years ago, would likely have had few “no” votes. Many of the new people in town now are second homers who seem more inclined toward secular life styles. The poll does strongly suggest that the demographics here are evolving, and it gives us a bit of data to consider when we wonder “who are we?”

We hope that our poll will offer folks the incentive to discuss these matters. But there is no argument at this time, it is not our intention to start one, and the OGHOA is a private organization that will choose its own policies.

Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger


Note 2022;   We have been consistent in our views about religion in the Grove. At Blogfinger we have supported freedom of religion, freedom of speech, and freedom to  enjoy democracy which is a core belief in America.

This town is a microcosm  (a community, place, or situation regarded as encapsulating in miniature the characteristic qualities or features of something much larger.”)

We are a mix of religious persuasions, but most citizens in the Grove are secular while the CMA following is mostly of religious tourists who come here in large numbers in season because the CMA lures them with one program after another.

This poll, if conducted now would probably  show even less numbers who would want a prayer at OGHOA meetings.   What do they do now?   Anybody know?

As I have said before, “We in Ocean Grove should have freedom of religion and freedom from religion.”

Our unique potential  tensions in this regard are unlikely to be found in any other town in America.   That’s why we need a town culture that pulls together with common goals. And why the OGHOA should cancel their forum which wants to identify a “non-religious” group in town.  That’s a divisive mistake.


TOWNES ZANDT.   “Dead Flowers.”   From The Big Lebowski soundtrack,


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By  Paul Goldfinger, Editor at Blogfinger.net.  Census data above from 2010.

Main Avenue, Ocean Grove, New Jersey.  Paul Goldfinger photo    ©

Re-post from June 2011.  This is a good time to put this up again, because we can look forward to census numbers for 2020.  When our article came out following documentation of a population drop in the Grove as measured by the 2010 census, it led to a fascinating discussion of diversity in the Grove in the article below.

Read the comments to see how the conversation was going 9 years ago. I think you will find it interesting, and it will provide the basis of ongoing discussion reflecting the last 10 years.


June 21, 2011.  Ocean Grove, New Jersey  Blogfinger.net

Eileen and I have lived in Ocean Grove for ten years, and the demographics in this little town seem to change like the shifting sands down at the beach. We have noticed obvious differences such as the number of houses which have gone from wrecks to beautiful restorations.  We have seen more small children, more teenagers, more young families, more BMW’s, more sophisticated city types, more blacks, more Jews and  a Chinese family which  has a house near ours.  Even the shops have shown a more sophisticated tendency.  Just walk into some of the new ones like the Emporium, April Cornell, and All You Need is Cake.  This year the Great Auditorium will welcome Tony Bennett and Paul Anka among other stars.

On Blogfinger we have tried to highlight the lively lifestyle and the diversity which is blossoming before our eyes here in the Grove.  We have interviewed authors, artists, tourists, composers, journalists, Emmy winners, soldiers, stage directors, actors, playwrights, novelists, historians, students, and even two Grovers who are on the staff at the Museum of Modern Art.

In 2000, the census told us a lot about the demographics in Ocean Grove.   Of the 3,903 housing units, 1,331  (57%) were renter-occupied.  There were many other parameters that were measured.  The 2010 census data has been slow in coming, but a small piece of it has been released, and that shows a drop in the population from 4,256 to 3,342—a 21.48% decline.

At first glance, this might suggest trouble—-but does it?  When we bought our house in 2001, it was a two family which had been converted to that from the original one family, we think sometime after 1950. We did some surgery on the place and brought it back to an official one family—thus one tiny component of population reduction.

From talking to some realtors, we know that many of the houses which had been rental properties are now being used as second homes by folks that love to come here for escapes from cities and who use their homes year round. They don’t get counted in the census, while renters do. The census counts you at the place where you live most of the time.  The 2010 data should show fewer rental units.  We’ll see.

One thing which is clear is that despite the apparent population drop, this town gets better and better as a unique place to call home.  Gentrification you say?  Perhaps—to some extent.  But some up-scaling is good for a town, and it seems to me that there is sufficient diversity here, due to a variety of factors, that the old fashioned qualities of the Grove will not be extinguished.

Tell us how you see the trends in the Grove and tell us why you think the census population count has dropped.


REBECCA LUKER  “On My Way to You.”


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(re-post from 2010–but it still is fascinating in 2020)

With the announcement of the “first annual”  Chanukah  celebration in Ocean Grove, it seems appropriate to reprint this editorial regarding diversity in this demographically fascinating small town.

Unlike most towns, Ocean Grove has been self conscious about diversity ever since it was founded.  It all stems from the unusual design of how the town was organized at its inception, and then what happened subsequently, and especially over 100 years later, when the governance of Ocean Grove ran afoul of the Constitution.

In 1870, the Camp Meeting Association received a charter from the New Jersey Legislature which allowed this religious organization to govern the town, backed up by lawful ordinances, many of which were based on religious rules (“blue laws”), and enforced by their own police department and court. This helped keep the town decidedly not diverse.

But it wasn’t long after the founding that people began to move into the Grove who were different from the homogeneous group that comprised the earliest settlers. Diversity can be about religion, race, gender, age, etc, but, at first, religion was front and center. Initially it was the Methodists, but later other Protestant denominations came and then Roman Catholics. In recent years, the town has become quite diverse in many ways,  as it has gained in popularity among a variety of groups who are here, not because of the Camp Meeting programs, but because the town is attractive to them for a multiplicity of reasons, usually secular.

Several years ago one of the minority groups in town formed an organization, Ocean Grove United, which is dedicated to representing the concerns of gays and others who want to see Ocean Grove be successful as a place which celebrates diversity, neighborliness and fairness.

Now we have a new minority group, a Jewish Chavurah (i.e. fellowship), which has been active in Ocean Grove for about the last two years. The census in 2000 counted 4,263 people in town. About 11% said that they were Jewish, and 47% said that they were Catholic. 4% described themselves as African American. In 2010 the census population fell to  3,342.

It will be interesting to see the breakdown when the 2020 census data becomes available.

Jews settled in Monmouth County in the 18th century.  Bradley Beach (aka “Bagel Beach”) and Asbury Park later became resorts that attracted large numbers of Jews. Ocean Grove did not allow Jewish homeowners at first, but eventually some moved here. There is no data about this, but former Neptune mayor Joseph Krimko, who is Jewish, has owned a home here since the 1970’s, when he was hired by the Camp Meeting to be a policeman. He thought that there were few Jews here back then.

Two Ocean Grove historians told me that there were Jewish Grovers going way back, but that they were few in number. One even told me that there was a rabbi living in a tent.  Maybe he took a wrong turn when hiking across the Sinai. Perhaps the early OG Jews were “Jews for Jesus”.  After all, the earliest Christians were Jews for Jesus.

The OG  Chavurah is a striking example of how a person in a small town might still need to connect to their own group, so perhaps we will see some other minority organizations  form in Ocean Grove.

At Blogfinger we would like to hear from other demographic groups or individuals in town who might want to share their experiences as a minorities living in Ocean Grove.

Meanwhile, there have been demographic shifts since 2010 with increased second homers and retirees.  And we now have an unknown number who live here but have their sights set on Asbury Park.   Racially, there has been no obvious change.  There are few African-Americans or Asians living in the Grove.   The gay population seems stable, and there have been no diversity challenges that we can see, at least since 2007.

We do see some friction between the Camp Meeting Association (a religious organization) and the town residents, but that has not become explosive. And the same applies between Grovers and the Neptunites, but that is not about diversity; it is about governance issues.

Here are two fascinating links from the past:




DONALD PIPPIN  From  “Oliver”



Paul Goldfinger, Editor at Blogfinger.net   November 2010 and now April, 2020

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You think you have problems?

A wise Ocean Grover named Radar recently said that the Grove had too little space and too much of everything else.  He really did condense the situation down to the lowest common denominator. Most of the quality of life issues that are being raised on this blog boil down to Radar’s Law of Physics.

Regarding summers in the Grove, folks say that  we have too many cars, too many buses, too many huge events,  too many fumes, too much noise, too many beachgoers, too many tourists,  too much “junk” on the sidewalks, too many cones in the streets, too much taxes,  too much garbage,  and too much kvetching.

It looks like the ultimate solution is to get more space.   Perhaps we can get the Homeowner’s Association to invade Bradley Beach. But if we are stuck with Radar’s Law, then the best we can do is for all concerned to continue a civil discourse, maintain an upbeat attitude  and work towards some satisfying solutions. 

Blogfinger will try to help.  At least we, in cyberspace,  are taking up no space in town and we create no fumes  (except perhaps for some hot air).

Paul Goldfinger  (in the clouds @Blogfinger)

Cheer up Mary—Radar is still correct 6 years later.  It’s Cousin Brucie below:


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Blogfinger_2 - Version 2

By Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger


Since Blogfinger was founded in June, 2009, we have avoided politics as much as possible. We only explore local politics when candidates show up in the Grove or if there are issues that we need to discuss with our Neptune Committee members. Even then, it is about issues and not about elections. We rarely endorse a candidate unless they have been particularly good friends to Ocean Grove.


Sometimes we take up issues which might touch on politics such as the Pavilion matter, the ACLU in the Grove, the struggle with FEMA, or the Constitutional issues of free speech and freedom of religion as they pertain to our small town.


The day after the recent Neptune Township Board of Education election, a Grover told me that he went to vote, and “nobody was there,” meaning that there were few voters. That was my first inkling that there was a problem. We have traditionally taken no interest on BF regarding the BOE elections except once when a Grover was running for a spot.


Then, out of the blue, a Neptuner contacted us to complain that Blogfinger didn’t promote the election and that only 74 Grovers voted. He alleged that more votes from the Grove could have prevented the election of big spenders to the BOE and that we needed to pay attention because of the secondary effects on our taxes and our children.


By allowing this somewhat political subject onto BF, it elicited  intelligent and practical conversation, but in the process of making valid points, two individuals mentioned a possible abuse of the robocall system. No evidence was given, but I allowed it because it seemed like an interesting topic having to do with the election result.


Then there was silence, but 4 days later, a Grover made a comment where he wanted to bring up: disarray in the Republican Party, domination by the Democrats (“they operate with impunity”,) influence of politicians on the BOE, and racism in Neptune Township.


Here are four examples of the red lines that I will not cross on Blogfinger. Political topics, if considered by us, must be mostly about Ocean Grove–in some way. The one exception is our coverage of healthcare, but even that is about the issues of quality and practical medical-practice related subjects —we never go after politicians on this subject.


Of course there are grey zones, but we do our best to be consistent.

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By Paul Goldfinger, editor @Blogfinger

The public knows that they can do yard sales without permits, even though such permits are required by law.  It is part of the problem of not enforcing small laws such as hanging fliers on telephone poles. Recently, since we are organizing the Townwide Yard Sale, some have sent us emails asking if it really is necessary to buy a permit. Of course we always suggest that they do so.

One person said,  ” I did get a permit last year but found out that I was one of the very few who did .  I hate being the sucker that always follows the rules and loses money….are they really going to check?  Isn’t it enough that I’m out $20,000 that I didn’t have in order to fix my house (that wasn’t in a flood zone!) after Sandy?  Do they want blood or perhaps my first born…as she is starting Rutgers in the fall now would be a good time for someone to take over the tuition payments.  Ha ha.”

Another person said, “….how are we handling garage sale permits for the town-wide garage sale? every man for himself?”

Ken told us that the Township Committee had discussed a request from the West Grove HOA regarding a proposal to change the ordinance.  He said,  “It sets a new $5 fee for the individual premises participating in a neighborhood-wide sale rather than the regular $10 fee which still will be required for porch/yard/garage sales the other weeks of the year. ”

I think that town-wide yard sales should be exempted front the permit requirement because it is a town event that is good for the town  (as opposed to individual sales which are good only for the sellers and their buyers.)   It provides good publicity that says Ocean Grove is a lively place to visit, it has a high degree of community spirit and good will,  and it brings tourists to town who will visit the shops and eateries.

The price of $10.00 is too high because it will be a tax of up to 10-20% for some sellers who are just offering a few items.  Does the Chamber of Commerce pay a tax to run their events in town?

What do you say?

TROMBONE SHORTY weighs in on our topic.  From HBO’s Treme


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By Paul Goldfinger, MD, FACC

Our emphasis on Blogfinger regarding Obamacare has been to focus on how quality of healthcare will be affected. Since we haven’t yet seen how the new system will actually work on patients, we will discover some significant issues emerging later, and I am worried that we will not like the results as far as quality is concerned.

Recently the conversation has been mostly about insurance, but the health insurance issue has a profound connection to quality. Under Obamacare, everyone who acquires an ACA approved insurance policy will have healthcare subject to all the rules, regulations and stipulations of those policies.

Their quality of care will depend on what is allowed under their plans, and that will be enforced by the willingness of the payers to pay. So, for the system to work, most everyone needs to have an ACA approved policy. And those policies will be defined by thousands of rules and regulations which will change every aspect of healthcare and will, by necessity, be very bottom-line oriented.

As we inch along the road to the new system, we gradually learn more about it, but by the time we learn the latest news, such as the cancellation of millions of policies, it is already a fait accompli. In plain English, as we hear over and over, you can’t put the toothpaste back into the tube.

The latest aspect of the ACA that has emerged is the realization that there will be winners and losers.  Some have used the R word, i.e. redistribution of wealth. No one can deny that, because the poorer and the sicker will be given expensive insurance for no cost or low cost.  There will be stipends for those who make less than 400% above the poverty line.   And to help raise the money for this program, there will be 1/2 trillion dollars more in taxes and higher cost premiums and deductibles for most of those who already have insurance. All this will become more obvious as the business community is forced into the program.

Wealth is usually described as having money and possessions, but that is not all that is being redistributed.  The part I am focusing on is the way that healthcare, which 80% of Americans have “enjoyed” and which includes everything that makes quality care possible, will be compromised to some extent.  And that is a sort of wealth redistribution as well.

Without a doubt we will have rationing in various forms, difficulty seeing the doctor of your choice, trouble getting care at the hospital of your choice, shortages of all sorts of medical providers, trouble getting physician appointments, inability to get tests done efficiently, deterioration of doctor-patient relationships, and compromise of  the ability of your doctor to treat you the way he wants.  Low fees will drive the best physicians to create boutique practices or become hospital employees or to leave medicine altogether.

Will there be good things to come out of all this?  Yes there will, and many people will accept the “redistribution of wealth,”  but did they really have to destroy the existing system to achieve those good things?  Healthcare is about 20% of our economy.  Was Obamacare the best way to fix our existing system? And will quality care decline as numbers insured get bigger?

What do you think?

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By Paul Goldfinger, MD, FACC

So far, not a single patient has been treated under Obamacare, yet the law is already mired in controversy. The lack of sufficient specific details about the ACA has caused skepticism and unanswered questions. Now, with this insurance debacle, there are new questions, so I will speculate and try to answer a few. Let’s hear your ideas:

Q:  If the ACA is about insuring those who have no healthcare, then why are they going after those who do have insurance?  The President  said that the plan allows those who have insurance to keep theirs.

A:    I think he was afraid to reveal the facts to the American people about the true  extent of the ACA and the demolition of the individual insurance market. Insiders have known about the necessity to cancel millions of insurance policies. The truth seems to be that the ACA is about government takeover of the entire healthcare system partly through ACA- designed insurance plans sold by complicit private insurance companies.  In order for the ACA to work, the government has to have everyone participate using their approved policies.

Q: Why did the insurance companies agree to discontinue their healthcare plans  and then replace them with plans based on ACA requirements? And why didn’t the insurance companies warn  millions of their customers that cancellation letters would be coming?

A. The insurance companies were lured by the chance to sell 30 million new policies for the uninsured.  They accepted the changes in benefits and rules imposed on them by the ACA, not because their existing plans were poor quality, but because they were coerced by the government.

No one has actually explained what was meant by “substandard.”  But I think it means not compatible with government control of healthcare.  So now it looks like the insured may get their old policies back, at least temporarily— “substandard” and probably more money.

The failure of the insurance companies to inform their customers in advance represents lying by omission.

Q: How does a government run insurance plan (mediated by private insurance companies) dictate how medicine is practiced?

A. You can get a small idea by looking at an existing government plan:  Medicare.  Here are a few true examples:

1. Your doctor orders a battery of blood tests, so you go and have them done. Medicare decides that it won’t pay for two of them. No explanation is given. You get a bill for $350.00 which you must pay out of pocket.  Your doctor tries to help, but he can’t. He’s embarrassed and upset , because he thought that the tests were necessary. When this happens a few times, he will find it necessary  not toorder  those tests anymore.

2. A gynecologist wants his patients to have a checkup every year, but Medicare will only pay for every other year.  The doctor can compromise his best medical judgment or bill the patient.  Eventually he starts ordering exams every other year.  This is interference in care via insurance.

3.  You have hernia surgery, and the anesthesiologist does an excellent job.  That job is difficult and risky.  The doctor bills $1,300.  Medicare pays $275.00. Inappropriately low fees for doctors force good physicians to leave practice or work for a large hospital corporation as  a salaried employee. This is an attack on the medical profession through insurance.

I would prefer to talk about the actual practice of medicine, but that iceberg has yet to float our way. However,  health insurance is a major factor in the quality of care, so let’s talk about that.

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Booths on the boardwalk for Bridgefest.  June 22, 2013.  Blogfinger photo

Booths on the north  boardwalk for Bridgefest. June 22, 2013. PG  photo. Left click for full view

By Paul Goldfinger, editor @Blogfinger

Saturday, June 22. Location: The Ocean Grove beachfront, on the boardwalk  (what’s left of it at the north side of town)

Do you hear a drumbeat on Blogfinger?  I don’t mean “The Leader of the Pack” playing below. I mean the sound of an injustice that is so obvious, all you need to do is come to Ocean Grove and check it out.

Several months ago, many people in Ocean Grove predicted that the town would come to life as always when summer arrived.  After all, we didn’t have much structural damage except for the beachfront.  Our commercial district was fine. The only potential problem was that we would not have most of our boardwalk, and as we all know, the boardwalk along this stretch of the Jersey Shore is a life-giving artery that requires continuity for its full potential.

In addition, for the people who live and visit in the Grove, it would cause some hardship in terms of lifestyle, comfort,traditions, beauty and safety.  (If you have any doubt about the latter, just go down on Ocean Avenue and witness the semi-chaos of the scene where cars are interacting with crowds of pedestrians and bikers.)  I , on my bike, was cut off by a car on Main and Ocean. I yelled at the guy  (I’m normally not like that) but he ignored me and left me hanging out at that intersection like a deer in the headlights.

Looking north from the boardwalk just south of the pavilion.

Looking north from the boardwalk,  just south of the pavilion.  All photos by Paul Goldfinger,  Blogfinger Photo Dept.  ©

So I went up on the boardwalk near where it ends, just south of the Pavilion.  I was reminded of the title of a famous book : A Tale of Two Cities.  If I looked north and took a photograph, I saw crowds of people enjoying themselves. If I turned and faced south, I saw a wide stretch of empty sand.  That stretch, “no-mans land,” used to be the location of the mid-section of our boardwalk.  It is empty because no one is allowed on it, but that whole “middle beach” area is stark by comparison to the opposite way.

Now turn around and face south.

Now turn around and face south.

Turn toward the beach.

Turn east  toward the beach.  Bridgefest is doing fine.

It is a glorious day to be at the beach.  The town is alive and happy today—everyone is trying to ignore the 800 pound sand dune in the room.   But, they don’t completely succeed, because “it”  is a common topic of conversation.

In short, OG  has come to life as summer begins, even without the boardwalk, but there is something  that can’t be ignored.  It’s the feeling by many people that an injustice has occurred.  It’s a sour taste that lingers.  What FEMA has done really makes no sense.

For over 140 years, the CMA has provided a boardwalk for the general public.  Over those years they have rebuilt boardwalks after serious storms that tore the boards and the pier apart.  Then they would resume their giving to the public—-it has been  a mission for them.  In 1992, FEMA helped, but not now.  Doesn’t the CMA deserve some help now from our country for 140 years of boardwalks open to everyone?  Don’t the people of Ocean Grove deserve the help that has been given to other beach towns up and down the Jersey Shore?

I saw a man, about age 40, standing on the sandy/grassy strip as I walked my bike.  There were quite a few people using that strip to get somewhere, but many were out on Ocean Avenue.  I spoke to him but I didn’t ask his name:

Me:  Hi. Are you from Ocean Grove?

He:  No, I’m from Elizabeth; here for the day.

Me:  What do you think about all this?   ( as I motioned toward the scene before us)

He:  It’s so beautiful here. When I was in college I developed a beer belly and I wasn’t healthy. I came to live here for awhile and rode a bike every day.  Soon I lost a lot of weight and felt much better. I love to come to Ocean Grove.

Me:  (Curious if he had any idea about our situation).  Do you know why our boardwalk is not rebuilt?

He:  Of course. It’s because we are Christians.

Me:  Wow. Hey…enjoy your day here;  I must be going.

So this is what has happened.  I have heard such sentiments voiced before on Blogfinger.  Some people have lost faith that our country is fair.  They mistrust our government to treat us all with equal truth and justice, especially with the recent revelations in Washington.

Our situation in the Grove has now  become about more than our big smile with the front teeth missing.   Where’s the sense in it?


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July 4, several years ago. View from the pier. Ocean Grove, NJ. Paul Goldfinger photo.  ©  Left click for large view

July 4, several years ago. View from the pier. Ocean Grove, NJ. Paul Goldfinger photo. © Left click for large view

If you go to the beach this weekend, you will  find red flags flying in various locations.  There are large portions of the beach where there are no lifeguard stands, so there is no swimming.   You are allowed to swim in between black and white checkered flags.

Evidently, because many schools are making up hurricane days, some of the beachfront staff will be late arriving, so there may be a temporary shortage of lifeguards.  A member of the beachfront staff said that this is one reason for red flags, but in areas close to the fishing pier or close to the jetties, no swimming is allowed for safety reasons.   We will meet with Jamie Doyle, the head lifeguard, on Sunday to find out the emmis* about the water’s edge.

Yesterday  (Thursday), there were small numbers of beachgoers, and, as expected, most were sitting near lifeguard stations.  The most peaceful locations, by the red flags, were populated with book readers, sun bathers and lovers of quiet and solitude.

A badge checker at the Main Avenue access noted that “patterns have changed.”  She meant that people’s behavior vis a vis where they walk, where they sit and even if they come to the Grove at all seems to be evolving.  She mentioned that the fees to get on the beach have gone up “to help pay for the hurricane damage.”   A woman walked over and wanted to know when the boardwalk would be “fixed.”  The checker blamed it all on FEMA.   Another woman with three small children came over to look over the beach situation.

“Would you like badges?” asked the checker lady.

“No,” she replied.  “We’re just looking.”  Her kids were more than just looking; they were staring longingly at the beach.  She was African -American, and I couldn’t help but suspect that the price-tag was too high.  A few days ago, a woman from OG actually suggested to me that the people who come to our beach late in the day to avoid paying for badges should be required to pay also.  I was speechless.

Paul Goldfinger,  Editor @Blogfinger

* Blogfinger School of Elementary Yiddish:   Emmis means “the absolute truth.”


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