Archive for the ‘Fascinating Ocean Grovers’ Category

Ocean Grove beach. 2014. Paul Goldfinger photo ©

Ocean Grove beach. 2014. Paul Goldfinger photo ©  Click to enlarge.  Blogfinger.net



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New perennial plantings  at Pilgrim Pathway and Pitman

New perennial plantings at Pilgrim Pathway and Pitman

Beautification Project at work in Auditorium Park. © can Bredin photo.  May, 2015.

Beautification Project at work in Auditorium Park. © can Bredin photo. May, 2015.

By Paul Goldfinger, Editor at Blogfinger.

The Ocean Grove Beautification Project is an independent group of volunteers who tend to many of the beautiful public gardens around town. The first link below tells you a great deal about this team of workers.

Recently they completed the design and planting of new gardens around the periphery of the Camp Meeting Association offices at Pitman Ave and Pilgrim Pathway.  The garden is 80% perennials, shrubs and trees, but flowers will “pop” every year at the office entrance.   The design was created by Mindy Arcoleo of Ocean Wholesale Nurseries  in Jackson, NJ.  who worked with Conny Ogden, co-chair of the OGBP.  This and other works by the group are financed by citizen contributions as well as money from the Women’s Auxiliary of the Great Auditorium—–also a private OG organization.

A closeup collection on the corner. It is a curious cluster of different perennials. Blogfinger photo.

A closeup collection on the corner. It is a curious cluster of different perennials. Blogfinger photo.

The new garden is fairly complex, with multiple species arranged in a dramatic way.  One of the focal points is a weeping dwarf red bud tree. (It’s weeping because it’s not taller).  This fine garden is special and is worth seeing next time you are strolling around town.  Connie says that the new gardens have a “Wow factor.”

Maybe next time the Project will plan to plant a peck of pickled peppers.

2012 BF article about the Beautification Project


So do you think it’s boring doing gardening?  No way say the kids from the Beautification Project.  After mucking in the dirt, it’s time to party. Here is their favorite after work song. It’s by The Hot Sardines:

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Faces in the Grove:

Faces in the Grove: “The Greeter” by Jean Bredin, Blogfinger staff. April, 2015. ©

From Jean Bredin, Blogfinger staff:  A familiar face in Ocean Grove is “The Greeter.” He always has a cheery hello when he passes by.  I asked if I could take his photo, he said ok.  I asked his name, and he answered, “The Mayor of Ocean Grove!”

THE BEATLES.   “Hello Goodbye”

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Moe Demby, Blogfinger  reporter/photographer, visits the OG beach with Chico on a quiet late afternoon in April. 2015

Moe Demby, Blogfinger reporter/photographer, visits the OG beach with Chico on a quiet late afternoon in April. 2015.  BF photo.

BUENA VISTA SOCIAL CLUB  “Veinte Anos”  (Twenty Years)

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Steve Valk. Ocean Grove, NJ. August 3, 2013.   By Paul Goldfinger ©

Steve Valk. Ocean Grove, NJ. August 3, 2013. Portrait by Paul Goldfinger ©

By Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger

There are so many Grovers who make this their part-time home, that we need to consider the “Grover” nickname to include them as well as full timers. Steve Valk’s family has owned a home in the Grove for generations, and he has spent many summers here. As a Cornell student, he would work at the Grand Atlantic Hotel as a waiter or a cashier. This summer he returns to spend the month of August in the Grove with his family and visiting his contacts in the art world.

We met over cappuccinos at the Barbaric Bean where we huddled under the awning to avoid the rain. Steve said that he loved Ocean Grove, and he shared a childhood memory of the “magic” that he perceived when all the cars would vanish on Saturday night resulting in a “total transformation” on Sunday.

Steve’s mother came from Germany, so he has always been fluent in that language. He majored in German studies and film in college and he moved to Berlin after receiving an offer to be an assistant director at the well known Schiller Theatre. He has worked in “culture and the arts (theatre, opera, contemporary dance, et al)” and has been mentored by some major figures in that world including Robert Wilson, a famed avant garde stage director and designer. Steve eventually moved to the Frankfurt Opera to work with William Forsythe, one of the world’s foremost choreographers.

Steve describes himself as a high energy, “brash” person who has participated in all sorts of creative artistic endeavors over the years. Recently he founded the first Institute of Social Choreography with William Forsythe, and others.

He says that “social choreography” is a new concept in which the arts can be more than just entertainment ; instead they can be transformative tools as people confront a complex world and need new ways to implement changes in their lives. The term “choreography” is not merely about dance. It is about mingling art of all types with life and thus to expand the capacity for improving how we live.

In Germany, Steve is currently involved with building a state-of-the art homeless shelter where he will use these concepts to integrate social work with the arts. He is very optimistic; “You can change everything.”

It is obvious from our conversation that he is engaged in new, important, and complicated ways of thinking about our world. He is an innovator who could become internationally famous. You can look at his Facebook page for more information.

Facebook page Institute of Social Choreography

PHILLIP GLASS : Robert Wilson worked with Phillip Glass, and Steve Valk loves Phillip Glass, so here is The Plant-Boy’s Song (From the Witches of Venice)

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Mildred Hardeman on the porch of her Ocean Grove home.  Paul Goldfinger photo July 2013

Mildred Hardeman on the porch of her Ocean Grove home. Paul Goldfinger photo July 2013

Mildred was born in Alabama. At the time of the depression, her family moved to Texas so her father could find work. Then they moved to Georgia where she went to high school. Her mother urged her to seek higher education, so she obtained a scholarship to an all-girls college in Athens, Georgia in 1942. Shorter College had 200 students then. They encouraged careers for women. Today it is Shorter University and has several thousand students.

While at Shorter, Mildred got a job as assistant to a faculty member who encouraged her to move to New York City. Mildred obtained a Ph.D. in philosophy and psychology at Columbia University.

No university in NYC would hire her to teach philosophy–that field was reserved for men— but Queens College hired her to teach psychology. Over the years she taught at the college level while living in NYC.

She purchased a home in Ocean Grove in the 1970’s after reading an article about the town in the New York Times. She came by train, and it was love at first sight.

The historic home that she purchased required a complete remodeling, but since then she has had to do very little work on the building. At first she only came here on weekends, but after her retirement, she moved here full time, leaving her beloved New York City behind.

Mildred used to love to walk all over town, but lately she pretty much stays home. Some years ago she bought a car, but she parked it in front and never drove it. It was sold after three years.

At the age of 92, Mildred’s love affair with Ocean Grove continues. She enjoys chatting with folks walking by. When I went over to interview her, she was sitting on her porch reading all the news that’s fit to print. She was happy to tell her story to me, but she was a bit baffled when I tried to explain Blogfinger to her (sometimes I baffle myself). But we’ll bring our iPad over to introduce her to the Internet.

Paul Goldfinger, editor @Blogfinger

MUSIC. What do you choose for a philosopher? We decided on “Across the Universe” by John Lennon and played beautifully by guitarist Bill Frisell. It is said that Lennon ‘s melody for this piece was influenced by his interest in Eastern religions.

(note: If you know any fascinating Grovers who might be willing to be interviewed, please send me a brief summary and contact info. )

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Clark Cate receives his epaulets.

By Paul Goldfinger.

When a Jewish colleague asked  Ocean Grover Clark Cate, age 58,  to join him on an adventure to Israel, Clark said “Why not?” Clark was in the mood for a unique travel opportunity, especially with a good friend. At first, that was all there was to it. Clark is not Jewish, nor is he a Zionist, a historian, or someone seeking his religious roots. But by the time the journey was over, he found surprises that he never anticipated.

It turned out that Clark was participating in an organized program called “Volunteers for Israel.” People come from all over the world to temporarily join the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). According to Clark, “Every year volunteers serve for one to three weeks with the IDF. Their job is neither paid nor armed and is mainly in the logistical, maintenance, catering, supply and medical services.”  Since Clark’s status was that of a volunteer, he was not officially sworn in, and thus there is no violation of American law.

Steve (L) and Clark

The two week trip occurred in February 2012. Clark and his friend Steve Litwak were assigned to an army base east of Jerusalem and given a uniform with volunteer epaulets, dog tags, a bunk bed in a barracks, use of a communal bathroom, and a place at the mess hall table with the Israeli soldiers. Female volunteers got to stay with the women soldiers. They put in a full day’s work helping in a unit that was processing and rebuilding motors for tanks, jeeps and other military vehicles. Clark described his job as “grunt work.” The menu in the mess hall consisted of a lot of “cucumbers, tomatoes, and chick peas.” But once a day they had some meat.

Clark and Steve were among the 30,000 Americans who have joined the program since its inception in 1982, when volunteers were requested to help with the harvest, when reservists were called up for the first war with Lebanon. Clark’s group consisted of twenty people, of which 40% were non-Jews. Seven in his group were from central Jersey, and 4 were Israelis who just wanted to help.

American volunteers in Clark’s group

Throughout his trip he was impressed by the “spirit of volunteerism and patriotism” that he witnessed as he travelled all over the country. He got to meet young soldiers, ages 18-21, but he was surprised to find that most of them were from other places such as England, France, and the US. They were volunteers who would serve 2-3 year tours of duty or they were new Israelis who had “made aliyah,” moving permanently to Israel and promptly joining the IDF. In the evenings Clark and Steve attended educational lectures by IDF officers such as the one that explained why Israel was willing to release 1,000 prisoners to get one captured soldier returned to them. Another program discussed the proposed fence at the border with Egypt.

Clark and Steve spent one week at the army base and then they joined some members of their group on a whirlwind tour of the country. (It’s Wednesday; it must be Haifa) Clark took a side trip to Bethlehem where he encountered some nervousness because of the West Bank location.

When Clark, the former owner of the Manchester Inn, returned to Ocean Grove, he felt a strong renewed sense of the importance of volunteerism in a town such as ours. It turns out that Clark, who lives with his family on Pilgrim Pathway, is a huge cheerleader for the Grove. He loves living here and being part of its uniqueness, and his trip to Israel just strengthened his resolve to do even more for OG. He already is a member of the Stokes Fire Department, the Citizen Patrol and the Neptune water rescue team. Since he is back, he has recruited five new OGCP volunteers.

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