Archive for the ‘Feature article’ Category


A rare photo of moi when I was in my prime, just last week.

By Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger  (interviewer and interviewee and interloper in chief:)

Q:  Why did you name Eileen Goldfinger as food editor?  Isn’t that nepotism?

A:  No.  I prefer to call it “affirmative action”

Q:  Where will you be eating dinner tonight?

A: Well, it should be in the dog house, but we don’t have a dog

Q: You really like music. How did that interest develop?

A: My mother sang show tunes all day long and she insisted that I play the sax—but not at the same time.  In the band I met some nice girls with rhythm, so I stuck with it. I liked to watch the horn players use their spit valves.

Q: Who is your favorite photographer and why?

A:  Edward Weston. Because his black and white images of peppers, sea shells, nudes and toilet bowls were beautiful and  unique…..also he slept with all his models.

Q: Do you miss practicing medicine?

A: Only the fun parts, like when I would talk into my stethoscope and say, “Testing, testing, testes.”  Some of my former colleagues still enjoy that one liner. But, you know, it’s all in the timing.

Dover General Hospital near the coffee shop.  Paul Goldfinger MD.

Q:  What was your most amazing medical case?

A:   A young woman came to the ER when I first entered practice.  She had a heart rate of 180/min.  I turned her upside down—-then right side up.  She was cured, and I was famous.

Q. What cars do you like?

A:    I love stick shift sports cars. Over the years I have had a Fiat Spider, Triumph Spitfire, Porsche 911 and a BMW Z4.  I don’t go fast, but my favorite maneuvers are cornering and acceleration.  (That’s how I am in bed also—when I am sleeping.)   In Ocean Grove I have the Blogmobile.

Q:  Were you in the military?

A. Yes, I was an officer in the  Navy Medical Corps  and I fought the battle of Virginia Beach.  I had three haircuts in one month and I loved the white uniform. I also had a rubber stamp that said  “bull****” The best part was the saluting—instant respect.

Q Why did Eileen agree to marry you?

A. It’s a fair question. She was 16 years old, and I took her for her first lobster and her second Broadway show.  I took her to see Fiorello, and she left the theatre humming—that’s what tipped the scales. If you can make a girl hum, that is a big deal.

Q. Why do you allow both Jack Bredin and Kevin Chambers to opine on BF?

A. Because they both laugh at my jokes and they both use their real names and they are not afraid to tell the truth.  Jack used to be in show business, and Kevin went to school with Walt Whitman.

Q: What is the future for Blogfinger?

A: We will spend a lot of time searching for an honest man.  We also hope to interview a real celebrity some day, like Sue at Cheese on Main.

Q: What do you like best about Ocean Grove?

A:  I enjoy the way people are interested in raccoons, snow plows, good coffee, and flying the American flag on their houses. The demographics are fascinating: always changing— like the sands.     I also have an unpaid job as official thong counter down at the beach. Last summer the count was zero. You heard it first @Blogfinger.

Q:  If you could speak at a high school graduation, what would you say?

A:  For the boys:  “Have no fear; girls want sex also”   For the girls: “Read Erica Jong’s books and don’t believe the feminists.”

Q: What should we call you?

A.  Call me Paul. My middle initial is @.  Only my childhood friends call me Pee Gee. My last name  must be sung to the Shirley Bassey version of “Goldfinger”.  You can hear it at the end of the “about” section tab at the top of this page.

Q: What is the most outrageous idea that you ever had?

A:  “Kill the umpire.”

Q: What do you think of this interview?

A:  It sucks. Can I say “sucks” on this blog?

Q: What’s your favorite song?

A:  I have many, but I guess, anything that takes me back to the gym at Rutherford High School when, festooned with crepe paper, and with the lights semi-low, my friends and I strolled over to the girls’ side and found one who would slow dance with us.

For example, here are THE VELOURS with a song and lyrics that remind me of those dances when we all knew the rules.  When it was prom time,  it wasn’t just the music; it was the smell  of carnations pinned to the lapel of a white dinner jacket, a corsage on the girl’s wrist, and the rustle of those  crinolines.



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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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Blackbirds sit along the front downstairs railing at the Quaker Inn in Ocean Grove, NJ. Paul Goldfinger photo.  Re-post from 2012.

By Paul Goldfinger, wildlife editor @Blogfinger

Carl Hoffman was startled when he walked by the Quaker Inn on Main Avenue in Ocean Grove. There along the front railing was a row of blackbirds. So Carl tipped us off, and over we went to get some photos. Sure enough, there were 13 blackbirds sitting there unperturbed. I decided to interview one of them and to get a quote. He wasn’t shy — quoth the raven, “Nevermore.” After that there were no more quothes.

It seems one of the innkeepers at the Quaker found the birds and put them up for Halloween. While we were there perusing the blackbirds, a young man named Nick Scott, age 14, came flying out of the house trying to make a getaway on his bike. Nick, a personable 14-year-old student at St.Rose, is the son of Liz Scott, one of the innkeepers. She preferred not to be in the picture, but Nick agreed to pose with the birds; that’s not to say that he is for the birds — only with the birds. Not that there’s anything wrong with being for the birds.

Nick Scott, Ocean Grover who was fearless in posing with a fake flock of finely feathered flying blackbirds. PG photo

The Quaker Inn dates back to 1877, making it an old hotel. It’s terrific if you are from out of town and feel like packing up all your cares and woes. There are no woes at the Quaker. So, if no one seems to love or understand you, this is the place.

The Quaker Inn sans blackbirds. Website photo.

SOUNDTRACK: From the movie “Sleepless in Seattle,” by Joe Cocker (who sure sounds a lot like Ray Charles, but they cannot be brothers).

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Paul Goldfinger, MD, intern. 1967. East 97th Street at Park Ave, near the Mt. Sinai Hospital staff housing.

Paul Goldfinger, MD, intern. 1967. East 97th Street at Park Ave, near the Mt. Sinai Hospital staff housing.


By Paul Goldfinger, MD, FACC

(Originally published in 2008, Ocean Grove Record, Steven Froias editor. Also in 2013 on Blogfinger. Some of you may have missed it.)

“C’mon doc…let’s take a walk.”  Ordinarily this request wouldn’t seem odd, but it was 2 AM, and the idea of getting some sleep seemed much more sensible. But he was my boss, and such a request from the chief medical resident was not to be ignored. “Sure, John; that sounds terrific.”  John was an insomniac, with an insatiable love for the excitement of the big New York City hospital where we worked.


I was a twenty five year old intern, and we had just finished admitting seven acutely ill patients to the medical floor. My white jacket was wrinkled, and the tunic shirt, which had been clean, starched and buttoned up to the neck, was now sweaty and open at the throat. My pockets were stuffed with pieces of paper containing hurried notes scrawled as we put out one fire after another. Now it was time to catch up and do chart work. We sat at the nurses’ station, which was strangely empty, except for the rustle of an occasional nurse buzzing by.


My internship had just begun, and those long summer nights “on call” were extraordinary times of intense learning, exhilarating joy, crushing sadness and profound fatigue. We usually were up most of the night and had to work all the next day before finally getting some sleep. This was not a job for anyone over the age of thirty.


The interns came from all over the country, and each one seemed to have certain strengths which reflected where he went to school, so we learned from each other. My med school had emphasized practical “how to” knowledge, while others stressed theory. The latter group didn’t know which end of a suppository was up, but they knew all about the latest research trials. By the end of the year, it had all evened out.


Despite the hard work, everyone was very enthusiastic. Many times, someone would come in on their night off. I recall one time when a first year resident strolled in at 1 AM wearing a tux, followed by his date in a long gown. He went in to check an interesting new admission. The patient was quite impressed (as was I) and thought that we had a very classy staff.


The hospital by night was much different compared to its daytime demeanor. All the frills and frenzy were gone. There were no rounds, no conferences, no visitors, and no noise…only the bare necessities: people caring for people. It seemed like the place had been transformed into a sanctuary where a sort of medical swat team had formed to stand guard and make sure that everyone got through the night.  I liked to step outside in the early morning and breathe the fresh air blowing off Central Park across the street and watch the lights twinkling and the taxis cruising along the nearly deserted avenue. You needed to do that to clear your head of the hospital’s heavy atmosphere, even if only for a minute before the beeper went off.


As chief resident, John liked to wander about and make sure that things were going well. He and I walked through the underground tunnel that connected the various buildings, carrying paper cups of warm coffee. The sounds of our steps and voices echoed through the halls as we approached the emergency room.


En route we met the “dirty half dozen.”  This was the night surgical crew prowling about like a wolf pack looking for fresh meat. The surgical residency lasted five years, so there were five on each night plus a surgical intern. They were a motley assortment, dressed in green, all male, given to grunts, low humor and two day beards. “Hey Finger…got any hot gall bags for us?”  These guys were always hunting for OR cases and would operate on a salami if they could get consent.


The ER was a brightly lit, nonstop, wild and crazy place populated by drug addicts, policemen, drunks, crying kids, bag ladies and, of course, a textbook collection of patients. The interns who worked there seemed to be more cocky and raunchy than most, and the nurses were a hardened bunch who had no fears and who were incapable of being shocked.


John was asked to see a beautiful young European woman who stood out in that crowd. She had been partying and was due to fly home the next day. She was nearly hysterical about a small sore on her lip. John knew that it was a harmless cold sore and he told her so, but just to make her feel totally confident and happy, he gave her a shot of penicillin. I was learning the art of medicine and witnessing a small triumph.


Our next stop was the cardiac surgery ICU.  John had been a cardiology resident the year before, so he liked to stop there. Another reason had to do with a certain charge nurse who worked the night shift. While they chatted, I gazed about at the blinking monitors and listened to the humming and buzzing of respirators, suction machines and other assorted devices. The soft sounds of the machines and the voices of competent medical people were reassuring even to me, so I supposed that the patients sensed it also.


We returned to our floor at about 4 am to check in on our “sickies” and to discuss some of the cases. It was traditional for the resident to “teach” the intern prior to wrapping it up for the night. It was painful trying to stay awake during those early morning lectures, but the personal attention was amazing, and, besides, interns weren’t supposed to sleep.


Finally I was able to drag myself to our “on call” room. I would become unconscious even before my head actually collided with the pillow. If I were lucky, the phone wouldn’t ring for an hour or so. At 6:30 am we had to be on the floor to do “scut work” which included drawing blood, starting IV’s and running ECG’s before the 8 am start of rounds, where we had to present the new cases to the whole staff.


In recent years, there were complaints in the press about sleep deprived hospital interns and residents. Laws were passed requiring “house staff” to work reasonable hours. I didn’t agree with imposing those rules on a profession that knows how to teach young doctors in ways that go back to Hippocrates.  Yes, we were sleep deprived, but we had so much to learn, and working long shifts was a time honored way to become a competent physician. No one in our hospital was harmed by sleepy interns. The adrenaline kept us going, and there were wonderful residents, attending physicians and nurses to make sure that we did the right thing. We didn’t care about the sleep issue. What we wanted was the action, and you don’t get in the game if you’re asleep.


(Dr. Goldfinger trained for five years in internal medicine and cardiology at The Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York, where they had been training doctors for over 100 years and where he became a member of the first faculty of the Mount Sinai School of Medicine. He eventually got some sleep and now he is enjoying retirement in Ocean Grove)



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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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Note:   Ken Buckley, of Ocean Grove, wrote this for us in 2009 when Blogfinger was just starting and we had fewer readers. Ken was a buyer for a major New York department store.  Ken passed away this year.


Paris flower

Paris flower market. Paul Goldfinger photograph. ©


By Kennedy Buckley

Thirty years ago I was sent by a large department store to cover the showings in Paris. We were met at the airport by a rep from our Paris office and whisked to a chic small hotel on the left bank … the Lenox on Rue de l’Université … for a quick change of clothes and the start of our appointments at various showrooms around town. No time for lunch, “you’ll get a sandwich as you’re shown the new styles.” After some more stops, the suggestion of dinner was “poo-poohed” as two designer runway shows were to be squeezed in. Eventually back to the hotel for a late snack and a collapse onto a not-very-comfy single bed, but not before scheduling an early wake-up call for the next day’s big trip to the Prêt-a-Porter showings at the huge exhibition hall on the outskirts of town. Day one down!

(What about the wonderful restaurants and fabulous sights I heard so much of in preparation of this trip? All I’d seen was the Eiffel Tower out the taxi window as we sped from the airport.)

The Prêt-a-Porter venue was so distant, we took the Metro … buying a FIRST CLASS pass to have a chance at a seat. There were many hundreds of vendors there, spread out over an area twice the size of NYC’s Javitz Center. It required walking what seemed like miles of aisles to cover just SOME of the companies the rep had arranged in advance for us to see. Any others that seemed interesting while rushing about would require returning another day … and try to remember where their booth was located? Good Luck! Of course, we were again fortunate (?) to have secured tickets to a big-name designer’s fashion show that evening, so it’s rush back to get a decent seat, which allows no time for dinner … or even a (much needed) drink.

So much for day two. By now I realize I have already seen so much that if I don’t start writing some tentative orders from the day’s notes before I go to sleep, I’ll be completely lost. You may be wondering who the “we” are that I refer to. Well! Buyers have a merchandise manager who approves the orders, and the merchandise managers have a Senior Vice President. Plus, there is a Fashion Director overlooking the direction the store is trying to achieve fashion-wise. N.B: The only essential person in all this is the “buyer,” because if nothing gets bought, there is no need (excuse?) for anybody else to go to Paris. Get the “we” now? The Sr. V.P.and the Fashion Director are only around for the big-name designer runway shows and parties anyway.

I have to confess that many of the days and nights are distant blurs in my memory, so I will distill some showroom happenings into one typical example. After sleeping through the morning wake-up call … after a late night out … quick shower and dress hurriedly … I taxi to first appointment. No need to ask … it is obvious … coffee for me!!!

The models come past our table strutting their wares … turning if asked … and stopping if the style number is wanted. Although it is before 10 a.m., they are gorgeous, even though they have probably been partying late (it IS Paris). I become aware of a particularly striking one wearing a sheer black camisole with embroidered black polka dots, a couple of which, I notice, seem to be moving … (jiggling?) … I realize I am being paid to sit here, served croissant and coffee, to watch beautiful fashions parading past … what a wonderful world!

Enough about the work. Ten days (and nights) in Paris means some great food (try and forget our stupid dress buyer trying to order scrambled eggs, well done, at a famous sidewalk cafe) …  great entertainment … I don’t remember the singer’s name, but the standing room only crowd sang “I Will Survive.” The baths are an experience … going up La Tour Eiffel …

“Fashion” is what you observe: what real people walking around have put together … and small boutiques’ displays … Montmartre … Notre Dame … champagne at Crazy Horse! Ten days; all expenses paid (almost all)! Who needs to go to sleep? You can do that on the flight home.

Will I ever get back here? We will have to wait to see if the merchandise I order sells.

MUSIC:  Old Blue Eyes recalls what it was like checking out a beautiful woman:

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Eileen’s seder table. Passover 2012 (5772). Ocean Grove, New Jersey

J.A. Joel, Jewish soldier in the Union Army. 1862. Author of the Civil War seder article described below. (photo: Jewish Virtual Library)

During Reverend Stokes’ time, a Passover seder in the Grove would have been highly unlikely.  But these days, given the changing demographics in what used to be a one-size-fits-all religious environment, seders in the Grove do occur. The seder is a festive celebration devoted to family, traditional foods and retelling  the story of Exodus. A guide book called  the Hagaddah is used during the seder.

Although Passover is a happy holiday, the recitation of this phase of Jewish history is a solemn obligation and a touchstone for Jewish identity. Most American Jews celebrate a seder at Passover. But seders are held all over the world, and, although the framework is the same for each seder, there are many variations of  the rituals, depending on regional and cultural differences. It is surprising where seders have occurred in the past. We know, for example, that secret Passover celebrations were held “underground” during the Inquisition, in Spain and Portugal.

Image courtesy of the Jewish War Veterans of the USA. Two marines and a soldier attend a seder in 1944. In front of them are Australian matzohs. They are probably in the Pacific.

In America, there are reports of seders being held by soldiers during the  Revolutionary and Civil Wars.  There were matzoh factories in unlikely places such as Montana and the Dakotas.

In 1862, an account by  soldier,  J. A. Joel of the 23rd Ohio Volunteer Regiment,  of a seder celebrated by Union soldiers in Fayette, West Virginia, was published in The Jewish Messenger.  Joel and 20 other Jewish soldiers were granted leave to observe Passover.  They received matzoh shipped from Cincinnati.

Said Joel, “We sent parties to forage for Passover food while a group stayed to build a log hut for the services. We obtained two kegs of cider (Ed. note: wine was unavailable), a lamb, several chickens and some eggs. We could not obtain horseradish or parsley, but instead we found a weed whose bitterness, I apprehend, exceeded anything our forefathers ‘enjoyed.’ “   (Ed. note: The seder table includes “bitter herbs” to recall the terrible  times as slaves.)

Joel went on to report  how they used “Yankee ingenuity” to make substitutions for other traditional components of the seder. Those Jews who fought with the North felt like they had the moral high ground  (compared to Jews serving in the Confederate Army) because of the similarity between the freeing of Jewish slaves in Exodus and their participation in freeing the American black slaves. Happy Easter and Passover to those Grovers who celebrate these holidays.

Here is a link about a seder in Ocean Grove in 2011 with references to Haggadahs.

Ocean Grove seder 2011.


—Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger

ETTA JAMES: “Down by the Riverside.”


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View of the Delaware Water Gap from John and Jean's property. By Paul Goldfinger ©

View of the Delaware Water Gap from John and Jean’s property. By Paul Goldfinger ©  Click  to see “simple gifts.”

By Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger

Our old friends John and Jean live in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania.   Their home is in Scotrun where, if you look at the sign quickly, you see “scrotum.”  I don’t know why, but that always makes me laugh.

They are up on 16 acres from where they can see the Delaware Water Gap. We have shown photos of their property  and their dogs on Blogfinger over the years.  When it’s winter up there, things can get difficult traveling on the historic road that winds uphill to their beautiful home, built  in the ’30’s and designed to be strong and to fit into that landscape. You drive past fields, woods, farms and a big old red barn.

John in their gorgeous kitchen. He has some specialties, including breakfast and leg of lamb for dinner. Paul Goldfinger photo ©

John in their  kitchen. He has some specialties, including breakfast and leg of lamb for dinner. Paul Goldfinger photo ©

John is a fabulous cook as well as a hunter, a gun collector and a raconteur .  He invented the Okeefenokie nickname for the Poconos and he specializes in training German Short-hair hunting dogs.   Jeanie is a nurse and a medical innovator  who co-founded with me  the first freestanding pacemaker clinic  in Morris County at Dover General Medical Center.  She then went on to co-found the first pulmonary rehab center in the area.  Jean is an opera/music buff and a clog dancer.

 John and Jean have visited Ocean Grove many times. She  likes to go to classical concerts and church services in the Great Auditorium.  He discusses food and cooking with Eileen. He likes to sleep in our 3rd floor bedroom in the summer where he cranks up the ac until it is “as cold as a meat locker.”

John and Jean Wiarda in Ocean Grove. By Paul Goldfinger ©

John and Jean  in Ocean Grove. By Paul Goldfinger ©

Jean sent us a note today describing her emergence from hibernation.  It’s a lovely piece of writing—I can see her sitting there, looking out over her woods and fields—gazing at the Gap.

“I just came in from outdoors – the FIRST morning I have been able to sit outside with Dotzie and my coffee in weeks, probably months.  The little porch outside the front door faces directly into the early morning sun and captures the warmth and holds it there in a little pocket formed by the shape of the building.  It was glorious – I had to wear my visor and eventually had to remove my fleece coat.  Hallelujah!!!

“Of course, this reprieve is going to be short lived – the polar vortex is coming back this coming week but . . . whatever.  At least we are having this little break.  Also, some of the snow on the roof is disappearing which is a relief!”

AARON COPELAND      “Simple Gifts”–an excerpt from Appalachian Springs.

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Eileen at the Café Volan in A. Park where someone else was making her coffee for a change. Paul Goldfinger photo. ©. 2016.  


By Paul Goldfinger. Editor @Blogfinger.net   Reposted from 2011

We recently got a new coffee bean grinder.  We get our beans from a roaster in Hackettstown called Greene Brothers.  They have the best Kenya AA.  In our house, although Eileen is the chief cook and I am the chief bottle washer, she does defer to me for coffee making.

I insist on carefully following every single special step (filtered water, fresh roasted beans, commercial style drip machine by Bunn, burr grinder by Capresso, etc).  It’s just a peculiarity of mine.  I am truly a coffee fusspot.  It’s too bad coffee isn’t grown around here be cause I would go to meet the farmer.

The new coffee grinder has a transparent top where the beans go, so it looks like there is no top at all.  I went to pour the beans into the grinder, but they just bounced off the top and spilled all over Eileen’s kitchen.  They rolled around with a clatter like some kind of rogue pinball machine run amok.  She, who is so meticulous about her kitchen and everything else, looked on in horror.  She knows that I am fundamentally sloppy, but she cannot get over it.  Eileen (NMI)  is so detail oriented that my nickname for her is “Minutiae”  (Actually I would love to make this her middle name since she doesn’t have one.)

The challenge was to pick up the beans one  at a time without crunching them underfoot.  When I tossed them into the grinder she was incredulous. “What’s the big deal,”  I said. “The coffee will get very hot,  and nothing can live in that coffee. Besides, you can eat off your floor.” Well, to be precise, we never eat off the floor.

She has a way of rolling her eyes in total disgust.  At times like this she is likely to say, “How can you be so inept when you can put a pacemaker wire into someone’s heart?”

I have no answer for her. I tell her that we will need some more Greene beans soon. She says,  “I have enough. I’m serving them for dinner.”

“No, no.” I protested;  “I don’t mean the green beans;  I mean the Greene beans!”

“ And also,”  I whined , “I’m sorry I spilled the beans.”

Eileen just looked at me and said, “I wish you wouldn’t spend so much time in my kitchen.”



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By Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger.net  Reposted from September, 2012 on BF.

I once met Mickey Spillane, the American writer of noir detective novels starring Mike Hammer. Spillane actually was a tough guy who looked like he could be a private eye or a private dick with a run-down office and a babe with long legs for a secretary.

I love that Mike Hammer image, and sometimes I put on my trench coat over a rumpled suit and wait in my office for a tough case to show up. It’s not easy making a living that way, and it’s not healthy either, chain smoking unfiltered cigarettes, sipping bourbon all day and packing a piece.

Then finally the big case showed up. Unfortunately it wasn’t a dame who brought the goods. It was Ogrover, a commenter on our blog “Noir Finger.”  He was like “deep throat” because I never heard his voice or seen his face. He showed up by email, hidden in the shadows of my hard drive. Anyhow, OGrover had a mystery for me to solve.

Monument in Auditorium Square Park—hidden in plain sight.

It seems he was slinking around Auditorium Square Park when he spotted a possible crime scene. A plaque in the ground, at the corner of Pitman Ave. and  Pilgrim Pathway. It was old and spooky, and no one had stolen it yet. OGrover moved slowly closer and closer and then he saw what it said: “Red Oak — State Tree New Jersey Tercentenary–1964.  Presented by the Woman’s Club of Ocean Grove.”

OG scratched his head and wondered if he, an octogenarian, had been around for the tercentenary. But that thought quickly vanished as he stared up at the tree. It was a reddish Norway Maple. “Holy mackerel!” thought OG. “This is a fishy case for Noir Finger.”

Red Oak tree. NOT!

I left Pussy Galore in the office and walked down by the Great Auditorium — talk about haunted houses!  Rattling around inside are the ghosts of President Grant, John Phillip Sousa, and the KKK.

I surveyed the situation and discovered that the Red Oak was indeed gone — instead there was a Norway maple.

“Holy fish oils! What the Heck Avenue happened? Were we going to have another unsolved crime in Ocean Grove? Should we call the coppers?  No way — I’ll handle this one myself.”

I emailed OG and agreed to take the case. He replied, “Piqued your interest?” Then he says, “I have a real hard time believing I’m the first to even notice it since 1964 lol.”

“OG,” I said, “Nobody says ‘piqued’ in Ocean Grove. And nobody ever said ‘lol’ to Noir Finger. After all, we are ‘noir,’ and don’t you forget it. What a turkey!”

So, with the amount of dough that OG was paying, I had to get an answer fast. So I contacted this old hand in town from the HSOG who calls himself “Anonymous,” a name that will be hard to trace, but not impossible. He actually cracked the case, so I give him credit — mystery solved.

It seems that the “Woman’s Club of Ocean Grove” planted the red oak for obvious historic and natural reasons (oaks do well at the shore). Then the oak died (so much for doing well at the shore,) and some genius replaced it with a maple. We don’t know who did or why, but we will keep looking.

Meanwhile, the “Woman’s Club of Ocean Grove”  disbanded* about 20 years ago, and we are still searching for survivors. Noir Finger will stay on the case until we get some answers. We’re open to suggestions.

SOUNDTRACK: By a noir sort of guy who likes to hang around bars at 2:45 a.m.:

See the comment below from Tom  and Pegi.  Pegi has resurrected the old WCOG.* And note that the correct spelling is Woman’s not Women’s.

POST SCRIPT: What good is a Mike Hammer story without a bit of sex ? I came upon a blogger who has been to Ocean Grove and who imagined a young woman staying at the Victorian OG Women’s Club Hotel, a building which still exists in town. I love her poem–click on link below:

The Women’s Club Hotel (est. 1870), Ocean Grove, NJ

(Plaque reads: A Respectable Hotel for Chaperoned Single Gentlewomen)

Ocean Grove Women’s Club Hotel

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