Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Ocean Grove history’ Category

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.”

images-5

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)

 

 

Read Full Post »

New York Times, August 28, 1905.

By Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger.net.  Re-post from  Blogfinger 2012. From our Department of Historical Perspective.

In the newspaper article above, from the August 28, 1905 New York Times, we get an idea about how wild it could get at the old camp ground in Ocean Grove, only 36 years after the town’s founding. The event was called a “love feast,” and the article clearly describes what that term means.  You might  have imagined that services in the GA in 1905 were pretty staid affairs, but now we know that they were anything but.

Some parts of the description seem peculiar like singing three hymns all at once.  I wonder what the orchestra did with that situation.

Amanda Berry Smith was a former slave who became an evangelical preacher. She was known for her beautiful voice.  We don’t have any recordings of her, but here is a Sam Cooke recording  (with the Soul Stirrers) of  “I’m So Glad (Trouble don’t  last always):”

And if you think that church services were all they did in the Great Auditorium in 1905, one month before the Love Feast, President Theodore Roosevelt spoke to the Convention of the National Education Association on July 7, 1905.  A photo shows a full house. Not only was the place packed, but there were “throngs’ outside including soldiers and military bands.  The President gave the closing speech.   Behind him were the massed Festival Chorus and the Ocean Grove Orchestra.  After he finished, they performed the “Hallelujah Chorus” from Handel’s “Messiah”.

Read Full Post »

Submitted by Rich Amole, Blogfinger reporter and staff historian. ©

Submitted by Rich Amole, Blogfinger reporter and staff historian. ©

This post is from August 4, 2014 on Blogfinger:

Paul:

So many voices over the years have performed at the Great Auditorium.   On August 12, 1908, Ocean Grove welcomed a performance of an American operatic contralto star named Louise Homer.  She had an active international career in concert halls and opera houses from 1895 until her retirement in 1932.  She was also a member of the Metropolitan Opera in the years 1900-1919.  I put together the attachment above that has a photo of her plus various priced tickets.

Wonder if she sung a short tune at Days afterwards?

From Rich Amole, Blogfinger staff.

Editor’s note: During the years of Ocean Grove’s famed music director Tali  Esen Morgan, many great names appeared in the Great Auditorium.  He built a grand house on Abbott Avenue in 1906,  and around 1910, he entertained Enrico Caruso who put on a bit of a concert in Morgan’s front parlor. We wrote about that house and about that impromptu concert.  Here is the link:

Caruso in the Grove

It’s interesting that Rich Amole sent us these tickets which provide for seating in the gallery and the main floor.  Curiously, the brochure above refers to the “Grand Auditorium.”   That must have been a goofy misunderstanding, because the Auditorium, which was built in 1894, was just called the “Auditorium” at first and for many years.     Then a big sign on the roof said “Ocean Grove Auditorium,” and it remained up there until it was falling apart and was removed, but not replaced, in 1979.

According to Wayne T. Bell, Jr, Cindy L. Bell, and Darrell A. Dufresne, authors of  The Great Auditorium—Ocean Grove’s Architectural Treasure  (2012,)  “It took awhile” for the name “Great Auditorium” to take hold.  The authors  reviewed many sources dating back over 100 years to find out that it was in recent times, perhaps the 1970’s, that the name “Great Auditorium” became official, especially after the PR people got hold of it.

As for Louise Homer, she was a huge star in the opera world, making her debut at the Met. in 1900, performing in Aida.  For 19 consecutive seasons she played the “Met” opposite Caruso and other greats of the Metropolitan Opera in New York.

Here is an old recording of Louise Homer singing with Enrico Caruso and Marcel Journet in the opera Samson et Dalila.  The year was around 1920.  They are singing in French about celebrating a victory. I hope it’s not the scene where she cuts off his hair—–so sad;  I hate that part.    Rich Amole owns these tickets now, having acquired them on Ebay from some Grovers, but if he thinks he can go to the concert, sorry Rich, but you are a little late.    —-Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger.

 

 

Read Full Post »

Photo by Rich Amole @Blogfinger.

Photo by Rich Amole @Blogfinger.  2014

By Rich Amole, Blogfinger history reporter/researcher.

Paul:

“The best type of snow is the one that doesn’t need to be shoveled.  Above  is a real cool Snow Globe with the Great Auditorium inside.  Snow Globes were designed to be paper weights but ended up being more of a collectible item of places visited.

Originally of European origin, they crossed the Atlantic in the 1920’s with the first patented one in the late 1920’s in the USA.  Some of these marvelous items have music boxes attached.   I could venture a guess on when this one was manufactured, but perhaps a reader may fill us in or even own one.

CINCINNATI POPS:   “Lara’s Theme” from Dr. Zhivago.

 

 

Read Full Post »

Joy Adase in 2014 when she joined the garden tour. Paul Goldfinger photo ©

 

Since Christmas is such a happy holiday, we decided to re-post this article from August, 2018, in Ocean Grove.  Ultimately, for those of us who live here, the main focus becomes our homes and life-styles in this historic town.

Here is a story of a Heck Avenue family showing off the home of their dreams.–Paul  @Blogfinger.net

 

Four years ago (2014), Joy and Mike Adase found their OG home on Heck Avenue.  They sold their 5 bedroom house in Howell, downsized their stuff, and moved into a historic  (1885)  two-story, 2 bedroom,  1200 square foot Ocean Grove cottage at #97  What-the-Heck Avenue.

Here is a link to an article we posted about the Adases in 2014 when they were newcomers:

New Grover in town. What the Heck.

Since they have been here full time, they have been  “in love” with the town of Ocean Grove and with their unique home.

So this year, the Adases decided to join the house tour, sponsored by the Historical Society of OG, which was held on Friday, August 3, 2018.  During the tour, Mike and Joy got out of the way and visited one of their favorite spots:  New Hope, Pa.

Joy said that it was a lot of work to get her home just right for the tour, but she is happy to “share”  her  home with visitors;  the more, the merrier.  “I feel blessed to live in this beautiful town and in this home,” said Joy. Now that it’s over, she says, “I’m glad we did it.”

Docent Joanne greets visitors on the porch. Note the original metal awning. 8/3/18.  All photographs by Paul Goldfinger, Blogfinger.net.

There were 8 homes on the tour, and many visitors, mostly women in groups of 2-4, were happily making the rounds.

The house was on display with five docents providing a lively tour.  Joanne, a neighbor, was greeting visitors on the porch. She pointed out the original metal awning overhead, which is rare in the Grove. The original doorbell is rung by twisting a knob.

Docent Mike explains the front parlor. Blogfinger photos © 8/3/18

Inside was another neighbor Mike who says he loves to chat, so being a docent is right up his alley, and this is the third year he is doing it.  He used the joke-of-the-day with every visitor, pointing out the “one butt staircase” heading to the master bedroom.

Visiting the living room. Blogfinger is seen in the mirror photographing.

On the second floor was Colleen, another neighbor.  She repeated the butt joke.  (awright awready with the butt jokes!)

Docent Colleen at the top of the staircase (room enough for one tush at a time)

Having neighbors conduct the tour offered an extra dimension of enthusiasm  as Colleen allowed visitors to poke their heads into the bathroom.

Of course, the whole house was lovely and spotless.  We met some visitors from out of town including: Pennsylvania, Ramsey and Midland Park.  Visitors to the Grove are well familiar with the exteriors of our homes, but to tour the interiors is quite a special experience especially for house voyeurs.

Docent Marty in the Serenity Garden. Blogfinger photo 8/3/18 ©

Outside was Marty who was enjoying showing the Serenity Garden.  This is another of those OG gardens that are quite special in small spaces.  She pointed out the grape vines growing on the side fence and the popcorn plant along the edge of the house.  Pick a piece and smell it to experience the Jersey Shore popcorn aroma.

The next day Joy relaxed on her porch, sipping from her Christmas cup,  happily reviewing the tour with Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger.net. 8/4/18

MARIA MULDAUR:

 

 

Read Full Post »

Version 2

By Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger

This article from 2017 is being re-posted because it not only addresses the issue of placing a drug rehab center in the Grove, but it also is about the risks of forgetting our historic designations and about the importance of vigilance by the citizens of OG.

The agreement between the owner of the Laingdon Hotel on Ocean Avenue and the Sprout Health Co. was evidently decided upon last summer.  The plan was to open a drug rehabilitation facility in that historic hotel after getting a use-variance from the Neptune Board of Adjustment. Essential to those best laid plans was the need  to close the hotel to the public and to use it to house addicted individuals who would stay there for up to 30 days while undergoing treatment at the Sprout clinic in Eatontown.

Most Grovers who weighed in on Blogfinger were opposed for a variety of reasons. An intelligent discussion ensued, and there were no personal attacks–just identification of the issues.   No one disparaged those unfortunate patients who would have been candidates to stay in the OG facility. No one got to attack the owner for wanting to make a profit on his investment or the company whose business is to help others.

It’s just that the people of Ocean Grove did not believe that such a project would be suitable in our town for a variety of well considered reasons.

This was not a blind case of “not in our backyard.”  Not every town is appropriate for setting up shelters for the unfortunate.   I doubt you would find a drug rehab facility in Colonial Williamsburg, but that doesn’t mean that one shouldn’t be located in a town nearby.      The citizens of  Ocean Grove would likely  be supportive of such a project in a neighboring town where the fit would be more sensible.

Importantly, the discussion of the Laingdon did allow the consideration of a bigger picture:    Ocean Grove is vulnerable to the conversion of historic buildings into uses that do not fit our Master Plan or the designation of our town on the National and State Historic Registers.  It’s work to keep those designations, and  “if you don’t use it, you will lose it.”  If the Laingdon idea had been implemented, then a dangerous precedent would have given permission to approve all sorts of decidedly non-historic projects that would change our town forever.  Now perhaps such projects would be discouraged.

The Laingdon opposition is only one piece of a town-wide effort which will be required to avoid more condominiums and commercialization while pushing for continued development as a single family residential/historic community.

There is a need for a group of citizens to dedicate themselves to be watchdogs on behalf of the town of Ocean Grove.  It will require standing up to Neptune Township politicians, developers, and to the derelict  HOA to beat back the anti- RSIS crowd.

Vigilance is the key word in the future,  because other mice and men with big plans will try to nibble away at this very special town, turning it into Asbury Park south or Bradley-Beach-By-the Sea.  Even Sprout might show up again with a renewed application.

Just because the Laingdon plan has caved, doesn’t mean that we should not keep watching and discussing how to protect the Grove.  After all, it all depends on you.

FRANK SINATRA from The Columbia Years.

Read Full Post »

Tourism of the historical kind---the kind to be encouraged in our historic town. Paul Goldfinger photo @ Blogfinger .net.

Tourism of the historical kind—the kind to be encouraged in our 19th century historic town. Paul Goldfinger photo @ Blogfinger.net.

 

HUGH JACKMAN.  “Don’t throw your past away; you might need it some rainy day.”    From The Boy From Oz:

Read Full Post »

Postcard. Gates were opened permanently in 1980.

Postcard. Gates were opened permanently in 1980.

This sign hangs in the Historical Society museum on Pitman Ave.

This sign hangs in the Historical Society museum on Pitman Ave.  Blogfinger photo.

A ruling by the NJ Supreme Court in 1979 declared this and other blue laws to be unconstitutional as administered by the Camp Meeting Association.  The official governance turnover to Neptune Township took place in 1980 after the US Supreme Court refused to hear the case.

As you can see, the “gates” were not actually gates.   There was a chain.  The police officer was an Ocean Grove policeman.  Now you can even get a bus in OG  on Sunday into New York City.

HARRY NILSSON:

 

Paul Goldfinger, Editor  @Blogfinger.   (this post is from 2014, but history is always timely, and the comments with this post are very stimulating.)   If you have any comments now, please send them by email or by using the comments button below.

Read Full Post »

Windows at the top reaches of the Tabernacle. All photos by Paul Goldfinger ©

Windows at the top reaches of the Tabernacle. All photos by Paul Goldfinger © Click on all photographs to enlarge them.

By Paul Goldfinger MD, Editor @Blogfinger.net   Re-posted from June, 2014.

The Bishop Janes Tabernacle is the oldest permanent structure in Ocean Grove, build in 1877.  It is an airy, open building consisting basically of one room and  a center section on top where  a sweep of windows allows light to stream in from above  and illuminate the seating below–symbolic perhaps, or very practical, or both.

Light and breezes come inside. ©

Light and breezes come inside. ©

Ted Bell, Ocean Grove historian and author, showed us the 19th century ventilation system which keeps the place cool.  Downstairs there is a ring of large doors and windows.   The latter open in a curious way, but there is a purpose to the design. The window aims the warm breezes upward where they can stream through the top  row of windows.

Ted Bell shows how the lower level windows open. ©

Ted Bell shows how the lower level windows open. ©

Outside, the light trickles and flows through the trees to hit the Tabernacle and creates moving patterns on its outside walls and illumination for the prayer books inside.

outside one

 

BACH:  Double concerto in D minor for 2 violins and strings.  With Yehudi Menuhin, Alberto Lysy, and Camerata Lysy Gstaad.

 

—- Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger

Read Full Post »

Ted Bell giving a historic tour in Ocean Grove. Here he demonstrates the size of a finial. Paul Goldfinger photo

 

Ted Bell, an author, a naturalist, and an Ocean Grove historian died this past week.   An obituary can be found in the Coaster.  Ted will be missed in the Grove.

At Blogfinger we will especially remember his willingness to help us with authoritative information about OG history.  And, at a personal level, we will miss his wonderfully  good-natured sense of humor.

Most recently Ted left his mark by championing the restoration of the historic Fitzgerald Fountain in Founders Park. Many of us saw him there for the dedication.

 

Here is a link to a Blogfinger article about a Ted Tour from 2015:

Link to Ted talk.

 

PAUL ROBESON  once performed in the Great Auditorium.  Here is a tribute to Ted: a re-post of our 2016 article about Paul Robeson in the Great Auditorium and a recording of one of the great spirituals that he was famous for.

Paul Robeson in the Great Auditorium

 

 

—-Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger.net

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: