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Stokes. By Paul Goldfinger ©

 

RUFUS WAINWRIGHT    (Rufus Does Judy at Carnegie Hall.)

 

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Ocean Grove Fishing Club. 2012. Jack Bredin.© Photograph by Rob Bredin. Click to enlarge both paintings.

 

 

“Indian Summer” 2018. By Jack Bredin. Photograph by Rob Bredin. ©

 

LINDA RONSTADT   from the Mambo Kings:

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Blogfinger photo ©

Ocean Grove, New Jersey.   Blogfinger photo ©  Re-posted from 2014.

 

By Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger   (We are constantly talking about the Grove and how it is evolving.  This historical review evoked some interesting comments, but now we are 4 years later, and you can bring us up to date if you wish by clicking in comments.)

Ocean Grove, NJ.   July 12, 2014:     We have had some commenters  in the last few days bring up the subject of  who gets credit for the 1990’s turnaround that brought this neglected, rundown shore town back from the abyss to become the trendy, diverse, and popular place that it is today.

The comments were triggered by the Jersey Shore Arts Center’s misunderstanding with the Camp Meeting Association.  Herb Herbst, the President of the JSAC,  is a town hero because of his leadership of the HOA in the ’90’s.

I.M. Radar   (a pseudonym)  brought it up twice in the last two days when he made reference to “the dramatic influx of professional gay homeowners [who] have created the highly valued enclave we live in today. ”   I have heard that claim made on a number of occasions in the past.

But Radar and others offer no  evidence to bolster their contentions. The issue is, if credit is due, then who gets the credit?   As a Grover with an interest in Ocean Grove history, demographics, and social matters, I have found that there has been no scholarly  interest in these topics other than one:

In 2002, Karen Schmelzkopf, a professor at Monmouth University, wrote a paper called “Landscape, Ideology, and Religion: a Geography of Ocean Grove, New Jersey.”

Her 20 page paper with nearly 100 references appeared in the Journal of Historical Geography, 28, 4 (2002) 589 +- 608.  *     She paid great attention to every detail regarding the turnaround of Ocean Grove in the late 1990’s. She gave full credit to Herb Herbst and his Home Owners Association.  He was President of that group during most of the ’90’s.  Prof. Schmelzkopf attributes the rescue of Ocean Grove  entirely to that organization.

I am not going to recite all the  details of her study. You can read her paper yourself on-line.*  However, here are some quotes :

“This, then, was the situation in Ocean Grove by the mid-1980’s: decrepit infrastructure, a meager tourist trade, a year round population made up of predominantly low to moderate income elderly folks and former mental patients, and the diffusion of crime from Asbury Park”

“In response to that challenge, the OGHOA, led by a group of “charismatic leaders” from the community, became an activist “quasi-government.”

“By 1995 the OGHOA became the largest community association in New Jersey and probably the most influential.”

The HOA had over 1,000 members. There were many politically connected people helping Herb including corporate presidents and others who lived in the Grove. The HOA worked with the Chamber of Commerce, the State of New jersey, Neptune Township, and the Camp Meeting Association to accomplish certain goals such as dealing with miserable boarding houses and trying to bring secular and religious tourists back.

Prof. Schmelzkopf said, “By the end of the 1990’s, the OGHOA had fulfilled many of their goals: property values had risen, the number of deinstitutionalized had been dramatically decreased, crime had dropped, and tourists were flocking back to the Grove. Financially comfortable empty-nesters and retirees, along with professionals, academics, and artists in their twenties and thirties including a growing gay population were moving in.”

I urge all of you to read her paper. You can download it by clicking on this link:   (You will have to check your downloads folder to open it.)

Journal of Historical Geography    *

The purpose of this article on Blogfinger is to try to tell an accurate and documented story of how the OG turnaround occurred in the ’90’s.  The facts indicate that a number of diverse segments of the OG community participated then.

The issue today on Blogfinger is historical truth.  So let’s try to keep undocumented assertions out of our community discussions regarding  Ocean Grove’s fascinating history.  We welcome comments from knowledgeable Grovers and,  in particular,  from the Historical Society of Ocean Grove regarding the facts about OG history.

Editor’s note  October, 2018.   There is no doubt about the contribution of OG’s gay community.  Dr. Schmelzkopf acknowledged that during a conversation I had with her at Monmouth University when she spoke to a group of interested Grovers.

But the history of that time suggests that there are multiple factions and people which deserve credit for the turn-around.

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colors

Intricate use of multiple colors can be difficult. Click to enlarge.

Home on Pennsylvania Avenue in Ocean Grove , just painted,  used new historic red and bright yellow from Benjamin Moore.   Blogfinger photo ©

By Paul Goldfinger, Editor @blogfinger

Major paint manufacturers offer color charts that are called “historic Victorian.”  The HPC in Ocean Grove seems to pay heed mostly to the Benjamin Moore company. Choices from the historic charts of other companies might get rejected at the HPC. Perhaps you have wondered about the purple house as you enter the Grove.   That was an approved color, but evidently the HPC later said that it was a mistake.

Those of you who have wrestled with color decisions for your OG home know that there are a wide array of choices, but perhaps you don’t know that the paint companies are always adding new colors.

A lot of the paint company decisions are based on archeological information. The chemical makeup of historic home colors used in the 19th century  resulted in a limited choice, but now you can get many approved colors available in latex paints.

Some homeowners use 14 or more different colors. Of course that sort of paint job can be expensive.

Delicate painting of decorative trim requires a steady hand and a bucket loader. 113 Mt. Hermon Way. Blogfinger photo .  Joan  Corbo painter. Click to enlarge.

 

Some people think of the San Francisco “painted ladies” when they think of Victorian colors, but, as Ocean Grove designer J. Cortese has said, the “new  look” are darker hues. And we have learned that the “painted ladies”  pastels would not be approved in the Grove.

33 Main Avenue design by J. Cortese. Blogfinger photo ©

 

The quote below is from a 2015 Blogfinger post.

“This purple house (above) is at 33 Main Avenue.   Some people love the colors while others hate them.  We spoke to J. Cortese about this restoration project which he designed, color consulted and construction managed. J. uses historic colors, but he also enjoys the unexpected, changing over recently to darker “rich” colors in the Grove.  He says that all his colors are approved and chosen from historic color charts. He thinks that darker colors are “more historic.” 

Yellow seems to be more popular recently.  Some of you are familial with the spectacular restoration at the Founders Park end of Seaview Avenue  (26 Lake Avenue, a yellow Bersheeba Award winner).  Link below:

BF post on spectacular yellow home

And then there are colors which most people in town don’t like, but either they were done that way without permission, or the HPC made a mistake. Do you think that the Mary’s’ Place blue color  (see below) ought to be considered historic?  Is a blue roof historic?  Does the HPC practice favoritism?

And do you recall the orange house on Mt. Hermon Way?  That owner went ahead with it even though that orange is not historic. The owner argued that 19th century homeowners were allowed to pick any colors they wanted —–the palette was very limited;—-all the colors then were dreary. So the orange house owner said that our modern choices should also be whatever we want. And, she argued, that the  orange house would make her happy, so how about the “pursuit of happiness” promised  in our Declaration of Independence–definitely some colorful patriotic reasoning.

Mary’s Place. 12/15.   Main Avenue Ocean Grove. Blogfinger photo. Is the blue roof OK? The other blue on the siding  looks darker now.  Blogfinger photo 12/15. ©

KEITH URBAN with a song about the color blue—“Blue Ain’t Your Color”  (This song was nominated for two 2017 Grammy awards.)

 

 

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A lovely event was held on Saturday, September 22, 2018 on Ocean Avenue at Main and Heck.  This single family house is doing just fine without being divided into condominiums. All that is required are owners who care about the town.  Such owners could have been found for the Aurora.  Blogfinger photo.

 

In August, Blogfinger questioned the decision by the Board of Adjustment to allow the single family zoned Aurora to be turned into a 4 condominium building.

Here is a link to that post:

Aurora zoning change

In that article, we asked, “Why didn’t this Board insist on the single family zoning that was present when the owner bought the property? Do you think any promises were made to that owner, and who might have made those promises?”  Zoning is supposed to protect the town and its citizens.

We know that the previous owner had trouble selling the property, presumably because of the single family zoning, but he bought it that way and lived with it that way, and this historically important building should have been left with its original zoning.

Some might argue that it is unfair to require that this old hotel be continued with single family zoning, because they say, “What can you do with such a big single family home?”

But you can visit any Jersey Shore town, including Ocean Grove, and find very large single family homes.

For example, on Ocean Avenue in OG are such buildings.  Our photo shows a beautiful single family home which was happily occupied by 2 people before it was acquired by the current owners who left the zoning alone.  You can see that it is often rented out for events, and none of its history has been compromised.   It is located on Ocean Avenue, lovingly straddling Main Avenue and Heck Avenue, for all visitors and residents to enjoy.

Will you be able to say the same thing about the new Aurora?

–Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger.net

JIMMY BUFFETT:

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19th century walkway along Wesley Lake: It was called Lake Avenue, not Beach Avenue. And the lake was a lake not a retention/detention basin (as it is currently labeled)

Ocean Grove walkway along Wesley Lake by Founders Park: It was called Lake Avenue, not Beach Avenue. And the lake was a lake not a retention/detention basin (as it is currently labeled) Re-posted from 2016.

 

AMY VACHAL

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

Four years ago, Joy and Mike Adase found the OG home of their dreams 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 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 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:

 

 

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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 create 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

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June, 2018 note:  This article was originally published on Blogfinger in August 2009, only two months after the blog’s e-birth. Needless to say, we had few visitors back then.  The story of the Ocean Grove “gates” is pivotal in the history of this town and  should be re-told occasionally so that those who are unfamiliar with the details can gain some perspective as they view life in the Grove now.  We re-posted it  in 2011, 2016, and then again now in 2018.

By Paul Goldfinger, M.D.   Editor @Blogfinger.net.

The year is 1875, and the Camp Meeting Association’s first President, Rev. E.H. Stokes said, regarding the gate closure on Sunday, “There is no human probability that these rules will ever be revoked.”  That same year, the President of the United States, Ulysses S. Grant, came to Ocean Grove on a Sunday.  A wooden picket fence with a swing gate blocked his way at the entrance to town, and he had to leave his horses and carriage and walk one half mile to his sister’s house on Wesley Lake. Then he went on to the open air auditorium, where 5,000 adults, children and Civil War veterans waited for his arrival.

Of all the “blue laws,” the ban on parking of all-wheeled vehicles and the ban on driving such vehicles into town, from midnight Saturday to midnight Sunday, was the one that seemed to best define the spirit of those Christians who came to Ocean Grove each summer for the chance to relax with their families and to praise God in a most unique environment. Only police, fire, doctors’ cars, and ambulance units could enter and leave.

Ocean Grove gates-1 - Version 2

In 1916 two stone pillars were erected, and a chain was used to prevent access into the town’s two entrances. A policeman would be in charge of opening and closing the “gates” and he would remain stationed in a little gate house at the Main Avenue entrance. That little house still stands. On Sunday nights, before midnight, a festive atmosphere would prevail, until the officer on duty allowed the folks to drive back into the Grove.

Some people moved to town just because of those Sunday rules, and, for most of those who lived in Ocean Grove, part time or full time, they totally supported the idea of Sundays free of noise, clutter, and secular distractions.  They didn’t care that they could not go to the beach, play ball, garden, smoke, play cards, drink alcohol, dance, buy food, mow the lawn, hammer a nail or even ride a bike. To them it was unthinkable that this rule might be abolished, because they thought that if it ever happened, Ocean Grove would never be the same.

Ocean Grove had received a charter from the State of New Jersey in 1870, which allowed the Camp Meeting Association to govern the town, including making laws (ordinances) and enforcing those laws with their own police department and municipal court.  The CMA governed in Ocean Grove, while the homeowners paid property taxes to Neptune Township. Ocean Grove received some services from Neptune, but Neptune considered the Grove to be a sort of private estate or gated community and thus they expected Ocean Grove to be somewhat self sufficient, even though Grovers paid full taxes. This tension between Neptune and Ocean Grove regarding taxes and obligations would be a point of recurrent stress for many years to the present.

As time went by, it became apparent that there were those in town who were not so enamored by the blue laws or by the CMA governance. Periodically there would be arguments about this, and in 1921, there actually was a secular Borough of Ocean Grove that lasted one year. After that, there was a suit, and the courts returned the town to the CMA over the issue of the “blue laws.”

In 1975, a lawsuit emerged and eventually made its way to the New Jersey Supreme Court in 1977. It was brought by The Ocean Grove News Service which wanted to be able to enter the town for one hour each Sunday at 2 am in order to deliver the Asbury Park Press. For years, the CMA had made an exception for those deliveries, but they tightened the rules so the deliveries were blocked, and the News Service sued.

The NJ Supreme Court went beyond the suit and considered the question of how a religious organization could govern a town, but they eventually decided to avoid church vs. state issues and, instead, they made a narrow ruling, based on “freedom of the press,” that allowed the newspaper deliveries to take place. The vote was 4-3.  The three in the minority would have taken governance away from the CMA. The ruling did not abolish the chains or change the authority of the CMA, other than in a one hour lowering of the barrier, once per week.

Just as that controversy quieted, another storm blew into town. A man named Louis Celmer, Jr., of Belmar, was arrested by the Ocean Grove Police for drunk driving. He was convicted in the Ocean Grove Court, but he sued in 1977 on the grounds that the court was illegal. The judge in the Monmouth County Court agreed that the OG court was unconstitutional and reversed the Celmer conviction and the Sunday closings.

The chains were temporarily taken down pending appeals, causing confrontations at the gates that summer, with people blocking traffic and setting up lawn chairs in the streets. At one point, according to a police officer who was there, a near riot ensued. Since the judge had thrown out the CMA rules, Neptune Township tried to help the CMA by approving an ordinance which banned parking in Ocean Grove on Sundays. So you could drive into town, but since you couldn’t park, you had to keep driving, or leave.

In 1978, The New Jersey Superior Court ruled that the OG Court was constitutional and they reversed the Monmouth County decision. The chains were now lawful once again. Many people became interested in the issues at stake. Letters to the editors of the APP from ministers, priests and even a rabbi encouraged support for the Sunday rules. It was said that 90% of Ocean Grovers wanted the ban to continue.

In 1979, the Celmer case was appealed again and went to the New Jersey Supreme Court. This time the composition of the court was different compared to the 1977 case.

On June 21, 1979, the situation in Ocean Grove was changed forever. The court voted 7-0 and said, “The 1870 charter is unconstitutional and of no force and effect.”   The ruling stated, “The Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association of the United Methodist Church can be delegated neither the power to manage public highways or other public property, the power to make laws, nor the power to enforce Board rules through establishment of a police department and municipal court. These functions must hence forth be exercised by the governing body of Neptune Township, of which Ocean Grove forms a part.”

The court expressed its admiration for the CMA and its goals in Ocean Grove. The ruling said, “This way of life need not be abandoned on account of today’s decision. The Association may continue to adopt rules which it deems necessary to protect Ocean Grove’s unique cultural and spiritual characteristics. The inhabitants of Ocean Grove and indeed all others who so choose, remain free to voluntarily abide by those rules.”

Rev. Harold Flood, President of the CMA, said on June 28, 1979, in the Ocean Grove Record, that the CMA ordinances were no longer enforceable. He referred to the “former ban on Sunday driving and parking” and he asked that Ocean Grovers cooperate. He said, “The best we can do is to obey the law, and the law says our gates are open.”  The CMA Board then voted to take down the chains permanently.

But in the Asbury Park Press, Rev. Flood was quoted as saying that the parking ban would continue, because it is enforced as a Neptune ordinance approved by the State.  So the CMA, in collaboration with Neptune Township, tried to continue the Sunday ban by disguising it as a parking ordinance. The plan was to keep the “gates” open, but have the Neptune Police enforce the Sunday parking ordinance.*

That strategy would not work, because a group of Ocean Grove citizens, led by Mr. Joseph Krimko (subsequently the Mayor of Neptune Township) and Mr. Art Liotti, raised money and sued on the grounds that the Neptune ordinance was illegal. The case was decided in appellate court, and the ordinance was thrown out “three zip” as Mr. Krimko described it, in a recent interview with Blogfinger. When asked why he and his colleagues brought the suit, he said, “It was the right thing to do.”

So the chains came down permanently, and Ocean Grove did not fall into the sea. It did not wind up like other religious towns, including Ocean Grove, Australia, which was founded by the same Rev. Osborn who founded Ocean Grove, New Jersey. The Australian town no longer attracts Methodists. It is now a magnet for surfers.

Today, in Ocean Grove, New Jersey, some people still come because they love the spirituality of the town. It still is a traditional place, especially on Sunday, and the Camp Meeting Association continues its religious mission with great vigor. The CMA activities, the Victorian architecture and the town’s history all add to that special “flavor” which is still present and which suggests a place from 100 years ago.

The entrance to OG is now largely a symbol of freedom as seen in this photograph of Dec. 2017. Paul Goldfinger photo ©.

The changing demographics have contributed considerable diversity and a secular tone which add zest to the mix.  Now  (2018), in the town’s 149th year, it remains a one-of-a-kind special place to live in and visit, with elements of both the old and the new complementing each other.

Acknowledgments:  Mr. Ted Bell (Ocean Grove historian and author), Mr. Joseph Krimko  (former Ocean Grove Police officer and Neptune Mayor), Mr. Joseph Bennett (former Neptune Township Clerk), staff at Asbury Park Library and Neptune Township Library, and  “The Other Side of Ocean Grove” by Mr. Ted David.

Historical note:  We had some difficulty establishing the exact date in 1979 or 1980, when the chains came down permanently. The written materials and oral histories were unclear on this point. My best guess would be June 1979, after the Supreme Court ruling, but there were some indications that the chains were up and down a few more times into 1980, before they permanently left town.   —-PG

*Editor’s note: 2018.  Regarding that peculiar collaboration between Neptune Township and the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association in 1980, a collaboration designed to ignore the freedom ruling of the N.J. Supreme Court and constrain the citizens and visitors in OG, it reminds me of the current collaboration of the CMA and the Township regarding  the plan to turn the North End of OG into Asbury Park South—something that is not in the best interest of the citizens of this town.

What else has that partnership accomplished in the past for the “benefit” of those who live here?

That list includes the condoization of the Grove producing over 300 condo units, mostly without parking.  And the latest is the obscene granting of a use variance without justification and outside the NJ land use laws to allow a developer to turn the Aurora Hotel into 4 condominiums in a single family zone.  This arrogant action was delivered by the Neptune Township Zoning Board of Adjustment last week, in plain sight, and without any apologies to the citizens of Ocean Grove.

Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger.

BROADWAY CAST OF HAMILTON   “Raise a Glass to Freedom—The Story of Tonight”

 

 

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George Beecroft of Ocean Grove, citizen reporter,  shared this New York Times news item from 112 years ago along with the Wikipedia article about the hero—H.R. Reiter.

Princeton football player c. 1902.

Princeton football player c. 1902.

Howard Roland “Bosey” Reiter (c. 1871 – 1957)  was an All-American football player, coach and athletic director. He was selected for the 1899 college All-America team and played professional football as a player coach for the Philadelphia Athletics of the first National Football League in 1902.  He was the head football coach at Wesleyan University from 1903–1909 and at Lehigh University  from 1910–1911.

Reiter has been credited by some with the development of the overhand spiral forward pass, which he claimed to have developed while playing for the Athletics in 1902.

THE MARVELOUS WONDERETTES:  “Mr. Touchdown ” and “You Gotta Be a Football Hero” (to get along with the beautiful girls—–still true, although Internet nerds who go public get girls too.)

Football hero in OG

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