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Founders' Park. Ocean Grove. Silver gelatin print. By Paul Goldfinger ©

Ocean Grove. Silver gelatin print. By Paul Goldfinger ©  2016. This is the Fitzgerald Fountain before it was refurbished in 2019.  Click to enlarge.

 

By Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger   Re-post from 2016.

 

The Story of Ocean Grove, 1869-1919 by Morris S Daniels.  Published in 1919 by the Methodist Book Concern in New York City:

“In a little old dingy tent, one of ten erected on the sand drifts of what was later to be known in Ocean Grove as Thompson Park but now called Founders’ Park, there occurred on the night of July 31, 1869 an event of immense significance.

“What happened was not unusual of itself, and the surroundings were not such as to impress one that history was making within the confines of the poor little tent, illumined, as it was, by a few tallow candles; but ‘Great oaks from little acorns grow.'”

Morris Daniels tells us that about 12 people gathered in the tent which belonged to Mrs. Joseph Thornley.  They all had arrived the day before and pitched their tents there.  There were no chairs, so they all sat on rough pine boards.

Daniels says, “The night was dark, save for the stars which twinkled brightly from overhead, while the few candles within cast a weird shadow upon the scene.

“Some had come directly from their own tents while others had preferred to wander over the yielding sands to the edge of the dune overlooking the sea to watch the moon rise from her briny bed.

“But shortly after nine o’clock all had gathered in the little dimly lighted tent for Ocean Grove’s  first religious service—–a prayer meeting.”

 

WARREN VACHE´    “Stardust”

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Julia West Howard

By Eileen and Paul Goldfinger   Re-post from 2011 on Blogfinger.net

It was June, 2008, and  there was a knock on our front door. A young woman named Cathy Midkiff  was standing on the porch.  She said that she was visiting Ocean Grove from Maryland and wanted to see the house that had  a special meaning for her.  We invited her in. She looked about curiously and then proceeded to tell us her story.

Cathy had recently inherited a piece of furniture—an armoire. It seems that a celebrity named Julia West Howard had lived in our house at 113 Mt. Hermon Way from 1938 until her death in 1947.  Cathy’s aunt, a friend of Ms. Howard, had acquired the armoire  from the Howard estate.

The aunt, Wilma Bodine of Bangs Avenue in Asbury Park, had owned a funeral home there and that’s where the armoire remained until Cathy acquired it.  The armoire is a carved walnut piece that was appraised as being from the 1930’s, so probably Julia had purchased it new to furnish her OG house.

Cathy left us copies of photographs and some news clippings.  We were intrigued, because the Asbury Park Press, in 1947, had printed a photo of the house, and the caption said, “Home of Famous Actress Sold—Julia West Howard, whose picture was emblazoned on billboards, posters, and in newspapers from Broadway to San Francisco more than 46 years ago, spent the last years of her retirement in this home at 113 Mt. Hermon Way, Ocean Grove, which has just been sold by the estate to William and Nellie Major.  Before her death, Miss Howard completely remodeled the property.”

The photos of Julia West Howard were wonderful—showing a stylish and coquettish woman with her hair up, as was the way in the early 20th century.

An obituary in the Ocean Grove Times, dated August 29, 1947, said that Julia West Howard had been born in Germany and resided in New York City before moving to OG  in 1938. She had been married to Frank Howard and was survived by her sister W.H. Osborne of Ocean Grove. Her funeral service was at the Bodine Funeral Home.

The photograph of the house showed striped awnings, coincidentally just like the ones we installed 5 years ago.  We also were able to verify the appearance of the columns, the gull wing roof and the balustrades. There were trees and shrubs around the dwelling.  If only the house could talk.

 

MUSIC: Imagining Julia West Howard   (Maude Maggart Sings Irving Berlin)

 

 

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1891 The South End fishing pier. Source: "Ocean Grove in Vintage Postcards" by Bell and Flynn

Source: “Ocean Grove in Vintage Postcards” by Bell and Flynn. With permission by Mr. W. Ted Bell of OG. Click image for full view

By Paul Goldfinger, MD.  Editor @Blogfinger   (Re-posted from May, 2013 on BF–Part 2 to follow)

The year is 1890.  Ocean Grove is 21 years old, and the Rev. Elwood Stokes has a public health concern–how to deal with sewage so as to avoid infectious diseases in the campground.  He writes about the subject in his annual reports, and that year he decides that their primitive sewer pipe system, where the mess is pumped into the ocean, needs to be improved.  So he extends the pipeline out about 500 feet from shore and he builds a wooden pier opposite Embury Avenue to provide protection for  the pipe.

A few years later, a better sewer system is devised, and the pier becomes a fishing pier with the Fishing Club receiving a multi-year lease and  taking up 97 feet at the end.    The 500 foot pier is destined to become a historic landmark in a historic Jersey Shore town.

Some years after that, when the North End is developed into a major recreational compound, a second pier, attached to the North End Hotel Pavilion, is built to attract strollers, fishermen  and boats.  Eventually it gets wiped out in a huge hurricane in 1938. During that viscious storm,  the south end of Ocean Grove winds up underwater after 5 days of heavy rain. The Embury Avenue pier is also badly damaged.

North End pier. From Bell and Flynn: Ocean Grove in Vintage Postcards

Source: Ocean Grove in Vintage Postcards by Bell and Flynn.

Big storms knock out the pier and boardwalk on multiple occasions over the years including 1922, 1927, 1938, 1953, and a huge nor’easter in December 1992.   The latter storm causes the Delaware River to back up and 4 counties along the shore to be clobbered.  There are 90 mph winds in Atlantic City.

My old friend Nick Maat, a member of the Fishing Club, from 14 Heck Avenue, witnesses the pier clubhouse being carried away by a massive wave while he stands on Ocean Avenue soaking wet and jaw agape. The Asbury Park Press interviews him, and Nick gets his 15 minutes of fame.  The pier is lost except for a small piece at the end where Ralph, the dummy fisherman, sits all by himself.  (If he only had a brain.)

A book is written about the pier, Ralph, and the storm of 1992  by Carol Egner of Ocean Grove. It is called The True Story of Ralph–the Ocean Grove Fisherman.

In 1994, the pier is rebuilt, financed by a  $144,000.00 small business loan obtained by the Fishing Club.

In 2000, a beach replenishment project causes the fishing pier to be landlocked after the water’s edge was moved eastward by 100 feet.  The pier is 338 feet at that point, and a  construction project adds another 144 feet to get the pier to its original 500 feet and over the water once again.  The $150,000 project is financed by Monmouth County, the State, the OGCMA, the Fishing Club, and Neptune Township.

Landlocked fishing pier. Asbury Park Press photo.

Landlocked fishing pier. c 2000.  Asbury Park Press photo.

In August, 2011,  Hurricane Irene causes damage to the pier. Some emergency repairs are done, but the pier is unsafe at its far end. The CMA fixes a few damaged parts of the  boardwalk.  FEMA declines to pay for repairs.

Then Sandy hits on October 29, 2012 and causes considerable destruction including the demolition of most of the pier. The clubhouse is swept out to sea in addition to all but a short section of the pier still attached to the boardwalk.

Finally, now, in 2013, a 165  foot piece of the pier will be repaired by the COGMA  to allow the public to walk out a short distance—-over the sand.  Engineers say that it is safe.

The OGCMA promises to rebuild the “non-fishing pier ” in its entirety, but that will come in the future.  Mr. William Bailey of the CMA says that the small initial section will give people hope regarding the rest of the project.  However, in a detailed press release dated April 30, the CMA did not mention the pier.

The  OG Fishing Club has a long lease, but its future has been put on hold for now.  The old-boys club (with a few old -girls)  is missing its hangout.  What’s to be done?   Maybe they should have their meetings at Old Navy.

One thing  is clear:  Both the pier and the club are woven into the fabric of Ocean Grove history, and respect must be paid.

In Part II, we will discuss the situation with officials of the  fishing club and the Camp Meeting Association.

NITTY GRITTY DIRT BAND:  Fishin’ in the Dark    (something to look forward to)

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Swimwear from Victorians’ Secrets. Re-posted from November, 2012.

 

By Paul Goldfinger, history editor @Blogfinger

 

In 1869, the Founding Fathers founded Ocean Grove in Larry’s Park (later, the name was changed to Founders’ Park.) Soon thereafter, many visitors came to this popular resort. Some people wanted to live here, but sleeping in tents began to wear thin, so a building boom began, and along with that came realtors in 1872.

They opened an office on Main Avenue and called it Century 19. Many of the realtors were young ladies who wore billowing dresses with hoops and crinolines that made them extra wide. It was fun watching 2 or 3 of them squeeze inside a tent. They drove their clients around in shiny buggies that said “20% down” on the back.

The sales pitch for selling houses here must have been a challenge because of all the limitations: no horses in town on Sunday, no alcoholic drinks, no tossing pie pans on Sunday, no carousing on Saturday night, and no hanky panky.

Well, that last one was quickly tossed out due to overwhelming opposition by the folks in the choir, especially the basses and the sopranos. Besides, Grovers did need something else to do on Sunday.

Another reason why there was no “blue law” for sex was that a baby was conceived in the tent colony,  and that is where the term “Founding Father” was born.

One of the problems was that Rev. Stokes had organized a lot sale. People came from New York City and Philadelphia to buy land in this unique town. Then, somehow, it turned out that they had purchased a lease. “What the heck avenue,” they complained.

But even today, no one knows why their house is sitting on somebody else’s land. Luckily, lawyers followed the realtors into town and they made it all official.

It should be noted that you couldn’t go to Asbury Park for fun back then, because it was a sedate place having just been founded in 1871. The Asburians tried to emulate the example of Ocean Grove, but good luck with that idea.

Watch for our next installment of “OG Historical Snapshots” when we will tell the story of Jewish Grovers and how they introduced bagels with cream cheese to God’s Square Mile.

 

And here is Dinah Washington, who knows what to do on Sunday:

 

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Vest pocket park with antique urn near Mt. Carmel Way in the OG mountains. Paul Goldfinger photo ©.

Vest pocket park with antique urn near Mt. Carmel Way in the OG mountains. November, 2014.   Paul Goldfinger photo ©.  Click to enlarge.

BEVERLY KENNEY:

Beverly Kenney

Beverly Kenney

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xxxx

Blogfinger
.  2020 re-post  (The original question posited in the headline is still valid.)

There are multiple factions in the small town of Ocean Grove (pop  3,700,) and these organized groups are largely isolated from each other. Woven into the fabric are homeowners and renters who live here but do not belong to any organizations, thus becoming, by default, a faction of their own.

According to social scientist Steve Valk, whose family has lived here for several generations, it would be important for these factions to find ways to appreciate and cooperate with each other. For example he cites the religious groups and the secular groups which ought to find common ground for the benefit of the town. One example of such cooperation is the recent interaction, since Sandy, between Ocean Grove United (OGU) and the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association  (CMA); however we have recently seen how tenuous that relationship is when we recall the  clash about Sunday sermons this past summer.

The CMA ran the town from 1869 to 1980—-111 years. Neptune Township  treated OG as a sort of gated community.  The CMA made the rules and imposed blue laws until the N.J. Supreme Court put a stop to that in 1980 when Neptune  took over active governance in the Grove  (although they were technically the governing body almost since the town’s founding.)  Since 1980, the CMA has continued its mission and  it has largely kept out of the way of Neptune Township.

But we now see the CMA and the Township working together on the North End Redevelopment Project, but suspicious elements have been revealed, and that project does not seem to be designed primarily with the town’s best interest at heart.

As for the Neptune Township governance, you have seen the results of our recent poll which shows  that 80% of respondents mistrust  the Neptune Township Committee. Interestingly, over the years, there were times when the citizens rose up against Neptune control resulting in law suits and even a failed referendum to allow the Grove to become a separate town which it did for one year in 1925.

The other organizations here also tend to have their own agendas and to be run like private clubs. Such groups include the Homeowners Association, the Historical Society, Ocean Grove United, and the Chamber of Commerce.

They don’t work together very much for the good of the town.  They are busy with their own activities.  For example, the Chamber of Commerce runs big events to try and drum up business for the merchants.  But what do they do for the benefit of those who live here?  We asked them to take over sponsorship of the Town-wide Yard Sale, but they refused.

 When we introduced a new idea for the town—the Blogfinger Film Festival—a benefit for the boardwalk—-only a few of the members would be sponsors for the program, and hardly any attended the event.

When we think of factions in town, we can see the visible ones, but how about the invisible ones such as families that have lived here for generations and are part of networks that act in concert with each other, with the CMA,  and with the Township governance, especially where land use, zoning,  and parking are concerned.  Let’s call that “the network of special interests.”

For them the town of Ocean Grove seems like a gift that keeps on giving. This network never speaks publicly, shows its face, or identifies itself, but what it does and has done will impact all of us and will determine what the town will be in the future. 

We have seen the results of favoritism for those special interests in the Greek Temple and Mary’s Place.  The North End Redevelopment Project is a good example to keep an eye on.  Who will be the winners, and who will be the losers?

Because of indifference by the public, organizations, and special interests, Ocean Grove may become an at-risk town which could end up a failed historic  place without focus and character, such as is seen in other shore towns—unless the public pays attention and the organizations here begin to work together for the overall benefit of the town and not just on their narrow pet projects, like the Homeowners Association which is currently circulating a simple-minded parking survey while ignoring the improprieties and illegalities around town regarding land use issues.  The HOA has teamed up with the Neptune Committee ever since 2008 when it supported 165 residential units, mostly condos, at the North End.

In 2002, a professor* at Monmouth University published an academic paper about OG history, emphasizing the powerful way that the activist HOA of 25-30 years ago  fought for the town and saved its life.  Below  is a quote**  from that research about that era.

Contrast the conclusion below with the current HOA which now is failing Ocean Grove through impotence, inaction, and lack of focus towards the issues which currently threaten our town the most.

The Home Groaners need to step up and save the town once again,  but this version appears to so far be hopeless in that regard.

** 2002:   “The HOA has maintained or reconstructed the carefully planned infrastructure of the founders, and even as Ocean Grove is being reborn as a contemporary tourist site, the HOA has worked with the CMA to preserve its sacred foundations. Just like the CMA, the HOA has been outstanding in its ability to secure what it wants and what it believes the community needs. Property values have risen, the community is again a safe place, tourism has been revived, an enormous amount of social capital has been generated, and the Victorian charm of the town has been restored.”

By Karen Schmelzkopf*  in the Journal of Historical Geography, 2002

BLOSSOM DEARIE:

 

 

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Ocean Grove South End

Ocean Grove South End.  Re-post from Blogfinger 2013.

Paul:

I do not recall seeing a rendering of the OG Boardwalk from this perspective.  It’s looking like the 30’s or 40’s.  Didn’t even realize the South End Pavilion had a concession area.  A simple sign letting passerby’s know “Hamburgers, Frankfurters, and Orangeaid” can be had.   Looking close reveals a bit of detail down the boards on and off the boardwalk.  At first look I thought this was another beach town post card.

Anyway,  Can you smell what they’re cookin’? 

From Rich Amole, OG historian  @Blogfinger

ANNETTE HANSHAW

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Ocean Grove was founded as a religious summer community. It was run by Methodist ministers, and Alfred Cookman was one of them. His story has been told on Blogfinger. Do a search.

 

Blogfinger posted a piece on May 5, 2019  (scroll up)  about the confusion in terminology for those who are unsure about the relationship of the Town of Ocean Grove to the Camp Meeting Association.  The unique story of the CMA in OG, with its history of running the town for over 100 years, making laws, and prevailing here in so many ways, up to the present, has to be unheard of across the country.  If anyone knows of some comparable place, please let us know.

That  post is called, “How to Refer to Our Town.”

If you look at the comments section of that article, you will see a statement by Grover 13 who thinks he/she knows the truth.  Jack Bredin was moved to try and explain the background of some of this, and his contribution below is very special–I’ve never seen anyone else take a shot at explaining that history.  .—–Paul Goldfinger,  Editor, Blogfinger.net

 

To Grover 13 from Jack Bredin, Researcher/reporter/historian  at Blogfinger.net:

“For over 100 years, from 1869-1980, the “Town” of Ocean Grove was first “illegally permitted” by Ocean Township in 1869 and then by Neptune Township from 1879-1980 to act as its own municipality. OG had their own police department, court, board of health, etc. The “Town” was operated pursuant to CMA rules and not State Law; and the OG residents could not vote for the OG “governing body” which was the CMA.  However, the OG residents did have the privilege to pay taxes to Neptune and vote for the Township Committee.

“And so the residents in fact had two (2) governing bodies, both acting outside State Law, but I don’t blame the CMA for doing what the Township permitted them to do. However, in 1980, the NJ Supreme Court said this all must stop.

“Ocean Grove was also founded by the CMA as a Camp Meeting Ground for people who belonged to the Methodist Church, but the CMA is not the Methodist Church in town; St. Paul’s is the Church.

“The CMA registered with the NJ Secretary of State as a corporation. When the Corporation “divided” the land into 2,000 parcels, one (1) share of voting stock should have been issued to each “Lot Owner.” As a result, OG residents could not vote for their OG municipal governing body or at a stock holders meeting.

“As NJ State Land Use Law, State Land Use Standards, and State Land Use Procedures evolved over the years throughout the State, land use law and procedures in OG remained unchanged, and they are now interpreted by the Neptune Township “Land Use Administrator” who has no authority to make any land use decisions.

“Is it any wonder why OG has so many land use problems?

“Paul Goldfinger is one of the few people in OG trying to make sense of it all, and Blogfinger is the only one reporting on it.”

 

BEATLES:   (Paul McCartney)

“The long and winding road
That leads to your door
Will never disappear
I’ve seen that road before
It always leads me here
Lead me to you door”

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Ocean Grove tennis court.  (note the net which she is holding. ? body language.). Broadway, August, 1910. On the back it says, “1 1/2 blocks from ocean, about #23 Bway.”  Note, no cars. ? Sunday. In 1910, there were 500,000 cars in America.

By Paul Goldfinger, Editor at Blogfinger.net

Tennis was introduced in the US in 1876, seven years after OG was founded.  By 1881, tennis clubs were being built all over.

In the photo, it looks like the OG courts were hard sand, located parallel to Broadway.  The early OG history books make no mention of tennis.  Presumably playing tennis was forbidden on Sundays.  Will tennis keep this couple together–after all, that sport has something called “love?”

BARBARA COOK.  “Don’t Blame Me.”  From her album  Close As Pages in a Book—the music of Dorothy Fields.  Dorothy Fields  was a well known lyricist at a time when there were few women found at the Brill Building in New York.  Barbara Cook was a huge star on the Broadway stage.

“Can’t you see
When you do the things you do?
If I can’t conceal
The thrill that I’m feeling
Don’t blame me..”

Do you suppose she liked it when he rushed the net?  Did she prefer his backhand or his fore?

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img669

*This page was scanned (with permission) from Wayne T. Bell’s book Images of America: Ocean Grove.  This book can be purchased at the Historical Society of Ocean Grove; Pitman Avenue, next to Days Ice Cream.

 

HOT SARDINES:

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