Archive for the ‘Ocean Grove history’ Category

By Paul Goldfinger,  Editor@Blogfinger.net

The 16 foot 1907 4 tiered fountain has been restored and is now erect in Founders Park. Yesterday, July 9, was the final installation.

Some more minor work needs to be done for it to be flowing on Saturday, July 27.  (see information below). The fountain last displayed water in the 1970’s.  Thanks to a fund raising effort by Ted Bell and the Historic Society of Ocean Grove, over $100,000 was raised, and some more donations would be helpful for the finishing touches including landscaping.

We went over there tonight and were able to photograph it in very low light using an extremely sensitive digital camera.


Paul Goldfinger photo. 4 tiered fountain is back in place. 7/10/19. Blogfnger.net ©  Click to enlarge photos.


Closeup of the lower part. Blogfinger.net. ©


Here is a link to a Jack Bredin painting of the historic scene:

Founders Park painting



July 27 Saturday  is Victorian Day

10 am – 4 pm:  Mrs. Joseph Thornley’s prayer tent in Founders Park

10 am – 3 pm: History of OG video shown continually in the Great Auditorium

11 am-11:30:  Dedication of the Fountain    (DO NOT MISS THIS)    and Re-enactment of Bishop Fitzgerald by Rev. Dr. Tom Tewell.  Founders Park

Note: from Cindy Bell: “The restored fountain is back in town, and Robinson Iron anticipates the final installation on Tuesday July 9th. Landscaping and final touches will be put in place the week of July 15th.  Dedication ceremony:  Saturday July 27th at 11:00 am. Community members are invited to stop by the park to watch the action.”


12-4 pm Horse and carriage tour

Afternoon tours of Great Auditorium, tours of Historical Society Museum,and walking tours of Ocean Grove


OMARA PORTUONDO   “Mariposita Primavera.”    From the Buena Vista Social Club

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John Phillip Sousa in his military uniform.

John Phillip Sousa in his military uniform. HSOG Museum.    Original post in 2013 BF. Blogfinger photo.

By Paul Goldfinger, MD,  Blogfinger.net

I was over at the Historical Society a few weeks ago, and the subject of Sousa came up. Harry Eichorn, the long-time conductor of bands in Ocean Grove, had never seen the painting of John Phillip Sousa which hangs at the HSOG museum on Pitman Avenue, so I took him there to see it.

A few of the OG history mavens were there, and the story about Sousa’s clash with the CMA came up. This article first appeared in the Ocean Grove Record, Steve Froias’ on-line publication, in 2007.  Now, six years later, we are reposting it on Blogfinger, with the author’s permission,  as part of our ongoing goal of acquainting Ocean Grove’s citizens with the town’s history.

If you want to read about the painting, here is a link to the BF article about it:    Sousa, still hanging around the Grove

John Philip Sousa Follows the Swallow to Ocean Grove 

By Paul Goldfinger, Editor  @Blogfinger

John Philip Sousa, the “March King”, was a big star in 1926. The composer/musician traveled with his band all over the world, and his music was among the first recorded, on cylinders, following the invention of the phonograph in the late 1800’s.  He was particularly popular in Ocean Grove where he had performed concerts in the Great Auditorium during the years of 1921-1926.

But Sousa hit a wrong note here in 1926, when political incorrectness caught up with him, and he was never invited back after that.  It’s a story which has been buried in Ocean Grove history but is now being recounted in a new book written by the world’s foremost expert on Sousa.

The Incredible Band of John Philip Sousa is by Dr. Paul E. Bierley, a musician and former engineer, who has been interested in his subject for 40 years. The book, published by the University of Illinois Press in July 2006, is 504 pages, but it is on page 137, in the section called “some lighter moments,” that we find out what happened to Sousa over 80 years ago in Ocean Grove.

To set the stage for Dr. Bierley’s fascinating anecdote, you should know that the founders of Ocean Grove were very strict about alcohol. They had many rules from day one, but they were especially concerned that no alcohol could be sold within a circle of one mile drawn around the town’s borders. The Methodist church was very active in the “dry movement” which had begun in the 1840’s. In 1920, Prohibition began, and by 1926, seven years before the repeal, it was becoming evident that the promise of Prohibition was failing. There was more alcohol consumed during prohibition than before, and the hoped for reduction in crime and other ills of society was not happening.

Pressure began to build to repeal Prohibition, and it is likely that the controversy was a touchy subject in the Ocean Grove of 1926. That year, the Federal Council of Churches presented a position paper during their testimony before the U.S. Senate. They pleaded for continued support of the 18th Amendment.  Fiorello La Guardia, the mayor of New York City and an outspoken critic of Prohibition also testified.  He said, “It is impossible to tell whether Prohibition is a good thing or a bad thing. It has never been enforced in this country.” He alleged that 1,000,000 quarts of liquor were consumed each day in the United States.

The University of Illinois Press has informed The OG Record that we may reproduce this anecdote, which Dr. Bierley has entitled “Follow the Swallow:”

“Sousa and the band played numerous engagements at the old Methodist Camp Ground at Ocean Grove, New Jersey, but wore out their welcome at a concert there on July 10, 1926.

“Although Methodists were staunch Prohibitionists, Sousa was featuring his latest humoresque, “The Mingling of the Wets and the Drys,” on the 1926 tour and planned to play it at Ocean Grove. The comical piece poked fun at Prohibition, depicting a “wet” and a “dry” drinking tea and water while longing for the days before Prohibition. The band might have played the piece with a minimum of objection had it not been for a publicity poster fashioned in the shape of a whiskey bottle. This caught the attention of members of the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association, who reasoned that a performance of the piece would not be in their best interest.

“The Rev. Charles M. Boswell, the Association’s president, was indignant and urged people not to attend the concert if Sousa insisted on playing “The Mingling of the Wets and the Drys.” The protest puzzled Sousa, but he agreed to play something else. Perhaps he was being contrary when he substituted another of his humoresques, “Follow the Swallow” which had nothing to do with drinking and was based on themes suggestive of a swallow’s flight from north to south.

“The Association was not amused and never again engaged Sousa. The following year, when reporters asked the Association why the band was not invited back to Ocean Grove, the reply was that it was the Association’s policy not to have the same attractions year after year. Policy or not, Sousa’s band had appeared there in successive years from 1921-1924. Whatever the reason, one of the favorite stories among former Sousa musicians concerned how their esteemed conductor, not a Prohibition supporter, lost business because of a politically incorrect decision.”

So here we are, eighty years later, and despite the unfortunate incident of 1926, Sousa’s music still lives on in Ocean Grove. He may have been banished, but his music never left, particularly through the summer appearances of the Allentown Band, which has been playing Sousa’s music here for years. The Allentown Band has 70 of Sousa’s 136 marches in their repertoire, but the favorite here has always been “The Stars and Stripes Forever”, and that rousing piece has a special excitement when it is played in the Great Auditorium with 7,000 people on their feet clapping. And how many in town keep their red white and blue “I’m a Sousa Fan” fan as a unique Ocean Grove souvenir?

Last year the US Army Band from Washington, D.C. did a spectacular version of the “Stars and Stripes” at the Paramount Theater in Asbury Park. It was a sight that Sousa himself would likely have loved, to see those soldiers (including quite a few women) doing his music in full dress uniforms and, especially at the end, when a row of piccolo players stepped forward to play the finale.

In Ocean Grove, the “Follow the Swallow” episode has now been told and can now be tucked away in the trivia file, but John Philip Sousa, an American icon, will remain a part of Ocean Grove’s history, past, present, and future.

JOHN PHILLIP SOUSA.   This is a lesser known Sousa march—“The Gladiator.”  (From the March Favorites album)

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The original Ocean Grove.  No North End Hotel and no Skill-ball.  c.1869


The Ross Bathing Houses, 1878. North End, Ocean Grove Beach. From the Atlas of the Jersey Coast. Previously posted on Blogfinger.  Do you see any historic condominiums there?


Ocean Avenue, Ocean Grove, NJ, summer 1918. Courtesy of Rich Amole  © Blogfinger staff.


This is not a comprehensive list. Most CMA religious events are not listed here.   Consult the CMA web site for more information:   www.oceangrove.org


July 4 Thursday:  The New Jersey Wind Symphony.   7:30-8:30  AUD

July 5  Friday:  Navy Band Pop Rock concert  7 pm  AUD

July 6 Saturday is Community Day

10:30 am – 12:30 pm:     Independence Day Parade

1-5 pm: Town  Celebration.  Along Pilgrim Pathway and Auditorium Square Park.

9 pm  Fireworks

July 7  Sunday:  3:30 to 4:30   The Quartet:  “America Sings”  TABERNACLE     Don’t miss!



July 27 Saturday  is Victorian Day

10 am – 4 pm:  Mrs. Joseph Thornley’s prayer tent in Founders Park

10 am – 3 pm: History of OG video shown continually in the Great Auditorium

11 am-11:30:  Dedication of the Fountain    (DO NOT MISS THIS)    and Re-enactment of Bishop Fitzgerald by Rev. Dr. Tom Tewell.  Founders Park

Note: from Cindy Bell: “the restored fountain is back in town, and Robinson Iron anticipates the final installation on Tuesday July 9th. Landscaping and final touches will be put in place the week of July 15th.  Dedication ceremony:  Saturday July 27th at 11:00 am. Community members are invited to stop by the park to watch the action.”


12-4 pm Horse and carriage tour

Afternoon tours of Great Auditorium, tours of Historical Society Museum,and walking tours of Ocean Grove


There will be more events on August 10 for Ocean Grove Forever Day.




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Submitted by Rich Amole., Blogfinger staff. Postcard is from August, 3, 1906.   The Auditorium was built in 1894, so it was 12 years old when this postcard was sent.   CLICK TO ENLARGE.

Rich Amole notes the horse and buggy in front.   The white structure seems to be a fountain or a Victorian planter. The big cross is missing.

You can see the adjacent tents on the right, still present. It is not referred to here as the “Great Auditorium,” only the “Auditorium”  (which is often still true today.)

Robin Lamont from the 40th Anniversary Celebration of the 1971 off-Broadway show Godspell.  This folk rock song, “Day by Day,”  by composer Stephen Schwartz was the 3rd song in the show:


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Image courtesy of Ted Bell's book "Images of America--Ocean Grove."

Image courtesy of Ted Bell’s book “Images of America–Ocean Grove.”  This 1878 view is of the OG side of Wesley Lake.  Two ferry boats carried people to and fro.

By Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger  Re-post now from April, 2013.

We have reported on a recent north-south clash where the Asbury Park Council would not initially support the Ocean Grove bid for a FEMA appeal to help pay for the Grove’s oceanfront renewal following the Sandy destruction .  Later the Council changed its mind, but some lingering bitterness exists on both sides of the Casino, especially after a councilman called Ocean Grovers “riff raff.”

However, this clash has provided a small opportunity to consider the relationship between the two towns and it provoked some debate by Blogfinger commenters.  The basics are that the two towns are geographically neighbors, but are not “sister cities” in the true sense of the word.  Instead, the two towns are as opposite as you can get. Maybe “complimentary” would be a good adjective, but there is much at stake in this relationship, which we will cover later.

Ocean Grove, founded in 1869 by Methodist ministers from the Holiness movement, developed as a summer religious community.  Asbury Park, founded in 1871, by James A Bradley, named their town after a Methodist bishop, but went on to become a very secular place with a gay community going back to 1950 and a popular summer boardwalk and music scene going back to the turn of the 20th century.

In 1888, James Bradley, recognizing the growing population in AP, entered into an agreement with the OG Camp Meeting Association to provide a way for large numbers of summer visitors to cross Wesley Lake and get to the campgrounds. Up to that point, there were ferries and boats which would carry people back and forth for one cent per ride.

The two towns agreed that two iron bridges would be constructed.  One at the foot of New Jersey Avenue and the other at the foot of Pilgrim Pathway.  Little toll houses at the OG side would collect the one cent toll, and a policeman would be stationed there. AP borrowed $10,000 from the CMA to help build the bridges, and the two communities shared the income.  Interestingly, both sides agreed to post signs that said, “This bridge is private property and is not dedicated to the public.”  The reason for that proviso is unclear. Maybe it is to justify the toll.

Two iron bridges were built in 1888. This is the view of the AP side

Two iron bridges were built in 1888. This is the view from  the AP side. Click left for larger view.    Courtesy Ted Bell.

In 1899, a group of Ocean Grove residents and business owners petitioned the CMA to construct a “drive bridge” across Wesley Lake and Fletcher Lake as a way to help the commercial interests in town drive their wagons back and forth.  The goal was to have these bridges near the ocean.  In retrospect, the CMA saved the day when they would not allow those bridges to be built—for religious reasons.

In 1932, the iron foot bridges were replaced by the two concrete structures that we see today.  The bridges across Wesely Lake have provided a way to get across the water from one town to the other and have benefitted both sides for nearly 125 years.  Asbury Park has especially enjoyed these bridges because their boardwalk scene has been hugely popular for years. In the late 1800’s, about 600,000 people visited AP each summer.  Of course it went into decline for many years and is now making an impressive comeback.

About 15 years ago, a decision was made to lock those bridges on the OG side at midnight each evening as a crime-fighting measure. That is done at midnight by the Neptune Twp. Police Department.   It was a big success in that regard, but some controversy has now  surfaced regarding the continued locking practices.   In Part II we will talk amongst ourselves about this issue.  Stay tuned.

March, 2013 view from the OG side. By Michael Goldfinger. Left click for larger view

March, 2013.  view of Wesley Lake  from the OG side. By Moe Demby, Blogfinger.net. Click for larger view

SOUNDTRACK  “THE BRIDGES OF MONMOUTH COUNTY.”   Oh, sorry, The Bridges of Madison County.  It’s Johnny Hartman whose voice is deeper than the water in Wesley Lake.  Clint Eastwood did a fabulous job with the jazz soundtrack for that movie which starred Clint and Meryl. By the way, Clint and Meryl will be at the Blogfinger Film Festival, so get your tickets.  Here is Johnny with “It Was Almost Like a Song.”  (Is this about Springsteen?)


WAYNE T. BELL  (“TED”)  gave us permission to publish the two top  images from his book , one of the Images of America series, Ocean Grove.  This is a wonderful history of the Grove which everyone who lives here should own.  It is full of terrific photographs, magazine images, postcards, and documents. Ted’s book is still in print and can be purchased on line or at the Historical Society of Ocean Grove for $19.99.  Ted also wrote a similar book with vintage postcards of the Grove—also available at the HSOG.

GIBBONS : History of Ocean Grove  1869-1939

MICHAEL GOLDFINGER, photographer:  Lives in Tampa, but he used to live in the Grove and he visits here often.  (He looks in on his parents in case he has to drive us to the home.)  Michael is a former  staff photographer at the Asbury Park Press.  We have occasionally published his photos on BF  (the family business.)

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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  (scroll down)  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 place comparable, please let us know.

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

If you look at the comments section of that article, you will see a comment 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 Grover13 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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By Rich Amole, Blogfinger staff historian/researcher.

This  is a post card image of a Tall Sail Schooner with a bit of a breeze hitting its sails off the Grove’s beach—- 108 years ago in 1906.

Not much on text back then— just a simple “Greetings from Ocean Grove” which still holds up today, not so much for that Schooner………..

COLEMAN HAWKINS     From a jazz planet far, far away–contemplates the passage of time with “What a Difference a Day Makes”

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Illumination Night 2017 celebration in OG. This year it will be part of the 150th birthday events. Paul Goldfinger © Blogfinger.net.

In 1969, Ocean Grove celebrated its centennial. This is the front page of the Ocean Grove Times on June 27, 1969.  The paper cost ten cents.

1869 — Ocean Grove — 1969

A Centennial Summer of Fun

This edition of The Times salutes Ocean Grove on its

Centennial. Founded in 1869, the world-famed/resort community

has entered a full summer of Activities, many of

them planned around the 100th birthday.

The pageant of history, “To These Shores,” will be presented

14 nights this summer, beginning July 2. A large

cast of residents and vacationists are now rehearsing.

The Centennial Parade is scheduled for July 26. It will

be the largest in Ocean Grove history. The traditional Memorial

Day parade, the season opener, was expanded this

year, as will be the Fourth of July parade next Friday.

More than 700 ladies have become Centennial Belles to date.

Men are joining their ladies as “Brothers of the Brush”

or “Smoothies.” Costumes are colorful, as evidenced at

public functions and promenades.

This is a great season for Ocean Grove. The basic

theme of the Centennial celebration is FUN – . .

The Camp Meeting Association is planning festivities this summer, 2019,  for Ocean Grove’s 150th birthday celebration.  The first big event will be on July 6 when there will be the Independence Day Parade from 10:30 am to 12:30 pm.

That Saturday’s parade will include a mummers string band, ragtime music, marching bands, floats and dancing in the streets.  There will be music everywhere.

Maybe Martha and the Vandellas will show up.

And, that afternoon a Town Celebration will happen with a D.J., food trucks, games, dancing for all, balloon animals, fireworks, and other activities.   “7-10 live bands” in the Boardwalk Pavilion  (one at a time we hope,) and bonfires on the beach, “appropriately sponsored by the three firehouses.”  And much more…

Stay tuned.

–Paul Goldfinger,  Editor Blogfinger.net

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By Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger.

This was originally posted in June, 2015 on BF.  But each year we  pay attention to girls in their summer clothes. It is a tradition for our seashore community.

Ocean Grove beach, late 1800's. Courtesy of Ted Bell's book: Images of America---Ocean Grove. © 2000.

Ocean Grove beach, late 1800’s.     Courtesy of Ted Bell author of: Images of America—Ocean Grove. © 2000.

Source: hanging at the HSOG museum. Blogfinger photo

Source: hanging at the HSOG museum. Blogfinger photo

By contrast, here is a photograph taken in summer, 2018  on the OG boards.  What a difference 140 years can make in beach fashions:

Coup de foudre: (“Love at first sight.)    Paul Goldfinger photo. Summer, 2018. OG boards. ©

The June day in 2015   (below) started out rainy and chilly, but later in the day it became Sunny and Cher;  it warmed up a bit, but it was still windy.

I went on the boardwalk and saw lifeguards at their stations. A green flag was flying along with “Old Glory.” But no one was swimming. In fact no one was in the water.

OG lifeguards. 6/6/15 Blogfinger photo ©

OG lifeguards. 6/6/15 Blogfinger photo © All photographs  by Paul Goldfinger, Editor @ Blogfinger.   (except for the one by Ted Bell dated 1880.)   Click to enlarge all photos.

I walked up to one of the lifeguard stands and joked with the guards who stayed at their post, like soldiers guarding a “no-man’s land.” An older guard, “Cowboy Dave” was sitting in the rescue boat, 10 gallon hat on and blue sunglasses, but he was facing the water. He is either the first or the last in the lifeboat.  He said that he is from OG and that this is his 16th summer as a lifeguard. He reminds me of Robert Duvall smelling napalm in the morning. (Apocalypse Now)

Cowboy Dave. 6/06/15. Blogfinger photo ©

Cowboy Dave. 6/06/15. Blogfinger photo ©

I asked him if he saw any bathing beauties go by, because all that was out there was the surf. He pointed to some young ladies about 100 yards away who were the only ones on the beach, to the north. Clearly this was not a “no-woman’s land.”

They wore some pretty small bathing suits, so it seemed like a good public interest news photo- op for Blogfinger.

OG bathers. (Left to right) Hannah, Tui, Danielle, and Amelia. 6/6/15. Blogfinger photo ©

OG bathers. (Left to right) Hannah, Tui, Danielle, and Amelia. 6/6/15. Blogfinger photo ©  Click image to enlarge the bathing  suits.

When I walked to their location, it seemed like I should ask them why they are in Ocean Grove on such a bleak day. I was thinking that they looked like they should be in Asbury Park. I did not comment on their attire, but you can’t help but notice that this is much different than 1880.

As it turns out, they are coeds who are camping at Allaire State Park where they are renting a yurt. They were having a great time just being together and laughing and talking and telling yurt jokes. They said that they preferred Ocean Grove’s beach to any others. One of them had come to OG as a child.

They especially singled out Days Ice Cream and the summer tents as favorite spots. I only had one BF card which I gave them to photograph and share.

I said goodbye and walked back to the lifeguards offering to sell them the names of the young ladies. They seemed interested, but ultimately I suggested that they get the names themselves.

So who says that we live in Ocean Grave? It’s time to bury that nickname.

Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger

Saturday, June 6, 2015, Ocean Grove beach.


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Ocean Pathway, OG. By Jean Bredin. Dec 27, 2018. Blogfinger staff ©

“Hi Paul,

“A passerby advised me that the house on this corner was one of four houses built in Ocean Grove from the Sears and Roebuck catalog. It looks cute and is sitting on valuable property, Ocean Pathway.”


Editor’s note:  There is some more information on this topic in our next post about Ted Bell.

KATHERINE HO performing “Yellow” from the soundtrack of Crazy Rich Asians.   It is actually a recognizable hit by “Coldplay,” but I thought our Blogfinger readers would enjoy this song in Chinese.

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