Archive for the ‘Ocean Grove history’ Category


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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Ted Bell conducts his annual historical walking tour. Here he demonstrates the size of a finial. PG photo
Ted Bell conducts his annual Sunday historical walking tour. Here he demonstrates the size of a finial. Paul Goldfinger  photo. 2013 in Ocean Grove, NJ.

By Paul Goldfinger, guided tour editor  @Blogfinger.   Re-posted from 2013 and 2015, but it never gets old.

You can always learn something about Ocean Grove history when you join historian Ted Bell on his annual HSOG tour of Beersheba award winners. But Ted didn’t exactly stick to the script, so the group got to hear some unusual factoids.  Here is a sampling:

1.  Ocean Grove is 350 square acres.  640 square acres equals a square mile.  But if you take into consideration that Ocean Grove extends 1,000 feet into the ocean, you come up with “God’s Square Mile.”

2.  Neptune Township controls the streets from curb to curb, whereas the Camp Meeting controls the edge of the roads beyond the curbs.  Thus, Neptune Twp. could not have parking meters without the cooperation of the CMA.

3.  There are about 200 Sears and Roebuck prefabricated houses in the Grove.  You ordered your house from a catalogue, and it came in pieces on a big truck, with instructions included.

4.   5 tents have bathtubs.

5.  Each OG lot is 30 feet wide  x 60 feet deep.   Some houses are built on two lots, while others are build on half lots.

6. The “perfect” Victorian cottage can be found at 29 Bath avenue.  The light in front is from the original bridge that connected OG to Asbury Park.

The "perfect Victorian cottage" 29 Bath Avenue PG photo
The “perfect Victorian cottage” 29 Bath Avenue . Note that there are no railings around the ground floor porch.Paul Goldfinger photograph ©
24 1/2 Atlantic Ave. Beersheba award winner for new construction. Replaced an identical home destroyed by recent fire. On half lot. PG photo
24 1/2 Atlantic Ave. Beersheba award winner for new construction. Replaced an identical home destroyed by a recent fire. On half lot. PG photo

2018:  This small collection of Ted Bellisms fits in nicely with our review (below) of another Ted’s  (Ted David) collection of OG historical stories.

And speaking of walking tours of OG, a new one has been created by OG historians. You can pick up that brochure at the Camp Meeting Assoc.  On that tour you will find my house, recently to be discovered to have housed the famous Rev. Beegle, who never had a street named for him, but my house is now called “The Beegle House.”

However,  I call it the “Blogfinger House.”  The Rev. would perhaps have been shocked to know that a former Broadway song and dance stage star also lived in the “Beegle House,” but that was many years before we moved in.  There is a BF post about her. We have a photo of her dancing, showing off her knickers.  Let’s re-post that soon.

PINK MARTINI:   “Never on a Sunday”   Sing along.

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By Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger.net

Ted David’s new book “Forgotten Ocean Grove” is available on Amazon. The whole title is:  “Forgotten Ocean Grove

God’s Square Mile

New Jersey’s Most Interesting Beach-side Town”

It is a 161 page paperback edition which is a combination history and guide book.   It has an unusual design in that it consists of 147 segments which he calls “mini-stories.”

Ted David is an optimistic cheerleader for the small village of Ocean Grove, New Jersey. You will see his enthusiasm for this very special town throughout his book and summarized in his last chapter (147):  “Living in the Grove Today.”

Ted finds nothing controversial to discuss in this volume. It is a cheerful book. He says little about current lifestyles, land use issues, culture clashes, single minded groups, demographics, economics,or politics….ie the sorts of topics which we gravitate to on Blogfinger.  But nevertheless he manages to offer 147 anecdotes which are quite engaging.

However, I suspect we will see more revealed about Ted’s keen insights into people and Grovarian culture when his new book comes out soon:  “More From the Other Side of Ocean Grove.” 

His research is impressive on the historical side. He says that he is saving the readers the trouble of doing that themselves, and he dedicates this informative book to OG historians, past and present.

Ted sums up his overall theme by saying that he has “carefully assembled the long since forgotten pieces of the historical puzzle that create the modern day Ocean Grove.”   For those such as Blogfinger, who like to analyze the undercurrents in town, he gives us the tools to gain perspective.

Ted David leaves no stone unturned, including the marvelous anecdote called “The Rebecca Stone” about a Grover who was redoing an old sidewalk when he flipped over a paver and found that it was actually a tomb stone from 1869.

Many of the stories in David’s book are intriguing, and many are delightful as well as informative.  For those of you who love OG history, this concise book makes for pleasurable reading as well as for new historical insights into our town.

For example, here are a few of the titles:  “The Sunday Closing Laws; Camp Meeting Charter; Mosquitoes; Ferries on the Lakes; Fairy Island; Pound Boats; The Barbara Heck; U.S. Grant’s Visit; OG Jail; Life Guards and Bathing Masters; The Wisdom Bench; The Girls of Ocean Grove 1870′; OG Locals; and Condos in the Grove.”

In one section of the book, where the subject of naming the streets is discussed, David points out that the “Mounts” such as Mt. Tabor, are taken from real mountains  “mentioned in the Bible” such as Mt. Tabor and Mt. Hermon. He also discusses street names, and it is curious that no streets are named for Stokes or Osborne.  Yet a woman who is largely unknown in town, Barbara Heck, has her own street.

So, maybe it’s time to rename some streets, getting away from all those Camp Meeting preachers and references to the Bible.  After all, the Supreme Court of NJ had no problem in getting rid of those religious based blue laws in 1980, so in the spirit of separating church from state…….

Ted David is a great supporter of the Camp Meeting Association and the role of religion in our town. He is optimistic about the future.  At the end of his book he says, “Since 1869 there have been times, frankly, when the Grove faltered. Besieged by problems from within and without, some thought ‘God’s Square Mile’ would not survive. But the reality is much to the contrary, as is everywhere visible. Revitalization and renewal are the order of the day.”

He concludes by saying, “The Reverends Osborn, Stokes, and Thornley must smile down with satisfaction to see their handiwork march confidently into the 21st Century.”

Here is a link to the July, 2018 Blogfinger article about Ted David and his books.

Ted David Blogfinger article

“By the Sea” from Sweeny Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street.

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Founders Park. Ocean Grove. This is an authentic Civil War canon , and it’s aimed at Asbury Park. Paul Goldfinger photo ©

Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger

You can get a smile out of Ted Bell when you point out the direction of our canon. The young lady, an intern from the Historical Society of OG,  helps warm up a cold day and a cold canon.

Founders Park, the best park in Ocean Grove, is next to the Wesley Retention/Detention Basin and is just west of the corpse of the Warrington Hotel, and then a little more east we come to the site of the North End Redevelopment Plan which will be located next to the Boardwalk and a short distance away from where the dirty storm water will flow into the Basin and then into the Ocean.   We wrote about the history of this Union canon; just do a search at the top of this page.


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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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