Archive for the ‘Ocean Grove Stories’ Category

Ocean Grove. 2014. Paul Goldfinger photo. ©

Ocean Grove. 2014. Paul Goldfinger photo. ©


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91 Cookman Ave. before Jack Green remodeled  (i.e. saved)  this derelict house. OG. 2011. Paul Goldfinger photo. ©  click to enlarge.

JANN ARDEN      from the film My Best Friend’s Wedding.

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Joy Adase is a gardener. We recruited her for the People's Garden Tour 2015.  Blogfinger photo ©

Joy Adase is a gardener. We recruited her for the People’s Garden Tour 2015. Blogfinger photo ©

By Eileen and Paul Goldfinger, Editors @Blogfinger.

We met Joy Adase while she was watering her flowers on a muggy day in July.  She and her husband Mike moved into their home at 97 Heck Avenue  in April, coming from Howell Township.  They always “loved Ocean Grove” and so she was thrilled when she found this house which spoke to her the moment she entered it.  It needed some work, but not much because the prior owner had maintained it well.

The house, which was built in 1885, is a two bedroom.  Just perfect for summer when her ten siblings and their families might want to come to the beach.  The most intriguing feature for Joy is the metal porch roof which she says must be maintained, because if it falls apart “they won’t let me build another.”

The porch with the metal roof. Raindrops won't be falling on her head, but the rain must make a lovely sound on her porch roof. ©  Blogfinger photo

The porch with the metal roof. Raindrops won’t be falling on her head, but the rain must make a lovely sound on her porch roof. © Blogfinger photo

Another special feature which she showed Eileen and me is a quaint and special side yard which begins down the alley and then enlarges into a shady area that is enticing—it looks like a real secret garden.

The Adase's side yard.  Blogfinger photo ©

The Adase’s side yard. Blogfinger photo ©

Joy and Mike, who will live in the Grove year round,  are delighted with their new neighborhood.  The folks near them on Heck had a “welcome party” for them. “The people here are so nice,” she said.

While we were there, we met  the Adase’s daughter Jackie, a schoolteacher who also lives at 97 Heck.  She is working for the summer at the Majestic and at Yvonne’s.

Joy has experience working with the elderly. She says that they are neglected in our society and she loves to come up with activities for them.   Sometimes she puts on costumes such as Santa or Charlie Chaplin. She likes to make them laugh.

Joy, a cheerful and optimistic person,  asked us if we knew of any place around here that might need an experienced activities worker for the elderly.  If you know of a possible opening, send us an email to Blogfinger@verizon.net, and we will foreword your suggestions to her.

FROM AN EVENING WITH ALAN JAY LERNER:   Placido Domingo, Michael Sadler, Peter Fleetwood, and Peter Land.  From “My Fair Lady.”

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Historian Lyndell O’Hara explores women’s role in Ocean Grove from 1870 to 1900.

By Mary Walton

The year is 1858. Margaret Coleman is awarded a medical degree, becoming one of the country’s tiny number of female physicians. But in Ocean Grove their numbers are swelling. By 1900 five of the town’s 10 doctors are women. Nationwide, the figure is just 5 percent.

And by 1880 one of those Ocean Grove doctors is Coleman, who has moved here after practicing 20 years in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. She purchased what was known as “Block House” at 40 Pitman Avenue and turned it into a treatment center that offered “first class accommodations to patients.”

Block House likely featured the therapeutic salt baths spiked with electricity — sometimes too much electricity — that were popular in those days. “Occasionally they lost a few people,” Lyndell O’Hara tells a rapt audience of 29 people, who have signed up for her women’s history tour sponsored by the Historical Society of Ocean Grove. The group is standing in the shade of a stately sycamore across the street from 40 Pitman, now the Allenhurst apartments. O’Hara gleaned the news of salt bath casualties from the Ocean Grove Record for that period.

A history professor at the Manhattan campus of Nyack College and an Ocean Grove resident for the past decade, O’Hara has spent three years exploring the role of women in Ocean Grove from 1870 to 1900. From census records, newspapers, Camp Meeting Association yearbooks, biographies and other materials she has painstakingly assembled a surprising portrait of a feminist haven.

During those three decades the Grove was both a center of the Holiness movement, which allowed women to develop as religious leaders, and a stronghold of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union. “Because of the Holiness movement and temperance, women gathered here every summer,” O’Hara said. By 1900, 64 percent of the Grove’s population was female. In Asbury Park it was 56 percent, in Long Branch 51 percent.

Among the boldface names who spent considerable time in Ocean Grove were Phoebe Palmer, known as “the Mother of Holiness;” Frances Willard, president of the WCTU, and Amanda Berry Smith, a world-famous African American evangelist.

Not only did women flock to the Grove, they put down roots and prospered in business. “Ninety percent of the tourist business was run by women,” O’Hara told the group. Many of them were single or widowed. They owned and operated boardinghouses and cottages, or they rented boardinghouses from owners and rented out rooms. The industrious Carolyn Sissom somehow managed to lease 14 lots from the Camp Meeting Association when two were the limit and turned herself into a real estate maven.

Women dominated the tourism business in the 19th century, O”Hara says. OG women were also active in important religious movements. Photos by Mary Walton

Forty Pitman was the first of nine stops on O’Hara’s recent tour. Another was the site of the Manchester on Ocean Pathway, which was destroyed by fire in 2010. It was owned in the 19th century by Kate Kellogg, who had lived in Pennsylvania with her husband and two daughters. After her husband’s death she moved to the Grove and supported herself by taking in boarders until she was in her early 90’s.

At 6 Atlantic (also 5 Surf), today’s four-story olive green Aurora is “exactly the same” as when the three Bull sisters ran it, O’Hara said. Raised in a family of 11 children in Bradford, Pennsylvania, the sisters later moved to Newark, where they did piecework in the textile industry. Around 1879, the eldest, Matilda, rented “Shadyside Cottage” in Ocean Grove. By 1884, she owned the Aurora. And some five years later the enterprising Matilda opened the first hotel in Dunedin on the west coast of Florida and ran it during the winters. One of her visitors was Camp Meeting Association president Ellwood H. Stokes, who was quoted in the Ocean Grove Record as saying that it was “a real joy to be greeted at our place of entertainment, the ‘Dunedin House,’ by the courteous proprietor Miss M. A. Bull and her sister Lydia.”

Throughout O’Hara’s tour, Esther Dajnowski of New York City took copious notes and photographs. “I knew this was a place where a lot of women movers and shakers were,” she said. “But I’m glad to get more information and specific examples.” She said she would “type it up and share it with people who have similar interests.”

Thus far this summer O’Hara has led two tours, with a third scheduled for 1 p.m. August 30. The cost is $8 and reservations are advised.

Gail Shaffer, president of the Historical Society, said O’Hara’s research will be the basis of an exhibit next year at the Society’s museum, and O’Hara says a book is in the works. She will continue to lead tours next summer to different addresses. Ocean Grove is so rich with stories of women’s accomplishments linked to various locations, she said, that “I can do it anywhere.”

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By Mary Walton, Blogfinger Literary Editor

I was returning from errands Friday when a car pulled up in front of mine and a slender woman in dark glasses got out. She approached with a hesitant smile and introduced herself as Beth Gannon. We had never met, but I knew we had mutual friends.

She held out a camera, a black Canon Power Shot. “Is this your camera?” she asked.

Well, yes, the camera was indeed familiar. But what was Beth Gannon doing with my camera? The last time I had seen it, it was in my camera bag.

Mary's camera

Beth explained that she had been walking by Fletcher Lake earlier in the day with her children when she found it.

As it happened, I had been there taking a photograph for Blogfinger with a different camera. Clearly the Power Shot had dropped out of the camera bag. Beth had found it. But how had she found me?

Beth explained that when she opened up the photos looking for clues, she saw a video I had taken just the other night of fellow members of the Ocean Grove Book Club. We were circling the table at Cathy Rechlin’s home, helping ourselves to slices of pumpkin cheesecake. Beth recognized first one person and then another. Among them was Hetty Komjathy, whom she had known since childhood. Beth took the camera over to Hetty’s house.

“I saw Joan Knust and Judi Isaksen and Freddi Castle,” Hetty told me later. “And the pumpkin cheesecake. I said, ‘Oh, that’s Mary Walton’s camera.'”

Beth apologized for looking at my photos. “I hope you don’t mind.”

“Mind?” I said. I thought of how things could have gone another way. A less honest person might have kept the camera. Or it could have been found by an honest person who didn’t know anyone in the photos. And what if I had never made that video?

“I’m grateful,” I told Beth. “How lucky am I.”

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