Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Front parlor: Tali Esen sat at his grand piano (left side, by the windows) while Caruso stood in front of the fireplace. All photos by Paul Goldfinger

By Paul Goldfinger and Eileen Goldfinger (home, garden and food editor at Blogfinger.net)

1906 was a marvelous year for Ocean Grove and the Camp Meeting  Association.  The town attracted  huge crowds to the summer events.  Photographs of the era showed  wall to wall people at the beaches and bathing pavilions.  The Great Auditorium, with its 10,000 seat capacity, was one of the first mega-churches, but it also was the home of  incredible musical events, with spectacular performances by stars such as John Phillip Sousa and Enrico Caruso.

A well known impresario named Tali Esen Morgan was the man responsible for these ambitious programs which included a children’s chorus of 1000 voices and a 63 piece orchestra.  He also was in the process of having the Hope-Jones organ installed in the Auditorium— an important event in the town’s history. The organ made its debut in 1908.

Tali Essen Morgan was a man with big ideas who loved to entertain, and it was in 1906 that he built his magnificent  home at 51 Abbott Avenue on a double lot.  The design  reflected his grandiose personality.  It was one of the largest and most beautifully appointed homes in OG, with a layout  that was perfect for receiving guests.

Oral history tells us that in c. 1910,  Enrico Caruso, the famous tenor, was in town for a concert at the GA.  Prior to the event, a group of people gathered in the  Morgan  front parlor for a recital.  Morgan sat at the grand piano while Caruso sang in front of the fireplace.  Tali Esen Morgan knew many celebrities and, undoubtedly, many visited his OG summer mansion.  He was music director in the  Grove from 1901-1918.

Over the years, the house became a convalescent home and a guest house before reverting back to a single family .  In the 1930’s Helen Hayes stayed in one of the second floor rooms while she appeared on Broadway in “Victoria Regina” with Vincent Price.

In 2000, the home was purchased by Gayle and Ted Aanensen who filled the house with art, antiques and  Gayle’s extensive collections, especially of Beatrix  Potter memorabilia.  Ted was born in Ocean Grove,  and the couple is  active in the Historical Society.  Gayle is the secretary of the organization and she has written two children’s books about OG  history.  She says that her writing is “inspired” by the history of her home:  “I feel the energy in this house.”

Ted says,  “Part of our joy is to save the house for the next generation.”  He and Gayle plan to continue  their ongoing restoration.

We are featuring the downstairs which consists of the parlor, living room, dining room and kitchen.  Pocket doors separate the living room from the parlor. There is a butler’s pantry made of cypress.  All the windows, floors, moldings, stained glass and built-ins are original.  The kitchen was re-done by prior owners.

Mr. W. Ted Bell, Ocean Grove historian, says, “This home comes complete with a story and an exceptional design—outstanding for its form and function.” He admires the furnishings with “many wonderful things of the period.”  Mr. W. T. Bell says that the house  has characteristics of several periods including Victorian, Queen Ann and Craftsman.

View from the front parlor into the living room. To the left is a grand curved staircase with antique stained glass windows at the first level.


Coming down the stairs is the front door with this stained glass.


Living room


Dining room with original built-ins. Gayle’s collection of red glass souvenirs from Asbury and the Grove (not shown) reflects the light flowing into the DR.


Butler’s pantry connects the LR and the DR. Cypress woodwork has been stripped to its natural color.


We don’t know what Caruso sang during his recital in the Tali Esen Morgan front parlor, but here is Caruso as he might have sounded that day about one hundred years ago. From the “Pearl Fishers” (Les Pecheurs de Perles: “Mi par d’udir ancor.”)  It was composed by Georges Bizet.


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Best view is in the bleachers. By Paul Goldfinger.

On a hot day, the best breezes are in the bleachers. By Paul Goldfinger reporting from the Greatest Auditorium. Left click for biggest view.


Editor’s note: To explain this photograph you have to understand the work of Eugéne Atget, the French photographer who photographed the architecture and street life of old Paris at the start of the 20th century.

His images were documentary, but they also were artistic compositions that were appreciated by great artists of that time including Matisse and Picasso. When asked how he always got the best shots of old buildings, he said, “It’s where you stand.”

So, with the spirit of Atget in mind, I found myself in the back of the GA during a concert on a very warm sunny day. I simply counted 1-2-3-4 and stood in just the right place. Voila!  — PG    (This post originally published on Blogfinger in 2012. )


SOUNDTRACK:  What do you say to a topless lady? I don’t know, but here is a suggestion:


From the movie “DeLovely” about Cole Porter:


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This fascinating 2011 post by Charles Layton discusses the quest to turn two OG hotels into condos.   One was successful.  Bernie Haney is still in charge of zoning at the Mother Ship.


By Charles Layton

The new owner of the Surf Avenue hotel, which burned on Friday, remains legally free to pursue his plan to build condominiums on the site, says Bernard Haney, Neptune’s land use administrator.

That’s because the zoning variance for condos had already been granted before the fire took place, Haney said in an interview. He said the Zoning Board of Adjustment had granted the variance and the Superior Court and Appellate Division had both upheld that decision. Furthermore, he said, the deadline for an appeal to the New Jersey Supreme Court has expired, which means the Zoning Board’s decision is final.

Developer Hans Kretschman recently bought the old, run-down hotel at 27 Surf Avenue from Heinz Weck with the intention of turning it into nine condominiums.

Artist’s rendering of planned condo development at 27 Surf Avenue

Work had already begun on the condo conversion project when last Friday’s fire destroyed that building along with seven adjacent houses and damaged five other houses. The website of Kretschman’s company, PH Properties, contains the above rendering along with a note saying completion of the condo project was expected to be finished in the fall of this year. It is unknown how much the fire will set back that timetable.

Following Friday’s fire, there was uncertainty on the part of some in Ocean Grove as to whether the zoning of the property at 27 Surf might revert to single family homes, because that is what happened last year when the Manchester Inn on Ocean Pathway burned down.

The Manchester had also been purchased by Kretschman, also for the purpose of conversion to condominiums. Kretschman had applied for a variance that would have allowed him to turn the Manchester into condos. However, at the time of the Manchester fire — March 13 of 2010 — Kretschman’s application had not received final approval, Haney said. Therefore, by law, the plan for conversion to condos went out the window and zoning of the property reverted to single family.

Before Kretschman can carry through with the building of condos at the 27 Surf site, he will still have to submit specific plans to the Neptune Zoning Department, Haney said. Following that, he will also need the Historic Preservation Commission’s approval.

Kretschman’s company, located at 6 Ocean Avenue in Ocean Grove, specializes in residential real estate mainly in coastal Monmouth County and in New York City and Westchester.





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Rev. Alfred Osborn. Founder of Ocean Grove

Rev. Alfred Osborn. Founder of Ocean Grove


By Paul Goldfinger, Editor @ Blogfinger.net      Re-post 2011.


Several weeks ago we received a flyer about a flea market sponsored by the Old Corlies Preservation Association (OCPA). It seemed innocuous enough when we posted it, until we read to the bottom where it said, “Hamilton—the birthplace of Neptune and Ocean Grove.” Hamilton is the site of an early settlement near Old Corlies Road. Its earliest name was Shark River Village, then Greenville and then it was called Hamilton in 1875, after the founding of OG. There was a church there, but it burned down in 1940 along with all its historic records.

Their claim was surprising, because it did not agree with the history of OG’s founding as we knew it. I contacted the OCPA and received an unsigned email linking to a YouTube video. Their claim is based on the assertion that Ocean Grove’s founding father Reverend William B. Osborn was working for the Hamilton church when he went off to start the community of OG. This seemed like a pretty flimsy linkage, so I hit the books.

Thanks to Ms. Marion Bauman, director at the Neptune Library, I was introduced to a pile of history books including the voluminous History of Monmouth County, a fat book that could give you a hernia if you didn’t lift it with both hands. I also had a history of Neptune Township, Gibbons History of Ocean Grove, and, best of all, I had, in my personal collection, a history of the founding of Ocean Grove written by Mrs. W.B. Osborn, the founder’s wife.

Since this blog posting is not an academic treatise, I will simply tell you that the OCPA’s claim is frivolous. Rev. Osborn singlehandedly promoted the camp meeting concept in New Jersey and it was his energy, commitment, and enthusiasm which resulted eventually in the founding of Ocean Grove

The idea was first presented in 1867 at a national camp meeting conference in Vineland, and the group appointed Rev. Osborn as their official agent to find a suitable site in New Jersey. After an extensive search up and down the Jersey coast, the site now known as Ocean Grove was chosen in 1868. Rev. Osborn named the town and he recruited a team of supporters from places like Farmingdale, Philadelphia and Long Branch.

A group of them set up tents in the summer of 1869 and had the first prayer meeting on July 31, 1869, amongst the bushes, trees, briars, and dunes at a location now known as Founders’ Park. In December 1869, the founders met in Trenton and set up the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association.

Rev Osborn was put in charge, although he was assigned a part time job, to help support his family, performing Sunday services at the church in Greenville (later known as the Hamilton Methodist Church).

None of my sources give credit to anyone or any church or any organization other than Rev. William B. Osborn himself as the founder of OG. The claim by the OCPA has the effect of diminishing Rev. Osborn’s role. I believe that the claim should be formally challenged by the Ocean Grove Historical Society and the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association, in order to set the record straight.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Subsequently the OCPA gave up its paternity claim regarding Ocean Grove.–PG


RIVKA ZOHAR.  “The Road to the Village”   In Hebrew from a collection of Israeli folk songs.



1. History of Neptune Township. “Four Score and Five”. 1964

2. History of Ocean Grove. Gibbons. 1944

3. History of Monmouth County, 1964

4. Pioneer Days of Ocean Grove. Mrs. W.B. Osborn c1910.

5. Mr Ted Bell. Ocean Grove Historical Society

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Mike (L) and Frankie at Mt. Hermon Way on Delaware All photos by Paul Goldfinger © August 30, 2014

Mike (L) and Frankie at Mt. Hermon Way on Delaware All photos by Paul Goldfinger © August 30, 2014

By Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger

The last time we saw Mike Pallotta the knife sharpener, it was the summer of 2011.   We posted a story then about Mike  (see link below)  who is from Brooklyn but comes to this part of the Shore each summer with his old truck, his grandson Frankie Pallotta, and his dog Danny.

Mike says that Ocean Grove is his favorite shore town to visit with  his mobile sharpening service. He drives into the towns around here and rings his bell.  Then he pulls over to the curb and he is open for business.

Today we spotted that famous truck on the corner of Delaware and Mt. Hermon Way, right near my house.  Eileen grabbed her kitchen knives and we ran across to welcome Mike and Frankie back. They both seemed happy to be here.

The neighbors quickly started to line up with their knives including Joyce, Meredith, Melanie and Joe.  Sandy was busy slicing an eggplant when Joe heard the bell. He stopped her in mid-slice, took her knife  and raced outside to have Mike sharpen that knife.  Joe  probably looked like the demon barber of Fleet Street as he hurried across the street, knife in hand.

Joe Varone holds up the truck while waiting for his knives. Mike works in the rear. ©

Joe Varone holds up the truck while waiting for his knives. Mike works in the rear. ©  If Joe drops a knife on his bare feet he will be Toeless Joe from Kokomo.

Frankie will soon start college at Hofstra and he will commute from his home in Brooklyn. Meanwhile he has continued the family tradition of working with Grandpa Mike in the knife truck. Frankie carefully collects the knives from the customers and then, when the grinding is done, he wraps the knives in paper and gives them back .

Mike sends the sparks flying as he grinds away.

Mike sends the sparks flying as he grinds away.

I stood in the back of the truck where you can watch Mike work at his grinders. The truck engine roars to a start, and the grinding wheels begin to turn.  His work area is carefully lit, and Mike is totally absorbed in his task.  Sparks fly. This is a craftsman that you don’t want to distract.  Mike liked the article we did on him in 2011, so he allowed me to move slowly and quietly into position at the back in order to get some photographs of him at work. It’s like photographing a sentimental piece of history. One neighbor recalled seeing trucks like this on the streets of Brooklyn where she grew up.

Mike said that the toughest town for him is Spring Lake because the houses are so big that they can’t hear his bell.  I offered to announce any future OG visits on Blogfinger, and he promised to email us when he plans to return.  He is careful to make no promises, but he thought maybe before Thanksgiving—definitely a day where a sharp knife is essential.

Mike and Frankie are two cheerful guys. Frankie’s a good natured, good looking kid with a natural smile. Mike seems to be a man who loves life. He is kind, likable, and competent.  If you meet a guy from Brooklyn, the talk generally turns to food, but, imagine this, Mike thought a Bradley Beach bagel was excellent.  Talk about putting a reverse spin on the ball  (Don’t ever play softball against a Brooklyn windmill pitcher).  So Mike was going to stock up on Jersey Shore bagels before heading home. There must be a NYC ordinance against that.

Danny the chicken dog.

Danny the chicken dog.

Danny the dog is a pit bull who is afraid of his own shadow.  He hid under the front seat and wouldn’t come out for a photo, but I managed to get Danny to smile before he changed his mind.

We urged Mike to return to the Grove. He grinned and agreed to return.

link to Mike the Knife Sharpener  2011         Mike the Knife

ANNETTE HANSHAW with an old song  (“That’s You, Baby.”)    which seems to be about Mike.

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Ocean Grove. By Paul Goldfinger. Click on image. ©

Ocean Grove. By Paul Goldfinger. Click on image. ©


REBECCA LUKER.  “On My Way to You” from her album Greenwich Time.

Written by Michel LeGrand, Marilyn Bergman and Alan Bergman

“If I had changed a single day

What went amiss or went astray

I may have never found my way to you”

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The new OG boardwalk in action.  August, 2014. Paul Goldfinger photo ©

The new OG boardwalk in action. August, 2014. Paul Goldfinger photo ©

By Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger

The purpose of this meeting was to review the progress made by the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association in 2014.  This complex organization has numerous components including operations, programs, finance, development, youth activities, beach front and many others.  Dr. Dale Whilden presided at the session which was held on Labor Day morning at the Tabernacle.  One by one the department heads reviewed their activities and thanked those who worked as a team for the good of the group.  If you were someone who were interested in the intricate details, you probably would have been present.  So the purpose of this post is to go over the highlights:

1. Dr. Whilden said that the organization had to plan for the future, and that a five year plan would bring the group to their 150th anniversary coming up.  He said that there were “changes” in our society where increasing secularism was a challenge for a religious based group such as the CMA.  Many ideas are being discussed currently to decide “how to reach the next generation.”   But overall, he was happy to report that the CMA has been having an excellent year. 

2. Grove Hall has been a successful venue for religious retreats, and a large Roman Catholic group from the Trenton Diocese met there and had such a good meeting that they booked for next year.  In fact, that venue is already booked for each weekend through the rest of 2014. 

3. Lew Hiserote of the Program Committee was pleased with the successes this summer.  He said, “We are moving up in just about everything.”   This year the Saturday night shows in the GA were reduced from 17 to 12 with an average audience of 1,600 people.  Attendance for the choir festival rose to over 3,000, and the Sunday morning services averaged about 1,000 each time. All of the religious events experienced a rise in attendance including the boardwalk pavilion services and the bible hour.

4. Jason Tramm the musical director hopes to increase the amount of new music and to have more “masterworks” such as the Handel Messiah which they performed last week.  He says that words and music together create a “powerful” effect.

5. The damaged  roof of the Great Auditorium remains a challenge because of the unavailability of the special stainless steel, zinc coated roofing. Jack Green reported that a decision will be made by October as to how to solve this problem. The current roof is already 35 years old, and any replacement materials must match that patina and also cannot contain lead, as was the case back than. The CMA is determined to avoid another winter with a temporary roof. 

6. The new boardwalk has been a success, and the next step is to do the north end from Seaview to the Asbury border. The same Trex material will be used.    But the old wooden areas near Sea View Avenue which survived Sandy will be patched but not rebuilt to match.

7. Peter Herr, the head of finance, said that the group was $ 1/2 million “in the hole” at the end of 2012 due to Sandy emergency spending. But, by the end of 2013, they were up $20,000.  20% of the budget depends on contributions, much of which comes in towards the end of the year.  The Together Fund is essentially “done”  at this time.  Despite the sometimes precarious finances of the CMA, he mischievously noted that Atlantic City was “going down” after nearly 40 years, but the CMA has lasted for over 140 years.  (applause!)

8. FEMA payments have been slow, but meanwhile boardwalk bills are paid by the Neptune bond issue and the Together Fund.  FEMA should pay 90% of the cost of the boardwalk.

9. Bill Bailey, the Director of Operations, seems to be involved whenever hard work is needed. He received more thanks than anybody else in town. He also reported that the CMA purchased 1200 jumbo rolls of toilet paper this summer.

9. The refreshment services group achieved its goal of $60,000 turned over to CMA.  They sold 1,000 hotdogs during Bridge Fest. They will be on duty for the double whammy next Saturday:  big flea market and then Father Alphonse concert at night.  Come for breakfast: pork roll, egg and cheese sandwiches.  Some say that their hotdogs are the best at the Shore.

10. Ladies Auxiliary made a record $47,000 this season.  

11. The lifeguards, under the chief Jaimie Doyle made 154 rip current rescues this summer. Plus there were 47 this past week as currents and big waves were active for several days running. 20 kids went missing this season, but all were found.

OG lifeguards. Eyes on the swimmers. Paul Goldfinger photo ©  August 2014.

OG lifeguards. Eyes on the swimmers. Paul Goldfinger photo © August 2014.

12.  The North End redevelopment is on hold.  There is an existing contract on that project, but all bets are off due to changes in the laws post Sandy that will effect planning for the North End. The OGHOA has a committee which is supposed to be following the progress of this situation.

13. The 80 active GA ushers have put in over 50,000 man hours in 2014.  They are looking for some young men to join the group.   The age range is 16-90.  So, if you are 90 and can stand up, they want you.  They will be working until the Live Nativity in December. 

14. Joan Knust of the Beautification Project showed photos of the amazing plantings around town including the boardwalk urns, the display at the top of Broadway, and the beautiful beds making Stokes look good near the GA.  They will have their annual fund raiser later this month.  (see our Wassup Dept.)

JOHN CAFFERTY AND THE BEAVER BROWN BAND:  A musical tribute to our beautiful new boardwalk

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Hello Paul….I had a not-so-pleasant experience yesterday from which myself and a few neighbors learned some valuable information. I thought I would pass it on in case you would like to inform the Blogfinger community.

A squirrel was caught in a  trap that was installed on the roof of my neighbors home…. for 5 1/2 hours in the heat, without water. These particular neighbors were not there because they are part timers and live out of state. They were contacted and horrified to learn that this animal was suffering. It is the responsibility of the pest control company to come by once or twice a day to check on these traps.

I called the police to ask for help. An officer came over to my house and said that he really didn’t know what the laws were in regards to wildlife cruelty. Well, I had him look into it and we both learned a lot! He was able to contact Sergent William Hyer, an animal policeman from the Monmouth County S.P.C.A. of Eatontown (732-542-0040). This wonderful, devoted officer came right out and made sure that those traps were confiscated and the pest control company was slapped with a major fine. Unfortunately, I don’t think the squirrel survived.   Unknown

He said that many people don’t realize that this is a felony…as it should be. I understand that squirrels, birds, racoons and other creatures can be pests. I have spent thousands of dollars repairing my own roof in order to keep these critters out, but I do not want to see them treated inhumanely. I’m sure that there are many animal lovers (and likers) that would agree. 


Ocean Grove, NJ  August 28, 2014.



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NOTE: Got your attention? Flip the world upside down and you’ll find another Ocean Grove. It’s on Australia’s Bellarine Peninsula, and I’ve come to think of it as our sister city. It’s often more interesting than its namesake here — or, let’s say, interesting in a different way. Here is a story from The Geelong Advertiser, which is quickly becoming my favorite newspaper, now that The News of the World is gone. — Charles Layton

A THUG defended in court by Geelong councillor Jan Farrell was previously involved in a “nasty” bashing of a mate who was hit over the head with two beer stubbies.

More details about Tobias Sheehan’s violent past have emerged as Cr Farrell refused to answer questions yesterday.

The Geelong Advertiser can reveal Sheehan, 25, was convicted and sentenced to a 12-month community-based order in 2004 after he stormed into a mate’s home where he punched and kicked the man to the face.

Cr Farrell has come under fire for using a council letterhead to defend Sheehan over a seperate incident where he glassed a pub patron at Ocean Grove’s Zebra Crossing bar.

Sheehan was jailed to 2 1/5 years for the Ocean Grove assault last month and must serve at least one year before being eligible for parole.

The state’s council watchdog is now investigating Cr Farrell in a bid to determine if she breached the Local Government Act by using her position as a councillor and council stationary to defend Sheehan.

Football Geelong records also show Sheehan was suspended from the CDFNL in 2009 for three weeks in May for offensive language and another week in August for one week on a rough conduct charge. Sheehan was also banned from the Barwon Heads Hotel for three months in November 2010 after he was involved in a pub brawl.

Cr Farrell refused to answer phone calls or questions sent in an email about the latest revelations yesterday.

Cr Farrell also avoided having her actions debated during a council meeting after she helped vote down a motion brought upon her by a fellow councillor.

Sheehan’s involvement in the 2004 attack came after the victim stole a digital camera from his home but repaid $1000 to cover the cost.

During sentencing, County Court Judge Susan Cohen said Sheehan wanted retribution and a year later barged into the victim’s house and caused the victim to fall backwards after a volley of punches and while on the ground he continued to kick and punch the victim.

“This was a sustained nasty attack on a young man who had been your friend,” Judge Cohen said.

She said the victim fell onto a mattress-less bed and another beer bottle was broken over his head by Sheehan’s mate.


MUSIC by The Outback Singers. (Note on the lyrics: A “swagman” is a hobo, a “billabong” is a small lake, a “jumbuck” is a sheep, and the phrase “til his billy boiled” refers to making tea. Oh yes, and “waltzing Matilda” means to tramp about in search of work — derived from the Matilda bag in which the swagman carries his meager possessions. In this song the bag is called a “tucker bag.”)

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Annual Choir Festival, 2005. Photo by Paul Goldfinger ©

The Choir Festival is a major musical event each season in Ocean Grove.  It  will be held in the Great Auditorium, where there will be 1000 voices representing choral organizations from throughout the Eastern United States.  Dr. Jason Tramm, Ocean Grove’s Director of Music Ministries, will conduct.  The choir will be accompanied by the Festival Brass and by the Hope Jones Organ, played by Organist-In-Residence Dr. Gordon Turk.  There will be guest soloists including Ocean Grove’s Ronald Naldi, a tenor who sings with the Metropolitan Opera in New York City.  Seven guest conductors will also appear.  The event starts at 7 :30 P.M.

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Imperial Brass. July 7, 2011. Photo by Ted Aanensen, Blogfinger staff

By Paul Goldfinger

Last night, in the Great Auditorium, the first Summer Stars 2011 Thursday concert was held. The Imperial Brass is a fine organization of about 30 musicians who play brass instruments like euphoniums, horns and trumpets. They put on a two hour program of music from Leroy Anderson to Tchaikovsky. It was excellent, but then Phillip Smith, the evening’s soloist,  showed up mid way in the event. Phil is an Ocean Grover who lives on Pilgrim Pathway. But he also happens to be the  Principal Trumpet of the New York Philharmonic.

Phillip Smith, Principal Trumpet, New York Philharmonic. Photo by Ted Aanensen

He told the audience that there is “joy in Ocean Grove” and that being here “refreshes our spiritual souls.” He had my attention when he said that he was our neighbor, but I was mesmerized when he played his first solo, called “Jubilance” by William Himes. It was absolutely lovely, and his tone and phrasing were magical. It never ceases to amaze me how superb the musical programs are in this little town with its big musical heritage. Here, for $15.00, was one of the world’s best musicians, playing for us live…no microphone; just him inside the big cello of an auditorium, with an ensemble of accomplished brass players (also unamplified) to back him up. I don’t know how it is that so few people come to these events.

Later in the program Phil’s wife Sheila Smith, a soprano, sang an enjoyable Broadway medley and then a duet with her husband and piano accompaniment on the standard “They Can’t Take That Away From Me.”  Phil also soloed on”What a Friend We Have in Jesus,” but I really enjoyed his turn, with piano, with  Gershwin’s “Someone to Watch Over Me.” I took the liberty of recording that gorgeous solo with my iPhone, and here it is. It’s not exactly a professional audio crew, but enjoy the sound of a brilliant musician who also is our neighbor—–Philip Smith:

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By Charles Layton

The Coaster has a story today (Thursday) about a petition drive aimed at changing Neptune Township’s form of government to a Mayor-Council system.

At present, Neptune is governed by five council members. According to the article, the petitioners, under the name NeptuneGovernment4All, want to change that to a system under which a mayor would be elected at large to a four-year term, and council members would be elected under a ward system rather than at large, as they are now.

The group’s website lists Warren Lapp, the former Republican candidate for township committee, as NG4A’s treasurer. No other officers or participants are listed. However, the Coaster quotes Dru Reynolds of Ocean Grove as one of the organizers. It quotes Reynolds as saying Neptune’s current system of choosing a mayor is undemocratic. Under that system, the five council members choose one of their own to serve a one-year mayoral term, on a rotating basis. Kevin McMillan is mayor this year, Randy Bishop will be mayor next year, and so on.

The Asbury Park Press also has an article on its website about the group —  go here to read it.

The Coaster’s article is more comprehensive. It’s on page one.

The proponents need to get at least 20 percent of Neptune’s registered voters to sign their petition by Sept. 2, the Coaster says, in order to place a referendum on the November ballot.

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A tradition preserved. Graduate Emily Crelin with her grandfather, who had also graduated in the Great Auditorium. Photo by Mary Walton

By Kat Cavano

The graduating class of Neptune High School gathered at the Great Auditorium Friday night for a ritual dating back seven decades.  Girls in white gowns and boys in black exchanged hugs and kisses with their classmates and posed for pictures snapped by proud parents.  Like the thunder and lightning that swept through Ocean Grove just an hour before the 320 graduates assembled, a stormy controversy that had threatened to derail the ceremony receded in the joy of the moment.

But the evidence was there.  A bouquet of colored balloons masked a small cross outside the building; within the auditorium, school banners were draped across two religious signs over the stage; the illuminated cross on the front of the auditorium remained dark.  Covering those religious symbols was key to an agreement between the Neptune Township School District and the American Civil Liberties Union after a woman complained that the graduation ceremony in the auditorium, a place of worship, violated the separation of church and state.

And so a tradition was preserved. Graduate Emily Crelin of Shark River Hills said she cherished the fact that she was literally following in the footsteps of her grandfather, Bob Crelin, who was at her side as she spoke. He graduated from ‘Old’ Neptune High School in 1957 and also received his diploma in the Great Auditorium. Emily also had an important role to play in Friday’s ceremony, delivering the “Passing of the Torch” speech to the class below hers. She would tell them, she said, to “live it up, because senior year is just going to fly by.”

“It’s finally my time,” she said, clutching a half dozen red roses to her chest. All the female graduates received a similar bouquet. “And graduating here is very prestigious.”

Graduate Danny Oquendo. Photo by Mary Walton

Danny Oquendo was the first Neptune High graduate in his family, but he, too, had strong feelings about the ceremony in the Great Auditorium. “Ocean Grove is like a second home to me in the summer,” he said. “The Auditorium has such a long history, it’s special.”

The event drew a clutch of protesters from Point Pleasant Beach who objected to the Neptune School Board’s concessions to the ACLU. Calling themselves Citizens for a Free America, they handed out flyers and small crosses. It was “absurd,” said one, to allow “the government to run religion.” Another said the agreement was a form of censorship. “Our founding fathers would be spinning in their graves,” she said.

Protesters said the compromise was "absurd." Photo by Tracey James

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