Novelette Herbert Collins. August 3, 2014. Portrait by Paul Goldfinger. ©

Novelette Herbert-Collins. August 3, 2014. Ocean Grove.   Portrait by Paul Goldfinger. ©  Click to enlarge


Novelette Herbert-Collins returned this weekend for her 20th reunion as a graduate of Neptune High School. She said that she had a wonderful time at the event.

This Scarlet Flier flew off to college in Michigan, met someone who swept her off her feet, got married and has lived in Dallas, Texas since then.  She says that she is a stylist, but her main preoccupation is to home-school her five children, ages 2-11.

We met Novelette on the OG boardwalk this Sunday afternoon.  She was soon to depart again for the Lone Star State, but one never quite gets the Jersey Shore or the Jersey Girl  out of one’s system, so off she went to take a nostalgic walk along the boards and breathe in some salty Atlantic Ocean air before heading back  home.


Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger.



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Fluke dinner with grilled vegetables (peppers, zucchini, portobella mushrooms,) baked potato, ciabatta bread, salad, (with baby lettuce and romaine,) and Bordeaux wine. Paul Goldfinger photo in Eileen’s Ocean Grove kitchen. © November, 2015. Fluke dinner with grilled vegetables (peppers, zucchini, portobello mushrooms,) baked potato, ciabatta bread, salad, (with baby lettuce and romaine,) and Bordeaux wine. Paul Goldfinger photo in Eileen’s Ocean Grove kitchen. © November, 2015.




By Eileen Goldfinger, Food Editor @Blogfinger.net


1/2 to 1 pound of fluke fillets

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon butter or margarine

1 lemon

1 teaspoon paprika

1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/8 teaspoon sea sa

In a 12 inch non stick fry pan heat olive oil and butter until they sizzle.

Sprinkle filet with paprika, salt and pepper and rub seasoning onto one side

of the fish.


Sauté fish fillets in a non-stick fry pan. Paul Goldfinger photograph © November, 2015 Sauté fish fillets in a non-stick fry pan. Paul Goldfinger photograph © November, 2015


Place fillets in heated pan and cook for ten minutes on medium heat.

Then turn the fillets over and squeeze the juice from half of the lemon on them and cook for 10 minutes.

Slice the remaining half of the lemon into wedges and serve with the fluke.

Pour the sauce left in the pan over the fish.


Serves 2 people




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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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The First United Methodist Church (1886) at the corner of Lareine and Madison Avenues in Bradley Beach. Paul Goldfinger photograph. October, 2015. © The wing shown below is visible along the right edge of the building.

The First United Methodist Church (1886) at the corner of Lareine and Madison Avenues in Bradley Beach. There is no sign outside.  Paul Goldfinger photograph. October, 2015. © The wing shown below is visible along the right edge of the building.

Paul Goldfinger photo. October 4, 2015. © Blogfinger.net

This is a wing of the church on Madison Avenue.  We don’t know what its function is, but now you almost know the rest of the story.  Paul Goldfinger photos. 2015 ©


James Bradley, the founder of Asbury Park who was also a pioneer in OG and Bradley Beach. Paul Goldfinger photo Feb 7, 2016.

This is James Bradley, the founder of Asbury Park, who was also a pioneer in OG and Bradley Beach. Paul Goldfinger photo Feb 7, 2016. This is at the foot of Sunset Park, with James facing the Paramount Theatre.   ©

James Bradley, a wealthy businessman from New York, founded Asbury Park. He was an admirer of Ocean Grove and bought the first lot from the Camp Meeting in 1870. He liked the area so much that he purchased 500 acres south of Fletcher Lake along the ocean.  That land became Bradley Beach.

In 1886 he dismantled an Asbury Park Dutch Reformed church and somehow brought it to Bradley Beach and created the First United Methodist Church.  As many of you Grovers know, if you bike or walk in this area, you can discover many neat things.  Stephen Goldfinger came upon this landmark during a walk last week. He was following Pennsylvania Avenue into BB where it became Madison Ave.    We went over to check it out and “found” this beautiful historic church.

—Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger

HOT CLUB OF SAN FRANCISCO.  “It’s Not Exactly a Sonata—-For Renata.”

From their album Claire de Lune:

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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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Bradley Beach. Paul Goldfinger photograph. 2017. ©  This is a re-post to remind us of another avenue for parking relief.



Uncrowded Bradley Beach 2017. Paul Goldfinger photograph. ©


By Paul Goldfinger,  Editor @Blogfinger.net

Re-post from 2018, but a lesson to emulate:


T.J. Coan is a Bradley Beach patriot.  He and other residents were unhappy that the giant Lobster Festival, scheduled for June 23-25, would make their town unlivable due to the crowds, merchants, and cars.  As it were, the summer weekends create some crowding in a town like BB, but at least it is mostly of the home-grown variety with families and their guests coming to the beach for a great time.

The Festival would have brought about 70,000 people to BB added to the town-generated 30,000.  We spoke to T.J. last March about this issue and how it relates to Ocean Grove.  Below is the link.

Bradley Beach residents fight gridlock

Bradley Beach, a larger town than OG usually has only one mega-event, the Lobster Festival,  and it doesn’t bring any significant funds to the townspeople to improve their home. The big money is carried away by entrepreneurs looking to clean up during peak season, leaving the residents with nothing but grief in terms of enjoying their own town.

Ocean Grove has a bunch of mega-events, more than any other area shore town, and the residents are left being imprisoned, afraid to move their cars and unable to enjoy their famous Victorian beach town, during such events.   And show us the money?  It goes to the CMA, the Chamber of Commercials, and the merchants.

T.J. likes to divide Jersey Shore beach towns  into the tourist variety  (a la Seaside Heights) and the residential variety where residents get to enjoy their own homes without huge invasions by tourists  ( a la Bradley Beach, Spring Lake, and-sometimes  Ocean Grove.)

So T.J. started an insurrection with the overt and/or quiet support of residents.  He brought a law suit which lead to other complications, and, in the end, the Lobster Festival was cancelled.  If you really want to go into the weeds about what happened, you can search the Asbury Park Press.

But T.J. and his supporters should be ensconced in the Bradley Beach Hall of Fame over this victory.  They have returned their town to the residents and have set a precedent for future similar challenges.

Interestingly, the residents were in favor of having the Festival after Labor Day, but that idea was rejected by the sponsors because they would not make enough money

In Ocean Grove, however, our town, often drowning in cars and tourists, finds itself with no advocates for the lifestyle that once existed here.

I moved to OG as the situation was on the rise  (as described in Ted David’s book “the Other Side of Ocean Grove,”), but now, in terms of a “historic, residential beach town”  vs. a  “tourist beach town,” we are on a downhill trajectory and tumbling fast.

And if you are unsure of what I am talking about, go to any part of the Grove like the beachfront, downtown, neighborhoods,  Lake Avenue, and parks, on a weekend free of glut, and you will see children running about, dog walkers, small groups biking fearlessly, families enjoying the boardwalk and the beach, teenagers on skateboards, dinner parties on porches, neighbors outside chatting, and some actual parking spaces here and there.

The proposed North End Redevelopment would tip the scales toward Asbury Park, and Neptune would have won the movement to turn the Grove into a money-oriented mess. If the CMA wants to survive as a community based asset, it needs to change sides.






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Firemen’s Park, Ocean Grove, NJ.. September 23, 2020. Paul Goldfinger photograph.


Paul Goldfinger, Editor  Blogfinger.net

The Camp Meeting Association, the Neptune Township Committee, and the OG Fire Department are responsible for this very public symbol of our town: concentration camp decor for our most visible public park. This place is the face of the Grove especially now when we have so many new people staying in town and with many visiting Firemen’s Park.

We live near the park and we have seen people park their cars just to spend a few minutes walking their dogs.  We have seen kids climb that dangerous fence to retrieve an errant ball.  While the fence was accidentally left open in recent weeks, people were drawn into the center to read the bell’s inscription, to sit down and relax, or just stand there for a chat.  Children like to run around in there and touch the bell.

A picture when freedom temporarily rang at  the bell a couple of weeks ago. Paul Goldfinger photo.  Click to enlarge.  Re-post 9/20.  Note that this photo was not a set-up.  They were in there when I approached and asked them to look at the camera.


Paul Goldfinger,MD.  Editor, Blogfinger.net

This locked fencing is a horrid symbol of ugly restriction in a free country where, in this case, we are willing to indicate indifference to the idea of freedom in such a glaring way.

Is this how we want to welcome visitors?  And, ironically, right next to this lock-up, the American flag flies.

Where is the Historical Society of Ocean Grove?  Where are the Home Groaners?   What do they stand for?  And how about the American Flag which flies at the foot of Main Avenue overlooking the ocean?  And the people of Ocean Grove: what do they stand for?

Can we ever play “America the Beautiful” in this town?  Is there any other public park in America where the people are locked out?

Mr. Badger, tear down that fence!




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Summer tents. Ocean Grove, NJ. By Paul Goldfinger © Summer tents. Ocean Grove, NJ. By Paul Goldfinger ©  2013  Ocean Grove



These tents are the most photographed of any structures in town.  They captivate visitors who love to hear the story of the tents. They are amazed that the tents are still in use and that you have to wait for years to rent one.

Photographing them is a challenge if you want something unique other than the tired snapshots that people acquire with their phones.  Nevertheless, those photos are the ones that get disseminated all over the world.  They are patriotic images because so many tenters fly the American flag.

—Paul Goldfinger, editor @Blogfinger


VINCE GIORDANO AND THE NIGHTHAWKS  “Stardust” from the film The Aviator.

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Sitting in Eileen's car. By the time I had devoured the first half of my special bagel, I realized that I should snap a picture for BF.

Sitting in Eileen’s car. Bagels International has the blue awning.  By the time I had devoured the first half of my onion  bagel, I realized that I should snap a picture for BF. You can click to enlarge all photos.  Paul Goldfinger photography ©



Inside Bagel International. Bradley Beach. Blogfinger photo. Oct. 2015.

Inside Bagels International. Bradley Beach. Blogfinger photo. Oct. 2015.  It can get very crowded and chaotic on a Sunday or holiday morning in season.


By Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger


We’re always on the lookout for a special bagel place (currently known by the smart crowd as a “bagelry”)  Actually, calling a bagel joint a “bagelry” is really designed to justify high prices, and I doubt that an authentic bagel bakery would ever use that moniker.

The most authentic bagel bakery around here is on Monmouth Road in Oakhurst. It is really the genuine article, right down to the kosher stamp and its authentic name :  “Hot Bagel Bakery”  It has been in business since 1979.  The bakery was picked by the Asbury Park Press as producing the best bagels in the region, and they have a banner to prove it.  Their muffins are superb, and their coffee is quite good.

In summer the line winds out the door, and a team of college bagel majors behind the counter keeps the customers moving.

I asked the baker if I could take his picture in the back where the rolling and  baking are done live.  We chatted a bit. He said that people walk in with cameras and start shooting.  I was the first to ever ask permission. He liked that.


Hot Bagel Bakery. Oakhurst, NJ. Bakers hand roll and bake their bagels in full view of the customers.

Hot Bagel Bakery. Oakhurst, NJ. Bakers hand roll and bake their bagels in full view of the customers.


They line up for the bagels in Oakhurst. Their toasted onion bagels are also delicious. Blogfinger photos ©

They line up for the bagels in Oakhurst. Their toasted onion bagels are also delicious. Blogfinger photos ©


But today I was near Bradley Beach and I craved a toasted onion bagel with the onions a little well done and crispy, with a schmeer of cream cheese (fielders’ choice as to what kind of cc) and a cup of fresh hot coffee. So, of all the bagel joints in all the towns in all the world, I happened to walk into Bagels International at 48 Main Street in BB.

The bagels there are huge, and that would usually be a turnoff for me, but toasting—that’s a bagel of a different color.  The place is welcoming, with tables, chairs, and a coffee station right in the middle. The crew there is busy scurrying around conducting all sorts of bagel and deli business.  They wear company T shirts that contain the entire menu—more words per square inch of shirt than any other bagel T shirt anywhere.

Finally my bagel came out from the kitchen, carried like precious cargo by a guy who evidently had prepared it out of sight, unlike Hot Bagels where everything is visible including the steamy production line in the back.

I took it “to go,” because I wanted to hear the radio while I consumed my culinary treasure.  My onion bagel was toasted twice, as I requested, producing crunchy onion heaven, and it was perfectly delicious. The pieces of onion clung to the surface, although some, as they’re wont to do, went flickering off into space—unfortunately in Eileen’s car.

When I picked her up from a Happy Fingers crocheting session, I saved her a piece, and although she will only allow herself one bite, she agreed that it was quite special….so she never noticed the little black flecks on the floor of her vehicle.. And, you should know, the coffee was good, but not great. However,  as part of the ensemble, it fit right in.


Editor’s note: When the All Star Bagel place opened at 60 Main Avenue in the Grove, I was not impressed.  But today I tried again, ordering a double toasted and scooped everything bagel with vegetable cream cheese. This is not meant to be a comprehensive review, but I am reporting that my bagel was very good.

They make them in house: the texture is a bit chewy, but that’s OK.  They also have specialty breakfast sandwiches, pancakes, egg dishes, as well as a nice lunch menu.  The coffee is  mild and undistinguished.  You can call ahead and order.   848 217 2133   Lines form early in season.  Locals should walk or bike there.  Forget parking.


Bagel Talk in West Grove mall outside the OG gates has good bagels, especially toasted, and the coffee is good. In addition it is convenient and has parking.


PAUL SIMON:  It really doesn’t matter what you call this restaurant—call it Al,  as long as it is delicious.  Paul should know bagels because he is a Jewish boy born in Newark, New Jersey.


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Green stuff falling on cars in Ocean Grove. Blogfinger photo.  ©


The New Yorker. Does this ring true as a topic in Ocean Grove?


By Paul Goldfinger, MD.   Editor  ( Blogfinger.net  12 years old in June. Over 4 million hits.)


The OG Home Groaners have a history of choosing irrelevant topics for their meetings.

Instead of important matters such as whether OG residents would support their disgraceful position on the North End,   the OGHOA has had meetings about anti-semitism in the Grove  (doesn’t exist) and a recent meeting as to what their survey said about their being more popular.  Do you think that green energy was what the citizens requested from their HOA?

Recently they invited the OGNED (North End) developers to a meeting where provocative questions from the audience were banned. Censorship is what that meeting delivered.

They never offer programs on the lack of transparency by the Neptune Comedy as the Neptuners continually dump on the Grove and the HOA is only now waking up to the idea that renters might be interested in the town.

Topics they always ignore include explaining  land use laws, threats to Lake Ave, uninhibited condo conversions, Wesley Lake pollution, excess tourism, coping with the impending  North End disaster, zoning distortions, ground water clarity, Air B&B growth, deluge of rentals and renters escaping the pandemic, Asbury impact on the Grove, and how about a committee that looks after the interests of people who actually live here and pay taxes.

By comparison, here is a snapshot of the OGHOA in the past—- totally different from the gibberish-laden slush being dished out to Grovers by the OGHOA.

From the Blogfinger OG Timeline:

“By the 1980’s, the town is characterized by an overall “decrepitude,” including deterioration of buildings, declining tourism, crime, and a growing poor elderly population.   Deinstitutionalized mental patients are housed in empty old hotels and rooming houses in Ocean Grove. The town becomes a “psychiatric ghetto” (NY Times, October 1988,) and by the 1980’s, 10% of the town’s population are mental cases who are not receiving appropriate services and are sometimes abused by landlords. The prognosis for Ocean Grove is dire.

“During this period, the Ocean Grove Homeowner’s Association (OGHOA) develops as a political and activist force that successfully begins the process of converting the town from decay to renaissance.”

That generation of OGHOA saved the town. This generation is politically correct and impotent.

Now we learn that the next meeting will be “TALKING GREEN!!”   The Groaners want to know if  “our Historic District status can be compatible with a Green future.”

This is a contrived and fake news topic as it pertains to our town.

They say that this program is “inspired by the creation of the OGHOA’s Renewable Energy Committee”  Do we really want such a committee?

To this end the Groaners have invited two representatives of political  groups who’s purpose in life is to promote “green energy.”

The Renewable Energy Committee’s motto is “Change your energy, change the world.”  They seek money to “empower consumers.”  They don’t produce anything in our society but propaganda.  Their real goal is to change our country and our communities.

The Electric Vehicle Association promotes—electric vehicles. Why do we need to hear about that?  Surely there are more important topics to confront.

If you want to be brainwashed by the Groaners, go to this meeting —it is totally political and unnecessary.




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