Dog beach.

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Paul Goldfinger ©  Ocean Grove, October, 2008.  The season doesn’t end on Labor Day. A dog beach is another way to promote community and friendships.


AARON COPELAND  “Simple Gifts.”

Paul Goldfinger © Asbury Park Boardwalk. September 14, 2014.

BILLY ECKSTINE.    By Irving Berlin from Annie Get Your Gun.

Jersey Boys

Paul Goldfinger. © Theatre District. Click for more parking.


OG tent

Paul Goldfinger. © Ocean Grove tent colony. Toss the residents a life preserver.

By Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger.net

One year ago, June 14, 2016, in an article  for NJ.com by Alex Napollielo, the headline read: “Residents, Shore town at odds over parking issues.”  (Link below.)

In the article, “Joyce Klein, Chair of the Ocean Grove Homeowners Association’s parking committee, said she would like to see the township run a test period of parking permits from Aug. 1 until the end of the summers season.”

The Home Owners, in a rare case of speaking out for the residents said, “The Homeowners Association submitted a proposal to the Neptune Township Committee, the governing body in Ocean Grove, in April, that suggests reserving one side of the street for homeowner permit parking. Each household would be given one parking permit free of charge, the proposal states. And a household with a driveway is not entitled to a permit.”

Believe it or not, the HOA vowed to fight for resident permit parking.  The Mayor stalled, and after that, somebody must have had a back-room discussion with the HOA because, as you all know, they later applauded the Township for adding more useless diagonal parking in town and they never publicly resumed the conversation about resident parking.

Well, regardless of the gutless HOA, the idea of residential permit parking is still alive on Blogfinger, and we will see if the Township and/or the HOA actually look into the possibility. They really should do this for the residents of the Grove.


Here’s a song for the OGHOA who need to dissolve their group to be replaced by a citizen activist organization which Blogfinger would vigorously support:


Route 66 motel. 1973 ©John Schott.

By Paul Goldfinger, Photography Editor @Blogfinger.net

In 1973, photographer John Schott took a road trip photographing motels along Route 66.  It reminds me of the famous  1958 road trip that Robert Frank , a Swiss national, took to produce his book “The Americans.”

Schott’s series on Route 66 motels is currently on exhibit at the Joseph Bellows Gallery in La Jolla, California.  Schott is  also is a film maker and he was the executive producer of a PBS series on photography.

Photograph Magazine said this,   “Schott made these photographs in what I am characterizing as intimate space. He engaged with the physical spaces in and around the motels, becoming attuned to how bodies (including his own) behaved in those spaces, and alert to the way motels are at once public, social, personal, and intimate.”

You can see more of this body of work by clicking the link below:


ELVIS PRESLEY   (recorded in 1956)

From the circus series. By Moe Demby. Blogfinger staff. ©

From the (Cole Bros.)  circus series. By Moe Demby. Blogfinger staff. ©  Re-post from 2014.



Some Grovers are investing huge sums to create authentic Victorian restorations like this gorgeous newly redone Main Avenue showplace, but that alone does not define us.  Paul Goldfinger photo May 2, 2017.


Another ambitious Victorian restoration. Note the original siding being brought back to life at great expense . Blogfinger photo © Ocean Grove at  Main Avenue.

Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger

In 2017, Ocean Grove is a small town without a clear sense of identity.  It has a local government that treats us like an appendage to be milked, but otherwise there is no love emanating from Neptune Township. We may be part of Neptune officially, but we are clearly NOT part of Neptune in our hearts.  Most towns have a continuous thread of history that has resulted in a strong sense of identity, but not Ocean Grove.

Citizens say that they “love” the town, but the definition of that love remains undefined.   They just like being here.  Is the Grove  just a collection of old houses interspersed in another cozy shore town?   Or  maybe it is the perception of the town as a place with an unusual and special  culture that attracts people to live here?  Many  like the urban feel, the friendly neighborhoods, the comfortable  sidewalks for walking, the porch culture, and the magic of summer evenings on the boards or fun at the beach.  And for some it is the closest nicest shore town to NYC.

Those who say they “love the town”  often have little knowledge of the town’s history as a religious enclave.  They have no interest in it as a historic place recognized by State and Federal historic registries.  So, to what extent is OG an authentic and serious historic district—a very special place for that reason?

A related question is whether this town was conceived as a tourist attraction?  The answer to that is an emphatic no.  Sure, in the late 1800’s, religious tourists came here in droves, mostly by train, and that identity persists to a much lesser extent today,  but it is no longer central to life in Ocean Grove.

Thirty years ago, the town was not a tourist place to have a burger, buy a T shirt, take a tour, go to a massive craft show on the Pathway, or close down Main Avenue to sell Thai food or sell shlocky art or display old British cars .   Instead the downtown had a serious grocery/butcher shop, several doctor’s offices, a video store,a flower shop, a cafeteria, a newsstand, a drug store, a barber shop,  a fishing club, a town pool, and a few fire houses.  In other words it was a town that was largely for the residents. So many towns at the shore are not for tourists, for example Atlantic Highlands, Avon-by-the Sea,  Spring Lake, Deal, Avalon, and Allenhurst.

But now Ocean Grove has become  a mish-mash—a combination of all of the above; but for those who actually  live here  (year round or part-time), or want to live here, we need to define our situation more clearly: what is the heart and soul of this town?  Or maybe those attributes don’t even exist.

Elected officials do not really represent the Grove’s citizens.  The Neptunite governing operation is like a secret foreign occupying power that has undercover agents and contacts who live among us, but has underlying agendas based upon self interest.

A local government is supposed to represent the people and try to make their lives better, but our situation  now is the opposite.

The Camp Meeting Association ran the town for over 140 years.  During that time, until 1980, they had reason to believe that the unique religious culture which prevailed till then, as odd as it was in America, would last  forever.  They certainly did not envision the town becoming a historic site.  They had no problem letting many of the early houses deteriorate. And it is unclear if stores during those years sold T shirts, surf boards, jewelry or pizza.

But when OG was handed over to Neptune Township in 1980, and with the CMA giving up governance and most blue laws,  it was like a child who lost his parents and was given to someone for foster care—for money.

The town, which was becoming quite diverse by 1980, was without a clear sense of who or what it was, and today, what is its character and purpose?

The result is a place with a variety of power centers, all self interested,  and largely propelled by an active real-estate market;  and all without the will to find a framework, common identity, and direction for the town as a whole  So the town of Ocean Grove, lacking leadership and a sense of community,  is adrift and thus what goes on here is helter-skelter and out of focus.  That is why no progress is made in solidifying the town as a real place with its own sense of being.  If it weren’t for the homeowners who have brought to life historic homes that had been on life-support, this would be a pretty disheveled and much less desirable place.

The vision of an authentic historic town, defined by its historic designations, is currently fraudulent because most citizens don’t give a rat’s tail about its history. Even the “Historic Preservation Commission” has gone dark and has seemingly slipped into the shadows, never to be trusted again.  It is rare to find a historical event here such as re-enactments, poetry readings, vintage music concerts, classical street musicians, jazz, and educational programs about the town’s history for those who actually live here.  Instead we shut down Main Avenue for car shows and we crowd the town with huge numbers of strangers (ie tourists)  to have giant retail events of no value to the town itself while the residents struggle to find a parking place and to share our streets with the free parkers heading to Asbury.

The Ocean Grove Homeowners Association has no idea what it should be doing, and its leadership has no idea what its mandate is. It is not only essentially worthless in terms of bringing this town together and forward, but it has actually become a force working against the people—a subversive presence.

Jack Bredin is correct that the only workable solution is to become our own town again  (it actually happened for one year in 1925, but the church vs state  dilemma caused it to collapse on itself.) Perhaps it is possible once again, but not in a place where the citizens are apathetic and don’t seem to care about a vision for the town.

So  Ocean Grove, despite some wonderful attributes, is poorly defined, and the citizens are seemingly satisfied to ride the waves, sleep on the beach and enjoy being here, much like so many other Jersey Shore towns, although many of those towns actually have their acts together and know who they are or what they want to be.

Bradley Beach , our neighbor to the south, which lacks the history that we have, knows what it is.   Go there to experience a true Jersey Shore town.  Forget the architecture, just view it as a fine place to enjoy the shore.   Take a deep breath and smell the ocean.  Go on Main Street on a summer night and have some Thai food or terrific Italian delicacies.  Sit outside at a real  coffee shop and watch the young people walking by or heading towards the boardwalk.  Bradley Beach has a heart and soul which goes all the way back to its founding. It knows what is, and that’s a good thing.

And here’s a song for the kids in town, especially teen agers who breathe life into our town no longer  known as “Ocean Grave:”


Back then the CMA controlled all parking in the Grove.  If that parking mandate was not outrageous,  then why not  the new paradigm?


Parking in the Grove. Resident parking should come first. Everyone else can find a way. Blogfinger photograph. 2015.

By Paul Goldfinger,  Editor @Blogfnger.net

Until 1980, the Camp Meeting Association ran the town and could command everyone to move their cars out of town on Sunday.  But they are no longer in charge, and Ocean Grove is now similar to other Shore towns when it comes to parking, except that we have few garages and driveways.

There are a finite number of parking spaces in the Grove and a finite number of residents.

Those people who live in this town and who pay to live here—owners and renters—-should receive a special status which gives them top priority for parking spaces.

The Township should  promise that residents will be guaranteed a parking space whenever they need one.  This can be done by allocating special reserved spaces for them.   All others who come into town including tourists, shoppers, church-goers,  and beachers will have to compete for the remaining spaces.

Where is it written that parking is a democratic process?  Favoritism for residents is essential to maintain life styles and functionality for those who make this town their home.  They deserve that privilege, and everyone else is on their own.

Many ideas can be implemented to help those non-residents who want to visit here, and those ideas involve reducing the number of visitors with cars and adding order with metered parking.

Yes there would be some wrinkles to iron out, but this favoritism offers a foundation for solving the problem and a chance to reclaim the town for the home-boys and girls who favor a comfortable, family style, non-congested, historical, small town atmosphere with air, light,  space, and parking.

Petition the town, wave a magic wand, and voila—our home values will go up and our town will be better.


Parking was difficult for the Neptune High School Graduation. This grad was fortunate to park by Firemen’s Park. 6/16/17   Paul Goldfinger photo  ©.

We at Blogfinger are big fans of the annual Neptune High School graduation in the Great Auditorium.  It is a wonderful and beautiful tradition relished by the students and their friends and families each year.  When that tradition was challenged a few years ago, we supported the event, and Charles Layton and I went to a special assembly in the gym to witness the sorrow and the outrage on the parts of parents and students.  Jean Bredin and I posted beautiful photographs from the graduation in June 2016.

This article is about parking and crowding.  It is not a criticism of the event itself which is something very special which most Ocean Grovers undoubtedly support and hope that it continues in our town.

Tonight I returned home at 6:3o pm to find nearly every single parking space taken because of  the graduation. I estimate that 98%  of OG parking was taken due to the graduation. I have no idea how many guests had to drive out of town when they could not find a space.

It isn’t fair that this event should so totally envelope our town and its parking.

And what about the graduation families and friends who had to worry about parking and getting to this important happening on time? The lockdown lasted about three hours.

The Neptune Board of Education should have concerned itself with this issue.

The key is to find ways to reduce the number of parked cars.   The Board of Education should have provided at least 10 buses to transport people including students from the High School parking areas into Ocean Grove and then provided transportation back to their cars. Car pooling and taxis  should have been encouraged.   That would have been a help and a respectful sign that Neptune appreciates the chance to graduate the class of 2017 in our beautiful, peaceful, historic and spiritual town.

And then tomorrow we will have the giant Craft Show on the Pathway, and with it we will again be gridlocked due to an invasion of  FMT’s (flea market tourists) who will  clog our town with no consideration at all for those who actually live here.

You homeowners and renters in the Grove pay to live here, and you deserve some consideration.  You  provide cheerful personal support for such events as the Craft Show and the NHS graduation.  Tourists come here to enjoy the town, but isn’t it time for Grovers  (owners and renters and their guests) to be given favored-nation status by our own government and organizations here?

Give us a break and encourage  the visitors to figure out how to get in and out of Ocean Grove.

Paul Goldfinger, Editor.

JERRY ORBACH  from The Fantasticks:


Days Ice Cream in Ocean Grove. Is anybody wearing underwear over there?  Paul Goldfinger photo ©

Bhy Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger.net

We went to Days on Thursday night after strolling by the tents.  The tents seemed to be uninhabited except for a few lights and quite a few American flags, but June 16 is still a bit quiet in the tent colony.  There was some nearby music, but we had no idea where it was coming from.

As always, the Days experience was a delight, and especially so for our friends who had never been there before.  We had hot fudge sundaes  (small of course.)

But the visit was doubly fun when we realized that the music was from the cast of the annual Days musical  rehearsing in the back of the historic ice cream emporium.

That was indeed a treat, especially since they were singing “I’m Not Wearing Underwear Today” from the 2003 hit musical  Avenue Q.  

Imagine, a funny hot fudge sundae.  Oh, and the small sundaes at Days are not so small after all.


Check at Days/ Starving Artist for more show and rehearsal information.

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