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Morning, Main Avenue, Ocean Grove, New Jersey. By Paul Goldfinger

Editor’s note: 8//18/17.     Recently we have seen a fragrance shop and a Christmas shop open on Main Avenue.  We have been discussing the future of the Grove and we have questioned the idea that this should be a tourist town.

This article (below) from 5 years ago addresses that topic and will offer some perspective when we consider the businesses in the Grove today and when we realize that the residents of the town get short shrift if their  lifestyles are even considered.

By Paul Goldfinger, editor  @Blogfinger

In 2002, Mr. Ted David self-published a book called “The Other Side of  Ocean Grove.”  Mr. David was fascinated by the quirky nature of the town, so his chapters had titles like “The Wisdom Bench,” “Krisanna’s,” “Blasted Mosquitoes” and “The Gates.” Chapter 11, however, was called “Main Avenue.” About that subject, Mr. David said, “The Great Auditorium is the heart and soul of the Grove, but Main Avenue is its skeleton and nerves.”

Recently we learned that a toy store would open in town, and an interesting discussion developed as to the nature of Main Avenue and what kinds of businesses should be here. There is, however, no set policy on this subject, so perhaps we can learn something from history.

A long-time Grover told me that early in the town’s history there were businesses up and down Main and on the side streets. Judging from a published list from 1938, it would appear that she is correct. Ted David points out that the founders wanted businesses in town to serve only the community who lived here. They had little interest in tourism other than the summer church programs.

In 1938.* on Main Avenue, we had the following businesses:  1 restaurant, 2 pharmacies, 1 electrician, 3 plumbing and heating, 1 fish and vegetable, 1 bead shop, 1 jeweler/watch repair, 5 real estate/insurance, 2 newsstands, 1 taxi stand, 1 book/needle shop, 2 gift shops and 13 hotels. Down multiple other  streets were: 1 ice cream, 1 antique, 3 carpenters, 1 auto repair, 1 dry cleaning, 1 fish market, 1 greenhouse, 1 groceries and meats, 1 milk/dairy, 1 movie house, 1 butcher, 1 painting and decorating, and 4 restaurants.

Mr David points out that until around 1990, the downtown was still devoted mostly to businesses that served the townspeople. But since then, as Ocean Grove rebounded from a downhill slide in the ’70’s and ’80’s, the idea developed that Main Avenue should change to attract tourists, and that is where we are now.

Main Avenue 2010. Paul Goldfinger photo

In recent years we have lost a cleaners, an internist, a bank branch, a quality restaurant (Moonstruck),  two serious bakeries, a cafeteria, a real deli, a real grocery, a barber shop, a newsstand (recently), a gas station (at the hardware store) and a pharmacy.

Who’s to say what happens next on Main Avenue? In this town, we can’t even trust zoning to protect our town  (Remember Mary’s Place?)    We have a Chamber of Commerce, but what do they do for the town’s residents besides close Main Ave. for car shows and other events?  Do they ever consider the lifestyles and needs of those who actually live in town? And where’s our coffee shop?  

And is it time to abolish blue laws to give the town a pick-me-up? It’s been a new ball game since 1980. 

*  Ref: Gibbons History of Ocean Grove

JONI MITCHELL  “In France They Kiss on Main Street”

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Ocean Grove, NJ  By Paul Goldfinger © Feb.  2010

Ocean Grove, NJ By Paul Goldfinger ©
Feb. 2010. silver gelatin print

 

ANDREA SHIPPY    from her album  “I Wish You Well.”

 

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Ocean Grove, New Jersey.  August, 2013.  By Paul Goldfinger ©

 August, 2013. By Paul Goldfinger ©

BETH ROWLEY.   From the film “The Education.”

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Carol and Dale Whilden and son Jordan outside the offices of The Ocean Grove Voice.

Trading Places: Carol and Dale Whilden and son Jordan outside the offices of the Australian paper The Ocean Grove Voice. Its editor, on that day, happened to be in Ocean Grove, N.J.

By Charles Layton

My cyberspace pen pal, Alan Barber, edits the local newspaper in our sister city, Ocean Grove, Australia. He just sent me a link to an article he published this week. It describes his visit to our town in mid-December.

As we reported earlier, Barber stopped by here during a vacation in the U.S. And just by coincidence two of our townsfolk, Dale and Carol Whilden, along with their son, Jordan, were on that same day visiting Barber’s town on Australia’s southern coast.

While there, the Whildens showed up at the office of Barber’s paper, the Ocean Grove Voice. One of the staffers there took their picture.

We’ve already posted a story telling you what the Whildens thought about the Australian Ocean Grove. So now I thought I’d let you read Barber’s account of his visit here. We seem to have made a favorable impression. He devoted a great deal of space to his article about us, including a generous display of photos — of the Barbaric Bean, the Great Auditorium, our damaged beachfront and more.

Alan Barber. Photo by Mary Walton

Alan Barber. Photo by Mary Walton at the Barbaric Bean

He concluded by writing that “in a short time I learnt that although we live so far away we certainly share one really important trait — both Ocean Groves are friendly, welcoming and really interesting towns… I’ll certainly return to visit.”

Come back any time, Alan.

-0-

To read his article, go to http://www.oceangrovevoice.com. When you get there, click on the “our latest edition” box at the top right corner and use the side arrows to navigate to pages 12 and 13. You’ll have to left click on the pages to enlarge them enough to read.

To see our previous article about Barber and his visit with us, click here.

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The Jersey Shore it ain't. Photo of the beach at Ocean Grove, Australia, taken by Carol and Dale Whilden

The beach in Ocean Grove, Australia, is way different from the Jersey Shore.

By Mary Walton

When she was 10, as Carol Whilden tells the story, she had an Australian pen pal whose description of the country and its wildlife, especially those cuddly koalas, left a lifelong impression. Visiting Australia became “a long-time dream.”

That dream was the inspiration for a trip to Australia last month for Carol and her husband, local dentist and Camp Meeting Association president Dale Whilden. Their son Jordan, 22, who was on a break from his studies at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, also went along. Their travels took them not merely to Australia but to Ocean Grove in the state of Victoria, a sister colony founded as a camp meeting in 1887 by the same folks who brought you Ocean Grove, N.J. two decades earlier. 

On December 12, the Whildens arrived in what turned out to be a modern town of 12,000 located about 60 miles from Melbourne on Australia’s southern coast.

It looked nothing like their home town. “They had modernized everything,” Dale Whilden said. “I was a little surprised that there was nothing architecturally or measurably left of the original founding of Ocean Grove, Victoria, that we could detect.”

Dale Whilden headed for the town bookstore in search of a local history. He struck out there but did slightly better at the library, where a helpful librarian produced a paperback containing minor references to the Australian Ocean Grove, along with a few documents. It became clear to Whilden that the Rev. William Osborn’s tent settlement “had just sort of petered out” not long after its founding. He thinks the failure of a camp meeting to take root could be explained by its distance, at the time, from populated areas. Today, the Australian town’s only church is the Uniting Church, a union of three faiths, just one of which is Methodist.

Carol Whilden with her tee shirt from "down under." Photo by Mary Walton

Carol Whilden back home with her tee shirt from “down under.” Photo by Mary Walton

Meanwhile, Carol Whilden had gone in search of souvenirs. She hoped to find a tee shirt as a gift for a friend, but she was apparently out of luck. There seemed to be nothing in the shops. “I couldn’t find any tourist tchotchkes — no keys, no mugs.” Finally a clerk in the Ocean Grove Pharmacy steered her to the Surf Shop. (Yes, they have a Surf Shop, just as we did until it moved to the West Grove mall.) And there a shipment of tee shirts had arrived only two days earlier. They came in two colors, black and white, and had no fancy graphics, merely an all-purpose declaration that “Life’s Better in Ocean Grove.”

She bought a white one.

The Whildens got another surprise when they stopped in at the local newspaper, the bi-weekly Ocean Grove Voice. There they learned that the paper’s editor, Alan Barber, was at that very moment in Ocean Grove, New Jersey. He was interviewing and being interviewed by Blogfinger, among others. (You can read that story here.)

Now it was time to check out the town’s beach, a half mile distant. No boardwalk, no development and — could it really be? — no beach fees.

“We were surprised that there was no charge in the summer to go to the beautiful beach,” Dale Whilden said. As they strode onto the sand through a wooded area, they were attacked by biting sand flies. Unlike the New Jersey town’s founding ministers, who liked Ocean Grove for its absence of mosquitoes, the Australian contingent “apparently didn’t take into consideration biting insects,” Whilden concluded. Perhaps the presence of aggressive flies explained why the beach was notably empty, even though it was the start of the summer season.

Before leaving the area for the remainder of a two-week vacation that would include a day exploring the Great Barrier Reef and a side trip to New Zealand, Carol Whilden inquired at a visitors center about koalas. Turns out there was a stand of eucalyptus trees right down the road.

Koalas love eucalyptus leaves. An adult eats more than a pound a day.

“They were up in the trees,” Carol said. Adults and baby koalas, than which there is nothing much cuter. “Scores of them. I got a little crazy taking pictures.”

We asked her to send us one. Here it is.

The two OGs in contrast: They have koalas in eucalyptus trees. We don’t.

They have a pharmacy, we don't. Photo by the Whildens

We have historic architecture. They don’t.

The have wooded hills, we don't. Photos by the Whildens

They have beautiful wooded hills and bays. We don’t. Photos by the Whildens

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Alan Barber (left) admires the great auditorium as Lois Hetfield and Charles Layton tell how Woody Allen once made a movie there. Photo by Mary Walton

Australian journalist Alan Barber (left) admires the Great Auditorium as Lois Hetfield and Charles Layton tell him how Woody Allen once made a movie there. Photos by Mary Walton

By Charles Layton

Alan Barber, who runs the newspaper in Ocean Grove, Australia, turned up in our town on Monday. Lois Hetfield, the Chamber of Commerce’s administrator, showed him the Great Auditorium, and then the two of them, plus a couple of Blogfinger staffers, settled in for some coffee and chit-chat at the Barbaric Bean.

While we were talking Mayor Randy Bishop dropped in, and he and Barber proceeded to swap stories and make comparisons between the two namesake towns at opposite ends of the planet.

Barber is vacationing in New York City. Since he was so close by, he said he couldn’t resist seeing his “sister city,” so he hopped on the North Jersey Coast Line and came on down.

He explained that Australia’s Ocean Grove, southwest of Melbourne, was founded in the 19th century by Methodists from our own Ocean Grove. The coastal area where they established a camp meeting, based on the one in New Jersey, was the domain of Aboriginal Australians at the time.

Barber’s newspaper, the Ocean Grove Voice, is a bi-weekly, or “fortnightly” as they say down under. He was born in South Africa, grew up in the United Kingdom, where he became a newspaper photographer, and moved nine years ago to Australia, where he had friends and a brother. He settled in the area of Melbourne, which he considers Australia’s most interesting city, and then “discovered Ocean Grove by chance, really.”

The spot of land where the first Australian Grovers settled, next to a beach, is now a park, but the Camp Meeting Association still survives there, although it isn’t the dominating presence it is here.

The Australian Ocean Grove was originally a dry town, under a covenant that is still sometimes cited when someone wants to prevent a business from acquiring a license to sell liquor. Still, alcohol is now served in that town’s restaurants and bars, and Barber said the local coffee shop, The Olive Pit, just got a liquor license as well.

That’s not the only difference between here and there. Barber said the beach area there has no sidewalks and no boardwalk, just dunes. The town has two business districts with a total of 60 or 70 shops, plus there is a big shopping mall. A second mall is in the works, he said.

Ocean Grove, Australia, has about 12,000 residents now, but Barber expects it to grow to 25,000 in the next 15 years “because there’s a growth area at the north that’s developing.” Bishop told him that our Ocean Grove has between 5,800 and 6,000 people, but that our population can swell to as many as 21,000 on a busy weekend, counting day trippers and hotel guests. (Hetfield said we have about 500 hotel rooms now.)

Mayor Randy Bishop of Ocean Grove gets the low-down from Alan Barber of Ocean Grove

Barber told Randy Bishop (left) that The Barbaric Bean reminded him of The Olive Pit in Australia. One difference: The Olive Pit just got a liquor license.

Barber was especially impressed by our Great Auditorium, with its seating capacity of 6,500. He said the only performance space in his Ocean Grove is in a little place called The Piping Hot Chicken Shop, which features local blues bands and an occasional visiting band from Melbourne. Bishop wanted to know whether any of the street names in Australia matched those in our town, so we all started ticking off the names of our local streets — Lawrence, Cookman, Heck, Abbott… There was only one match: Ocean Grove, Australia, has an “Inskip,” Barber said.

According to Barber, his Ocean Grove has had a much harder time preserving its historic buildings. Development “is almost a free-for-all at the moment,” he said. People are leveling older structures and building “square boxes,” and there is no historical protection under the law. He said there was a local uprising that managed to keep a McDonald’s from moving in, but the town has allowed a KFC and a couple of smaller chain businesses.

As darkness was falling, Barber caught a train back to New York. He flies home to Australia on Thursday. He invited us to come and visit any time.

Oh, but here is a coincidence. Barber told us that while he was visiting here, the president of our Camp Meeting Association, Dale Whilden, and his family just happened to be visiting Ocean Grove, Australia. Barber said he was told the Whildens had dropped by his newspaper’s office to say hello.

If you want to read Barber’s newspaper, go to http://www.oceangrovevoice.com.

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By Charles Layton

Although we have our disagreements, the commenters on Blogfinger are, by and large, well-behaved. We editors don’t receive nearly as many seething pathological outbursts as we used to.

That’s because, early on, we decided not to go that way. We didn’t want a website that was rude, crude and strewn with name-calling, as some Internet sites are. So we established a policy about comments and posted it under the “Policies” tab at the top of this page.

Some people ignored our policy and kept trying to post abusive outbursts anyway. A few of these comments had the tone of a child’s temper tantrum. Some were studded with strings of WORDS IN ALL CAPS – the typographical equivalent of screaming — and spiked with a RIDICULOUS EXCESS!!!!!! OF EXCLAMATION POINTS!!!!!! — also the equivalent of screaming. Some of these submissions looked like they’d been written by a person with Tourette syndrome.

When we didn’t post these abusive comments and pointed out to the writer that they violated our standards, the writer would occasionally respond with YET! ANOTHER! INDIGNANT! OUTBURST!

We get fewer of such comments now. Most readers seem to have learned the rules, or else they’ve given up and taken their anger elsewhere.

But I’ve just read an article in the July issue of Scientific American with the title “Why Is Everyone on the Internet So Angry?” The article attempts to explain the frequency of uncivil comments online. It asserts that such behavior is addictive for many people — they go online looking for opportunities to vent their spleen. 

The article offers several explanations for the phenomenon, some of them obvious.

First, commenters are often anonymous and thus can’t be held accountable for their rudeness.

Second, the objects of their abuse are at a distance. Again, it’s a matter of non-accountability.

Third, Art Markman, a professor of psychology at the University of Texas, observes that it’s easier to be nasty in writing than in speech. When you’re having a conversation in person, Markham says, “Even if you get angry, people are talking back and forth and so eventually you have to calm down and listen so you can have a conversation.” Not so on the Internet.

Finally, the magazine quotes Edward Wasserman, a professor of  journalistic ethics at Washington and Lee University. He cites bad examples set by the media. “Mainstream media have made a fortune teaching people the wrong ways to talk to each other.” From what they see on TV, Wasserman says, some people “conclude that rage is the political vernacular, that this is how public ideas are talked about.”

According to Markham, “It’s valuable for all sides of an argument to be heard. But it’s not valuable for there to be personal attacks, or to have messages with an extremely angry tone… If on a website comments are left up that are making personal attacks in the nastiest way, you’re sending the message that this is acceptable human behavior.”

That is why rage on the Internet is bad for the soul. It signals to people that a screaming tantrum is an acceptable method of persuasion. And that’s one reason we don’t condone it here on Blogfinger. Another reason is that we just don’t think most people in Ocean Grove want that style of discourse on their local blog. 

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Dr. John. If he don’t do it, nobody else will.

By Charles Layton

Now that we’ve been slammed hard by a hurricane, we have something in common with New Orleans.

We already shared a few common traits. Both our towns sit next to large bodies of water, and both have lots of gay people. In both towns, for some reason, people like to walk down the middle of the street.

But the contrasts are more striking. New Orleans doesn’t have a beach. Ocean Grove didn’t invent jazz. New Orleans is famous for masked Zulus in feathered headdresses riding on Mardi Gras floats. Ocean Grove has auditorium ushers marching in the 4th of July parade in sneakers and khaki shorts.

We Ocean Grovers call our town God’s Square Mile, whereas the people of New Orleans . . . well, they march to a different drummer.

The hurricane

New Orleans has a mixed drink called a “hurricane,” an industrial-strength amalgam of rum, fruit juice and who knows what else — grenadine or some such thing. You buy one of these in most any bar in the Vieux Carré and then you go carousing down Bourbon Street, openly and unregenerately slurping. When your big “hurricane glass” is empty, you just veer into another bar and say, “Fill ‘er up.” It’s not only legal to drink on the street in New Orleans, it’s pretty much encouraged. We Grovers do something similar, but with ice cream cones.

Here’s a song expressing the rakish, debauched attitude so commonly thought-of as New Orleanian. It is sung by the perfect ambassador for that delightfully dissolute city: Dr. John. The song, “Such a Night,” is based on a rather cute rationalization — “If I don’t do it somebody else will” — repeated over and over, as if the singer is trying to convince himself of its validity.

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Urns and benches stored at the North End. Paul Goldfinger photo.  Left click for large view.

By Paul Goldfinger

Ralph delCampo, the Chief Administrative Officer of the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association (OGCMA) was thrilled with the public’s response to his request for volunteers to help with the beachfront cleanup.  An estimated 700 people showed up including Ocean Grove townspeople and outsiders. He said that the response “exceeded our expectations” and that it was “gratifying”  to see how young and old were willing to work to accomplish 80% of the job. It was essential to recruit volunteers,because the CMA has only 14 employees.  The workers labored all day long and filled up 3 dumpsters with debris.  He noted that Ocean Grove is a very special town where “we have seen the best in people.”

delCampo was especially impressed with the young workers who appeared “like out of the woodwork” in response to announcements on social networking websites. He said, “What I saw spoke to me about the future of the greatest country in the world.”

What was accomplished was the respectful removal of a large number of heavy benches and urns which are memorials that are important to so many people.  Those objects had to be removed because heavy equipment would soon be brought in to dismantle the boardwalk. Huge amounts of sand were shoveled back onto the beach.  Bulldozers are moving that sand into mountains at the north and south ends of the Grove.

Boardwalk looks different afterwards with the removal of benches, urns and much of the sand. PG photo

The destruction of the boardwalk is not covered by insurance, so that will be a huge strain on the budget of the CMA. The boardwalk restoration “will cost millions.”

The benches and urns were moved to the North End near Spray Avenue and they looked a bit like a regiment of the Chinese Terracotta Army standing at attention next to Wesley Lake.

delCampo said that there was the possibility that a certain Christian ministry might be able to offer skilled framers to help take the boardwalk apart. That idea is still under consideration, but it would obviously be a huge help with the project.

He also thought that another Saturday event might be scheduled, but that idea is still being discussed. Further cleanup is required at the north end. There are more benches near the shuffleboard courts, and there is a lot of sand still in the streets in that area.

The question of “what’s next” is not yet answered.  This project is a work in progress, and the plans are being designed as they go.  If all goes well, delCampo said that the CMA ministry would like to reach out to help other towns in the area.

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Volunteers work to clear the Boardwalk Pavilion of sand and brush. Mary Walton photo.  Click left to see the enlarged versions of our photos.

By  Paul Goldfinger

A large crowd of volunteers assembled at 10:00 a.m. in the Bishop Janes Tabernacle for prayer and to organize a cleanup of the beachfront.   Mayor Randy Bishop brought the crowd up to date regarding a variety of official matters such as aid for victims and return of power. Three leaders of the CMA spoke.

President Dr. Dale Whilden expressed his thanks to God for sparing the lives of Ocean Grovers during that terrible storm. He led the group in prayer.  The group then sang the hymn “Great is Thy Faithfulness” by the late Ocean Grover Thomas Chisholm.  CMA leaders Ralph delCampo and Bill Bailey organized the workers.  They thanked the assembled volunteers and cautioned them to “be careful and be safe.”

At 11:00 a.m. Mr delCampo said, “Let’s get to work,” and the crowd walked together down to the Beach Pavilion where they met other volunteers. 15 “crew leaders” supervised their teams.  Mr. delCampo referred to the volunteers as “people power.” The strongest of the group set about moving heavy urns and benches onto trucks to be stored at the North End on the cement floor of the old cafeteria. There were many children and teenagers there helping.  People used rakes and shovels to move the omnipresent sand back onto the beach. Others were picking up all sorts of debris, dropping it into dumpsters, while yet others were patrolling the beach looking for garbage.

Mr. Bailey referred to the beach as a “debris field.”  The sand which has been piled at each end of the beach will have to be sifted before the sand can be moved back into place.

Dr. Dale Whilden, OGCMA President, addresses the assembled volunteers. PG photo

2 Guys from Ocean Grove:  CMA officials Bill Bailey (L) and Ralph delCampo. PG photo

15 team leaders are introduced. PG photo

Moving benches is a high priority during the cleanup.  Mary Walton photo

Sand shovelers love their work. PG photo

Unearthing a mystery object. By Mary Walton

Heavy lifting on the boards. Mary Walton photo

Kyle Wanamaker, 13,  of New York City helps out while in town with his Dad to check up on his Grover Grandpa. Mary Walton photo

Ashley Columbo (L) and McKenzie O’Toole share the load. PG photo

Rebecca of Ocean Grove and North Plainfield has a brush with dirt. PG photo

A group of college friends from Ocean and Tinton Falls help gather stuff on the beach. It sure beats wild parties. PG photo

OG EMS standing by: Karen Adams (L) and Michelle Davidson. PG photo

Marc, Nicholas and Debbie Marini of Ocean Grove join the fun. Mary Walton photo

SOUNDTRACK:   John Pizzarelli, Jr.

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