Saturday, September 8, 2012

More Trade Winds Beach Club and long ago New Jersey Family Photo-Reflections

Crashing waves as seen on a sunny but turbulent day in Aug. 1987 from the sea wall in Sea Bright looking to the north/northeast. On clear nights, you can easily see the lights of the south shore of Brooklyn and Queens and from the sea wall you could see the Manhattan skyline about 25 miles away. Frequently and long I gazed at them at night.

As I recall, the ocean was quite dirty that day. I even remember an Asbury Park Press headline from the month (maybe even that day): "Ocean Splashed With Trash." There was sewage and trash. This was toward the end of the era of unchecked dumping of semi-treated sewage offshore by New York City. The ocean had this almost purposeful-like way of cleaning itself by tossing the scum back onshore. The water quality there is significantly cleaner today.

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This entry is being posted on Saturday although I started it last night. It contains another set of pictures of the old Tradewinds Beach Club that was once located in Sea Bright, New Jersey, as well as other old ones that were taken when I was a young child, plus one of my mom way back when.

The turbulent Atlantic Ocean looking north from the edge of the "lanais" at Tradewinds Beach Club, Sea Bright, N.J., on that same day in Aug. 1987. I've posted this picture on this blog before on a few occasions.

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Tradewinds or Trade Winds?

Let me note here that I've been wondering if I should be spelling it as "Trade Winds" rather than "Tradewinds" as I have. I just have a strong sense that it was more often than not written out as the single word, although on the beach ID card images I am posting below -- from the 1986 and 1987 seasons -- it was clearly written as two words. Nevertheless, I'm going to stick with the one word spelling.

Here was the view looking south from the seawall on the beachside of Tradewinds Beach Club, Sea Bright, N.J., again on that same day in Aug. 1987. Of note, that seawall basically ran for about 10 miles along the shore from the south end of Long Branch to the base of Sandy Hook.

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This small collections of pictures are random ones that were taken at Tradewinds at various points in the 1970s and 1980s. Recall that the "new" part of the beach club existed from about 1975 (I vaguely recall 1976 as the first year it was open in the regular sense) while the older part that included what became the (wild and even legendary) night club dated back at least to the 1950s (though I understood it was even older, stretching back to the 1930s).

Tradewinds was one of a series of beach clubs along this part of the upper Jersey shore including super-rich Monmouth Beach Bath & Tennis Club; Driftwood; Edgewater; Peninsula House; Ship Ahoy; and others, not all of which exist anymore. There were even earlier ones stretching back into the late 19th Century era.

Here I am reposting one of the pictures Jonathan took in Nov. 2002 on that last, fateful visit to Tradewinds Beach Club in Sea Bright, N.J., shortly before it was razed and lost to history.

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I'm posting these images partly because I want this particular blog and these entries to be the first website that comes up if and when anyone carries out a Google image search for Tradewinds Beach Club. Of course, that's not too hard to do since there just aren't that many pictures online of the legendary old place.

And here is another one of Jonathan's 2002 pictures.

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This entry (or at least the Tradewinds part) joins the one I wrote ago two weeks ago and also features old photos that I scanned and converted into JPEG images. That previous entry actually included a series of scanned images of black-and-white photos taken by my childhood best friend Jonathan (or "Jon" as he prefers to be called) back in late 2002* shortly before the beach club was razed to make room for some shitty condos.

*I'm not entirely sure 2002 was the final year but I think it was so.

Reposted: Aerial view of the old Tradewinds Beach Club in Sea Bright, N.J., as seen in an old postcard circa 1985.

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Sea Bright is where I basically grew up in the summertime in the 1970s into the 1980s, although I actually lived in nearby Long Branch. This was many, many years before my life turned into its lifelong never-ending D.C. nightmare by way of frickin' Maryland.


This is a picture from August 1976 of my late paternal grandfather -- looking as ridiculous as he was unembarrassable and clueless, the obligatory mixed drink in hand, but here (amazingly since he constantly smoked) no cigarette. The lady next to him is my great Aunt Ann, a.k.a., "Aunt Bunny," the wife of my grandmother's younger brother, Jimmy.  This was outside our cabana at Tradewinds Beach Club, Sea Bright, N.J. I think she's still alive and pushing 90.

My grandparents used to travel with -- as they were always referred to jointly -- "Jimmy and Ann," including to Hawaii and Italy back in the 1970s.

Here is Aunt Bunny in our then-new cabana 21, Tradewinds Beach Club, Sea Bright, N.J., Aug. 1976. By the way, that nasty little plastic bar (in black and white) was to stay in the cabana for 12 years.

I know that both photos were taken in or about Aug. 1976 because the backs of both feature in an extremely faded blue ink a semi-circle of seven stars, the abbreviated '76, and the word "Bicentennial" in a horizontal line below the stars and encompassing the year. Above this in a totally non-descript sans serif font "AUG" is stamped, now barely visible after 36 years.

My grandfather tacked up the letters "Bare Foot Bar" over it -- a name I hated but the frickin' letters never fell off in all those years, even through all the rough winters when the place was locked up and abandoned (or vagrants might break in).

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A large wave rushes over the hump of sand onto the edge of the beach, prompting beachgoers to hurry back. This is the beach at Tradewinds Beach Club, Sea Bright, N.J., Aug. 1987. It doesn't look anything like this now because there was such a large beach replenishment project along this stretch of coastline in the early 1990s.

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Early in our time at Tradewinds Beach Club, i.e., back in the 1970s, my grandfather had lots of family members who were members or occasionl members. But the 1980s, it was just my grandparents and my Uncle Joey (another one of my grandmother's many younger brothers -- see below about the Acerra Brothers) and his wife, Rosemary. Joey and I despised one another and had terrible and ugly fights as I became a teeanger. My grandfather -- self-styled "self-made man" -- was forever on everyone's side BUT his immediate family. Oooh, and the fights and screaming that occurred. Everyone thought we were nuts. We were.


This picture is from summer 1977. It shows my grandmother (seated at table on right) and on the left from forward to back, my Aunt Babe, Uncle Joey, Aunt Rosemary, and Betty Lu (one of the two daughters of my grandmother's older sister Kathleen, and both of whom died in their 50s).  I have more to say about Aunt Babe and the Acerra children below in this entry.

As for the younger group farther down the row of cabanas, these were Jonathan's parents and their friends. They were New York yuppies before the term was coined. Actually, one couple was outright rich. I remember the guy (Bill Horeis) -- a tall, thin guy (who, now that I think about it, sort of reminded me a bit of Spock) -- tried to get me to read The New York Times weather section, pointing out it had a satellite image. We also took walks a few times on the seawall. His wife was named Lorraine.

Reposted: One of Jonathan's 2002 images of the northside row of cabanas including the top side where our cabana was located, Tradewinds Beach Club, Sea Bright, N.J.

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We also knew Joe and Dee Silvestri. Joe actually went to prison for a period of time because of his role in a self-parodying FBI sting operation involving politicians called "Abscam" back in the late 1970s / early 1980s. The following summer after he got out of prison, he made shirts for everyone with the words, "I KNOW ABSCAM JOE."

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I remember during a big fight once my grandmother screaming aloud about my grandfather, "DEE COULD SHIT ON THE FLOOR! LORRAINE COULD SHIT ON THE TABLE! JOE AND BILL WOULDN'T SAY ANYTHING. BUT THIS SON-OF-A-BITCH!"

Ha ha ha ha ... It never gets old.

Here was the interior of cabana 21 by August 1987 in what was my final full summer there. By that time, the place had become really dark and dingy (I didn't realize how much until I looked at this photo) and I was basically the only one going to the beach club. My grandfather was already in his hyper hypochondriacal mode, although it was my grandmother who would die -- from complications arising from surgery to remove ulcers, a surgery that would be unthinkable today -- five months later in Jan. 1988.

Here was my grandmother's Tradewinds (Trade Winds) Beach Club laminated ID card for the summer of 1986.

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My grandfather would continue on for another 5-1/2 years to July 1993, but by that point, my life was shifting to the D.C. area and my father was already in various parts of Florida, chasing after Janet and whatever else. We both basically abandoned him and he died alone in "The Manor" nursing home in Freehold, N.J.

Actually, that summer of 1987 was pretty good for me -- the last hurrah before everything really fell apart in early 1988 even as I graduated high school and went off (endlessly) into college. I spent a lot of time with my second cousin Donna, her now late/ex-husband Tony, and their then-two young boys, Anthony and Michael. They had the cabana next to this and I would frequently be invited to dinner. Then they'd drive me home the 4 miles to Long Branch to stay with my grandparents in their old folks apartment building on Pavilion Avenue.

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Here was my Tradewinds (Trade Winds) Beach Club laminated ID card for the summer of 1987. I was 17 years old. This picture came out extremely well -- I NEVER photograph well, not now and not back then. Rather, I usually come out looking like a leprechaun.

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Here is my Aunt Babe that I took four years ago to the day -- Sept. 7, 2008 -- in her house in West Long Branch, N.J. She was 95 years old at the time. I posted this picture in this entry. (Sorry for the crappy quality of the pictures -- my cellphone camera was a piece of crap.)

Aunt Babe is 99 years old and I am REALLY hoping that there is a 100th birthday party for her and to which I would be invited. Such a party would be in late January.

Here is another picture of Aunt Babe and myself, Sept. 7, 2008.

Aunt Babe is one of the surviving Acerra children. Her real name is Frances, although apparently her "real real" name which she didn't even know most of her life is Leonilda Frances. Her husband (Uncle Christie) died back in 1977 or '78. I vaguely remember him. She has two daughers, one of whom I am in touch with on an intermittent basis.

My grandmother was one of 16 children -- the Acerras. The above picture shows 15 of them* and their parents -- my great grandparents -- when they won an award for New Jersey's largest family on the occasion of  some event at Newark Airport in 1939 involving TWA.  I need to rescan this photo because the markings are a distraction but I can't find it tonight.

I vaguely remember my great grandmother (she died in 1977 at age 88). I have noted which ones are my grandmother, Aunt Babe, and Uncle Freddie.

*There are 15 children in that photo because one died at birth. Of the 15, I knew all of them except Tony (the oldest -- first in line behind the parents). I died in the 1940s of natural causes. All but three were boys and most of them went off to World War II -- and all of them returned and did things such as work for the water company, the gas company, and the electric company.

Of note, the Acerra brothers had an all-brothers baseball team that has gotten some attention over the years, most notably in this recent book, Brothers at Bat by Audrey G. Vernick. The book cover is shown at left.

Here they were in all their glory -- the Acerra Brothers baseball team. I recall this picture in the living room in our house on Kirby Avenue in Long Branch, N.J.

Here is another write up about the book and an event held at the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y., earlier this year on April 12.

Here is a picture from that event that features the remaining four children -- including Aunt Babe, Uncle Eddie, Uncle Freddie, and (in the wheelchair) Uncle Bubbie (Richard), and as well as the author Ms. Vernick at the Cooperstown event on April 12, 2012.



Here is a 3-1/2 minute silent clip on YouTube showing the Acerra Brothers playing baseball on a summer day probably in the mid to late 1930s in Long Branch, N.J. Honestly, I can't really recognize any of them. I'm not sure who filmed this. I can tell you that my grandfather used to film things frequently back in the 1930s with some now-antique recording camera.

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Needless to say, I have SCADS of second, third, and fourth cousins in New Jersey on this the Italian side of my family. However, I basically know none of them except the ones I knew in the 1970s. I'm only in touch with one relatively -- Babe's daugher Betty Ann (Elizabeth).

Even though I have this huge very extended family, my IMMEDIATE family now is just my parents. Recall I have no siblings and neither of my parents have siblings with children. My father's only sibling, a younger brother for whom I was named, died in March 1963 at age 19 from complications following experimental surgery to treat his worsening cerebral palsy. My grandmother never recovered emotionally from his death.

My mother has one sibling, also a younger brother, but he's basically gay and never married, his ugly and hateful "beard" notwithstanding. This is the Polish side of my family from South Amboy.

Here is a picture  that I've posted before on this blog of my dad when he was about 17 years old along with his brother (who was about 15 in this picture) and my grandparents. This was taken circa 1957 in their house on Cleveland Avenue in Long Branch, N.J.

And here was my immediate family in a picture I've posted before on this blog. It shows  my grandfather, my grandmother holding me, and my crazy father taken on July 2, 1972 at some (VFW?) event in Long Branch, N.J.

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Here was the last picture of my dad and me taken in Oct. 7, 2011 in Daytona Beach, Fla. I'm not exactly sure if / when I will be seeing him again after the last visit debacle.

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Here is one of my grandma and me in our house at 368 Kirby Avenue in Long Branch, New Jersey, on what I believe was the occasion of my 4th birthday, which would make it November 26, 1973. She wrote on the back of the card "Grandma Florence and Richard / Nov 1973."

Yes, I realize the physical photograph is in bad shape.

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This is a picture of me outside the military housing in Eatontown, N.J., in which my mom and Ray lived. This must have been taken in the summer of 1975, so I was 5 years old. They were already married at this point -- that happened in December 1974 -- and Ray was still stationed at Fort Monmouth, N.J. They would go to SHAPE in Belgium in January 1976 and I followed along, only to return in March 1976 and live with my grandparents and my father in the Kirby Avenue house in Long Branch, N.J.

BTW, that's my mom's old AMC Rambler parked behind me. I think it was a 1968 model, but I'm not sure. (The Rambler was manufactured by AMC at that time as as result of decisions made earlier that decade by, George Romney -- yes, Mitt Romney's father. Weird.)

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Here is a picture of my mom taken outside the Grand Union supermarket in Ocean Township, N.J., in September 1974. She was just 25 years old here.

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Here was another picture (which I've posted before on this blog) from that long ago day in September 1974 -- featuring my mom and me. I actually remember this picture being taken. I was 4 years old (almost 5). It was a very warm early September day and I remember being unhappy, even depressed, that I had to go to school -- which was actually some sort of day camp or pre-school.

Oh, yes, that was my dad's Karmann Ghia, which in the next few years he stripped down to nearly nothing. I'm not even sure how the car functioned. He would drop me off to school (Elberon Public School) in a car with no doors and no seats and I remember other kids laughing.

The car behind it was again my mom's Rambler.

Finally, and TOTALLY APROPOS of nothing, here is a picture that my friend Brian -- who lives as a high-powered gay attorney in New York City WITH the weekend house in Connecticut**-- took of me at the Hoover Dam in January 1997.

**You've come a long way from Glen Burnie, Brian, baby.

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OK, that's all for now. My Saturday night plans are sort of topsy-turvy but I think I will go to Stoney's at some point. Not sure if I can make it to the Old Ebbitt Grill for dinner like last Saturday night. In any event, my next blog update will probably not be until Tuesday or Wednesday night.

--Regulus

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