Saturday, September 13, 2008

Jersey Shore Memories (Part II)

Here is the promised second entry about my New Jersey visit last weekend, with lots (too many) pictures.

The beach in Sea Bright, N.J., Sept. 6, 2008 on a foggy day ahead of a stormy afternoon from Tropical Storm Hanna as the ocean started to get rough.

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I will post the pictures from my trip last weekend to New Jersey in chronological order.

September 5, 2008

Just starting out here in Washington, D.C., heading up 16th St., NW, at the intersection of Allison St., NW (yes, three syllable "A"), two blocks north of Upshur St., NW ...

...where Flippo once ran a cozy gay-themed bed and breakfast. That's a good plush hippo. (Just kidding.)

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Approaching Baltimore Singularity ...



"Did You Find Sanctuary?"

"There is no sanctuary."

Re. the pictures from my dad's jeep, yes, those are smudges on the windshield of smeared insects that encountered the vehicle as he drove up I-95 from Florida to D.C.

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Rushing through the Fort McHenry Tunnel, Baltimore, Maryland, Sept. 5, 2008 ...

Oooooohhhhhhhhhhhmmmmmmmmmmmmm....

Did you ever see the scary 1971 sci-fi dystopian movie THX 1138 (directed by a young George Lucas) with the tunnel chase scene? Here is a YouTube clip of it:
This chase scene was filmed, I believe, in the Caldecott Tunnel in Oakland, Calif.

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The Port of Baltimore!

RO/RO! RO/RO! (That's Roll On/Roll Off)

Say, where IS Helen Delich Bentley anyway??

When I ride past the Port of Baltimore, I expect to see her, or at least a picture of her -- after all, the port was renamed for her.

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Approaching New Jersey on the Delaware Memorial Bridge ...

It's regularly backed up on the approach to the bridge these days as that approach is under heavy construction.

From the bridge looking south, you can see far in the distance the looming cooling tower of the Salem / Hope Creek Nuclear Generating Stations (it's plural because there are three reactors in all) in Lower Alloways Creek Township, N.J. (I love that name.)

(As an aside, I wrote a big report at work on nuclear safety culture using the S/HC complex as my case study, no thanks to the total non-cooperation of PSEG Nuclear, and only made possible by a former site operations VP who kindly cooperated.)

Looking north, on a clear day, you can actually see the ginormous Philadelphia skyline about 25 miles up the Delaware River.

This is not a view from the bridge but rather an image I got off the internet.

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The Dolphin Diner in Burlington, N.J., along Rt. 130.

We didn't take the New Jersey Turnpike but rather I-295, and we promptly got lost -- in our own home state -- somewhere near Camden, almost ended up in downtown Philadelphia, except my dad swung across four lanes of busy traffic -- horns blaring from other cars --to an exit and eventually ended up on Rt. 130 heading toward Trenton.

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A tree and an old farm silo in a field along Rt. 130, Mansfield Township, Burlington County, N.J., (not to be confused with Mansfield Township, Warren County, N.J.), Sept. 5, 2008.

By the way, that distant line of high clouds was actually the periphery of Tropical Storm Hanna that was moving up the coast and figured into my weekend.

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Entering Upper Freehold Township along I-195 in New Jersey, Sept. 5, 2008. My dad lived in Upper Freehold Township in his house in the forest -- see below -- from Jan. 1981 - Jan. 1993.

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Just a glimpse of the past ...

Here is the log cabin house my dad had built and that he lived in from Jan. 1981 - Jan. 1993, when he left New Jersey for good (though he came back in July 1993 for grandpa's funeral and again Memorial Day weekend 1994).

This house is STILL on a dirt road. It's address has changed many times over the years but it is now 25 Stone Hill Road, Upper Freehold Township, N.J.

Oooooh, the things that happened in that house ... many not good.

One of my favorite things, though, was the time in early April 1982 when I was 12 when my (paternal) grandmother stayed overnight -- she lived 25 miles away in Long Branch, N.J. -- on a stormy night and we watched the 1973 psychological thriller movie starring, yes, Elizabeth Taylor called Night Watch.

I remember after the movie, turning the lights out and opening the curtains -- my dad was out, my grandfather, who was also staying over, was already asleep in the other room -- and watching the black bare trees (mostly chestnut oaks) silhouetted on the charcoal gray night sky swaying in the wind as rain lashed the windows and there was even a flicker of lightning.

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Below: Stone Hill as seen from the nearby Rt. 524 with the two transmission towers atop it.

This is the hill atop which my dad lived in his log cabin house for which he was so well known. The two microwave towers belong, I thought, to MCI. The angle and resolution of this picture make it look like there is only one tower but there were actually two -- a tall one almost 200 feet high and a shorter, squatter one. They used to have directional microwave dishes on them but no longer, so the towers actually look sort of beheaded.

I think -- but never was up there so I can't prove -- that from the top of the tall one on a clear day, you could probably see the 35 miles to the northeast to the skyscrapers of Manhattan (New York City).

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Riding along Rt. 537 through Freehold (not Upper Freehold) Township heading toward the Jersey shore. In this image looking south across a field, you can see the high cirrus clouds from the edge of T.S. Hanna. The lower cumulus clouds are actually part of the "tropical envelope" of the storm moving in from the south and southeast off the Atlantic Ocean.

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To the Manor not born ...

Here is The Manor, a nursing home in Freehold, N.J., where my paternal grandfather spent the last two years or so of his life until he died in July 1993 (five years after my grandmother died and HE was the big hypochondriac).

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W. Main Street (still Rt. 537, which runs across Monmouth County), Freehold, N.J., Sept. 5, 2008

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The Ocean Court Motel in Long Branch, N.J., right along the beach, Sept. 5, 2008. In retrospect, we should have stayed here rather than the Holiday Inn Express in W. Long Branch, N.J.

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A public beach in Long Branch, N.J. The beach is so much wider up and down the entire length of Monmouth County than in the 1970s and 1980s, esp. between Long Branch and Sea Bright thanks to a massive (indeed, supposedly the world's largest volumetric ever) Army Corps of Engineers beach replenishment project from 12 years ago that periodically needs to "renourishment," which is what this page is talking about.

You have to pay to go on the beach in most New Jersey, though not after Labor Day. New Jersey also allows private ownership ON the beach up to the mean high tide mark.

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The Pier Village boardwalk area development, Long Branch, N.J., Sept. 5, 2008. This is entirely new, replacing what had been the previous, much more quintessentially Jersey shore boardwalk with video arcades, ice cream shops, fortune-telling places, etc. It's called "Pier Village" in honor of the pier that USED to be there but that was actually finally taken down.

There once was a "haunted mansion" on the old pier but the whole thing went up in a spectacular, probably insurance-related fire in 1988 and the area was pretty much a sad ghost town in the early 1990s.

Today it is all much more expensive and "upscale" in that pseudo-opulent corporate-chain kind of way.

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Here is my dad at the outdoor part of an overpriced restaurant called The Avenue, Long Branch, N.J., Sept. 5, 2008.

I figured we'd have one nice dinner while on our short weekend trip, but, alas, The Avenue is not the place to go for that. We ended up spending (with tip) about $108 and it was not worth it.

The theme of the weekend was crappy service three times. This was the first of those three times. The second was at McLoone's (see below) and the third at this overpriced, supersized Greek diner in Bordentown, N.J., on Sunday.

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Sept. 6, 2008

The following pictures were taken the next day, Sept. 6, 2008, the day of my dad's 50th high school reunion -- the reason we went to New Jersey, though I did not go with him for that; also, the day Tropical Storm Hanna came through; and, coincidentally, the 29th anniversary of Hurricane David's passage up the mid-Atlantic shore.

The view along Ocean Ave., Monmouth Beach, N.J., Sept. 6, 2008. This is the famous seawall that runs between Long Branch and Sea Bright for about 4 miles. (Monmouth Beach is located between the two other towns.) The Jersey coast is legendary for the centuries of beach mismanagement that ended up with this fortress like appearance. However, the above-mentioned beach replenishment project means that there is a fairly wide beach on the other side of this wall, not the ocean crashing into the rocks, as used to be the case.

Of course, if we get some serious global warming-related sea level rise, the ocean will be back there (and more) soon enough.

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Walking onto the beach, Sea Bright, N.J., Sept. 6, 2008

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Crashing surf, Sea Bright, N.J., Sept. 6, 2008

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Yes, I already posted this picture but I'm posting it again. It's me on the beach in Sea Bright, N.J., Sept. 6, 2008

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Palm trees on the Jersey shore ...

No, palm trees do not grow naturally in New Jersey, they have to be transplanted there and can grow perhaps 8 months of the year (though here in D.C. with our always too warm and blah nothing climate, they might be able to survive most of the year here, certainly the sable palms). I think these are queen palms. (I'm not very good at identifying tree species outside the mid-Atlantic.)

When the beach replenishment project gave businesses such as Donovan's Reef in Sea Bright all this new beach room, they did what any sensible beach-side bar-restaurant business would do: they spent tens of thousands of dollars transplanting 15 to 20 foot high palm trees for tiki bar purposes.

The trees either are removed before winter or they are left there to mostly die and the businesses once again spend tens of thousands of dollars on replacing the palm trees. Interesting business model.

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More palm trees at what used to be Edgewater Beach Club but is now Water's Edge Beach Club next to where my Tradewinds Beach Club used to be but is no longer.

These are actually coconut palms, which REALLY do not grow in a New Jersey climate.

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How quintessentially Jersey shore is this picture: inappropriately placed palm trees, a beach chair on a "private beach," and a big pile of sand to fend off the encroaching ocean.

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Reposted from previous entry: my dad walking along the beach as a bigger wave washed farther onto the beach, Sea Bright, N.J., Sept. 6, 2008.

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My dad and two other people on the beach. The ocean was beginning to get rough. It was very foggy. (This is why I didn't see the Ambrose Light -- see above entry -- was no more.)

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Below: This is where Trade Winds Beach Club USED to be. Unfortunately, I can't find any stock internet images of the beach club. I have some old photographs that I could scan but that is a bit involved and I don't have a scanner, obviously, at home.

Tradewinds Beach Club -- which stretched back to the 1930s, although the "new" part was built in 1975 and a full cabana cost only $600 for the summer (today a comparable place at Water's Edge or Drift Wood would cost $11,000 and there is a big wait) -- was stupidly knocked down and replaced with these shitty, still unoccupied private beach houses on "Trade Winds Lane." Boo. I'm sure the developer and the former owner made a ton of money. They can go to hell.

It's hard to overstate how different this area used to look. Essentially, those rocks in the above image mark the edge of what had been a jetty (well, technically, a "groin") that is now buried under all that new Army Corps of Engineers-pumped sand. The spot where my dad is used to be the small beach -- ridiculously dubbed "Little Hawaii" -- on the other side of the jetty since that was the part that was robbed of the littoral flow that paralleled the shoreline (running south-to-north -- hence the hook shape of Sandy Hook to the north of here).

As shown in this aerial picture of the Jersey shore between Asbury Park and Deal (the dump and the SUPER-DUPER rich towns, respectively, south of Long Branch), groin (jetty) fields interrupt the littoral flow -- which on the upper Jersey shore is to the north or toward you in this image -- is and so sand gathers on the south side of the groins to make a beach while the north side is robbed.

It's what is known as robbing Peter to Paul.

The big conceptual break - through, as it were, in the Corps beach replenishment project was to "notch" the groins (as pictured here) to allow the littoral flow to move unimpeded.

Of course, if you're going to notch the groins, why not just remove them entirely??

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Below: another image from the top of the sea wall. The top image to this entry shows the view if you look to right (east). It used to be the case that there was no beach at all, let alone an attempted dune restoration, just the ocean.

It's a far better beach management system these days. Of course, I don't think the ocean and its beach eco-system really needs to be "managed" by man.

Yes, that's my dad in the picture on the sea wall. (The current sea wall itself dates back to the 1950s, I think.)

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Famed Ichabods, Sea Bright, N.J., Sept. 6, 2008. We should've gone there instead of The Avenue.

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"So ferry 'cross the M New Jersey / and always take me there/ The place I love ..."
--Gerry and the Pacemakers

A little boat on the Shrewsbury River, which is the west side of Sea Bright and forms the peninsula stretching from Monmouth Beach.

This is actually the Sea Bright Bridge that leads to Rumson Road in Rumson (almost as super-duper rich as Deal). It should not be confused with the Rt. 36 bridge a few miles to the north (shown in that aerial picture at the base of the Sandy Hook peninsula).

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Thereafter, we went to Rumson -- where my childhood best friend Jonathan used to live -- and visited my dad's now 83-year old friend Joe M. He used to work with Joe at the New Jersey Dept. of Transportation in the 1970s and 1980s.

Joe has five daughters, all grown up, two living in Seattle, where he goes frequently. His wife -- their mother -- died suddenly around 1975, leaving him to raise the girls (his youngest was about 6 at the time). Joe has also had a lot of heart issues but he seems to be doing fine.

Joe -- whose stock phrases are "BOOM!" and "ZOOM!" -- actually lived in Washington, D.C., in the Dupont gayborhood by New Hampshire Ave. and R St., NW, LOOOOONG before it became the gayborhood -- in 1949 and 1950 when he was attending GWU law school when he was in his mid-20s.

He remembers seeing Pres. Truman walking about.

I asked Joe if he recalled what was at 17th and R and 17th and Church St., NW, but he didn't remember.

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This is a blurry image of my dad playing the 60+ year old piano in Joe's house.

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Highland Ave., Rumson, N.J., Sept. 6, 2008, as seen from Joe's driveway.

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HERE is the house I grew up in in New Jersey:

368 Kirby Ave., Long Branch, N.J., Sept. 6, 2008

This is the house my paternal grandfather had built (with money he won off illegal betting on horses) circa 1955. My grandparents and (on and off) my dad lived there from 1955 - Jan. 1981, whereupon my dad moved to his log cabin house (see above) and my grandparents to Oceanpointe Tower on Pavillion Ave. in Long Branch on the ocean.

There used to be a huge Norway maple in the front yard where the smaller dogwood and the flag pole are located. That tree died -- or was cut down -- in Jan. 1988, the same month my grandmother died.

The "T" shaped door window stood for the first letter in our last name. Not only is that still there, but most of the yew bushes around the house are still there, just larger. In fact, the house pretty much looks identical even after 28 years.

In the back, visible just poking above the house (directly over the main kitchen window) is the top of a tree. That is a birch tree that's now about 25 feet tall now. I transplanted it from my dad's Upper Freehold Township property in late 1979 (before he even had the house built) when it was only about 3 feet tall.

There is another Norway maple tree (just to the left of the view) that my grandmother planted for her younger son -- my dad's younger brother and for whom I was named -- when he died at age 19 in March 1963. That tree, unfortunately, isn't doing too well. Maybe it and I are going to die at the same time.

Here is an old picture of wee Regulus in Aug. 1974 when he was just 4 years old running around in the backyard of the house at 368 Kirby Ave. on a hot summer day in a sprinkler. The front yard Norway maple is visible poking up above the roof.

I can't tell you how often I dream of that house: trying to get into it but unable to.

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The house at 465 Brighton Ave., Long Branch, N.J., Sept. 6, 2008. My grandparents, my dad and his younger brother lived in that house from 1951 - 1958. My dad would have been 10 to 18 years old.

Here is a picture of my dad at about age 16 or 17 looking like James Dean, my grandparents, and his younger brother who was about 14 or 15 years old. (He had cerebral palsy and died at age 19.)

I've posted this picture before on my Arcturus blog, but I mislabeled the date. It is from circa Christmas 1957 or 1958, not 1961, and was taken in the above-pictured house on Brighton Ave.

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This is the house next door at 449 Brighton Ave., Long Branch, N.J., Sept. 6, 2008. This is where my grandmother's older sister, Katherine (but she went by "Kathleen," so I just say my great Aunt Kathleen) lived most of her life. She was the second of the Acerra children (see "Jersey Shore Memories (Part I)" entry).

Aunt Kathleen ended up the last few years of her life in, of all places, Las Vegas. She died on May 26, 1997 just two months after her 90th birthday. She ended up in Las Vegas because her grandson Donny, an ex-Marine, got a job in security in a big casino there (not sure which one).

Aunt Kathleen's husband Dominic died in the 1960s (I never knew him). She had three daughters, one who died as a baby. The other two were my cousins Betty Lu, who died of cancer in Nov. 1992 and had no children, and Kathleen, who had five children (including Donny). I just discovered that this Kathleen -- "Ayeen" we called her -- died in June 2004. I didn't even know. She had health problems, including weighing at times upwards of 500 pounds and smoking over 3 packs of cigarettes a day.

Ayeen's youngest daughter, called "Boo" was a tomboy growing up (just sayin'). We used to spend a lot of time together. I always ended up there on New Years Eve in their house on Rumson Road in Little Silver, which the town tore down soon after they moved out circa 1995. Boo is in Las Vegas now.

I used to go to Aunt Kathleen's house (typically but not always on Friday nights) with my grandparents and watch TV -- including the Love Boat, Fantasy Island, and Charlie's Angels. Then there was the Rockford Files and its opening-theme that I loved (!) -- with Betty Lu. She lived at home. She had a German shepherd named Gretchen. Not a particularly pet-able dog, mean in fact, totally unlike my bull mastiff, Borky.

Aunt Kathleen had a piano in the front living room. I would love on rainy nights to hit a key and listen to it fade off as the swooshing sound of passing car's tires on the wet roadway slowly faded to inaudibility.

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There are some more photos -- including of Aunt Babe and Uncle Freddie -- that I'd like to post but I think I'm going to end this entry right now and may post them in a supplemental entry. I already mentioned them in my Part I entry.

As for Saturday night, while my dad was at his reunion, I actually took a long walk from the Pier Village area -- after a particularly lousy serviced dinner (I didn't leave a tip) at McLoone's Pier House in Long Branch -- via Kirby Ave. all the way (on a gusty, rainy night) back to the Holiday Inn Express. That's about a 6 mile walk.

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I was reminded of the lyrics to Sinatra's Summer Wind (one of my favorite songs): "The world was new, beneath a blue - umbrella sky..."

--Regulus

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

Wow. Sounds like a great trip. Didn't we meet your friend Jonathan at Ichabod's last summer?

Anonymous said...

Wow. Sounds like a great trip. Didn't we meet your friend Jonathan at Ichabod's last summer?

Regulus said...

Yes, we did.

Unknown said...

Thanks for the pictures. Thanks for the post. It has feeling.

I'm mildly annoyed that I didn't know your 'itenerary'. I could have met you along the way, apparently! Just to say hi!

You ate at Mastori's in Bordentown, no? I would have told you not to go there. The pizza joint across from the 'adult bookstore' serves much better food.

fifi said...

What an enormous post! So much to see.
For now I just wish to comment on the litle white house. I have a little white house in my psyche also, where I live with the love of my life.
I've never actually been there, mind. I made it up.

HOW ever, you reminded me that i said I would photograph some of the uglier bits of sydney. I did make an attempt, but the worst bits I just could help hiding my eyes. I will try harder next time. The bits i object to are those mass "chain-store" developments which consume little older areas which had a bit of authenticity and life.

see you.

Regulus said...

Bryan -- Yes, that was Mastori's. I couldn't remember the name. I won't be going there again.

I thought of you, by the way, when I saw the small motels along Rt. 130 in Bordentown, N.J.

Fifi -- Please don't traipse around the nether regions of Sydney taking pictures on my account! That's not what I meant! I just meant I've only seen nice things about Sydney and wondered if it in fact had "nether regions." I'm sure it does -- virtually every city (except Salt Lake City, a.k.a. Mormon Central, does).

I'm actually more interested in those Sydney baths in the surf, but the Flickr link you sent me gave me a good idea of them.

As for the house in Long Branch, N.J., that's where I grew up more or less until I was 10 years old. So it was very real in that sense for those years. Now it's lost to memory.

fifi said...

no, I am driving through those areas anyway, but i can't always stop! yes it has nether regions that look really empty and hollow and like they would blow away.


I have just had one of those days driving on through. I drove 100km today- wow, across town and back.

Regulus said...

100km of driving around Sydney? Sounds interesting ... nice ...wish I coulda been there in the car with you enjoying Sydney sights with a local tour guide such as yourself!

fifi said...

It was rather tedious. Lots of tunnels, and I was speeding a lot of it. Motorways, then plunging into the blinding emptiness of the burbs. Absolutely no history whatsoever, hence no fine commentary. Ick.

i did happen upon a little shopping centre that was so peaceful and friendly it made my head buzz.

I find the endless suburbs profoundly disturbing in their nothingness, and having lived there for a time in my youth, the emptiness is not a mere observation. I took a couple of pictures, I am really busy but hopefully will download them soon.