Jersey Girls

I am reading Mark Lender’s and Garry Stone’s outstanding book Fatal Sunday: George Washington, the Monmouth Campaign, and the Politics of Battle (University of Oklahoma Press, 2016).  In 2017, the book was a finalist for the George Washington Book Prize.

Lender

In the authors’ discussion of Brigadier General Charles Scott’s march through Princeton on June 24, 1778, they write:

As it marched, Scott’s column found the public enthusiastic about the unfolding campaign; there was a perception that affairs were building toward a climax.  As the troops passed through Princeton–a town that suffered its share of pillage in 1776 and 1777–residents gave the soldiery a warm welcome.  As Private Joseph Plumb recalled, they dealt out ‘”toddy” to the men as they marched by, “which caused the detachment to move slowly at this place.”  Cheerful young ladies watched “the noble exhibition of a thousand half-starved and three-quarters naked soldiers pass in review.”  In this, the private’s memory lapsed a bit: the troops were actually in reasonably good condition.  But he remembered the “ladies” well enough.  “I declare that I never before or since saw more beauty,” he wrote.  “They were all beautiful.”  With sectional loyalty, the Connecticut soldier allowed that “Yankee ladies” were perhaps smarter, but he insisted that “New Jersey and Pennsylvania ladies” were “handsome, the most so of any in the United States.”  We can never know if his comrades shared his infatuation, but his paean to the Princeton belles suggests that on that evening, they were as much concerned with Venus as with Mars.”

Lender and Stone source this paragraph with footnote 54.    Here is what that footnote says:

J.P. Martin, Yankee Doodle, 123.  Joseph Plumb Martin’s rhapsody on Jersey girls predates that of Tom Waits by two centures.  And for those mystified by the reference, Tom Waits released the popular song “Jersey Girl” in 1980 on his Heartattack and Vine album; the Bruce Springsteen cover of 1981 made it even more popular.  Waits was clearly of the same opinion  as Private Martin.

To fellow Jersey boys Lender and Stone:  Thanks for making my Saturday afternoon with that footnote!

“Down the shore everything’s all right.”

Martin Joseph

 

Asbury Park in November

asbury-park-convention-hall-exterior-jerry-fornarotto

Reporter Emily Wax-Thibodeaux took her five-year-olds to Springsteen’s old haunt on the Jersey story.  She tells about the visit in a piece at the Washington Post.  Here is a taste:

The Convention Hall’s Grand Arcade, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, was another favorite family destination. The once-shuttered building is now open year-round and houses an artisan marketplace, where Gabby and Lincoln tried on mermaid outfits and flip-flops while I drank another round of gourmet coffee at the Asbury Park Roastery and bought organic, locally made soap at one of my all-time favorite shops, Big Spoon Little Spoon Naturals.

But for the kids, Asbury’s main draw is the Silverball Museum , with its row after row of vintage pinball machines, some dating to the 1930s. Its huge collection of arcade games, which visitors are invited to play, encompasses ’80s favorites like Pac-Man and Skee-Ball as well. The arcade’s tall stools are perfect for toddlers and preschoolers, and there are coin-operated rides out front, including two cars, a small train and a purple dinosaur.

As I watched my kids play the retro pinball machines, I felt happy for Asbury, a place that lived for so long only in my memories. Now it would be in my children’s memories, too.

Read the entire piece here.  I need to get back down to Asbury Park!

 

 

Chinatown at the Jersey Shore

Bradley

I am always a sucker for a good story from New Jersey shore history.  Over at Atlas Obscura, Eveline Chao tells the story of how Chinese immigrants living in New York formed a neighborhood at Bradley Beach.  This one hit home because the grandmother of a high school friend had a house at Bradley Beach and I remember spending a few summer weekends there.

Here is a taste:

ONE DAY IN 1941, LEE Ng Shee went for a stroll in Bradley Beach, New Jersey. She was the wife of a prominent merchant in New York City Chinatown named Lee B. Lok, who in 1891 had established Quong Yuen Shing & Company, a general store on Mott Street. The family liked to spend their summers on the Jersey Shore, though it was a challenge to find landlords who would rent to nonwhites. Lee Ng Shee was passing a house on Newark Avenue, stepping carefully on her bound feet, when a woman came out on the porch. “Are you looking for a house?” the woman called out. “Would you like to buy this one?”

Lee knew a deal when she heard one. “Two thousand dollars later, Lee B. Lok and family were ensconced in a summer bungalow of their very own in the village where twenty years before they would have been lucky to be able to rent some rooms over a store,” wrote Bruce Edward Hall in his Chinatown memoir Tea That Burns.

Lee’s lucky break paved the way for more Chinatown families. Others bought along the same street, and soon, Newark Avenue became an equivalent to Mott Street in Manhattan; a mini, parallel Chinatown on the Jersey Shore. Jokingly, they dubbed the area Chinatown-by-the-Sea. Other old-timers call it “the Chinese Riviera.”

While the Lees blazed the path of home ownership, the story of how Chinatown families started renting in Bradley goes much farther back. In 1877, the minister of a rural parish in Sherman, Pennsylvania asked his congregation to open their homes to poor children from New York City. Tuberculosis was endemic in the city’s overcrowded tenements, and fresh air was believed to help with respiratory ailments.

Read the rest here.

Chris Christie’s Sports Talk Radio Debut

Chris Christie is being considered as a replacement for Mike Francesa on WFAN, the original (and best) sports talk radio show in the country.  (Francesa is leaving the show soon.  Let’s home he reconnects with his old partner Chris “Mad Dog” Russo).

In light of Christie’s recent visit to Island Beach State Park, one might argue that today may not have been the best time to make his sports radio debut.  But that did not stop Christie.  He showed up with a Dallas Cowboys hat and a Knicks sweatshirt and was ready to talk sports.

Then came Mike from Montclair.  NJ.com reports:

Bruce Shows Up in Wildwood!

Bruce

Warning:  This is a total Jersey boy post.

Bruce Springsteen was just hanging out and walking the boardwalk in Wildwood this weekend.

This is from the Ocean City Patch:

The “Boss” is back. Well, actually, he never left.

Bruce Springsteen, who helped give the Jersey Shore some worldwide acclaim, showed he’s still a homebody by enjoying the amenities of the beach this Memorial Day weekend.

Springsteen lives in Colts Neck in Monmouth County, but he enjoyed a tram ride and just hanging out with locals at the Wildwood boardwalk and in Wildwood Crest on Thursday.

Springsteen is known for his world famous music, as well as writing about the Jersey Shore. He’s not known much for writing about the southern Jersey Shore, though he does have a song called “Atlantic City” that speaks to the resort’s decline.

Tony Deutsch, who authors a blog called “The Boardwalk Blog,” called the encounter part of “one of those days that happens once in a lifetime.”

He said he was at the Reges Oceanfront Resort in Wildwood Crest doing a “fiber optic internet conversion” when he received a text from one of his “inside sources” that Bruce was in town walking the boardwalk.

“So, I go to the DD on Pine Ave in Wildwood and I ask the kid there if he knew who Bruce Springsteen was. He said ‘Who?'” Deutsch wrote on his blog.

“So, I saw Gigi riding down the boardwalk on Gigi1, I stopped him and said ‘Hey Gigi I’m looking for Bruce Springsteen, and he said ‘Patrick contacted me and said he’s on the boardwalk. Do you know what he looks like?’

I said “Yes I do Gigi.”

Deutsch later found out that Springsteen had parked at Garfield and the Boardwalk. Springsteen was there with his car, hanging out and talking to people for two hours, and using the tram.

“So I parked and waited for the Boss. Then I saw Bruce walking down the boardwalk. I got out of my car and walked towards him and said ‘Hey Bruce can I get a pic with you?’ He said ‘Sure.’ “

People complimented Tony on the meeting, while others noted that he may be in conflict with his political views. Deutsch said he didn’t care.

“Don’t care about his political views…and I like his music..sooner or later you have to leave politics out of everything else,” he said.

Read the rest here.

Asbury Park Carousel for Sale

We haven’t done a Jersey Shore post in awhile here at The Way of Improvement Leads Home.  (Of course we mean the place, not the MTV reality show).   According to this article, the old Asbury Park, New Jersey carousel is for sale.  Head over to Ebay and make a bid.

Here is a taste:

Available for sale on eBay: An 1888 Charles Looff carousel, complete with 72 (replacement) fiberglass animals. Being sold as is. Buyer must pick up at an undisclosed location in New Jersey. Price: $250,000.

For those who love Asbury Park history, the eBay advertisementbrings back a flood of fond memories, of warm summer nights just off the boardwalk, with the smell of cotton candy in the air and a chance to ride the carousel and grab a brass ring, which entitled the bearer to a free spin on the merry-go-round. The spinning carousel, with its prancing horses and menagerie of more exotic animals, including giraffes, camels, goats and deer, was the centerpiece of the old Palace Amusements for more than 100 years. Three band organs played music to lure customers to come inside.

Read the rest here.

More Seaside Heights

I continue to be devastated by this.  A piece of New Jersey history (and my childhood) may be gone for good.

Here is a Facebook post from Kohr’s Frozen Custard:

What can we say? Our hearts are broken. Kohr’s Frozen Custard lost all 4 stands to yesterday’s fire.

Not only did we witness our business being taken from us, right before our eyes, we also witnessed our family’s history go up in smoke. Our hearts go out to all our neighbors, friends, and “family” that had to witness the same. Thankfully no lives were lost and nobody suffered serious injury.

Thank you to the firefighters that fought tirelessly to save what they could.

Finally, thank all of you for your thoughts, prayers, condolences, and well wishes.

Sincerely,
Bruce and Nancy Kohr

Here is some raw video from NBC-New York:

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Here is what’s left of the carousel at Funtown Pier:


Here are some of our past posts about Seaside Heights:

Seaside Heights: The Town That Fun Built

The Corporatization of Seaside Heights

Seaside Heights vs. Wildwood

Thirty Minutes of Unedited Footage From Seaside Heights, NJ–1985

Does Anyone Know Where I Can Get a Copy of This Concert Poster?

Fire on the Seaside Heights Boardwalk

First there was Sandy.  Now this:

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My childhood vacation destination can’t seem to catch a break.  The fire started at Kohr’s, my favorite custard stand on the boardwalk (and in the world).

So sad.