A blog about living in Aberdeen, New Jersey.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Local Red Cross Volunteer Assists Lakewood Victims

High winds that hit Monmouth County on Friday evening tore part of the roof off of the Peter Ward apartment building in Lakewood, leaving 62 residents to seek alternative housing. Half of them were transported by bus to Lakewood High School, where volunteers from the American Red Cross, Jersey Coast Chapter set up an emergency shelter to house victims overnight. My wife received a call around 10 pm Friday and was out all night handling shelter operations for the Red Cross. She got home around noon on Saturday.

The Lakewood Housing Authority expected roof repair workers to be on site on Saturday afternoon, with some sort of temporary fix in place on Sunday. Refer to the APP article on this for more details.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Staten Island Jug Band to Play at Espresso Joe's in Keyport

On Saturday evening, Espresso Joe's in Keyport will be hosting the Wahoo Skiffle Crazies Jug Band. Also appearing will be Michael Brett and Gerald Edward.


Over a 150 people showed up for tonight's Twilight Series event. We dropped in at Nemo's Restaurant for dinner and got back in time to see Wahoo Skiffle Crazies perform. What a treat! A beautiful night, great food, great music. Thanks, Sonny, for bringing such great music to our area.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

History: Professionals and Businessmen of Matawan, 1871

Below is the list of professionals and businessmen that appeared on page 2 of the 29 Jul 1871 edition of The Matawan Journal.

Business Cards

The Coffee House, Lock-port, NJ
Mrs. L. Brower, Proprietress
13 rooms yet vacant. Apply immediately. Five minutes walk from landing of steamer Matteawan. Elegantly shaded. Fine bathing.
By steamer, foot of Barclay Street, N. R.
Note: Members of the Keyport Forum at Topix say that Lockport is a section of Keyport, New Jersey. It apparently includes Cedar Street and Walnut Street at the eastern end of First Street. Barclay Street may no longer exist or has changed its name. The Keyport Fire Department's history page says one of its fire companies was established in Lockport in 1893. You won't find much about Lockport in Google. The proprietress could be Louisa Brower, wife of Johnson Brower, both living in Keyport in the 1870 Federal Census. She was born about 1828. He was a shoemaker.

George W Clarke
Tailor, One door above the M. E. Church, Main Street, Matawan
Note: The 1870 Federal Census shows George W Clark, age 43, born in England, Tailor, living in Matawan with his Irish wife Ann and NJ-born 4 year old son George W.

John N Disbrow
Constable and Auctioneer, Matawan, NJ
Attends to the collection of all claims. Order for auction sales may be left at the Matawan Journal office.
Note: The 1870 Federal Census shows John H Disbrow, age 53, born in NJ, Constable, living in Matawan with his wife Lydia and 3 children.

Dress Making
Miss Mary J Morton
At the residence of Mr. John Parker, Broad Street, Matawan.
A share of patronage is respectfully solicited.
Note: The 1870 Federal Census shows John Parker, age 25, born in NJ, Carpenter, and wife Hannah, 23, born in England, with infant Charles. It is possible that Mary is Hannah's sister and she came from England to live with the Parkers? She does not appear in Matawan in the 1870 census.

Wm. D. Bailey
Manufacturer of sashes, blinds, doors, mouldings, etc.
Main Street, Matawan
Note: Mr William D Bailey, age 30, born in New York, Manufacturer, was enumerated in the 1870 Federal Census in Matawan, along with wife Maria and 3 children.

Wm. L. Atkinson
House, Sign, and Ornamental Painter, Marbling, Graining, Glazing, etc.
Shop rear of Fountain, Horner and Seb's Store, Matawan
Warrants to stop Leaky Chimneys.
Agent for the Iron-Clad Paint.
Note: Mr William L Atkinson, age 26, born in NJ, House Painter, was enumerated in the 1870 Federal Census in Matawan, along with wife Eliza and daughter Gertrude. Three other painters lived with them at the time.

Henry J. James
Jeweler, Matawan
Fine jewelry, watches, clocks, sterling silver and plated ware.
Agent for the American Watch and Diamond Spectacles.
Suitable for holiday presents. Special attention given to the repairing of watches and jewelry.
Note: The 1870 Federal Census lists a Henry James, age 35, born in England, Jeweler, living in Matawan along with his British wife Agnes and an Elizabeth Currie, also British, also 35 years old, perhaps Agnes' sister. Also living with them was a rather wealthy Susan Bailey, 79 years old, born in Maine, with $12,000 in property and $2,000 in personal property.

Stop and enquire the price of groceries at the store of
Shepherd and Snedeker
Opposite of Fountain and Geran's, Matawan.
Preserving Cans of the latest patterns. Canned Fruits in their season. Smoked Meats a specialty.
Call and see us.
Note: The 1870 Federal Census shows a Patterson Snedeker, age 37, born in NJ, Peddler of Pottery Ware, living in Matawan with his wife Euphemia and 3 children. A Thomas Shepherd, age 43, born in NJ, Carriage Trimmer, lived with his wife Margaret and 2 children.

Professional Cards

Doct. J. G. Shackleton
Physician and Surgeon
Office at his Drug Store, Matawan,
where any variety of trusses can be had
at less than New York Prices.
Note: Judson G Shackleton was enumerated in the 1870 Federal Census in Matawan, along with his wife Cordelia and daughter Frances. Judson was a 31-year-old Physician with $10,000 in property and $6,000 in personal property.

Doct. F K Travers
Physician and Surgeon
Late partner with Dr. A. B. Dayton, dec'd.
Office next to the late residence of Doct. A. B. Dayton, dec'd.

Office hours: 7 to 8 am, and 6 to 8 pm.
Note: I didn't find Dr Travers in the 1870 Federal Census. Alfred B Dayton, age 57, born in NJ, Physician, with real property of $20,000 and personal property of $20,000, was living in Matawan in that census, along with wife Elizabeth, a 27-year old son Rensselaer, who was a lawyer, and 3 other children seemingly too young to be Elizabeth's but too old to be Rensselaer's. Perhaps they are grandchildren of a son lost in the Civil War?

J. P. Geran
Teeth extracted without pain with the Nitrous Oxide, or Laughing Gas.
Offices: opposite the Bank, Matawan; Thursdays and Fridays at Freehold, opposite the Freehold National Banking Company.
Note 1: Josiah P Geran, age 38, born in NJ, Dentist, was enumerated in the 1870 Federal Census living in Matawan along with wife Sarah. They had $5,000 in property and $2,000 in personal property. 

Note 2: The 1870 census also included a Matawan dentist named Ackerman Geran, age 44, with (second wife?) May, age 24; daughter Ann, age 16, and daughter Malissa, age 1. He also appeared in the 1880 census as a dentist in Matawan, age 53, with daughter Melissa, age 10. Ackerman Geran didn't advertise his professional services

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Christie's Bully Image Tarnished; Tagged As Mean Spirited

Governor Christie spent the week trying to smooth over his mean-spirited image after making retaliatory budget cuts and leaving town, according to an analysis in today's APP.  His generous budget givebacks and targeted visits were geared to calm the political frenzy he left behind and restore his more tolerable bully status, according to Patrick Murray, a political scientist at Monmouth University. "You can be a bully and still do good things, but mean-spirited means you're simply out to get somebody, regardless of what the impact would be on anybody else," Murray told the paper.

Staff Changes at First Presbyterian of Matawan

The First Presbyterian Church of Matawan is seeking a choir director/organist, according to Church Music Jobs. Justin Ryan has left for another opportunity. The church's pastoral nominating committee has located a candidate to serve as Interim Pastor after the departure of Reverend Loril Hawk for Riverdale Presbyterian Church in March 2011. Approval by the Monmouth Presbytery is anticipated this week, according to The Lantern's summer edition.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Patch Making Good Use of Aberdeen PD Press Releases

I've been pleased to see how Matawan-Aberdeen Patch has been converting the new Aberdeen Police Department public notices into news stories for the local public. Both efforts - by the police and Patch - translate into a great service to the community.

Matawan 11-Year-Old All Stars Kicking Some Baseball Butt

Check out this story in The Independent about the many recent successes of Matawan baseball's 11 year old All Stars. Congratulations and good luck this week.

You Can Call Me Ray

I saw this interesting piece posted Thursday at NJ.com:

Cownose rays are creating some excitment in Raritan Bay and along the surf. Ed Karecki III of Cliffwood Beach was fishing from his kayak off Buoy 3 at Keyport when a ray took him for a ride to Union Beach before breaking off. Many others were spotted in the shallows, along with a shark -- probably a brown.

Keyport Council Finally Moves on Police Situation

Keyport has named a provisional chief of police after a two year vacancy. The Council has been trying in vain to consolidate their police force with neighboring departments, apparently to save money. According to APP, the Borough was negotiating a merger with Union Beach, but those talks fell through in June. A restructuring ordinance that will trim key positions from the force and save salary expenses will get a public hearing on 2 August. It sounds like the relationship between the police and the Borough Council is pretty abysmal.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Mean Spirit of Republican Governance Goes Too Far

If you're not watching The Rachel Maddow Show, you should.

Aberdeen Asked to Squeeze In Yet Another House Where It Doesn't Fit

Check the Aberdeen Planning Board agenda for this evening. Sorry, but it's just the umpteenth time they've had someone approach the Board with a request for variances that would permit yet another house where it wouldn't otherwise fit. Nobody likes to say no, and I don't think our Planning Board is an exception.

This propety on Rose Street in Cliffwood is supposed to have an 8 foot side yard set back and only a tenth of a foot is existing. I'm not very good with mathematics, but isn't a tenth of a foot just a little more than an inch? The distance between buildings is only 4 ft when 10 ft is required. And overall coverage is 30% when only 25% is permitted.

Does the Board ever turn down such requests? When will we stop wedging in more homes? The Township ought to consider holding firm to its zoning rules and stop letting people overbuild.

Monmouth County Voluntary Lawn Watering Restrictions

New Jersey American water is asking residents of Monmouth County to adopt voluntary odd-even lawn watering restrictions for the rest of the summer, according to a flyer published by Aberdeen Township.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Red Bank Man Takes Key Post At Reading Hospital

Robert Lahey, of Red Bank, has been named to serve as assistant director of facilities management at Reading Hospital and Medical Center, in West Reading, Pennsylvania, per BCTV.

"Lahey, project manager with Grant Facilities Management since April, had been superintendent of buildings and grounds for Monmouth County, New Jersey, for five years, with an additional year as deputy director of public works. His healthcare experience of 22 years includes management of plant operations, construction, housekeeping, and security at Monmouth County's Geraldine L. Thompson and John L. Montgomery Care Centers, Monmouth Medical Center, Jersey Shore Medical Center, and Bronx Lebanon Hospital Center.
Lahey earned his bachelor's degree in engineering from the Stevens Institute of Technology and completed graduate courses in environmental engineering at Rutgers University."

Loving Hut Vegan Cuisine Coming to Matawan

For those readers who are interested in such matters, Chowhound has an ongoing discussion about some new restaurants coming to our section of Route 34. You might want to have a look. I've discussed a few of them (the burger places) in this space before, but the following start ups are new to me. Let me know if you can confirm any of these.

Loving Hut USA is bringing its vegan cuisine to Matawan on Route 34 near Broad Street. I couldn't find any mention online of a Bliss Mediterranean Cuisine, but that's supposedly getting ready to open in the center on Route 34 in Aberdeen with D A Subs and the Doctor's Office. Someone commented that Matawan BBQ, across from the train station, is closed. Another person said La Mexicana in downtown Matawan is closed and/or under new management.

Chowhound is a great way to keep up with local restaurants. You might want to track their New Jersey board. I simply run a Google Alert for Matawan and new Chowhound discussions come to my mailbox.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Christie Hedges His Bets

I got a slick ad in the mail recently from Better Education for Kids, Inc with headlines like "It's time to reject the narrow interests of the teacher's union." and "Reforming New Jersey's public schools begins with you." NJ Spotlight provides a nice rundown on this new 501(c)4 political organization. The organizer is a school choice activist. The organization is sponsored by a couple of NJ hedge fund managers who live in Christie's neighborhood and support Christie's wife's local charity, according to HedgeFund.net.

Brace yourselves -- the political nonsense is only going to get worse as these so-called independent organizations get rolling. American democracy is up for bid. Christie is certainly hedging his bets.

2011 Monmouth County Fair

The 37th Annual Monmouth County Fair is set to begin on Wednesday 27 July 2011. The fair website is chock full of details on the schedule of events, including stunt shows, musical performances, and fireworks. They're offering an $18 wristband for unlimited use of the amusement rides.

Former Matawan Police Chief Speaks Out in TV Interview

Former Matawan Police Chief James Alston spoke out regarding his recent suspension and demotion in a video interview with News 12 on Friday. Alston claims racial discrimination and the Borough's attorney claims the recent actions against Alston were justified.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Embers: Childhood Stories of Matawan

I just finished reading an interesting book from the Matawan-Aberdeen Public Library and thought I'd share some details. Embers: Stories and Sketches (974.9461 Ve), a book written by Matawan native Roy Veary, tells the author's childhood memories of the Matawan area from the 1920's into the early 1930's. The book is written in large part from a kid's perspective and focuses on things important to a kid, like camping, hiking, swimming in the lake and sledding in winter. Along the way we learn something of making the best of things during difficult economic times. Roy's illustrations are quite nice. I just wish he'd included some hand drawn maps.

Roy tells us how old he was when things happened but never provides a year to give temporal context. And he doesn't give us his parents' names. In a way Roy tells us as much about time as Charles Schulz reveals in his Charlie Brown cartoon. Luckily, I found the Veary's in the Federal Census. Roy was born in the second half of the year 1920, so the stories from his early teenage years are from the worst of The Great Depression.

Roy was the  youngest of the Veary children in the 1930 census. His siblings were his sister Elsie (born abt 1915) and brothers Joseph "Bumpy" (born abt 1917) and Frank Jr (born abt 1919). Their parents were Frank (born abt 1899) and Addie (born abt 1900) Veary. Frank was working as a driller in a foundry in 1920 and as a laborer in a tile company in 1930. Addie was raising 3 kids and had one on the way in 1920 but was working as a laborer at a phosphate factory in the 1930 census. They lived on Spring Street in Matawan in 1920 and on Atlantic Avenue in 1930.

Addie's parents, Thomas (born abt 1874) and Minerva (born abt 1877) Bailey, lived with the Vearys in Matawan for over a decade. Thomas was a pressman at a tile factory in 1920 and a laborer in 1930. Addie and her older sister Lida (Aunt Lida in the book) lived on their parents' farm in Holmdel in 1910.

Frank's parents, Frank (born abt 1862 in Germany) and Annie (born abt 1880) Veary, lived on Atlantic Avenue in 1910. His siblings were Frederick (born abt 1899), Margaret (born abt 1903), and Annie (born abt 1909). The elder Frank emigrated from Germany in 1891 and remained an alien in 1910, when he was employed as a clay pressman working in terra cotta.

In the chapter Going to Town, Roy tells us about visiting Butler's grocery, Hyle's bakery, Mahoney's grain and feed, Pruden's butcher shop, Bill Smith's blacksmith's, Harden's store, the movie theater, the police station, Riedel's barber shop, Allen's store, Wagner's store, and the grammar school.  As for the films Roy says he saw, there was William S Hart's last film, Tumbleweeds, in 1925; the 1926 film The Great K & A Train Robbery and the 1929 version of Seven Keys to Baldpate. (pp 19-28)

Roy has two chapters dedicated to the subject of railroads: The Railroad Tracks (pp 34-45) and The Junction (pp 97 - 109). He talks a lot about his exploits related to a trestle that crossed Lake Matawan between his home off Atlantic Avenue and points in town, including school. He also talks about how he and his friends went for a swim in the railroad water tower near the Matawan station. Parents be advised: Your kids do crazy things when you're not looking.

Roy has multiple chapters on hikes he and his friends went on. The Yellow Brick Ruins tells of a hike to the Cliffwood Brickyard (pp 110-115); Mocassin Horse covers a hike up the creek from Lake Matawan to Holmdel (pp 116-129); Going to Church recounts his two-day hike to Old Tennent Church (pp 154-163); and The Ocean Going Canoe tells us about Roy and his friends and their adventure by canoe from Lake Matawan to Matawan Creek and thence across Raritan Bay to Union Beach for an overnight camping trip and back again. This one his parents knew about but should never have permitted, seems to me. (pp 63-76) He tells us of his summer exploits in Bummer Summer (pp 86 - 96) and winter fun in John Ray's Hill (pp 77 - 85). Roy even tells us of travel by steamboat, a common means of transit in those days, in The Bowery - We Never Go There Anymore. (pp 145-153)

I recommend the book for those who want to immerse themselves in what Matawan was like over 75 years ago. I wouldn't suggest that parents send their children on two-day hikes in New Jersey anymore, but it can be fun to read about a time when that was possible. The book is generally well-written but doesn't seem to have been professionally edited. It has a few nagging grammar problems, like the author's mistaken use of it's for its and some number agreement issues, but nothing one can't overlook. Once I return the book you should find it in MAPL's New Books section near the door.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Commission Must Pay Its Own Way at County Fair

The Monmouth County Human Relations Commission was established by the Freeholders in 1990 to fight bias and discrimination in the county through public speaking, advocating for victims, improving relations between communities and their police departments, educating employees and employers, and providing resources for schools. The Commission maintains a hotline for residents to report bias and discrimination incidents.

With such a broad mandate, it seems odd that the Commission would have to pay $325 to have a booth at the County Fair, as mentioned in the recently published May 2011 minutes of the Commission's Executive Committee. It's worrisome that most of the Commission's programmatic initiatives seem to be stalled because commissioners aren't attending the meetings. Membership cleaned house by voting off a number of inactive members in May but named no new members. The Immigration Working Group sounds like a vital part of Commission work but there was no report. One report that probably was too detailed by half involved Incident Response and Reporting. Assessments of bias hotline callers, like website passwords, should probably remain offline.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

NJ Transit Gets Poor Grades in Recent Survey

The results of a recent NJ Transit passenger satisfaction survey are online. You can look at the overall results or drill down to particular train or bus lines to see how they fared.

The regional papers are all saying that passengers gave NJT a "C" grade. Blah blah blah. I don't know about your school, but at mine, 70-79% was the range of a C. 44% was a failing grade requiring a note home and maybe a visit by your parents to the school. 30% was time for the County Board of Education or Department of Youth and Family Services to intervene in the school or family, respectively. I doubt anyone is coming to the rescue of my commute. The Department of Transportation? Yeah, right...

North Jersey Coast train passengers who took the survey were outraged at high fares (30%), poor handling of service disruptions (33%), unreliable equipment (39%), poor announcements during service disruptions (39%), and poor on-time performance (41%). They gave the NJ Coast train a 37% score for "value for your money" and an overall score of 44%.

All levels of government should be encouraging mass transit by lowering fares, increasing schedules, and making it easier for people to get to and from train stations. Instead funding and services are being reduced. Stimulus funds and work programs should be more focused on mass transit and less on road construction. Christie cuts in aid to NJ Transit directly increased commuter fares. His dismissal of the federal rail project into New York City was amazingly short-sighted. Congressional efforts to kill funding for everything but their own salaries will also negatively affect mass transit.

Local planners should be looking to synchronize their transit assets. These assets should not be competing with one another. Some buses serve Metropark, but you won't see any buses at the Aberdeen-Matawan rail station (except the popular evening bus to the PNC Arts Center). In the Maryland suburbs of Washington, DC, the bus lines serve the Metro system. In general, buses here compete with trains.

On a somewhat unrelated note, I sometimes take the train into the city from Metropark. The fare is a little less than at Aberdeen-Matawan, so I can show my monthly there and pay nothing additional. I dread the train ride from there, though. It is often standing room only during rush hour. In contrast, I usually can get a seat at Matawan.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Classic Car Show at Aberdeen Town Hall, Tuesday Evening

Aberdeen Township is hosting a family oriented classic car show and concert at the municipal building on Church Street near Atlantic tonight (Tues 12 July 2011) from 6 pm to 9 pm. There will be games and food as well. Check the announcement for details.

Monday, July 11, 2011

The Larry Crowne Affair

I saw the movie Larry Crowne this weekend; you know, the movie with Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts? I thought it was a fun romantic comedy with a bit of a social message.

I was reluctant to slap a commercial film preview on my blog and say, "Go see it!" because some people might not relate to the story or feel the film is somehow lacking given its star power. I found a movie review that captures my feelings about recommending this flick. Watch these reviewers wrestle with their thoughts.

Actually, you get to see the commercial preview anyway. It's interspersed throughout this review.

Sara Bareilles - King of Anything

Here's one of my favorite artists.

Walking Tour of Rose Hill Cemetery, July 2011

I attended Sunday's walking tour of Rose Hill Cemetery and thoroughly enjoyed myself. Saturday's crowd was larger (93 persons), but we got the better weather, I hear. Our tour guide, Al Savolaine, the official historian for the cemetery and Matawan's commissioner for cemeteries, spent two years putting together this fine tour.

Rose Hill cemetery was founded by James Fountain in 1858. At that time, cemeteries were getting away from the churchyard variety. Instead, the Victorian era saw garden style cemeteries established on the outskirts of towns, with hills, ponds, and walkways. Cemeteries became the first public parks, where people took strolls and had picnics. Our guide encouraged us to return and stroll the cemetery on other occasions and not be put off by the no trespassing signs. "They're not meant for you," he pointed out. Check out this piece on cemetery vandalism from 1974.

A number of the grave sites on the tour related to the famous 1916 shark attack in Matawan Creek. We visited the graves of Lester Stillwell and Stanley Fischer, both victims of the shark. The tour took us by the grave of Captain Cotrell, who first saw the shark out at Brown's Point and rowed a boat up the creek warning people.  And we saw Willie Shepherd's grave; a good friend of Stanley Fischer, Shepherd rode on the train to Long Branch with Stanley that fateful day.

Then there were the train people. We heard about Richard Lowe, who escaped prison only to be hit by a train at Horseshoe Curve near Altoona, Pennsylvania. Then there was Moses Stoll and family, who were killed in a train accident near Waco, Texas. Stoll had been the station manager in Matawan and was well liked in the community. And we saw the $18,000 Little gravesite, which included Henry Stafford Little of the NJ Central Railroad. A big gun at Princeton, Little's funeral was attended by former US President Grover Cleveland and soon-to-be President Woodrow Wilson.

Civil War stories included Garret Smock Byrne, a quartermaster turned lawyer; Edwin Arrowsmith, of the USS New Ironsides; and brothers William and David Provoost, who died in different battles.

We visited the graves of prominent Matawan residents. We saw the site of Franklin Slater, minister at the Baptist church on Main Street; David Bell, publisher of the Matawan Journal; David Ryer, who owned that beautiful blue 3-story house near the Baptist church on Main Street; Andrew J Jackson, local doctor; Edwin Lambert, Matawan Fire Chief; and Henry S Terhune, nephew of Henry S Little, politician, and namesake of Terhune Park.

We heard about the murder of Fritz Gelenius, which was covered in the 14 Nov 1896 edition of The Matawan Journal; the serious injury of David Van Deventer at the Morgan plant explosion; and the deaths of the wife and daughter of Jacob Meinzer in the Spanish influenza outbreak of 1918.

As to the cemetery itself, we visited the grave of the land owner, Joseph Rose, and the man who established the cemetery, James Fountain.

We were told about the haunting by Alexander H Harris and the burial of a Zombie in the cemetery. Matawan-Aberdeen Patch interviewed some locals to find out what they thought about a haunted Rose Hill Cemetery.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Matawan Council to Take Action on Police Chief

Matawan Borough Council has scheduled a special meeting to "take formal action on the hearing officer's decision concerning the Chief of Police," according to a public notice. The meeting will be held Monday 11 July 2011 at 6:30 pm at the Matawan Municipal Community Center at 201 Broad Street.

Chief James Alston has been suspended with pay since last year.

UPDATE: Matawan-Aberdeen Patch issued breaking news tonight that Matawan Chief of Police James Alston is being demoted to Lieutenant and given a ten-day suspension. Jason Gallo will remain Acting Chief of Police for the time being. Check out the detailed Patch article.

Monmouth County Bicycling Routes - 2010 Map Available

The Monmouth County Transportation Council produced a map of county bicycle routes last year. The person who designed the map recently won top honors in a state level competition, according to The News Transcript. The paper says copies of the map are available by phone or email from the MC Planning Board. I found that the 2010 Bike Map is also viewable online.

Aberdeen NJ Has New Online Police Blotter

Aberdeen Township Police have launched a police blotter!

A 6 Jul 2011 press release tells the story of an Amboy man who allegedly led police on a bizarre chase through Cliffwood and Cliffwood Beach. He reportedly blew the stop sign at Lennox Road but didn't stop for police. Instead he fled to the seawall, where he abandoned his vehicle and attempted a murky swim across Treasure Lake. All I want to know is who washed this guy down when he got out of that silty lake?? ;-)

A 5 Jul 2011 press release tells how the Keyport driver of a Land Rover allegedly caused considerable mayhem by blowing the traffic light near McDonald's on Route 35 in Cliffwood. Keyport ran into Staten Island, flipped a couple of times, etc. What a mess!

There are more in the pile. Nice job, Aberdeen PD.

Lake Matawan and the Park Avenue Staircase

The young man who drowned in Lake Matawan in August 1928 entered the water at the end of Park Avenue, according to a transcription of the Matawan Journal article. If you're familiar with downtown Matawan, Park Avenue is the one-way street that passes between the Matawan-Aberdeen Library and the US Post Office between Broad and Main streets. It also runs both directions from Broad Street towards the lake.

I was curious how the drowning victim got down to the lake. He lived barely a block away, at 23 Park Avenue, which can be seen on the left side of the street as you approach the water. A formal concrete staircase at the dead end is hidden under a heavy canopy of trees. The steps no longer lead to lakeside as they might have nearly a hundred years ago. Silt accumulation has caused the water's edge to recede significantly over the years. Instead, solid land extends for an indeterminate distance from the bottom of the stairs; wander out too far and you're liable to get stuck in muck and mire. Tree branches block the view at the base.

The spot is probably best described as undeveloped park land. It is really only suited for bird watchers and nature enthusiasts to explore. With no lake view, there's not much of a draw for broad public access and I'm not sure what the prospects are for a change in that status. The one thing that could be changed, though: the area near the base of the stairs has become something of a dumping ground for neighbors' yard debris. Perhaps a no dumping sign could be posted if one does not already exist?

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Matawan Motorist Killed at GSP Exit 120 Tonight

Matawan-Aberdeen Patch reports that a motorist from Matawan hit a tree and was killed tonight at the Exit 120 ramp of the Garden State Parkway. After that nasty accident in Middletown yesterday, an accident at Route 35 near McDonald's, and now this, I think I'll hunker down at home awhile.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Greenwood House Shows Signs of Life

After five months, the burned out house on Greenwood Avenue in Cliffwood Beach is at last showing signs that work is being done. Some of the burned and melted siding has been pulled down and debris piled out front.

The place hasn't exactly been teeming with construction vehicles and contractors with tape measures, though. Perhaps the house was uninsured and the owner is doing his/her own repairs? That could explain the pace. My most recent article on the subject was in May, at which point nothing had been done at all. Perhaps Aberdeen Cares could look into this family's situation and solicit volunteers to help out if needed?

Cliffwood Beach Seawall Vegetation - 4 July 2011

I took pictures of some of the vegetation along the Cliffwood Beach seawall today. I've labeled most of them.

UPDATE: I found a nice write up on Bittersweet Nightshade at a blog called Growing Hermione's Garden.

Poison Ivy

Crown-Vetch aka Axseed

Crown-Vetch aka Axseed

This hairy orange vine is called doder.

Virginia Creeper

Virginia Creeper


Deptford Pink (?)



Common Groundsel


Bittersweet Nightshade

Bittersweet Nightshade

Queen Anne's Lace (Wild Carrot)

Crown-Vetch aka Axseed

Queen Anne's Lace (Wild Carrot)

Hiding In Plain Sight

Alex Marshall (Ashley Johnson)
I watch In Plain Sight on a fairly regular basis. An actress named Ashley Johnson appeared in a recent episode as an Amish woman who witnessed a murder. I was sure I'd seen her before but couldn't place her, so I looked her up on IMDB. Turns out that 11 years ago she played Alex, the radical teenaged daughter of Nick Marshall (Mel Gibson), in What Women Want.

When I dug deeper, I found she has guest starred in a number of my favorite tv shows. She played in an episode last summer of Lie to Me. She played the 1966 version of a character in an episode of Cold Case. And she was in an episode of The Mentalist, an episode of CSI, and an episode of Monk. Going back even farther, I found her playing roles in ER, Roseanne, Ally McBeal, Wings, Providence, and Touched By an Angel. She started out around age 7 playing Chrissy Seaver in the last 3 seasons of Growing Pains. (1990-92).

Happy 4th of July 2011

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Shorelink Shuttle

If you like visiting the beach at Belmar on a hot summer day but can't stand the traffic you face getting there and back, consider taking the train. Ah, but what are you supposed to do once you get to the station? How do you get to the beach?

Well, Belmar and neighboring towns have an inexpensive ($1 per ride) shuttle bus service that connects visitors to the beach and train stations and points (restaurants, shopping, etc) in between. From now until 30 September, the shuttle will run Thursdays 9 am to 6 pm and Fridays through Sundays 9 am to 9 pm. The shuttle serves North Jersey Coast Line railroad stations at Asbury Park, Bradley Beach and Belmar. The shuttle also serves Ocean Grove.

The Shorelink Shuttle is a joint project of the Federal Government, Monmouth County, and the municipalities it serves. The Feds are picking up 75% of the cost. Check out the story at APP.

Matawan's 7 Eleven Bites the Dust

I heard today that the 7-Eleven on Main Street in Matawan has shut its doors. It could have happened in recent weeks or months, but I just didn't notice.

I guess it can now become a full time waiting area for day laborers. To be sure, I doubt their presence crashed this business, but it certainly didn't help. The hulking remains of an old gas station next door could just as easily be blamed. Or the presence of a new Quik Chek just down the street with a much larger parking lot, a full service deli, and fresher coffee could have brought competition that 7-Eleven couldn't deal with. I know I didn't go there much anymore. I went once last winter.

Hopefully the Borough and Aberdeen Township will finally move ahead with whatever plans they might have for the railroad station area. That could deal with the multiple eyesores found there in one fell swoop.

UPDATE: There's a big sign on the building urging patrons to visit the "new" 7-Eleven at 326 Morristown Road. Google Maps sent me on a wild goose chase. Turns out the "new" 7-Eleven is actually the one that's stood for many years near the corner of Cliffwood Avenue and Laurence Harbor Parkway, across from the CVS, Exxon, and Pizza Hut. Here are some pictures:

7-Eleven near Aberdeen-Matawan train station is closed.

They are referring customers to the 7-Eleven near GSP Exit 120.
The signs outside the former 7-Eleven in Matawan tell the story of their problem with day laborer loitering.

The 7-Eleven on Morristown Road is hardly "new."

History: Gillespie Munitions Plant Explosion at Morgan, Oct 1918

The 10 Oct 1918 edition of The Matawan Journal contained the front page story below about the wartime destruction of an enormous munitions depot in nearby Morgan, NJ on 4 October 1918.

Residents of Morgan flee to Perth Amboy. (Wikimedia)

Fire Followed and Probably 100 Buildings Used For Various Purposes Were Destroyed—Number of Killed and Wounded Unknown

At 7:45 o'clock Friday night an explosion occurred which shook the houses in this community and was felt for miles. Those who were out doors recognized that something had happened in the vicinity of the T. A. Gillespie Loading Plant at Morgan, the glare in the sky giving the location. In rapid succession one explosion followed another some being louder than others, and these continued at intervals all night and until about 2 o'-clock Saturday afternoon.

The company management threw out guards and prevented the thousands who were attracted by the noise from getting close to the plant.

The first explosion occurred in the Shell plant 6-1-1, located near the Cheesequake Road on the westerly side of the plant. This building is filled with girls and women during the day, and men at night. Various reports as to the number employed in this building give from 100 to 160 men and it is said only three of these escaped uninjured.

Physician and ambulance calls were sent to nearby towns and the hospitals at Perth and South Amboy were filled and about thirty persons were given treatment at Keyport, the Red Cross Room being fitted up with cots all of which were occupied and the dining room and parlor of the Mansion House were also fitted out with cots and occupants. The basement of the library was also utilized and about two dozen cots and mattresses put in readiness to receive patients, and five men were taken there, all suffering from shock. These men later in the day were removed to the Long Branch hospital.

At Keyport, Matawan, and South Amboy, and other places residents were ordered from their homes at 3 o'clock in the morning, and only about 100 of the 10,000 inhabitants of South Amboy remained in that city.

Through the night and Saturday frequent explosions occurred and these lasted as long as there was anything nearby to be fed upon. Probably 100 buildings were demolished by explosions or fire and the plant is practically a complete wreck, with an estimated loss of $20,000,000 to $30,000,000. Many carloads of shells were stored on sidings to be pulled out, but only a few got beyond the flame zone. How many were killed will never be known as only pieces of bodies will be found when the time comes for searching when the ruins are reached.

The explosions were felt as far as New York and for nearly fifty miles south. South Amboy suffered more than any other place by the explosions as many houses and stores were damaged almost beyond repair.

At Matawan and Keyport there was absolutely no business done. The residents were ordered out of their properties and the banks and stores were tenantless. Somewhat of damage was done to the businesses in both towns, Keyport suffering the most. Plateglass windows were also destroyed. Memorial windows in the Baptist and Methodist churches in Keyport and the Methodist church at Matawan were destroyed, causing several thousand dollars damage.

Soldiers and sailors under command of army and navy officers were placed all about the approaches to the plant, these coming from Keyport, Camp Vail, Red Bank, Sandy Hook, Perth Amboy, etc. . . .

Wild Kingdom in Monmouth County

It's been Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom in Monmouth County the past few days. A baboon has been roaming Freehold and Millstone, an apparent escapee from Six Flags Great Adventure, and humpback whales were seen breaching just offshore at Asbury Park, lured into the shallows by the abundance of bunker (menhaden). Check out pictures and a video of the baboon and a picture of the whales at APP

150-ft Telecomms Monopole to be Erected on Lenox Road in Cliffwood

Back in June 2009, Wireless Edge of New Rochelle, NY was the highest bidder in a solicitation for bids by Aberdeen Township "for lease of township lands for communication equipment," as determined by CME Associates. Wireless Edge was therefore awarded the lease, as stipulated in Aberdeen Township Resolution 2009-95. Now, two years later, Wireless Edge Westchester Group LLC plans to erect a 150 ft communications tower in a 3,354 sq ft telecommunications compound in municipal property along Lenox Road in Cliffwood, NJ, according to the public documents below.

The 25 Apr 2011 agenda of the Monmouth County Development Review Committee (DRC) said they were scheduled to review a Schedule 1130D site plan. The application (ABTSP9062) was received by Aberdeen Township on 11 Apr 2011 for Wireless Edge Westchester Group to establish a 3,354 sq ft telecommunications compound on Lenox Road.

The 15 Jun 2011 agenda of the Aberdeen Township Planning Board said they planned to memorialize site plan SP 11-503, which said Aberdeen Township would allow Wireless Edge Westchester Group to construct a 150 ft monopole and telecommunications equipment compound on its municipal property in a Priority One location in an R50 zone located at 147-149 Lenox Road (Block 307 Lot 15). The site plan was first included in the Planning Board's 18 May 2011 agenda.

Wireless Edge Westchester Group LLC and Wireless Edge Rockland Group LLC are both subsidiaries of Wireless Edge Communications, Inc, 270 North Avenue, Suite 809, New Rochelle, NY 10801. The company has been negotiating similar deals in Bloomfield, NJ; Jackson, NJ; Lakewood, NJ; Montclair, NJ; New Milford, NJ; Northvale, NJ; Gardiner, NY; Mamaroneck, NY; and Patterson, NY. They discussed such a deal with the South Jersey Transportation Authority to support the Atlantic City Expressway. They also talked to the NJ Pinelands Commission about property in South Toms River, NJ.

Back in August 2008, T-Mobile and Cingular were awarded leases to erect telecommunications equipment on municipal property housing a water tower in Aberdeen Township, per Resolution 2008-104.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Edward C Corcoran, of Cliffwood Beach (Old Bridge), dead at 38

A brief obituary appeared tonight on Legacy that an Edward C. Corcoran, age 38, of Cliffwood Beach died last Sunday 26 June 2011. I did a bit of online research to learn more about the Corcorans.

The 22 Jan 1997 edition of The Independent contains the obituary for the deceased's father, Edward J Corcoran (27 Sep 1934 - 13 Jan 1997). Corcoran, age 62, of Cliffwood Beach, died 13 Jan 1997 in Colts Neck. The father was born and raised in New York, had been an Army veteran, moved to Cliffwood Beach in the late 1960s, attended St Joseph's RC Church in Keyport, and worked at the state prison in Rahway from about 1982 until his retirement in 1994. He was survived by his wife, Caroline nee Schweizer, five daughters, and a son Edward C Corcoran.

The deceased's mother, Caroline L Schweizer Corcoran, of the Cliffwood Beach section of Old Bridge, died on 14 Jun 2007, according to the 28 Jun 2007 edition of The Suburban.

The deceased's parents are buried at Brig Gen William C Doyle Veterans Cemetery in Burlington County, NJ.

Twilight Series in Keyport

Live music in Keyport tonight by Kagero!

Jets Stadium Beckons Matawan Fan

Matawan resident Andrea Riemen is vying with 13 other candidates to have the honor of singing the national anthem on Fan Appreciation Day at the Jets' new stadium in the Meadowlands on 23 October 2011, according to APP. Riemen is a music teacher at the Harmony School in Middletown.

History: First Death in Lake Matawan, August 1928

The first person to die in our man-made Lake Matawan was James Cannon, the 22-year-old son of Mr and Mrs Frank Cannon of 23 Park Avenue in Matawan, according to the front page of the 24 Aug 1928 version of The Matawan Journal. The incident took place around 4 pm on Sunday 19 August 1928. The body was located a little after 5 pm with the help of Keyport first responders. Medical personnel on the scene found little water in his lungs and therefore speculated that he had been the victim of a heart ailment. Cannon worked at the Hanson-Van Winkle-Munning Company. Funeral services and burial were at St Joseph's Roman Catholic Church in Keyport. He was survived by his parents, a brother and a sister.

The 1930 Federal Census shows Frank and Catherine Cannon living at 23 Park Avenue in Matawan along with several boarders. The Cannons had been married 27 years. They were both 50 years old and had been born in New York. Frank was a laborer in a factory. The boarders included a plant laborer named William McCormick, age 46, and two younger men who worked for the electric company.

The 1920 Federal Census shows Frank and Catherine Cannon living at 1539 Nostrand Avenue in Brooklyn, New York with three children: Frank (14), James (13) and Mary (12). The parents were both 40 years old and born in New York. Frank was a plumber's helper at a marine company. They had one boarder, the same William McCormick, then age 35. (The two censuses provided conflicting information about Frank and Catherine's parents' nationalities. It is possible that Mr McCormick was Catherine's brother.)

As for the company Cannon worked for, it seems to have been a nickel plating company on Church Street. Sounds like the place we're still cleaning up at considerable cost.

I found the following exchange at Finishing.com:

January 20, 2009
I was looking for information about "Hanson Van Winkle Munning Company" from Matawan, NJ. I have a "good luck" coin with their name on it. I grew-up in Matawan, but don't remember this company. Anybody with some information?
Sharon Wheeler
- Somers Point, New Jersey

January 20, 2009
Hi, Sharon. I worked there from 1967 to 1972 or so, but by 1967 it was already the H-VW-M Division of M&T Chemical Co. rather than an independent company. It was located on Church Street, a block south of Broad Street. You might remember the enclosed bridge across Church Street, which joined the two halves of the factory.

Checking Google Earth, It looks like some of the buildings on the East Side are still standing, although converted to some other use. The building on the west side is gone -- that area looks like it was all simply razed and left to founder. I heard a rumor years ago that there was a toxic waste cleanup there and that's pretty much what the west side of the street looks like: like they ripped and dug and left it.

Hanson-Van WinkleMunning was a manufacturer of electroplating equipment. If you're ever in Brick, feel free to stop in and look through our trade magazine collection for articles and advertisements about H-VW-M.

pic of Ted Mooney Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Brick, New Jersey

Friday, July 1, 2011

MARSD Superintendent Names His Representative to Library Board

MRHS Library Media Center
Zach Gross, the Librarian at Matawan Regional High School (MRHS), has been named by MARSD Superintendent David Healy to represent the school district on the Matawan Aberdeen Public Library's Board of Trustees, according to MAPL Director Kimberly Paone's blog and the library's new online roster of library board members.

Mr Gross fills the vacancy left by longtime board member Kathleen Eovino, his predecessor at the school as well. He received his masters in library and information sciences from Rutgers University in 2010 and has just completed his first year at MRHS. His first board meeting will be on 13 July 2011.