A blog about living in Aberdeen, New Jersey.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

History: Matawan Presbyterian Choir, Matawan (1929)

Below is an update on the music program at the First Presbyterian Church of Matawan, as reported in the 4 Oct 1929 edition of The Matawan Journal (pg 5 col 3).

Past Year's Work Has Been Especially Successful.

The Presbyterian choir began its fall and winter activities this month under the continued leadership of Mrs. Wilson W. Hobrough. The year's work just closed has been especially successful.

An anthem was provided for each Sunday morning service and two anthems for the evening service throughout the year, with the exception of August when special solos were rendered by vocalists who were not in the regular church choir. On one Sunday evening of each the winter months, the service was made up almost entirely of music. At Easter a cantata was given by an augmented choir of twenty voices, with instrumental accompaniment of organ, piano, flute and violin.

A feature of the choir work has been the fostering of the social life of the organization. Socials have been held in the lecture room of the church, and in the homes of the members. An out-of-doors picnic was held at Matthews' Log Cabin * and a shore dinner enjoyed at Asbury Park.

Emerson J. Lisk is president of the choir, Miss G. M. Farry, vice president; W. Oliver Diggin, secretary and treasurer; Mrs. Wilson W. Hobrough, director, and Mrs. George Davison, organist. Gustav Vockler,  flutist; Miss Edith Davison, pianist, and Mrs William Pengel, violinist assisted on special occasions.  Assisting soloists were Mrs. Conover Burlew, soprano; Harry Bolte, Jr. of Keyport, and Dr. William Pengel, baritone. Out-of-town soloists were Miss Mildred Morrison, of Dayton, O., and Miss Marie Ruesch, of Fair Haven.

* The 23 Jul 1930 edition of The Red Bank Register has a reference to Matthew's Log Cabin as a picnic grounds in Colts Neck.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

History: Peanuts, Thompson Family Pet Pony, Struck by Automobile and Killed (1932)

The 21 Dec 1932 edition of The Red Bank Register contained this sad front page story about the untimely death of Peanuts, the Thompson family's pet pony, at the Brookdale farm in Lincroft. (Thompson Park and Brookdale Community College owe their existence to the generosity of the Thompson family.)

Auto Kills Pet Pony at Lincroft

Peanuts is dead. This little sentence may not mean much to the large army of readers of The Register but it tells briefly the climax of a tragedy that has befallen the family circle of Dr. William P. Thompson of Brookdale farm at Lincroft.

Before describing the incident the reader must know that Peanuts was not an edible morsel. Peanuts was an honest-to-goodness Virginian stock pony, about five years old, and was brought north about a year ago by Tori Healey, the famous trainer of the Brookdale stables at Lincroft.

Peanuts was acquired by Dr. Thompson for his children "Billy," Jr and, "Peggy" and at once it endeared itself not only to them but to all those employed on the Dr. Thompson place as well as the folks at the Brookdale and Greentree estates.

The pony waa carefully groomed and when hitched to a special vehicle purchased for the children's comfort the turnout was the envy of other children in the village. Occasionally Peanuts would get out of the corral and would cross the highway to pay a visit to the neighbors at the Greentree stable. Tender hands would soon lead Peanuts back to comfortable quarters on the Brookdale estate.

During the snowstorm of a week ago Saturday, Peanuts took a notion to go visiting and left the corral unnoticed. While crossing the highway between the Greentree and Brookdale estates the animal walked directly into the path of an automobile driven by Matthew Mullen, Jr.. of Lincroft and was instantly killed.

The dead pet was tenderly taken from the highway to the Brookdale estate where the snimal was given a respectful burial shortly after nightfall under the personal direction of Dr. Thompson who, with several employees of the place, stood uncovered in the driving snowstorm as the body of the children's playmate was lowered into its laat resting place.

History: Keansburg Gateway, Palmer Avenue & State Route 35 (1926 - 1958)

With the opening of New Jersey State Highway 35 in the 1920s, tourists driving down from New York City to visit Bayshore beaches were soon taking the Palmer Avenue jughandle as the most direct route to Keansburg and its then-popular beach resort and amusements. Known as the "Keansburg Gateway," this intersection, which spawned numerous "Gateway" business names and even a small community, ironically was not even in Keansburg.

For a time, everything was at or near the Keansburg Gateway. Accidents happened, people lived and died in, businesses relocated to, and even school district maps began at the Keansburg Gateway. But when the Garden State Parkway opened in the 1950s, Exit 117 led beach goers onto State Highway 36 instead, leaving Palmer Avenue out of the picture. Also, Hurricane Donna wreaked havoc on the Bayshore in the mid-1950s. The last reference to the Keansburg Gateway that I could find was in 1958, when Middletown and Holmdel were arguing over whether to split 15% of the cost of a traffic light at the Palmer Avenue/Route 35 intersection. There were more important things for them to spend their money on, the politicians said, so the state paid 85% and the county picked up the remainder.

Palmer Avenue at Route 35 is that confusing intersection where the Target store is currently located. I remember the Middletown movie theater at that corner for many years. The property is up on a hill and has complicated entry and exit points. Cherry Farm Road only adds to the confusion at that intersection.

Below is a sampling of local news articles I found mentioning the Keansburg Gateway between 1926 and 1958. If you know of information specifically related to the origins of the gateway name and its demise, I'd be interested. Drop me a line or add a comment.


The 10 Sep 1926 edition of The Matawan Journal reported the arrest of a Holmdel man at Cherry Tree Farm, near the Keansburg Gateway on the state highway. The man paid a $20 fine, $5 in court costs, and another $200 fine, plus he lost his license for two years, all for driving under the influence.

The 30 May 1928 edition of The Red Bank Register (pg 22 col 4) reported an automobile accident at the Keansburg Gateway.

The 16 Oct 1929 edition of The Red Bank Register included an advertisement for a tradesman's shop called Bergman's, which would henceforth be located at the State Highway and Palmer Avenue, the so-called Keansburg Gateway. Bergman's offered "new and second hand lumber and mill work," "plumbing and roofing," and "sheetrock and paints."

The 17 Jan 1935 edition of The Red Bank Register included reporting on the Middletown Village Civic Association, which said the Keansburg Gateway section of Middletown Township would now be included in the 5 cent bus fare zone.

The 28 May 1936 edition of The Red Bank Register reported a serious car accident that took place on Palmer Avenue near the Keansburg Gateway.

The 29 Jan 1942 edition of The Red Bank Register (pg 12 col 3) provided the precise bounds of Middletown Township School District's No 1, No 2 and No 3.  Keansburg Gateway was the starting and ending point for the description of District No 1.

Helen Miller ran a tropical fish store on Route 35 near the Keansburg Gateway, according to an ad in the 9 May 1946 edition of The Red Bank Register. She also had an ad on pg 29 of the 29 Jan 1942 edition (below) and ads on pp 8 and 15 of the 30 Nov 1944 edition.

An obituary in the 20 Feb 1947 edition of The Matawan Journal reported that Mrs Anthony Granata, of Keansburg Gateway Road in Middletown, had recently lost her mother.

The 29 Dec 1949 edition of The Matawan Journal (pg 6 col 1) identified members of an upcoming petit jury, including Nadie G Stampler, of Keansburg Gateway.

The 12 May 1955 edition of The Matawan Journal mentioned the opening of the Bowl-o-Drome in Middletown near the Keansburg Gateway. (See History: Bowling in Keyport (1954-1955) in this blog for details.)
The 17 Jul 1958 edition of The Matawan Journal (pg 1 col 3) reported that Holmdel and Middletown couldn't agree to a deal with the State of New Jersey on the installation of a traffic light at the corner of Palmer Avenue and Route 35, even when the two municipalities would be only paying 15% of the cost -- $375 each. The intersection, known as the Keansburg Gateway, would mostly benefit Keansburg, but the traffic light was not in its jurisdiction and Holmdel and Middletown had better things to do with their money. Monmouth County finally stepped in and funded the light.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

History: Third Annual Interfaith Concert Includes Five Matawan Choirs (1968)

St John's Methodist Church in Hazlet announced in the 16 May 1968 edition of The Matawan Journal that it would be hosting an interfaith choir concert on Saturday evening 25 May 1968, the area's third annual such concert.

Choirs from the following area worship communities would be participating:
  • Cross of Glory Lutheran (Matawan) - choir conductor
  • First Baptist (Keyport)
  • First Methodist (Matawan)
  • First Presbyterian (Matawan)
  • St Benedict's (Holmdel)
  • St John's Methodist (Hazlet) - organist
  • Temple Shalom (Matawan) - pianist, sponsorship
  • Trinity Episcopal (Matawan)
The 11 Apr 2013 edition of The Independent announced the latest iteration of this annual event, now called the Interfaith MusicFest. St Joseph's Catholic Church would be hosting it on the evening of 18 May 2013, with choirs from Cross of Glory Lutheran, First Presbyterian, New Light Baptist (Keyport), St Joseph's, Temple Shalom and others. Funds raised would go to support Manna House.

If these have been held annually since 1965, this year would have been the 48th's annual choir concert. Perhaps a special 50th anniversary festival should be held in May 2015?

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

History: Brick Worker Shot at Card Game, Lands in Matawan Hospital (1928)

The 21 Sep 1928 edition of The Matawan Journal included this short blurb describing the rough life of the Cliffwood brick manufacturing community:

"As the result of an argument over cards, Hugh J Ross, colored, employer of the Craigen Brick Company at Cliffwood, is in the Matawan Hospital with a bullet hole in his groin and his common law wife, Viola Wright, is in the county jail at Freehold, having been held for the grand jury, it being alleged that she fired the shot. The woman was arrested by the State police and arraigned before a Keyport justice. At the hospital it was said that Ross did not appear to be seriously injured."

I suspect that Viola wasn't playing cards with the guys. It's more likely that she shot Hugh in the groin over some indiscretion involving a woman. One can only ponder how someone could have been shot in the groin and not be seriously injured.

Announcing What?

The public address system at Newark  Penn Station is mostly automated these days. The voice is computer generated. Someone at NJ Transit must have been drunk when they programmed the computer to say Aberdeen-Matawan. It used to be fine, but for the past week or two she's been saying something incomprehensible. Speaking of the latter, don't they listen to their own announcements?