A blog about living in Aberdeen, New Jersey.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

History: Renovation of Airport Plaza, Hazlet (1976-77)

Plaza Arena opened at Airport Plaza in early 1977.
Victor Scudiery, owner of Interstate Electronics Inc (IEI), bought Airport Plaza in February 1976 for $700,000 and proceeded to renovate what had become a rundown shopping center. According to page 6 of the 27 October 1976 edition of The Independent, W T Grant's bankruptcy had left a big vacancy in the 20 year old retail site, so Scudiery made space for smaller stores and added professional offices. Marvin Schneider of Matawan signed a lease to bring a roller rink to fill a large vacancy; the Plaza Arena was set to open in January 1977. (The photo above, which appeared on page 7 of the 16 March 1977 edition of the Independent, featured Carol Shepherd, skating instructor, with her two students, Larry Wolfe and Jill Schoellner.) Scudiery even moved his own business from Keyport into the shopping center. All the improvements convinced charter stores Rite Aid and Thom McAn shoes to stay.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

History: Aberdeen-Matawan Train Station Buildings

Holmdel Patch has an interesting piece on Aberdeen-Matawan train station and its three station buildings.

I'd be interested in more details about the renovation plan, the buildings in the area -- what they were, what they are now, what the plans are for them -- etc. Hopefully someone will write a piece about the abandoned building next to the new station, for example. I believe it was a chemical company. I hope that building goes away in any station renovation project. What about the discussion of putting the library there? What about parking for residents? And parking in general?  And what's going on with the law suit between the two municipalities? Is there no accountability for that dragging on endlessly? And the loss of the parking concession back to NJ Transit? That cost us a lot of money, I presume. Who is stepping up to go through the paddle wheel for that blunder?

I can't believe there is so little information in the public realm about such a key issue with municipal elections only a few days away. Does it strike anyone else as ironic that Planning Board members are running for Aberdeen Council and will likely win seats, despite their abysmal record with the Glass Plant and Train Station renovation projects?

A Blustery Day

Today's wind, rain and blowing leaves might warrant a few minutes hunkered down in your thoughtful spot to watch Winne the Pooh and The Blustery Day.

NJ DEP and Beach Access for Anglers

NJ DEP has promised to rewrite state guidelines to guarantee after-hours beach access after anglers expressed concerns that local municipalities were being granted too much latitude to limit fishing along the Jersey shore. Complaints of heavy enforcement at Cliffwood Beach are mentioned in an Associated Press article that appeared in APP and Philly Inquirer. Rule changes are being drafted at Trenton and should be in effect by Memorial Day 2012.

27th Jolly Mouse Craft Show, Lloyd Road Elem, 5 Nov 2011

Jolly Mouse Craft Show is coming next Saturday 5 November 2011 to Lloyd Road Elementary School in Aberdeen, according to APP. The show, which is scheduled to run from 10 am to 4 pm, offers a variety of handmade crafts for sale. The event supports the Hazlet Aberdeen Matawan Therapeutic Recreation Program.

Matawan Man Arrested After Parking Dispute Leads to Injury

Police told LoHud that a Matawan man was arrested for hitting and injuring a Mount Vernon, New York woman with his car after a dispute over a parking space in Bronxville, New York. LoHud is a news service covering the Lower Hudson Valley.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Josephine Strano Banafato, Matawan, Dead at 101

Josephine Banafato of Matawan died on Saturday 22 October 2011 at the age of 101, according to an obituary in today's APP. She was born in Manhattan to Salvatore Strano and his wife Palma Privetera. She moved to Matawan in 1929 after living briefly in Union Beach and Keyport. She worked as a seamstress in Matawan, the paper said.

She married Frank Banafato and had sons Salvatore, Joseph and Frank.

Her funeral mass will be held at St Joseph's Roman Catholic Church in Keyport on Thursday 27 October 2011 at 9:15 am, followed by burial at the church's cemetery.

The Federal Census shows Josephine Strano in April 1910 at the age of 3 months living with her parents Samuel (26 Italy) and Palma (24 Italy) Strano at 60 Catherine Street in lower Manhattan. Her father's occupation is a laborer on the subway railroad. The young couple had immigrated in 1909 and were still not yet naturalized US citizens. They had been married for one year. Josephine was her mother's first and only child at the time of the census enumeration.

The 1920 Federal Census shows Josephine Strano (10 NJ) living with her parents, Salvatore (36 Italy) and Palma (35 Italy), in Lorillard Beach in Raritan Township, Monmouth County, NJ. The author William H Burket, on page 21 of his book Union Beach, said Lorillard Beach was a section of town, situated between Flat Creek and Union Avenue, where lots went on sale in 1913. Josephine's parents immigrated in 1906, not 1909, according to this record, and they remained aliens. Her father was a laborer at an aeroplane factory, presumably the Aeromarine company. Next door were Michael and Ida Strano, apparently Salvatore's brother and sister-in-law, and their children Josephine (5) and Mariano (4). Michael was also a laborer at the aeroplane factory.

The wedding of Josephine and Frank Banafato took place at St Joseph's Catholic Church in Keyport on Sunday 29 September 1929, according to the 4 October 1929 edition of The Matawan Journal, pg 1.


At a pretty wedding in St. Joseph's Catholic Church, on Sunday afternoon, at 4 o'clock, Miss Josephine Strano, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Salvatore Strano, of Highland Avenue, Keyport, became the bride of Frank Banafato, of Matawan. 

Following the ceremony, which was attended by a large number of friends and relatives, a reception was held in the new home of Matawan Post of the American Legion Matawan, where refreshments, music, and dancing were enjoyed.

Following a short wedding trip, Mr. and Mrs. Banafato will reside at 67 Main Street, Matawan.

The 1930 Federal Census shows Frank (26 Italy) and Josephine (20 NY) Banafato living at 67 Main Street in Matawan, in the same dwelling with  Frank's parents, Joseph (60 Italy) and Virginia (52 Italy) Banafato and Frank's siblings Madeline (17 NY) and Samuel (13 NJ). Frank and his father were both listed as dry goods retail merchants. Joseph and Virginia immigrated in 1908 and 1912, respectively, and were not yet naturalized as US citizens.

Husband Frank Banafato's draft number appears in the 26 March 1942 edition of The Matawan Journal, pg 4 col 3.

The wedding of son Joseph Anthony Banafato and his bride Nancy Roberta Orr, which took place on Saturday 7 July 1956 at St Joseph's Catholic Church in Keyport, appeared (with a photo) in the 12 July 1956 edition of the Matawan Journal, pg 2 col 7, 8. The groom's brother Salvatore was best man and brother Frank was an usher. The bridal party was held at Magnolia Inn in Freneau. The reception was at the Union Beach firehouse. And the honeymoon would be in the Catskills. The bride and groom were both graduates of Matawan High School, she in the Class of 1956, he in 1948. The groom served three years in Japan and Korea with the US Army and was currently working at Hanson-Van Winkle-Munning Company of Matawan. They planned to live at 71 Main Street in Matawan, just down the street from the groom's parents, who lived at 67 Main Street.

The wedding of son Frank J Banafato and his bride Donna Maria Raffa, which took place on Saturday 7 October 1961, appeared (with a photo) in the 12 October 1961 edition of The Matawan Journal, pg 8 col 2, 3. The bride and groom were both graduates of Matawan High School. The groom works as a production manager at Mary Carter Paint Company in Matawan. The bride works at Heuser, Heuser, and DeMaio of Matawan. The honeymoon would be in Nassau, Bahamas after a drive to Florida. The groom's parents lived at 12 Johnson Avenue in Matawan.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Do You Feel Lucky? Hope You Don't Need A Job

How many red lights can the Congress run before all of our luck runs out? They might be fast, but they're stupid.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

History: Asher P Woolley, Retail Hardware, Matawan (1921)

The 27 October 1921 edition of The Matawan Journal contained this ad for the Wright Pipeless Warm Air Heater, the latest in heating equipment by the Mahoning Foundry Company of Youngstown, Ohio.

The local vendor was Asher P Woolley of 188 Main Street in Matawan. Asher, age 28, appeared in the 1920 Federal Census living at 31 Park Avenue in Matawan with his wife Myrtle, age 36. He was occupied in retail hardware, according to the census.

Pancho Villa Expedition - May 1916 (Wikimedia)

Asher was operating the hardware store and living at 31 Park Avenue when he registered for the draft circa 1917.  According to that record, he was born 30 Dec 1891 in Morganville, NJ. He was short and slender with blue eyes and brown hair. Asher had previously served 2 months as a Private in the 1st NJ Cavalry. (Note: According to NJ Military and Veterans Affairs, the 1st Cavalry Squadron mustered into Federal service at Sea Girt on 21 June 1916 for service on the Mexican border (for the so-called Border War), then mustered out at Newark on 21 October 1916. The 1st Cavalry Squadron later became the 117th Cavalry Regiment.)

The 1900 Federal Census showed Asher (8) living in Marlboro with his parents, Alfred (35, farmer) and Lillie (36) Wooley and his younger siblings Gracie (7) and Lester (4). Alfred's grandmother, Fannie, born in July 1816, was living with them, as was Thomas Cogan or Cagan, a 14 year old servant born in NJ to Irish parents.

Asher was still living with his parents in Marlboro in the 1910 Federal Census. He was occupied as a salesman in a grocery store. Asher had a new younger sibling named Florence (11). The household had two new Russian-Polish servants: George Edge (26) and John Velinskiy (31).

In the 1930 Federal Census Asher was living at 123 Broad Street in Matawan. He and Myrtle had two children: an adopted daughter Audrey (6) and a son Robert (5). Asher was a brush maker in a factory in this census, so I guess the hardware store didn't make it through the Crash.

Erosion Continues Unchecked at Cliffwood Beach

A pool of water has been gathering and growing near the hill that covers the old swimming pool

Erosion leaves the rocky beach higher than the gathering pool of water

Tracks in the sand are signs of erosion near the hill that covers the old swimming pool.

Cliffwood Beach is mostly flat and rocky these days

The beachfront at Cliffwood Beach continues to lack protective sand dunes, leaving the beach exposed to new water flows from unchecked tidal waters. 

Fall Colors and Goblins Come to Cliffwood Beach

Monmouth County Clerk Neglects to Post Sample Ballots Online

Sample ballots are not yet posted on the Monmouth County Clerk's web page. The League of Women Voters guidance to NJ voters says we should expect our sample ballots in our mailboxes a week before the election but nothing about when county clerks ought to post them online. The Monmouth County Clerk posted the November 2010 sample ballots online in September, so what's the deal? Districts have changed, so it is all the more important that voters get their sample ballots ASAP.

The League says, by the way, that if you don't get your sample ballot in the mail early this week, there could be something wrong with your voter registration. Guard all aspects of your right to vote and then exercise that right.


I finally found a list of sample ballots buried on the county clerk's website. The page is supposed to be linked to the Forms page but isn't. I found it by conducting a site search. (Turns out they posted a link at the top of the Monmouth County home page this year and didn't add a link to the clerk's page.)

Here's some sample ballots for Aberdeen and neighboring towns:
This weekend you should make sure you learn as much as you can about the candidates. Don't just vote for names you know. If you're voting for the incumbents, make sure you understand their politics, their voting records, and their intentions for the coming term. If you're voting the bums out, make sure they had something to do with what you're upset about. Keep in mind that 75% of your property tax bill involves the school district, so these people have little to do with your bank account being squeezed dry.

I noticed that we're being asked to amend the state constitution to allow sports betting at racetracks and Atlantic City. If you hadn't heard, lotteries and sports betting are extremely regressive ways for the state to earn a buck. The poor have precious little disposable income, so when they gamble they are spending their milk money. The wealthy have extra money to burn. That's why they call it regressive. Just like all this discussion of a flat tax is regressive, against the poor and middle class. I will be voting against the public question.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

The Mighty Macs - A Lesson in Trust and Women's Sports History

We went out to the movies this evening and saw The Mighty Macs, a movie about girls basketball at a small Catholic college in the early 1970s. The movie is infused with a touch of the spirit of both Mona Lisa Smile and Glory Road. Girls basketball had only recently become a full court game and Title IX had not yet emerged to raise up girls sports. We enjoyed the film. A graduate of Immaculata University, the current home of the Mighty Macs, approached us after the show and we had a lovely chat. The movie is showing at Monmouth Mall.

Fall 2011 Clean Ocean Action Beach Sweep - Cliffwood Beach, NJ

We went down to the Fall 2011 Clean Ocean Action (COA) Beach Sweep at Cliffwood Beach this morning. It was a glorious sunny and clear fall day. A bit of a chill in the air. Lots of people were there collecting cans, bottles, plastics, bottle caps, various floatables, and trash. We even found a broken hula hoop! We brought our own gloves, but they offered cloth work gloves, rubber gloves, plastic bags, and trash poles to spear paper trash. We were given a clipboard and a little pencil to log our booty for the big count. We spent about an hour and collected a bag of recyclables. The Township provided a worker and truck to collect the refuse. I was particularly pleased to see lots of children and teens. It's an easy task when so many people show up to help.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Raritan Bay Slag Superfund Site May Be Remediated in 2012

There's a chance that Old Bridge will get its Laurence Harbor Waterfront Park back sometime next summer, that is if discussions at the Raritan Bay Slag Community Advisory Group continue to make progress, according to The Suburban. N L Industries made a proposal to begin cleanup work by next April. Maybe the stars are properly aligned and something will actually happen? I hope so. It's been over two years since those nasty signs went up warning of the presence of lead at the park.

Environmental Protection Online published an article on 10 November 2009 to announce that the EPA had added the Raritan Bay Slag site to its Superfund National Priorities List. Below is part of that article:

For Raritan Bay Slag, the contaminant of concern is lead. In September 1972, a local government official advised the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) that lead-bearing waste material was being disposed of along the Laurence Harbor beachfront on Raritan Bay. NL Industries, Inc. acknowledged that metallic slag waste from blast furnace and blast furnace rubble were disposed of at their property in Old Bridge Township. Old Bridge officials worked with NJDEP to notify the public in writing about health concerns for the lead waste material and restricted access by means of signage and some fencing. However, due to physical constraints, it was not practical to completely fence off contaminated areas.

Analytical results from sampling in 2007 found lead at concentrations as high as 142,000 parts per million at the jetty and seawall. Lead–contaminated slag, associated with the western jetty of the Cheesequake Creek Inlet and the Laurence Harbor Seawall, was observed to be in direct contact with the Raritan Bay. The Raritan Bay is a fishery and a sensitive environment (as identified under the National Estuary Program and a state-designated water body for the maintenance of aquatic life). 

In September 2008, EPA collected surface and subsurface soil, surface water, and sediment samples in the area of the seawall and the jetty. Waste (i.e., slag) samples were also collected from the slag that forms portions of the seawall and jetty. Analytical data from this investigation is pending.

Jackson Browne at Count Basie

We went to Count Basie Theater on Tuesday and enjoyed an evening of music with Jackson Browne. He had maybe 16 guitars at the ready, each equipped for a different type of song. For some reason, his fans felt the need to shout out the names of songs they wanted to hear, which was really annoying. I have his live album on my iPod and the audience that night did the same thing. Our seats were fine, even in Row Z.

The film above will give you a good sense of the look and sound of this year's tour, except to note that his performance went quite flawlessly in Red Bank. Sky Blue and Black, The Load Out/Stay, These Days, and The Pretender are all great songs. My favorite line of the night came from the song Rock Me On the Water:

Oh people, look among you
It's there your hope must lie

We went to Houlihan's for dinner before the show. I recommend finding a place to park and then eating in Red Bank. We ended up parking on a side street across from Gaetano's. At least I had the chance to show off my parallel parking skills in a space on the left side of the street.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Matawan Native Frank Manzo, Drag Racing Champ

The New York Times has a nice piece on Matawan native Frank Manzo, who ran a local construction company until the economy soured two years ago, at which point he accepted an offer to apply his superb but part-time drag racing skills as a sheik's pit boss in Qatar. Interesting story.

Manzo is ranked 40th in the Top 50 Drivers in Championship Drag Racing (1951-2001) by the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA). Competition Plus ran a detailed story on Manzo in 2007.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

2011 Red Bank CROP Walk to End Hunger

I'm planning to participate in the 2011 Red Bank CROP Walk on Sunday 16 October 2011 at 1:30 pm. It's a 5 mile walk for hunger. If you're interested in participating, registration begins at 12:30 pm at Red Bank Regional High School, located at 101 Ridge Road in Little Silver. For more information about the event, click here. Unfortunately, the First Presbyterian Church of Matawan hasn't registered its CROP team online, so you can't designate a gift to me or my team, but you can help fight hunger in our area by clicking here to make a general donation to CROP.

Matawan Day 2011

My wife and I visited Matawan Day today. The Matawan-Aberdeen Chamber of Commerce is celebrating the 325th anniversary of the landing and settlement of Matawan by Scots Presbyterians. The weather was sunny but a bit blustery. Terhune Park looked to be flooded as we walked by. The festivities were downtown. There were countless vendors, food concessions, organizations, and things to see and do. You could buy a purse, get your teeth polished, lose weight, sign up for dance lessons, become an activist, and climb a rock wall, all in about an hour. Lots of people attended. What fun! Matawan Fire Department had its trucks on display.

We chatted with a couple of nice ladies with the national office of the NAACP who were promoting the Bayshore NAACP Branch meeting, which is scheduled for 19 Nov 2011 at noon at St Mark AME Zion Church at 218 Delaware Avenue in Cliffwood. They have a bus heading to the MLK Memorial dedication tomorrow morning, btw. Only $30.

I welcomed Olga, one of the owners of Next Level Dance Academy, which recently opened in the Starbucks shopping center at Main Street and Route 34. The people from Loving Hut Vegan Cuisine were out in force. They should be opening in two weeks, as soon as their final permits are cleared by the Borough. Their restaurant will operate in the Dunkin Donuts shopping center at Broad Street and Rte 34. Ciro Pizza Cafe was handing out menus for their new restaurant off Morristown Road and Cliffwood Avenue. Kimberly Paone was manning the library's table. Cathy Zavorskas was at the Hobby Shop stand.  Maloney's was mobbed so we'll visit another time. Aby's Restaurant had a table. Victoria's Cozy Corner was conspicuously closed.

We had a nice chat with Adele Sammarco, who is the Democratic candidate for Mayor of Matawan, and Bill Cole, who is running for Borough Council. Adele helped out with Mission Matawan last summer. I had a nice conversation with Bill Spedding, who is the Democrat running for NJ State Assembly in the 12th Legislative District.

We bought cheesesteak sandwiches with the works from the booth operated by Philly Cheesesteak Factory USA. They gave me a free t-shirt. (Don't tell anyone but I ate my cheesesteak at a table provided by Bagelicious. I eat at their place on Route 34 and always enjoy myself, so I guess it was ok!)

There was a band playing near the Dollar Store and a dance competition at the corner of Ravine Drive and Main Street. Check out my photos below.

I parked at Starbucks and hoofed it into town. Lots of folks had the same idea.

Dancers were at the ready.

I took a peek inside. Might try it soon. I love Mexican food. They had a promotion for a musician playing last night, but the ad was in Spanish. Looked like a man with an acoustic guitar.

Lopsided Governance in Aberdeen

I received an ad in the mail the other day from the Aberdeen Democrats promoting their candidates for Township Council. The ad suggested that the "Aberdeen Democratic Team" has proven itself by fixing roads, installing solar panels, and securing open spaces, but 3 of the 4 candidates weren't even on the Council when those projects were accomplished. What they are really telling you is that the Township is being run by the Democratic Party through the Council, whoever they happen to put in there.

Individuals should run for office, not parties.And parties ought not to be running the town; the Township Council should be in charge. I personally believe in the checks and balances that result from a two party system and would prefer that the Council was, if not balanced, then at least less lopsided. Voters simply don't have adequate access to local political decision making when one party goes into executive session, for example. Where is the give and take? The exposure of bad ideas in press releases or news leaks? Where is the corrective when things are going wrong? Voting Column 2 as the Democrats suggest in their ad won't give you those checks and balances.

There are a lot of big signs and glossy mailings being paid for by the Democratic Party this year, so the machine obviously wants to remain in total control of the Council. The Republicans have yet to make their presence known, so I suppose the Dems will sweep the Council yet again.

There is apparently no political cost to the Democrats for major projects that continue to languish - the pool club, the glass plant, and the railroad plaza. The new senior center seems to be going to a major Democratic contributor in the state. And there is no cost to the Dems for overdeveloping County Road, tapping the free public library's budget allocation, leaving the grass growing tall at our roadsides and the snow piled so high on area sidewalks that our kids have to walk in the street to get to school.

I'll be voting for sunshine on the Council and quality of life in our Township this November.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Wall Street Protest - October 2011

I visited the anti-Wall Street protest going on in a park at Broadway and Liberty Street in downtown Manhattan. I am generally sympathetic but the issues weren't well focused. I was glad to see Johnny Cash represented.

Diana gets photo credit for most of these shots. I took the video.