A blog about living in Aberdeen, New Jersey.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Cliffwood Beach Access Road Cleanup

I pulled some tires, bottles and plastics from along the beach access road today and left them near the Greenwood Avenue gate. Perhaps some others might want to help out over the weekend by picking up some other debris and leaving it there? And then the Aberdeen Utility Dept could come by next week and pick it up?And people could stop leaving their beer bottles in the brush along the access road? Show some class.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Cambridge Club Construction Underway in Earnest

Serious construction work is finally underway on the Cambridge Club, which has long been planned for the site of the former Strathmore Bath and Tennis Club on Lloyd Road.at Cambridge Drive in Aberdeen. The project languished for several years after initial discussions of a 2011 deadline for completion. But all we saw was an idle site with occasional debris removal and tepid site preparation. Finally things seem to be underway in earnest. Perhaps the financial markets put a damper on the project? Glad to see work being done at last.

The contractor is PJR Construction. The developers are Frank and Tammy McTaggart-Ward. Architectural renderings and a dated discussion of the project are available in the Spring 2009 edition of The Aberdeen Update (pg 2).

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Board Gives Last Minute Notice of Park Cleanup Event

It was a great idea for Aberdeen Township to seek volunteers for a Saturday morning clean up event at the River Gardens Natural Area, but it seems to me that the Township's Environmental Board could have done more to draw in volunteers for this worthy project in the Riverdale Park section of Cliffwood.

The board's press release was dated Thursday for a Saturday morning event, a bit late in my view. I know I didn't come across word of the event until about an hour ago. While it was somehow picked up before press time by Gannet's weekly Independent, the original press release didn't go out to Aberdeen residents by e-Bulletin until Friday morning and there was no information in The Matawan-Aberdeen Patch or Asbury Park Press.

The board could have taken advantage of the Patch's free community events feature or given them a brief interview. There was nothing in The Asbury Park Press, but that's no surprise. We're not in southeastern Monmouth or Ocean County, so we don't count.

I hope the project was well attended and wish I could have participated. Its last minute and limited promotion might have kept many people like me in the dark.

By the way, in the course of conducting my research for this article I noticed that the Township website search tool only brings up 3 hits for the string "River gardens," while an advanced Google search of the website ("river gardens" site:www.aberdeennj.org) yields 19 hits. The Township webmaster might want to take a look at the search tool and see what's up. Neither tool brought up Thursday's press release, but that could be due to a slow web crawler.

History: Rosa F Schock, Matawan Shop Owner (1891-1915)

The 21 Jan 1909 edition of The Matawan Journal (pg 5) included the above advertisement for Rosanna F. Schock's dry goods shop in Matawan.

Seasonable Footwear

Goodyear Rubber Overshoes
Unsurpassed for Fit - Unequalled for Wear
* Goodyear's Inc Mfg Co New York *
Every Pair Warranted Perfect

Also a Full Line of Boots and Felt 
Boots of the Same Make.

Sole Agents for the Lambertville
Snag-Proof Boots and Overshoes.

R F Schock
Outfitter for the whole family.
Matawan, New Jersey

The 1880 Federal Census showed Rosanna F Schock, 27 years old, born in New York to German parents, keeping house in Matawan for her husband, Mathias Schock, 33 years old, born in Germany to German parents, a butcher by trade. Living with them was their son Mathias, age 2, born in NJ; the head of household's brothers George, age 26, and Charles, age 24, both born in NJ to German parents; and a female servant, Carrie Straub, age 17, born in NY to German parents.

By the time of the 1900 Federal Census, Rose F Schock was widowed and head of her household on Main Street in Matawan, where she operated a dry goods merchant. She was age 47, born Mar 1853 in NJ to German parents. Two of her four children were still alive; both were living at home -- Mathias was age 22, born Feb 1878 in NJ; Charles was age 19, born Sep 1880 in NJ. Both clerked in their mother's dry goods store.

The 1910 Federal Census showed that Rosa F Schock (57 NY) and her two sons still lived in the same household on Main Street. She had made her boys partners in her dry goods business. Mathias F Schock (32 NJ) had married and they had a 3 year old child. Charles C Schock (30 NJ) remained single.

The 25 Mar 1915 edition of The Matawan Journal reported Rosa Schock's retirement and sale of the business to her son, Charles C Schock. The article below provides a useful history of her business.

Today the Fountain Avenue & Main Street properties mentioned in the article can be found across the street from the Matawan-Aberdeen Public Library(photo below). A long professional building sits at the left corner of Fountain and a small shop can be found on the right corner. One was the site of the former Disbrow shop, which Mrs Schock acquired in the mid-1880's, presumably soon after her husband's death. The other was the site of the former Fountain, Horner and Sons brick store, which she bought from Stockton Horner in 1891.

Corner of Main Street and Fountain Avenue, Matawan, NJ. (Google)

Sunday, March 17, 2013

History: Wheeler & Almond Circus (1933)

The Wheeler and Almond Circus was due to perform in Matawan Township on the vacant lot across from the Oak Shades Fire House on Friday 21 Jul 1933, according to the 14 Jul 1933 edition of The Matawan Journal. A portion of the 25 cent admission price would benefit Matawan Township Hose and Chemical Company No 1. Performances were to be at 1:30 pm and 7:30 pm.

Al F Wheeler and Jethro Almond were the owners of this circus.

The Circus Historical Society has the March-April 1959 edition of Bandwagon (Vol 3 No 2) posted online. Included is a biography of Jethro Almond as well as a photograph of the Wheeler and Almond Circus when it performed in Hightstown in 1933. Not available online is Joseph T Bradbury history of the Wheeler and Almond circuses, which appeared in the September-October 1996 edition (Vol 40 No 5 pp 11-18 - Wheeler & Sautelle Circus 1931-32) and the May-June 1997 edition (Vol 41 No 3 pp 4-13 - Wheeler & Almond Circus 1933-35)

They hired the aerialists team "The Silverlakes" on 15 Jul 1933, according to a detailed history of the Timberlakes and Silverlakes at darrenruby.com.

The Houston Library has an image of a circus poster from 1935 showing the circus' "iron jaw" tightrope act.

The Milner Libary at the University of Illinois has an undated circus poster featuring a dozen images of roaring lions.

Emory University has the following items in their collection:
  • Wheeler and Almond Circus (Box 22 Folder 29)
  • Jethro Almond (Box 23 Folder 6)
  • Almond and Conley 3-Ring Circus (Box 9 Folder 5)
  • Downie and Wheeler's World's Best Shows Combined (Box 12 Folder 1)
  • Al F Wheeler's New Model Shows/ Wheeler Brothers (Box 22 Folder 28)
Jethro Almond's obituary appeared in the 26 Oct 1959 edition of The Billboard (pg 55, col 3).

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Morgan NJ Blog; Thomas Warne Museum and Madison Township Historical Society

There's a new blog at Wordpress dealing with the Morgan section of Sayreville, New Jersey. So far, Verne James has focused on historical topics, with lots of photographs and images of old maps and documents. Morgan's just up the road from Cliffwood on Route 35, north of Laurence Harbor.

The North Jersey Coast line runs through Morgan. That's the place where the lights sometimes go out in the train while crossing the trestle over Cheesequake Creek. The trestle, a railroad drawbridge, took quite a beating during Hurricane Sandy, leaving quite a mess in the storm's aftermath. Morgan is also the home of the Gillespie Munitions Plant explosion back in 1918.

In a recent post, Verne mentioned the Thomas Warne Museum, which is the home of the Madison Township Historical Society. (Madison Township was formed from part of South Amboy in 1869 and was renamed Old Bridge Township in 1975 to eliminate confusion with a Madison in Morris County, according to Wikipedia.)

The museum is located at 4216 Route 516, Old Bridge, NJ. Be sure to visit the museum (Fri noon to 4pm and weekends noon to 6 pm) and friend them on Facebook.

Blogger Seeks the Paranormal in the Bayshore

Freelance writer Greg Caggiano, author of the blog "From New York to San Francisco," included a travelogue in January titled "A Trip to Rose Hill Cemetery in Matawan; And Other Local Hot-Spots." He checked for ghosts haunting the cemetery and also visited spirits at Dempsey House in Leonardo and Spy House in Port Monmouth.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

History: Cancer Can Strike Anyone! Strike Back. (1949 ACS Ad)

The 7 Apr 1949 edition of The Matawan Journal contained this front page advertisement supporting the American Cancer Society.

History: Tennis in the Matawan Area (1887 - 1949)

Below are excerpts and summaries from a selection of articles from The Matawan Journal about tennis and tennis clubs in the Matawan area in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

The 16 Apr 1887 edition of The Matawan Journal, pg 2 col 4, mentioned a local tennis club.

The 8 Jun 1889 edition of The Matawan Journal mentioned lawn tennis off Main Street in Matawan. "The lawn tennis ground on the lot fronting Main street of the Chapman estate is a popular after-ten resort."

A new tennis club was being formed in Matawan, according to the 6 Jun 1907 edition of The Matawan Journal. "The court on the Institute Grounds will be put in shape, "a reference to the Glenwood Institute property. S H Eggleston was the grounds manager and Miss Simpson was secretary and treasurer.

According to the 20 May 1909 edition of The Matawan Journal, music was performed at Glenwood Hall to raise money for the tennis club but the event was poorly attended. The club subsequently voted unanimously to raise the admission fee from $2 to $3, according to the 4 Jun 1914 edition of the newspaper.

The 23 Apr 1914 edition of The Matawan Journal told of the formation of a new tennis club in Matawan. "New Tennis Club Organized. Those interested in the forming of a tennis club met at the home of F. H. Lloyd but Thursday evening and the following officers were elected:
President - F. H. Lloyd,
Vice-president — Kathryn H. Terhune,
Secretary and Treasurer — Wllson Hobrough.
Plans were made to fix over the old court and to make one or possibly two new ones on the west side of Glenwood Institute."

The Matawan Lake Committee, a group developing the plans for Lake Matawan and Lake Lefferts, was espousing the need for a boating and tennis club on lakeside property to help citizens to get out of their rut, according to the 10 Mar 1921 edition of The Matawan Journal.

The 28 Apr 1921 edition of The Matawan Journal (pg 9 col 1) told of the formation of a new tennis club in Matawan. "A number of people interested in the formation of a tennis club met in the school parlors on Monday evening, nt which time an organization was perfected and the following officers elected: President, Elmore Katner; secretary, Lewis Bergen; and treasurer, Thomas Costello. The charter membership consisted of twenty-five people. Work will be started immediatetly on two courts to be constructed on the grounds adjoining P. J. Devlin's residence."

Tennis courts were built at the Cliffwood Beach seashore in 1929, according to Of Town and Field: Matawan and Aberdeen, by Helen Henderson, pg 101. (See Google Books)

The Hazlet Tennis Club held its regular meeting at the home of Winfield Maurer, according to the 1 Sep 1933 edition of The Matawan Journal, pg 2 col 2. A tournament with Centerville Tennis Club would be held on 4 Sep 1933, part at Centerville and part on Hazlet's court. "Interest is running high in both clubs. . ."

The Matawan Tennis Club drew lots for an upcoming tournament, according to the 15 Jun 1934 edition of The Matawan Journal, pg 4 col 2. The article named players paired in competition. The Keyport Tennis Club defeated Middletown in a recent competition mentioned in the same paper, pg 6 col 4. The team was striving to restore interest in the sport locally.

The Cliffwood Tennis Club was soliciting for members, according to the 29 Jun 1934 edition of The Matawan Journal, pg 2 col 5. The club boasted modernistic courts near the Cliffwood Beach boardwalk that had cost $4,000 to build. Edward Wagner was the club's spokesman at the time.

The Keyport Tennis Club would begin the current season in early June on courts opposite Keyport High School, according to the 24 May 1935 edition of The Matawan Journal. The courts were in as fine a condition as they had been in two years, the paper said, adding that many locals were still signing up to play as interest in the sport continued to grow in the region. Preparation had involved three afternoons of practice per week for the past month.

The Keyport Tennis Club held its annual meeting at the Maple Place home of its president, Charles Moore, according to the 10 Jan 1936 edition of The Matawan Journal. The gathering was a party, with two tables of bridge and one table of pinocle. The club was limited to 25 members, with vacancies filled by election. The club met the first Friday of each month.

The obituary of Keyport Board of Education President Joseph D Bedle, which appeared in the 31 Dec 1942 edition of The Matawan Journal, noted that he "was a founder of the Keyport Tennis Club, which had courts on his property."

The Sugar Hill Tennis Club of Morganville held its party at the Texas Road home of Mr and Mrs John Gardner, according to the 24 Mar 1949 edition of The Matawan Journal. Mr and Mrs Harry Cooper, of Matawan, hosted the Sugar Hill Tennis Club on Saturday evening, according to the 7 Apr 1949 edition of The Matawan Journal, pg 5 col 3.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Bank of America to Add ATM Kiosks By Bagelicious?

Bank of America has been in discussions with the Aberdeen Zoning Board with plans to erect ATM kiosks at 217 State Highway 35 in Cliffwood. The address seems to be that empty paved lot at the corner of Route 35 and Cliffwood Avenue, next to Bagelicious.

The same text has appeared over and over again in the agendas of the zoning board, but the blurb really doesn't make much sense. Does someone know what has been approved? An interpretation of the rules? Why the either/or structure of a memorialized resolution? Here's the wording of the final memorialized resolution, as it appeared in the 27 Feb 2013 Planning Board Agenda:

SP12-514 (rev)/Bank of America
Applicant: Bank of America
Property Owner: R. Deal Holdings, LLC
217 State Highway 35
Block 233, Lot 2

Interpretation of the Zoning Ordinance to permit construction of drive up ATM kiosks (tie vote), or in the alternative a Use Variance and Preliminary and Final Site Plan approval with bulk variances and waivers for construction of a phased development of two (2) freestanding drive up ATM kiosks and related infrastructure, lighting and site improvements. Applicant seeks variances for minimum lot width, lot depth, front yards (2), rear yard, minimum gross floor area, number of parking spaces, number of attached building fa├žade signs and sign setback, on property located in the Highway Commercial “HC” zone.


Bank of America has ATM machines inside the A&P grocery store across the street, but none outside. When that bank was Franklin Bank, it was in the building where the Cliffwood post office resides now. The parking spaces behind the post office used to be the drive-thru lanes. I guess the current bank couldn't get space for outdoor ATMs in the shopping center lot and had to opt for space nearby.