A blog about living in Aberdeen, New Jersey.

Friday, July 26, 2013

History - Strathmore Jewish Center Becomes Temple Beth Ahm (1964)

The 24 Dec 1964 edition of The Matawan Journal (pg 11 col 4) announced that the Strathmore-at-Matawan Jewish Center* had just changed its name to Temple Beth Ahm, House of the People. The temple, the only conservative congregation between Red Bank and South Amboy, hoped the less geographically specific name would draw members from a broader region.

The temple had 183 members and its school 125 students at the time of this article's publication. The congregation had purchased a home for its spiritual leader, Rabbi Morris L Rubenstein, at 73 Idlewild Lane in Strathmore.

* Strathmore-at-Matawan was an early name for the Strathmore section of what is now Aberdeen Township, so the center was alternately referred to as the Strathmore, Matawan, and the Strathmore-at-Matawan Jewish Center.

A few earlier mentions of this and other Hebrew congregations in the Journal:

The 10 Dec 1964 edition of The Matawan Journal announced that the Strathmore-at-Matawan Jewish Center would be holding worship services on 18 December at Matawan Regional High School.

The 24 Oct 1963 edition of The Matawan Journal (pg 5 col 7) said a meeting of the Strathmore Jewish Center would be held that evening at the Matawan Township First Aid Squad building at Prospect Avenue and Amboy Road in Cliffwood. Martin Cooper, president of the congregation, urged all members to attend to discuss the Temple's future plans.

The 14 Sep 1950 edition of The Matawan Journal (pg 10 cols 2-3) included a photograph of the synagogue of the United Hebrew Congregation of Keyport.

The 11 May 1889 edition of The Matawan Journal said the First Baptist Church of Newark was meeting in the local Jewish synagogue while the Baptist's edifice was being completed.

The 28 Jul 1888 edition of The Matawan Journal announced the dedication of the House of Miriam Jewish synagogue in Long Branch.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

History: New York Businessmen Use Long Distance Phone Service to Allow a Jersey Shore Vacation

The 11 Sep 1913 edition of The Matawan Journal (pg n7,, cols 4-5) contained the above advertisement for the New York Telephone Company. They were promoting the use of long distance telephone service by New York City businessmen on vacation at the Jersey Shore. "Supervising business affairs by telephone is becoming more and more general, because it increases vacation possibilities without decreasing business efficiency." If they couldn't get away for a week, at least they could spend a weekend, keeping in touch by telephone, the ad said. After all, according to their slogan, "Every Bell Telephone is a long distance telephone."

W H Hall was New York Telephone Company's local agent at 32 Monmouth Street in Red Bank.

History: Trials and Tribulations in Running the Monmouth County Fair (1907-1916)

The 19 Sep 1907 edition of The Matawan Journal announced the incorporation of the Monmouth County Fair Association on Saturday 14 September, with capital stock of $2,000. Mayor C O McFaddin was named president and twenty members stood on the board. The association leased Elkwood Park for its first fair, to be held three days during the first week of October 1908.

The 20 Aug 1908 edition of The Matawan Journal announced that the Monmouth County Fair would be held at Elkwood Park in Long Branch, opening on 31 August and then running all week, including Labor Day. Events would include the Grand Circuit Races. "[M]ost of the fastest trotting and pacing horses in training will compete for the big money prizes offered by the association." Stands to accommodate 5,000 people were being erected. Midway attractions would entertain the thousands expected to attend. 

The 27 May 1909 edition of The Matawan Journal announced that the Monmouth County Fair Association planned to hold its annual fair in Red Bank on 3-4 and 6 September. Improvements had been made to the track and many races would be contested.

The 5 Aug 1909 edition of The Matawan Journal announced that the Monmouth County Fair Association would hold its second annual fair on Labor Day at the corner of Shrewsbury Avenue and Newman Springs Road. Firemen from thirteen companies in the shore area would participate in the day's parade and then attend the fair.

The 11 Sep 1913 edition of The Matawan Journal listed the Matawan contest winners at the recent Monmouth County fair.

The 13 Aug 1914 edition of The Matawan Journal railed against the Monmouth County Fair Association's proposed sale of beer at the annual fair. The editor claimed that representatives of the Monmouth County Federation of Churches were treated discourteously at a recent hearing on the matter in Red Bank, adding that pulpits would likely be referencing the affair from pulpits across the county and a boycott of the event could include hundreds if not thousands.

The 10 Sep 1914 edition of The Matawan Journal told of a local prosecutor's campaign against games of chance at the Monmouth County Fair. Wheels of fortune were banished, as were shell games and a Japanese rolling ball game, possibly pachinko. The game operators quickly discerned that they could sell chances on the co-operative plan and avoid arrest.

The 17 Jun 1915 edition of The Matawan Journal (pg 4 col 2) includes an open letter from The Red Bank Standard about the possible end of the Monmouth County fair because the association hasn't been able to raise a $1,000 guarantee fund against possible losses. Under the title "The Truth At Last," The Standard's letter complained that the Red Bank Register shamelessly promoted the previous year's fair as being the most successful ever because of the beer and rum being sold there. Plus, The Standard claimed that The Register grossly exaggerated the attendance size, suggesting that half a million had visited the fair when reasonable people would have said thousands attended. The Standard concluded  that 1) the disgusting portrayals of the fair no doubt led investors away from the fair, and 2) the boycott of last year's county fair had necessitated the association's effort to secure a guarantee fund, thus the threat to not conduct a fair at all in 1915.

The 27 Jul 1916 edition of The Matawan Journal (pg 1 col 2) announced that the Monmouth County Fair Association would hold the annual fair at the new fairgrounds in Middletown Township on 31 August, 1-2 September and 4 September.

I guess Red Bank had its fill of the fair and abandoned its early zeal for hosting the event -- the Prosecutor's Office prohibiting games of chance on the midway, religious officials decrying the sale of liquor in a time of increased temperance, and a local boycott. It's a wonder the association could find any municipality eager to take over the hosting the county fair after the uproar and turmoil of the early years.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

History: Matawan Journal Applauds US Stand Against Austrian Antisemitism (1885)

The Matawan Journal makes significant editorial comment on what later became known as the Keiley Incident. President Grover Cleveland had attempted to appoint Anthony M Keiley as US ambassador, first to Italy and then to Austria. The US launched a harsh exchange with Austria, captured in the Journal's 22 August 1885 article. The editors applauded the US Government's bristly response to the Austrian Court, which rejected the enjoy, supposedly because he was a weak Catholic, but in actuality because he was married to a Jewish woman.

Keiley served in the Petersburg Rifles during the US Civil War and later became the Mayor of Richmond (1871-1875) and its city attorney. Cleveland eventually was able to place him at the International Court of Appeals in Cairo, Egypt, where he eventually became Chief Justice. After his wife died in Cairo, Keiley traveled Europe, meeting his end on the streets of Paris, where he was struck by a horse and died. (See Civil War Memoirs, Randolph-Macon College, Ashland, VA; and An Old Man at the Battle of Petersburg: Anthony M Keiley, The Siege of Petersburg Online)

The Matawan Journal, 22 Aug 1885 edition, pg 3 col 1:

We mentioned last week that Minister Keiley was not accepted by the Austrian Government to represent the United States because of his wife being a Jewess, and that sect is not recognized in the Austrian Court. Secretary Bayard has permitted the correspondence between this country and Austria relative to the matter to be made public. Secretary Bayard wrote to the Emperor of Austria that the Republic not only does not recognize, but has a profound contempt for, race or religious distinctions, and cannot be expected to consider them for the purpose of humoring other people's prejudices. He further intimates that while the Austrian ambassador will be treated with social and official courtesy so long as he remains here, the Government would not be offended if that gentleman were called back to Austria. In other words, if Austria cannot accept the Minister that America honors, America has no use for Austria nor her ambassador. We like that dignified grit and manhood that thus defends America and her principles. If Austria doesn't like it, America can only say: "Not to know me argues yourself unknown."

The previous week's article (15 Aug 1885 edition, pg 3 col 1) made no mention of the reason why the ambassador's assignment was declined.

The State Department is in receipt of a dispatch from the secretary of the American legation at Vienna to the effect that the Austrian government has declined to receive Minister Kelley. No reason is assigned.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Reverend Robert James Kent, Pastor, First Presbyterian Church of Matawan (1883 - 1888)

Robert James Kent, aka R J Kent, was born 28 December 1855 in New York City. He graduated from Williams College in 1877, then Union Theological Seminary in New York in 1880. He was ordained that year in the Presbytery of New Brunswick (NJ) and became pastor of Kirkpatrick Memorial Church in Ringoes, NJ.

Rev Kent married Mary Emma Tracy on 6 July 1881. They lost a daughter Agnes Louise in infancy. There was a son, Robert, and a daughter.

Rev Kent moved to the First Presbyterian Church of Matawan in 1883 and served there until 1888.

Rev Kent left the denomination and joined the Congregational church. He became the pastor of the Lewis Avenue Church at the corner of Lewis Avenue and Madison Street in Brooklyn, NY.  The church grew under his care from a small congregation to one of the leading Congregational churches in the area.

"He achieved fame in the 1890s as leader in the crusade against political corruption of the John Y McKane ring," according to the 12 Aug 1941 edition of The Brooklyn Eagle. The New York Times interviewed half a dozen Brooklyn ministers in a November 1893 article, each of whom referenced an assault against Rev Kent while battling McKane and his Gravesend machine. He received a Doctor of Divinity from Williams College in 1895, awarded in recognition of his civic service to Brooklyn, primarily for the work he did against McKane.

Kent established the Church in the Gardens in Forest Hills, Queens in 1913 and served there eight years. His last pastorate was at the Congregational Church at Orient. He retired to his home in Southold, NY, on the north shore of Long Island, in 1926. He died at his home on 12 August 1941.

History: Matawan Churches Form Temperance Union (1884)

The 26 Jul 1884 edition of The Matawan Journal (pg 4 col 3) announced the formation of a joint temperance committee uniting the local Methodists, Presbyterians and Baptists in Matawan.

Matawan Temperance Alliance

A joint meeting was held on Monday evening at the residence of Rev F A Slater, of the Temperance Committees of the Methodist, Presbyterian and Baptist Churches of Matawan. The object of the meeting was to arrange for joint work in furthering the neglected cause of temperance in our midst.

The meeting was organized by electing Rev H G Williams as President of the Joint Committee; Rev F. A, Slater, Vice President; W V Simpson, Esq, Secretary; and David A Bell, Treasurer.

An Executive Committee was chosen,  consisting of the pastor and one layman from each church, whose duty it is to arrange for public meetings. The general necessity for more active temperance work was spoken of by all present.

The Executive Committee met  and organized after the adjournment of the Joint Committee, by electing Rev R J Kent chairman and Prof Jacobus secretary; Mr A H Harris, acting as secretary pro tem. It was agreed to hold a Union Temperance meeting in the Presbyterian Church on the second or third Sunday evening in September, and Rev R J Kent and Rev F A Slater were appointed to secure a speaker.
Rev Henry G Williams, born about 1837 in Pennsylvania, was a Methodist Episcopal preacher who was associated with churches in Lambertville, Long Branch, Toms River, Angelton and Matawan, among others. He preached at Centenary Methodist in Lambertville beginning in 1879 and was there for the 1880 Federal Census, along with wife Susannah, daughter, and a servant. He gets a brief mention in a number of church histories online.

Reverend Franklin A Slater was born about 1823 in New York and served as the pastor of the Matawan Baptist Church from 1856 to 1862. He was widowed and living in Matawan in 1880. His son Frank was operating the Washington Hall Pharmacy in Matawan in 1880. (See A 1904 History of Baptists in Keyport and Matawan and Professionals and Businessmen of Matawan, 1880

William V Simpson, born 1846 in New York, was on the Board of Trustees of the Presbyterian Church in Matawan in September 1908. (See Dr Alexander Young, Pastor, First Presbyterian Church (1894-1907)) The 1900 Federal Census enumerated him as a lawyer living in Matawan along with wife Emma and two children.

David A Bell was the owner of The Matawan Journal.

Charles Jacobus was principal at the Glenwood Institute.

Alex H Harris, 62 year old, was operating a hardware store in Matawan with his son W Kramer Harris in 1880. Presumably an early iteration of Harris Hardware.

Rev Robert James Kent was pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Matawan from 1883 to 1888. He was born 28 Dec 1855 in New York City. He graduated from Union Theological Seminary in 1880 and was ordained by the Presbytery of New Brunswick. He served the Kirkpatrick Memorial Church in Ringoes, NJ from 1880 to 1883, then moved to Matawan. He left the Presbyterian denomination in 1888 and became pastor of a Congregational church in Brooklyn. (See his obituary in an August 1941 edition of The Brooklyn Daily Eagle at Fulton History

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Getting Around In Aberdeen-Matawan During Road/Bridge Construction

The assortment of construction equipment and materials at the corner of Rte 35 and Cliffwood Avenue has changed. They've brought in a large stock of relatively small diameter pipe and some land moving equipment. Most of the large numbered concrete pieces are gone. I've not attempted Route 35 north of Cliffwood Av since construction began, but there've been no northbound traffic backups that I've noticed. 

Not so Lloyd Road. The traffic on Lloyd yesterday was backed up from Church St all the way to Samaha's at Line Road. I suspect people were avoiding the Matawan Ave bridge closure and the delays at the Main St bridge construction, so the traffic light at Church backed up the increased flow. 

I noticed black plastic placed over the detour sign at the corner of Matawan Av and Cliffwood Av yesterday, but my instinct was not to attempt the bridge. It was only a subtle invitation that I had no time to test out. If it turned out to be a fool's errand, it could be hard to make a left onto Cliffwood Av from Myrtle. 

I prefer Cliffwood Av to Cross Rd to Middlesex Rd to Rte 34 for getting across town in this difficult time. I think we are in for another week of this. 

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Lloyd Road Pool Project Halted?

What's up with the pool club construction? Haven't seen changes in months? Money dry up? Permits delayed? Change of plans?

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Detour? Do Tell.

Aberdeen Township never bothered to let residents know that the railroad bridge on Matawan Avenue would be closed but didn't hesitate to post and circulate a notice about a  Partial Road Closure on Lower Main Street. I suspect the Matawan Avenue bridge is at the border of Matawan and Aberdeen and therefore the Township felt it didn't warrant a notice.

Certainly Aberdeen officials can see, if only after the fact, that their residents are affected nonetheless and should have been provided notice. Actually I still don't really know what it going on with the bridge closing or how long it will last, so letting us know now would not be a wasted effort unless the bridge work is going to finish on Thursday.

Aberdeen officials don't seem to have considered that travel between Cliffwood, Cliffwood Beach and points south (and vice versa) is going to be severely, severely affected by the combination of the two closures. Didn't anyone think about this? Really?? I guess we get to take an even wider detour around the Borough to get from one side of the Township to the other. Joy.

Aberdeen officials always brag about their road projects when it comes to re-election bids. When they go to the polls and are pondering who to vote for, residents should make sure to remember the capable management (or lack thereof) that went into road projects.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Cliffwood and Cliffwood Beach Update - July 2013

Some updates about Cliffwood and Cliffwood Beach:

  • Bruno's on Cliffwood Avenue, near the railroad tracks, has closed. The property owner has a sign up seeking a business to lease the space. Two underground tanks of some sort were removed from the property in recent days, so it should be about ready for a new shop to occupy the space. I'll miss the old Hershey's chocolate sign that hung outside.
  • There is construction at the traffic light across from McDonald's at Amboy Avenue and Route 35. They've removed the curbs and seem to be widening the road on the A&P side of the highway. Perhaps they will widen the roadway there so traffic can enter and exit the A&P lot from the McDonald's traffic light? 
  • I suppose that is part of the overall construction project underway on Route 35. There are numbered concrete fittings piled up on the grass where Burlew's pizza parlor used to be, across from the Goodwill store. The fittings are marked with the letters "CB," plus numbers, probably indicating how they fit together to carry the creek under Route 35. Just think: We could be flood free soon, unless of course another Sandy comes along and floods the whole area. Let's not think about that.
  • Have you noticed something odd with the left arrow when you are exiting Cliffwood Beach on Cliffwood Avenue at Route 35? The left arrow goes away but the light remains red for about two seconds before turning green. If you are approaching when the arrow disappears, do you stop? Or do you get mad when others stop? Oh, and, by the way, do you get mad when people wait to cross into the far lane and enter the A&P lot, keeping others from making the left turn onto Route 35? But I digress. . . .
  • The Cliffwood Beach seawall was seriously undercut by Sandy, leaving maybe half a dozen of the concrete sidewalk sections uneven and at an angle. There is also at least one section of rail missing. I hope repairs to the seawall are part of the Governor's relief package. Or maybe we could ask the UAE for some help?
  • Finally, the dry cleaners in the A&P shopping center is closed. I guess too many folks have been using those dryer sheets from the grocery store.

Matawan Avenue Detour

Matawan Avenue has been closed to thru traffic for a week as repairs are made to the bridge that crosses the railroad tracks, between the GSP and Aberdeen Road. There's been little public information about the work being done or how long it will go on. In the meantime, those traveling between Cliffwood Beach and Starbucks and environs have to take the long way around - either Cliffwood Ave to Cross Rd or Route 35 S to Main St. 

Not unlike the repairs on Rte 35 and the power outage in Cliffwood Beach, we are having to bear up to a lack of information from authorities and media. The new reality, I guess. 

SRO Mondays on North Jersey Coast Trains

The past few Monday mornings have been standing room only for commuters at the Aberdeen-Matawan train station. The shore trains have been coming in fuller than usual because of beach goers returning to the city after a week's rental or a weekend visit with friends or family. It is good to see healthy tourism after last October's devastation, but NJ Transit is doing little or nothing to adjust its positioning of equipment to ease the overcrowding.