Category Archives: Opinion

Editorials, letters to the editor and other articles reflecting on iconic people, places and traditions related to them in the area.

Retro Rumson Summer: The Barn Theater

Clip of press photo for The Barn Theater's production of "The Fantasticks" in the summer of 1977
Clip of press photo for The Barn Theater’s production of “The Fantasticks” in the summer of 1977
"Bye Bye Birdie" at The Barn Theater in Rumson circa summer of 1977 Photo/Elaine Van Develde
“Bye Bye Birdie” at The Barn Theater in Rumson circa summer of 1977
Photo/Elaine Van Develde

The following piece was originally posted on July 8, 2015. As we dive into summer season, we thought it only fitting to remember good summer times outside of the usual beach romp for those who grew up and raised their families in the Rumson-Fair Haven area — summer theater. Once upon a time, there was a special little place in Rumson … Take a trip back with us to  simple summers and magical, theatrical times … 

Remember The Barn Theater in Rumson?

Well, if you don’t, you missed out and are probably significantly younger than those who do and didn’t — miss out, that is.

It’s a plus if you’re that young. But, it’s definitely a factor in the minus category if you didn’t work, play or get entertained there.

It was a community theater that cast hundreds, maybe thousands, from the area, including many Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School (RFH) students.

The building is still there, only a few blocks away from the high school on Avenue of Two Rivers near the intersection at Ridge Road. The reason why it was called The Barn was, well, because it was an old barn, gutted (if there is such a thing with a barn) and converted into a small arena-type stage theater, with the stage at floor level and risers around it as seats, though not all the way around.

You get the picture. Now, here’s what’s behind the place’s show folk and shows …

Continue reading Retro Rumson Summer: The Barn Theater

Retro Knollwood Grad Fashionistas

Knollwood Class of '74 graduation fashionistas Stephanie DeSesa, Elaine Van Develde (yours truly) and Wanda Becker. Photo/Sally Van Develde
Knollwood Class of ’74 graduation fashionistas Stephanie DeSesa, Elaine Van Develde and Wanda Becker.
Photo/Sally Van Develde

Eighth graders in the Rumson-Fair Haven area have graduated.

Photos are popping up all over social media. And these crews of grade school cronies seem to have a panache we eighth graders of the 1970s lacked. There they all are … posing, arms wrapped around one another, sporting stylish clothes, tans and toothy grins.

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Retro Knollwood Boys’ Style

Knollwood School Class of 2002 Photo/Elaine Van Develde
Knollwood School Class of 2002
Photo/Elaine Van Develde

In keeping with the celebration of eighth grade graduation fashion, let’s take a look at the boys’ style.

You’d have to admit that fad dress-up attire has been kinder to the male gender over the years — except for the leisure suit. That was an unforgiving polyester fashion fail.

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Retro RFH Buds & Bridge

There’s nothing like a best buddy — or a few best buds. There was also nothing like the combination of best friends and the iconic bridge that was a leftover statue or cement billboard of sorts from the McCarter estate in Rumson.

So, to pay tribute to both buds and the bridge, the Retro Pic(s) of the Day offers a glimpse of both in milestone moments of friends paying homage to one another by painting the bridge way back in time.

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A Mother’s Day Salute to R-FH Area Moms Through the Generations

Happy Mother’s Day to Rumson-Fair Haven area moms of the past and present!

You put the coffee on. You called for us when dinner was ready. You held on tight when we needed a hug. You wiped our dirty little faces, sopped up tears and runny noses. You were there, front and center, at many a school open house, game, play, concert and, yes, principal’s office visit. You welcomed the neighborhood kids as if they were your own. You wrote all those notes to get us out of gym class (because some of us were clods). You shook your heads in disbelief over our antics and yelled our full names like a loving banshee when you were mad. You had our backs. You were just plain there — the unshifting foundation of a community through the years, building a legacy.

Thank you. We remember those who are gone and salute those who carry on …

— Elaine Van Develde

Photos/courtesy of Facebook friends

 

Retro RFH Girls’ Drive into the Past

RFH girls' ride into the summer of '78 ... Stephanie DeSesa, Elaine Van Develde, Debbie Humbert and Daryl Cooper Ley Photo/Elaine Van Develde
RFH girls’ ride into the summer of ’78 … Stephanie DeSesa, Elaine Van Develde, Debbie Humbert and Daryl Cooper Ley
Photo/Elaine Van Develde

There’s nothing quite like a summer drive in a classic car with the top down. Though it may not be summer yet, it’s been that kind of day for a few days now. So, we’re re-running this piece just because the sun needs to shine on friendships and good times like these. There’s nothing quite as warm. Put the top down and take a drive back with us again … 

The drive is all the better if it’s made with best friends. So, as a continuing ode to summer fun of the past at the hands of RFH teens, the Retro Pic of the Day encapsulates the whole idea — best friends, a cool ride and warm memories.

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Retro RFH Baseball First: Girl on the Boys’ Team

RFH Class of '78 alumni Nancy Whelchel was the first girl to play on the boys' baseball team. Photo/George Day
RFH Class of ’78 alumni Nancy Whelchel was the first girl to play on the boys’ baseball team.
Photo/George Day

In light of baseball season and honoring high school firsts in the breaking down of gender barriers, this Retro Pic of the Day, originally published in 2015, is being recirculated … 

Yes, it’s all about baseball right now.

And the idea of RFH girls breaking into sports that were traditionally boys’ is something to think about.

So, who was on first, or, rather who was first to be somewhere on the field with the guys in the 1970s? It was RFH Class of ’78 alumni Nancy Whelchel.

Yes, Nancy got onto the baseball field with the boys at RFH a year or two after Chris Bowden scored a goal for girls in soccer.

It all happened back in the day when girls had just made strides to change the dress code and wear pants to school. That was a mass effort. There were a lot of girls walking around wearing skirts or dresses with pants underneath. But that’s another girls’ liberation story for another day.

It’s about those singular sensation girls who defied a status quo form of sexism when literally playing the fields.

So, the Retro Pic of the (George) Day honors one of those girls — Nancy Whelchel. It’s a snapshot of Nancy on the field with Ward Tietz.

We’re not sure if this is an actual team practice shot or just one in which she was just tossing the ball around for fun with a couple of the guys from her class.

Still, there she is playing ball. She had the guts and the sports acumen to break the good ol’ — or young — boys’ sports network.

Home run.

I somehow don’t recall any sort of rebellion from the boys. She was good. That was all that mattered.

Any firsts for girls on the football field? Anyone? What was Nancy Whelchel’s specialty on the baseball field?

Many thanks, again, to George Day for this classic!

— Elaine Van Develde

Retro RFH Batty Gym Suits

Batter’s almost up at RFH as baseball season is set to go into full swing soon. But, looking back at some RFH 1970s games, you have to wonder when or why, exactly, was there ever a season of the ol’ gym suit.

Really. Ponder it. Those things that made girls look like Stay Puff marshmallows, or, worse, a big baby with a onesie that had enough space for a diaper or, well … you get the picture.

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Retro RFH Reunion Bridge Alert

A bridge RFH reunion invite
Photo/Doug Borden

Here we go again … The RFH Class of ’78 is gearing up for its 40th reunion on Aug. 8, 2018 (yes, that’s 8/8/18). There’s a major planning process that has begun, thanks to a fearless crew of volunteers, and lots of meetings and social media notifications, texts, cell phone calls … you name it. Yes, name it. Try. There are all sorts of modes of communication in effect, except one very important one — the bridge!

There was a time when communication was limited to landline phones, snail mail and, well, there was nothing better than getting the word out by just reverting to old school days and painting the bridge.

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Retro Whistle Stop Smiles; Timeless Celebration of a Fair Haven Icon’s Birthday

Frank Leslie Sr. and his gaggle of kids at the Whistle Stop in Fair Haven circa 1979 Photo/Elaine Van Develde
Frank Leslie Sr. and his gaggle of kids at the Whistle Stop in Fair Haven circa 1979
Photo/Elaine Van Develde

Today would have marked the 89th birthday of Fair Haven’s Frank Leslie Sr., owner of the iconic Whistle Stop. In honor of that, we are sharing this piece originally posted on July 20, 2016. Happy Birthday, Mr. Leslie! Thanks for the many smiles and simple good times!

By Elaine Van Develde

Sometimes all it takes is a jawbreaker, a slice of Elio’s pizza, pinball and friends all enveloped in a gingham-curtained room with a jovial giant of a dad host to make a bunch of kids smile.

Sometimes. Some simpler time back in time.

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Retro RFH Basketball Slam Dunk

A 1970s RFH basketball moment Photo/George Day
A 1970s RFH basketball moment
Photo/George Day

It’s basketball season at RFH. So, we’re bringing this up again …

It’s no secret that RFH has had some slam dunk success with the sport.

So, to honor the basketball season and victory scores, the Retro Pic of the (George) Day offers a look back at the RFH basketball sidelines and the young players, photographer and scorekeeper of an early 1970s high school game.

The uniforms are quite different now. They’re black, not purple, longer sleeved and, yes, the shorts are longer. Hey, that was the trend back in the day: purple, sleeveless and short (shorts).

Who wears short shorts? Wait, that was the iconic line in that Nair commercial.

Well, these guys wore short shorts. And they played a good game. Aside from the old uniforms, that may have us a bit captivated, all the guys in this photo are fixated on something.

All eyes are looking in one direction. And the scorekeeper is staring and poised to push that button and the photographer (Andy Koch?) is focused and ready to shoot.

Anyone remember this moment and what the focus was on? Come on, zoom! Anyone? Now, about those uniforms … black or purple? Preferences?

Thanks again, George Day, for this priceless score in RFH photography history!

Remembering Fair Haven’s Donny Frank, Police Officer, Fireman, Friend; Memorials Slated

The mourning buntings have once again been hung on the Fair Haven Firehouse. The marquee is a mere microcosm of the long story of a lifelong Fair Havenite’s service to his town and his passing.

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