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 Fair Kitchen & Dining Room Folks

The following piece was originally published on Aug. 27, 2015. It’s just bout fair time again, so it’s time to take a look back at how things were and are done a pivotal place at the fair — the kitchen and dining room.

By Elaine Van Develde

Someone’s in the kitchen at Fair Haven Firemen’s Fair grounds.

And while they may have, at one point another been with someone named Dinah, as the old ditty goes, it’s a definite they’ve been with someone named Mike, Dale, Sue (x2), Raquel, Ethel (x2), Mary, Anne, Amanda, Skippy, Hodgie, Mary Ellen, Joe, Evie, and, oh, yeah, Andy and a few others.

And they certainly haven’t been strummin’ on any ol’ banjo. They’ve been way too busy — cutting, peeling, filling, flouring, husking and just plain cooking.

Except there’s nothing plain about what’s cooking in the fair kitchen, who’s cooking it, when, where, why or how.

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Retro Back-to-School with an RFH Science Teacher & Assistant Superintendent

A look back at RFH science teacher James Parker and Assistant Superintendent Donald Trotter Photo/George Day
A look back at RFH science teacher James Parker and Assistant Superintendent Donald Trotter
Photo/George Day

Back-to-school time is already creeping around that corner.

And with back-to-school thoughts come hopes of a good teacher or two and memories of the ones who we thought were the coolest. Then there were those administrators who weren’t just a Charlie Brown teacher voice cawing over the ol’ daydreaming student’s non-thought process. Some, or one in particular, are remembered as a real education innovators.

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Retro RFH Reunion Bridge Alert

A bridge RFH reunion invite
Photo/Doug Borden

It’s reunion season. And while some RFH classes may actually be planning or attending a reunion this summer, one class is gearing up for it’s 40th and realizing that getting the word out was a bit simpler (or not) when classmates could just paint the bridge.

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Retro Summer 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.

And 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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Saying Goodbye to Fair Haven’s Will Jakubecy

Saying goodbye is always tough. It’s especially tough when you didn’t expect the person to go anywhere anytime soon. It’s what happened when 32-year-old Fair Haven native Will Jakubecy died suddenly. An especially tough goodbye had to be said.

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Simple Summer: Gone Fishing

It’s summertime and the living is, well, pretty fishy if you live in the Rumson-Fair Haven area.

In fact, it’s downright status quo when you grow up in the area to do so with some sand between your toes, a fishing pole over your shoulder, a crabbing net and trap and a bucket in which to tote your catch home — even if that catch is a couple of river rocks, some seaweed and a dried out crab shell.

It’s part of the magic of living by the Navesink River — growing up Rumson-Fair Haven style.

It’s a simple concept. And it’s one of those fabulous things in life that’s free. A walk, a view, a little fishing for a great summer day.

So, the Simple Summer feature today is all about fishing for some fun down by the river — honing in on a little spot by and on the Fair Haven Dock.

The catch is a keeper.

Take a look at our slideshow above for the whole picture. (And don’t forget to click on the lower right icon to enlarge!) See you down by the river!

Retro Knollwood Grad Fashion

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 (yours truly) 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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A Retro Ode to R-FH Area Dads

We say it every year, and it bears repeating …

Yesterday was Father’s Day.

And, we at Rumson-Fair Haven Retrospect are of the mind that the day is really about much more than flipping a burger and patting a good ol’ dad on the back.

It’s bigger than that. It goes way beyond your own dad’s back yard and a grilling or two.

Growing up in a small-town niche like the Rumson-Fair Haven area carries with it that family tie feeling. Some of us were fortunate enough to have great dads. Some not.

But, what we all somehow did and still do have is a strong kinship to the dads of our towns. Even if we just recall a look, a bellowing chide or a chuckle over some stupid kid thing we did, we remember the dads with whom we grew up.

Now, many of those kids are dads, too, and living where their dads raised them. Perhaps, or likely, finding themselves bellowing the same chidings, trying to impart the same wisdom.

So many of these men were volunteers we saw all over town, characters whose nuances or sayings we remember, or that one poor patient guy who ended up being the poor soul to pick us up when we were stupid enough to get caught hurling eggs and toilet paper on Mischief Night — or something equally as dumb.

Yes, we do and should memorialize our own dads. Believe me, I, for one, am still looking for that money tree my dad told me was in the back yard and that gal named Dumb Dori whom he said I emulated when lacking “street smarts” to a pathetic degree.

Yet, I also vividly remember the calm, “I’m going to kill those idiots” smile on my friend Stephanie’s dad when he picked us up at the police station after following through on a really dumb dare. Then there was the “To tell you the truth, my friend, I don’t know” quote that consistently came out of Daryl’s dad’s mouth as he shook his head in wonderment over our mangled teen logic.

There were those dads for all of us — each leaving his own patriarchal imprint in our juvenile minds. For them we are grateful — for raising us here, for coming together to protect and nurture us and for offering a communal scolding or 100, for loving all their village’s children.

They were part of this community’s foundation — everyone’s founding fathers.

Our Retro Pic (or video) of the Day honors the area’s dads of those days for those reasons and so many more.

We don’t have nearly enough photos to encapsulate all the love and all of the dads, but this is a sufficient sampling to get the message across.

Happy Father’s Day to all the dads in the community who have been there for us and given us lessons and words to live by!

— Photos/courtesy of Rumson, Fair Haven family members via Facebook

Remembrance by Surf, Candlelight: RFH’s Maddy Massabni, 19

Madalyn Elizabeth Massabni
Photo/RFH yearbook

The sun had just set. Darkness fell on Sea Bright beach Sunday night as hundreds of friends, family, loved ones of 19-year-old Maddy Massabni made their way to a spot on the beach where they quietly brought light … candlelight and memories of the light that was known to embody the recent Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School (RFH) graduate’s spirit.

Maddy passed away on March 30 “following an unexpected and rare bout with septic shock,” her obituary prepared by family said, adding that Maddy was “given her angel wings.”

The soft sound of the surf seemed to cradle those who loved the Rumson girl with the gift of an infectious dimpled grin as they huddled somberly in her memory. They spoke of her with sniffles and smiles. They bowed their heads. They reminisced.

They remembered a gentle, sweet soul … a girl they knew as someone whose “beautiful smile melted the hearts of those who knew and loved her” … whose “sense of humor could always make people laugh,” her obituary said.

They remembered a twinkly-eyed teenager who “lived life to the fullest,” loved basking in the sun at that beach with her buddies, cheerleading, and managing the track team.

“The sunshine of her parent’s eyes,” as her loved ones called her in her obituary, “Madalyn’s life would seem too short to many, but those who were touched by her understood that the quality of existence far exceeds the quantity of time in which one lives.

“With Madalyn’s passing we remind others that her life is one to be celebrated,” it added. “Although we will miss her dearly every day she will forever remain in our hearts. Throughout her life we were able to create wonderful memories and it has been an honor and a privilege to be the parents and brother of this beautiful, loving, amazing and caring young woman.”

Notes of sympathy flooded Facebook in the days following Maddy’s death.

Val’s, where she worked, posted this: “We are heartbroken at Vals. One of the kids that worked for us passed away today at 19. Suddenly tragically unbelievable. She was just starting her life. We will miss her beautiful smile and generous spirit. ‘My tears don’t flow like rivers just a mist that comes and goes and I feel a coldness start to grow deep within my soul’ … Hug your kids a little tighter tonight.”

The Fair Haven Fire Department sent out a note of condolence.

Classmates of Maddy’s mother, Dawn Tilton Massabni, an RFH graduate, hold her in their hearts, hundreds of notes expressed.

Her Uncle Harvey (Tilton), also a Rumson resident, started a gofundme page.

Maddy will be sorely missed, no doubt. Not forgotten.

In addition to her many friends, Maddy is survived by: her loving mom and dad, Dawn and George Massabni III; brother, George Massabni IV; paternal grandparent, Nan Massabni; and maternal grandparents Geraldine and Harvey Tilton; and many loving aunts, uncles and cousins.

Her service will take place on Tuesday, April 4, from 2 to 4 and 7 to 9 p.m. at Thompson Memorial Home, 310 Broad St. Red Bank, NJ. There will be a funeral service on Wednesday, April 5 at 10 a.m. at Westminster Presbyterian Church, 94 Tindall Rd. Middletown, NJ followed by burial at Mount Olivet Cemetery, 100 Chapel Hill Rd., Red Bank.

For the complete obituary, click here.

To Maddy’s loved ones: Mom, Dawn, who we know, dad, George, and all …

We, at Rumson-Fair Haven Retrospect, offer our heartfelt condolences. We cannot express adequately how deeply sorry we are for your loss. Thank you for bringing her into this world to brighten so many lives in such a short time. We see and hear what a gift Maddy was to so many.

Rest in peace, Maddy. You are remembered.

May the candles keep burning … May her light shine on …

— Elaine Van Develde

Saying Goodbye to Fair Haven’s Lucille Suggs, 100

Lucille Brooks Suggs

It wasn’t all that long ago when Lucille Suggs was still living in the Fair Haven neighborhood that she loved.

Tucked away contentedly in her modest home, neighbors, friends, family were known to stop by for a visit. Then there were the police officers who had grown up knowing her as a loving, welcoming presence in the borough who would pop in to make sure that she was safe and cared for during a storm, bout of bad weather, or “just because.”

Mrs. Suggs not too long ago, after more than half a century there, left the Fair Haven home and community she loved in her 90s to be closer to her son and cared for in a nursing home where he lives in Cincinnati, Ohio.

She hit 100 in August of 2016 with a big smile on her face, surrounded by loved ones and missed dearly by Fair Havenites who had grown so accustomed to her warm grin, embracing, graceful manner and soulful sense of humor.

Lucille Brooks Suggs passed away on March 23. And she is coming home to Fair Haven tomorrow, Saturday, to be bid farewell at her church, Fisk Chapel AME Church, 38 Fisk St., with a viewing beginning at 9a.m. and funeral services to follow at 11. Interment will be at the Shoreland Memorial Gardens, Hazlet.

Her son, Dennis, posted the following tribute to his mother the day after her death …

“Last night at 11:30, the inimitable Lucille Brooks Suggs decided enough was enough and peacefully took her one woman show ‘to loftier climes.’

“After 100 years and 6 months of being a constant protector, inspiration, non-stop joke machine (I could never figure out where she learned all those, let alone remembered them) as well as an endless source of real POSITIVITY (You should have seen the aides guard her like she was the Queen of England as she declined this week at twin towers), I believe it’s safe to say she felt her time here was well spent, but alas, it was time to go.

“She will be well-remembered and sorely missed. I know if you asked her what to think she wouldn’t want mourning or solemnity, she’d want you to laugh(alot), love people, do kind things and live to the fullest.

“We will be bringing her home next weekend so that she can rest in final peace next to her partner of nearly 50 years, so they can get back to playing pinochle, something I’m guessing is already taking place. Enjoy the day, your friends and loved ones. Cheers!!!”

Click here for Mrs. Suggs’ obituary.

RIP, Mrs. Suggs. You, a forever Fair Haven friend and neighbor to many, will always be remembered as an embodiment of what this small town is all about. 

 

Retro RFH Hughes Family Showfolk Legacy

When it comes to show biz, sometimes in the RFH area, just sometimes, it’s a family affair. Sometimes it just is.

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Retro Knollwood Show Time

“Times have changed,” as the lyrics to Cole Porter’s Anything Goes go …

Yes they have. And they haven’t.

The shows are still going on, but they’re quite different types of productions. The students at Fair Haven’s Knollwood School have staged Disney’s Beauty and the Beast Jr.  The show went on in the beginning of the month.

And, way back in 1974, the school’s second ever musical was staged with the middle schoolers. You guessed it. It was Anything Goes.

Yes, times have changed, and mostly because these days they actually have junior versions of otherwise adult-like shows that aren’t really all that adult.

In fact, in those days, nothing was thought of doing a pretty darn adult musical that starred a, ahem, “lady of the evening” turned evangelist, a gangster and his maul, a stowaway, an heiress and a kooky English gentleman all aboard a ship and involved in madcap farce and love triangles.

Who knew? Well, the 1974 cast  of Knollwood’s version of Anything Goes certainly didn’t.

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