Category Archives: Opinion

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

Reflection: Retro Halloween Parading

The following opinion piece on Halloween through the generations in Fair Haven was originally published in 2015. It is reprised annually … 

Before the parade passes by, this kid from Fair Haven has some parading memories on which to reflect. Remember this scene?

It’s a longstanding tradition — the Fair Haven Halloween Parade.

I remember it well — from my first parade trek back in the late 1960s to the ’70s, 80s, 90s and now.

It all started at age 7 with a wish to be Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz. That little dress-up fantasy was foiled when my mother couldn’t get the gingham outfit together, my pigtails were not so poised for the silver screen look and my sister refused to crawl down Hance Road as Toto.

I guess it was bad enough that from the age of 3, she was forced by this pint-sized dominatrix 5-year-old Dorothy to crawl on a makeshift Funk and Wagnall’s encyclopedia Yellow Brick Road to Oz in the living room. The neighbors never quite got over it, either.

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Retro Benched RFH Halloween Paraders

RFH Halloween of 1977 with a gaggle of girls
Photo/George Day

Well, it’s about that time for Halloween parades. In fact, Fair Haven’s is on Sunday. And, back in the day, RFH had its own high school Halloween parade.

Some bunny — or a few bunnies and other assorted suspicious characters — got dressed for the occasion, paraded themselves around campus and benched themselves for a spell, too.

The Halloween spirit is in the air. And these senior gaggle of girls embodied it. From controversial, yet timely and popular at the time, Playboy bunny costumes, to Raggedy Ann, a ghost, a cat, a gypsy and whatever else, they were parading and pleased with their choices.

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Focus: Fall Riverwalk into Dusk

Riverwalk at dusk by the Fair Haven Dock
Photo/Elaine Van Develde

It’s a fall Sunday. It’s a day’s end. The start of a new week. The hush of the lapping river soothes. Dusk dances in the river’s reflections. It’s riverwalk daze at the Fair Haven Dock. A silent call to the comfort of home.

Everything is always alright in that riverwalk moment. There are many like it for a Fair Havenite — drenched in riverfront peace. Childhood laughing and splashing dancing in the mind. The cadence of it that soothes. It never gets old. It’s new with each step, each flicker in the tide, each lull in every water lap, each heartbeat that pulses home.

Take a look. Dive into the silence, the memories, each moment down by the river. Inhale home.

— Elaine Van Develde

Fair Haven riverwalk at dusk
Photo/Elaine Van Develde

Ripples of light dancing from Fair Haven Dock
Photo/Elaine Van Develde

Focus: Dock Daze of Crabbing

Sometimes all it takes to brighten a dreary day is a net, a fishing pole, a dock and some bait. It’s all about getting crabby.

No matter the catch haul, after a day of this at the Fair Haven Dock, someone fishing for some simple solace and smile will likely end up with a bucket of cheer called home —and some dinner.

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Hometown Gem: Fairing Well with Fair Haven’s Ray Taylor

When you run into forever Fair Havenite Ray Taylor, you’re always met with a smile and a lot of gratitude. Never a complaint — unless the 97-year-old is told to slow down.

The conversation may have been had days, weeks, months or years ago. Yet, if it’s a conversation with Mr. Taylor, it will usually come back to bless you at the strangest of moments, make you smile and motivate you to be a better person, a bigger part of your community. A little mazeltov, if you will.

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Retro RFH Teacher & Administrator Coolness

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

An R-FH Retro reprise …

Well, all are back to school at Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School (RFH), too. Back to school experiences on the brain, we look back to the new experience of high school for freshmen.

With back-to-school thoughts and new beginnings come hopes of a good teacher or two and memories of the ones who we thought were the coolest and, yes, the worst and scariest to a newbie RFHer. There were also those administrators who weren’t just a Charlie Brown teacher voice cawing rules over the ol’ daydreaming student’s non-thought process. Some, or a couple in particular, are remembered as a real education innovators.

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Retro Whistle Stop Kids’ Scene

Sept. 11 marked the 35th anniversary of the iconic Fair Haven Whistle Stop owner Frank Leslie’s death. So, in honor of Mr. Leslie and the wonderful memories he and his wife, Barbara, gave so many Fair Haven kids, we are reprising our piece on the Leslies and their oh, so sweet after-school stop. Thank you, Frank Leslie. You are remembered. Thirty-five years? Wow.

By Elaine Van Develde

Sometimes all it takes is a jawbreaker, a slice of Elio’s frozen 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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9/11: Day’s End Reflection, 18 Years Later

The following piece, with a few changes as time goes on, is published annually on 9/11 as a testament to never forgetting … 
It was a beautiful Tuesday. The sun was shining. The air was crisp. The coffee even tasted especially good.
I remember. Most of us remember where we were on Sept. 11, 2001 at 8:46 a.m.. I know I do. I also remember how everything went from bright, crisp, fragrant and optimistic to dark, dank, acrid and fearful in one second. I remember how it wasn’t about us observers, storytellers. It was about them — the victims, their loved ones, their message.
For me, a professional observer, a professional storyteller, thankfully close enough, yet far enough, yes, it was so very much about them — painfully so. I wasn’t one of them. I was lucky. I was grateful. I watched. I listened intently. They shared.
I was a reporter living in Fair Haven and covering Middletown. On what started out as a typical day, they ended up unwittingly, graciously, lighting a less traveled path for me. For many.
It’s this one storyteller’s perspective.
Through this one fortunate observer’s eyes and heart, it went like this …
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Back to School & Walking the Rope

Our annual reprise of back-to-school memories and walking the rope in Fair Haven …

“But I don’t wanna walk on the rope next to her!” I cried from under my fresh-cut kindergarten bangs. “I wanna walk on the rope next to Pam!”

Pam was my neighbor. She was my best buddy.

It was 1965. Or was it ’64? It was the 60s. One thing’s for sure: Our Fair Haven kindergarten class was the last to have its first year of school at what was called the Youth Center, now the Fair Haven Police Station and Community Center on Fisk Street.

We kindergarteners were also the last to be tugged down the street on a rope, yes a rope, headed by an official-looking police-type lady.

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Retro First Day of School Girls

First day of kindergarten in Fair Haven 1965 Photo/Sally Van Develde

A back-to-school reprise … 

Knock-kneed, nervous and all dressed up with somewhere to go, this gaggle Fair Haven neighborhood girls of 1965 lined up so their moms could get that classic first-day-of-kindergarten shot. And there wasn’t a smile among them.

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Reflection: All’s Fair in the Middle

There have been a lot of significant beginnings and endings lately. The end of summer. The beginning of locals’ summer. The start of school — new chapters and first days.

But, what about the middle? The end of the Fair Haven Firemen’s Fair brings me, and probably more than a few others, back to that middle.

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Remembrance of the Fair Stock Room Dude — Dad

The following piece was originally published on Aug. 31, 2015. It is being re-run, with changes only in the amount of years that have passed, in memory of my father, Bill Van Develde, former longtime Fair Haven Fire Company member, president and captain of the Fire Police and chairman of the stock room at the fair, on the anniversary of his death on Aug. 31, 1983. RIP, Dad. You are missed. Thank you for all the embarrassing moments that I didn’t appreciate enough. Thank you for making Fair Haven my home. Thank you for being a real dad. See you later at the fair …

Retro Fair Haven Firemen's Fair stock room days in the 1970s Photo/FHFD booklet
Retro Fair Haven Firemen’s Fair stock room days in the 1970s
Photo/FHFD booklet

By Elaine Van Develde

It’s been 36 years, but I can still see his face and that kooky Brylcreemed hairdo. I can still hear his crazy belly laugh and that signature “Take ‘er easy, buddy!” I can still see him slapping kids on the back, forever clutching his trusty clipboard, pencil perched behind his ear, sweat on the brow and finger wagging.

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