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. 

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 33 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.

That’s the vivid, comforting ghost image of Bill Van Develde I still see and hear roaming around on the Fair Haven Firemen’s Fair grounds. He was chairman of the stockroom back in the 1970s and 80s and he was my quirky, big-hearted dad.

He drove the kids nuts, running them all over the fair grounds, shuttling stuff from the stock room to the booths and back. It was rare to see him sitting down.

He loved the fair; and he was all about the business of keeping things stocked.

He loved the Fair Haven Fire Department. He loved his compadres there. He loved those kids. He loved Fair Haven.

And 33 years ago on Aug. 31, he died at the age of 57. It was fair time. He didn’t make it that year. It was a first. The fair grounds that were usually robust with the nuances of yet another fair character seemed still and sullen.

Some of those kids he had regaled with his bad jokes, drove a little loopy in the name of the fair and back-slapped into a fair oblivion were now young men. One was there in the ambulance with the First Aid Squad rushing him to the hospital days before. A few ended up being teary-eyed pallbearers, missing his annoyingly caring way.

The notion that such simple gestures of volunteerism and community compassion mattered became very clear when I — a 23-year-old a little too impressed with pretense for Dad’s taste — was smacked upside the head with poignant gratitude the day of his funeral.

The tears and heads bowed in sadness, casket hoisted into that shiny, white, flower-laden firetruck — the far-reaching impact of one simple guy who just gave a crap, as his no-frills self would have said.

He just did what he did because it was the right thing to do to be part of a community, he enjoyed it and he cared. A lot. And he cared the right way — just because. He didn’t want, even rejected, any public accolades and even as much as a pat on the back.

He used to joke that when he “croaked,” he wanted “no damn rigamarole.” Sorry, Dad, they couldn’t help it. You deserved it.

Yes, it’s been 33 years.

I still see him darting past me at the fair, pencil poised for that checklist, hooting, hollering and hurrying. Check! And he always turns around when he sees me out of the corner of his eye and shouts, “Hey, Eya, did ya get yourself some supper? Hows about a hot dog? Got any tickets left from working with your mother? Always make sure you have a dollar in your pocket. Need a dollar?”

No, Dad, just hearing your voice and seeing your face again is priceless.

Thank you, Bill Van Develde, for bringing me to Fair Haven and giving me many fair times ever after. You are missed. And, yeah, I know, calling you a dude is just plain ornery of me.

A Fair Meet with Olympic Swimmer Connor Jaeger

Not only is Wednesday night Firemen’s Night at the Fair Haven Firemen’s Fair, it’s also Olympian night this year.

Connor Jaeger, who recently won the silver medal in the 1,500-meter freestyle swim in the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, is back home and set to meet, greet and do some selfies with hometown friends and fans. He will be appearing at the fair, in front of the firehouse, from 7 to 9 p.m..

He said it himself on Instagram …

“This Wednesday 8/31 from 7-9pm please come and meet me at Fair Haven’s Fireman’s Fair for a selfie booth. Please come to meet me and give me an opportunity to thank you all for the unbelievable support you have shown me.”

There was talk of a parade, which is what transpired when Jaeger came in sixth in the same Olympic event in 2012. However, officials decided to wait and see what was most amenable to Jaeger.

So, selfies and socializing at the fair it is.

“We hope to see you tomorrow night,” Councilwoman Susan Sorensen said in a Facebook post after thanking officials, including Connor Jaeger’s father, Eric, a fellow councilman, for coordinating the “meet-and-greet.”

Fair Haven Firemen’s Fair’s Start

The scents, sights and sounds of the Fair Haven Firemen’s Fair are in the air.

The end-of-summer tradition in the Rumson-Fair Haven area, the largest community fair in the state, started on Friday night.

Rumson-Fair Haven Retrospect did the usual stroll of the grounds on Saturday.

Here’s a glimpse into the night …

— Elaine Van Develde

Continue reading Fair Haven Firemen’s Fair’s Start

Fair Haven Firemen’s Fair: An Opening Night Remembrance

Sometimes I can still smell the lingering scent of funnel cake in my mother’s hair. I can still see her blue-striped Fair Haven Firemen’s Fair apron draped over the kitchen chair. I can see her tying those apron strings. I can see her checking her hair and lipstick in the mirror by the door. I can hear her voice calling to me upstairs to hurry up as I tried to get my pigtails even and the puffy yarn bows tied just right. I’m always late.

And sometimes I can still see us walking down the street, her scurrying, brushing her hair to the side, still yelling back to me to hurry up.

Continue reading Fair Haven Firemen’s Fair: An Opening Night Remembrance

Simple Summer: Crabbing & Catching a Sunset

It doesn’t get much more simple in the summer than hanging a cage filled with raw chicken bait over the side of the Fair Haven Dock, netting crabs and catching a prime sunset view in the mix.

That’s what this Simple Summer photo gallery is all about.

Sometimes, too, you run into a small business owner everyone in the area knows. Anyone know who this is pictured crabbing a few days ago?

Hint: He’s known for putting people in stitches.

— Elaine Van Develde

Retro Rumson Firemen Fair Moment

Rumson Fire Department folks at the Fair Haven Firemen's Fair 2015 Photo/Elaine Van Develde
Rumson Fire Department folks at the Fair Haven Firemen’s Fair 2015
Photo/Elaine Van Develde

Yes, the rides have arrived and the Fair Haven Fire Department is getting set for the fair.

It’s a tradition for end-of-summer socializing, spending and volunteering to support the volunteer fire company.

A tradition within the fair tradition is Firemen’s Night. Fire departments from across the state flock to the fair, most with reps riding into town on their towns’ fire trucks.

So, the Retro Pic of the Day offers a glimpse into Firemen’s Night 2015 with a photo of guys and gals from the neighboring Rumson Fire Department.

A big thank you to all our volunteer firefighters.

Recognize anyone in this crew?  Have you thanked a firefighter today?

— Elaine Van Develde

Rumson Crabbing & Recreating

Saturday evening was time to get crabby with Rumson police and join the Ninth Annual Rumson PBA Crab Tournament.

The event began at 6 p.m.; and, well, if you got there after 6, the parking lot at the Rumson Borough Boat Launch was pretty full, but no one was to be found on the water. They were likely already far enough out on the river to get those prime catches.

There were, however, some crabbers and others boating, jet skiing and just hanging around.

Take a look at the above photo gallery for a glimpse into the evening. See anything somewhat crabby looking?

The results of the tournament will be posted when they become available.

In the meantime, enjoy the view!

Retro Rumson PBA Crabbing Eve

Crabbing at the Ninth Annual Rumson PBA Crab Tournament Photo/Elaine Van Develde
Crabbing at the Ninth Annual Rumson PBA Crab Tournament
Photo/Elaine Van Develde

The 10th Annual Rumson PBA Crab Tournament is Saturday.

So, in honor of a full decade of getting crabby with the PBA, the Retro Pic of the Day offers a glimpse back to last year’s tournament.

The fun was, yes, catching, with these guys who were trying their luck right across from the boat launch.

Recognize them?

— Elaine Van Develde

Police: Know This Shoplifter?

From the Facebook page of the Middletown Police Department …

“The Middletown Township Police Department is attempting to identify a suspect who committed thefts from the Target Department Store.

“On 8/11/2016 the Middletown Township Police Department took a report of a theft from the Target department store.

“On 7/25/2016 at approximately 10:40am hours an unknown male entered the store and put a blue tote in his shopping cart.

“The male then put a Dyson Vacuum, baby formula, and 2 bags of dog food in the cart and left without paying for the items. Total value is $749.02

“On 8/5/2016 at approximately 1:10 pm the same man waked into the store, put another blue tote in his shopping cart and placed 31 cans of baby formula, 7 packs of Redbull, and 2 boxes of Monster Energy drink in his cart and left the store without paying. Total value is $657.41

“Police request that anyone who may have information regarding the thefts or can identify the subject to please contact Detective Adam Colfer at 732-615-2048.”