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 Back to School of 50 Years Ago

Students were back to school in the Rumson-Fair Haven area this week. Those classic first day of school shots were plastered all over Facebook.

And 50 years ago, or 51, to be exact, in September of 1966, while 91,000 students and 4,700 teachers headed back to public school classrooms in Monmouth County (13,014 to parochial), according to a Red Bank Register story of Sept. 6, 1966, the anticipation of the photo taken with that Brownie camera mounted as that picture of the day developed — taking weeks at times.

And those photos were classics … Mom-styled hair gone awry, buck-toothed and missing tooth grins, shiny Mary Jane shoes, Buster Brown penny loafers and, well, cheesy fashion in which to pose and say, “Cheese!”

At Knollwood School in 1966, half a century ago, there was a first-grade class, headed by Mrs. Ginny Kamin (deceased Red Bank Register editor Art Kamin’s wife) and filled with some area kids who ended up becoming entrenched in the community. One of those kids was me.

Some are no longer with us. Others have moved away, but keep in touch. Others, still, have stuck around and raised their children here, too. One common thread is that none of them have forgotten their hometown and likely that walk to the first day of school so many decades ago.

For me, the memory of the badly side-combed bangs kinda sticks like the Dippity-doo that was in them. Sorry, Mom. So do those little faces that seemed to loom like the Man in the Moon back in that slightly nerve-wracked elementary school daze.  And it seems like yesterday. Yes, that’s scary. It’s especially scary since it wasn’t, in fact, yesterday.

Back in those days, we walked to school with a buddy. For me, those buddies were my best friend and neighbor Pam Young and Jeff Lang. Pam and I met up with Jeff at the corner and the three of us walked the rest of the way together. Yes, Jeff occasionally would carry my books. I remember that vividly. He is gone now, but that memory is a vivid and enduring one. So is the memory of Mrs. Lang waving to us from the front porch and reminding him to do just that.

The first day of school photos were taken on the front porch, in the front yard or on the sidewalk before the first stroll back then. There was that wait for the film development. Remember that? Then there was the wait for the annual class photo, like the one above, when the picture people grabbed a comb from a tub and gave all the kids a really bad comb through before that elementary school grimace moment. Not a good hair day for most of us little kids subject to Mom’s fashion whims.

It’s all a walk down a Fair Haven memory lane with a stumble or two for good measure.

What’s your first day memory? Stumble? Who did you walk with?

— Elaine Van Develde

 

 

Reflection: All’s Fair in the End

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.

Continue reading Reflection: All’s Fair in the End

Fair Reflections: An Ode Opening Night of the Fair Haven Firemen’s Fair

Last night … The night before the opening of the Fair Haven Firemen’s Fair … 

The night is still. A light is on. Trucks are out of the bays. Cartoony faces and ghosts in empty seats on unassembled carnival rides stare back in the dark. Someone’s cooking at the Fair Haven firehouse. It’s fair time.

Continue reading Fair Reflections: An Ode Opening Night of the Fair Haven Firemen’s Fair

Retro Fair Haven Firemen’s Fair Balloon Boss & Buddies

Sally Van Develde selling balloons at the Fair Haven Firemen’s Fair Grab Bag Booth

The following piece was originally published in August of 2015. Here it is again in honor of the Fair Haven Firemen’s Fair, which is opening tomorrow night … 

Growing up in Fair Haven with parents in the fire company, Fair Haven Firemen’s Fair time meant time spent inflating punch balls during the day and helium balloons at night.

Continue reading Retro Fair Haven Firemen’s Fair Balloon Boss & Buddies

Retro Fair Cotton Candy & Candy Apple Boss Lady

Millie Felsmann making cotton candy at the Fair Haven Firemen's Fair circa early 1990s Photo/Elaine Van Develde
Millie Felsmann making cotton candy at the Fair Haven Firemen’s Fair circa early 1990s
Photo/Elaine Van Develde

 

 

Millie Felsmann and her candy apples back in the 1960s Photo/courtesy of Monica Felsmann
Millie Felsmann and her candy apples back in the 1960s
Photo/courtesy of Monica Felsmann

 

 

 

 

 

This Retro Pic(s) of the Day story was originally published on Aug. 25, 2015. It is being run again in honor of the Fair Haven Firemen’s Fair, which will start at the end of this week. This is how they did it and continue to do it at the fair … 

 

 

By Elaine Van Develde

When it came to cotton candy — that fluffy spun light blue and pink sugar on a cone that melts in your mouth, on your mouth and many times on your hands, too — Millie Felsmann was the pro at the Fair Haven Firemen’s Fair.

Don’t get us wrong, here. We know that Millie also commandeered the candy apple making. Yes, Candy Bennett was there, too — for many hours a day, making and selling those candy apples, apropos name and all. And, in another Retro Pic of the Day from 2015, we touted her as the candy apple lady.

Well, she was — she was Candy, the candy apple lady.  Continue reading Retro Fair Cotton Candy & Candy Apple Boss Lady

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.

Continue reading Retro Fair Kitchen & Dining Room Folks

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.

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

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.

Continue reading Retro Summer RFH Girls’ Drive into the Past

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.

Continue reading Saying Goodbye to Fair Haven’s Will Jakubecy

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.

Continue reading Retro Knollwood Grad Fashion

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