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 RFH Hip & Hooray Cheer

The boy cheerleaders of RFH Powder Puff Football 1977 Photo/George Day
The boy cheerleaders of RFH Powder Puff Football 1977
Photo/George Day
The boy cheerleaders of RFH Powder Puff Football 1977
Photo/George Day

There’s nothing like a good ol’ RFH cheer. It’s just hip, hip … happening! Cheering has changed over the decades at RFH. Still there’s nothing quite as unique as this cheer crew. So, for cheer’s sake, we give these guys an encore of this Oct. 8, 2015 Retro Pic of the (George) Day double dose! Cheers!

The 1977 RFH Powder Puff Football game was a good one that made for some great photo opps.

We saw a glimpse of that scene in several Retro Pics of the (George) Day.

But, what must be remembered as well is the male cheerleading squad that hip, hip and hurrahed those junior and senior girls to athletic success on the field. It’s a wonder the girls could concentrate on the game with all that adroit beefcake wile calling like Sirens on the sidelines.

The girls played with what looked like a coordinated feminine fashion finesse — coordinated pig tails, pony tails, turtle necks, gloves and bandanas.

Those boys cheering them on, however, had their own feminine mystique in wardrobe going on.

They’ve been seen before, but here’s another (double dose, different angles) glimpse of the boys of the cheering squad clad in girls’ uniforms with their own special fashion plate additions of hotsie totsie work boots and long underwear.

Some of these guys of the RFH Class of ’78 still live in the area. Recognize anyone? One is a former Fair Haven policeman and another is a Rumson dad.

Hip, hip … holy cartwheel!

Thanks, once again, to George Day for providing this classic look into the past!

Retro RFH Halloween Parade Prep


RFH ghouls, or something like that, on parade in 1977
Photo/George Day

In honor of the Halloween season, a reprise Retro Pic of the Day originally posted in 2015 … 

It’s all about Halloween festivities in an unprecedented trick, treat and haunting era right now in the Rumson-Fair Haven area. There’s distancing where there was a lot of congregating. And while the era of high alert for razors in apples is a bygone one, now there’s a pandemic, rules about touching, masking, more masking, less tricking and more careful treating. But, the Halloween show goes on. 

So, to honor the crowded gathering of ghouls in socially distanced days, we take a look back at the RFH prep for parading as all seniors packed themselves into the lounge, mingled and tried to figure out who was what and why and just have some fun. 

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Remembering Joan Blake: Ode to the Fair Haven Mom, Schools’ Aide

Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School teacher aides of the 1970s, Joan Blake (far right).
Photo/screenshot of RFH yearbook

When you’ve grown up in a small town, your memories often revolve around the comforting kind of feeling that anyone else’s mother, no matter their child-rearing differences or life circumstances, is a surrogate of your very own. That’s just how it is. The neighborhood concept.

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His Beat Goes On: Saying Goodbye to Rich Chandler

“It’s the honesty you apply to your playing that makes music enjoyable. The style of the music has little to do with it. It’s only honesty that makes it beautiful.” 

Elvin Jones

That stark, shining, honest beauty straight from the heart is what emanated a bright light to countless people from the soul of Richard Chandler. The 60-year-old professional drummer, husband, dad, uncle and friend, who was known to never skip a beat when generously giving his love and talent, lost his years-long battle with cancer on Sunday, Oct. 4.

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9/11: Day’s End Reflection, 19 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 …
Continue reading 9/11: Day’s End Reflection, 19 Years Later

Retro Back-to-School Neighborhood Line-Up

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

A back-to-school reprise dedicated to my first friend, Pam (second from right), who passed away in July, and everyone’s first friend on that first day …

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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Retro First Day of School, First Friend & The Rope

Our annual reprise about that first day of school and walking the rope in Fair Haven is dedicated to the memory of Pam Young, my first friend and Fair Haven neighbor. Pam passed away on July 7 at 60. The memories of her are forever etched in my heart. No one ever forgets their first friend, first neighbor. All the firsts with that special first are indelible. Thank you for knocking on my door that first day and asking if I could come out and play. I will never understand why that lady wouldn’t let us walk together on the rope … I also never forgot. Not a thing …

“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.

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Fair Remembrance: All’s Fair in the Middle

There are a lot of significant beginnings and endings this time of the year. 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 has always brought me, and probably more than a few others, back to that middle. It’s home.

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Fair Remembrance: Chairman’s Footnotes

James Acker
Photo/Kathy Robbins

On the year without the fair … We look back to a story originally published in 2015 all about just how the largest firemen’s fair in the state was run and a bit about that famous clam chowder. The details come straight from a longtime fair chairman and his son years later … RIP, Jim Acker. All’s fair ….

There was a time when there was one. Now there are three. We’re talking Fair Haven Firemen’s Fair chairmen. Yes, there was one person in charge of all that’s fair, getting it started and keeping it going. That guy was James Acker back in the day a few decades ago from the late 1960s to early ’80s. Then it was Gary Verwilt, former longtime Knollwood School teacher.

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Fair Remembrance: Someone’s in the Kitchen

Just when the guy in charge of the kitchen has retired, a pandemic comes along and obliterates the Fair Haven Firemen’s Fair and all that annual fine fair food. So, on the year without a fair, we look back again to our 2015 story of fair food, who did it all back in the day, what was done, how and who’s still cooking. Can you wait another year? The absence of fair food wafting through the air likely has everyone drooling for the next fair already … No one’s in the kitchen this year but the ghosts. They’re always there …

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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Fair Remembrance: My Balloon Mama

The following piece was originally published in August of 2015. Here it is again, on the year without a fair, in honor of the Fair Haven Firemen’s Fair and my mom, Sally Van Develde, to whom this site is dedicated along with my dad, Bill … 

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

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 Fair Remembrance: My Balloon Mama