It’s always good to get a leg up on brighter days, especially when it involves a simple riverside adventure, a friendly hand from a childhood friend.
The picture says it all.
Soaking up the sun on the horizon is more than symbolic these days. Basking in it all at an iconic spot down by the Navesink River at Barnacle Bill’s in Rumson is, well, tradition. But it’s more poignant than ever as we begin to head out of pandemic darkness and into the light. Better weather ushers that better view into a fuzzy warm focus.
“Consider yourself at home. Consider yourself one of the family. We’ve taken to you so strong …”
The line in the song from Oliver! captures the tenor of the actors’ bond in community theater. And it couldn’t be better encapsulated than in a photo of the cast of Oliver at the iconic Barn Theater in Rumson in 1972.
With the March 10 passing of Mark Hughes Jr., the snapshot is a reminder of the beginning of something big that lasted a lifetime … a family legacy of theater and togetherness. Playing together, staying together via the stage.
This show was a special one for the Hughes family. It was their first at The Barn. Mark Jr. played Mr. Brownlow. Nan was the Artful Dodger. The rest were somewhere on or off stage. It was a Hughes family affair. Can you spot the rest of the clan? And the connection lasted a lifetime and built a legacy.
“How he loved the Barn,” Nan said. He went on to play Mr. Darling (in Peter Pan) to Mimi’s Mrs. Darling (and Paul and Patrick as John and Michael Darling), Mark as a pirate and Nan as slightly soiled the island boy).
This “led to his using a Mr. Darling quote in our house occasionally ‘A little less noise, please! A little less noise.’
“It was also very funny to see this well dressed man (bow ties were his ‘casual look’) dress in a t-shirt and suspenders, waving a cigar in the role of the stage manager in Gypsy.”
Some in this Barn snapshot of the past by Jeff Blumenkrantz are gone. Anyone remember Billy Fansler, who also worked extensively as an actor and director with Monmouth Players? The rest are mostly still in touch, a living testament to the title song/credo in Annie Get Your Gun: “There’s No Business Like Show Business!”
So, let’s go on with the show of forging and keeping longtime bonds, on or off stage! Curtain up! Encore!
Memories. Moments. They’re what live on after we’re gone — what takes on a life of its own, indelibly etched in the minds of future generations. Legacy. There are so very many of those moments, those memories that many could call to mind as they put on their best bowtie and tip their hat to all that comprise the legacy left by longtime Rumsonite Mark F. Hughes Jr..
The husband, dad, grandfather, lawyer and rarest of gems among gentleman died on March 10, just four days shy of his 90th birthday. He and his wife, Marie H. “Mimi” Hughes, a longtime Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School (RFH) English teacher, lived in Rumson for more than 55 years. They raised their four children there, in their home right across the street from the high school. They welcomed many into the Hughes home, like family, with open hearts and a voracious interest in the passions of all they met and cared to know better.
Anyone who has crossed the Hughes home threshold or been on stage with one or many has a story to tell. One of patriarch Mark, always the gentile Mr. Hughes to me, stands out in my mind. It tells his legacy tale in a mind’s snapshot. It’s a little lost-and-found snippet of a dad and grandfather steeped in a moment that had become tradition — a generational one to be carried on for lifetimes.
In my mind’s eye, a locked frame-freeze cache, it remains …
“Somehow, we’ve lost Dad,” said a content, grinning Paul Hughes, Mark’s son and my longtime friend, at closing day of an RFH show. Decades before, it was we who were at the RFH auditorium, mingling, crying over the ending, collecting accolades and bouquets. “He got caught up chatting with people and he’s still at the high school somewhere. Somehow, he got left behind. Gotta go find him.”
Rumson resident, father, basketball coach, volunteer and doctor, Edwin Michael Gangemi, passed away peacefully after a brief illness, surrounded by his physician and nursing friends at Clara Maass Medical Center, Belleville, on March 1. He was 60.
After several years living in Montclair, Ed and his wife Laura moved to Rumson, where Ed had spent summers throughout his early life. Ed treasured raising their two beloved sons, Marco and Matteo, also known as “the babies,” his family said in his obituary.
He was known to enjoy leisure time among friends and family at Surfrider Beach Club which, for him, was reminiscent of his younger days as a lifeguard and parking attendant at the Harbor Island Spa and the White Sands Beach Club in Long Branch.
He was a member of the Navesink Country Club and Chapel Beach Club and Holy Cross Church in Rumson.
He also loved traveling to the Italian island of Sardegna, visiting the Costa Smeralda some 25 times over the years. He was fluent in Spanish and spoke Italian.
Ed was proud of his family’s roots in Newark, where he was born and raised in the city’s Mount Prospect neighborhood. He attended the Prospect Hill Country Day School there and Newark Academy, Livingston. After graduating from Rutgers University, he packed his Volkswagen van and headed off to Mexico for medical school at the Universidad Autónoma de Guadalajara.
Upon his return, he practiced medicine in the early years of his career with his older brother, Fred, at the same Newark office in which their physician father,Frederick, practiced for decades before them.
Ed met hiswife, Laura Blake Gangemi, when they were both working at Clara Maass. They married in 1996 and continued to work together, eventually with Ed establishing a new practice, Jersey Rehab, PA. “Over the years, this practice became his true passion and he was so proud of the people he worked with who became his work family,” his family said in his obituary.
Dr. Gangemi was preceded in death by his parents, Frederick A. Gangemi, M.D., and Agnes Rocco Gangemi.
He is survived by: his loving wife and children; and his three siblings, Frederick D. Gangemi, M.D., of Highlands, NJ, Cathleen Goode (John), of Red Bank, and Judith Green (Eliot) of Stamford, CT; and his nieces and nephews, Sarahanne (Brent), Darrin, Gianna, Tyler, Jenna, Ryan, Gabriella, Anthony, Chessa and Cash.
A private funeral service is scheduled and a celebration of Ed’s life will be held at a later date. In lieu of flowers, donations would be appreciated to Ed’s favorite charity, St Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn.
— Edited obituary provided by family via John E. Day Funeral Home
“I remember when my grandfather moved here way back when Rumson Road was considered one the ‘most beautiful’ in the country,” said RFH Class of ’78 grad Monica Sheehan of what many might call a picture perfect postcard of the snowy day shot of sleighing down the driveway on the estate of the historic mansion The Hermitage.