W. Front Street Bridge to Close After New Year

By Elaine Van Develde

It was not that long ago when Monmouth County officials told people to brace themselves for a four-month West Front Street Bridge closing starting Jan. 2. Now, they’re saying it the closing will happen “on or about Jan. 5,” but they’re still promising it will reopen before Memorial Day.

In fact, the target reopening date has been set for May 17; and, the last phase of the bridge replacement project “is on schedule to open before Memorial Day weekend,” Freeholder Thomas Arnone, liaison to the county Department of Public Works and Engineering, said in a release.

While, according to the release, pedestrian access, including dismounted walking bicyclists, will be open throughout the closure, drivers will need to plan alternate routes.

Detours will funneling traffic from Red Bank “north on Rector Place to Route 35 and across Cooper’s Bridge and then onto Navesink River Road to Hubbard Avenue,” the release said.

Toward Red Bank, traveling east, detours will guide traffic “from West Front Street in Middletown will be directed north on Hubbard Avenue to Navesink River Road to Route 35 and across Coopers Bridge to Rector Place,” it added.

Traffic congestion and travel delays are anticipated.

What to expect with the new bridge …

• The new span over the Swimming River between Red Bank and Middletown will be 480 feet long and 44 feet wide with two 12-foot travel lanes, six-foot sidewalks on both sides and four-foot shoulders;

• There will be nine feet of vertical clearance above mean high water elevation and roughly 72 feet of horizontal clearance within the navigable channel of the Swimming River;

• Architectural enhancements include ornamental lights and a decorative recessed brick panel parapet with a decorative ball and cap railing, similar to Coopers Bridge;

• Additional improvements will include roadway widening at the bridge entrances, improved storm water drainage, ADA accessible route, highway lighting and new guide rail treatments.

The West Front Street Bridge, or Hubbard’s Bridge, was built in 1921. It was constructed as a six span, stringer structure with a steel open grid deck.


New Year’s Day with Nature on Sandy Hook

As the American Littoral Society sees it, New Year’s Day is the time to take a walk on the natural side.

That walk is a unique way to ring in the New Year, honor the memory of a local environmentalist, get some exercise and soak in some nature in a national park. It’s the Jan. 1 American Littoral Society’s 39th Annuual Dery Bennett Memorial Walk on Sandy Hook.

The longstanding traditional walk starts at 11 a.m. at the Littoral Society’s headquarters, 18 Hartshorne Drive, on the north end of Sandy Hook, or Fort Hancock.

Walkers, asked to bundle up and bring binoculars, will proceed to the end of the Hook where they will try to meet up, across the bay, with a group doing the same thing.

Upon completion of the walk, hot chocolate and lunch will be served at the Littoral Society’s office. Participants are also invited to bring a dessert. There will also be a rain barrel project presentation by a Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School (RFH) student.

Derry Bennett, whom the walk has been named after since his death in 2009, was a Fair Haven resident and longtime director of the American Littoral Society (1968 to 2003).

The Littoral Society, founded in 1961 by scientists, fishermen and scuba divers, is a champion of marine environmental education and conservation.

Retro Look at a ‘Fair’ Councilwoman and Friends

Fair Haven Councilwoman Susan Sorensen and husband Peter Maher enjoy the Fair Haven Firemen's Fair 2014 with friends.  Photo/Elaine Van Develde
Fair Haven Councilwoman Susan Sorensen and husband Peter Maher enjoy the Fair Haven Firemen’s Fair 2014 with friends.
Photo/Elaine Van Develde

On the cusp of reorganizations in Rumson and Fair Haven, we thought it might be appropriate to take a look back at warmer days of re-elected Fair Haven Councilwoman Susan Sorensen enjoying the Fair Haven Firemen’s Fair.

Rumson-Fair Haven Retrospect had just started making the photo rounds when we ran into Sorensen, her husband, Peter Maher, and friends at the fair.

Congrats on soon being sworn in to your second term on New Year’s Day, Susan!

New Year’s Day R-FH Area Reorganizations

By Elaine Van Develde

Both Rumson and Fair Haven’s reorganizations are, as usual, slated for the same day, same time — New Year’s Day at noon.

Though they are, naturally, in different places — Rumson’s at Bingham Hall and Fair Haven’s at Borough Hall. And, the agendas are different.

In Fair Haven, Democrat Aimee Humphreys will be sworn in to her first term on Borough Council. Mayor Ben Lucarelli will be sworn in to his first full four-year term in office after filling the unexpired term of former Mayor Michael Halfacre. Susan Sorensen will be sworn in to her second term on the dais.

Humphreys unseated three-term incumbent Jerome Koch. Shortly after the elections, with one council meeting left to the year, Koch was tragically killed in a bicycle accident on River Road.

Fire Department and First Aid officers will also be inducted into their new annual roles.

There are no new council members in Rumson to be sworn in for this year’s reorganization. However, the usual municipal reappointments will take hold as well as those of fire and first aid officers.

In Rumson, however, Mayor John Ekdahl is known for his annual speech. Which, he tells Rumson-Fair Haven Retrospect, will be delivered about half way through the ceremony.


The Year 2014 in Photos

While Rumson-Fair Haven Retrospect has only been in soft launch mode for a few months, many moments have been captured in photos.

From the Fair Haven Firemen’s Fair to the holidays, many stories’ scenes have been set in those images.

Take a look at our slide show set to music to get a glimpse into the  highlights of the past few months of 2014.

Get set for the New Year. We’ll be seeing an awful lot more of you around the towns!

In the meantime, enjoy! Just click on the arrow in the center of the video and then on the bottom right icon to enlarge.

Going Retro with RFH’s ‘Fiddler’

In light of our recent editorial tribute to 26-year Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School (RFH) English teacher and her theatrical family, our Retro Pic of the Day brings us back to 1978 and RFH’s production of Fiddler on the Roof.

Nearly the entire Hughes family had a featured role in the show. Pictured in this shot are Paul and Nan Hughes rehearsing a scene as Hodel and Perchik.

Oddly enough, they played a madly-in-love couple in the show. Hodel defies tradition asking for a blessing rather than permission to marry Perchik, a radical who was sent to a prison in Siberia while working for the revolution in Kiev.

Paul’s children attend RFH and many have seen Matt on the same stage as his father.

We’re thinking Nan won’t be too fond about revisiting that hairdo. Sorry, Nan.


Lighting Up the Holidays in the R-FH Area

There’s something about Christmas lights in small towns that just soothes the hometown soul.

Here’s to yet another reason why the Rumson-Fair Haven area is so special.

Take a little holiday tour with us in our photo gallery above. Just click on any image to enlarge and click the arrows to scroll through.

Happy holidays to all from Rumson-Fair Haven Retrospect!

Sports Success: RFH Places 2nd in ShopRite Cup

The following is an edited press release from Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School:

Based on an extremely successful fall sports season, Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School (RFH) has achieved a high ranking in the 12th Annual ShopRite Cup 2014-15 Fall Standings.

RFH is ranked second among all Group 2 schools, and stands at fourth place among all public schools in New Jersey.

The top five Group 2 high schools in the ShopRite Cup Fall Standings, in order, are: Haddonfield, 34 points; Rumson-Fair Haven 31 points; Collingswood,16 points; Madison, 16 points; and Kinnelon, 15 points.

The ShopRite Cup is presented jointly by ShopRite stores and the New Jersey Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA). Winning schools earn ShopRite points for top finishes in competition as well as for sportsmanship.

RFH earned points for the Girls Cross Country Sectional Championship, Field Hockey Group Championship, and the Football Sectional Championship.

Remembrance: Memories and Connections Inspired by RFH Teacher Mimi Hughes

By Elaine Van Develde

“As long as there’s one person on Earth who remembers you, it isn’t over …”

It’s a line from the Rogers and Hammerstein musical Carousel that actor Mandy Patinkin recently recited on 60 Minutes to describe his faithful nightly ritual. Every single night, he remembers those in his life who have passed by naming them and reflecting on something memorable about them.

I believe, like Patinkin, that there’s an awful lot of truth to the words from the play. And I believe that we all need to pay attention to people who pass through our lives for one reason or another, perhaps altering our paths, and remember. Just remember.

All too often I hear from people, “I don’t remember.” Why not? If you care to remember, you will remember.

I care to remember. And I think that 26-year RFH English teacher, singer and actress, wife, mom and grandmother Mimi Hughes cared to remember. I think that, because when you remember people who passed through your life and passed the smallest to the most monumental elements of life onto you, you pass those things onto other people … and the cycle goes on.

You can see that she did this with her own family as well as with the many whose lives she touched in her own life’s journey.

I suppose I just can’t think of a more appropriate way to remember Mimi Hughes than through such words spoken in a musical, of all things. Words and music are much of what she was all about — what she left to me and many others.

And I suppose that she probably had no idea how she affected such a pivotal point in my life and likely many others’ in a similar way. That’s probably because being kind and generous of heart and talent just came so naturally to her — and with such grace.

But, I remember.  She is remembered, from that opening act to curtain call, and then some.

Act I …

I remember that first day at RFH, heading to Mrs. Hughes’ English class. I remember seeing this teacher carrying a load of books down the hall and wondering if that was her — my teacher. You could tell that pile was pretty heavy, but she just seemed to float right through the hall with it.

I actually don’t know why I remember this one thing, but I do — the books were always carried in front of her, not slung on the hip or in a bag. Though, she did have a bag.

I remember thinking what a towering presence she had and that she seemed to exude an extraordinary elegance. Then this lady rounded the corner of the classroom to which I was assigned. Yes, she was my teacher. And I thought she was just so cool.

As she unloaded the books on her desk, I also remember thinking that she was just so beautiful and intelligent looking — piercing, focused, but friendly blue eyes; and thick, dark hair with flecks of grey. Sometimes her readers were perched on the tip of her nose, always with the chain attached. And I’m pretty sure she was wearing a strand of pearls around her neck.

She had the looks of a classic movie actress with that intellectual writer’s bent.

She introduced herself and very neatly scrolled her name on the chalkboard. I can still hear her voice — eloquent, with a delicate, deliberately cultured cadence.

From that point on, Mimi Hughes had become a part of my life.

I always wanted to do well in her class, because she was just so kind and encouraging. I never wanted to disappoint her. That sort of unwaveringly kind encouragement blended with the most succinct, somehow soothing, honesty was her special blend of motivation for success. She never seemed to discourage. I remember that.

I remember even taking my English homework to rehearsals for a, nonetheless, community theater production of Carousel. 

I just had to impress her with my diligence, non-judgmental as she was.

Act II …

It wasn’t long after that when I discovered that Mrs. Hughes and her family were  involved in theater, too. I was doing shows at The Barn Theater and helping out with ushering and running the concession stand; and there they were.

I remember hearing her soprano voice in many a show. OK, so I don’t remember exactly which ones. But I do remember that voice and seeing her on that strange stage — more like bleachers surrounding a bare spot with lights and scenery, which was fabulous.

By the time I was a junior in high school the Hugheses and I were friends. We had done shows together. We were a theater family of sorts.

And that, in an uncanny way, carried onto the stage.

Mark played my husband, the mayor, in Bye Bye Birdie. Poor guy. All I did was scream and faint and he repeatedly scooped me up, bellowing, in his very old-sounding high school voice, “Edna!”

We were all in Fiddler on the Roof together. Nan, with her superb singing talent, played my daughter. Paul was Perchik. Mark was in the chorus, and, I think, Patrick was probably doing a show at The Barn. But that was a stage that was just right down the street. He was the youngest and not yet in high school then.

I was referred to as “big sis” and I was thrilled with the inclusion in the Hughes family.

And there were many more moments on and off stage.

Mimi Hughes and her family continued to figure quite prominently in what, to me, was a very special, sentimental senior year at RFH.

And I remember. Vividly.

We hung out together, popped over to the Hughes house across the street in between rehearsals, where Mimi always welcomed us. We sang around the piano at cast parties and, yes, thought we had hit some criminal pinnacle as we painted that infamous bridge senior year.

There was even one trek, in particular, that I recall with particular fondness, into New York City. Mrs. Hughes drove and we all sang in the back of their Mercedes station wagon. We were on a jaunt to dinner at Asti, that true showfolk restaurant where opera was sung throughout the meal and diners were sometimes invited to join in.

They grabbed Nan from the table, dressed her in some sort of hooded shroud and she appeared minutes later as part of a makeshift chorus.

Oh, and the ride home … Yes, the singing continued, but so did that game of transposing license initials into some sort of title, name or bizarre sentence.

I remember seeing Mrs. Hughes’ hair and grasp on the wheel from the back seat as she gently reminded us and Mr. Hughes, who was also playing, to keep it all wholesome.

Nan even came to see me at college when she was getting set to graduate from RFH.

Curtain …

The connection with the Hughes family has remained. I remember; and am grateful. Just last year I met up with Paul, whose son was in an RFH show, and Patrick.

There were so many moments. So many that made milestones in my life much more meaningful because of my connection to Mimi Hughes and her family.

I do remember. I remember that by the time I graduated from high school, I had decided that I wanted to not only act, but write as well.

I thought it was a  pretty cool combination, and Mrs. Hughes, to me, embodied the idea that I could do both in one way or another and be all that much more enriched to pay forward a love of family, theater and life and write about all of it and more.

Mimi Hughes’ memory, like the memory of so many we should remember, is a lesson.

That lesson is echoed in the song Try to Remember from the Fantasticks.

“Try to remember … and if you remember, then follow …”

Yes, follow.

Rest in peace, Mrs. Hughes. Thank you for bringing your family into my life and enriching it all the more. Though I think your son Paul remembers my mom more for having “tremendous milk” from the Acme (just as important, as it made my mom laugh for years), you are remembered. Your show isn’t over.


Sea of Blue Extends to Show of Support for Local Police

By Elaine Van Develde

You may have seen them popping up all around the Rumson-Fair Haven area — blue signs of support for local police.

The solemn show — blue ribbons, blue lights, blue anything peppering the area — has been dubbed the Sea of Blue Ribbons campaign.

And it continues through Dec. 31.

Continue reading Sea of Blue Extends to Show of Support for Local Police

Looking Back at a Special RFH Teacher, Friend

Mimi Hughes as pictured in the 1978 Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School yearbook.

By Elaine Van Develde

It is with great sadness, yet gratitude for a treasure trove of great memories, that I dedicate our Retro Pic of the Day to the memory of longtime Rumson resident and former RFH English teacher Mimi Hughes, who passed away Saturday morning.

Mrs. Hughes is remembered as an exquisitely gentille, intelligent, strong and compassionate woman. While many knew her from her many years as an RFH teacher, she is also fondly recalled as a singer, actress, friend, wife, mom to RFH grads Mark, Paul, Nan and Patrick and beloved grandmother to her grandchildren.

“She had time to say goodbye to all of us, and she did it with shining grace and composure,” daughter Nan said in a Facebook post. “Her last night was filled with love, Christmas carols and family. Mimi was even singing along with her grandchildren … And as always, she has been a role model, showing us the best way to do this.”

There will be a memorial gathering 10 a.m. on Tuesday, followed by an 11 a.m. Mass at Nativity Church, Fair Haven.

With our Retro Pic of the Day, we ask that you take a moment to remember Mimi Hughes.

Rumson-Fair Haven Retrospect will be publishing an opinion piece on Monday in honor of Mrs. Hughes.