Retro RFH Bleacher Blast & Love Story

Bleacher fun at RFH circa 1970s Photo/George Day
Bleacher fun at RFH circa 1970s
Photo/George Day

Yes, it’s that time again … RFH football.

Friday night the game’s on at Middletown South at 7 p.m and, yes, there are South bleacher security rules, too. It’s a sign of the times.

The open letter of rules goes like this …

“Middletown South contacted me with information regarding the football game at Middletown South on Friday Night, 7pm.

“There will be NO pre-sale tickets for the game
An additional entrance will be established for RFH fans — on the visitor side of the bleachers

“Backpacks and large bags, including large pursues, will not be permitted into the game. Smaller personal bags will be subject to search by Middletown Police

“Parking will be very tight on campus and families are encouraged to car pool as possible.


Chris Lanzalotto
RFH Athletic Director

Go Bulldogs!”

But, back in the day, at least in the 1970s, there was little, if any of all that. Teens bagged it and packed it all up with lots of smiles and innocent, well, pretty innocent antics.

So, the Retro Pic of the (George) Day offers a glimpse back to the RFH bleachers again … with some smiles.

Recognize this crew from the Class of ’79? There’s one gal here who recently came home and married a fellow RFHer who she didn’t know in high school (’cause he was a tad older). He brought her back home to Fair Haven. And they live there again together … happily ever after … or at least smiling like in the old days on those bleachers when they hadn’t even passed by one another in the hallway.

Now that’s a home game.

— Elaine Van Develde


Knollwood Grad, FH Police Chief’s Son Inducted onto Wall of Honor

A ceremony was held on Sept. 26 to honor Joseph (Joe) McGovern Jr., who graduated eighth grade at Knollwood School in Fair Haven in 2012.

McGovern Jr.’s photo has been added to the school’s Wall of Honor display featuring graduates serving their country in the armed forces.

Continue reading Knollwood Grad, FH Police Chief’s Son Inducted onto Wall of Honor

Scene Around: Painting the Rumson Riverfront Picture

Painting the scene down by the river in Rumson Photo/Jenifer Weber Zeller
Painting the scene down by the river in Rumson
Photo/Jenifer Weber Zeller

It’s a windy, winsome kind of day.

And down by the river in Rumson, a few people were out this morning painting that picture.

The sun was hiding, but the scenery stood out. It spoke to a few who took a moment to seize it on canvas.

Rumsonite Jenifer Weber Zeller got the picture and a glimpse into the start of a Rumson day for all.

Thanks for sharing, Jen! Paint the day with hues of purple … or something like that.

Retro Pick of a Fair Winner

A fair 50/50 drawing of yesteryear. Photo/FHFD
A fair 50/50 drawing of yesteryear.

It’s one of those Mega Millions drawing nights, so it seems appropriate to take a look back at picking another winner — a 50/50 Fair Haven Firemen’s Fair winner.

So, the Retro Pic of the Day honors the picking of a winner … a fair winner … in a fair way.

In this shot, the guys are giving the tickets a tumble, poised to dig in, fetch and announce the number that will match up with the person holding the stub.

The set-up of the 50/50 Booth was similar yet a bit different back in the day. That would be Jim Butler doing something there to help and a bunch of onlookers drinking beers and hoping to get lucky … with their numbers.

Can anyone wager a guess as to how high the 50/50 has gone or did go in those days, which were likely the early 1970s? And who was the biggest winner — before the days of the Super 50/50?

Round and round she goes … Do we have a winner?


Focus: A Special Rumson Island

Sometimes you just need to escape to an island. And all you need to do is look out onto the Shrewsbury River to find one.

If you can’t get in your gondola and paddle over there, the 32-acre Gunning Island preserve, 20 acres of which has been owned by Rumson since 2007, is close enough to see from the banks of Rumson or Sea Bright. For RFHers, it holds a cache of party and young pleasure boating memories.

It now seems to beckon with a sigh of serenity and solitude in its wildlife preserve state.

Exhale and take in the memories with the scenery …

(Don’t forget to click to enlarge.)

— Elaine Van Develde



Living the Dream: Author Mary Beth Connor Gibson’s Homecoming

Mary Beth Connor Gibson Photo/Elaine Van Develde
Mary Beth Connor Gibson
Photo/Elaine Van Develde

By Elaine Van Develde

Author Mary Beth Connor Gibson’s story started with her mom, a walk to her hometown library, a passion for books and her own writer’s pen.

She took that walk 57 years ago, in May of 1959, to the Fair Haven library with her mom. The native Fair Havenite said she knew something special was about to happen. And it did. She, a then 6-year-old, got her first library card and the first glimmer of what turned out to be enduring, loving support from her mom to live her dream and love of books and become an author.

She is now what she dreamed of then — and has been for a while now. And, most recently, she took a long walk (OK, ride) back to her hometown on Sunday — but not to the library this time. That trek had already been taken more than half a century ago. This journey back home was one to the Fair Haven Firehouse, a Connor family home-away-from-home anchor for the siblings and longtime members, with family and friends for a book signing of her novel Aroon.

The parents Mary Ellen and Joe were there in spirit and pictures hanging on the walls.

And the journey to authorship was remembered as one taken with a mom and family ’til the end.

Mary Ellen Connor Photo/Mary Beth Connor Gibson
Mary Ellen Connor
Photo/Mary Beth Connor Gibson

Connor Gibson’s mother lived her dream with her, supporting her little girl all grown up every step of the way, on another walk to another part of the country.

But it started like this … “I knew by her (Mom’s) enthusiasm that something special was about to happen,” Gibson said. “Once we reached the library, she leaned over and said, ‘You are now old enough to have your own library card.’ I can still feel the pride in my heart as I checked out the first stack of books in my own name. My passion for books is just as strong today.”

Eventually Connor Gibson emigrated from home and ended up living in South Carolina.

“Living in South Carolina, Mom accompanied me on several research trips, like Savannah’s Ships of the Sea Maritime museum or the Redcliffe Plantation,” she said. “She passed away before I finished my book, but she was always encouraging.”

She was encouraged along the way by people other than her mom, but Mom was the mainstay.

“My second grade teacher, Mrs. Pauline Gibson, was the first to encourage my writing, allowing me to read a fairy tale I wrote for the principal, Mr. Petrisin. I think it was about a goat,” she said.

That elementary school goat rather than fairy tale manifested in a dabbling in short stories and such over the years.

But, “when approaching 40, I decided to go for it and write children’s books. Later, I expanded my subject matter to adults, giving me the freedom to explore the challenges and struggles of all classes of people. After learning of the martyrdom of an 18th century Tipperary priest, Nicholas Sheehy, I decided to focus my first novel during that time period.

“The title, Aroon, is the Anglicized version of the Gaelic, a rún, which literally means ‘my secret’ while it’s also used as a term of affection. I interpret it as “my secret love,'” Connor Gibson explained.

Aroon, already an award-winning novel, is set in 18th century Ireland, where jealousy, lust, and oppression lead to gruesome visions with only one way to stop the torture — a killing. So goes the description of the book.

It’s not a spoiler. It’s a delicate tease, as Connor Gibson sees it. She’s not giving away any of the intricate plot. You’ll have to read the devil in the details for yourself.

Here’s a bit of a tidbit more …

“Richard Lynche, anguished heir of Duncullen, clashes with his overbearing letch of a father. The lad’s only solace, the arms of homesick new maid, Eveleen, becomes his greatest agony when he finds himself terrorized by grisly apparitions. The result? One cold corpse.”

“Years of research took me places I’d never guess existed. Bringing it all together dramatically has been extremely gratifying,” said Connor Gibson. “I plan to release the sequel, Harps Upon the Willows, early in 2017.”

So, what’s a little Fair Haven girl to do with a cold corpse, some torture, solace, jealousy, lust and oppression on the mind? Mix the elements in the mind with some notes and thought after a long walk … to the library.

It may not be Oz, but there’s no place like home and the memory of a walk and a mother’s support for the writing of a book and the wrapping of it all up in a signing with lots of hugs and smiles as this author sees it.

About Aroon and Mary Beth Connor Gibson … 

Aroon has been awarded the Carrie McCray Literary Award for Novel First Chapter and was a finalist in the Pacific Northwest Writers Association Literary Contest for Historical Fiction.

Her first chapter, printed in the anthology, The Petigru Review, was nominated for a Pushcart Prize.

Gibson dedicated more than three decades to teaching adolescents in rural South Carolina everything from literature to mathematics to conflict resolution. She passionately believes in the value and dignity of every human being, which she’s carried from her classroom to the pages of her books.

Learn more on her website, Aroon is available in print and Kindle versions on

The R-FH Area Weekend: RFH Football with Security, Middletown Day, Oyster Fest, Book Signing

The sun is out, fall is in the air and the weather is predicted to be as pleasant as the event line-up for the Rumson-Fair Haven area weekend.

It all starts on Friday night …

with RFH’s first football game at Borden Stadium at 7 p.m..

Yes, there are new security measures in place.

Here’s the letter from school officials:

“Due to recent acts of violence in Ocean and Union counties and New York City, RFH will implement updated, best-practice security protocols recommended by the Rumson Police Department for large public gatherings, e.g. athletic events.

“The Rumson Police Department has coordinated efforts with RFH administration to ensure smooth implementation. Please be advised: NO Bags (backpacks, duffel bags, etc.) are permitted into Borden Stadium; small personal bags, e.g. purses, may be subject to search; NO Bottles and/or containers of liquid are permitted into Borden Stadium; and NO one with covered-faced costumes (i.e. masks and total body stockings) will be permitted into Borden Stadium.

“It is our intention and obligation to ensure safe events for our students and spectators. If, at any event, you notice suspicious behavior, please notify RFH personnel or law enforcement immediately.”

Saturday … all day, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. is …

Middletown Day on the grounds of Croydon Hall on Leonardville Road in the Leonardo section of the township, right across the river.

The annual fall event features entertainment, pony rides, petting zoo, a flea market, contests, tournaments, business booths, food, goodies, arts and crafts, demonstrations and more. The event is running rain or shine.

And Sunday is the day for …

The Guiness Oyster Festival in the White Street parking lot in Red Bank.

The annual classic event, which runs from noon to 7 p.m. offers lots of food, including, of course, oysters, music and drink and raises money for area causes and more RiverCenter events.

Admission is $5 for all over the age of 10.

A hometown book signing …

Native Fair Havenite Mary Beth Connor Gibson will be back home and signing copies of her first novel, Aroon, at the Fair Haven Firehouse from 1 to 4 p.m..

The award-winning story is set in eighteenth century Ireland, where jealousy, lust, and oppression lead to gruesome visions with only one way to stop the torture—a killing.