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 Girls’ Last Summer Drive

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/Suzan Cooper

Sun up! There’s nothing quite like a summer drive in a classic car with the top down, especially when it’s the summer of senior year. So, we’re re-running this piece just because the sun needs to shine on friendships and good times like these. There’s nothing quite as warm. Put the top down and take a drive back with us again … 

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.

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Old News: Heatwave of Smoking Hot Insanity

Yes, we’re having a heatwave — and there’s nothing tropically alluring about it. It’s smoking-hot sweaty-ugly.

We’re talking heatwave now. We’ll get to the smoking hot story of insanity in a minute. And you really don’t want to miss that butt of the newsreel.

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Cheers to the Grand Daddies of the R-FH Area

Today is Father’s Day.

And, we at Rumson-Fair Haven Retrospect are of the mind that the day was 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.

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Remembering Area Mamas’ Legacies

Today is Mother’s Day.

And, we at Rumson-Fair Haven Retrospect are thinking, the day should not just be one in which kids dutifully pay attention to the woman who pretty much, well, twisted her heart up and spit it out to ride a Big Wheel at 100 miles per hour with no helmet. OK, so that was a tad dramatic.

But, it’s not really just for all that jazz — though, it is important jazz. It should be about moms celebrating one another, especially to learn a little bit about one another’s roots in a tight-knit community such as the Rumson-Fair Haven area.

There are so many women in this area who served as unbreakable bricks in the foundation that is this community now. It goes back may generations. We are thankful for those women of all different motherly types — yes, different. Each unique and special in her own way. Each contributing in her own way. Each leaving her indelible fingerprint on many here, through generations.

You see, the strong community foundation that brought us all here is not about a number and a few borrowed phony promotional words — real estate value, flipping and the lingo concocted to make the sale.

The sale was made long ago and the value was tucked away in the hearts of some of these moms who were here when it all started, caring for one another through their community.

It’s about lifeblood — the lifeblood of, in this case, matriarchs who have bequested a legacy of true love.

They put the coffee on. Who’s bringing the crumb cake? Yes, crumb cake. When it comes to community, you can indulge in the simple a little to keep it very sweet.

Take a look at our slideshows of some area moms from the past and present. Some are still with us. Some are not. But, they are remembered for their own contributions to one another and laying bricks in the foundation that is the Rumson-Fair Haven area. If  you have a photo you’d like to add, of a mom from the past, email it to us at evd@rfhretro and we will include it in a gallery.

Retro RFH English Teacher Appreciation

RFH English teachers of the 1970s
Photo/RFH yearbook

What would Teacher Appreciation Day be without a little ode to those who unwittingly set a writer on her twisted path to write — about them?

They are the English teachers at RFH. Back in the 1970s, they comprised quite the crew of educators. They taught us how to communicate more effectively. They chided us for using improper grammar. They expected better when they knew we were capable of the best. They glommed onto the small details that mattered in stringing a better sentence together with the peskiness of a dangling participle.

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Retro RFH Batty Gym Suit Home Run

A reprise in honor of the girls, baseball season and not having to wear these horrific mandatory gym suits anymore! Strike! The suits are out! Phew! Remember the fun and the horror with us … (Be sure to CLICK on one photo to enlarge and scroll to fully experience the horror. Ha!)

It’s just plain batty! Batter’s up at RFH as baseball season is in full swing. But, looking back at some RFH 1970s games, you have to wonder when or why, exactly, there was ever a season of the ol’ gym suit, baseball or softball aside.

Really. Ponder it. Those things that made girls look like Stay Puff marshmallows, or, worse, a big baby with a onesie that had enough space for a diaper or, well … you get the picture.

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Retro Little Tykes’ River Time

Fair Haven river dwellers of the Drake family
Photo/courtesy of Robin Drake Fitch

Quality river time. It’s a rite of passage for any Rumson-Fair Haven area kid.

When the spring air hits, the banks of the Navesink and Shrewsbury Rivers call to kids like mythological Sirens. And they burrow themselves in the sand and tides like hermit crabs.

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Old News: Being the Easter Bunny

Ahhhhh, the Easter Bunny … the tradition, the joy, the mystery, and, yes, the horror.

There’s a lot more to the symbolically giant fluffy rodent with cartoon eyes in a fixed freaky stare and a head the size of one of the small children he visits on Easter. For instance, his head pops off. It’s also a sweaty death trap. Those are facts, people. I know. I was the Easter Bunny quite a few times.

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Old News: Valentine’s Day Dough, Perfume and Vinegar

Call it Valentine’s sustenance. Since Cupid’s arrow was first slung back in the dark ages, there have been hard hits, softer ones and total misses since. But there’s always been a little bit of sweet, sour and downright doughy satisfying for the Valentine’s Day palate, with a little kooky sprinkled on top.

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Cooper’s Legacy: The Art of Circle Gaming Among Childhood Friends

“We’re captive on the carousel of time … We can’t return. We can only look behind from where we came and go round and round and round in the circle game …” ~ Joni Mitchell

The news hit his nimble-footed, intricately painted-and-penned world like a sledge hammer. Thirty-year-old Thomas “Cooper” Ley had died. He was my best friend’s beautiful boy.

The wound left by the merciless hammer’s mark was a deep one. Somehow it didn’t break the circle, though. It wouldn’t. Never could. That was the consolation, so I was posthumously reminded by his mother, if there was to be any at all in something that seemed so senseless and unfair.

Circle. It was stuck in my head. Once that hammer hit, she started whispering to me as I grappled with how to remember him best for her, for his family, for his friends, with my words.

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A Tale of Firehouse Santa Tradition

Santa and Elaine Van Develde circa 1961

Because Santa Claus is everywhere these days … our annual reprise …

By Elaine Van Develde

It’s that time of the year when a longstanding Fair Haven tradition comes to mind and heart — those classic kid photos at the firehouse with Santa. There’s the park. Then there’s the firehouse. That was today.

I remember …

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