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 Rainy Day Tricks & Treats

Lounging in the RFH Senior Lounge on a "free" with Jim Scanlon and Mark Cardwell Photo/George Day
Lounging in the RFH Senior Lounge on a “free” with Jim Scanlon and Mark Cardwell
Photo/George Day

A reprise from Oct. 1, 2015 to give a little cheer on a dank day. A little tricks and treating among RFH loungers. Always an adventure of some sort at RFH … 

There was nothing quite like becoming a senior at RFH and being able to hang out in a special lounge just for you and your classmates, especially on a dismal October day.

Nothing was getting anyone down if they were senior lounging in the cozy RFH indoors. Of course, there was always something seniors were up to. Call it mod. Literally. 

Those were the days — in the 1970s.

The whole senior scene, in fact, was quite mod, or literally modular.

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Retro School Daze: The Rope Lady

A reprise in honor of those folks who used to be in charge of keeping the kids safe on their walk to school. Remember when everyone walked to school?

It was a time when kids had to walk the … rope.

The first day of school, last week, was commemorated with a look back to that first day in 1965 in Fair Haven.

It was the very first day of school — for kindergarteners. It was also a finale year. That class was the last of all that walked on a rope to the Youth Center (now Fair Haven Community Center downstairs and the police station upstairs).

While classmates were remembered, the identity of the official lady tugging that rope was not.

So, as an ode to that woman, who was eventually remembered as Mary McDaniel, the Retro Pic of the Day is another look, from the archives of the Red Bank Register, of that kindergarten class walk, headed by Mc Daniel.

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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 of 2020, 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 Back-to-School with an RFH Science Teacher & Assistant Superintendent

A look back at RFH science teacher James Parker and Assistant Superintendent Donald Trotter Photo/George Day
A look back at RFH science teacher James Parker and Assistant Superintendent Donald Trotter
Photo/George Day

A reprise, originally posted in 2017, in honor of back-to-school time … 

Back-to-school time has arrived.

And with back-to-school thoughts come hopes of a good teacher or two and memories of the ones who we thought were the coolest. Then there were those administrators who weren’t just a Charlie Brown teacher voice cawing over the ol’ daydreaming student’s non-thought process. Some, or one in particular, are remembered as a real education innovators.

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Back to School & Walking the Rope

Our annual reprise of back-to-school memories and walking the rope in Fair Haven …

“But I don’t wanna walk on the rope next to her!” I cried from under my freshly-cut kindergarten bangs. “I wanna walk on the rope next to Pam!”

Pam was my neighbor. She was my best buddy.

It was 1965. Or was it ’64? It was the 60s. One thing’s for sure: Our Fair Haven kindergarten class was the last to have its first year of school at what was called the Youth Center, now the Fair Haven Police Station and Community Center on Fisk Street.

We kindergarteners were also the last to be tugged down the street on a rope, yes a rope, headed by an official-looking police-type lady.

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9/11: Day’s End Reflection, 20 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 …
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Fair Remembrance: All’s Fair in the Middle

Our annual reprise about what it really means to be a “fair” kid …

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 many a “fair” kid, back to that middle haven. It’s home.

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Retro Fair Balloon Lady

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

A reprise to honor the Fair Haven Firemen’s Fair and those things that never disappear like helium balloons into the dark sky … Memories of a special lady — my mom.

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.

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Retro Fair Family Affair Spin

Tom Kirman and daughter Rebecca work the Big Six booth at the Fair Haven Firemen's Fair in 2014. Photo/Elaine Van Develde
Tom Kirman and daughter Rebecca work the Big Six booth at the Fair Haven Firemen’s Fair in 2014.
Photo/Elaine Van Develde

In anticipation of the return of the Fair Haven Firemen’s Fair, we take a look back again at a game of chance, its history and families that spin together. 

Most often, working at the Fair Haven Firemen’s Fair is a longtime family affair.

So, the Retro Pic of the Day today is an ode to just that, in addition to featuring those behind the booths.

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Retro Fair Confections’ Commandeering

Millie Felsmann making cotton candy at the Fair Haven Firemen's Fair circa early 1990s Photo/Elaine Van Develde
Millie Felsmann making cotton candy at the Fair Haven Firemen’s Fair circa early 1990s
Photo/Elaine Van Develde
Millie Felsmann and her candy apples back in the 1960s Photo/courtesy of Monica Felsmann
Millie Felsmann and her candy apples back in the 1960s
Photo/courtesy of Monica Felsmann

This Retro Pic(s) of the Day story was originally published on Aug. 25, 2015. It is being run again in honor of the Fair Haven Firemen’s Fair, which returns this year after COVID. This is how they did it and continue to do it at the fair … 

When it came to cotton candy — that fluffy spun light blue and pink sugar on a cone that melts in your mouth, on your mouth and many times on your hands, too — Millie Felsmann was the pro at the Fair Haven Firemen’s Fair.

Don’t get us wrong, here. We know that Millie also commandeered the candy apple making. Yes, Candy Bennett was there, too — for many hours a day, making and selling those candy apples, apropos name and all.

Well, she was — she was Candy, the candy apple lady. Yes, Candy had a lot do do with those candy apples — but Millie was the boss. She, along with her troupe of kids and Candy, Betty Acker and Mrs. Frank, started work on those apples as early as 6 a.m.. And, even further back, to 1965 or 66, Mrs. Topfer made those apples, too.

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Retro Fair Candy Apple Daze

Candy, Ray and Marion Bennett tend to the candy apples at the Fair Haven Firemen's Fair circa 1979 Photo/Fair Haven Fire Department Yearbook, courtesy of Evie Connor Kelly
Candy, Ray and Marion Bennett tend to the candy apples at the
Fair Haven Firemen’s Fair circa 1979
Photo/Fair Haven Fire Department Yearbook, courtesy of Evie Connor Kelly

The Fair Haven Firemen’s Fair is making a much-awaited return this year. With the fair, of course, comes goodies. Confections. Fair food. Most of those goodies will return with the fair. One that won’t is the seafood along with the front dining room. The burgers, hot dogs, fries, ice cream and cotton candy in the Out Back (out in back on the grounds) will return. But one favorite that hasn’t made a comeback and won’t still — the candy apple. So, we look back and reminisce about a fair treat and tradition gone with this reprise …

Who better to one of those at the helm the candy apple operation at the Fair Haven Firemen’s Fair than a woman named Candy — Candy Bennett?

The Retro Pic of the Day offers a glimpse back to fair days in 1979 with yet another fair family affair at another booth — the candy apple booth (or corner of the Out Back, or what used to be called the hot dog booth).

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