Category Archives: Opinion

Editorials, letters to the editor and other articles reflecting on iconic people, places and traditions related to them in the area.

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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Retro Benched RFH Halloween Paraders

RFH Halloween of 1977 with a gaggle of girls
Photo/George Day

Well, it’s about that time for Halloween parades. In fact, Fair Haven’s was on Sunday. And, back in the day, RFH had its own high school Halloween parade.

Some bunny — or a few bunnies and other assorted suspicious characters — got dressed for the occasion, paraded themselves around campus and benched themselves for a spell, too.

The Halloween spirit is in the air. And these senior gaggle of girls embodied it. From controversial, yet timely and popular at the time, Playboy bunny costumes, to Raggedy Ann, a ghost, a cat, a gypsy and whatever else, they were parading and pleased with their choices.

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Reflection: Retro Halloween Parading

The following opinion piece on Halloween through the generations in Fair Haven was originally published in 2015. It is reprised annually … 

Before the parade passes by, this kid from Fair Haven has some parading memories on which to reflect. Remember this scene?

It’s a longstanding tradition — the Fair Haven Halloween Parade.

I remember it well — from my first parade trek back in the late 1960s to the ’70s, 80s, 90s and now.

It all started at age 7 with a wish to be Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz. I’ve noticed a few in more recent years and the green-eyed jealousy monster of a near senior has reared its head. But I digress … That little dress-up fantasy of the 60s of mine was foiled when my mother couldn’t get the gingham outfit together, my pigtails were not so poised for the silver screen look and my sister refused to crawl down Hance Road as Toto.

I guess it was bad enough that from the age of 3, she was forced by this pint-sized dominatrix 5-year-old Dorothy to crawl on a makeshift Funk and Wagnall’s encyclopedia Yellow Brick Road to Oz in the living room. The neighbors never quite got over it, either.

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Retro RFH Cheer for the Boys

The boy cheerleaders of RFH Powder Puff Football 1977 Photo/George Day
The boy cheerleaders of RFH Powder Puff Football 1977
Photo/George Day
The boy cheerleaders of RFH Powder Puff Football 1977
Photo/George Day

Cheers to sunny fall days! The sun is finally out and it’s something to cheer about. So, we’re taking you back, once again, to a special crew of RFH cheerleaders — the boys of RFH’s Class of ’78 in an encore of this Oct. 8, 2015 Retro Pic of the (George) Day from two views! Cheers!

The 1977 RFH Powder Puff Football game was a good one that made for some great photo ops.

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Retro RFH Teacher-Administrator Moment

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. Students have settled back into the hallowed halls of good ol’ RFH.

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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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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9/11: Day’s End Reflection, 22 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 smiling with a crisp warmth. The air was a snappy fresh. 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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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. 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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