Retro Rumson Diva Dive

Alice Mansfield takes a dive off Rumson Dock circa late 1950s
Photo/Ken Card courtesy of Alice Mansfield

Sign of the times? The “No Diving” signs are all over the docks. Well, at least the one that’s left in Fair Haven. Yet, a good dive has been known to transcend times and signs.

Yes, some things never change, and the love of river time is one of those things. The love of that dock dive, too.

Granted, these days there’s not so much dock jumping and swimming. Really, it was never really given the officials’ or parents’ seal of approval. It was more like the errant dive and group jump got their collective “look the other way and know it’s a time-honored tradition.”

Back in the day, decades ago, the river was the local swimming, or dunking, hole. It was common knowledge, especially for the cool kids clique. In fact, if you got invited to go jump off the dock, you were considered to be pretty hip.

And who was more hip than the girl from the Rumson Dock in that Rumson postcard? Yes, Alice Coyle Mansfield back in the 1950s sunned daily and took a deep, daring dive, bathing cap and suit and all. There was nothing cooler, not even country or beach clubbing.

River time, dive or not, was all that mattered. It was a special way of life that no Rumson or Fair Haven kid forgets. Mansfield still talks about her river days in Rumson. Now, there are signs, fish die-offs, clinging jellyfish and pollution. But, some still sneak in a dive just to say they did the daredevil, time-honored thing to talk about to future generations. And it is talked about.

Usually children of native Rumson-Fair Haven area folks are doing the talking, daring and diving. We’ve seen it. Although there was trouble when we did the talking and proud snapshot.

So, don’t try this at home — on the dock. But, behold a dock diving diva trailblazer, Alice Mansfield. No fear. No thought of jellyfish stingers or dead fish zingers. Long arm of the dock law? Well, they were likely part of the cheering section or doing a dive themselves back then. It WAS more than 60 years ago. Cool, right? Not as cool as she was after her dunk on a hot day.

So, diving in with tradition, finish this sentence: Down by the river, I …

Hot, right? Cool.

Alice Mansfield taking a dive off the Rumson Dock circa 1958 or 59
Photo/courtesy of Alice Mansfield

John Caroli
BCS Wealth Management