dorns-downtown-1951“Wiggie’s Kiddie Center?” A view north on Broad Street in 1951, from the Dorn’s Classic Images archive, is included in the calendar. (Click to enlarge and see Wiggie’s at left)


Two of Red Bank’s most venerable names in commerce have gotten together for a little nostalgia trip into the borough’s past.

It’s a 12-month journey captured in photographs that show Red Bank’s buildings and streetscapes from 1940 to 1979, put into calendar form by David Prown of Prown’s Home Improvement and the husband-wife duo of George Severini and Kathy Dorn Severini oF Dorn’s Classic Images.

harold-bookerHarold Booker, who appears in a 1957 photo in the calendar, stops by to pick up a copy at Prown’s Home Improvement last week. (Photo courtesy of Prown’s)

It was an idea that germinated a couple months ago with Prown, who says he was looking for ways to give back to the community that has supported his family-owned home improvement business for 85 years.

He figured that Dorn’s photo business, long a fixture as photographic chroniclers of Red Bank and Monmouth County, could give him an avenue to accomplish that. So he hooked up with the Dorn-Severinis and started scanning their archives.

“This was a perfect fit for us,” Prown said. “We were thinking, in a way, this could be sort of our Hess truck item.”

Prown printed only a few hundred copies of the calendars, and they’ve only been available for two weeks. But since he has displayed them at the store’s counter, he’s gotten at least a half-dozen people in the store each day to either pick up a copy or thumb through it to share their memories with him. Harold Booker came in and saw himself in one of the calendar’s pictures, as a child in a small parade on West Bergen Place, and told Prown his vivid memories of that day.

“(That’s) exactly the response I hoped for — a real warm, fuzzy nostalgia for Red Bank,” Prown said. “These stories just started pouring. We’ve had people in tears.”

George Severini said he was thrilled when Prown came to him with the proposal. Since Dorn’s has a trove of thousands of Red Bank shots, he and Kathy Dorn Severini had, for a long time, wanted to put together a calendar, but other projects pushed it down on the priority list.

“When David said he wanted to do it, it was like, ‘Wow. This is great,'” Severini said.

The Dorns also published their own calendar — which is essentially the same as Prown’s except for the title “Dorn’s Remembers Olde Red Bank” and a couple picture changes — but made fewer copies and is only available at the Monmouth Museum on the Brookdale Community College campus. Alphagraphics, which printed the calendars, did the same.

But the calendar is really Prown’s baby, Severini said. Prown said he intends to make the calendar an annual offering, and each year will have a different theme, such as weather, water, parades and churches. Severini thinks that, like the 2010 calendar, the idea will be well received by the Red Bank community.

“There isn’t somebody out there that hasn’t grown up in Red Bank that doesn’t immediately gravitate toward these pictures,” Severini said. “They’re very excited about seeing the old shots. They see something they haven’t seen before.”

The calendars are free, but going fast. If you want one, stop by Prown’s Home Improvement at 135 Monmouth St.