NOT AN EMPTY SPOT IN THE LOT

In spite of wilting heat, the eighth annual Liberty Hose fire company car show drew some 320 exhibitors and several thousand spectators to the White Street municipal lot in Red Bank Sunday. We’ve got pix.

The event raises funds for scholarships.

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DRAWING A PLAN FOR A WATERFRONT FUTURE

fh-williams-house-061610Unclaimed boats and kayaks will be removed next month from the beach at the former Charles Williams estate, Fair Haven officials say. (Click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

By this time next year, Fair Haven Mayor Mike Halfacre anticipates that the borough’s prized beachfront property at 78 DeNormandie Ave. will be open for public use.

First, though, a few things need to happen — including the demolition of the house that’s been on the property for 150 years, for one.

A formal naming, too, although the working title is “Robards Park,” in honor of the last resident of the house, Winifred Julia Decatur Robards.

Town officials also hope to answer the abiding question of what exactly to do with the property.

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COAL & FEED BUILDING DEMOLISHED

26_shrewsburyThe former Hance Coal & Feed building on Shrewsbury Avenue, seen above in 2008, was razed earlier this week, below. (Click to enlarge)

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A landmark barnlike structure on Red Bank’s West Side is no more.

The former Hance Coal & Feed building on Shrewsbury Avenue was taken down earlier this week by Sourlis International, owner of the Galleria at Red Bank, which plans to expand a surrounding parking lot on the site.

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RESTROOM? FOUR-YEAR WAIT, IF EVER

rb-station-1-051410A NJ Transit rendering shows the station in what officials say were its original colors. (Click to enlarge)

Where’s the restroom?

Lou and Chris Mustillo, owners of the Red Bank’s Walt Street Pub, say they get that question upwards of two dozen times a day from commuters hurrying into their establishment across Monmouth Street from the Red Bank train station, which doesn’t have a public washroom.

So last Friday night, when New Jersey Transit unveiled a station restoration plan that may take four years and consume up to $2 million in taxpayer money, the Mustillos pressed officials with the same question they and their bartenders hear all too often: where’s the bathroom?

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DEATH RUMORS: WAY-OUTSVILLE, MAN

johnny-jazz-042710Ralph ‘Johnny Jazz’ Gatta at Riverview Medical Center on April 27. (Click to enlarge)

Johnny Jazz is not dead. Repeat: JOHNNY JAZZ IS NOT DEAD.

In fact, for a guy with throat cancer, he’s actually doing pretty well, family members tell us.

But according to a persistent rumor, repeated in laudatory comments posted here on redbankgreen, the beloved West Side grocer/jazz aficionado Ralph ‘Johnny Jazz’ Gatta passed away.

One comment, which was deleted by our moderator after it was discredited, even gave a specific date of his purported passing to the great bandstand in the sky. “Sadly, he lost his battle with cancer yesterday,” the author wrote Friday night.

Wrong. But family members are finding themselves awash in premature condolences.

“It’s bizarre,” says niece Mary Gatta, who compares the rumor to those of Elvis sightings.

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FROZEN SUBSTANCE DOESN’T NEED SHOVELING

frozsurtCo-owner Daniel Natale outside his Frozsürt store, which opened on Monmouth Street yesterday. (Click to enlarge)

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Just in time for the sudden onset of springlike weather and the end, we hope, of the mini ice-age winter we’ve experienced, a long-crystallizing frozen dessert business has opened in Red Bank.

The debut yesterday of Frozsürt marks the first time in more than half a century that no newspapers are being sold at 2 Monmouth Street, the longtime home of Red Bank News.

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BACK IN TIME, ON WATER HARD & SOFT

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The reception room of the Atrium at Navesink Harbor was packed with river rats and history mavens old and young Thursday night for short program on the history of our beautiful Navesink as a playground for recreational boaters and iceboaters.

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CENTURY-OLD EDISON FOOTAGE TO BE SHOWN

rsz_img_69622Thomas Alva Edison‘s links to New Jersey  are well-documented. But it’s unlikely that many Garden Staters know about his interest in ice boating on what’s now called the Navesink River.

Edison’s American Vitascope Co. shot footage of ice boaters on what was then called the North Shrewsbury River between 1901 and 1904, according to historical accounts.

Your chance to learn all about it and see Edison’s actual footage is next week.

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IN oRBit: RE-STOCKING THE WOODSTOCK

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Sure, the 40th anniversary of Woodstock was last summer — but over at  Monmouth University, there’s no better time to mark those Three Days of Peace and Music than January 2010, and in today’s Red Bank oRBit, we take a look at some special events going on at the Pollak Theatre on the MU campus.

The indisputable highlight of Woodstock Week is Friday night’s concert by Richie Havens (left), the wand’ring ambassador of Woodstock Nation and an artist who continues to personify for many the spirit of that epochal cultural event. He’s preceded by the return of Pete Fornatale, the New York radio legend whose oral-history book Back to the Garden is essential reading at your muddy tent-city bedside.

Also on tap: a free screening of Ang Lee’s Taking Woodstock and the fundraiser auction of a guitar autographed by a season’s worth of guest artists at the Pollak — including several stars who we’ve interviewed in our pixelated pages. We’ve got the details, along with words from Fornatale, Billy Bragg, George Winston, Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Roger McGuinn and bluegrass family patriarch Jere Cherryholmes, right here in Red Bank oRBit!

BASIE WINS NATIONAL HISTORY DESIGNATION

A time-lapse video captured the interior renovation work on the Count Basie Theatre in 2008. Below, a detail of an organ loft grille.

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

More than a year after it lifted the curtain on nearly $8 million in improvements, the Count Basie Theatre should have an easier time moving forward with its ongoing spruce job thanks  its latest accomplishment: making it onto the National Register of Historic Places.

The Red Bank landmark was named to the list two days before Christmas, a culmination of at least a year’s worth of work by the theater’s Board of Trustees to get the 83-year-old former Vaudeville and silent film venue added, said Hugh Ward, a trustee.

“Pretty nice Christmas present, huh?” Ward said.

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IN oRBit: FANS BUY ‘BORN TO RUN’ COTTAGE

Rbo_3bIn an exclusive, today’s edition of Red Bank oRBit reports that three Bruce Springsteen fans, including one from Lincroft, have purchased the Long Branch house where the rocker wrote ‘Born to Run‘ and other songs from his 1975 breakthrough album of the same name.

They paid $280,000 for the 828-square-foot West End cottage just so no one else would buy and tear down what they see as a rock and roll shrine.

“We don’t want it to ever be anything than what it is,” co-buyer Kim McDermott tells oRbit, the entertainment news companion to redbankgreen.

HISTORIANS BLAST NJT FOR STATION NEGLECT

rb-hist-commHistoric Preservation Commission member Mary Gilligan addresses the council Monday night, joined by members George Bowden, left, and Ed Poplawski.

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

For 15 years, Mary Gilligan says, she’s “watched pieces fall off” Red Bank’s train station on the North Jersey Coast Line rails. And for most of that time, except for some slapdash and historically inapt repairs, station owner New Jersey Transit has ignored the pleas of town officials to halt the decay.

Now, Gilligan and other members of the Historic Preservation Commission are hoping to “hold NJ Transit’s feet to the fire” and force it to halt the deterioration before the salmon-colored, gingerbread-trimmed structure crumbles to the asphalt.

“The building is derelict,” Gilligan told the borough council in a bluntly worded appeal for action Monday night. “There’s not another train station in this state that looks this bad.”

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FIRE COMPANY MARKS END OF FIRST CENTURY

westside-hoseA party at the Westside Hose on Monday night had some ex-chiefs checking out photos from the company’s history. With John “Ray” Weston, seated in front of a scrapbook, were John Abbatemarco (in the black and white hat), Bob Talerico (in dark sweater), and Stanley Sickels, looking over Talerico’s shoulder. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi)

Red Bank’s youngest fire company turned 100 last month.

The Westside Hose Co. No. 1 threw a small get-together Monday night for volunteer firefighters and their families to kick off a yearlong centennial celebration.
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IN oRBit: CELEB SUICIDES, SEA SPIRITS

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With the Eve of All Hallows breathing down our collective necks, today’s edition of Red Bank oRBit tantalizes the terror buds with a dose of ship-to-shore shivers, a walk-through spookhouse spelunk — and a Trick or Treat drop-in from a somewhat unlikely exemplar of Halloween tradition.

That would be pop culture writer and “trends journalist” Alix Strauss (right), whose books include  The Joy of Funerals and Death Becomes Them: Unearthing the Suicides of the Brilliant, the Famous and the Notorious. The self-styled “Death Lady” comes to Brookdale Community College this Thursday as a special guest attraction during opening night of this year’s Haunted Theater event on BCC’s Lincroft campus. We’ll have the particulars on the drama department’s sixth annual offering, where madness and The Method go hand in claw. We’ve also got an exclusive interview with the author, in which she expounds upon sucide, a topic of sometimes forbidden fascination (and graces us with her own prime pick for the celeb suicide-watch pool).

From there it’s down to Paranormal Books in Asbury, that parlour of arcane lore that also makes a dandy little theatre for the one-man performances of actor Greg Oliver Bodine. The guy who previously brought some of Poe‘s greatest hits to walking-dead life (and who also spins a killer Christmas Carol) returns Shoreside tomorrow evening with Dark Soundings, a double-bill of antique chillers (by the under-appreciated Francis Marion Crawford) in a salt-water vein.

It’s all here, in that most sincere of virtual pumpkin patches — Red Bank oRBit.

ELIZABETH CLARE PROPHET, BORN HERE, DIES

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Then known as Betty Clare Wulf, the future sect leader Elizabeth Clare Prophet played clarinet in the marching band at Red Bank High School. She’s seen below in an undated photo.

Elizabeth Clare Prophet, the Red Bank-born New Age mystic whose specific prediction of a nuclear Armageddon went unfulfilled, died Thursday after a long battle with Alzheimer’s disease.

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She was 70 years old and died at her home in Bozeman, Montana, according to an announcement of her death from the Summit Lighthouse, a religious organization she ran after the 1973 death of her second husband, Mark Prophet.

Founder of the Church Universal and Triumphant, which once boasted 50,000 members, Prophet was in the spotlight in the late 1980s when adherents began stockpiling arms in anticipation of a nuclear attack by the Soviet Union.

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IN oRBit: SHOWDOWNS AND SHIMMYTANG

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Cowboys in downtown Long Branch? Sounds pretty far-fetched, but it’s not without precedent. As New Jersey Repertory Company prepares to mount the first previews of the psychological Western drama Dead Ringer, we remind you that Dodge City was home to the real life Long Branch Saloon, a name that also found its way to Miss Kitty’s establishment on Gunsmoke. In fact, Marshal Dillon and company have their own surprising connection to NJ Rep — as do Buffalo Bill and Sitting Bull. We’ll let you chaw on that a spell when you mosey on over to Red Bank oRBit.

Today’s edition of our satellite arts and entertainment site has the lowdown on Ringer, the latest world premiere work for the stage to make its debut right in our back yard. We’ll talk to the director about why the long form beats The Hard Way — and why it was so crucial to find a leading lady who works well with her hands.

All this, plus some midweek tips on diversions that range from seductive still-lifes and pay-less Prokofiev to poetic patriarchs, storefront serenaders, Third Thursdays and your minimum weekly allotment of Shimmytang — only in Red Bank oRBit.

SADNESS AND BITTERNESS MARK CLOSING

img_3737100809The church property, which includes adjoining buildings, will be put up for sale, officials say. (Click pix to enlarge)

Among the remains of 45 congregants lying beneath a tree in the memorial garden at the Episcopal Church of the Holy Communion in Fair Haven are those of Ann Dupree’s late husband. She interred them there after his death three years ago.

What to do with his ashes is one of more wrenching decisions to be made by the three dozen or so surviving parishoners of the River Road church as it nears its final mass, on October 24, before the doors are locked and the property goes on the market.

But it is just one element of a winding-down that has left congregants depressed, somewhat lost and more than a little angry, they admit.

“I was married here,” said Dupree, a senior citizen and member of the vestry who’s been attending Holy Communion for some 40 years. “I thought I’d be buried here.”

fh-holy-communion-tri1Pastor Nancy Speck reads from an 1885 entry in the church registry, left; the original church, which was demolished in 1967 because of a termite infestation; and the interior of the present church on the same site. (Click to enlarge)

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FIVE YEARS LATE, BASIE BUST GETS PROPS

img_3409100209NAACP Red Bank chapter president Rev. Henry P. Davis leads a convocation prayer at the event. (Click to enlarge)

A bust of native son William ‘Count’ Basie stood, without any official public acknowledgment, inside the Red Bank train station for so long that Dr. Gene Cheslock, was growing frustrated.

The bronze bust had been commissioned by Cheslock and fellow Little Silver resident Ray Brennan to commemorate the 2004 centennial of the bandleader’s birth. But that milestone past without a ceremony coming together to formally unveil the likeness.

“I was going to mount a campaign: ‘Free the Count,'” Cheslock told redbankgreen with a laugh last Friday, when he finally got his wish.
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AT LAST: BUSTING OUT THE BASIE BUST

basie-bustA likeness of William ‘Count’ Basie has now been relocated from its temporary spot in the Red Bank train stationhouse to the plaza outside.

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

James Joyce has his smack dab in the middle of Dublin. Cal Ripken Jr. has his in Baltimore. Even Frank Zappa has one in Lithuania. And come Friday, Count Basie will have his in Red Bank.

Tucked away inside Red Bank’s train station shelter for years, the bust of Red Bank’s native son, William “Count” Basie, one of jazz music’s greatest composers, has now been moved to a more prominent location outside the Monmouth Street train stop. Tomorrow, local officials and fans will hold a re-dedication ceremony for the bronze bust.

For the kid from Red Bank, it’s the very least the borough could do, says Gene Cheslock, who, along with Ray Brennan, purchased the bust back in 2004 to commemorate Basie’s one-hundredth birthday.

“It was lost inside, and not in a noticeable area. Now you can’t miss it,” Cheslock, line Brennan a Little Silver resident, with some serious roots in Red Bank, said. “It’s sort of like the completion of the circle.”

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RENAMING HONORS O’HERN’S ACHIEVEMENTS

ohern-dedicationFamily members and other admirers of the late mayor and state Supreme Court justice gathered for an evening ceremony Sunday.

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

It would have been easy for Daniel J. O’Hern to leave Red Bank and move on to almost anywhere he wanted, his son, Dan O’Hern Jr., said Sunday afternoon to some 30 people on the corner of Shrewsbury and Locust avenues.

The elder man’s resume was impressive, to say the least: Fordham University and Harvard Law School graduate, Korean War veteran, borough councilman and mayor, commissioner of the state Department of Environmental Protection, New Jersey Supreme Court Justice.

“With that pedigree, he could’ve punched his own ticket. But he didn’t do that. He came back to Red Bank,” O’Hern Jr. said. “My father never, ever, ever forgot where he came from. He embraced this town with all of his heart.”

In return for his love and service to Red Bank, borough officials dedicated Locust Avenue —the street he grew up on — to him, ceremonially renaming it Justice O’Hern Way.

“It was important, since his roots are on this street,” said Mayor Pasquale Menna. “We thought in our way we could give back, in perpetuity, to him.”

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PRESERVATION GROUP GETS SPOTLIGHT

hpc-washington1Historic Preservation Commission members Ed Zipprich, Michaela Ferrigine and George Bowden outside a old house on Washington Street. (Click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

It took a couple of years of legwork and hustle, but the efforts of the Red Bank Historic Preservation Commission paid off in June when the Borough Council passed an ordinance designating the Washington Street District as the borough’s first residential historic zone.

What they’ll receive on behalf of the borough tonight is like, well, the slate roof on a gingerbread Victorian.

Commission chairman George Bowden, Councilman Ed Zipprich and others are scheduled to appear at the Monmouth County Planning Board‘s annual awards ceremony at PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel tonight.

They’ll be there to collect a Planning Merit Award, an honor given to towns that the board feels have made significant and positive impacts to their respective communities, said Laura Kirby, assistant planner for the county.

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4 SALE: HOUSE WHERE ‘BORN’ WAS BORN

springsteenThe West End cottage where Bruce Springsteen — seen above outside the Count Basie Theatre in 2008 —  wrote ‘Born to Run’ is for sale.

Rbo_3bIt’s tiny little shotgun-style cottage near the beach where a hungry young Bruce Springsteen wrote his career-making third LP, ‘Born to Run.’

Now, a fan with a hungry heart — and a spare $299,000 — can lay claim to the deed.

The storied cottage in the West End section of Long Branch where Springsteen wrote ‘Born to Run,” “Thunder Road” and “Backstreets” is up for sale.

redbankgreen‘s sibling site, Red Bank oRBit, has the exclusive details.

RED BANK RED BRICK

2-broad-081809The plastic sheathing that had covered a scaffold on the east side of 2 Broad Street in Red Bank for months came down this week, exposing the structure’s original red brick for the first time in decades. The building, built around 1875, is to house an Urban Outfitters store slated to open later this year.

Our photo was taken from the semi-enclosed balcony at 7 Broad. (Click to enlarge)

MANSION-TO-OFFICE PLAN OK’D IN SQUEAKER

28-leroyNew owner Charlie McCague says he spent $50,000 to restore the slate-and-copper roof of the structure and will preserve the clapboard exterior and interior layout.

After a vote that sharply divided the borough planning board, one of Red Bank’s most distinctive old mansions is going commercial.

The century-old Victorian at 28 LeRoy Place is to become an accountant’s office after a vote on the conversion split the board 5-4 Monday night.

Those in favor cited the fact that the structure is in a professional office zone and argued it would serve as a buffer between nearby homes and the “abomination” of the former Sun Bank at the corner of LeRoy and Broad Street.

Those opposed said they were concerned about “creeping commercialism” and a “domino effect” leading to other homes on Leroy being turned into offices on the strength of an approval.

“No,” said Councilwoman Sharon Lee, when called on to vote. “It constitutes an assault on our historic homes.”

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IN oRBit: CALLING ALL ‘PARKER POSEYS’

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Today’s Red Bank oRBit takes it down to Long Branch, the better to toast the memory of West End’s greatest contribution to our popular culture (after the Windmill) — the late 20th century author, activist and all-around wit Dorothy Parker.

dotsmall1A member of the legendary Algonquin Round Table, an Oscar-lauded screenwriter and one of the most-quoted poets, columnists and storytellers in American history, Mrs. Parker never made much mention of her Jersey Shore roots. But for the past several years a dedicated group of fans have carried a torch for this founding mother of the Vicious Circle, gathering at the local library for a program of readings, skits and book signings, followed by some serious cocktail action and a justifiably famous Dog Parade that includes canine costumes and an honest-to-God “Blessing of the Pets.”

There’s also an invitation to all “Parker poseys” to take part in a Dorothy Lookalike Contest, open to everyone regardless of “age, gender or hat size.”

So park it right here —  at the big round table known as Red Bank oRBit.