Search Results for: t. thomas fortune


eileen-moon-021814-500x375LEGENDARY LOCALS OF RED BANK author Eileen Moon visits the Little Silver Library on Monday evening…while Next Stage Ensemble brings a little Shakespeare to the Middletown Township biblio.

There’s the pioneering African American journalist T. Thomas Fortune, whose historic home is currently the subject of an intensive rescue effort. Industrialist Sigmund Eisner, whose legacy includes a public library, a Galleria, and a former chairman of the Disney entertainment empire. Trailblazing attorney Florence Forgotson Adams, the father-and-son Drs. James Parker, the Dorns, the Irwins — and famed illustrator James Avati, the “Rembrandt of the Paperbacks” remembered in a 2011 feature that appeared here on redbankgreen.

They are all among the Legendary Locals of Red Bank profiled by veteran newspaperwoman Eileen Moon in her new book, an entry in the series from Arcadia Publishing that the author will discuss in a free Monday night reading/ signing appearance at Little Silver Public Library. Going up at 7 pm, it’s part of a busy itinerary by the equally legendary reporter and editor, who in a recent feature on redbankgreen described her concept of a Legendary Local thusly: “It takes a strong personality, and a vision, and a risk-taker sometimes, to change what is into some new evolution of that.”

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Di-Ionno-Headshot_Full-001-featuredStar-Ledger journalist Mark DiIonno is the guest speaker for a Wednesday evening reception “Celebrating Past, Present and Future,” at the county Park System’s Thompson Park headquarters.

“Celebrating Past, Present and Future” is the broad-reaching theme  — and New Jersey’s 350th birthday year is the occasion — as the Thompson Park homebase of the Monmouth County Park System hosts a special opening reception in advance of Thursday’s 2014 NJ History and Historic Preservation Conference at Brookdale Community College.

On Wednesday evening, June 4, an assembly of historians, academics, civic dignitaries and preservation-minded members of the general public will convene inside the Thompson Hall administrative building at the county park on Newman Springs Road, for a 5:30 pm event that should be of interest to anyone who’s interested in the rescue and renovation of such historic sites as Red Bank’s T. Thomas Fortune House, and Little Silver’s Parker Homestead. A benefit for the nonprofit New Jersey History Advocates, the event boasts the participation of a uniquely Jersey voice — that of Star-Ledger ace reporter Mark DiIonno.

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stPatsThe second annual Rumson St. Patrick’s Day Parade takes to the borough streets on Sunday. Below, the Moody Blues.

Friday, February 28:

MoodysRED BANK: From the harmonies of their early, raw recordings to the dramatic sweep and ambitious scope of their orchestral masterpieces – to their repeated reunions, and a new century of crowdpleasing tours – one might be tempted to call them the British Beach Boys.

But the Moody Blues have done what they’ve done without all the meltdowns, litigation, and endless appearances on the county fair circuit of their American cohorts. And this weekend, the longtime trio of Justin Hayward (guitar), John Lodge (bass) and Graeme Edge (drums) comes to Red Bank for two consecutive nights (Friday and Saturday, 8 pm) at the Count Basie Theatre, on a Timeless Flight Tour that promises to mix those lush album-era radio classics (“Tuesday Afternoon,” “Question,” “Ride My Seesaw” and the game-changing “Nights in White Satin”) with more recent vintage oldies (“Your Wildest Dreams,” “I Know You’re Out There Somewhere”) and highlights from solo projects past. Leaving the symphony orks at home, the core Moodies are joined by an auxiliary corps of young musicians on keyboards, flute and extra drums. Tickets ($50 – $145) can be reserved right here.

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eileen moon 021814Eileen Moon at the Red Bank Public Library, built in the former home of ‘legendary’ industrialist Sigmund Eisner. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)


Legendary LocalsIn Eileen Moon’s eyes, “personality drives progress.” And as the author of “Legendary Locals of Red Bank,” a newly published book of historical and contemporary profiles, Moon encountered personality galore.

People like Sigmund Eisner, for example, an immigrant who, starting with a single sewing machine, not only built the nation’s largest uniform factory, but helped his employees buy homes, cementing a sense of community.

“It takes a strong personality, and a vision, and a risk-taker sometimes, to change what is into some new evolution of that,” says Moon.

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rb fortune house 3 061213T. Thomas Fortune, below, will get a month of honor in February. Meantime, efforts to save his home on Doctors Parker Boulevard continue. (Click to enlarge)


T. Thomas FortuneNo sharp elbows were thrown. The words ‘Maple Cove‘ weren’t even mentioned.

In her first working session as a member of Red Bank’s otherwise all-Democrat borough council Wednesday night, Republican Cindy Burnham‘s debut act was to introduce a resolution designating February as T. Thomas Fortune Month in the borough.

The anondyne measure won unanimous approval, and opened up a discussion of where things stand with the house that Fortune lived in a century ago.

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LorraineDiasZipprichActress Lorraine Stone, Two River Theater artistic director John Dias and Councilman Ed Zipprich are among the Red Bank area notables giving voice to historic American figures in “The People Speak LIVE,” presented free at Red Bank Public Library on Thursday night, December 12.

There’s the escaped slave turned abolitionist and social activist Sojourner Truth, brought to vivid life by local actress Lorraine Stone. The pioneer openly gay elected official Harvey Milk, paid tribute by Red Bank Councilman Ed Zipprich. The Nobel laureate playwright Eugene O’Neill, channeled by Two River Theater Company artistic director John Dias — and Red Bank Regional grad John McMahon as T. Thomas Fortune, the trailblazing African American journalist whose historic Red Bank home is the subject of an intensive rescue and preservation effort.

These and other fascinating figures from America’s past and present will be making their voices heard inside the Red Bank Public Library on the evening of Thursday, December 12, when the T. Thomas Fortune House Preservation Project joins Frank Talk MultiMedia Network and RBPL for “The People Speak LIVE,” an event in which “community-minded people from the greater Red Bank area” recreate the words of pivotal people in our nation’s history. Hosted by journalist, businesswoman and cable TV host Candace Kelley, the 6 p.m. presentation is based on the documentary film “The People Speak” — itself adapted from the late Howard Zinn’s book “A People’s History of the United States.”

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nathaniel-smith-houseBuilt in Massachusetts in the early 1700s and relocated to Middletown in 1962, the former Nathaniel Smith House features exposed-rafter ceilings, as in the library, below. (Click to enlarge)


It took historic preservationist Mary Lou Strong more than a week to get back to redbankgreen after we called recently to inquire about her Middletown home going on the market.

She apologized for the delay, and said she simply wanted to be sure she could talk about it without crying.

It’s not just that the house – located on a tongue-tip of land bound by Navesink River Road and the anchorage to the Oceanic Bridge – is where Strong and her husband, George, raised three kids. Or that it’s filled with cherished antiques collected over a lifetime.

It’s that the house, built in Massachusetts before the United States was born, is itself the manifestation of the couple’s shared values when it comes to keeping history alive. And who knows if the next owner will want to bulldoze it into oblivion?

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


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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Today’s Red Bank oRBit has a preview of a benefit concert happening Friday night at the Two River Theater — a fundraiser for the Monmouth County-based nonprofit Prevention First and its slate of programs designed to stave off the effects of violence and substance abuse in our local communities.


Given the organization’s focus on youth, it’s only fitting that they’ve assembled a concert ticket that spotlights some of the most awesomely talented teenaged performers on the Shore’s famous music scene — a ticket headlined by Quincy Mumford (right), the high school senior who’s received raves for musical sophistication and beyond-his-years wisdom. We talked to the busy Quincy (he played three gigs in three places last Saturday), who shares the stage with a pair of Red Bank Regional students — Cara Salimando and recent grad Phoebe Holiday Ryan — both of whom you’ve met in our pixelated pages.

Before all that, however, a reminder about tonight’s special reception and lecture on T. Thomas Fortune, going on at the Red Bank Public Library, where an exhibit of Fortune-related memorabilia continues into September. It’s a rare look at the influential work of the famous African American journalist and editor, who lived in the now-historic Fortune House in the early years of the 20th century, and we’ve got the details up here, where the air is cool and clean, in oRBit!


RbcakeEd Zipprich’s civic-minded dessert, complete with iceboat logo.

Turns out Red Bank’s centennial did not go completely overlooked this weekend.

River Road resident Ed Zipprich and his partner, JP Nicolaides, threw a little party for neighbors and friends that featured the cake shown above.

In response to our posting earlier today — in which we asked “Where’s the cake?” — Zipprich tells us, via an email, “I have the birthday cake.”

(Doesn’t quite have the dark resonance of “I drink your milkshake,” but hey, it’s a party.)

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Preservation Red Bank, a private-sector organization that works to allow old buildings to keep getting older, will hold its annual meeting this Sunday in one of the borough’s oldest — a place that all but creaks with character.

The group will meet at 4p at the clubhouse of the North Shrewsbury Ice Boat and Yacht Club, next door to the Monmouth Boat Club on Union Street.

For nonmembers, a peek inside the clubhouse is a “somewhat unusual” opportunity, says past Commodore William Comella.

“It’s like going back in time to the 1880s,” adds George Bowden, a PRB officer and chairman of the Red Bank Historic Preservation Committee.

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Patrick MonaghanPress release from Red Bank Regional High School

On March 17, Red Bank Regional High School senior Patrick Monaghan of Little Silver came in second in the very competitive New Jersey Regional Poetry Out Loud State Championship. This was the second visit to the competition’s stage for the celebrated RBR thespian, who has won the Regional competition for the past two years.

For his performance at the College of New Jersey, Patrick performed William Shakespeare’s Sonnet 29: When, in disgrace with fortune and men’s eyes as well as two other selections: Or by Thomas Sayers Ellis and Ode to the Midwest by Kevin Young.

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disobedience_imageThe story of WWII hero Sousa Mendes gets a public airing with a free screening of DISOBEDIENCE, Monday night at Brookdale Community College.

The name of Raoul Wallenberg has been taught in history classes for generations. — and thanks to Hollywood, we know the name of Schindler and his list. But the name Aristides de Sousa Mendes do Amaral e Abranches is anther story entitrely.

On Monday, March 23, the story of the World War II era Portuguese consul — a hero who defied the orders of his government by illegally granting visas to an estimated 30,000 refugees (including approximately 10,000 Jews) in occupied France — will take center stage during a free presentation at Brookdale Community College.

Hosted at BCC’s Student Life Center — and co-sponsored by the Center for Holocaust, Human Rights and Genocide Education (Chhange), the Brookdale International Education Center, and the Sousa Mendes Foundation — the 6:30 pm program combines a public-welcome showing of the feature film Disobedience: The Sousa Mendes Story with an illuminating example of living history.

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Aaron Rassas outside his Red Bank auto dealership. Below, the original location, at 21 Mechanic Street, in 1934. (Click to enlarge)


Born in the Great Depression, and illuminated in recent decades by a bold ribbon of neon signage at a gateway to Red Bank, Rassas Pontiac both rode and symbolized the ever-rising fortunes of postwar America.

Round-shouldered sedans and coupes once crammed its showroom. Then muscle cars. Minivans. SUVs.

But now, the auto giants are in retrenchment. A few years back, General Motors scrapped the Pontiac line, leaving Rassas to switch over to Buick. Few car dealers can survive selling Buicks alone, said business owner Aaron Rassas: his is one of only two such shops in all of New Jersey, and 30 nationwide. But he failed in his efforts to land a second brand, as GM tries to right-size markets it considers overfranchised.

With that, and the approach of his 70th birthday, Rassas has decided to shut off the engine.

On April 26, after 83 years of selling new and used cars in Red Bank, Rassas Buick will go out of business.

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AshleydupreJersey girl Ashley Dupré.

The company that ran into trouble for the asphalt it laid along River Road in Fair Haven last year is in the news today in connection with former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer’s hooker.

Thomas J. “TJ” Earle, the vice president of Earle Cos. of Farmingdale, had the misfortune to arrive at and leave the Gramercy Park Hotel in Manhattan with call girl Ashley Dupré (nee Youmans) just as a pack of paparazzi was parked outside hoping for a glimpse of Lindsay Lohan, according to Fox News.

The New York Post broke the story with this:

The pretty woman, 23, and 35-year-old Thomas J. “TJ” Earle were spied ducking into the Gramercy Park Hotel, where they rented a room Tuesday after a long day drinking, dining, shopping and snuggling together in limos around the Big Apple, sources told The Post.

The two then separately left the Gramercy the next afternoon, after spending much of 24 hours in each other’s company. They walked out of the hotel 10 minutes apart, seemingly to avoid being photographed together.

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The race is on.

The first press release (that we know of, at least) in this year’s race for Red Bank council has Democrat Ed Zipprich landing the endorsement of Democracy for America, a Burlington, Vt.-based political action committee founded by former Vermont governor and presidential candidate Howard Dean. (Download zipprich_dfa_endorsement.doc)

Zipprich is seeking the one-year unexpired term created with the resignation in January of Kaye Ernst, and will line up againts seat holder Grace Cangemi.

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Considering its dire implications, the news earlier this month that a Red Bank house had been had been designated one of New Jersey’s 10 most endangered historic sites was oddly encouraging to a near-octagenarian with a weatherbeaten voice and fu manchu straight out of the ’60s.

Oddly, that is, because inclusion on the list put together by Preservation New Jersey provides no guarantees that the house will be saved. It offers no legal leverage against a present or future owner who might decide to knock the house down. There’s no money in it, either.

In sum, the appellation is as toothless as a newborn.

Yet George Bowden was ecstatic. He’d known that the house, once the home of pioneering African-American newspaperman T. (Timothy) Thomas Fortune, might land on the list, but asked that that not be publicized until it was official, after which “we can blow it sky high,” he told redbankgreen with characteristic enthusiasm.

Once it was announced, Bowden started making plans to leverage the endorsement of historians across the state. He began planning outreach to community groups, leaders of African-American congregations — he’s even reached out to Oprah. Whatever it takes to get the word out.

“You can try to prevent it through the press, or local support,” he says, “but there’s no legal groundwork for preventing demolition.”

“He’s like the Energizer bunny,” says Ed Zipprich, a candidate for council this year who serves on the borough’s Historical Preservation Commission that Bowden heads.

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