Ramblin’ Around: Jersey Events this Weekend

In the fall there are plenty of weekend festivals. It seems like the third weekend of October are always full of great events. There are three specific festivals I would like to share with you.

StLucysThe Feast of St. Gerard: Saint Lucy’s Church on Seventh Avenue in Newark is the home of the National Shrine of St. Gerard. He was born in Muro, a small town in the South of Italy on April 6, 1726 and is the patron saint of expectant mothers. In the second half of 1890s, the predominant immigrant groups in the First Ward were coming from the Province of Avellino. They came with a sense religious life deeply expressed in a love for St. Gerard, who lived in the Province of Avellino during eighteenth-century. In 1899, immigrants from Caposele, Italy introduced the annual feast in honor of St. Gerard, who died October 16, 1755. In 1977, St. Gerard’s chapel in St. Lucy’s Church was dedicated as a national shrine.

Members of my family, like thousands of other families who trace their heritage through Italy, pay homage to St. Gerard each October during the Church’s multi-day feast. I remember fondly the first feast I attended with my cousin and Goddaughter. No matter where those families move, they all come back the weekend of October 16th to pray and pay respect.

If you have never been to St. Lucy’s or the Feast of St. Gerard, I highly recommend a visit. Sit quietly in the church. Take in the beautiful statues. Light a candle for your loved ones. And grab a sausage and pepper sandwich before you head home.

welcomepiratessign-smSeton Hall University Weekend: From the moment I walked onto the campus of Seton Hall University my senior year, I felt like I was home. And every time I’m on the campus since then, the feeling is still the same. I’ve written about Seton Hall Weekend before. It is a great event. I love sitting on the green, meeting the current students, and shopping in the bookstore. The last time I went to Seton Hall Weekend, I met current sorority sisters from Alpha Gamma Delta. I had a great time chatting with them in the library. There are a variety of events that take place during the multi-day event, including an art exhibit at Walsh Library, music performances, and carnival games.

Chester Harvest Celebration: The two-day Chester Harvest Celebration is currently in its 36th year. Originally know as Black River, Chester pre-dates the birth of our nation. Many of the original buildings are still on the main street and are now home to wonderful shops and restaurants. The Chester Harvest Celebration includes demonstrations of the way things used to be, including a blacksmith demonstration and apple pressing.

These are just three examples of all the great events that are taking place around the state. Check out many others on the New Jersey Monthly website.

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9-11: Our Responsibility to the Next Generation

It seems each generation had a moment solidified in time.

Pearl Harbor

The assassination of John F. Kennedy.

The assassination of Martin Luther King Jr.

We now add 9-11 to that list.

The children graduation high school this year were not alive when this day happened. Just like the generations before us, we have a responsibility. A responsibility to teach them about this day. To share our feelings and verbal histories. Make sure they understand what happened, what we felt, and how we stood together.

Nearly 700 of New Jersey’s own were lost on that day; and one from my hometown of Belleville: Antoinette Duger, age 44. There are over 150 memorials around New Jersey to remember those souls we lost that day.

9-11 memorialThe company I worked for at the time lost two of our own: Andrew Curry Green and Jeffrey Peter Mladenik. One of our colleagues lost a sister: Jeanette Louise Lafond-Menichino. Two other colleagues were on a flight that morning. Thankfully, they were not on any of the flights that met their fate that day. I remember us scrambling around, looking for their flight information. Calling their cell phones, not knowing until they called us to say they were on the ground and safe.

For those of us who were alive on this day 18 years ago, it is a day frozen in time. It was a morning much like today. Blue sky, pillow-like white clouds, warm, sunny, beautiful.

Then everything changed.

I think about a lot of things this morning. The heart aches for those who lost a family member, a loved one, a friend, a colleague. I think about the man I interviewed with many years ago after the first terrorist attack at the World Trade Center. He told me the job was not work from home. I would need to be in the office every day. I told him I wasn’t concerned because “lightning doesn’t strike twice.” I wonder if he was still working there. I wonder if he made it out. I think about my partner in crime from high school. How her father made it out alive. And I thank God he did.

Those of us who lived through this day 18 years ago have a responsibility to share with this new generation. To make sure we never forget.

Jersey Music and Down the Shore: Perfect Together

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Carousel at Wildwood. Credit: Andrea Lyn Van Benschoten

As it is now Memorial Day Weekend and many of us head down the shore, we often can’t help but think of our youth. Our first car, driving down after prom, windows open, and music blasting.

We have great pride in this state; especially pride for our music. Whether you come from the era of Connie Francis (from my hometown of Belleville), The Four Seasons (from the city of my birth, Newark), Frank Sinatra, Bon Jovi, South Side Johnny and the Asbury Jukes, or The Boss, just like everything else, if you live in Jersey, you have strong opinions about our music.

There is a special sound that comes from Jersey music. As soon as you hear it, you know it is must be a Jersey Guy. But what makes that “Jersey Sound?”

One word: Calliope.

What? Let me explain.

When you go down the shore, you may not head to the rides like The Scrambler anymore, but we all look forward to a ride on the merry-go-round. No matter your age, we all turn into little kids when we head to that special ride that has been on the boardwalk for generations. That unique music mixed with pipe organ and bass drum is one of those happy memories we think about in January when the temperature is in the single digits and the snow is above your knee. While the correct name for the instrument that provides that music is the band organ, most people refer to it as the Calliope.

Now with that in mind, listen to the last minute of Springsteen’s Jungleland or the first 30 seconds of Tenth Avenue Freeze Out, thanks to Roy Bittan. Hear that right hand? That’s the homage to that wonderfully unique sound of the calliope. Add to that Danny Federici’s organ, glockenspiel, and accordion playing, and you have what is known as “that Jersey Sound.”

You can hear this same sound when you listen to Love on the Wrong Side of Town by South Side Johnny and the Asbury Jukes. By the way another Jersey favorite son, Jon Bon Jovi also gigged with the great Southside Johnny.

Many will argue that the prominent use of a horn section is a big part of what makes up that unique sound, and they would be correct. After all, what is The E Street Band without Clarence Clemons? And the use of trumpets hitting the high notes in Southside’s band is a mainstay of his band. But that piano and organ combo is what makes up that special sound.

So as the weather gets warm and we all head down the shore, windows down, wind in our hair, remembering our youth and blast our favorite Jersey music, you can thank the carousels of our childhood for that special music that sets us apart from the rest of the country.

“Down the Shore” – Part Four in a Series

caribbeanmotel_wildwoods1

The Caribbean Motel

My final post in my “Down the Shore” series is about the small beach community of Wildwood Crest. Noted for its independently owned “Doo Wop” motels with names like the Jolly Roger, Tangiers, and Blue Marlin of the mid twentieth century, The Crest is a favorite destination spot for families.

Wildwood Crest came into existence with the dawn of the twentieth century and its history  has more than its share of memorable happenings. The Baker Brothers, successful merchants from the farm community of Vineland, had visited the area known as Five Mile Beach on several occasions and were impressed by its natural beauty and expansive beaches. They were convinced of its potential as a resort and considered its development as a profitable business investment.¹

 

Now families love to visit the Doo Wop motels of Wildwood Crest. These motels were once in danger of being demolished and replaced with high-end condos. Thankfully, there has been a movement underway to save these special places as an important part of the area’s history. These motels have quirky decor that include fake palm trees, bridges over the center of their pools, and neon signs. Once the sun goes down it is a great fun to take a ride down Atlantic and Ocean Avenues and check out these motels all lit up.

Wildwood Crest is one of five municipalities in the state that offer free public access to

Wildwood Crest Beach

Wildwood Crest beach

oceanfront beaches monitored by lifeguards. And the beaches offer plenty of space for everyone!

A favorite event for visitors is riding the tram car on the boardwalk. For decades visitors have been reminded to “Watch the tram car, please.” It is a great way for families and the elderly to enjoy the boardwalk even though they may have issues walking. Take time to play skee-ball, eat a slice, and have some frozen custard.

I hope you have enjoyed my multi-part series of the Jersey Shore. If you haven’t checked it out yet, I hope you do!

Sources:

1: https://cresthistory.org/

Get Ready for Fishing Season!

As the latest round of snow slowly melts away and we officially enter spring, that means one thing for anglers in New Jersey – fishing season!

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Paulinskill River, Lafayette – Sussex County

Waters that are stocked by the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife are now officially closed to fishing until April 8th, 8:00 a.m. It is incredibly important to leave these waters as they are while staff and volunteers stock and allow fish to become acclimated to their new surroundings.

It is also incredibly important that those required purchase a fishing license and know the fishing regulations for New Jersey. I know many people complain about the cost of the licenses for fishing and hunting, but they really are important. These fees help make sure our rivers are stocked, and rules are enforced through conservation officers. They also provide other great programs like Hooked on Fishing, Not on Drugs (Glenn and I are proud to be a part of) and free licenses for specific groups of people, such as handicapped, senior citizens, and active military. My husband and I always catch and release, but we still purchase a trout stamp because we believe in the work Fish and Game does and we know how limited their budget is. So I ask each and every one of you who requires a fishing license to spend the $22.50 and make the purchase. The cost of a ticket for fishing without a license is FAR more expensive.

Enjoy the fishing season, follow the regulations, fish ethically, and remember to “carry in/carry out.

Tight lines!

New Jersey and the Cranberry

As I have always said, New Jersey has many things to offer. One wonderful taste of Jersey is the cranberry.

New Jersey is the third largest cranberry producer in the nation, behind Wisconsin and Massachusetts. Agricultural cooperative, Ocean Spray, was founded by three growers in 1930, two from Massachusetts and one from New Jersey. Ocean Spray still grows cranberries in New Jersey.

Out of the roughly 700 farms overall that grow cranberries for Ocean Spray, about 20 are in South Jersey and they produce between 500,000 and 600,000 barrels of cranberries a year.

According to PineyPower.com, the North American cranberry industry has a long and distinguished history. Native peoples used cranberries as food, in ceremonies, and medicinally. They mixed cranberries with deer meat to make pemmican, a convenience food that could be kept for a long time. Medicine men used them as poultices to draw poison from arrow wounds, and women used the juice as a dye for cloth. In New Jersey, the Delaware Indians used them as peace symbols. They got their name, “crane berries,” from the early German and Dutch settlers who thought their blossoms resembled the neck and head of a crane.

So when you enjoy your cranberry sauce today, those berries may well have been harvested in New Jersey!

Going Home: Seton Hall Weekend

Seton Hall Class RingIn September around the country, colleges have their own versions of “Parent’s Weekend” to show off the best of their schools. This weekend was Seton Hall’s turn. When I received the announcement about all that would take place on the campus, I felt a longing to take a ride to visit my college home.

My day started with taking something out of the jewelry box I hadn’t worn in quite a while – my college ring. It still fit perfectly and was a good reminder of my college years. I took the ride like I just did it yesterday. Parkway South to 280 West. South Harrison Street to South Centre Street to the Farinella Gate. Just as it was when I was a student, parking was tight. I found a spot behind Xavier Hall. I headed to the walkway. I was home.

Fahy HallI wasn’t an alumnus visiting her old campus. I felt like an undergrad again. The first thing I saw was the was the new sign in front of Fahy Hall announcing the new name of the College of Communication and the Arts. I was very excited when I received the announcement about the College earlier this year. I felt like it was a great acknowledgement of all it adds to the University.

I headed into Fahy and went downstairs like it was yesterday. I went right to what was then known as the “Mac lab” and saw a Electronic Publishing and Pagination Labsight that just warmed my heart. It was the sign for the Pagination and Publishing Lab. I peered through the window into the dark room and it looked a lot different than I remembered. Gone were the 15 Macintosh computers with two laser printers. It now looked like a high tech classroom with the best technology available today. I spent more hours in that area than I can remember. It was the heart of my education. I looked at the names on the doors and many are still the same. Hoffman. Kuchon. Plummer. Yates. Zizik. While I was College of Communication and the Arts at Seton Hallthere, these were many of my mentors. I saw Professor Reader in his office. We chatted for a few minutes. He told me Professor Rosenblum had retired and is now living in California working for Google from time to time. Dr. McKenna has also retired. Those two men, along with Professor Gottlieb, were the core of my education at Seton Hall and I am forever grateful for their care and guidance.

Seton Hall PiratesI left Fahy and walked alongside Xavier to “The Green.” Along the way there were great welcome signs; another reminder of the warm welcome I felt the first time I walked on the campus as a senior at Belleville High School. The moment I walked on the campus, I knew this was where I belonged. When I walked into the Chapel of the Immaculate Conception, I knew I would get married here; about six years later, I did.

I then turned right and went in the side door of the Student Center and up to the second floor. The office of The Setonian was in the same place. I was the News Editor for one year and Professor Gottlieb was the advisor. As I have mentioned in a post on another blog, when she would compliment me on an article and approved it for The Setonianpublication, it was true “Pirate Pride!” Every Wednesday would start at the Setonian office reading and editing articles for the paper. Later in the evening, we would head over to the Pagination and Publishing Lab to run galleys to put through waxers (yes, I am dating myself) to complete the layout. I learned not just about good journalism, but print production and publishing. The evening would often technically finish early Thursday morning. Two of us would drive to the printer with the boxed up flats so they were there as soon as they opened in the morning so the paper would be on campus Thursday afternoon. I’m not going to lie; it was brutal and there were sometimes I wanted no part of it. There came a Dr. Tracey Gottliebpoint when I had to say goodbye to the work on the paper. I was sad, but knew it was how it worked. You entrusted the work to the next class. I did discover a nice surprise as I walked around the corner; my mentor, now “Dr.” Gottlieb’s office! She is now Vice President of Student Services. A very well-deserved position.

Chapel of the Immaculate ConceptionI took a walk through The Green and looked at all the events they had set up for the kids. It was a perfect weather day and the kids were having a great time. I was sorry to see there weren’t any tables for all the different activities, but it was OK. I enjoyed meandering around the campus. The old library has been replaced by a new building for the Stillman School of Business. The Chapel is just as beautiful as always. There were several weddings taking place throughout the day. Happy couples beginning their lives as husband and wife, just as I did with my husband Glenn in 1994.

I walked alongside President’s Hall and Marshall Hall to the new library. It is truly a marvel. A great university deserves a great library and this is definitely it! I walked up to the reference desk and asked if there are old copies of The Setonian still kept in the library. I explained thanks to Hurricane Irene, I lost all my clippings. The woman was very sorry and gave me the contact information for someone who could help me. I plan on calling him during the week.

Alpha Gamma Delta Seton HallJust as I finished at the reference desk, I saw a student walk by wearing her Alpha Gamma Delta shirt. I hurried after her and told her I was in pledge class Alpha Xi. She was so nice! She brought me over to the table where she was sitting with her other sisters and we all had a nice chat. They are lovely and intelligent young women. They told me about all that is going on with the sorority. I loved how they would refer to their sisters as “Gams.” I was happy to hear the college had finally taken a hard stance against hazing; the primary reason I drifted away from the sisterhood when I was an upperclassman. It sounds like the college has gone a little too far in the other direction, but I am happy to hear students today are well protected against such nonsense. I gave them my email address so they could keep in touch with me. It was a great visit!

I then walked over to Duffy Hall to the bookstore. Just like many other spots on campus, it is in the same place with a nice updated look. Of course I had to pick up a few new things. I almost picked up an AP Style Guide but decided against it in case students still need to make purchases. I still have my Style Guide I purchased when I first started taking my journalism courses.Mother Seton

My last stop of the day was inside the Chapel after one of the weddings. I knelt and prayed just as I had done many times before. It was nice to have some quiet reflection. As always I prayed for my family members that have gone home to God, for those who are here, for strength, for wisdom, and offered my thanks for allowing me to be part of the Seton Hall family. I offered a prayer at Mother Seton before leaving.

pirate-smI headed back down the path alongside Xavier to my car. I put my new Pirate magnet that was handed out on The Green on the back of my car. I began to head out of the lot back to South Centre Street. My transition from undergrad to alumnus took place as I passed the column at the gate. I was thankful for such a wonderful day. I enjoyed walking around the campus and meeting some of the current Gams was great! It was a day full of great memories. As I age, I try to forget the bad and remember the good. And I have a lot of good memories at Seton Hall University.