Library will be collecting for Operation Sleighbells

Long Branch — To celebrate its 100th year serving the Long Branch community, the Long Branch Library will be collecting “100 things” each month to donate to various community organizations. During June they are collecting toys for Operation Sleighbells, the signature program of Family & Children’s Services of Monmouth County.
Founded in 1909, Family & Children’s Service (FCS) is Monmouth County’s oldest private nonprofit social service agency.

The agency offers diverse programs and services that address homelessness; neglect, abuse or exploitation; health and respite care; financial instability due to physical, developmental or mental disabilities; childhood literacy and obesity; long-term care planning and Medicare counseling.

All of its programs and services are provided regardless of age, gender, sexual orientation, race, religion, ethnicity, language spoken or physical and/or mental ability.  And while FCS partners with many organizations and government agencies, in many cases, they are the sole county-designated provider of unduplicated services and the last hope for individuals, families and seniors in crisis.

Operation Sleighbells traces its roots to 1909, the year FCS was started. Today, it enlists hundreds of local businesses, churches, clubs, organizations, individuals and families to provide gifts of warm coats, hats, gloves, toys, books, baby items and other supplies for families who may be struggling financially or facing other challenges during the holiday season, which can be a difficult time of year.

Operation Sleighbells serves more than 1,500 children annually throughout Monmouth County.  It is unique in that both the sponsor and the recipient remain anonymous, allowing parents and guardians to provide holiday gifts without having to reveal how they were obtained.

Family and Children’s Services has been providing services and solutions for more than 100 years, and the Long Branch Free Public Library is proud to support them. During the month of June, please drop off donated items to the Main Library.

For more information, please call Kathryn Angelo, librarian, at 732-222-3900, Ext. 2270.

Memorial Post VFW 2140 recognizes Voices of Democracy

By Neil Schulman
Long Branch — Five Long Branch High School students who spoke about their vision for America were recognized by the Brighton Memorial Post VFW 2140.
On Monday, the top entries for the annual Voices of Democracy Contest were honored at Long Branch High School. Prizes for the five students ranged from $20 to $150.

l-r, Principal Vincent Muscillo, Avery and Annie Grant, Jailyn Dorsett, Francisco Rodriguez, first-place winner Peter Wersinger, T.J. Fosque, Yanice McMullen, and teachers Mrs. Gill and Ms. Esposito.

Each year, Long Branch students take part in this nationwide VFW event, writing and recording a short speech on a patriotic theme. This year the theme was “My Vision for America.”
The number of entries from Long Branch has been growing, but eventually judges selected the winner: Jailyn Dorsett (fifth place), Francisco Rodriguez (fourth), T.J. Fosque (third), Yanice McMullen (second), and Peter Wersinger (first place).

Wersinger moved on to the Monmouth County-wide competition, where he placed third.

Board of Education and VFW member Avery Grant, who co-chairs the contest with his wife Annie, said that the purpose of the contest is to get students thinking about the meaning and importance of democracy to our society. Because the VFW is made up of people who have fought for our nation overseas, its members want to encourage critical thinking in the nation they fought for.

“You’ll be graduating soon and registering to vote,” Grant noted. “We’re the most powerful and strongest fighting force in the world, but what’s more important is we’re the most moral.”
The students said they admire democracy and what the United States represents. But there are problems to deal with, such as racism.

“From the earliest beginnings, America has been an us vs. them,” Dorsett said.

Other speakers pointed out more problems the U.S. needs to address, including maternity leave and other health care issues, and the rising cost of education.

But they are optimistic about changes and America. They pointed out that America’s schools are open to all, and more than 20 nations in the world don’t allow women to be educated.
McMullen said that she thinks her generation, if it stays active, “can make America even greater than before,” improving the education system, creating jobs and using technology in new ways.

Wersinger said that the teachings of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, Franklin Roosevelt and Martin Luther King Jr. still apply to America.
“It is only in democratic America, land of opportunity, that everyone has a chance.”

Grant said that the U.S. was showing many signs of opportunity and equality when you look at the military.

“A young lady from Long Branch is now Secretary of the Air Force,” he said. The second in command of the Navy is a black woman, and the recently appointed Secretary of the Army is openly gay – signs of “freedom and opportunity,” he said.

Anya Garipoli wins national Anne Adams competition

Jersey Shore resident Anya Garipoli is a winner of the 2016 National Anne Adams Award.

Anya Garipoli

The prestigious biennial competition awards three scholarships for full-time study of the harp. Thirteen finalists were selected to compete at DePauw University, Greencastle, Indiana on June 3 and 4.

The event is held under the auspices of the American Harp Society with major funding from of the Ann Adams Foundation, and the added support of the American Harp Society Foundation and Lyon & Healy Harps.

Anya is an 18-years-old and will return to the Oberlin Conservatory, Ohio as a sophomore this Fall, where she is a student of Yolanda Kondonassis.

NAACP Breakfast showcases how men can make a difference

By Matt Engel
Long Branch — “Clap your hands twice if you hear me!”

Thabiti Boone presents a gold-plated seal from President Obama to John Blanton and Bill Dangler.

With those words, John Blanton, founder of the group Men Make a Difference (M2AD), commenced a morning of speeches, mixed with singing, breakfast, and even the appearance of local dignitaries such as Congressman Frank Pallone, and Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno. The Saturday breakfast was co-hosted by the Greater Long Branch NAACP, whose slogan reads “Alone We Can Do So Little, Together We Can Do So Much.” The main goal of the event was to encourage men to take more of a role in their community.

“I want older men to be role models to younger men for education and jobs, and being loving family members,” said Reverend William E. Coleman, the recipient of this year’s Man of the Year Award.

The Man of the Year Award is given to someone who has “distinguished himself as a Father, Surrogate Father or Mentor in an extraordinary manner,” according to Men Make a Difference. The organization, which is based in West Orange and headed by Long Branch native John Blanton, collaborates with churches, school districts, and community groups to help create and sponsor programs such as employment training and career counseling.

The keynote speaker of the event was Thabiti Boone, who was appointed by President Obama as a representative for the Fatherhood Mentoring Initiative. Boone overcame a tough childhood in Brooklyn, which saw him become a teenage father, forcing him to abandon his dreams to play in the NBA in favor of raising his daughter.

Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno poses with guest speaker Thabiti Boone.

For the past seven years, he has also moderated the Congressional Black Caucus Legislative Convention forum on Fatherhood.

In his speech to the congregation, Boone touched on subjects such as violence among youth, and also referenced the struggles in Congress to get race relations right. He also spoke about the role of religion for young black fathers being in jail, stating, “When God is with you, there is not a prison cell that can hold you.”

Boone closed the speech by saying, “These homes being headed by our single mothers has to stop. At the end of the day, we must answer to our children and our God.”

Neptune Hose Co. celebrates 150 years at IAMA

By Patty Booth O’Neill
It was a night of smiles and laughs and some tears… all happy.

Members of Neptune Hose Co. 1 gather for a photo at the IAMA

Introductions were made by Toast Master Kevin Stout and then the history was read to the packed crowd by Arthor Green.

The Neptune Hose Company No. 1 has a long history rich in facts and memories. It was the first organized fire company in Monmouth County, located in Long Branch before it was Long Branch.

There were many dignitaries present to praise past and present members. Plaques were handed out including to those who have put countless years into the company.
To read the full interesting history compiled by Arthur Green go to

This year, the Neptune Hose Company 1, the first organized fire fighting company in Monmouth County, is celebrated its 150th anniversary with several special events.
A tour of the 30 Branchport Avenue fire station was held on Wed., May 25, 7 p.m.On Saturday, June 18, the fire company held an anniversary dinner for its members at the Long Branch IAMA Club on West End Ave.

Local historian ­Arthur Green has compiled a history of the company. Here are a few excerpts from it:

Prior to 1877 the company was known as the Neptune Hook and Ladder Co. No 1.

Founded in 1866 by Dr. James O. Green, the Neptune Hook & Ladder Co. of Long Branch was the first organized fire company in Monmouth County. The establishment of a fire company was the result of the burning of the Bath Hotel… in that year. It was apparent that an organized fire company was needed within the village of Long Branch.

Prior to the establishment of the fire company, fire suppression was accomplished by the means of the “bucket brigade.” … While this may have been state of the art at one time, it was no longer efficient in 1866 in a large, growing community. Dr. Green, whose father and brothers had owned the hotel, solicited funds from merchants and the public and had a fire apparatus constructed by the carriage builder Mr. Charles Antonides of Mechanicsville now present day West Long Branch… a long wagon equipped to carry ladders, tools and fire buckets to a fire. It was the first apparatus of this nature constructed in all of Monmouth County solely for the purpose of firefighting.…

A small building to house the apparatus was constructed on the grounds now occupied by the old Broadway Primary School.

In 1872, an argument broke out between the Neptune Hook and Ladder and the newly formed Oceanic over who owned the apparatus. It resulted in a suit, which concluded that Neptune had merely loaned it, not given it.

Historical records indicate that by 1875 the Members of the Neptune Hook & Ladder Co. had vacated the Broadway location and had moved into the Oceanic fire station on Norwood Ave to share quarters with them, the Neptune’s membership now numbering 35 members. There they would remain until 1890, but under a strained relationship at times as fire company history and lore tell, probably due to residual fallout from the earlier law suit.  One tale even tells of a line drawn down the middle of the firehouse.

On September 17th of 1877 the Neptune Hook & Ladder company  … decided to change their name to the Neptune Hose Co. No 1. This decision was made to capitalize on the newly completed public water system that included fire hydrants within the City. A year later in 1878 the City Fire Commission agreed to purchase a four wheeled hose reel for them to use.… With  the company  motto of “Semper  Paratus” meaning “Always Ready” the next  phase of the company’s history began. Engraved on a pair of matching ornamental plates located on the hose reel and since carried over on all succeeding apparatus , the company has lived up to its promise to the community.

Over the next several decades, the Long Branch Fire Department was formally organized, and the Neptune Hose Co. grew, moving to 20 Branchport Ave.

While they were happy with this arrangement the members were desirous of owning a home of their own. They unsuccessfully attempted to purchase the 20 Branchport Avenue station. In 1904 with the company being solvent, property was purchased from Mr. A.S. Lokerson three lots down and fundraising began. Construction on the new building began in 1905.  The company took possession of their present home in January of 1906. The new station included many modern amenities including indoor plumbing, hot water, both gas and electric lighting, a telephone, a fire alarm telegraph system and the latest automatic drop harness system for the team of horses which lowered the harnesses automatically at the first strike of the alarm bell.  Bowling alleys were located in the basement, the latter having been moved from the previous station…

In 1973 with the knowledge of a new Mack CF 600 1000 gpm fire engine on order, an addition to the existing building to house the new engine became apparent, since the current structure could not carry the weight and the narrow doorway would also present a problem . Construction was started in 1974 and completed by 1975 in time for the arrival of the new engine.…

The 1975 Mack Engine served the City and the department faithfully for 39 years until January 2014 when due to its age and the fact that it was no longer compliant with current NFPA standards it was retired. In an unprecedented act by the city council the fire engine was offered to the fire company for preservation. The company without a means to keep and maintain the apparatus, and in conjunction with the head driver decided to donate it to the Monmouth County Fire Academy where it resides today and is used for the purposes of training firefighters in Monmouth County.  In the meantime a 1989 Pierce 1500 GPM pump was purchased from the Eatontown, NJ Fire Dept and was used as a temporary replacement apparatus while the company awaited the arrival of their new 2016 2000 GPM Pierce Engine which was placed into service on April 19, 2016.

For a photo spread pick up this week’s issue of The LINK News

MMC saved my life

By Walter J. O’Neill, Jr
Long Branch — The quick actions of the emergency room staff at Monmouth Medical Center saved my life.

Walter O'Neill with his granddaughters Kennedy and Charlotte

April 23, I was in a store in Neptune with my wife, when I turned to her and said it was awfully hot. Patty looked at me and said she thought it was fine. Normally that wouldn’t mean much to me as our body temperatures are usually at opposite ends.

As we left the store I was having problems taking a deep breath, but didn’t think much of it. We drove from Neptune home to Oceanport where I dropped off Patty, then went to Red Bank to another store.

While I was in the Red Bank store, I felt a pain in my chest that first started off feeling as someone was poking me repeatedly. That pain quickly turned into a burning feeling, I was really having problems catching my breath, and my vision started to blur. I left the store and drove back home.

When I arrived at my house the feeling was as if I had heartburn, but the sweating increased and the breathing became more labored. I went out on my deck to try and catch my breath and my daughter, Rachel told me I didn’t look good.

At this point I knew I was having a heart attack. The pain in my chest was pinpoint, the sweating was severe, breathing was very difficult and now I had pain in my biceps. I told Rachel I was having a heart attack and she wanted to call the first aid squad.

I knew that I didn’t have time for the squad to arrive, as it was 2:30 on a Saturday afternoon. One of my granddaughters was taking a nap, and to be honest I didn’t want to die in front of my daughter or at my house. So I made a decision that was not popular with many, but I drove myself to Monmouth Medical Center.

Rachel called me on my cell phone to make sure I was okay on my way to the hospital. It seemed as if someone was watching over me as I didn’t catch any red lights and a parking space was open right in front of the Emergency Room doors.

As I walked into the ER, the pain was very intense and I could hardly speak. The registration desk had about 10 people waiting in line. The employee looked at me and asked if I was ok. I was holding my chest and uttered the words heart attack and sat down.

Immediately someone came out with a wheelchair and took me into the back. I heard the girl at the desk say we don’t know who he is. In my hand I had my driver’s license and medical card and held them up. Before I was even in the exam room they had EKG wires attached to my chest. As soon as I stood up they tossed me on a bed.

The only way I can describe what occurred next is if you ever watched an Indy or NASCAR race. As the car pulls into the pit stop the crews descend on the car from all angles and everyone has a specific job. That is what happened to me. Out of nowhere the room was quickly filled with medical professionals doing what they do best, saving a life.

I had two intravenous lines in each arm, people were removing my clothing, taking blood pressure and administering drugs. Everyone was rushing, but they were extremely polite and telling me what was going on.

Dr. Catherine Hanlon, the emergency room doctor, told me that I was having a heart attack. She told me to try and relax and gave me aspirin. After a few minutes the pain started to become even more extreme. Over the next few minutes nitroglycerin was given to me three times. I told Dr. Hanlon that it was not working, and she said that a surgery team was getting assembled.

My wife was now at my side and at this point talking was nearly impossible, but the pain was so intense that I was crying. It felt as if an elephant was sitting on my chest and a burning knife in my heart.

Fifteen minutes after I checked into the emergency room I was being taken into the operating room. Dr. Jason Litsky of Monmouth Cardiology was the surgeon who would save me from a certain death. They determined that I was having what is known as the “Widowmaker” heart attack, where one of the three main arteries is totally blocked.

While I was on the operating table I watched on a monitor as Dr. Litsky inserted a device in my right wrist and proceeded up my arm, across my shoulder into my chest and right to the blockage. My artery was blocked 100 percent, and as the doctor was removing the blockage I thought I was going to die on the table. I told him thank you for trying to save my life and to tell my family that I loved them.

“Shut up, you talk too much,” said Litsky. “You will feel better in a minute, trust me.”

On the computer screen I watched as the blockage was removed, and then the artery started to close. That is when Dr. Litsky inserted a small mesh tube called a stent which is used to open and strengthen a weak artery. As soon as it was in place I could breath and watched  my heart come back to life.

I spent the next three days in the ICU at Monmouth Medical Center where the staff taught me about heart attacks and the medicines that I would be taking. I also discovered that 80 percent of heart disease is genetic and 20 percent is life style.

My eating habits up to the heart attack where horrible. I loved beef, bacon and fried foods. I hated vegetables and fish, and I had put my working out days behind me. Cigars on a weekend and sitting is what I enjoyed. That is the 20 percent I have control over, and now that I have a second chance it has changed.

The week before the attack I had warning signs but didn’t realize it. At work I would fall asleep. I told my wife that I must be getting old as that never happened before. I also had muscle pains in my chest and shoulder and just as though I pulled something. But as the doctor said, the oxygen-rich blood that my heart needed was getting cut off and without oxygen the heart muscle dies.

Dr. Halon said she and Dr. Litsky didn’t save my life. She said that because I knew something was wrong and that I realized the signs and symptoms of a heart attack, I saved my own life. The heart attack occurred two weeks before my 57th birthday and I was told only a small percentage of men my age survive a heart attack.

Now I’m taking cardio therapy at Monmouth Medical Center three days a week and will continue doing so for three months. The staff is wonderful as they help me rebuild my heart.

My mother asked me if I prayed while having the heart attack, and the answer was no. I knew that I had a short amount of time, and all I thought about was my two granddaughters,Charlotte and Kennedy. Missing them grow up is what crossed my mind. I love my family, I have watched my children grow into adults, but missing the girls brought me to tears.

Now, I’m 57 and given a second chance at life. My wife has been very supportive and makes sure I eat healthy and exercise so I can watch the girls grow up.

One thing that I’d never experienced before is fear. As a retired police officer, SWAT team, volunteer firefighter, and a karate fighter, I was never scared. I knew I could trust my training. But having a near death heart attack, is something I didn’t have control over, and knowing my heart is not as strong as me, is very scary.

So the moral of this story, know the signs of a heart attack, know what to do and what not to do. Take care of yourself. I know what was right and wrong, but I was lazy thinking it would never happen to me. Don’t make that mistake.

18th Annual Art in the Park held in West End

Long Branch — An 18-year tradition continued in West End the day before Memorial Day, with the Annual Art In The Park.

Part of Brighton Avenue was closed to traffic, so pedestrians could see the many works for sale at Brighton Park and the lot across the street.

Sponsored by the Long Branch Arts Council and Long Branch Historical Association, with support from the City of Long Branch, Art in the Park featured all sorts of art, from ceramics to paintings to photography to glasswork, wood carvings, and much more.

In addition to being a good day for artists to sell their wares — all proceeds were kept by the artists, not the event — there were awards for the best in each category. Judging this year was  Barbara Rivolta, who has worked for four museums, including the Met.

Spectators also got to enjoy the music of the Paul Marino Band.

Long Branch, my hometown

By Jim Jennings
Yes, Long Branch is my Hometown. I wasn’t born here, but I came in a bassinet with my family. That was more than 90 years ago. I want to tell you about the Long Branch I remember.
The kids of today wouldn’t like it very much; there was no school bus, no TV or video games and certainly no cell phones. Women wouldn’t like it at all. There was no refrigerator and freezer, dishwasher, microwave and none of the other appliances that every woman has today, and here is the really one appliance she absolutely could not do without – the clothes washer. Before that, it was the Scrub Board. It’s unbelievable but true, the fully automatic cloth washer and spin dryer wasn’t invented until about 1950. It was that one appliance that set the housewife free and gave her, her freedom and independence.

As for the husband, if he had a job, he worked long hours for little pay and no benefits, and the work week was six days, not five.
Still, in spite of all that, there is plenty of sentiment for recalling life as it was, in the “Good Old Days.” You know, it’s not the good times, but the bad and hard times that mold men and women and make them strong.

Long Branch was a dynamic city, a go-to city with shops, stores, factories, coal yards, gas stations, and commerce of every kind, all over town. It’s ironic that today in this town where a man can’t buy a shirt or tie, or a women, a dress, back then, they would have had a choice of more then six shops to make their purchase. Unlike today, people who lived in town worked in town.

On Willow Ave., there was McCue’s Dairy, the largest dairy in Monmouth County. On Prospect Ave., Baldanza’s Bakery, with more than 20 trucks on the road every day delivering Italian bread, Kay Dunhill, on Westwood Ave., a busy clothing factory shipping dresses to New York by the truck load. On Fifth Ave., Tomas Proctor Contractor, with their cranes, bulldozers and heavy duty equipment, employed a lot of men.

Those companies were a real asset to the city. On the boardwalk, men, women and kids were working too, selling hot dogs, soda, and such. Police officers, on foot could always be found around the Pier area – It would only be natural to mix and engage in conversation with them, you would know them and he would know you.

Downtown Broadway was the heart of the business district. That’s where all the action was and that’s where I started working. It wasn’t a real job, I was just a kid, 13 years old. I’ll tell you how it happened. I knew a man who worked at Stamelman’s Fruit and Vegetable Market, and he suggested, if I came down to the store, I might be able to make some money, not dollars, but some change. None of the fruit or vegetables were prepackaged, so when a woman went shopping, she would end up with more bags then she could handle. The clerk who waited on her would call me to help her get the bags to her car. Believe me, some of those women couldn’t have handled those heavy bags by themselves. The women were happy for my help and of course their tip was my reward.

Mr. Stamelman’s store was not big, but he employed 4 or 5 men, besides himself to wait on the customers. Remember, there were no self-service stores in those days. I found plenty to do around the store, like keeping the floor clean, sweeping the sidewalk, putting the garbage out and just making myself useful and helpful.

I guess I did a good job, because, Mr. Stamelman gave me some money too. Now here’s a twist! Even though I was only 13, there was never a thought of my getting hurt or liability or anybody suing or anything like that, that kind of thing was never on anyone’s mind. In fact, I knew two lawyers, who had to seek other careers because there was not enough business for them to make a living.
* * *
I want to give you an overview of Broadway. The street is the same, but many of the old buildings are missing. From Ocean Ave. all the way to West Long Branch, store after store, selling everything needed for home or office, along with doctors’ and lawyers’ offices, banks, a coal and lumber yard, two movie houses, two hotels, our own City Hall, a variety of churches and even some private homes, and building after building, all lined up next to each other, and not an empty store in sight.

And did you realize that every new car dealer was located on Broadway too? Cadillac, Chevrolet, Ford, Nash Packard, Plymouth, Dodge DeSoto and more  — can you believe it? Well, it’s true. People came from all over to shop and do business in Long Branch. Did I say Long Branch was dynamic? Well, you better believe it.

Now listen to this – the answer to the question, “Where are you going?” would most likely be, “I’m going Downtown.” Talk about a destination, well, Broadway was it.

From businessmen to women shopping and kids going to the movies, everyone could be seen there. That’s one reason why people knew so many other people, they saw each other all the time. There were so many people on Broadway, a police officer was always stationed at Broadway and Third Ave. to direct traffic and to help people cross the street. I can see him now; he would step out to the center of the street, blow his whistle while raising his arms straight out from his side, with palms facing traffic as a signal to stop, then call out to those waiting on the sidewalk, “Cross.” You don’t believe it? Well it’s true, I’ve seen it many times.

Early in the morning Broadway would start to come to life and the sights and sounds, at that time would be different from any other time of day. The street cleaners would be sweeping the gutters and shoveling the debris into their carts. In those days, sidewalks were swept from storefront to the gutter and the sweepings were just left there. (This was later changed by city ordinance). The window washers would be washing the windows with a wet brush then squeegee them dry. Every store had this done, before the shoppers arrived.

Hand painted signs would be hung up in grocery store windows advertising weekly specials. Trucks would coming and going, delivering to all the stores. Fresh eggs and milk were delivered every day. Bread from Silvercup, Wonder and Fisher’s Bakery trucks (remember?) were brought in. Even the iceman was there.

New York newspapers were dropped off at the news stands. Mr. Stamelman would bring back a swinging load of fresh fruit and vegetables from New York Wholesale Market. All the produce stores extended their display of tomatoes, peppers, eggplants and all kinds of fruit out from the store onto the sidewalk for four or five feet, and all this had to be set-up and done early in the morning.

Others started the day at the Alps with coffee, buns or bagels. Later in the morning Jewelers could be seen unlocking their vaults, and displaying their diamond rings, watchs and pearls in their windows.

Cops were always around on patrol, not in a car, but on foot. Remember those were the old days.

I’d like to ask you a question, “How many cops do you get to meet and how many cops do you know right now?” Probably none, right? Even as a kid, I knew quite a few. The police officers are the same today as they were back then, it’s just the times that are different.

Now I want to tell you something else about the cops. It wasn’t talked about much, but it was no secret either, sometimes when a guy had just one drink too many, he was given a ride home in a patrol car, courtesy of the Long Branch Police Dept.

The, stores on Broadway, well, I never thought I would be writing about them, or the owners and those who worked there. I thought as a kid, they would be there forever. Funny how time flies.

As for the stores themselves, I think they were all iconic. None of them could be replaced. Every store had their own individuality and identity Those who worked there were there for years, they knew you as well as you knew them.

What store, do you think people remember the most? My guess would be the City Bakery. Mr. Ellenburg was a master baker and perfectionist, Even though he had three or four women working the counter, you would still have to wait to be served. Do you know, you can get his recipe for Coconut Buns on the internet?

’m just going to mention a few stores that were important to me, and you fill in with your favorites. Newberrys, it was much more than a 5 & 10¢ store. It was like a small department store, they had all the little things every housewife needed for her home. Every woman in town went there. And they always had goldfish, canaries and sometimes parakeets, small live turtles, chameleons and gerbils for the kids.

Right inside the door was their busy Lunch Counter, managed by Mary, who had a larger than life personality, lifting everyone’s spirit. She called everyone “Honey.”
Mr. Roberts was the manager and floor walker. He always wore a flower in his lapel. He was a model of what a manager should be.

Fasano’s Hardware Store, a one of a kind place, where only Morris knew were anything was. Rockwell Diner, one of my old haunts. The Paramount Theater with their big marquee all lit up with bright lights at night brought hundreds of people to Broadway. Patrons would line up in front of the ornate ticket booth for tickets to see the latest movie with big name Hollywood stars.

That theater had a lot of glitz and glamour. People dressed up to go to the movies and even to go shopping.

At Bauer’s Market, where I worked, I think every customer was greeted by name, and given personal service. And that goes for the banks, for Bennett’s Drug Store, for Woolley’s and all the other stores in town.

Now, I want to talk about the store owners. It never occurred to me that a lot of them were immigrants. I don’t think I even knew the word back then. I just thought of them as

Americans, who came from other countries, like my father, who came from England. It never entered my mind that I was a son of an immigrant, but I am.

Being bilingual is nothing new to Long Branch, many of the merchants knew other languages, I just never heard it spoken. The stores and the men who started them, were here long before I was born. I wish I could go back and talk to them, I sure have a lot of questions I’d like to ask.

Why did they settle in Long Branch? I know, by hindsight, why they came, it was not for riches, it was for Freedom and Opportunity. I’m sure they risked everything they had to get started in business, and then worked hard and long to reach “The American Dream.” I saw that dream come true for many of them.

Mr. Tanenbaum, he had a grocery store on Seventh Ave. He was rewarded when his son became, Dr. Tanenbaum, and Mr. Stamelman’s son, Larry, became a lawyer and later a judge, and my old boss Mr. Werner, who liked to say, “My son Holly is a big lawyer in New York.” Everybody worked to give their children an education, so they could have a better life than they had.
* * *

The most important asset our town had was The Long Branch Daily Record, our own newspaper. The Record was the window to everything going on in town. After reading story after story, day after day, and with pictures of all the people who were making the news, you couldn’t help but feel you knew them.

Thanks to the Record everyone knew Tommy Marks, our Police Chief, the Mayor and all the Councilmen, John Guire, our Postmaster, Rev. C. P. Williams, and even Yesterdays Protester, Milton Carr.

Yes, you knew them, even if you never met them. We were all connected. And where was the Record office and printing plant located? You guessed it, right on Broadway.

So you see, the environment was very different. We were out of the cars, we walked a lot, we shopped pretty much in the same stores. We saw familiar faces and we all had names.

That’s something we don’t have today. I shop in the same store for years, and have yet to be greeted by name. I don’t know the manager. I don’t know the checkout person, and they don’t know me. No matter how much I spend after checking out, the best I get is, “Have a nice day.” That’s something that wouldn’t have happen in my time.

I already told you how crowded the sidewalks were on Broadway. Well on Saturdays, they were even more so. That was the busiest day of the week especially in the summer. Cars were parked, head in at an angle, to fit many more cars than today. Cars were bumper to bumper in the street, and the public buses were there to.

Traffic was slow. The police officer would be in the center of the street at Third Ave. directing the cars and helping people to cross over. Cookie, the newspaper boy, was yelling, “Read All About It.” Another cop could be seen walking his beat and helping people. All the stores were very busy and faintly in the distance, you could hear the beating of drums, and a commotion coming from Third Ave.

Everybody knew what it was. The noise got louder and louder as they came down Third Ave. and as they made the tum, onto Broadway you could see the Head Majorette, Alice Curitis strutting her stuff, and following close behind, the baton twirlers and cheerleaders and the whole High School Band playing at full blast. That was followed by a half a dozen cars all full of kids celebrating the Football Victory with a cacophony of joyous sounds of horns blowing, cheering and shouts of, ‘We Won, We Won.” That whole bunch went parading right down Broadway, bring joy and happiness to everyone there.

I say, that’s when Long Branch was at its very finest — and that’s the period of time that defines “My Home Town.”

Now I don’t know about you, but I don’t have to go out west to find a “Ghost Town”, for me, it’sright here in Long Branch.

Long Branch Concert Series begins!

Starts Sunday, June 12 with Philadelphia Funk in West End Park. Thursday, June 16 is Tim McLoone & The Shirleys in Pier Village.

Dante Strong of Long Branch pleads guilty to killing

FREEHOLD – A 21 year-old Long Branch man pleaded guilty today to killing another city man on Liberty Street in Long Branch on September 21, 2013, announced Acting Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni.

Dante Strong, 21, pled guilty to first degree Aggravated Manslaughter, Possession of a Weapon for an Unlawful Purpose, and Unlawful Possession of a Weapon, both second degree offenses, in connection with the shooting death of 23 year-old Adrian Anderson.

During Strong’s plea allocution today before Monmouth County Superior Court Judge David F. Bauman, he admitted he was involved with a larger group of individuals who were engaged in a series of confrontations with other groups in of the area of Liberty Street on September 21, 2013. Strong indicated that during one of these confrontations a female relative of his was injured. As a result of his relative being injured, Strong obtained a handgun and fired in the direction of a group of individuals who were standing on the front porch of 135 Liberty Street. Strong then admitted his shots caused the death of Adrian Anderson.

As part of his plea agreement, the State will recommend he be given a 15 year prison term, subject to the provisions of the “No Early Release Act” (NERA) requiring him to serve 85 percent of the sentence imposed before he is eligible for parole. He would also be subject to 5 years of parole supervision upon his release. After consultation and consent of Adrian Anderson’s family, the State determined this plea was in the interest of justice.

Strong is currently being held at the Monmouth County Correctional Institution on $1,450,000.00 cash only bail, as set by Monmouth County Superior Court Judge Richard W. English. He is scheduled for sentencing before Judge Bauman on October 7, 2016.

At approximately 2:29 a.m. on September 21, 2013, officers from the Long Branch Police Department responded to 135 Liberty Street after receiving 911 calls reporting a shooting at that location. Upon their arrival, officers found Anderson on the front porch, unconscious and bleeding from several gunshot wounds. Anderson was subsequently transported by Long Branch Emergency Medical Services and Monmouth Ocean Hospital Services Corporation (MONOC) paramedics to Jersey Shore University Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead, despite the efforts made to save his life by medical personnel.

A joint investigation was immediately launched by the Long Branch Police Department and the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office. On November 7, 2013, Strong was arrested and charged with Murder, Possession of a Firearm for an Unlawful Purpose, and Unlawful Possession of a Firearm for the shooting death of Adrian Anderson.

The case is assigned to Senior Litigation Counsel Thomas C. Huth of the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crimes Bureau. Strong was represented by John Jay Perrone, Esquire of Long Branch.