Monday, May 31, 2010

Ocean Ave

This is about the house on Ocean Ave we moved to my senior year in high school.  Hurricane Donna had done a number on our Elberon Ave house in September.  We had been living in my uncle's summer house up the street since the fire.  We kids spent many week-ends at my Aunt Jean's dinner parties in that house before it became a temporary home.  It was a 25+ room Charles McKim design, built in 1876 for NY banker Moses Taylor.  The dining room was enormous.
This 1940 picture shows the house with the large circle drive in the upper right.  During the war a huge concrete observation tower was built just to the left to guard against German subs.  The house and tower  were torn down in the 1980's to build a McMansion.
Our neighborhood, known as the Frankyln Tract, had been the site of a Hotel/Cottage complex during the late 1870's.  This was the Elberon Hotel c 1904.
 Collection of Robert Speck
Long Branch in the 1800s was the fashionable summer resort.  Arriving by rail or steamer ship were politicians, authors, publishers, ex-Civil war generals and the wealthy from New York City and Philly's social registers who came to bathe, gamble and race horses along the shore at tracks that rivaled Saratoga.
Among those summering were President Grant and his family,

the Guggenhiem clan, Henry Morganthau, Teddy Roosevelt's gang,

Mark Twain, the Rothchilds, Vanderbilts and the like.  Lots of money floating around.  They were followed to the "Branch" by sports, dandies and card sharks.  Think Diamond Jim Brady, his special friends Lillie Langtry and  actress Lillian Russell,

Presidents from Grant to Wilson summered at the Shore.  Lincoln and James Garfield vacationed as Congressmen.  After President Garfield  was shot at Washington's Union Station on July 2, 1881 he endured a hot summer at the White House.  In September, with the threat of malaria in DC, he was moved  to Long Branch NJ.  They brought the injured President Garfield to Charles Franklyn's cottage on the hotel grounds.
c 1910
So he would not be jostled in a horse drawn carriage an extraordinary effort was undertaken to accommodate the dying president.  On the night of September 5 2000 towns people built a rail spur 5/8ths of a mile down Lincoln Ave from the Elberon rail station to the house door.
Entertaining a Nation
The house (marked on the lower left of the map) where Garfield died on September 18th was damaged in the fire that burned down the hotel in 1914 and torn down several years later.  The land they stood on has since eroded and fallen into the ocean.

Our house is in the upper right.
I spent a great deal of time on this private beach, even before we lived there.  I had several mother's helper jobs for families on the next over private street.  On one job I had a "Pink Car Jeepy" (to quote the kids) that had been imported from Acapulco.  I used it all the time.  Fringe on the top, no seat belts back then!!! Looked like this model.  Even Elvis had one!!!
I knew all the fishermen.  They would give me some of the morning's  flounder catch and I'd take it up to the house where the cook would make it for my breakfast.  That was the family where you had to dress (no bathing suits) for Wednesday lunch with guests in the dining room.  I even had my own room, tho I only was there during the day.

My Mom painted this great 1907 house black.  Come to think of it she had all our houses painted black.  Second kitchen in the basement.  (See why I was drawn to my present house?)  Outdoor shower too.  I love those.
The bathrooms were huge.  One had navy blue tile and a nine head shower.  It would be very "in" today.  I wonder if it has been remodeled.  It was so close to the ocean that in a big storm standing water moved with the surf breaking over the jetties.
  Our tree was in the bar at Christmas.
Mom and my Aunt Jean in the living room.

My sister on the front stairs.
We hung our stockings in the dinning room.  Every blue Delft tile around the fireplace was different.  The room was paneled in oak 3/4 of the way up and it had a huge matching oak side board, table and chairs.  They came with the house...couldn't have been moved!  Good thing the table was large, we had at least six just with family every night.  I had a high school friend who always knew when we had dinner.  He managed to have many a meal with us.
Here's a view from today.  Fronting Ocean Ave, we had a enclosed porch off the dining room where we ate every summer meal, watching the street action.  There is a funny curve and lots of accidents!
photo Google

photo Bing
The lovely wide, shady, cool porch where there was always a breeze is gone!  It opened up past the front door and wrapped all the way around to the ocean side.  Replaced by a deck.  The two car garage was moved from the back corner of the property and attached to the side of the house in place of the porch.  The balcony I had off my bedroom, overlooking the ocean ... gone.
(So is the old house next door, replaced by a McMansion...
 Marian Washauer
I cropped it out of the aerial picture above but Bing and Google have old and new aerial views) Here's a shot of our house's oceanside stairs and my sister's wedding party.

My son on the pebble drive at my sister's wedding
My wedding was down the street
 c 1905
and the reception was at the house.  My dress is the same white cotton pique dress my sister wore later.  Mom made all the dresses.   We had a tent pitched on the lawn (now a parking area).  All the neighborhood little girls came to catch the bouquet.
Great parties took place here.  I hosted high school, college and grad student friends.  Frat parties, barbecues on the pebble drive, beer in the bathtub in the garage, lazy breakfasts on the porch, cool swims from the beach, hunting starfish in the jetty rocks, fireworks on the Fourth.  Miss it all, especially on a holiday weekend.


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