Our north Jersey friends thought we were nuts. No one lived year round at the Shore. There was only one other family on our block year round. The commute to Newark and East Brunswick was an hour. Both my parents worked and commuted north every day. Nana retired from the offices of Wallace and Tiernan, makers of Desenex Foot Powder, in Belleview to stay home with us. My brother was not yet in kindergarten.
The first floor had a big hall. The windows had many small panes in a diamond pattern. What a chore to paint.
These rooms shared a chimney and each had a fireplace. There were pocket doors between the living and dining rooms and to the next room back which we used as a family room. The back set was kept closed. The paneled family room had a fireplace and a door to the best porch in the world. Round and enclosed with lattice, but not screened, it was the place where we lived all summer....every meal taken at the picnic table.
Christmas 1957 showing the paneling, sliding doors and door to the porch. See that little iron table? It is on my front porch.
Between the kitchen and laundry room was a walk in pantry. Every time we went by we walked in. We grabbed a maraschino cherry from the huge jar my grandfather brought from the wholesale food market in NY. There were half baths in the hall and laundry.
We got a puppy when we moved to keep Nana company and "protect" the house. He was a small version of a lab, a plain black dog we named Elby after the town. His friend Elmer Dog, a slightly large version, would come to the back laundry door and ask if he could come out to play. Dogs ran loose in those days. There were many black Elby/Elmer dogs around as a consequence. He went to the Elberon Library, with or without us. Mrs. Goddard let him in, gave him a bowl of water and he slept under the new books display right inside the front door. My library number was 1132. This was originally a private subscription library, for the residents of the Elberon section that has now been incorporated into the Long Branch Public Library system.
This is the second floor.
This was the third floor.
Upstairs on the third floor starting counter clock wise from stairs in the hall was a bathroom, storage room (it would have been called the luggage room in the era the house was built) and a small bedroom that I used in the summer. It had a tiny balcony and was compensation for my sister’s room and balcony. On the south side there was a suite of rooms with sloped ceilings my grandfather used when he was in residence (seldom) consisting of two rooms and a bath. I expect that would have been the housekeeper’s domain. (I think it had a bath...we weren't allowed to go in much so my memory is fuzzy on this.) Facing the back and looking into the top of the sycamore trees that circled the drive was a larger guest room with twin beds. Finally a smaller room Dad used as his "man cave" though then it was called an office.
The driveway came in under a porte cocher by the front door, a boon in wet weather. Can you picture the carriages pulling in after the Runyon wedding? The drive ran along the north side under the kitchen windows made a big circle with a branch back to the carriage house. The drive was all pale yellow beach pebbles. It was lined with tall old sycamores. We spent many an hour raking up the pebbles and sycamore “shed” of both leaves and bark. The funniest thing with the trees was Nana trying to ride a bike (the one and only time). She ran into a tree, giving us quite a scare.
Dad and Kevin 1955. You can see some of the sycamores in the background. This may be the day we first went to see the house. We moved down in 1955.
The privet between our house and the Curtain’s house to the north were huge it was all Dad could do to keep it pruned back head high. Halloween 1958 and the hedge is high. Mom made all our costumes, and most of our clothes.
Next door to the south was a huge brown shingled house that had been L.B.Brown's casino. The fireplace in the main room had at least a 6 ft opening. The owner was a little scary but turned out to be an OK neighbor. The land was still planted in formal gardens surrounded by an 8 ' hedge. He grew prize winning dahlias taller than the hedges. That part of the property is occupied by two ranch style houses today. He rented out the garage apartment that was right on our property line. That is still there today. You can see our house with the two chimneys in the center of the post card.
School had just started in September 1960 when Hurricane Donna came up the coast. Over crowding and sending districts put us on split sessions. Juniors and seniors in the morning, freshmen and sophomores in the afternoon. My brother and I went to school. My sister was not in school (second session) and was home with Nana. She discovered the fire. My folks went to work. Mom now worked at Monmouth Junior College, which then used the high school for classes with offices across the street in a white house. Any one who graduated from Monmouth College thru about 1990 has her signature on their diploma. Dad was at work in New Brunswick. Hurricanes did not stop the world, or maybe forecasting is a whole lot better now and we didn't know the danger back then.
I was in chemistry with Mr. Kolibas, already not my fav subject or teacher and it was only the first week of school. The school secretary came up to say my mom was there from across the street to take me home. He made fun of me as I left for going home early because of a little rain. I never got along with him or liked chem any better after that.
In fact the storm had sent a sycamore branch into the wires and started a house fire in the basement. It had been put out, but my mom wanted me home to help clean up. We went home and she wisely took the silver and important stuff from the house because it turned out the fire still burned. It climbed up between the walls to the third floor. It suddenly broke out of the roof. It was now the height of the storm, the firemen were still on the scene with the truck bogged down on the front lawn. The wind blew so strong they could not/would not go up the ladder. By the time they controlled the fire the top floor was gone. We watched it from the house across the street. The whole house was water logged. The smell of smoke permeated everything. We rescued what we could. My brother's room and toys took the worst hit on the second floor. My back room was wet, and I hate to say this, but my silver charm bracelet was missing. My clothes were unwearable.
This article is not quite accurate.
From The Red Bank Register, Sept. 13, 1960:
Luckily, we were able to go to my "sorta uncle's" house on Ocean Avenue. The house shook with every wave. As I looked out the second floor window the entire set of stairs down to the beach rose up over the sea wall and pulled away in pieces. We never lived in our wonderful house again. Eventually our friend Marty Schneider's son bought it. The third floor was cut off and a roof slapped on.
Through Facebook's HometownLongBranchNJ I've found the family who lived there 1964-1987 We've been talking about our shared home. Here's what Nancy said about the house:
The house was a huge mess when we bought it. My dad sent my mom, sister and me to stay with our grandparent's for most of the summer while he worked on it. Mrs. Wolf let her animals poop all over the house. It was in serious disrepair and my mother called it "Witts End".
We had such good times there. It was a lovely neighborhood and a wonderful place to grow up. We picked our home in Bound Brook because it has a similar yard and charm.
My bedroom in Elberon was the one with the doors that opened to the side porch. I shared that porch with my parents. My sister's bedroom was red and led out to the flat black-top roof that ran parallel to the hallway leading to the back bedroom. The back bedroom was so cheery and sunny.
Before the house was torn down we too went over and took some things. We have bamboo all over our yard now and have even brought some to Sea Bright. I also took some of the bricks from the fireplace. One of our childhood friends went over after it was taken down and found some old Army men in the dirt and took them home.
Two men bought the house next door (that was also torn down to build that huge monstrosity). They took it back to the glory days and it was beautiful. They had wonderful parties out on the porch. When we first moved in, the Curtin family lived in it and then after they died it was sold to a family with 9 kids and then Bob and Jerry moved in.
Now when I drive over there I get really depressed!
The property stood empty and was torn down in 1999. I took these pictures then. This walks you around the house.
two story, 6793 sq ft on 1.62 acres estimated value $2,918,935. The building bottom right is the carriage house/garage from the Casino. Looks like they've added on.