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English: A street in Ocean Grove, New Jersey. ...

A street in Ocean Grove, New Jersey. Ocean Grove, New Jersey

The Great Auditorium Ocean Grove, New Jersey 

What do they have in common?  Just another wonderful weekend in Ocean Grove where there is always something happening!  And to think they used to call this place Ocean Grave.  Back in the days…. and there was a time in Ocean Grove where life was much more sedate and serene;  of course it still is if that is what you are looking for.  

There was a time when cars were not allowed on the streets of the town after midnight on Saturday.  Where did they go?  They had to be removed from the streets and not returned until Sunday night. This town has religious roots, founded by Methodists who to this day run the town so to speak.  In actuality the Camp Meeting Association which is the organization which ran the camp meetings – those retreats and spiritual renewal times and educational events that were the raison-d’etre for the formation of Ocean Grove.  Methodists from all over the country would travel to the Jersey Shore for a week or two of respite from city life and an opportunity to enjoy the fellowship of the universal Methodist community.   They built a Great Auditorium where services are held every Sunday BUT concerts are held every Saturday night of the summer.  Over the years we have seen some great talents of our times and tomorrow night we will go to the Doo Wop Concert which signals the summer is over.  

However, during the day tomorrow we are going to the Great Flea Market which is held every spring and summer.  Hundreds of dealers selling everything from vintage toys to towels, tee shirts to tea pots, antiques, artifacts and albums.  This event takes place on the wide grassy median of Ocean Pathway.  It’s quite a sight with the ocean in front of you and the Great Auditorium behind you.  

Even after almost 10 years I still am in awe of the beauty of this town.  Every day I feel like I’m living in a postcard or a movie set or a Norman Rockwell painting.  New is good, old is often better and to enjoy life in this throw-back-in-time town is wonderful, delightful and I feel very lucky or blessed (as one might say in Ocean Grove) to be able to reside there intermittently.  Life is good.

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Ocean Grove, NJ is so peaceful.

Ocean Grove, NJ is so peaceful. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One of quaintest things in Ocean Grove was the Fishing Pier with its Fishing Shack and of course Ralph, the resident (dummy) fisherman who perpetually cast his line in hopes of snagging the big one.

Ralph has been a fixture on the pier off and on since 1993.  He was created by Carol Boniello and Bob Borders as a symbol of hope for the future of the pier which was in the process of being rebuilt.  In December of 1992 a nor’easter took the fishing shack and part of the pier down.  Ralph has been a bit of a transient.  He fell into the ocean in 1994 only to be rescued by two Grovers.  He lived for a while on Carol’s porch, he even marched in a local parade. He’s been the subject of paintings, sketches and hundreds of photographs.  Children loved Ralph, giggling and pointing at him from the beach below.

Well that was then and this is now.  Hurricane Sandy wiped out the Fishing Shack, part of the pier and alas, Ralph disappeared into the angry swirling sea.  Perhaps he heard a mermaid calling his name.

Losing the Fishing Shack isn’t the worst thing that happened to Ocean Grove during Sandy, the Frankenstorm.  BUT, now looking at the ruptured landmark breaks my heart.  It’s almost like “Serioulsy? You had to take the shack and Ralph AGAIN?” “Isn’t destroying the boardwalk enough? Didn’t tossing the lamp posts and benches across the road and down side streets enough” ?  “Wasn’t flooding basements, depositing tons of sand along Abbott Avenue and Broadway enough”? “Isn’t the fact that we’re 5 days without power and cold enough”?  “And we had to throw out all the food we couldn’t eat in 48 hours bad enough”?  Guess Not!

Watch the videos; Short one shot during the Hurricane and then post Sandy. 

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I felt I had to write something more about what I saw two days when we finally got to the shore to check out our cottage and the town of Ocean Grove.  You’ve heard ALL the words on the news (that is if you have power to get the news) UNPRECEDENTED-UNBELIEVABLE-UNREAL-DISASTROUS-MIND-BOGGLING and on and on and on.

YES all adjectives apply.  Trying to keep things in perspective is actually easy this time around;  When I think of the food I lost, I think of the people who lost their homes.  When I think of the damage in my yard, I think of the people watched an angry sea surge over their yards and swallow them out and spit out sand where their lawns had been.  When I think of the shingles flown off my roof, I think of the residents of Breezy Point and Mantolooking whose homes were engulfed in fire.  When I was concerned about the slimy mud on the side of the house and windows, I only had to walk over to The Lillagaard Hotel where the tea room I ran is/was located and saw the layer of mud left in the kitchen and dining room left behind by the two feet of water that broke through the door and flooded the lower level.

YES, things are put in perspective, sometimes unfortunately at the expense of another’s loss and pain.

Yesterday we drove to the shore with our friends, Joe and Michael.  They were kind enough to drive us to Ocean Grove as they were going to check on their cottage.  My camera battery was dead and I had no power in NJ to recharge. Joe took a lot of photos and graciously forwarded them to me so I could post them on my blog.  This is what we saw in Ocean Grove on Wednesday!

NOT a rare sight around town

Storm surge deposited lamp post and debris across Ocean Ave

A boardwalk buried in sand

Ocean Grove NJ, fishing pier, fishing shack

Where there was once a Fishing Shack at the end of this pier!

sand piles, Ocean Grove, Ocean Ave

Mounds of sand left background-Had been on Abbott Avenue and was plowed to beach to open up the street!!!!

Ocean Grove, Jersey shore, boardwalk

Twisted railings, Note the sand is now level with the boardwalk!

Ocean Grove, Hurricane Sandy, Jersey shore,

View from the boardwalk-the piles of sand are from the streets to the west NOT washed and deposited over the boardwalk.

The Camp Meeting Association is holding a massive clean-up tomorrow (Saturday).  Our dear friends Dick and Jane who own The Lillagaard need our help to empty out the Tea Room and salvage what we can.  BUT we don’t have enough gas to get there and back and none to be had in New Jersey.  And we can’t get back into the City unless we have 3 people in the car! Do two cats counts as one person?

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