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Posts Tagged ‘The Great Auditorium’

I have spent so much time talking about the heat and NOW that the heat wave is OVER and today was just as pleasant as yesterday, I have to bring up the HEAT one more time.  Today is Saturday and the sun was warm and the breeze light.  A perfect summer day! Not so last week.

Last Saturday was brutally hot, sticky hot and just hot hot! Walking, moving at all was painful  We had tickets to see Smokey Robinson in the Great Auditorium which is NOT air-conditioned.  It was extremely uncomfortable; couldn’t figure out what to wear that would not stick to me – how silly, everything stuck to me including me to me.  I also forgot my fan and for the first time that I can remember, instead of giving the fans away, they were selling them!! The fans cost a dollar each but well worth every penny.  The entire audience was in motion.  Fans were waving all over – it was sea of sweaty people waving hot air over themselves and sweating from the energy expended to wave the fan.

Smokey Robinson was superb and how he performed in a suit, I’ll never know.  We were like limp rags and he was jumping around the stage.  The only two items allowed in the auditorium during a concert are fans and WATER !  The fans cost a dollar, the water cost a dollar and I think the Camp Meeting Association made more money from the sale of those two commodities than they did from the ticket sales!!!

See what I mean….

The Great Auditorium, Smokey Robinson, water bottles

Recycle Me

Photo by Susan Taylor (Blackberry phone)

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Wherever you spend the Fourth of July you are sure to be in the midst of a parade, fireworks and cook-outs OR on the beach, OR in an eating contest (UGH)!

Today IS the Fourth of July, however in Ocean Grove the annual parade was yesterday, Saturday.  I think they held then so more people would be around and not committed to a picnic somewhere else or maybe because in this town, they just don’t do those kind of things on a Sunday.

Ocean Grove fourth of July parade, bagpipers

Leading the Pipers

fourth of July parade, Ocean Grove

Cruising Along Main Avenue

Kazoo band, 4th of July parade, Ocean Grove

Red White and Blue Kazoo Band

Taylored 2 You, Ocean Grove parade, 4th of July

Taylored2You

Our friends, Susan and Jim were in the parade promoting their unique business, Taylored2You – a concierge and house watch service.

I’m pretty sure the latter is the real reason because right now it is just about noon and it is 90 degrees BUT you can’t go on the beach yet because it doesn’t open till 12:30pm and I think you know why!!!   Just as well, since we were running around yesterday I never got to the blog, there was the Parade, there was the Ice Cream Social, then we went to an Open House with Susan and Jim and that was a nice way to meet some new people and see a gorgeous house on the beach block of Main Ave.  Then it was the Happy Birthday America free concert held at the Great Auditorium and that was very nice too.  And then we walked along the boardwalk towards Bradley Beach to watch their fireworks.  We did note that when we were growing up and even well into our earlier years, people used to ooooh and ahhhhh and WOW and clap over the fireworks but hardly a sound was heard until there was one giant white fountain of a firework, filling up the sky and pouring forth wave after wave of sparks and sparkles!

Bradley Beach, fireworks on the boardwalk

Bradley Beach fireworks

And then….we had mixed berry shortcake, sitting outside in our backyard with candles and lanterns.  The stars were out, the air was cooler and it was a lovely way to end the day!

fourth of july, red white and blue dessert

Mixed Berry Shortcake

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5:00 am – still snuggled under covers, we hear sirens wailing down Broadway.

6:15am – my cell phone rings downstairs and I don’t get to it in time.  Look at the missed call and it was Susan.  Call her back – she is yelling into her cell phone over the roar of the wind and called to tell me that the Manchester Inn burned down and several houses were burning too.  In two minutes I know I ‘m not going back to sleep and I tell Peter I’m going.  He really doesn’t want to get up but doesn’t want me to go alone.  So believe it or not (and those of you who know us, know….) we got up, threw on some clothes and drove over to Main Avenue.  Stepping out of the car we were hit by the smell of the smoke.  And looking farther west down Main we could see a wall of smoke that extended from the fire on Ocean Pathway to Main Avenue  We left the car in front of the Hardware Store and made our way down Pilgrim Pathway.  There were orange cones on Ocean Avenue at Main, at Central Avenue and Main, at Pilgrim Pathway and actually almost anywhere you looked north of Main Ave.

The wind was howling, it was raining and as we stood in front of the Auditorium we could only see about 50′ in front of us. The wall of dark gray smoke was more like a house, not a wall.  Everything was enveloped in this ominous gray cloud.  We encountered a man who was walking around the Great Auditorium with a coal shovel and he told us he was looking for embers that were landing close to this famous structure.

Next move was to the Auditorium Pavillion to change batteries and assess just how close we could get.  Walking past the tent structures up to Central Avenue it was difficult to see anything – so many fire engines, so much smoke.  Some people were moving left and we followed them to Bath Avenue, the street that runs parallel and to the north of Ocean Pathway.  There the horror and scope of what was happening was made real for us bystanders.

Bath Avenue is a narrow street and we were able to stand on the sidewalk opposite the houses on fire.  This had to be about 6:45am and 3 of the houses had already burned beyond salvage.  The firemen just kept pouring water on these houses and the fire would keep popping up along a roof line or somewhere in what was left of a house.  The firemen tried to stop it from spreading but this was fairly impossible.  I saw one house, a green house with siding and it was scorched so badly,  I wondered if it would just ignite some place too.

I stood there crying, this was such a tragic scene and one every Ocean Grove homeowner dreads and fears and knows “that there but for the grace of God goes…”.   Looking at these burnt out shells, emotions running in high gear, the house, yes – BUT the belongings, the treasures, the photos, the memories all gone up in smoke so to speak.  Dear God, my heart goes out to these residents.  Finally cold and wet through and through, Peter and I walked around to Ocean Pathway to see if we could now see anything of the ruins of the Inn. Not really, just the eerie sight of the Manchester Inn’s little car still parked out in front.  The labyrinth of hoses was mind-boggling – running east to west on the Pathway, south to north from Main Ave to the Pathway, hoses up and down Bath Avenue, hoses laying along Beach Avenue.  Then as I was walking back to our car, I noticed the firemen laying ladders alongside the big beautiful house on the northwest corner of Beach and Ocean Pathway.  I couldn’t bear to watch another historical Victorian go up in flames.

We thought we might have breakfast at Nagle’s but it hadn’t opened yet.  Then we got word that the water pressure on Main Avenue was greatly diminished and the water was running out brown.  Thinking better of that idea, I assumed that our cottage was far enough away not to be affected by the water situation – WRONG!!!

The cats got bottled water and I hope to shower before bedtime.

This has been a day of anguish, of introspection, of concern, and a deep appreciation and thankfulness for the bravest of the brave – The firemen and I assume some of the many companies that responded to Ocean Grove’s call for assistance, are volunteer fire houses.  Thank you West Long Branch, Neptune, Asbury Park, Spring Lake, Allenhurst, Bradley Beach, Shark River Hills, Avon , Deal, Belmar, Ocean and please forgive me if I omitted some, there were just so many trucks and firemen everywhere.

Just like a victim of 3rd degree burns, our town has been indelibly scarred.

Saving the big Victorian on the corner

Smoke Gets in Your Eyes

A House is Not a Home Anymore

Relentless Fire in Spite of the Rain

A Burnt Piece of a Column Amid the Omnipresent Hoses

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