A Statement on the Bradley Statue
Recently, there has been discussion in Asbury Park about the value of retaining the 97-year-old statue of our city’s founder, James A. Bradley, in the park at the eastern end of Sunset Park. This six-block-long stretch of green was donated to the people of Asbury Park by Mr. Bradley himself.
In recognition of that, our trustees would like to reiterate the words found in our mission statement: “The mission of the Asbury Park Historical Society is to advance the understanding, appreciation, preservation and restoration of anything of historical value to the City of Asbury Park, New Jersey.”
Although he was a visionary in many ways, there can be no doubt that our city’s founder, like so many people of his day (he was born in 1830), was shortsighted and wrong in his advocacy of segregation. Mr. Bradley’s planning of a great little city will never erase the hurtful positions he espoused or the words he spoke. Like all of us, he too had feet of clay.
Yet he never waged a traitorous war against the United States of America, never condoned slavery, or “owned” another human being. We should never turn a blind eye to the shortcomings of Mr. Bradley or any other historical figure, but openly acknowledge them. The trustees of the Asbury Park Historical Society wish to go on record in complete opposition to the removal of the statue of the flawed but brilliant Founder of Asbury Park.
Asbury Park’s Iconic Turf Club Sign to be Restored for Free!
Allied Environmental Signage, based in Farmingdale, has offered to restore the iconic neon sign from the Turf Club, a well-known Springwood Avenue night club in Asbury Park, for free.
“I thought I could help out. Somebody’s should do it and I have the facilities,” Company President Kevin White said earlier this week.
The Asbury Park Historical Society removed the unique sign while it was still hanging on the side of the now abandoned and gutted Turf Club. This was done several years ago with permission of the owner. The metal sign, adorned with electric and neon lights, measures about eight-feet wide, by four-feet tall, and about one-foot deep.
White said he saw an article in the Asbury Park Press about the society’s attempt to restore the sign and thought he could do the job. The sign was delivered to his company last Saturday.
According to White, an early examination shows that the sign has been repainted about four times, and he is trying to determine its original color. He also believes it was built in the late 1950s or early 1960s.
The Yates Sign Company, based in Neptune and then in Eatontown, was his family’s earlier business, and he is looking to see if it built the Turf Club sign.
“I don’t think so. But that it not an issue, we have built many signs like this,” he said.
White, 59, grew up in Belmar, but Asbury Park was a frequent stop. He was known to ride the Circuit, a famous teenage driving spot along the oceanfront. White said he also has a little connection with the Turf Club.
“I was in an adult softball league around 1980 and after games we used to hang out in the Turf Club, many in the league were African-Americans. The West Side was a mess then but the Turf Club was still open. It was one of the few places left standing- it was near the end for Springwood Avenue, though,” he said.
The restored Turf Club sign will be lit for the first time at the “Asbury Park’s West Side Music Legacy” exhibit, which will be held at the Monmouth County Historical Association in Freehold during the spring. The exhibit, put together by Classic Urban Harmony, focuses on Asbury Park’s black music scene from Count Basie to Billy Brown, and contains scores of rare photographs, phonograph records, posters, sheet music, and other memorabilia from Asbury Park’s West Side.
It is expected that the sign will then return to Asbury Park and hang in the new Senior Citizen’s Center, located directly across the street from the Turf Club.
“The historical society really appreciates Kevin’s commitment and it shows that people, even if they are not from here, still have a commitment to this city. Asbury Park means a lot to a lot of people and that only helps make our job easier,” society president Don Stine said.
Historic Horse Drawn Carriage Returns Home
It’s been more than 100 years since a horse-drawn carriage made its way through the streets of Asbury Park to deliver the local newspaper. But thanks to the generosity of the Gannett Corporation, the publisher of The Asbury Park Press, one such carriage may soon return to Asbury Park.
The carriage, which dates to 1879, was used to deliver the Shore Press and was the forerunner of the Asbury Park Press. It has been on display in the lobby of the Press building on Route 66 in Neptune, but the Press is moving to a new building, and needs to find a new home for the carriage and some other pieces of memorabilia.
“The Press called and asked if we were interested in it,” said Don Stine, president of the Asbury Park Historical Society, who quickly agreed to consider the Press offer. “This is truly a museum quality piece of Americana, specifically related to Asbury Park.”
Stine suggested putting the carriage on display in the Transportation Center, which houses another piece of Asbury Park history, the Rainbow Room sign that hung on the former Albion Hotel. The Historical Society spent $15,000 to restore the sign.
“A public area like the transportation center is the perfect place to display these items to be enjoyed by everyone,” Stine said.
Kathleen Abatemarco, Senior Human Resources Manager for the East Region of Gannett, says the carriage “is a neat piece of history,” and noted that the wheels still move. She said it was used to deliver the Shore Press, owned by Dr. Hugh S. Kinmouth who sold the paper to his nephew J. Lyle Kinmouth, who converted it into the Daily and Sunday Press, which later became The Asbury Park Press. The carriage was stored at a Press garage on Summerfield Avenue until the Press moved from the city in 1986.
Stine says moving the carriage will be a tricky project, and he has enlisted the aid of city Public Works Director Joe Cunha and together with Kathleen Abatemarco of the Press they made a presentation to the City Council at its December 17 workshop session, and the council approved placing the carriage in the transportation center. Besides the carriage, there are some other historical Press items which will be moved to the paper’s new office, located in the former AIG building across Route 66 from the current Press headquarters.
A vintage linotype machine is too large for the new space, and Stine has suggested donating it to Monmouth University’s Jules L. Plangere Center for Communication, named for former Press Publisher Jules L. Plangere, Jr. He said that would be the most appropriate place for it.
(Reprinted from The Coaster Newspaper)