Join us on Dec. 19, for the dedication of Asbury Park’s Time Capsule
Photo by Diana Moore
Books and periodicals detailing everything from sweeping societal changes, to municipal street sweeping schedules. Essays offering the big-picture takeaway on the challenges of the 21st century, and take-out menus representing the
city’s richly diverse smorgasbord of dining experiences. Souvenirs of the waterfront’s celebrated tourism attractions, and mementoes of year-round living in the neighborhoods of this city of summers. Official proclamations and communications from City Hall, and offerings from local students on their favorite activities and diversions. All of it representing contemporary life in the 150th anniversary year of Asbury Park’s founding — and all of it scheduled for rediscovery by a future generation of Asbury Parkers, following a special Time Capsule Dedication and Burial on the afternoon of Sunday, December 19, 2021.
Scheduled for 2:00 pm at the Asbury Park Historical Society’s Stephen Crane House headquarters at 508 Fourth Avenue, the public-welcome ceremony marks the culmination of a project designed to cap a busy Sesquicentennial Year of special events and activities. Here in an interlude that’s seen its share of challenges and sea-changes — from the coming of the Covid-19 pandemic and the ongoing effects of climate change, to the local hot-button issues of gentrification, affordable housing, education, transportation, and shifting demographics — the idea is to present a portrait to the people of the city’s bicentennial year of 2071, of a vital community that came together to forge solutions, find its collective voice, and face toward a future that worked to the benefit of all who made their home here.
In the words of Time Capsule Committee chair and Historical Society officer Susan Rosenberg, the project “belongs to all Asbury Park residents…past, present, and future.”
Working remotely even during her recent travels to the Middle East, Susan consulted with her committee members…a group that also includes fellow APHS trustee and city councilwoman Eileen Chapman, as well as Lisa Bovino and Elena Zazanis…to select a carefully curated collection of donated materials, much of which was then transferred to archival-grade media. The group, a subcommittee of the Asbury Park Sesquicentennial campaign chaired by Celia Morrissette, raised funds for a professional quality, water-tight stainless steel container manufactured by Heritage Time Capsules of Buffalo, NY, as well as a custom plaque designed and installed by Beth and Pete Woolley of Monmouth County-based Peaceable Kingdom Monuments.
Volunteers from the Asbury Park Little League are scheduled to handle the interment of the capsule, at an easily visible site in front of the concrete Mayfair Theatre wishing well that sits just off the front porch of the Crane House. Guests are set to include Mayor John Moor, who drafted a letter to his future successor in office for the occasion — and following the outdoor ceremony, attendees are invited to enjoy Asbury Park 150th Birthday Cake and other seasonal refreshments, during a reception inside the Crane House.
Sealed beneath cement and marked with its plaque, the capsule and its contents will occupy their appointed berth for the next half century, there on a property that has safely and successfully navigated its way through every epic storm, economic upheaval, and major current event of the past 143 years. From there, it’s up to the people of Asbury Park 2071 to retrieve the buried capsule on schedule — and, in the process, discover some intriguing things about the lives of the people who crafted this snapshot of a revitalized, re-energized, ever- fascinating city, way back in 2021.
Is there another town of the same small size as Asbury Park that continues to inspire so many written words each year? This past milestone year of 2021 has seen the publication of numerous books on topics related to the city and some of its most famous personalities — from studies of 19th century true crime, Jim Crow, and African American activism (The Rope, Alex Tresniowski) and 21st century social trends (Gentrification Down the Shore, Molly Vollman Makris and Mary Lizabeth Gatta), to big-picture perspectives on the tides of change in this seaside city (Helen Pike’s A Century of Change; Daniel Wolff’s expanded Fourth of July Asbury Park).
There are memoirs by musical movers and shakers (Stevie Van Zandt’s Unrequited Infatuations; Norman Seldin’s You Don’t Know Me); biographical studies of Stephen Crane (Burning Boy by Paul Auster; a new edition of Badge of Courage by Linda H. Davis) and still more forthcoming additions to the ever- growing library of Asbury-centric works — and on Thursday evening, March 17, 2022, the trustees of the Asbury Park Historical Society will be your guides for a Book Tour through some of the most outstanding volumes of recent seasons. Open to the public, and hosted at the Asbury Park Public Library as our meeting program (postponed from January), the presentation finds several of our organization’s board members and supporters reading from and discussing their favorite published works on subjects that are close to the heart of anyone with a passion for all things Asbury Park. It’s a great introduction for interested readers, and a possible first step toward the establishment of regularly scheduled Historical Society Book Club sessions.
Check our official website (aphistoricalsociety.org), social media, and email blasts for updates on the March 17 Book Tour event — and feel free to share your own thoughts and recommendations on the printed legacy of “little but loud” Asbury Park!
Marj as Cora
It was a modestly scaled but momentous occasion…one that represented the first public-welcome event at The Stephen Crane House since February 2020…when on Sunday, November 7, our in-house Lecture Room Theatre hosted actor-playwright and longtime friend of the house Marjorie Conn, in a premiere performance of her new play Cora & Stevie: Heaven and Hell.
Commissioned by Crane House programmer Tom Chesek in observance of Stephen Crane’s 150th birthday, and funded in part by a grant from MonmouthArts, the one-woman show found Marj (whose numerous previous projects at the house have included explorations of figures ranging from Eleanor Roosevelt to Lizzie Borden) illuminating the vivid real-life character of Cora Crane, Stephen’s common-law “wife” and constant companion in the latter years of his brief life. Observing all stated health and safety protocols, an audience that included former Crane House private owner Frank D’Alessandro enjoyed a piece that will be made available for additional stagings in months to come — as well as a first look at recent renovations that boasted enhanced lighting, expanded seating area, refinished floor, plus all-new paint, plaster work and window treatments.
George and Brenda Wirth
Back in early 2020, prior to the pandemic-related restrictions on public events, the Crane House partnered with the nonprofit Musicians on a Mission organization to present a successful “Songwriters” house concert as our contribution to the slate of Light of Day Winterfest events going on around Asbury Park. With the postponement of this year’s Light of Day schedule to March, plans for an encore collaboration with MoaM co-founder Brenda Wirth and her husband, singer-songwriter George Wirth (pictured) had to be put on the back burner…but discussions are underway to once again present an afternoon of acoustic music inside our historic home’s theatre, featuring George in performance with special guest artists in a “house concert” format from the creators of the acclaimed “Rosie’s Café”series. Watch our website, social media and email blasts for updated news on a special Musicians on a Mission fundraiser event in spring 2022…with details on featured performers, tickets, audience safety policies, and designated charity to be announced!
A personal appearance by award-winning novelist Paul Auster, whose acclaimed book Burning Boy offers the Brooklyn-based author’s unique perspective on the life and work of Stephen Crane…a salute to the life and career of novelist and poet Margaret Widdemer (1884-1978), a daughter of Asbury Park who won an early Pulitzer Prize, and who used places like Asbury, Wanamassa and Ocean Grove as settings for her stories…projected collaborations with the Asbury Park Arts Council, Asbury Park Museum and more! While these proposed events have not been finalized as this newsletter is posted, available updates will be made public as they are confirmed.