Tis the season

 

 

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To all our friends in the blogosphere, Many happy returns of the season and may the new year bring you health, love, and happiness. Hope to see more of you all in 2019.

Fond regards,

Anthony and Jersey Girl

 

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Wildwoods

 

 

Let the record show that the first photograph I ever sold was not this one…

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Nor this one….

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Or even this one.

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It was this image of something all Jersey Shore denizens hold close to their hearts… and other organs.

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I’ll take it.

 

 

All images are mine.

 

©2018

Wild Pony

 

As I may previously have mentioned, We saw Southside Johnny and the Asbury Dukes this Saturday past. As I may also have mentioned, The Stone Pony has a strict ‘no cameras’ policy so I was unable to properly document what proved to be an absolutely fantastic show.

I did, however, have my trusty phone so here are a few brief impressions of the gig in low rez.

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This band has been doing what they do for close to half a century and got their start in the same tiny Asbury Park club as Springsteen and the E Street Band. It was obvious that many at the gig were longtime fans who had shared a great deal of history with The Dukes.

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The first act was Remember Jones, another Jersey band very reminiscent of the younger Dukes of yesteryear. They did covers and originals and absolutely nailed a cover of Queen’s Don’t stop me Now. It was good to see the Jersey soul sound was still alive and kicking and in good hands.

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The weather was perfect and the bands were hot. What more could one need on a summer’s evening in Jersey?

Both of the above videos are from this gig. There was also a sizeable crowd listening for free from the Boardwalk, as you can see in the video below.

 

And if you want to see how the gig looked when photographed properly, shoot over to my friend Mark’s site here.

Mark scored a photographer’s pass to shoot the event and did a fantastic job as usual.

Starman

 

 

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Main Street High Bridge in the 1950’s…
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…and today.

 

In 1950’s America an interesting phenomenon occurred. Hot on the heels of the ‘flying saucer flaps’ (as they were then known) which had been occurring since 1947*, a small group of people went public with claims that they had both met and travelled with men and women from outer space.

These ‘contactees’, as they came to be called, began going public with prophetic messages and dire warnings about mankind’s future which they claimed originated with the men from Venus.

The first and most famous of these was George Adamski who went from dishwasher in a burger joint to millionaire after the publication of his book about his ‘encounters’ with space people but he was not the last. There was at least a score of others peddling pretty much the same line in space dust.

 

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Menger.

 

One of those who became almost as famous as Adamski was Howard Menger of High Bridge New Jersey. Menger claimed that when he was a young boy back in the 30’s he encountered a beautiful woman sitting upon a rock in the woods outside of town. The woman revealed herself to be from Venus and told Howard that he would meet her again at some point in the future.

Menger, in his book From Outer Space to You, claimed that this proved to be the case when, in the 50’s, he witnessed a spacecraft which landed in a field outside High Bridge. Menger alleged that one of the three figures that emerged from the craft was the very woman he had met 20 years before. Furthermore, he claimed she had not aged a day in the intervening years.

It seems amazing to think that people bought into Howard Menger’s tales of encounters with Venusian amazon women but many did. Howard claimed that many beside himself also witnessed the craft he frequently saw and filmed. However, even a cursory examination of his images leaves the modern viewer more than a little unconvinced and wondering what his so-called witnesses thought they were seeing.

Among Mengers more outrageous claims is that he was taken by the Venusians to Earth’s moon and that it had an atmosphere and horticulture. He even claimed to have brought back a ‘moon potato’.

If this all seems rediculous, it’s worth noting that Howard often spoke to very large gatherings of devoted believers (some of which took place right here in High Bridge) and he appeared often on the radio where he waxed lyrical about the teachings delivered by the Venusians**.

There are still people living in High Bridge today who claim that Howard was a hardworking and honest local businessman who was well liked and respected within the community. His own wife, Connie, met Howard when, as a local journalist, she came to interview him about his experiences with the Space Brothers. Connie was so impressed by him that she married him, quit her job, and started preaching the message too (something she continued to do even after Howard’s death in 2009).

The contactee movement has been chalked up largely to the extreme paranoia of the ‘A-Bomb Generation’. Many people (intellectuals among them) were convinced that mankind was on a fast track to annihilation and the thought of benevolent and technologically advanced beings intervening in our affairs like protective parents must have held a lot of appeal for those traumatised by their fear of the bomb.

I’ve watched some of Menger’s filmed interviews and there’s no denying he was charismatic and seemingly sincere. Perhaps he actually believed what he was saying or perhaps he just needed to believe it was true.

 

 

 

*It’s probably not a coincidence that these ‘flaps’ occurred as the paranoia of Cold War was gearing up.

**In later years (once space exploration had proven that the other planets in our Solar System were hostile to humanoid life) Menger and the other contactees claimed that they had misunderstood their Space Brothers as to their point of origin.

Menger claimed he now believed they merely had a base on Venus (or maybe Mars) and actually came from outside of our system.

 

©2018

Iron men: Part 4

 

 

Part 3

 

The town my family are now living in is named for a bridge that cannot be seen. Despite its considerable height (34m) and length (400m), the iron trestle bridge is invisible to the eye.

It was built across the South Branch of the Raritan River by the Central Railway Company of New Jersey in the 1850s but saw almost no use in its originally intended form.

The official reason given for this was that the bridge was too ‘costly to maintain’ but the truth was that the bridge swayed whenever a train crossed and people were simply reluctant to use it.

This was a scandalous state of affairs but the solution chosen had a touch of genius about it. The railway simply buried the bridge supports under rail-truck loads of earth (and indeed even the rail-trucks themselves were dumped over the side to add anchorage to the mound).

 

 

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For scale, the painted flag adorns a full sized shipping container.

 

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Another scale comparison.

 

 

It took five years to complete the job but by 1864 the bridge had been replaced by a massive embankment. The only visible structure that now remains is a double tunnel through which a road and the river pass beneath the embankment. However, the bridge in some form still exists at the core of the mound.

 

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High Bridge was originally incorporated as a township by an act of the New Jersey Legislature on March 29, 1871, ironically, named for a bridge which technically no longer existed as such.

 

Words and images are my own.

 

©2018

Disturbia

 

The darkness on the edge

Every small town, no matter how prim and proper has a darkness coiled within. It is expressed in actions taken behind closed doors and in the discarded detritus that gathers on the fringes.

Abandonment and decay. Secret violence and buried frustrations. The colour leaches out like toxic waste into a once pristine stream. It crawls slowly along disused rails til there is nothing but sun-bleached bone and rust to speak its name in gravely whispers.

Let your boots crunch loudly on the stones. And do not look into the shadows beneath the trees.

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Words and images are my own.

 

©2018

 

 

 

Charlotte sometimes (sometimes Lolotte)

 

In my last post, I mentioned that I had written previously about Napoleon’s niece visiting New Jersey. This turned out to be incorrect. I had researched it (based on a story I’d been told about her making a sketch of Lebanon, NJ) but never actually got around to writing a post. Situation rectified.

 

 

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Lolotte.

 

 

Charlotte Bonaparte (known to her family as Lolotte) was the daughter of Napoleon’s brother, Joseph. After the Emperor’s fall from grace, Joseph, who at the height of his brother’s power had been crowned King of Naples and Spain, fled to America and settled for a time in, of all places, Bordentown, New Jersey.

After a while, his young daughter joined him there. Below, is an eyewitness account of the Princess’ arrival in Philadelphia.

The path to the carriage that awaited the princess was covered with a carpet. The dock was full of people anxious to see a princess in the flesh. She was very young, vivacious and, I believe, feeling free from the strict surveillance of her governess and of her devoted physician, Dr. Stokoe, exalted at the sight of the crowd. She took off the fur hat that she had worn during the crossing, to respond to the many greetings, and it fell out of her hands into the Delaware. She immediately took the captain’s from the bulwark and waved it. Then she put it on her head, where she kept it until arriving at the hotel.

The next day she returned to the ship…with a new hat for the captain, which she attempted herself to place on his head, telling him she would keep his as a souvenir of the cordial reception that the inhabitants of Philadelphia had given her, and of the incident that had deprived her of her own.

Life on her father’s New Jersey estate must have seemed a little dull to a girl who had visited some of Europe’s grandest cities but Charlotte was a gifted artist who travelled about the state with her easel, painting and drawing whatever caught her eye.

And one of the subjects that did catch the Princesses eye was the tiny village of Lebanon in Hunterdon County (which is where our family were living until our recent move to High Bridge).

 

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A view of Lebanon by Charlotte Bonepart.

 

Charlotte’s idle in the green pastures of New Jersey would be short-lived, however. After three years she returned to Brussels to be married.

Perversely, the instructions in Napoleon’s will stated his nieces and nephews should marry amongst themselves to “conserve the Bonaparte wealth”. Therefore, Charlotte’s sister Zénaïde married her cousin Charles and on July 24, 1826, Charlotte married their cousin Napoleon-Louis.

This marriage too was to be a short-lived affair. On the 17th March 1831, after just five years together, Napoleon-Louis died while fighting with the insurgents who were trying to drive the Austrians out of Italy.

Later Charlotte would fall pregnant to a married Polish Count, with whom she was having an affair. In February 1839 Charlotte set out by ship from Rome for Genoa with her physician, intending to have the baby away from the shameful scrutiny of her own society (her chief concern seems to have been keeping the pregnancy a secret from her mother).

However, a storm at sea forced them to travel overland and the rough roads caused Charlotte to begin to haemorrhage. She gave birth to her child in Sarzana via caesarean section but the baby did not survive. On March 2, 1839, Charlotte herself died from loss of blood; just 36 years old.

And so that is the story (somewhat truncated) of how members of what was once the most powerful family in Europe came to bide a while in Jersey.

 

 

 

Words but not images are my own.

 

©2018