Thursday, July 31, 2008

All Hail The Lifeguard

There Atlantic Ocean has and always will be the main draw that brings hundreds of thousands of visitors to the Jersey Shore each summer. We have also seen that it can be very dangerous with strong rips and currents claiming several lives in New Jersey and nearby New York and as is often the case most drownings take place on unprotected beaches. That brings me to the subject of lifeguarding, a job often overlooked and underappreciated
which carries with it a staggering amount of responsibility.

Many think being a lifeguard at the shore is all about getting a great tan and having plenty of opportunities to meet members of the opposite sex. That is true but it’s not quite as glamorous as it was portrayed in the 1976 movie titled “Lifeguard” in which Sam Elliot played a man in his 30’s who did not take life very seriously and instead chose to spend his days guarding these amazingly empty beaches in Southern California. Of course that was a movie and lifeguards around here face the daily challenge of watching beaches jammed with those who think the ocean is just like swimming in the backyard pool.

Perched atop their stands guards have the at-times awesome task of keeping their eyes on hundreds of swimmers at a time while monitoring the ever-changing surf conditions. One of the many problems is that beachgoers just don’t understand how dangerous rip tides can be and too often even good swimmers find out the hard way that they’re no match for the currents and conditions.

Ask any veteran lifeguard and they will tell you the priority is not to make rescues but prevent them and that’s where experience really pays off. While there are many students working the beaches you can’t discount the importance of having them work with and learn from those who return to the beach summer after summer. Many of them are teachers who begin work on the beach before school gets out and don’t pack it in until the bell rings in September.

I have been around lifeguards nearly all my life and will always have a tremendous amount of respect for them and the job especially the veterans who have groomed so many under their watch. They may not be like Rick Carlson (Sam Elliot’s movie character) but are just seasoned pros.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Remembering Raymond Andreola

At sunset last night about 50 people paddled out on surfboards on the north side of the Casino Pier in Seaside Heights to say goodbye to Raymond Andreola while I was among a group standing on the beach watching what’s known as a surfer’s funeral. Andreola was a life-long surfer and windsurfer who died earlier this month in Maui, Hawaii only a month after being diagnosed with liver cancer at the age of 52.

When I moved from New York to Seaside Heights in 1967 Ray was one of the first people I would meet. We were 6th grade classmates in the old elementary school which ironically was right near the Casino Pier, behind the Aztec Motel. With only about 15 boys and girls in the class you got to know everyone pretty well and Ray and I became good friends. He gave me the nickname “Boss” because it was a New York expression to describe things that were cool and it was one not used in Seaside…at least not until I arrived. Throughout middle and high school were remained good friends, even though by now he was a devoted surfer while I chose sports like football. Like many of my friends Ray worked for my father on the boardwalk during the summer and we did a lot of the stupid things teen-agers do while growing up together.

After high school I did not see him very often but when we would bump into each other we usually would laugh about the great times we had growing up in Seaside playing touch football in the church lot, baseball behind the old Barnegat Ice Plant and even skim boarding in the spring when the water temperature was just reaching 50. Ray was a traveler who often only needed his surfboard and more than twenty years ago finally settled in Hawaii. We had lost touch until about four years ago when out of nowhere he sent me an email at the radio station. We caught up on old times and he sent me pictures of his wife Salvie and his then infant daughter Sara. Ray looked pretty much like the same teen-ager I remembered and I kidded him about how it was time to finally look his age. For the next couple of years were emailed each other on a fairly regular basis but had not communicated in a while when I got a phone call just over two weeks ago about his sudden passing….at least sudden to me.

Mike Columbo, who owns Right Coast Surf Shop in Seaside Park organized last night’s “paddle-out” which brought surfers and friends from all over and I saw some people I have not talked with in decades. For that I thank Ray…you where and always will be a “boss dude.” May you find the perfect wave!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Kevin's Excellent Adventure

I had not had a vacation for over a year so having last week off alone was wonderful but throw in a baseball adventure at the end and it made for something special. This past weekend I and four other friends from my days at Ocean County College relived a little bit of our past as we traveled to Milwaukee and Chicago for three games in three days with a little unplanned extension which got us back home a day later than planned.

Dan O’Connor put the adventure together through his company, “Docs Tours” which saw Tom Caffrey, Joe Perone, Carroll Oakley and I leave for Milwaukee Friday morning. We had a smooth trip and after getting settled in our hotel were enjoying lunch at a brew pub, one of several establishments we would take in before heading to Miller Park for the Brewers game with Houston. This is a relatively new ballpark with all the comforts and modern conveniences and with the Brewers winning fans are selling out the place on a regular basis. They also tailgate in the parking lot much like you would expect at a football game.

We were up early Saturday for a 90-minute Amtrak ride to Chicago and after checking into our hotel took the subway to Wrigley Field. I was the only one who had never been to this 94-year old shrine and it was amazing to see the stadium right in a neighborhood of apartments, bars and restaurants and even a 7-11 right across the street. There we met up with another friend, Mark Kashuda who lives nearby in Indiana at a landmark bar across from the stadium called “Murphy’s Bleachers.” Wrigley Field was like going back in time and while it might be old and lacking the bells and whistles of new stadiums it was everything I’ve heard and even more. The fans (young and old) are into the game from the first pitch and the only thing better than being there Saturday was knowing we would come back Sunday when still another old friend Pat Browne would join us from Kansas City. This game was even better as the Cubs rallied for an exciting win and after the final out 41,000 people stood to sing their victory song…. “Go Cubs Go”

It was also about this time that we learned our scheduled flight home that night was cancelled because of the thunderstorms in the east. At the airport the best we could do was get on a Monday afternoon flight and we then found a nearby hotel just in time to watch the Yankees-Red Sox game on TV. Out trip back yesterday was especially smooth for three of us who someone were re-booked in first class which I must say is a nice way to travel. Three baseball games in two cities in three days with good friends for more than 30 years. That’s priceless.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Shore Gridiron Classic

(Kevin is on vacation 7/21-7/25)

It’s had more than one name but the idea has always been the same. Since 1978 the best recently-graduated football players from Ocean County play
those from Monmouth County on a July evening for bragging rights at the Jersey Shore. Now called the Shore Gridiron Classic the latest edition is set for tonight at Brick Township High School at 7pm.

For the 100 or so players who will see action tonight the game has a special meaning. Many will head to college in the next couple of weeks hoping for the same success that has made them an All-Star while others will put on a football uniform for the final time tonight. They’re college-bound but will play another sport if at all and a couple are even on their way to the military.
However for all of them this is the final time they will represent their high schools and the opportunity to play in front of several thousand fans is a great way to go out.

The game is now run by the Shore Conference Football Coaches Foundation
and tonight they’ll induct one of their own as the inaugural member
of their newly-created Hall of Fame. On the field where he’s coached for 50 years Warren Wolf will be honored and the hope is many former players and supporters will be on hand for the latest Wolf tribute. Many of the shore head coaches have stepped up to keep the game alive including Lacey’s Lou Vircillo while Chip LaBarca of Toms River North and Holmdel’s Andy Carlstrom are the head coaches for the two All-Star squads.

On paper the game seems to be a toss-up with Monmouth County boasting quarterback Tim Lamirande of Howell, running back Travis Patterson of Long Branch and Freehold linebacker Robert James. The Ocean County squad is especially high on a defense featuring linebackers Tyler Groves of Toms River East and Kyle Coleman of Point Boro along with Brick safety Ray Johnson with quarterbacks Anthony Penna of Toms River North and Warren Smith of Lacey looking to put points on the board.

One winner for sure is the Monmouth/Ocean Challenger Sports League which is the game charity. The other big winners are football fans who once again have a fitting way to say good-bye to players who’ve given us thrills over the years. When the game ends tonight the 2007 season is officially over and we’ll be just 56 days away from the kickoff to 2008.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

"New" Driving Regulations

Like many of you I like to complain about the way people drive today whether it is here in Ocean County or any other part of the state. With that said here is a reminder of a tongue-in-cheek list of relatively new regulations in the most current edition of the New Jersey Division of Motor Vehicles handbook.

· Turn signals will give away your next move so be like most drivers
and avoid using them so other drivers have to guess as to what you’re about to do.
· Under no circumstances should you maintain a safe distance
between you and the car in front of you because that space might
be filled by somebody else, putting you in a dangerous situation.
· The faster you drive through a red light, the less chance you have
of getting hit.
· WARNING! Do not come to a complete stop at a stop sign as the
vehicle behind you will not expect it and you might be rear ended.
· Never get in the way of an older car that needs extensive bodywork,
especially if they have out of state license plates. With no insurance, the other driver probably has nothing to lose.
· Speed limits are arbitrary numbers, given only as a suggestion and
certainly not enforced during rush hour.
· Always brake and rubberneck when you see an accident or even
someone changing a tire. This is seen as a sign of respect for the victim.
· Learn to swerve abruptly without signaling. New Jersey is the home
of high speed slalom-driving thanks to the Department of transportation which puts potholes in key locations to test drivers’
reflexes and keep them alert.
· It is tradition in our state to honk your horn at cars in front of you that don’t move three milliseconds after the light turns green.
· Remember that the goal of every New Jersey driver is to get ahead of the pack by whatever means necessary.
· In New Jersey, “flipping the bird” or as its also known the “you’re
#1 sign” is considered a polite salute. This gesture should always
be returned with a smile.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

25 Things That Are Vanishing from America

Certainly times are changing….good and bad. I came across a list from WalletPop of “25 Things That Are Vanishing from America” and there is some real nostalgia here.

· Pit Toilets (also known as Outhouses)
· Yellow Pages
· Classified Ads
· Movie Rental Stores
· Dial-Up Internet Access
· Phone Landlines
· Chesapeake Bay Blue Crabs
· VCR’s
· Ash Trees
· Ham Radio
· The Swimming Hole
· Answering Machines
· Cameras that use film
· Incandescent Bulbs
· Stand-alone Bowling Alleys
· The Milkman
· Hand-Written Letters
· Wild Horses
· Personal Checks
· Drive-In Theatres (405)
· Mumps & Measles
· Honey Bees
· News Magazines and TV News
· Analog TV
· The Family Farm

By the way they also had a list of business and companies that are gone and here are some of them. Do you remember Paine-Webber, Eastern Airlines,
Lionel Corporation, RCA, Adelphia Cable, EF Hutton, Burger Chef, TWA, General Foods, Standard Oil, Montgomery Ward, FW Woolworth and Enron?

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Outdoor Cooking Etiquette

Make no mistake about it this is barbeque season and in many cases it’s the only type of cooking a “real man” will do, probably because there is some danger involved. As a public service I would like to remind you of the etiquette that comes with outdoor cooking which should not be overlooked.

When a man volunteers to do the barbeque the following chain of events are put into motion:
· The woman buys the food.
· The woman makes the salad, prepares the vegetables and makes dessert.
· The woman preps the meat for cooking, places it on a tray along with the proper utensils and sauces and brings it to the man who is sitting next to the grill with a cold beer in hand. Of course the man has lit the grill which at times can be very hazardous.

Here comes the important part:
· The man places the meat on the grill. Do not underestimate the
importance of this task.
· The woman then goes inside to organize the plates and utensils.
· The woman comes outside later to tell the man that the meat is burning. He thanks her and asks for another cold beer while dealing with this often delicate situation.

Another important note:
· The man takes the meat off the grill and hands it to the woman.
· The woman then organizes the plates, utensils, salad, bread, napkins and condiments and brings them to the table.
· After eating, the woman clears the table, brings out dessert and coffee and then does the dishes.

Now the most important part:
· Everyone praises the man and thanks him for his cooking efforts.
· The man then asks the woman how she enjoyed “her night off”
from cooking dinner. When he sees and hears her annoyed reaction to this he concludes that there is simply no pleasing some women.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Monday Musings

It may have been a week late for some but Mother Nature shined down on the Jersey Shore this weekend with a couple of near perfect days which brought thousands of visitors and locals to area beaches. It could not have been any nicer near the ocean with a cool breeze blowing although swimming conditions were not ideal. Tropical Storm Bertha resulted in rough seas and some strong rips and lifeguards had to keep swimmers close to the shore. It was a small price to pay for those of us who are weekend warriors and live for Saturdays and Sundays at the beach.

Bobby Murcer never did live up the expectations some had for him when he
first came up to the Yankees in 1965 but then again when you’re dubbed “the next Mickey Mantle” how can you succeed? He spent most of his 17 major league seasons in New York, was a five-time All-Star and finished with a .277 career batting average and was a good if not great player. Murcer died over the weekend following a long battle with brain cancer at the age of 62 and for a generation of Yankee fans it’s a difficult loss. He was the face of the franchise after Mantle and very popular with fans at a time when the team was not very good. Murcer spent time with the Giants and Cubs before returning to the Yanks for his final 4 ½ seasons and after retiring in 1983 moved into the Yankees broadcast booth. As one person said on the radio this weekend….he didn’t have to die for people to say nice things about him…they did that all his life.

Baseball has reached the unofficial midway point of the season with the All-Star game set for tomorrow night at Yankee Stadium. The Yanks are six games behind AL East-leading Boston at the break with the surging Mets just a half-game back of NL East-leading Philadelphia. The Mets have won 9 in-a-row for the first time since 2000 when they captured the National League Championship and last played in the World Series.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Friday Thoughts

(No Hometown View on Thursday, July 10)

This summer is the 10th Anniversary of the Little League World Series won by the Toms River East American All-Stars. If a local team is going to duplicate that feat this summer it will be from Jackson as two teams from that township will meet tonight in the final of the District 18 Tournament for 12-year olds. Jackson Little League will face Holbrook Little League in the championship game at 7pm at the Berkeley Little League Complex. Jackson beat Lacey and Holbrook topped Toms River National to advance to tonight’s final which begins the Road to Williamsport. The District 18 Junior and Senior League Championships will also be played at the Berkeley Complex on Moorage Avenue in Bayville.

It may have a new name but the idea is still the same. One week from tonight the best recently-graduated football players from Ocean and Monmouth County High Schools will meet in the Shore Gridiron Classic at Brick Township High School. The game is sponsored by the Shore Football Coaches Association and the teams begin practice this weekend. Tickets are $8 in advance and $10 at the gate and on sale at all shore Applebee’s locations, Velocity Sports Performance in Wall and Huddy’s Inn in Colts Neck. Tickets can also be purchased on line at digital sports dot com.
Next Friday’s game will be broadcast on 1160 WOBM AM.

Is there any road sign more routinely ignored than a Yield sign? The law is pretty simple on this one….you do not have to stop if there is no reason to but you must be prepared to slow down and stop if necessary. So if you have a yield sign and traffic is coming then you are the one who must stop.
On a daily basis I come across areas in which drivers blow through the sign and make cars with the right of way jam on their breaks. I think some see a yield sign and speed up so they don’t have to stop for merging traffic.

I don’t know or need to know all the particulars of a long-running dispute between the Sawmill CafĂ© and the Borough of Seaside Park but the introduction of an ordinance that would end liquor sales at midnight is clearly aimed at the popular boardwalk bar. The only other two places that serve alcohol in the borough are the Windjammer Motel and the Seaside Park Yacht Club and they would not be greatly affected by the ordinance introduced by the council this week. However if the Sawmill had to stop serving at midnight it would clearly have a significant impact on their business and I for one question the fairness of this one.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Things To Do Before Labor Day

Many of us live for summer as it’s a wonderful time of year in which children are out of school and many take most if not all of their vacation time. When we’re in the middle of winter it’s thoughts of summer days at the beach or pool which give us something to look forward too. Unfortunately it seems as you get older the summer season goes faster and faster which is what often happens with things you really set your sights on.

For that reason we really should try and maximize our enjoyment of these next couple of months and I’m reminded of a magazine article which listed some of the things we should try and do before Labor Day. These are not practical for everyone but then again….Esquire Magazine is not targeted for everyone either.

· Go bodysurfing in cold water.
· Discover the best burger in the area.
· Save room for desert.
· Join your fellow gluttons at a food festival.
· Eat cotton candy in a strong breeze.
· Walk a path in the woods that has no other footprints. (They don’t mention to look at for ticks but I will).
· See a drive-in movie. (That can’t be easy any longer although they
were a lot of fun when I was younger).
· Visit a completely useless roadside museum.
· Drink a cold beer behind the backstop after a softball game.
· Spend more than two hours of a single day in a hammock.
· On a perfect beach day start early with a cup of coffee as the sun
is still low on the horizon, have Surf Taco for lunch and don’t leave until after the lifeguards are done for the day and you’ve finished a great beach-read novel. (This was not in the magazine
but is my recommendation and one of my goals for this summer).

What would really be interesting is to try all of these in a single weekend.
Bottom line though is summer is a special time of year and we shouldn’t let it go by without having some fun.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Hometown Happenings

Ask any former high school athlete about their school days and it’s likely that many of their best memories came from the time they spent on a field, court, mat, or other venue. Whether they were average or exceptional it’s likely that being part of a team provided memories that have or will last a lifetime. The goal of the Ocean/Monmouth Challenger Sports League is to give handicapped students the same opportunities in which they can put on a uniform with their school colors and compete in sports like soccer, flag football, basketball and baseball. Not only that but they will be helped out by “buddies” who are varsity student-athletes from the respective schools who will act as coaches and mentors to the challenged athletes.

16 High Schools in Ocean County have made the commitment to this program which will begin its first full year this fall. For it to succeed it will take money and to that end a golf outing will be held next Monday (July 14) at Woodlake Country Club in Lakewood. The event begins with lunch around noon and will conclude with dinner and there are some last minute openings for golfers and sponsors. For information you can call Golf Committee Chairman Dennis Filippone, the Principal at Brick Township High School at (732) 262-2500.

Another event on tap for next Monday is Big Brothers Big Sisters of Ocean County’s Annual Summer Cocktail Reception. This year’s theme is an “Evening with the Stars” and will feature a cocktail reception at the Crystal Point Yacht Club in Point Pleasant beginning at 6pm. Among those expected to be on hand are former NFL player and current broadcaster Tony Siragusa, ex-Jet great Joe Klecko, Philadelphia Flyers veteran and Ocean County resident Jim Dowd and Court TV host Jack Ford. The fundraiser is sponsored by OceanFirst Bank, Paul Barlo & Associates and Abatare Builders. For tickets and additional information call BBBSOC at (732) 905-5349.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Fireworks In The Sky, On The Field & On The Courts

While we certainly have no control over “Mother Nature” this past holiday weekend was a big disappointment in regards to the weather. Several days of sunny skies around the Jersey Shore came to an end on Friday and visitors and locals alike had to scramble to make the most of a sun-free weekend. The poor timing was bad for just about everyone, especially those in the tourism industry who were banking on a big weekend but instead had to suffer through three days of clouds and scattered showers.

In Beachwood the 68th edition of Fireworks on the Toms River brought out another large and enthusiastic crowd and they almost made it through the night without getting wet. Rain started falling in the second half of the 30-minute extravaganza but that did not dampen the spirits of young and old alike, many of whom annually conclude the holiday by taking in the fireworks show. In some ways 4th of July just might be the best holiday of the year as it comes with no presents or pressure and is a day all Americans can celebrate and enjoy.

About the only positive associated with a cloudy Sunday was it hade me in front of the TV in the afternoon to witness what many are calling the greatest tennis match of all time. Rafael Nadal outlasted five-time defending champion Roger Federer in an epic men’s final at Wimbledon that saw the two slug it out for nearly five hours plus a couple of rain delays. The match ended after 9pm in England and with no lights had it gone on much longer they would have had to finish it today. The shot-making was incredible and it was gut-wrenching and nerve-racking to watch as the two slugged it out on the grass court.

After the tennis match finally ended I could devote all my attention to the Mets-Phillies game…one that would take nearly 7 hours to complete when you combine 12 innings of baseball with a near three-hour rain delay. The Mets finally prevailed and when it ended the sellout crowd of 45,000 was done to a couple of thousand wet stragglers. After that you could watch the Yankees rally to edge the Red Sox in extra innings to complete a marathon sports day that at least helped make up for the lack of sunshine.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Beachwood Fireworks

(This Hometown View originally was broadcast on Thursday, July 3)

Fireworks on the 4th of July are as American as baseball, apple pie and red, white and blue…they are a tradition across this country. While there may be bigger and more extravagant shows few can match the effort put on by the Borough of Beachwood with help from surrounding communities. Tomorrow night at 9pm for the 68th time local residents and visitors will end America’s birthday with a fireworks display viewed by tens of thousands, many who plan their holiday around a true tradition which comes together because of the efforts of many.Of course times have changed and the method in which the fireworks are shot is a bit different than it used to be. For many years they were launched by members of the Beachwood Volunteer Fire Company and while they are on hand to assist, the shoot is done by a fireworks company. That of course takes money…quite a bit of it and it’s all from donations from the business community and residents. The late Mayor Bill Hornidge was the spark behind getting businesses involved and this year’s list of corporate sponsors includes COMCAST, Commerce Bank, Spirits Unlimited, Exelon, operators of the Oyster Creek Generating Station and 92.7 WOBM and Millennium Radio. We are delighted to not only help make the Fireworks show possible but provide a patriotic music simulcast. We’ll be at Beachwood Beach where thousands will gather to watch the show as will others in Pine Beach, Island Heights, Toms River, Ocean Gate, Berkeley and South Toms River. If the weather cooperates the river itself will be packed with boats as this might be the best place to watch the sky light up.Obviously there are other places to watch Fireworks on the 4th of July and many visitors to the area will flock to Seaside Heights and Point Pleasant Beach for their shows. But the one in Beachwood is somewhat unique in that in today’s age a relatively small community is able to pull together and put on what is a big show. Much of the credit goes to the Police Department, Public Works Department and volunteers from the Fire Company and First Aid Squads to insure a safe event. With that in mind people should be aware of the parking restrictions that will be in effect, especially from the river area to Route 9. Finally if you watch the Fireworks and would like to see this tradition continue then please make a donation of any kind to “Fireworks on the Toms River-Beachwood”, c/o Beachwood Borough Hall, 1600 Pinewald Road.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Kevin Gets Sick

(No Hometown View on Monday, 6/30 or Tuesday, 7/1)

When was the last time you got out of bed in the morning and pronounced yourself fit and ready to take on the day? I hope to be doing that this morning but to be honest I wasn’t 100% sure so that’s why I did this segment in advance. Late Sunday afternoon I was hit by a virus, which started with a headache and included chills and sweats at the same time. Before long the virus settled in my stomach and for the better part of 36 hours had me doing more ups and downs than a relief pitcher in a long season…I had to include some sports analogy.

I’ll be the first to admit I’m not a good sick person and most of the time I’m thinking about the work I should be doing. However a nasty stomach virus changes your priorities and on a couple of occasions I was ready to make a deal with the man upstairs for some relief. The last thing I ate before getting sick was sausage and I swear I can still taste it….I’m pretty sure I’ll never eat it again. For a couple of days the thought of food was enough to make me turn green and except for scrambled eggs I consumed nothing solid for 48 hours. The optimist in me says that’s a good start on a diet but the realist says probably not.

The point I was trying to make in the beginning is even when we’re 100% healthy we never really say how good we feel. However once you get hit with any sickness or illness all you’re asking for is to feel good again. In my case a little virus is nothing to make much of but think about all those people who are really sick in which it’s not going to run its course in 48 or 72 hours.

I hope for those people, especially young children there will be a day when they can wake up, stretch out and say “I feel great” because it’s something we take for granted far too often.