Most know the historic building in Sea Bright as the excellent restaurant Tommy’s but fail to recognize or remember what was there before the fine coal-fired pizza establishment (I think the chicken wings are even better and over the top). The building housed a surf shop, post office, Oceanfront, and Chubby’s Pub.
I became legal in December of my senior year at RFH. This meant we could drink legally in great local places like Val’s and Briody’s, but the hit of that winter of 78/89 was Chubby’s. We poured into the place and often got carried out as we were as experienced with drinking as online traders are today on Robinhood.;)
Here is a remnant from back in the day.
We drank as much beer as they would serve us and ate from the indoor version of Mrs. Rooney’s Hot Dog cart. We declared there was a “Hot Dog War In Sea Bright.” It didn’t last long, and the undisputed winner was and still is the venerable Rooney. I remember watching many Rangers games there while I figured was a future actually was. Hmmmm.
Next time you stop in for pizza and some wings, thank back to those hot summer nights after graduation. We all left for college but left a piece of us at Chubby’s
My parents had a lot of stuff they acquired over a 62-year marriage. They didn’t throw anything out, literally. That was left for the last one standing, me.
This fall will be a year since we sold the house on Blackpoint Road in Rumson. After 13, 20-yard dumpsters were carted off; we were left with a basement of things that had meaning or value. That has been reduced to a couple of handfuls of items that will stay in our family. One is an Elgin Watch I found at the bottom of a box. It didn’t look good, but after I had pieced together its history, I decided to have it restored and repaired.
The watch was given to my grandfather by his wife in 1926. Her initials inscribed next to his inside the case near the guts of the watch and serial number. The case has his initials, VT, a Freemason symbol, and the number 32 etched on the back. Freemasons are a kind of secret society, and one of the most significant fraternal orders still active today. There are several Freemason Lodges here in Monmouth County. Think of help and fellowship. The number thirty-two has Freemason meaning and connotes a Master Mason – which means something to Freemasons but not to those of us not initiated.
I paid a king’s ransom (pun intended) to have it restored. It works well and looks good for a hundred-year-old trench watch. It was used and abused by a veteran, who was a plumber with a curiosity about life. I had a strap made from a shop in Finland, which is perfect. The dial has the 12 facing towards my elbow, which was the style of the time. The design from a time when watches were made more user friendly for those fighting wars.
When you settle an estate and dig through the stuff someone else thought was important enough to keep around, it is good to give pause and try to figure out why. The watch was my grandfather’s, passed to my mom, and made its way to me from the bottom of a dusty metal box. It was never intended for me, or it would have been given to me when everyone associated with it was still alive. But it made its way from an old man’s arm to his favorite grandson. That’s cool.
I remember fishing with my dad out beyond the tip of Sandy Hook near Romer Shoals. There is a lighthouse that helps captains navigate the waters into New York Harbor. It was also a great fishing spot, and I would imagine it still is. (The lighthouse story is a good one, the tale could be a book or movie. Google it for some fun reading.)
The trip began from Pauls Boats in Rumson. We could make the trip out, fish, and get back after work and before dark in the summer. I remember bouncing around in our boat as we passed over the shoals several times with our lines in the water. Trying to maintain your footing in a heaving boat with a fish on the line was always an extra challenge. Mom would make Chicken Kiev and wrap it in tin foil to maintain the heat. (Who the hell eats Chicken Kiev fishing on a boat, near capsizing, on a shoal outside NY Harbor? My mom was an excellent cook, and Dad liked to eat). I recall watching him biting the Kiev balls right out of the tin foil wrapper, butter running down his face and onto his shirt, the other hand steering the boat.
My dad’s absolute fascination with the water came from his relationship with his father. The latter was a global captain he hardly knew. Bad relationships and distance kept them apart. For me, it was just a bad relationship. And I only had a mild interest in boats, they require effort well beyond any I am willing to expend.
As the sun started to lower to the west, we turned for home. I always liked looking at Highlands as we made our way under the bridge heading South. Then the right turn up the Navesink. This meant home.
My maternal grandparents lived on Bridgewaters Drive on the south side of the Shrewsbury River. Their home faced the Oceanport Bridge with Rumson and Sea Bright far off in the distance. They loved living on the water with the sunsets off to the west over the train bridge, making for some beautiful evenings.
A low tide reached sometime overnight meant there was a good chance my grandfather, Victor Terwilliger, would call and ask if I wanted to go jacking with him. These were the most memorable and the best of all my time spent on the water as a kid.
We attached a kerosine lamp to the front of the rowboat and headed out into the black of night. Only a small area ahead of the boat had any light. We spent a couple of hours creeping through the rivers’ inlets peering under seaweed looking for some portion of a crab hiding there. The net-less end of the pole propelled us through the night sky until we filled a peach basket or two with crabs. You had to be fast, and it was more than once that one of us tumbled overboard into the river’s silty mud. We laughed and cussed because we knew it would be cold the rest of the way, and there was no going back before the tide turned.
My grandmother would track us and the other jackers in the river from her kitchen window. She would watch the lanterns glow and move through the river. Her kitchen window being a perfect vantage point to keep an eye on an old man and his grandson in the middle of the night.
As I got older, my time on the river dwindled as I did what every teen does chasing girls and finding trouble that needed some help. My grandfather died in that house on the river quietly with my grandmother by his side. She had served him some tea as he was fighting an illness. He sipped some and declared “that tastes good,” closed his eyes, and passed. He was 88
I want to write about what it takes to be a good man. I believe I am a good man. Sure, I have my moments and faults that are likely to annoy some of my family and friends.
I also believe people are good. They want to do the right thing, and most of the time, they do just that. I am no exception. Sometimes I fail to deliver. Other times I do things that are just plain wrong. If someone hits me, literally or figuratively, I will hit them back. I learned this as a kid. I feel the need to even the score. I am the father of three young men. I tried to give them the best of me and to hide the worst. Time will tell how I did, but I think they are good men. It is good to pass good on.
I see a world of opportunity out there in the public and private sectors. Problems are opportunities, just begging for help. I tell my young men this all the time. It is the exceptional who push through the inertia and make something happen. We live in a time of polarization, of finger-pointing and blame. Think there’s not some opportunity here? We also live in a country whose infrastructure is failing. We are pushing the limits of our electrical grid, bridges, tunnels, and roads. I smell opportunities, and it smells good.
When I was a kid, a minority of any kind was ostracized. I am not declaring victory—we have more work to do. Consider this: We have had a black president, a woman ran and almost won the last election, a man who was on the Wheaties box in 1977 has adorned the cover of Vanity Fair, as a woman. We have had an outpouring of love and support for the gay community, which endured such pain in Florida—by straight people. White people are protesting the injustices done to black men by police officers. There was no such thing as a marriage between two women or two men when I was a kid. Think we haven’t progressed?
The way forward needs good men and women, and you know what? We have them. They are the sleeping bear. A bear that is about to get poked despite centuries of advice that tells us not to: the electorate has to make a choice akin to choosing the tallest midget. We will select and start complaining about our selection this December. Despite all the good that comes for everyone from whatever holiday you are celebrating, people will complain. Then we will point fingers and blame the other side of whatever side you’re on. We will seem to be coming apart at the seams. Like Anarchy, but …
Two women will marry, a black man will risk his life to save a white man, inequalities will be exposed by people who benefit from the bias because they have moral values. A child will help an old woman push her shopping cart. Doctors and researchers will work tirelessly to find treatments and cures. The Sun will come up every day.
Hope is buried in the hearts and minds of all of us. Sometimes we get so overloaded with the rhetoric we can’t see the good men and women out there. Here’s a headline: It is most of us. Almost all of us are good men.
I am a good man, and I know plenty of other good men. There are good women too. Again, almost all of them are good. Add us up, and you have the formula for social change that will come and lead our great nation to new heights. Don’t just watch, poke the bear!
I went for a walk on the beach recently, and these were items I passed by. I wondered if I could weave them into some sort of narrative. Would it be sad, funny, or part of a story? Nope. How about a PSA about garbage on the beach? Okay, but not my wheelhouse. A joke like the one about the Jew, the Catholic, and the Buddhist, walking into a bar? I was mildly interested in exploring this one. In this environment, I was sure to offend someone, so I scratched it.
It doesn’t take too much for me to come up with something to tap into my iPad. If I have to put any effort into something, it won’t be written and, therefore, not read.
I consider my over/under to be one. If more than one person reads a post I write, I will have achieved a wild-ass goal for myself. That’s where I started this six years ago, but the number was just a little higher. The platform was LinkedIn. I gave it a try with the over/under set at 100.
My career was coming to an end. I didn’t want to become a scumbag like my coworkers after decades of being on the right side of the trade. I figured a good way to spend my time on someone else’s dime was to find a hobby. I couldn’t play golf and build a team, but I could write. So I did. My writing was mostly about business through long-form posts. I used them as a way to communicate with my employer. I worked for a trashy company named Scivantage and tried to help them. The board who hired me and I were on different pages, in a different book, written in another language, by someone else.
My bet, which I don’t recommend, being if they didn’t like what I was saying directly to them, maybe they would take notice as many thousands of people read, commented, and loved my writing. I connected with Arianna Huffington, and she gave me access to her site. She featured me. Crickets.
These posts are on my website christianjfarber.com. They are available from LinkedIn, Good Men Project, Huffington Post, and Thrive Global if you’re interested.
In the end, it is my story to tell, and I will explain it my way, on my dime with my time.
My mom was proud to live in Rumson. As the daughter of a plumber and a maid who immigrated from Germany, she grew up in Long Branch, uptown on Broadway. She married a guy from Sea Bright with a chip on his shoulder who wanted to show her more. That meant Rumson. They crossed the bridge into town in the late 50s and started a family, my sister, and me.
Annabelle was an upbeat person who always saw the good in any situation, rarely complained, and had an enormous ability to put up with crap from my father. Throughout my life whenever my sister and I got down for some reason the first thing she would say was “Sweetheart.” From there would flow the sage advice or opinion.
I was down more than my sister, in fact, I was always down. (Karen didn’t have time for it, too much to do.) So I received more “Sweethearts” than my sister. Mom also referred to people she liked as Sweetheart.
I occasionally call women in my life Sweetheart, I often get a strange look when I do. Frequently, I get a comment telling about the proper way to address a woman. I have heard Sweetheart “is offensive”, or “condescending” to which I reply “bullshit.” If you’re that sensitive I have a few more things I can refer to you as if you like.
For me, Sweetheatheart is a legacy endearing word that comes from the only person I know who had a heart that had no depth too great, or end. I got it from her so be assured you’re in good company.
Over 40 years ago, when it was evident I was going to actually attend college, my Dad gave me a gift. The Craftsman toolbox arrived in my bedroom full of like-named tools. I remember thinking it was odd as we both knew I didn’t know how to use them and had no interest in learning. I still have the box and some of the original tools, many of which look almost new and unused. I guess it was some sort of security net for me if college didn’t work out.
I carried the box with me to each of my four years at school, including a couple where I lived in a frat house. The tools got some use there mainly by guys who borrowed them. The box took on its own identity when a drunk girl threw up in it as it sat open in my bedroom closet. It smelled for years after that despite my attempts to clean it. I don’t know why she was in my closet and only guess what she was doing there.
Everywhere I have lived since the ’80s, the box has been with me. Each year a few tools are missing and one or two added by one of us. Today the box sits in our garage doing its job holding tools just waiting for some action. I see it every time I pull my car in to park. I think about it each time I see it.
I didn’t get along well with my father. He tried to reconcile with me before he died, but I wasn’t interested. That’s about the only credit I give him, trying. The box tries to do its job for me, but I am not much of a handyman. I keep it around just in case.
There is no going back once you get out here. I have arrived in the unstructured, unrefined, and unfulfilling world of retirement. Doing whatever you want reminds me of just what a bore-ass I am. A friend of mine said, “all you need is a beach chair and tablet to entertain yourself.” I didn’t have to consider it long to be reminded of my lack of physical activity. I spent a career in Marketing and Sales, most as a senior executive no less, and can count on one hand the number of rounds of golf I have played – I do love to watch it on TV though.
The pinch between retiring and dying is uncharted territory. Few share how great it is and what to do. TV shows you how to hang out with all your new friends that moved to a community somewhere warm and close to the hospital. There you are huddled together under the sun. It is a peaceful place to discuss where to get a cheaper blue pill and what might happen if you get it up. Add music, hmmm? Margaritaville plays in the background in your new La Dolce Vitaville. Remember, no one has ever come back from Neverland to tell us what we should do or avoid; I feel aimless.
I am in a reflecting mode. I have a couple of interests that I pursue daily. I like to sit and think of some of the assholes I worked with. Like the CEO of the company who looks like the living version of Jeffrey Epstein, and his henchman Herman Munster. What a pair.
Have a good day; I am heading to the beach to think, no reflect. I got my tablet. I got my chair. They’re all I need. Where is Navin Johnson when you need him?