Growing up in Rumson put you 26 miles as the crow goes to Wall Street. The town has a plethora of people and families who have made riches there. Some from nothing, others by carrying daddy’s bags a little further.
Chances are everyone who commuted to the city tried their own way to cut time off the daily trek. Being young and ambitious, I thought I could too. Turned out, I was just young and dumb. If you drove into Jersey City, chances are you parked at a lot that was handled by a middle aged-plus black man who took your money and aimed you to an open spot. He would repeat “beautiful day” regardless of the weather or circumstances. We laughed at him now and again when it was raining or snowing but…
I went back to Sloan Kettering this week for testing. I actually like going there as the people are so pleasant. The results are what they are. In time you become almost immune to them. I often wonder if I am the only one who feels this way. Reminds me of our old dog, Dash. We tried to extend his life with treatment. He felt so bad he wagged his tail when the vet came to put him down. He knew she always gave him stuff that made him feel better.
Sloan in Middletown has an attendant who attends to the daily parking lot. He greets everyone and reminds us to have a nice day when we leave. The first and last guy you see when you go there. He reeks of “beautiful day” and causes great reward for nearly nothing to create a smile. I have been going there for a couple of years and actually like it. Seeing a familiar face in the parking lot is a big deal for this cancer patient. I am in a good place with my cancer, and I felt the same when I was not. The same guy worked the lot then as does now.
Oh, how nice it is to experience pleasant people. Try to be one if you get the chance today.
My family endured the poison pellets of three deaths in five months last year. It was painful and tiring but, that’s life. We experienced a lot. An unintended consequence was sorting through the mountain of stuff that made its way into our hands. I had told my parents we didn’t want things as we have a beautiful home filled with items we collected ourselves. Every day, I went to their house for seven months, filled 14 dumpsters, and sold or gave away most of their belongings. It made many others happy, which was the goal and represented their legacy well.
Along the way, I bumped into an old friend and neighbor I grew up with, Dawn Tilton Massabni. She had lost her daughter, Maddy, to toxic shock syndrome at 19 years young in 2017. We reminisced, she cried. I promised to help in some way. Around the same time, I got Prostate Cancer that required a major operation. I met so many good people along the way. Some at Sloan, some local physicians, others were sufferers of the disease. I read a lot about cancer from materials provided by the Prostate Cancer Foundation; I promised to help.
I started selling items on eBay in June of 19 through my store Junk in the Trunk. I have sold over 350 items and figured out how to pack and ship each one. I promised to do a good job. I became a Top Rated Seller. I also decided to support the two charities, Don’t Shock Me, and the Prostate Cancer Foundation, with a portion of the proceeds. The effort would help worthy causes and allow me to fulfill my promises and continue to build on my parents’ legacy. A year later, I still have over 150 items from my parents’ hoard. Understanding stuff that others might use or enjoy is tricky for us boomers and Gen Xers. Dealing with estate evaluation services is complex and is an industry without standards or oversight. I met with all types of snake salespeople and decided to handle the liquidation of my parents’ items myself. The charity angle is excellent and worthy and provides a cushion on dealing with the sale of a once cherished item.
Recently, I decided to move the business off of eBay and onto www.junkinthetrunklc.com. I also decided to do this work for others who have found themselves in a situation similar to ours. So Junk in the Trunk is reborn as my site, which reduces costs so more good can come from sales. We are an online consignment store with philanthropic roots, featuring quality products and just plain cool stuff. This effort fills my day during retirement. It gives me a reason to get up at it and pays for my lunch. More importantly, it helps grieving families decide how to repurpose items from lost souls and redirect money to those who need it.
If you want to know more or consign with us, call me at 732-788-0475 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. In the meantime, stop by and have a look at what we have.
I was a servant to the ocean. The Atlantic just two miles east of my childhood home; you could smell it and feel it if the conditions were right. When the seagulls came inland, they flew near our house. It was an indication a storm was kicking up the wind in Sea Bright, so they headed toward safety. Our house was anything but…..
When I finally turned 17 and could drive, I was free to explore beyond the places I would walk or ride my bike. Checking the waves was a favorite activity, and now Sandy Hook and Long Branch were in practical reach. The summers in NJ are notoriously flat, but that never stops a surfer from watching, hoping, and noticing the slightest bump on the horizon that may signal a swell was coming. Kind of like a mirage fueled by waves of hope and promise.
Somehow I always ended up in the Sea Bright Public Beach parking lot where I pulled up to the bulkhead that ran north to south. It was low enough so you could peer over and see the small jetty off Donovan’s. That would tell you if the ocean’s heart was beating. Soon after I was able to drive, I headed to the public beach every day for a fix. One day after pulling in, I jumped out of the car to get a better look, locked the door, and walked towards the water. Unfortunately, the car was running.
I had some change in my pocket and walked to the payphone near the bus stop on Ocean Avenue. Across the street from the Sea Bright Pharmacy which Sandy would later destroy and called home for help.
I went back to the car and stood there as my dad’s truck pulled into the lot. I retreated into myself as I knew what would come before I got the extra set of keys. After being reminded of how dumb and stupid I was, the final dose of insult came in like a roundhouse punch. I was told I would never amount to anything. Next, we headed out of the lot in our vehicles. We went north towards the bridge into Rumson. I got stopped by the light as dad sped through. The gates came down, and doors closed. I was saved for a while as the bridge was opening for a boat to pass through.
Another day in paradise.
Thanks to old-time Sea Brighter Jim Betts for reminiscing with me.
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.