Monday, August 2, 2010

THE BIG CHEESE OF CENTRAL JERSEY.

On March 1, 1932, the kidnapping of the Lindbergh baby was called the crime of the century. The abduction happened at aviation hero Charles "Lucky Lindy" Lindbergh's farm house in East Amwell, near Hopewell, Mercer County. That makes it and the boy's resulting death, the biggest news event in Central Jersey history.TWO YEARS LATER, BRUNO RICHARD HAUPTMANN WAS ARRESTED, TRIED AND FOUND GUILTY OF FIRST DEGREE MURDER. DESPITE PROCLAIMING HIS INNOCENCE TILL THE END, HE WAS ELECTROCUTED ON APRIL 3, 1936.

Central Jersey's second most famous/infamous event happened at Lakehurst Naval Air Station on May 6, 1937. It was the explosion of the German dirigible, the Hindenburg. Still shrouded by speculation, it is uncertain if human error, an act of god or sabotage caused the airship's demise. Although there were 62 survivors, 13 passengers, 22 crew members as well as one worker on the ground perished.THE HINDENBURG MARKED THE FIRST DISASTER BROADCAST LIVE. NEWSREEL REPORTERS AND PHOTOGRAPHERS CHRONICLED THE CATASTROPHE. BUT HERBERT MORRISON'S EYE-WITNESS RADIO ACCOUNT, PARTICULARLY HIS EMOTIONAL, "OH, THE HUMANITY," DESCRIPTION WILL ALWAYS BE REMEMBERED.

In 1916, before most people knew exactly what they were, Central Jersey put the word shark into national prominence. During a period from July 1st to the 12th, five people were attacked... with only one surviving. The first shark attack was in Beach Haven on Long Beach Island, second at the shore in Spring Lake and the least likely, because the beast had to swim a couple of miles inland, occurred in Matawan Creek.

THE CENTRAL JERSEY SHARK ATTACKS OF 1916, INSPIRED PETER BENCHLEY TO WRITE THE NOVEL, "JAWS."
The least known yet most significant Central Jersey crime of all time...to me...depends on the statute of limitations on accidental supermarket vandalism.
In 1999, my family visited cousin Alan and Laura in Morganville. After dinner, they took the three of us for dessert. Along the way, we were given the fifty-cent tour of the greater Freehold area. Our first destination was the house off E Street, where Bruce Springsteen grew up. ALAN MADE THE POINT THAT THE "BOSS," WAS OKAY. HOWEVER, BON JOVI WAS THE BIG CHEESE OF CENTRAL JERSEY. BUT HIS HOUSE IN SAYREVILLE WAS OUT OF OUR WAY.

We proceeded to the tiny town of Oceanport. Along Park Road, we found Monmouth Race Track.
LAURA MENTIONED THAT THEY HAVE SMALLER, LOCAL TALENT CONCERTS AT THE TRACK. BUT THE GARDEN STATE ART CENTER, (now called the PNC Arts Center), IN NEARBY HOLMDEL, (Exit-116 of the Garden State Parkway), GETS MAJOR LEAGUE PERFORMERS.

Our hosts really hyped-up Jersey Freeze, the ice cream stand that we went to for dessert. At the time, my son Andrew was five. He gave "JF," as they called it, an enthusiastic, two thumbs up. Because their slathered hot fudge and rainbow sprinkles exceeded his sweetest expectations. A FREEHOLD LANDMARK, JERSEY FREEZE IS LOCATED AT 120 MANALAPAN AVENUE.

We thought our tour was over. But Laura asked if we minded stopping at Wegman's to pick up a few items. We asked, "What's Wegman's? She said, "Wegman's is the best! Its a supermarket but you'll think you're in a food museum."
CREATED IN 1916, WEGMAN'S CURRENTLY HAS 75+ LOCATIONS MOSTLY IN NEW JERSEY, NEW YORK, MARYLAND, PENNSYLVANIA AND VIRGINIA.

Laura was right. From the moment we walked in, Wegman's was a paradise. They featured a long boulevard of freshly prepared meals to eat-in or re-heat at home. Arranged in a manner that is pleasing to the eye as well as the nose, any imaginable ethnic food could be found there. Also in that row was; a butcher, fish monger, gourmet specialties, typical fast food, sandwiches, coffee, desserts etc, etc, etc. Wegman's also had an ample supply of sample stations. Despite a full dinner and a big Jersey Freeze sundae, Andrew went to town on the various freebies.

When our group splintered into smaller ones, Andrew and I checked-out the cheese aisle. At a huge pyramid display, we were having fun trying pronounce the foreign words like; Limburger, Camembert, Gouda, brie, Gorgonzola, Gruyere and Roquefort. Around the other side of the cheese mountain, a woman was giving samples of Edam. I turned my back on my son for thirty seconds. When I came back around, I was shocked that my guy had scaled the terraced display.

Andrew was never prone to overt curiosity and due to a combination of his lack of agility and an aversion to heights, I couldn't believe that he had climbed to my eye-level. Even worse, my especially bright boy was licking the giant cheese wheel at the top of the presentation.

"OUR," CHEESE WHEEL WASN'T THIS BIG. BUT IT WAS LARGE ENOUGH TO HAVE A $1,000.00 PRICE TAG!

I grabbed Andrew and set him down while he spit the bad taste from his mouth. I looked around to see if anyone saw us and scurried him back to the others in the produce section.
Later, I innocently wandered back to take a second look at the scene. Instinctively, I dragged my hand across the spot where Andrew had licked. I was nauseated to find a thick coating of dust and stunned, to discover that there was a trace of saliva and tiny teeth marks where he had broken through the plastic seal.
Only now, 11 years later, I feel that its safe to emerge from the shadows of shame. Hopefully, after all this time, we can not be prosecuted for this accidental, yet felonious act of vandalism. If not, I will step forward and shield my son. I will proclaim that I, and I alone perpetrated this carefully orchestrated deed...and accept any and all punishment.
You see, I no longer can afford to keep losing sleep, hair and sanity over my role in the cover-up. Even though Andrew's internal defense mechanisms have allowed him to forget this incident, I have worn this millstone of humiliation around my neck too long. Now, I pray that my people can find it in their heart to forgive me. Therefore to cleanse my soul, I am ready for the manacles I deserve and hereby publicly apologize and confess to the deception of the century. 1999's, "Big Cheese Caper of Central Jersey."
Hey, they made a movie out of Lindbergh, the Hindenburg and Jaws, right. So maybe there is an upside to all my internal tumult. When this movie is produced, obviously, they'd want to cast Eminem to play me.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Sorry, I can't see Eminem playing you; you're more of a Phillip Seymour Hoffman kind of guy --- SLW

Anonymous said...

good share, great article, very usefull for us...thank you

Anonymous said...

Loved, "THE BIG CHEESE OF CENTRAL JERSEY." Last night I read a year's worth of, "MORE GLIB ThAN PROFOUND," blogs. Once again you prove, you don't have to be from Brooklyn or Jersey to appreciate the humor...its universal! --- TICKLEMEERIC

Anonymous said...

I loved this one. You always manage to mix serious information with funny situations. I can't imagine what I would have said or done if that happened to one of mine. Just thnking of the expression on your son's face when he spit out all that dust, is what makes being a parent so much fun. Thanks for sharing. - M of M&T