Ex-WOND host Mike Elliott dies

Tom Williams AT LARGE

Radio has changed a lot in the last four decades.

Today people can listen to personalized music on Pandora, Sirius-XM and other streaming sources in their car or right on their cellphone. Broadcast radio stations need now, more than ever, to find ways to attract listeners.

Mike Elliott would have found ways.

During the 1960s and 1970s, Elliott was general manager of The Green Group – a couple of radio stations at the end of something called the Old Turnpike in Pleasantville. You could see the building that housed the stations from the Atlantic City Expressway, until the building burned down.

In that time period, Elliott kept WOND near the top in listeners in the competitive Atlantic City radio market. He was a mid-day host in a lineup of DJs that primarily included Bob Weems, Joel Carson, Tom Lamaine and Red Karr. There was also behind-the-scenes input from people like Walt Murphy, Milt Thurlow and Jan Baker.

The WOND All-Americans, as the hosts were known, always had contests and promotions going that attracted listeners, who then stuck around for the presentation of Top 40 music. Many of you who were around then listening to the radio certainly remember MIke’s strong, baritone voice.

Elliott was the first person to hire me in a full-time position in radio, playing the hits weeknights (and Sundays) leading up to Pinky’s Corner and broadcasting high school football and basketball.

There has been no other single person in radio who has had as much an influence on my career as he did. Watching what he did and how he did it made a lasting impression.

Through the years, in addition to working as a radio host and sports broadcaster, I emceed and produced more than 100 Miss America preliminary pageants throughout South Jersey – mostly in Atlantic and Cape May counties. Mike was the inspiration for that.

One day he offered me a pair of tickets to the three-night Miss Atlantic County Pageant at Holy Spirit High School. Watching him host the proceedings was what made me want to try it myself.

Mike Elliott, who died recently at age 82, was only in this area for a small part of his 50 plus years in broadcasting. He started in Massachusetts and worked in Atlanta, California, Washington D.C. and Chicago before landing in Wisconsin. He spent most of the final decades of his career in Wisconsin and was eventually inducted into the Wisconsin Broadcasting Hall of Fame.

He did spend a year or two in Texas where he realized a life-long dream, serving as a play-by-play voice for the Houston Astros.

Sometimes you are fortunate enough to work with somebody who influences you without actually trying and whose ideas and approaches are inspiring.

I’m sure I’m not the only person who felt that way about Mike Elliott.

Thank you – from the next generation

From all across the country, these members of the next generation (quarantined at home and with a little help from their parents) pay tribute to those on the front line of the CoronaVirus.

Aaliyah in New Jersey

Charlize & Charlie in Tennessee

Alaric in New Jersey

Junior, Ja’Niyah & Ali in New Jersey

Amarius, Austin & Marli from Maine

Grace & Nora in Oregon

Tristan in New Jersey

Things that aren’t there anymore

Tom Williams AT LARGE:

It’s been nearly eight years since these flashbacks began appearing here. An attempt is made regularly to spend at least one week remembering the places we all used to visit that are no longer there.

Probably the biggest absences recently are J.C. Penney and Sears in the Hamilton Mall, leaving Macy’s as the only anchor store at the mall, which was recently sold. And the casinos in Atlantic City have changed a bit with Ocean Resort and Hard Rock moving in and Showboat and the shuttered Plaza leaving the casino business.

But the thing that is not there anymore which causes the most frustration in Ocean City is Wiesenthal’s Auto Service.

The car care business, run by Don and Glenn Wiesenthal, was forced to close because its landlord sold the property. Eventually, a Republic Bank will open at Ninth Street and West Avenue, encompassing not only the lot where the Wiesenthals repaired cars and the Legendary Al signed autographs and posed for selfies, but also the Sunoco lot on its west side.

Don and Glenn not only had put together a talented crew of mechanics to repair and maintain your vehicle, but the two brothers seemed to know everybody in town. Their shop, which their father had formerly operated as a gas station for many decades, was also a social center for residents.

There once were a dozen gas stations on Ninth Street in Ocean City. Soon there will be a dozen banks in town and only one gas station.

Currently, gas is being pumped at the old Wiesenthal location but it is the definition of a rip-off. Republic Bank is waiting for clearance to move in and start building its bank, probably in the fall. But whoever is running those temporary gas pumps is charging around 30 cents per gallon more than nearby gas stations. It would make good sense to drive to Sunoco at 34th Street or hop over the bridge to Wawa in Somers Point to fill up instead of giving in to those inflated rates on Ninth Street.       

On Route 9 in Somers Point, the former Schooner’s – later an Asian buffet – is now an auto parts store and the original Wawa across the road is a paint store.

Ocean City seafood lovers remember Plantation kitchen at 4th & Atlantic; Spence’s Seafood at 10th & Asbury; and Campbell’s Seafood on 32nd Street, with a snack bar on the beach just behind Monihan Real Estate.

On the Boardwalk there was Flanders Beach Grille, the unique Village Theatre, Tom Perkins’ Sea Shanty and Copper Kettle Fudge Shop, where you could watch them make the fudge right in the window.

There was Zaberer’s Restaurant in McKee City and Ed Zaberer’s in North Wildwood; the legendary Somers Point area clubs, from Tony Marts, to Bayshores to the Dunes till dawn and even Mothers. And there was The Charcoal Pit in Linwood, where celebrities like James Fitzpatrick and Carl Price both frequently enjoyed a burger and a shake. 

In Atlantic City there was Blatt’s, Garwood Mills and the Million Dollar Pier. Ames Department Store was located in Cape May Court House. There were the many nightclubs in Wildwood – Penalty Box, Emerald Room, Oasis, Rainbow Room, Riptide and Surf Club. Also gone are the traffic lights on the Garden State Parkway.

How about Carson’s Triangle restaurant in Atlantic City; Mike Trench’s Neptune Inn; Angelo’s Barbershop; Teddy’s West End Lounge; Brigantine’s Seahorse Pier; and the Rum Point Pub.

Among out of area memories there was the once the outstanding Echelon Mall. Chubby’s in Camden, which closed in 1995 after 61 years, was a great place to eat. It was named after the boxer who opened it and once had live entertainment, including great singers like Ella Fitzgerald, Tony Bennett, Nat King Cole, Eddie Fisher and Patti Page.

Do you remember the Clover stores, a spinoff of Strawbridge & Clothier; Herman’s World of Sporting Goods; the Robert Hall clothing stores; Lit Brothers and Gimbels in Philadelphia; Willow Grove Park; Aquarama; and The Troc, a former Philly burlesque house where Abbott & Costello once played.

There was Jamesway in the New Road Shopping Center; Grants and Roy Rogers in Somers Point; Boston Pizza and IHOP in Northfield; Perkins in Somers Point; Rugby Inn in Northfield; Point Bowling Lanes in Somers Point; and CenterPoint Deli, Tilton Road, Northfield.

In Ocean City, who could forget Chris’ Seafood Restaurant, on the bay at 9th Street, and their PT boats – The Flying Saucer, Flying Cloud, Wild Goose and Flying Pony; Hogate’s, right next door; the Dairy Queen at 34th Street; The Roundup on 9th Street, a drive-in restaurant with the waitresses on roller skates; or Mark’s News, where the laye Jody Kish, and his father Joe, was right there to bring the world into focus.

Also gone from Ocean City are Brannen & Konschack Dodge/Plymouth at 10th & Asbury, Bob Mengel Studebaker, Germantown Boys Club 15th & Bay, Berger Lumber at 11th, Reiss Lumber at 7th, Powell & Van Gilder at 13th Street and Young’s Record Store, across from City Hall.

And what about Howlett’s Hardware in Absecon and House and Garden in Northfield?

There was Johnson’s Ice Cream, on the Boardwalk below 5th Street. People from some generations still expect to find a sour ball candy at the bottom of their ice cream cones. Veasey’s Roller Skating Rink was at St. James and Atlantic. And don’t forget Prep’s Pizza at 34th Street and Pop’s Sub Shop near 6th & Asbury.

On the Boardwalk you could find Simms Restaurant at Moorlyn Terrace, Jack George’s Dog House, The College Grill and Morrow’s Nut House.

The Wesley Avenue School is now a park and the Central Avenue School is the Ocean City Police Station. WSLT Radio, which no longer exists, was on Asbury near 10th. The license was transferred to WIBG, which operates it at 1020 on the AM radio dial instead of the original 1520.

On Asbury Avenue there was Ordille’s Pharmacy with its big fountain at 7th Street; Mabel’s, between 6th & 7th Streets, with penny candy and large sandwiches; Ernie’s Barber Shop, with Ernie Phillips controlling the clippers; plus Dixon’s and Kabat’s, two mens shops that were across the street from each other, and, less than a block away, Leon’s Mens Shop.

And, of course, the great sandwiches and interesting conversations at the famous Tom’s Deli on Asbury between 10th and 11th Streets.

If you have some Things That Aren’t There Anymore to add, send them on because it is a subject that will be dealt with again.

Don Wiesenthal examining a vehicle

Glenn Wiesenthal dealing with a regular customer

Watch out for that bicycle!

Tom Williams AT LARGE:

There is little doubt that people riding bicycles is a good thing on a couple levels.

It is good for the people on the bikes because they are getting exercise and lots of fresh air. And it is good for the environment because those bikers are not driving cars, which contribute to the serious problems of climate change.

Some communities set aside entire areas as bike paths, where cars are not permitted. Most others create bicycle lanes, usually between auto lanes and parked cars. And almost every Boardwalk has a bike lane.

Bicycles are good things and the overwhelming majority of the people riding them are careful and cooperative. But there are some problems – and some misunderstandings.

For example, some bike riders think that, like pedestrians, they have the right of way in crossing lanes. They think that cars are required, by law, to stop and let them cross.

They are wrong.

Drivers are required to stop for people on foot who have entered a crossing lane or stepped off a curb on a street corner. They are not required to stop for those on bicycles (unless the rider steps off the bike and walks beside it). In fact, bike riders are also required to stop for pedestrians preparing to cross an intersection.

Those riding bicycles should also generally ride in single file. That is the way bike lanes are set up, wide enough for one rider. Too often you see two bike riders side by side and taking up half of the auto lane.

The State of New Jersey has safety tips for bicycle riders.

“Obey all traffic laws. In New Jersey, bicycles have the same rights and responsibilities as motor vehicles. Ride on the right. Obey all traffic signals. Ride with traffic. Wear an approved bicycle helmet. Make sure the helmet fits properly. Ride within your abilities. Avoid busy streets, whenever possible. Ride a properly sized bicycle.

“Do not attempt stunts or tricks. Do not ride with more people on the bike than it is designed to accommodate. Do not hitch rides by holding on to moving vehicles. Do not weave in and out of traffic or between cars. Do not carry loads unless equipped with proper baskets or panniers. Do not ride against traffic. Do not ride on the sidewalk. Do not ride at night without lights.”

The South Jersey shore is overcrowded at this time of year. That alone creates more traffic hazards. It also brings thousands more people who want to take advantage of the good weather, the fresh seaside air and the opportunity to get some beneficial exercise on their bicycles. Not all of these bikers are like Jack Neall or George McNally – careful, law-abiding cyclists.

Remember that, although riding your bike is good for you and the environment, you should approach your ride as though you are driving your car. Every traffic law that applies to a motor vehicle also applies to those on bicycles.

And, while you’re driving your car during these busy summer months, don’t expect everybody on a bike to properly follow the rules.

Watch out for that bicycle!

Can Miss America survive?

Tom Williams AT LARGE:

Miss America is back on NBC-TV. That is a good thing.

The pageant will be held at the Mohegan Sun Casino-Hotel in Connecticut six days before Christmas. That is not such a good thing.

As most of you know, The Miss America Pageant started in Atlantic City as a swim suit contest in September designed to attract visitors and extend the summer season. With the exception of a few years in Las Vegas, most of its 97 competitions have been in Atlantic City.

There was a time when the pageant TV audience competed with other live specials like the Super Bowl and the Academy Awards for the top ratings of the year.

No more.

Viewers have totaled less than 10 million every year since 2004. Last year the audience was estimated at between four and five million. Almost 35 million watched in 1985, its largest audience.

That proves that the pageant does not hold the important position among the public that it did in its prime. So what. With millions of viewers it can still be a positive experience that impacts the lives of the young women who compete. It needs to be run for that reason, not as a vehicle for those in charge to earn high salaries and further their careers.

Miss America was established by volunteers and, except for some office staff and a few professionals to produce the show, was run by volunteers for most of its existence. But Former director Sam Haskell’s firm was contracted to receive $500,000 per year and ex-pageant president Art McMaster earned between $200,000 and $250,000 a year during his 10 years.

It seems like control of the pageant has reverted to individuals who have little concern about the history of the event and who spent very little time, before making major decisions, talking with its greatest source of information – the state and local directors around the country who have dedicated years of their lives as volunteers.

There needs to be more people on the pageant’s Board of Directors like Barbara Moore, who has local ties, a knowledge of pageant history and who has actually produced a couple of preliminary pageants herself.

Since the current Miss America leadership seems determined to go where the dollar takes them, its a shame that people from the Atlantic City area can’t do what they did in 1921 – start from scratch with a new pageant, drawing on the experience and dedication of the volunteers from around the country and owned by local residents. Dave Talarico, grandson of William Schoppy – an important supporter of the pageant when it began – suggests the Green Bay Packers solution.

Green Bay Packers Inc., has been a publicly owned, nonprofit corporation since 1923. One of the more remarkable business stories in American history, the Green Bay Packers organization has been kept viable by its shareholders — its unselfish fans. Even more incredible, the Packers have survived and thrived during the current era, permeated by free agency and the NFL salary cap.

Fans have supported the team financially through five stock sales: 1923, 1935, 1950, 1997 and 2011. Today, 361,169 people (representing 5,009,562 shares) are owners of the iconic franchise.

There is no concern that the Packers could be leaving Green Bay, the smallest city in America with a professional sports franchise, in search of a presidential suite in Connecticut.

With the proper management, Miss America has a better chance of surviving in Atlantic City than elsewhere. Could the Sundance Film Festival be as popular in St. Louis? Should they think about taking the Mardi Gras to Pittsburgh? How about Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade in Oklahoma City? These events are connected to their locations and Miss America has that connection with Atlantic City.

Almost everyone reading this has some Miss America connection. A daughter, niece or sister might have competed in a local pageant. Maybe a wife or neighbor has volunteered as a hostess during the week. Or possibly you just attend the pageant or the Boardwalk parade regularly.

There are a few things that could be done to improve TV ratings. For example, virtually nobody knows the women competing for the title.

Why not offer the three preliminary competition nights on a network or via a live stream? Hometown stations of the women competing could also air them. It would give potential final night viewers a chance to get to know these women and possibly find a few they like. That would increase the chances of them tuning in for the finals.

The pageant tried to accomplish this on cable in Las Vegas with a series of programs designed like reality shows. But they were awful. Do what you do best – produce the preliminaries for television.

Then there are the scholarships.

The Miss America Pageant is the only major pageant competition that awards college scholarships. They continue to claim they are the largest scholarship program for women in the country. In reality, the NCAA surpassed the pageant in annual scholarships by a large margin more than a decade ago. But, so what. Being second is no disgrace.

Thousands of women, including many who have remained in the public eye, have benefited greatly from their participation in the program. It is not for everybody but, if pageant competition appeals to you, this program at its best can virtually change your life.

A lot of people in this area still resent the way the pageant left Atlantic City and the hole it has left in their year. Hundreds and hundreds of volunteers – like Ocean City’s Jean Serber and Upper Township’s Sandi Rinck – made the pageant what it was. It will never be that again. Many mistakes have been made along the way. But the Miss America Pageant still can play a positive role in our society.

On December 19 (ironically the same day that Miss Universe will televise its finals from South Korea) a new Miss America will be crowned. The two shows will probably not be on live TV at the same time because of the 13-hour time difference. But it is a weird coincidence.

The Miss America Pageant is not what it once was and it will never be that again. But if there is no way to turn it over to people who understand what it means and why it should be in Atlantic City, maybe there is a way to re-create it under local control.

Or, they could just wait for the current direction of the pageant to cause its demise (because it will) and just begin again.

OCHS Class of 1966 returns

Tom Williams AT LARGE:

Last month, members of the Ocean City High School Class of 1966 got together for their 50-year reunion. The class includes people who now live all over the area – in fact, all over the country. Here is an update on some of them.

Larry Allegretto: Enjoys being the bar manager for Stoneybrook Country Club and own a boat rental business in Sarasota, FL.  His daughter teaches school in Winchester, KY.  His son, Nickolas, lives in Silverthorne CO and is product manager for a mining company. He has four grandchildren.

Michaele Anderson Mason: Lives on a 54-acre farm in the Knoxville, TN area with her husband, Darwin.  An avid gardener, she is always planting something.

David Andrew: Lives in San Diego with wife, Barbara. They’ve been married 31 years.  They have five sons and one daughter who have provided 14 grandchildren.  They are both retired and are active in the church.

Dan Beyel: Co-owner of Boulevard Super Liquors and retired Cape May County Freeholder. He and wife, Cheryl, have three children.

Bob Blevin: Married to Gail for 40 years. Both are retired from the City of Ocean City. Daughter Melissa lives in Somers Point.  Son, Christopher is married with two children and lives in Parker, CO, just outside of Denver.

Marilyn Creighton Buck: Retired this year, has four sons and eight grandchildren. 

Barbara Butler D’Ottavi: Married to Jim. She’s a retired teacher living in Marmora.  They have two daughters and three granddaughters.

Joe Carew: Married to Carol, they have two children. They live in Egg Harbor Township where they work at and own Windward Sports Marketing.

Larain Cassidy Betts: Graduated from Brandywine College, married 48 years with three children and eight grandchildren.

Bob Darby: Retired in 2014 after 38 years practicing law in Los Angeles.  In May 2015 he and his wife, Wendy, moved to Orcas Island WA.

Rosemary DelCorio Bonner: Lives in Upper Township and is happily married to Doug, who designed and built the OCHS letters that now stand behind the high school. They have one daughter Carrie, and two grandchildren. Volunteers for the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games, met President Jimmy Carter and his wife, Roselynn, stayed overnight on the battleship USS NJ, then went to mass the next day with Pope Francis, and our Newfoundland dog “Steel,” won an award at the prestigious Westminster Dog Show.

Cindy Dimon Hendrick: Lives in Poway, CA, a suburb of San Diego.  Kristin, my older daughter, is an artist who lives on Long Island.  Merissa, the younger one, lives in San Diego and teaches Special Ed in elementary school.  Ken Ferrier: Retired from Verizon after 32 years. Still working at Kline Construction Safety as a flagman. Married 45 years to Alice, they have four children and seven grandchildren; Served four years in the USMC, including two tours in Viet Nam.

Bertha Field: Retired from AtlantiCare Medical Center in 2012 after 41 years working as a lab tech. Volunteers with Auxiliary 18 for Ranch Hope for Boys non-profit Christian School and home for wayward youth. Graduated from Baldwin-Wallace (OH) College.

Ed Fugee: His grandson is currently performing in the National Tour of “The Sound of Music”.

Mary Gardner: Studied art at the Art Students League, Parsons School of Design and School of Visual Arts. Moved to the Hamptons in the 90s continuing to paint and exhibit. Worked for the Bridgehampton Museum before moving to Hendersonville NC in 2013. Currently semi-retired. Her son, Murt, is a teacher and lives in Charlotte NC with his wife Frannie. You can see her art online at ArtByGardner.com.

Peggy Gleeson Tamamian: Became a beautician right out of high school and worked in that capacity for over 20 years. Then received a CAN and is currently a private nurse for the elderly. Has three children and one grandson. Her youngest daughter just married a man with a son and a daughter so she now has two new grandsons and a granddaughter.

William F. Goetz: Is an emergency physician, specializing in disaster medicine, emergency medical services and evidence-based medicine. Most of his career in ERs at Bellevue and Columbia Presbyterian in NYC. Was director of medical field operations at Woodstock II. Handled 7,000 patients in five days. Married 25 years to June, a Wall Street analyst. Both are now retired more than 20 years and live in Fort Lauderdale FL. They have two sons who are both senior IT/marketing/operations specialists.

Ron Goodman: Married to Mary, they have three children and seven grandchildren, He’s retired from Verizon after 31 years and now works part time at Twisted Dune Golf Club.

Bob Gray: Lives in Ocean City and has been married to Marilyn for 37 years. Retired from the U.S. Coast Guard/U.S. Coast Guard Reserve as Lieutenant Commander serving over 38 years. Also retired from the Ocean City Board of Education as a Media Specialist and Computer Technician after 39 years. Son graduated from Virginia Tech and is working as a Civil Engineer.

Ginny Haug Gifford: Married to Ron for 49 years, they have two children and three granddaughters. They are both retired and live in Ocean City.

Lea Hetrick Larson: Retired, she and Andy, her husband, have one son and one daughter with three grandchildren. Her favorite activity is being a member of the “Jersey Girls of Smith Mountain Lake.” There are 70 members.

Chris Hilferty Nash: Married to Michael – four children (3 in NJ, 1 in FL), eight grandchildren.  Retired from teaching then took a training position with Ticketmaster and concert planning at the Electric Factory..

Kathy Holland Major: She and husband, George, have two kids and four grandkids. Retired to Williamsburg, VA in 2011.  They summer seven weeks in Ocean City every year and spend a few months in Naples, FL in the winter.

Rick Howell: Retired with wife, Gail, to Isle of Palms, SC. They have four children and five grandchildren. He was a PE teacher at Williamstown, NJ for 27 years and was the basketball coached for seven seasons. Owned and managed Rainbow Gymnastics in Sewell for 10 years.

Al Jeter: Married for 25 years to Carol Ann, retired RN in Montgomery TX. Have eight children, 17 grandchildren and one great grandchild.

Bill Jones: Retired in 2011 as a partner in a CPA firm. Has one daughter, one son and three grandchildren. Significant other for 13 years is Elziane.

Andy Klain: Married to Margie, OCHS Class of ’67. They have three daughters and four grandchildren. He was a carpenter/builder and retired after 25 years with Atlantic County Schools. She retired from AAA. They live in Corbin City.

Jim Lavis: A retired OBGYN, he taught OBGYN at University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey and at Oklahoma State University. In “retirement” has started a business providing in-home elder care. Has three children. His oldest daughter is Vice-President of a public relations firm in Lancaster, PA and has given him an eight-year-old granddaughter. His son is a Cape May Tech graduate and his younger daughter is a senior at Stockton majoring in elementary education.

Meredith Martindale Gehrke: Living seven months in Boynton Beach, FL and five months in Ocean City. Son just moved to Connecticut from New Orleans, which means they can see him and his family more often.

Bill Maurer: Financial Advisor with the “Maurer Financial Group” for the last 44 years. Married to Brenda for 44 years. Two children and six grandchildren with one more on the way.

Alice May: Taught in Upper Township for a few decades. Still lives in Tuckahoe. Has one daughter and two grandsons. Her passion is gardening.

Barbara Mayer Johnson: Received a Bachelor’s Degree from University of Central Florida in 1971.  Identical twin sons were born in 1972.  Received a Master’s Degree from Eastern Michigan University in Ann Arbor in 1987. Retired from teaching in 2009.  Has lived in Brighton, MI for 40 years with husband, Gerry.

Linda Migliaccio Madara: She and husband, Lewis, have two children and three grandchildren. They are both retired and are able to travel frequently.

Candace Morgan Moleff: Lives in Estell Manor. Has two grandchildren and enjoys quilting and trail riding.

Melodie Morrison Perri: Retired in 2011 from teaching at the Ocean City Primary School.  Her teaching career spanned 33 years. Summers are now spent working in the 53-year old family business, The Forum Motel.  One daughter and one son are both living in Los Angeles.

Artie Palermo: Has five children and four grandchildren. Resides in Vero Beach, FL as a realtor with Kolbe Williams.

Ruth Pangburn: Was married to Francis Corcoran for 42 years. Raised two children and have seven grandchildren and one great grandchild. She has lived in Tuckahoe for the last 33 years. Still working, driving a school bus.

Linda Paul Worth: Married to Tony for 44 years – met at the Anchorage in Somers Point on her 23rd birthday.   Lived in Anaheim CA since 1980. She worked as a legal secretary for many years before retiring in 2008; Tony is a retired optometrist.  They have a 32-year-old daughter in LA.

Scott Ping: Owner of Boyar’s Food Markets for 30 years. Councilman at Large in Ocean City for eight years. Member of the Ocean City Planning Board for three years. Worked with the Ocean City High School After Prom for 10 years. Attended Penn State University. Has six children, six grandchildren and two great grandchildren.

Bonnie Richards-Ryan: Retired from the FAA after 37 years of service. My two dogs are my babies, Nicky and Maddy – both are Malteses.

Shirley Robinson Herbert: She and husband, Ron have four children. For the first 24 years or so she was a stay at home mom who was involved in numerous sports and youth activities in Deptford Township. They had 15 grandchildren, though two of them died. After her children all reached their teens, she spent 23 years in the court system.

Jane Rossi Hackney: Retired two years ago from Partners Healthcare after 16 years. Was a Billing Coordinator. Enjoys gardening and working on her genealogy. Has two children, seven grandchildren and will be a great-grandmother around the end of January.

Rich Russell: Still a Judge at OC Municipal Court after 36 years. His wife, Effie, is an English Professor at ACCC.  Son is an Associate English Prof at ACCC.  Daughter is a music mixing engineer living in Brooklyn.

Caroline Shaw Vliet: Still living in Marmora.  Raised my son, a Captain in OC Fire Department for 15 years. Have two grandchildren. She has been office manager for FBK-CPAs in Marmora for 30 years.

Sue Stethers White: Son Jonathan working and living in NYC, daughter Kelly is working and living in Rhode Island.

John Stuempfig: Retired to Big Pine Key in Florida.  Two sons, both married, two grandsons and another grandchild on the way.

Rev. Rina Terry: Has two sons and a daughter, who is a doctor. Two grandchildren. Has had a distinguished career in the church.

Helene Tolson: Attended New England School of Art. Still working as a paralegal. Has one stepdaughter, two stepsons, six grandchildren and one great grandchild on the way. Has lived in eight states and visited Canada and traveled almost all of Europe.

Pam Whittaker Wright: Married 42 years.  Living in Virginia since September 2009.  Oldest son, Jeffrey, has three children.  Middle son, Chris and his wife are expecting a baby girl.  Youngest son, Andrew is married and all three sons are living within a 45-minute drive.  She volunteers at local schools and has time to do gardening and biking and reading.

Bob Young: Married to Taimi 48 years in September. They have two daughters and three grandchildren. Both are both retired teachers for 12 years. Taimi taught mainly kindergarten at Upper Township for 34 years, Bob taught elementary physical education for 34 years in Ocean City.

Special thanks to Helene Tolson for her efforts in gathering information about her class.

While the Class of 1966 was in high school, a president was assassinated, Beatlemania came to the USA and the battle for civil rights intensified. The conflict in Viet Nam also continued and, after graduation, many of them served in the military.

In the last five decades, as you can see, these people made significant contributions to society and helped make the world a better place. That is what most graduating classes set out to do and this group succeeded.

You must have known Joe Fagan

Tom Williams AT LARGE:

The dictionary defines a volunteer as “a person who freely offers to take part in an enterprise or undertake a task.” It would have been simpler to just use a photo of Joe Fagan.

Fagan, who died last week after a difficult last year, wanted to take part, to make the world better. Very few people spent more of their free time helping causes than he did.

He got paid for a couple of those endeavors.

He worked for a couple decades as a baseball umpire at the youth and high school levels in Atlantic, Burlington and Cape May counties. Fagan moved from Burlington County to Ocean City in the 1970s. He worked for a credit agency, eventually buying the agency. He also invested in some real estate.

Another job that paid Fagan a few dollars was his work as a limousine driver. Many of his driving assignments were for the Miss America Pageant, which made him very happy. He was one of the organizers of a Miss America preliminary pageant in Burlington County and, after moving to the shore, served with the Miss Cape May County Pageant for decades. And he regularly attended and sometimes covered the pageant finals in Atlantic City.

Fagan was the public address announcer for the Ocean City Youth Athletic Association when he wasn’t coaching. He coached the Phillies to the OCYAA championship in 1995. He was also the announcer for the Ocean City Hawks and became an officer of the youth football league in which the team played. And he worked on the chain gang sideline crew at Ocean City High School’s home football games for a number of years.

After his divorce, Fagan joined a group called Parents Without Partners and became a driving force within the group, helping establish new social events and activities.

Fagan was always concerned for people’s feelings (with the possible exception of a baseball coach who was screaming at him) and one example took place on the Ocean City Music Pier when he was active with the county pageant.

One of his obligations was selling tickets and designing the seating arrangement. This was back in the day when seats in the Music Pier were free of charge to see the Boardwalk Pops orchestra on weeknights in the summer. Many of the regulars who came to the concerts sat in the same seats every night.

On this night, the pageant was set to start in about 30 minutes when an elderly woman took her seat in the third row. She did not have a ticket to the pageant but this was her seat, she sat in it every night. Fagan talked to her briefly, explaining that she needed a ticket, but got nowhere.

A meeting of pageant organizers was quickly arranged. One person suggested turning the problem over to Music Pier management. Another thought the police should be involved. Fagan finally said not to worry, he would take care of it.

He quickly found another chair and added it to the third row so that the necessary number of seats would be there to accommodate those who bought tickets and that woman could enjoy the pageant from her seat. He even brought her a complimentary orange drink during intermission.

If you played youth baseball or football in Ocean City, then Joe Fagan probably impacted your life. And he followed your progress throughout high school.

If you played high school football, he might have been the guy who determined if you got a first down. And he might have called you out on that breaking ball across the outside corner.

If you were part of Parents Without Partners or if somebody in your life was involved in the local pageants connected with the Miss America program, he was there, too.

In his final year, Fagan still had that big laugh and great sense of humor. He was pleased that the Philadelphia Eagles started the season with a soft schedule so that their rookie quarterback would have some time to settle in. And he was pleased that the Phillies did not lose 100 games and seemed to have players ready to provide a good future. When he saw a call in a TV game that he didn’t understand, he was still making phone calls to find out about the rule.

Joe Fagan lived his life to the fullest and chances are the way he lived it made your life a little better.           


Words of wisdom: “Winning a championship is always nice but that is not why we coach in youth baseball. You work with these kids from the cold weather at the start of the pre-season practices, right through into the warm weather. Almost every team has a player who loves the game and loves being on a team with others his age. But that player just does not have natural abilities. He works hard at every practice, he’s never late and he encourages and applauds everybody. Then, one day, in a game about two-thirds of the way through the season, that player times a fast ball and lines a single into the opposite field. It’s his first hit of the season, maybe the first hit of his life. You look at him on first base and you see the happiest, most excited expression you’ve ever seen. That is why we coach youth baseball.” (Joe Fagan)

Joe Fagan (right) with Mike Dattilo at an OCYAA game

Their favorites by The Beatles

Tom Williams AT LARGE:

It was 50 years ago next week, Sergeant Pepper taught the band to play, they’ve been going in and out of style, but they’re guaranteed to raise the smile, so may I introduce to you, the act you’ve known for all these years, Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

With apologies to John Winston Lennon and Paul James McCartney, that paraphrased version of their classic song fits. Because Monday (Aug. 29) marks the 50th anniversary of The Beatles final live concert. It was in San Francisco’s Candlestick Park.

This week, to celebrate, we have asked a bunch of people you know to tell us about their favorite Beatles song and their Beatles experiences. 

Ed Hurst, Hall of Fame radio-TV personality who recently turned 90 and is now heard Saturdays on WPG-1450: “I’d have to say ‘Something” is my favorite. It has a wonderful lyric and is very musical – a really nice ballad. When I was doing the Steel Pier TV Show and they were coming to town, George Hamid Sr. told me he wanted me to introduce them but I’d have to buy a ticket. I told him there was no way that was going to happen. But I did go and I was backstage. I felt bad for them because they couldn’t go out anywhere and during the show the kids were screaming so loud you couldn’t hear the music.” 

Jackson T. Chase, afternoon host on Kool 98.3: “’Come Together’ and ‘Get Back’ are my favorites. To me, they contained both elements of what a rock song should be – great lyrics and guitar based. They were both out in 1969. I was in Viet Nam in ’69 when Get Back peaked.”

Eddie Davis, morning host, Lite Rock 96.9: “So hard to point to just one Beatles song, but let me tell you about the song my wife Beth and I chose as our wedding song – ‘Here, There, and Everywhere’, from Revolver. It is beautiful for its simplicity, its music, its lyrics and those wonderful harmonies from Paul, John and George. Though written by Paul, and considered by many to be his finest love song, I have read that it was one of John’s favorite Beatles songs. A pop masterpiece!”

Regis Philbin, legendary TV host who turns 85 on Aug. 25: “My wife, Joy, and I always loved ‘Yesterday’. It is a beautiful song that always makes you feel good when you listen to it. Many other people have recorded it but we love it by The Beatles.”

Jerry Blavat, radio-TV Hall of Famer and host of Geator Gold Radio, heard locally weeknights on Kool 98.3: “Even though at the very beginning of their career and with the early songs like ‘She Loves You’, ‘I Want to Hold Your Hand’ – that early stuff to me was bubble gum.  On my radio show even to this day, I was playing the real deal, American rock n roll, Chuck Berry, Little Richard, the Four Seasons, the Isley Brothers, the Chiffons and others, so I really wasn’t a big fan of their early stuff.  Still, when they hit in the early 60s because of my popularity I was invited to meet and see them when they appeared in Atlantic City.  Ed McMahon was the MC.  I met them and then was introduced on stage by Ed as being in the audience.  Later on, as they musically developed, I appreciated some of the later things that they did, and one of my favorites was a song which Phil Spector produced for them called ‘The Long and Winding Road’.

David Allan Pratt, morning host, Kool 98.3: “I was 11 the first time I came across a Beatles record. I was sorting through my parents’ record collection, and found the Let It Be album among the Herb Alpert and Honor Blackman records. I played that album over and over. I loved what Phil Spector did producing it (although Mr. McCartney has always despised it). I quickly became a fan, buying the “Red” and “Blue” albums with my allowance, and at 51, I have every Beatles Parlophone album (not the US versions like Beatles VI), as well as every solo album released by each of the Fabs. While I have never had the chance to meet the Beatles (the closest I came was a few years ago in AC when Ringo never showed up to his art exhibit at which I was spinning Ringo tunes), I have seen Paul in concert 4 times, and Ringo twice! I have a few favorite Beatles tunes, but the one that sums up my thinking is “All You Need Is Love”. It’s a great, simple message. It was the final song played at Nicole’s and my wedding (our first dance was to Paul’s “My Valentine”). Every weekday morning at 7:10 I feature the “Beatles Breakfast Bite” on Kool 98.3. Long live the music of the greatest band of all time.”

Joe Kelly, morning host, Cat Country 107.3: “I’d have to say my favorite Beatles’ song has always been “Hey Jude.” As a child, I can remember hearing the song on the radio thinking they were singing directly to me! It was a pick-me-up song for me. Whenever I felt down, it was like they were telling me to perk up, and be happy. Who couldn’t sing along with ‘Nah nah nah, nah nah nah, nah nah nah? While I was just an infant at the time, I didn’t see it live, but seeing the reruns of the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show that first time is just magical. Was there ever a better TV introduction than Sullivan’s big shoulder turn and to-the-point introduction, “Ladies and Gentlemen, the Beatles!”?

Tom Lamaine, retired broadcaster now heard Saturdays on WOND: “Hard to pick a song, but easy to pick an album…. it’s ‘Rubber Soul’. A collection of breakaway works from their earlier recordings.  This album blew me away when I first heard it (a pirate copy, of course) with songs like ‘Norwegian Wood’, ‘Nowhere Man’,  ‘You Won’t See Me’ this contained more depth and structure and led the way to ‘Revolver’ and, of course, ‘Sergeant Pepper.’  These were the best. I secretly got The Beatles from the Lafayette Hotel in Atlantic City to the 500 Club to see Eddie Fisher. (and yes, they really did want to see Eddie Fisher.). Thanks to Skinny D’Amato for arranging that venture.”

Tony Blum, philanthropist and former DJ: “That’s a tough one because the Beatles music is so eclectic.  From the early years of ‘She Loves You’ and ‘Please Please Me’ to the later years where their music had matured.  Rock and Roll songs like ‘Drive My Car’ and ‘Birthday’ to the softer melodies like ‘Yesterday’, ‘Here There and Everywhere’, ‘The Long and Winding Road’, ‘Let It Be’ and, of course, their biggest seller, ‘Hey Jude’. But if I had to choose one I think it would be ‘Golden Slumbers-Carry That Weight-The End’. That song is almost like a rock symphony that encompasses so many different elements of their music. I finally got to see a part of the Beatles (Paul McCartney in Philly on July 12th) with 50,000 of his closest friends.  What amazed me was not only the size of the crowd, but its composition with thousands of young people who were not around during the Beatles era. They not only wanted to see him but were lip syncing the words to the Beatles songs.”

Walt Murphy, public relations legend who created FM radio: “I would pick ‘Eleanor Rigby.’ Because of its musicality – the intricate melody and the beauty of its melody. It has been played by chamber orchestras and string quartets because of its complexity. Leo Brouwer, a composer from Cuba, created a suite called ‘Yesterday to Penny Lane’ that prominently featured Eleanor Rigby.”

Phlash Phelps, morning host on SiriusXM’s 60s on 6: “My phavorite Beatles song has always been ‘In My Liphe’. I relate it to the island of Bermuda. Before I went the 1st time, I saw a video of the sons and daughters of the island singing that song while showing clips of the island.  Today when I hear it, I think back to the pristine island that is Bermuda. I met Paul once here at XM as our studio is only three blocks from where he did his 1st Beatles concert on Phebruary 11, 1964. He recalled what it was like.” (as you probably noticed, Phlash spells every “f” sound “ph”.)

Bobby Rydell, legendary entertainer: “I’d pick ‘Yesterday’. It was a classy tune, different than the ‘Yeah, yeah, yeah’ stuff they had done. I have used it in my live show sometimes. I was on a bus tour in London in 1963 with Helen Shapiro and others. The bus passed this car and she said, ‘That’s the Beatles.’ I didn’t know what she meant. I thought we had bugs on the bus. But we stopped and they got on the bus. They knew me and my music and I thought they were OK guys. Then, about four months later, I’m watching Ed Sullivan and there they are. ‘I met those guys’, I shouted at the TV.”

WORDS OF WISDOM: “It was Elvis who really got me hooked on beat music. When I heard ‘Heartbreak Hotel’ I thought, this is it.” (Paul McCartney)

“The biggest break in my career was getting into the Beatles in 1962. The second biggest break was getting out of them.” (George Harrison, 1943-2001)

“I believe in God, but not as one thing, not as an old man in the sky. I believe that what people call God is something in all of us. I believe that what Jesus and Mohammed and Buddha and all the rest said was right. It’s just that the translations have gone wrong.” (John Lennon, 1940-1980)

“I think the most exciting thing is that you expect people our age to know Beatles music, but actually a lot of kids know the music, and if anything is left, we have left really good music, and that’s the important part, not the mop-tops or whatever.” (Ringo Starr)

The Beatles at Candlestick Park after that final concert in 1966

Regis comes to town .. with Rickles

Tom Williams AT LARGE:

Everybody knows Regis Philbin. For more than half a century he has been entertaining America and hosting some of television’s most popular shows. He will be in Atlantic City on Saturday with Don Rickles, doing one show at The Borgata.

“There is nobody funnier than Don Rickles,” Regis said. “More than 50 years ago I was working in San Diego and I read that he was coming to town. I went to see him with a cameraman and he agreed to an interview. In those days the cameras needed a lot of light so we had to go outside to record it. He asked me my name and when I told him it was Regis – well, that was all he had to hear. He did four minutes just on my name. I couldn’t stop laughing and I couldn’t get over how fast his mind worked.”

“He’s been on my shows many times through the years. I remember going to interview him at a big comedy show. There were lots of great comics but he was the one I wanted. They came onto the stage one by one and I was waiting. I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to get back to the station in time with the interview. Finally, he was the last one to come on. I asked Jack Benny why Don came on last. He said it was because none of them wanted to follow him.

“For a while in New York I was doing a stage show, some singing and some comedy. My first gig was opening for Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme but eventually I started opening for Don. We’ve had a long friendship. Recently he suggested I come do some shows with him. So here we are.”

Regis and Rickles will be at The Borgata on Saturday night for one show. It will bring together Rickles, one of the funniest men in the business with an inter-active act that is different every night, with Regis, who holds the Guinness World Record for the most hours on television in the United States. The last time his record was updated, in 2011, he had been in front of a camera for 16,746.5 hours.

“I hate to even think about it,” he said. “I’m proud I’ve lasted but that is a really long time. I’m just glad people aren’t sick of me.”

The Borgata show will include video from both of their careers, which will certainly be fodder for both of their senses of humor. Both men have a strong history with Atlantic City, having appeared in casino showrooms over the last couple of decades. Regis even emceed the Miss America Pageant, both by himself and co-hosting with Kathie Lee Gifford.

He remembers an entertainer who inspired him early in life.

“I was a great fan of Dean Martin,” Regis said. “He was a great singer and a very funny guy. When I graduated from Cardinal Hayes High School (Bronx, NY) we went to the Copa in New York to celebrate and to see him and Jerry Lewis. I couldn’t take my eyes off Dean, I thought he was great. I’d met him through the years. I always marveled at his ease. You couldn’t rattle him. Then I met him one last time late in his life in a restaurant. He was cordial but he wasn’t the same old Dean. Some felt he never really got over the death of his son in that jet crash.”

Regis graduated from Notre Dame University and has a well-documented love for the school. “My father was in the Marine Corps and he ran into Moose Krause (former Irish athlete, coach and athletics director). They’d all sit around the fire at night and he’d tell these great Notre Dame stories. He told my dad that I should go to Notre Dame and he agreed.

“I try to go a couple times a year to a football game. This year I’m taking my eight year old grandson with me. He’s quite a little athlete and he wants to go see Notre Dame play. I’m gonna show him the entire school. Of course, it keeps changing. They’re expanding the stadium – building it higher. Sometimes it gets me a little crazy because I used to know where I was going out there but with the changes I’m not always sure.”

Regis and Rickles on the same stage brings together two show business icons – they are a combined 174 years old with more than 100 of those years entertaining people. This event happens once around here, Saturday night at The Borgata. 

Bobby Rydell tells his story

Tom Williams AT LARGE:

Bobby Rydell wrote a book. A book about his life in the spotlight and behind the scenes. It’s called “Bobby Rydell – Teen Idol on the Rocks.” The book tells about the Philadelphia native’s rise to fame and his struggles with alcoholism and other problems.

This is one of the biggest and most talented entertainers of the late 1950s and 1960s. The producers of the gigantic hit “Grease” felt he was such an important part of the era that they named the high school in their film and stage show, Rydell High. He was an influence on the Beatles. He was the youngest headliner ever to appear at the legendary New York night club, “The Copacabana.” Even Frank Sinatra was a fan.

Writing the book was quite an experience.

“The whole thing came about from being on the road so many years and sitting around after shows and telling stories,” Rydell said. “People would tell me I had great stories and suggested I write a book. I wondered who would want to read a book about Bobby Rydell. But my wife, Linda, convinced me to write an autobiography. The only guy I would want to do it with was (Grammy Award winner) Allan Slutsky. We’ve been friends for years. We talked back and forth and wrote notes for two years to gather information.”

Writing the book caused him to relive experiences, both good and bad.

“There are things in the book that are hard to talk about, that you might want to forget – the death of my first wife, Camille, after 36 years of marriage; the problems I had with my mother who, as we know now, was bipolar; and my struggles with alcoholism.”

When Rydell’s career started it was important for a new artist to get exposure on American Bandstand, which was located in Philadelphia. 

“Dick Clark was a wonderful person,” Rydell said, “but just because we were from Philadelphia didn’t mean we would get preferential treatment. He turned down my first three records, he wouldn’t play them on American Bandstand, but when we brought him “Kissin’ Time” he said, ‘That’s a hit’ and he started playing it every day to a national audience. He had a great ear for what was a hit.

“I like to say that Dick Clark was like the Mike Schmidt of disc jockeys. He would really come through with the bases loaded. If your record was selling in Cleveland, Detroit and Chicago, for example, you had three on base and he would deliver.”

Rydell loved his native South Philadelphia and his summer home in Wildwood. They were both very special to him.

“Absolutely. My grandmother had a boarding house at 232 E. Montgomery Avenue in Wildwood. My mother starting taking me there when I was an infant and I went there every summer up until about 17 when things started to happen in my career. Both Wildwood and South Philadelphia are very dear to me. A lot of people in South Philly those days would visit Atlantic City. But my special friends would go to Wildwood and they would go every summer. Some of the best times of my life were hanging out with friends in Wildwood – on the beach, the boardwalk, on the rides, at the record hops. It was a great time in our lives.”

He even recorded a song about it – “Wildwood Days.”

“I just found out a few years ago,” Rydell said, “that ‘Wildwood Days’ was originally a flip side of one of the Dovells’ hits (‘You Can’t Sit Down’). They knew about my love for Wildwood so they suggested I record it. We got a new arrangement and it became a nice hit for me. Whenever I perform on the East Coast, in particular, they want me to sing that song. I love it.”

The same year that “Wildwood Days” hit the charts, Rydell was Hugo Peabody in the hit film “Bye Bye Birdie.” His love interest in the film was Ann-Margret.

“I got a call from her when I was just in Florida,” he said. “I was actually in the shower and her message went to voice mail. She had read the book and was calling to say she didn’t know about all the things that happened in my life. I called her back and we had a great conversation. We talk every few months. She calls me Hugo and I call her Kim.”

Rydell still performs with fellow Philadelphians Frankie Avalon and Fabian as The Golden Boys of Bandstand. They will next be in this general area on Oct. 2 in Bethlehem, PA.

“Frankie and I go back to when I was about 10 years old. We used to go to hospitals and other places and put on a little show. We have been friends for more than 60 years. And Fabian lived right up the street from me – I was at 2400 S. Eleventh and he was 2500 S. Eleventh. It’s one of the great things about South Philadelphia – the friendships never wane. Even though you might not see somebody for years, when you run into them again it’s like you’re hanging on the street corner again.”

Rydell will also be performing in the Wildwoods Convention Center on Oct. 15 with Little Anthony and Shirley Alston Reeves of The Shirelles. He will be at the Golden Nugget in Atlantic City on Nov. 12. And, on Sunday night from 8-11 p.m. in an appearance broadcast on WOND Radio, he will be signing books at Jerry Blavat’s Memories in Margate.

“I love Jerry,” he said. “He is a super dynamite guy who is always there for you. We do a cruise together called ‘Malt Shop Memories.’ We’ve been doing it for about seven years and he goes all over the ship to meet people, even in the boiler room. When the book came out he called and said we have to have a book signing at Memories. I love that club and I love the people there. I’m really looking forward to it.”

Four years ago Rydell underwent a double organ transplant to replace his liver and kidneys. The donor was a young girl named Julia, who had died after being hit by a car.

“The donor program is called ‘The Gift of Life’ and you aren’t supposed to contact the family of your donor until at least a year goes by,” Rydell said. “We waited a year and then got together with Julia’s mother. It was very warm, but very emotional. I placed her hand on my stomach just to show that her daughter still lives within me.”    

Bobby Rydell is one of the major names in the history of popular music, starting from a row house in South Philly and touring the world. But he always will come back to the Delaware Valley.

“I intend to stay here,” he said, “at least until either I die or the Eagles win the Super Bowl, whichever comes first.”

“Bobby Rydell – Teen Idol on the Rocks” can be purchased online through BobbyRydell.com or at Amazon.com. You can watch him perform live in an outdoor concert in North Wildwood here.


Words of Wisdom: “Bobby Rydell was discovered by the bass player for Dave Appell and The Applejacks, Frankie Day. Bobby was in the group Rocco and The Saints. Both groups were working in Somers Point. During a break, Frankie caught Bobby and was impressed. Bobby had that knack, his tremendous talent came out very quickly on stage.” (Dick Clark)

Bobby Rydell (left) with Frankie Avalon and Fabian – “The Golden Boys of Bandstand”