13. Wesley Lake Section, Part 4
On Our Way to the Palace Amusements
(Still Looking Around)
Image 1.13.1. The south side of the Casino and heating plant.
Here is the other side of the Casino and Heating Plant. The Plant is at left. If we had really come up alongside the plant we would be standing near the striped awning of the little refreshment stand. Notice that the Heating Plant also has an appealing deck, which is much smaller than those found on the avenue pavilions.
Now let's descend nearer to the boardwalk and turn around. Here's what we see:
Image 2.13.1. The North End Hotel separated Asbury Park from the sainted village of Ocean Grove.
Ah - My Favorite Spot! It's the end of Asbury's Boardwalk and the beginning of Ocean Grove's. The big hotel was called the North End (that is, it was at the north end of Ocean Grove). Though the photo is a bit old, the spot still looked very much like this in the '50s and even the '60s (except for the pony ride, at right). To me, this stretch of boardwalk felt like some seaside place in Europe or England. Or perhaps, with all that white stucco, I found it intensely typical of the great old-fashioned American resorts (which often borrowed European elements). In particular, I loved the two elevated corridors that formed a bridge between the main part of the hotel and the beach part (you can see only one in the above).
This section of the Boardwalk was certainly a place where an adventure might begin: The camera moves in on a dapper man in a bowler hat (say, David Niven) as he strolls the Boardwalk. It's a fresh spring day and he obviously feels good about being where he is. Perhaps, for some reason, he has been away for a long, long time. Everything is new. Seagulls "squee" above him in the bright fleecy sky; and with a faint smile he looks up. At that moment, he bumps into a young lady (say, Deborah Kerr). She's the plain-looking daughter of a domineering woman who runs the hotel tearoom. "Oh, forgive me, sir," she says shyly. "I'm dreadfully sorry." "No, it is I who should be sorry," he announces sincerely. They go their separate ways, but the man looks back, charmed by the young woman's gentility and latent comeliness.
You fill in the rest. For more neat photos of My Favorite Spot, click HERE.
(We wander back)
Now we're going to retrace our steps along the side of the Heating Plant, walk back to the front of the Casino Crown and look across the street again.
Image 3.13.1. Our view from the front of the Casino Crown.
Notice the Plaza Hotel just in front and to the right of the Palace Amusements. I don't remember the Plaza (except in a kind of unconscious way). It was torn down I the early 1950s. For years an empty "island" of pavement has marked its location. The hotel had a restaurant and open-air bar. It was one of the "hot spots" in the '40s (though it is much older than that, dating at least to 1905, when its appearance was more Victorian). As I write these words, you can still see the red and white floor tiles of the hotel in the pavement. (The name "Plaza" is spelled out on one of the slabs.) On a "dig," I swiped a few of the tiles.
Image 4.13.1. Plaza Pieces. "Asburyparcheology" (as I call it) has become popular in recent years.
Okay, still on our way to the Palace Amusements, let's walk over to the sidewalk beside the lake, at left. I want to turn around and look back at Ocean Grove's North End Hotel.
Image 5.13.1. Wesley Lake and the North End Hotel.
The above is one of my favorite postcards. It has a clean, crisp sparkle to it that recalls the Asbury of my childhood. Note that there was a movie theater, the Strand, in the North End Hotel. I remember being in it once, in later years. It was at that time a smallish homespun place. While the village of Ocean Grove was - and is - a Methodist town, founded on religion, its Wesley Lake border offered some "secular" entertainment. You can see Ocean Grove's Merry-Go-Round pavilion to the right of the photo. Just outside the picture is the North End Hotel POOL. (That makes four pools so far!) I've always called it the Ocean Grove Pool. Another little amusement pavilion was a few steps west of the pool.
I think an impressionistic artist like George Seurat would have liked to paint a Wesley Lake scene. Click HERE to see my attempt to mimic this idea, using the above postcard.
Let's walk a little further and turn around again.
Image 6.13.1. Heating plant, North End Hotel and Wesley Lake. Wonderful!
Let's turn around again. (Don't get dizzy now!) Ah, here we are, facing the Palace Amusements...