JAMES A. BRADLEY AND ASBURY PARK (continues)
A few invigorating amusement rides were available, such as the Steeplechase.
The Steeplecase, Corner of Ocean and 3rd Avenues.
There was also the Merry-go-round and "Observation Wheel" in the Palace Amusements (where, incidentally, a reading room offered religious literature).
Wesley lake and Palace Amusements.
But certain things - one might say a lot of things - a person could not do. This writer has in his collection a postcard dated 1905 that shows the old First Avenue Pier; above the image the sender wrote the following: "They fish here but not on Sundays. The lid is on. So much so that one has to walk very straight." This is certainly an allusion to the moral tone of Asbury Park.
For one thing, Bradley's "dry clauses" were strong - doubly so by virtue of an interdiction that extended beyond the town: the founder had aided Ocean Grove in obtaining passage of a law banning the sale of liquor within one mile of any camp meeting resort. He fought hard to maintain and enforce this strengthening decree.
Was the sender of the postcard serious about having to walk straight? He may have been. Bradley and other crusaders had sharp eyes. The founder was a man-about-town who could often be seen on the boardwalk and elsewhere chatting with visitors, thoughtfully twirling his folding ruler. He hired boys to keep a lookout for traveling "beer arks," and stationed his "Ark Angels" on horseback near the borders. Other boys he employed to sing temperance songs; he sent these lads throughout Monmouth County to serenade people in saloons.
Talk about sharp eyes. Bradley had the following sign placed on the boardwalk pavilions: "Modesty in apparel is as becoming to a lady dressed in a bathing suit as it is to a lady dressed in silk and satin. A word to the wise is sufficient." Though women's bathing suits of the era were almost like today's formal wear, they outraged the founder. "Decency is insisted upon," says one 1892 report extolling the greatness of the town; "indecency or any approach to it is promptly detected and is promptly ended, and if necessary, punished." Bradley saw to it that an even more concealing, regulation costume was adopted. This caused some people to accuse Asbury Park of "absurd propriety."
Beach and "New" Casino.
In consequence of this rule, one 1891 article states that "the sightseers complain that the scenic effects of the beach have been destroyed...This is deplored, especially by the women who desire to display their charms to the best advantage."
Bradley detested the behavior that the electric lights revealed. The "Police Gazette" of 1891 reported in an ironic tone that "Young men and giddy girls, he thinks, would not have any inclination to act improperly if a veil of darkness was thrown over the beach at precisely 11:00." But the found- er was unsuccessful in obtaining support for his blackout plan. The "Gazette" added that "Mr. Bradley [now] has the opportunity of witnessing repetitions of the shocking scenes on the sand in front of his ocean."
Though not a regular church-goer, he was acutely mindful of the Sabbath - at least for others. He tried to close drugstores, barber shops, and other businesses on Sunday, while keeping open his own hotel and bathing establishments. Another thorn in Bradley's side was Long Branch (six miles to the north), which temperate souls considered a city of sin. Besides attracting millionaires and presidents, the place was famous for its palatial gambling houses - and, of course, its gamblers, such as Diamond Jim Brady. At that time Monmouth Park was one of the two leading race courses in the nation; it was an absolute must for any Long Branch visitor. Enter Bradley. The feisty founder (who at various times was commissioner, councilman, and acting mayor of Asbury) managed to get himself elected New Jersey senator. This was in 1893. In the following year he cast the deciding vote outlawing bets on horse races in the state.