In his song "Spirit in the Night", Bruce Springsteen asks, ..."anybody wanna go on up to Greasy Lake?"
"Spirit in the Night" has always been a favorite song of mine. Springsteen mentions going up to Greasy Lake with friends to party. I needed a little detective work to figure out where Greasy Lake was...and I found IT!
Springsteen grew up in Freehold, New Jersey. During his wild childhood, Lakewood had a number of places for young people to hang out...with just about anything going. Freehold is just a short ride up Route 9 (Springsteen mentions this road in yet another song). It would be very likely that his crew would cruise down Route 9 toward Lakewood.
"Well Billy slammed on his coaster brakes and said anybody wanna go on up to Greasy Lake
It's about a mile down on the dark side of route eighty-eight"
Route 88 begins (or ends) at the intersection of Route 9 in Lakewood. If you travel about a mile on Route 88, you will come to two different parks. One on the right, one on the left.
To the left is Ocean County Park, once the estate of John D. Rockafeller. This park has a nice lake, but is regularly patroled, and the drinking and "playing" mentioned int he song would not have been possible.
However...to the right of of Route 88 is Lake Shenandoah Park. Here, there is a large lake for fishing, boating, etc. There are many places to park here...and this area was less patroled at the time of the song's actions. This is Greasy Lake.
The song states that Greasy Lake is "on the dark side of route eighty-eight". This is one of many mentionings of racial tension in this area as Springsteen was growing up. The side of the road that Lake Shenandoah was created on was where a majority of the African-American residents of Lakewood settled. Segregation was alive and thriving during Sprinsgteen's youth in this area. The beaches at each park were segregated, and Shenandoah was created on that side of the road to further the segregation.
My husband grew up in Lakewood in the 1950s and 1960s. He remembers the segregation of family's at Ocean County Park, and when Lake Shenandoah was created by damming the stream and flooding the swamp area on the other side of the road.
Georgian Court University was once the winter estate of millionaire George Jay Gould I, son of railroad tycoon Jay Gould, was (1836-1892). The estate was built by the famous New York architect, Bruce Price, resembling the lavish estates of England and Scotland. They agreed on an architecture in the style of the georgian period, thus the name Georgian Court. Price also designed many of the gardens that remain on the campus today - the Italian Garden, and the Sunken Garden.
After George Gould's death in 1908, his heirs decided to sell the estate to the Sisters of Mercy. Georgian Court College ran as a women's college for nearly a century. Now, some co-education is evident, as both men and women may enroll in the evening classes. In just the past couple of years, Georgian Court has achieved University status.
The University does much to preserve the historic architecture and gardens. The grounds are home to Sister Mary Grace Burns Arboretum, displaying exotic trees from around the world.
In 1922, the Strand theatre opened in the booming resort town of Lakewood, as a "tryout" theatre for Broadway Shows (and to provide entertainment for the wealthy and important visitors to the town). It is still known today as being one of the best acoustical theatres in the US. The Ocean County Center for the Arts took possesion of the building after the "talkies" and motion pictures sent it into a downward spiral of obsolete buildings. In 1982 it was entered into the National Register of Historical Places, and has undergone millions in interior and exterior renovations since.
The Strand now stands as one of the only remnants of Lakewood's golden era.
Huller's is a butcher shop and restaurant. Jimmy Huller has his own smoker there and makes all the wursts there. The restaurant is actually in Jackson, but his parking lot is Lakewood, and this is where the Kiwanis Club of Lakewood meets twice a month, so I put it under Lakewood.
Anyway, the food is absolutely incredible. Everything is fresh and prepared old world style.
Thursday through Sunday is an all-you-can-eat German buffet, which is a great way to sample many German dishes. Of course, celebrating Octoberfest means the buffet is every night in October...except Mondays, they're closed Mondays.
Jimmy also helps the club by supplying and smoking all the turkey legs and beef ribs that we sell at the Renaissance Festival in Lakewood. Go HUNGRY.
Favorite Dish: I love everything on the menu, but my favorite is the Jagerschnitzle. It's veal breaded and smothered in mushroom gravy. It's always soooooo gooooood.
*** Unfortunate news...our favorite German place has closed****
Lakewood houses one of the largest Hassidic communities in the world. From sundown on Friday night to sundown on Saturday night, the Jewish residents are not allowed to drive, thus there are literally hundreds of people walking in groups to and from temple. The traditional garb always worn includes black coats, making many of them difficult to see in the dark. Luckily, may have resorted to wearing reflective bands, but just be careful driving around corners!
Lake Carasaljo is a nice 1 -1.5 hour paddle on a 67 acre lake, averaging 8 feet in depth. Carasaljo is mostly open water, but one end is full of little coves and lily pads. At the end of the lake by Route 9, paddle under the bridge to access Lake Manetta, a smaller yet beautiful lake.
There are paddleboat rentals on the lake, great to see that back. You will see ducks, geese, swans, turtles and frogs.
Just 1/5 mile from home, offers a great evening paddle for wind-down.
Equipment: BYOB - Bring your own boat
Not a long paddle, but always have water
PFD! Lake is deep in middle
Laurel-in-the-Pines, on the shores of Lake Carasaljo in Lakewood, New Jersey, was the most luxurious of the large hotels when Lakewood was the resort town of the rich and famous.
It began at the end of Indian trails, where three brothers built a mill. In 1814, a furnace and iron works built the lakes lending to the town's future name. The largest lake in the village was named "Carasaljo" after the ownner's three daughters, Carolina(Carrie), Sarah (Sally) and Josephine (Jo).
By 1863, advances in the railroad connections between New York and Philadelphia connected "Bricksburg" via the New Jersey Southern Railroad.
In 1865, Riley A. Brick, the son of Joseph W. Brick, built the Bricksburg House, also known as the "Romantic Laurel House" on Main Street. This resort was known to host the Vanderbilts, Goulds, Rockefellers, Astors, Tilfords, Rhinelanders, Kipps, Arbuckles and other families of social prominence. March 20, 1880, the Post Office officially recognized the name of the village as "Lakewood."
In 1891, the famed Laurel-in-the-Pines Hotel opened, as did the Lakewood Hotel, where President Cleveland chose to pass his dying days as peacefully as possible. In the early 1900's, Lakewood was known as the region's winter resort, attracting the wealthy tourist from New York and Pennsylvania. Many important and wealthy people now called Lakewood home or 2nd home. The train arrived from New York every 20 minutes!
After WWII,the airline industry began to take fight (excuse the pun), and Lakewood was passed over or warmer, southern climates. The arge hotels began their decline, many burning to the ground. Including the grand Laurel-in-the-Pines.
By the 1960's the Lakewood Fire Department was making frequent trips for small fire outbreaks. It was just a matter of time before they would be called out for the big one.
March 28, 1967 at 11:00 pm...that's just what happened. This guilded hotel went upin flames so fast, no engies could arrive in tim to save it.
My husband, who grew up in Lakewood, remembered red bricks being salvaged from the building...being hauled out for months. Today on this site stands the Laurel in the Pines condominium complex which was built around 1970.
***Photos from Historic Lakewood New Jersey Website
Fondest memory: You can still walk around Lake Carasaljo, but the gilded hotels of yesterday no longer stand. It's like being in a completely different place.