MIDDLETOWN, NJ – You might already know Asbury Park as a town that’s given the world its share of Hollywood heavyweights and chart-topping singers; Pulitzer Prize winners and pro wrestlers; billionaire businesspeople and United States Congressmen…in addition to two guys known as The Fastest Man in the World, a couple of Jokers, and a Penguin.
The story of Asbury Park has also been written by those classic characters and vivid VIPs who put their indelible stamp on the beaches, boardwalk and boulevards: Mr. Fashions and Madam Marie; the Queen of Little Italy and the Prince of the Pitchmen; Putt Putt Petillo and the One-Armed Arab; Maggie the Cat and Frankie the Hat. On the afternoon of Saturday, December 5, Middletown Township Public Library invites fans of local lore and history to meet these memorable figures and more, when author Tom Chesek shares stories from his recently published book, “Legendary Locals of Asbury Park.”
An entry in the Legendary Locals series from Arcadia Publishing, the book captures the people-powered lightning of an ever-evolving city of summers, where the grandest sandcastle dreams have often crashed against the realities of changing times and cultural tides. Illustrated with over 140 vintage and contemporary photographs, period cartoons and original drawings, it’s a pocket history that “comes with a soundtrack,” as each of the chapters is keynoted by a song that speaks to its historical era, and the people who made the music.
During the event scheduled for 3 p.m., the author will be presenting an “edu-taining slideshow” of images and historical anecdotes that include material not found in the book. A signing session will take place following the presentation.
“Whether you grew up there, whether you’re a recent arrival…or even if you never lived a day of your life in Asbury Park…there’s something about the place that makes each of us feel like we own a piece of it, no matter who we are or where we came from,” explains Chesek, himself a Middletown native. The veteran correspondent for the Asbury Park Press now serves as “writer in residence” at The Stephen Crane House, historic home of the famed nineteenth century storyteller, poet and journalist best known for the Civil War novel “The Red Badge of Courage.”
Famous for its waterfront and its grand palaces of leisure and amusement, Asbury Park has also been home to an energy that’s stoked the imaginations of witnesses from Crane to Bruce Springsteen and beyond. From the Methodist founders who envisioned a pious paradise by the sea…to the next generation of true believers who brought new life to a city once given up for dead…”Legendary Locals of Asbury Park” is a rollercoaster ride through 145 years of only-in-America history.
Signing copies of the book will be available for purchase at the December 5 event. The MTPL is located at 55 New Monmouth Road in Middletown, and more information is available by calling (732)671-3700 or visiting www.mtpl.org.