The Beachwood Historical Alliance wishes to honor our past and present residents and all others who serve and have served our country and given the ultimate sacrifice while fighting to keep our country free.
As such, we have posted below a photo essay, including photos of borough servicemen from World War II that once hung proudly in the Beachwood Circle Shop (currently Carpet Land), a 1976 article on the shop and its importance to these men and our borough that originally ran in the Asbury Park Press, and a series depicting monuments from Neilson Park honoring local and national American servicemen from all conflicts.
Beachwood Circle Shop Evokes Poignant Memories
By Ray Ollwether – Press Staff Writer
BEACHWOOD – The soda fountain and juke box are long gone, and the circle in the roadway was removed 20 years ago.
But a set of yellowed photographs, recently found in a basement, has aroused nostalgia for the days when the Beachwood Circle Shop was the favorite gathering place for teen-agers in central Ocean County.
The shop is only a memory now, replaced by a carpet store at the intersection of Beachwood Boulevard and Route 9.
BEFORE World War II, when the small borough had less than a fifth of its present 5,100 population, that intersection was the hub of town.
The Circle Shop was the hangout for young people, and those who remember it say there is nothing like it today.
“The kids just had fun, without getting into any trouble,” says Albert Erath of Berkeley Township, whose family owned the building in which the Circle Shop was situated.
There was a soda fountain with 10 stools, several booths, nickel pinball machine, and – through a large archway – a dance floor with a jukebox that played jitterbug tunes.
“THERE were very few cars, and not much money,” Erath says of those days. “The only movie theaters were in Toms River, Lakewood and Seaside, and really there was nowhere else to go.”
“Where else could you spend an evening for a quarter?” adds Tom Gibson, who works as a butcher across the street from the former sweet shop.
“The shop was open till 11, which was when most kids had to be home,” Gibson said. “The shop sold newspapers and ice cream, but their biggest business was the kids.”
THOSE who remember the Circle Shop agree on the importance of its most well-liked managers, the late Florence and Steve Demor. The couple ran the shop from the early 30’s until the late 40’s when things began to change.
“Steve was their adviser, and would help them with their homework,” says Mrs. Salena Lundin, who still lives in Beachwood.
Mrs. Lundin’s daughter, Jean, worked behind the fountain, and Mrs. Lundin says “all the kids would pitch in and help down there, even when they wouldn’t work for their parents at home.”
“I never worried about my kids going down to the Circle Shop,” Mrs. Lundin said, adding that many local marriages were rooted in romances that began over a soda.
WHILE many of the teen-agers did not have their own cars, several drove old jalopies and the shop would draw from as far as Lakewood, Seaside and Lacey Township.
“There was only one high school for all those towns, and all the kids knew each other,” said Mrs. Lundin’s husband Arthur. “And there was no television then – all they had was radio.”
Most of the regular customers enlisted to fight in World War II, and as they left they gave their smiling picture in uniform to the Demors.
Eventually 90 photos were placed in frames on the wall behind the soda fountain. Among those pictures, as the months of the war passed, were Steve Demor and Mayor Joseph Jerue.
The shop kept going during the war, but afterwards many of the young men did not return to Beachwood. The photos were retired to the basement, and later placed in a garage when the building was sold.
BUT Joe Fuccile, a barber who has worked for 35 years on the corner across from the Circle Shop, remembered the photos and the boys, who used to hang around the shop and sweep up while waiting for Sunday afternoon softball games.
Erath found the photos, and Fuccile borrowed them for display in his shop windows to try to determine what happened to all those smiling men as they grew older.
“It was a different character of children then,” says Fuccile. “They always helped one another, and most of them were very good boys.”
“But today kids have money and they drive around, and a sweet shop isn’t good enough for them,” he says. “I think kids today are getting too much – everything is more available. But I guess that’s progress.”
JOE the barber thinks the days of the sweet shop are over.
But Mrs. Ruth Perry, who helped run the Sweet Shop during the war, isn’t so sure.
“If your rules are relaxed enough to invite the kids and strict enough to see the kids don’t override you, there will be a mutual concern,” she says.
“With the right people, something like the Circle Shop might very well work again.”
We invite any borough servicemen or their families of any conflict or general service to our country to forward photos and stories of their or their loved one’s experiences to our main email address, firstname.lastname@example.org. As with all other borough history-related items, we are capable of digitizing and quickly returning any items lent to us.
The Beachwood Historical Alliance will have a table at the borough’s Memorial Day Picnic, scheduled from 11am to 4pm this Monday May 25th at Mayo Park.
Come out for a wide array of borough history handouts, including a Memorial Day 2009 exclusive packet of original New York Tribune newspaper articles from Beachwood’s official opening weekend – Memorial Day, 1915. This is not available online or anywhere short of a Manhattan research library. Own a piece of Beachwood’s past. Quantities are slightly limited so come out early to get yours.
We will also be selling copies of William Mill Butler’s “Beachwood Directory and Who’s Who 1924″, a hardcover publication containing many original photographs and info on the borough’s first ten years, for a special Memorial Day discount.