While the US halted the printing of the $10,000 bill and feet were mired in the mud of Woodstock, boxing mania swept through the West Side of Asbury. The son of a prominent Nicaraguan lawn service manager, Jose ‘Joey Blades’ Jardena was an obvious target when Sandinista rebels hijacked a San Carlos bound flight from Teterboro, NJ in April of 1969, ultimately putting numerous rounds through the budding boxing impresario’s body. After several years and as many surgeries, he would break ground in founding and forming Asbury Park’s first boxing institute. These (mostly) child pugilists, whether fastidiously trained or shockingly green, included 10-year-old Institute member Irv Abramson, who, fighting under the moniker ‘Kid Moskovitz’ earned a shot for the Super Mini Flyweight belt at the 1973 Parve Championships held at the Red Bank Armory in July of that year.
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Fueled by the financial drippings of Neptune number runners and boosted by the next door neighbors of Hall of Fame coach Vince Lombardi, The Cookman Ave Kickball Club offered athletic asylum for a rising crop of rogue soul men, Pine Barrens vocal ensembles and federal witness protection program members. Helmed by a friendly consortium of hustlers, parole officers and former pee wee gridiron giants – this club, led by Dr. Jerry Allen, the godfather of the South Side of Toms River kickball scene, grabbed the Asbury kickball city title for three years running circa ’68-’70.
The skee ball universe of Asbury Park circa 1972 was one of strangeness and disrepute. Enter sisters Gussie Solomon and Jean Kabatchnick. Leaving thriving careers; Solomon as a coat check girl at the renowned West Orange, NJ discotheque, The Mushroom Farm and Kabatchnick as one of Columbia Records most in-demand session drummers; they stitched together a skee ball sisterhood whose power was rarely eclipsed during its day. Born of beauty school rendezvous and squalid apartment circumstance; the society was the most exhaustive attempt thus far to unite and document the Asbury Park skee ball sphere and developed Jayne ‘Triple X’ Essex, who fashioned an exploding slice of skee ball boogie that unfortunately never found an audience outside the Palace Amusements mirror maze. Get reintroduced to the Ocean Ave Skee Ball Society; a boardwalk creation that clawed and threatened its way to Asbury crossover glory.
The formula was simple: Merge stolen horses from Monmouth Park and a jockey who might have been a fifth grader at Thurgood Marshall Elementary School – cross your fingers and pray for hay. Throw in a publicist, three disgruntled OTB operators, a salsa dance instructor and two race fixers and you’ve got the makings of a first rate equestrian team. The league producing Cleopatra Whyte, warrior horse woman of Asbury Park legend, who, aboard the chimerical steed, Ethiopian Flicka, rode to a fourth place finish at the 1970 FEI European Show Jumping Championships.
The APFC legend could almost be fiction. The fashion house passing as a home, the harem passing as a family, the lead designer who’s still attending middle school. The dream. The con. The end. APFC inhabits the same Asbury landscape as Elmore Leonard’s characters; taking equal measures of inspiration from Rudy Ray Moore’s Dolemite and Huggy Bear from Starsky & Hutch. Drawn to the underground and fancying themselves rogue entrepreneurs, the APFC label operates somewhere in the space between money laundering outfit, cult and driving school.