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Ocean Museum Brings War Lessons Close to Home

Exhibit offers evidence of war’s impact on a New Jersey community.

The corridor of time between Memorial Day and Independence Day tends to get people thinking of the sacrifices of America’s fighting forces, both past and present.

With the impending anniversary of the United States' entry into World War II, that connection is felt even more this year, especially for New Jersey.

Gary L. Edelson, of the Township of Ocean Historical Museum, 703 Deal Road, Ocean Township, said their current exhibit, Loved Ones Go to War: Local Stories of World War II, is about "remembering those who did so much for the war effort."

"We have had exhibits about the war before, but for this one, we wanted to focus on the local story," Edelson said. "We have the story of fighting the war on the local front (black-out curtains, rationing, U-Boat hunts) and the story of 10 local men who joined various services and what they did during the War."

The museum will also honor deceased local World War II veterans (about three per week) with flag ceremonies every Friday evening at 6:30 p.m. until Dec. 7, Edelson said.

The exhibit is only one example of many the Township of Ocean Historical Museum has mounted during its own history. Although the trappings of the presentations are local, the lessons extend to all parts of New Jersey and beyond.

“(The museum) was founded in 1984. From 1984 to 2009, we occupied a former classroom in the Township of Ocean Board of Education Headquarters,” Edelson said. “In 2005, the township acquired the Eden Woolley House, a 1700s farm house, from Stop & Shop Corporation. After several years of restoration, we moved the museum to the Eden Woolley House, where we have been since 2009.”

The Township of Ocean Historical Museum is a historic museum and the offerings remain consistent to their mission statement. 

“Our exhibit is divided into several sections, which are rooms on the first floor of the house. The first is the Richmond Gallery. This has a changing exhibit, currently Loved Ones Go to War: Local Stories of World War II. The second is the Our Town Gallery, which has the history of the various sections of the Township. The third is called the Hearth and Home Gallery, which is the oldest section of the house, and shows about life in the coastal farming community that was Ocean Township, pre-1860,” Edelson said. “We also have a library, which includes volumes and research on Coastal Monmouth County.”

We've picked The Township of Ocean Historical Museum for this installment of Day Tripper, a weekly look at destinations that are out of town, but in reach, and worth the trip. Especially during this year, Loved Ones Go to War: Local Stories of World War II provides a message and a base of knowledge about how all communities learn to survive during wartime and offers stories of universal importance.

DAY TRIPPER DIGEST

Why it’s Worth the Trip: As U.S. involvement in wars around the world begin to wind down, the stories and accounts of conflict’s impact both on the homefront and “over there” should not be forgotten. This exhibit promises to provide an intimate look at the bravery and hardships of these situations.

How to Get There from Here: Click the pin on our interactive map and type in your own address in the "from" section.

You’ll Probably Get Hungry: Being in close proximity to the highway, all the expected food venues can be found—convenience stores like 7-Eleven, quick lunch options such as Starbucks, Burger King, and McDonald's, as well as Wegmans grocery store in nearby Wanamassa all have lunch options. Several air-conditioned food choices can be found in or near the Monmouth Mall: Chili’s, Bobby's (Flay’s) Burger Bar, TGI Fridays, The Olive Garden and White Castle are all within a mile from each other in the vicinity.

While You’re in the Area: Depending on the temperature, the museum is in close proximity to the Long Branch boardwalk and beachfront, and a short drive will also bring you to Monmouth Park Racetrack in Oceanport. For those looking for indoor pursuits, the Monmouth Mall has shopping, food, and the AMC Loews Cinema Multiplex.

“We encourage all ages to come and see the Museum," Edelson said of the museum, and the demographics it intends to reach. "The Township of Ocean Historical Museum has run, since 1985, lessons on local history, as part of the third grade New Jersey history program taught in the Ocean Township Schools.  There are things that all ages will enjoy at the museum.”

Due to the nature of the artifacts, the museum is required to be protective, so that would need to be considered in regard to the temperament of the youngest possible visitors.

“We have a ‘do not touch’ policy with regard to the exhibit items,” Edelson said. “However, cameras and video are fine in the museum.”

For more information, visit the museum’s website.

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