Daily Living

The Secret of Seven Bridges Road

Many of us travel on Seven Bridges Road to get back and forth between Little Silver and Oceanport. It’s a nice road, with some beautiful homes and nice views of the Shrewsbury River and several of its inlets. Still, there’s a deep secret hiding there, so perhaps someone can help us solve the mystery: why was it named Seven Bridges Road?

The obvious answer is that if you travel the entire length of it you’ll cross seven bridges. Have any of you bothered to count the number of bridges on Seven Bridges Road? Whether I’m looking while I’m driving, or whether I’m looking at satellite photos of the area I can only find four bridges. What happened to the other three?

Perhaps there were three more small inlets at some time, and over the years they silted in, making the 3 old bridges unnecessary when the road was repaved over the years. This sounds like a reasonable explanation to me, and yet I haven’t been able to find any old maps or descriptions of the area showing three additional bridges. Does anyone know the answer?

In the absence of a historically factual answer, we can let our imaginations run wild and create our own explanations. Maybe the answer lies in the country song, “Seven Bridges Road” written by Steve Young and sung by the Eagles, Dolly Parton, Eddy Arnold, Joan Baez and others. Maybe the song wasn’t really based on an old country road in Alabama that leads to the cemetery where Hank Williams is buried. Maybe Steve Young was actually walking from Little Silver towards Oceanport and saw that “there are stars in the Southern sky, Southward as you go”. Not very likely, is it? And it still doesn’t explain the missing 3 bridges.

How about this: in Celtic legend, witches, warlocks and the Devil can’t cross running water. Robert Burns used this superstition in his Scottish poem, “Tam o’Shanter”, where Tam, being chased by the “hellish legions”, tries to ride his trusty mare to a bridge that crosses running water. Washington Irving used it in “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow”, where Ichabod Crane tried to outrun the Headless Horseman to another bridge crossing running water. Maybe the original settlers of Little Silver/Oceanport were very superstitious, and since that area consisted of spooky marshlands that became even more dangerous dark and windy nights, maybe those folk shoveled out 3 more creeks so they could add three more bridges for safety on the scary road.

Since Rabbie Burns’ birthday falls in January (the 25th), I lean towards this second explanation, and I leave you with his words of warning:

Now, wha this tale o’ truth shall read,
Ilk man and mother’s son, take heed:
Whene’er to Drink you are inclin’d,
Or Cutty-sarks rin in your mind,
Think ye may buy the joys o’er dear;
Remember Tam o’ Shanter’s mare.

Note: a “cutty-sark” is a woman’s skirt. In Burns’ poem, Tam saw a beautiful witch named Nannie dancing in a cutty-sark that was too short for her.

Please reply to this post if you know the “real” reason why it’s called Seven Bridges Road instead of Four Bridges Road!

Len Dunikoski

Save Your Pennies!

When I was an early teenager you could find all sorts of interesting coins in your pocket change. The pre-1964 silver dimes, quarters and half dollars were still in circulation, as were buffalo nickels, the 1943 wartime zinc-coated steel penny, the 1944 “shell case” penny (so called because most of the copper was from recovered World War II artillery shell casings) and the 1942-45 “wartime nickels” (the ones with the big P, D or S mintmarks above the dome of Monticello).

I and many of my friends had these dark blue folding hard cardboard coin holders. There were separate ones for each denomination and design, and they’d have holes for every year the coin was made, and every location (Philadelphia, Denver, San Francisco). We’d look through our change hoping to found the coins that matched all of the labeled holes. Some coins had such low mintages that we never did find any, but still it was a lot of fun and it didn’t cost much to keep us occupied.

After the government stopped making coins out of silver, all of the pre-1964 silver coins gradually disappeared from circulation. The silver value of the coins had become higher than their face values, and people were selling their circulated silver coins to dealers who’d melt them down to recover the silver. That’s why you don’t see any of the “Mercury” dimes in circulation anymore- as I write this their current silver value is worth about $2.15. By the way, there’s a great web site that tracks the value of copper, silver, nickel, zinc, etc. and gives you the daily melt value of all sorts of U.S. coins. The site is http://www.coinflation.com/.

There still is one coin in circulation, however, whose intrinsic melt value is higher than its face value. It’s the lowly penny. Not all pennies, mind you, just those pennies dated 1981 or earlier. You see, due to the rising cost of copper, in mid-1982 the U.S. Mint changed the composition of the one cent piece from 95% copper and 5% zinc to 2.5% copper and 97.5% zinc. A penny with a 1982 date could be made of either composition, and it’s pretty hard for the average person to tell the difference. However, all of the pennies dated AFTER 1982 are made of the new (less valuable) composition, and all of the pennies dated BEFORE 1982 are made of 95% copper.

The current price of copper is about $3.35/pound. According to http://www.coinflation.com/, at this price, the copper melt value of $1.00 worth of 95% copper pennies is $2.19! It’s going to take a long time to accumulate enough pre-1982 pennies in order to make any significant money, but that’s not the point. You and I aren’t going to hoard pre-1982 pennies in order to ensure our retirements. However, if you have children or grandchildren, this is a great idea to pass along to them. Tell them to start looking through your pocket change and to save all of the pennies that are dated before 1982. They’ll have hours of fun, and it opens the door for you to talk with them about savings, investments, commodities, why some things are valued the way they are, and so forth. If your kids/grandkids are already into stocks and bonds, this is probably not going to excite them very much. But if they’re younger, need a tactile environment, or just need something to keep them busy for a while, they might really like hearing about this.

Len Dunikoski

A Flower in December

All of us miss the flowers that bloom profusely in our gardens during the spring and the summer. Fall gave us a few flowers, but most of them were gone by early November. The rest of the leaves fall off the trees, and other than the green grass, we’re left in a world of browns and grays.

Yes, we think the bright red holly berries are beautiful, especially with a backdrop of shiny green leaves. You prepare yourself that holly berries will be the only signs of color you see from now until the crocuses bloom. And then you spot it- a little white flower on an azalea, or a violet bloom on a rhododendron. So you come closer to take a look, and you find that there are several other blooms on the plants. Not as big as the one that initially caught your eye, and not very many, but still, there’s more than just one single flower.

Aren’t little unexpected gifts wonderful? Something as simple as seeing a little flower can lighten your mood and keep you happy all day. What if you had missed seeing it? What if you were so busy or so focused on something else that you didn’t notice that little flower in December? It would have been a shame, wouldn’t it?

So slow down, and try to leave behind the noise, the flashing lights, and everything else that’s too much stimulation. Make some quiet time just for yourself in whatever way works best for you. It might be a walk through the garden to see if you can spot anything else that’s unexpected. It might be looking up at the starry sky on a clear night, or looking for the meteor showers as we did earlier this week. It might be meditation, or prayer, or concentrating just on your breath. The best part is that it doesn’t have to be for very long; not hours, but minutes (5 or 10 or 30 or whatever number you can commit to on a daily basis). It shouldn’t be that hard, should it? Try to do it just for the next week (today until next Wednesday). It will be a new habit that you’re glad to have acquired!

Len Dunikoski

Whatever Became of Latin?

(N.B.: This is my 50th post on this blog, so I thought I should do something a little different today).

Isn’t it something the way we all begin to sound more and more like our parents? You know, starting sentences by saying things like, “Back when I was in high school…”. Well here I go again, sounding more and more like my dad: Back when I was in high school, if you planned on going to college you were expected to take Latin as your foreign language. Even then, some people were saying that it was a “dead language” and that no one spoke it. Still, you were expected to take at least a couple of years of high school Latin to give you a bit of a “classical education” and a firm foundation for most romance languages. Also because obviously you wanted to become a Renaissance man (sorry, Renaissance person).

Fast forward to the present time, and fewer and fewer high schools even offer Latin as a choice. Hey, there’s an idea for me- are there any high schools out there that are looking for a part-time Latin teacher? It’s incredible to me how much Latin I’ve retained after all these years. It was in high school Latin that I finally learned some grammar. Sorry, high school English teachers- even when my children attended middle school and high school, they didn’t learn English grammar very well. Something about not enough time to teach it because of the “core curriculum” that was required by the state.

If you don’t know what it means to decline a noun or to conjugate a verb you probably didn’t learn grammar very well yourself. Likewise if you don’t know when to use an adverb and when to use an adjective. I can still remember Mr. Loveland, my first year high school Latin teacher, reminding us that all adjectives must agree with nouns in gender, number and case. How about prepositions? We used to be taught to never end a sentence with a preposition. How many 18 year olds now can even tell you what a preposition is? Or have heard of Winston Churchill’s famous phrase, “up with which I shall not put”? (To any Grammar Police who read this blog, I won’t be upset if you point out the grammatical errors that I make when I write these posts).

Now what does any of this have to do with real estate? Not a whole lot, I guess. Still, I must confess that it sometimes bothers me when I write “condominiums” when I think Mr. Loveland would’ve had me write “condominia”. Or when I read real estate or stock analysts talk about “indexes”, when they should be saying “indices”. You know what the worst thing is to me? It’s the use of a double nominative in a sentence. Years ago only sports commentators would say something like, “Hank Aaron he was…”; now it’s heard all the time. Arrragghh!

Seriously, I was a chemistry major in college, and you’d think that knowing Latin wouldn’t make a whole lot of difference. Oh, but how much it did! Unlike today, when many colleges let you “build your own major”, most colleges used to have lots and lots of required courses: so many years of English composition, so many years of history, and so forth. Rutgers University (where I received my undergraduate degree) even used to have a requirement to pass a “Humanities Exam” in order to graduate. I wonder if Rutgers still gives A.B. degrees to chemistry majors, or whether every science major now gets a B.S. because he/she didn’t have to take anything but science courses?

This post has turned out to be longer than I thought it would be- sort of a stream of consciousness; some would say logorrhea (diarrhea of the mouth: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/logorrhea). Fortunately little bits and pieces of Latin still remain in mainstream American English. Lawyers use words such as “ipso facto” and “ad hominem”; physicians and nurses use “p.o.” and “b.i.d”; some older journalists still sneak in an “i.e.” or an “e.g.” Some college students even know how to translate the Latin motto on their school’s seal. “Sol iustitiae et occidentum illustra” is still used on the Rutgers school crest.

I started out by saying how much I’m sounding more and more like my dad, but I wonder, does this post sound more like the late Andy Rooney? Does anyone else really care about this? These are my thoughts- let me know what YOU think. Does anyone out there think that knowledge of Latin should be one of the things you consider when you choose your real estate agent?


Leonard “Len” Dunikoski
Realtor Associate
Diane Turton Realtors – Rumson Office
8 West River Road
Rumson, NJ 07760
(732) 239-0739 (cell)

Don’t Forget to Turn Your Clocks Back!

Posted on November 4, 2011 by Rumson Fair Haven Home

It’s that time of year again- the time where we “fall back” one hour from Daylight Savings Time to Standard Time. Many of us like this weekend because we get a badly-needed extra hour of sleep.

The “official” time to turn back the clocks is 2:00 A.M. on Sunday, November 6th. If you’re like most people, you’ll just turn all of your clocks back right before you go to bed on Saturday night. Of course the days will be getting shorter and the nights will be getting longer until we reach the winter solstice, which occurs for us this year at 12:30 A.M. on December 22, 2011. That will be the day in the year with the least hours of sunlight (the day when the sun reaches its southernmost point in the sky at noon local time). After that the days start getting longer again.

Although we complain about having to get up in the dark and come home in the dark, remember it could be worse. The farther north you go in the northern hemisphere, the shorter the hours of daylight. People who live north of the Arctic Circle towards the North Pole won’t have any daylight at all!

Here’s a bit of trivia for you: did you know that the 4 seasons aren’t of equal length? The earth moves around the sun not in a circular orbit but in an elliptical orbit, so it travels at different speeds. In the northern hemisphere, spring is 92.8 days long, summer is 93.6 days long, autumn 89.8 days and winter 89.0 days. So spring and summer are longer than fall or winter.

Enjoy your weekend!


Walking Around Town

We have two dogs, a Golden Retriever and a Shih Tzu, and we walk them around the neighborhood twice each day. Most of the streets are quiet, like the one pictured above, and we have them entirely to ourselves. I should clarify that- we don’t have to worry about very many cars. Many of the streets in the residential areas of Fair Haven don’t have sidewalks, and we like it that way.

We do run into kids playing, other neighbors walking their dogs, people riding their bikes, people working on their lawns and gardens, etc. We know LOTS of people by sight (or by their dogs), and many of them know us the same way. Walking is great exercise, and you can make your trip as long or short as you’d like. We’ve measured one-mile and two-mile courses (the Golden always prefers the 2-mile course), and because most of the area is fairly flat, we’ve intentionally planned some walks with a hill or two to give us a little workout.

When you walk the same route on a daily basis, you really get to enjoy the beauty of nature all around us, and you notice the small things that change with the seasons. We still like to grab the falling leaves before they hit the ground during the fall, and with some of the leaves already starting to turn, it shouldn’t be long before we get the chance to try to catch them. It’s great to have four distinct seasons of the year, because each one of them has its special charms.

From a health and fitness standpoint, you can’t beat walking. It’s something you can enjoy regardless of your age, and you can make the pace as fast or slow as you’d like. We sometimes see neighbors wearing their heart rate monitors so they can push themselves into their optimum target zones. We often see joggers, or walkers who alternate with jogging. It’s less than a mile to downtown Fair Haven, with the library, the hardware store, the book store, the restaurants and the other little shops. There are sidewalks in the downtown area to make it easy to get around. A special treat is to grab a cup of coffee or tea and a snack, and eat al fresco while watching the world go by on River Road.

The next time you see us walking a golden (and probably carrying the Shih Tzu), be sure to say hi. Better yet, try to join us in walking around your neighborhood as often as you can. It makes you feel glad to be alive!

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Winter Coat Drive for the Homeless

Posted on October 30, 2011 by Rumson Fair Haven Home

Saturday’s snow, sleet and rain are just the beginning of what looks like a very cold winter. If you were outside on Saturday, you know how damp and raw it was. How would you like to be a homeless person in weather like that? MaryEllen Mastricova, a Realtor with Diane Turton Realtors in Rumson has organized a winter coat drive for the homeless. All items will be donated to the Homeless to Independence, Inc. organization and distributed throughout Monmouth County. Homeless to Independence, Inc. is an all-volunteer non-profit agency that works with the homeless, the working poor and our veterans who are in need; this is part of their 6th annual Statewide Outerwear Drive in New Jersey.

Please look through your closets and any donate any under-used (but still in good condition) coats, jackets, hats, mittens, gloves, blankets, sleeping bags, thermal underwear, socks and/or boots (for men, women, children and infants) that you’d like to contribute. You may drop them off at the Diane Turton Realtors office at 8 West River Road (next to Crazee’s) any day between 9 A.M. and 5 P.M.

MaryEllen asks those of you who are more fortunate to reach out to our brothers and sisters at this time of the year and help the homeless by donating your winter coats and accessories. Please try to drop them off before November 15th so they may be distributed by Thanksgiving Day.

“There, but for the grace of God, go you and I.”

What’s That On My Lawn?

Part of a Fairy Ring On My Lawn

We’ve been having more than our share of rain in the past few weeks. The grass is growing faster, and the vegetable garden doesn’t appreciate the lack of the full sunlight that it’s used to. But the glass is always half full, so you look for the positive side of things, including lots of rain.

Some people may not appreciate the mushrooms that grow in their lawns at times like this, but I’ve always thought that it’s fun when they show up as fairy rings (i.e., mushrooms growing in a circle). I know it’s a normal kind of thing, and yet it does seem to have some magic about it. After all, you normally just see a mushroom here and there, and not in a definite ring. So when we do find one, we tend to leave it alone and not cut the grass there until the mushrooms pass their prime. Of course there are some people who still remember old legends and folklore about fairy rings being evil places you should avoid. I prefer the legends that say they are formed by fairies or elves dancing.

My grandmother used to talk about gathering mushrooms in the woods in Poland, and how important it was to tell which ones were edible and which ones weren’t. I never learned much about mushrooms, but I often wonder if the ones that pop up in our yard are edible. After all, when you look at the recent crop (in the picture above), some of them look so good that they SHOULD be edible. Then you look at others, and you see a perfectly shaped little slit on one side, almost like on a sand dollar. Does anyone know what kind of mushrooms those are?

It’s things like fairy rings that remind us to slow down and enjoy the beauty that’s all around us. After all, how do those mushrooms know to grow in a circle? This IS a magical place to live- do you think some elves could have picked our lawn as a place to dance?

Have a great weekend!


The Deer Are Back!

After several months of not seeing any deer in our back yard, we’ve seen several does each day for the past few weeks. Don’t you wonder where they’ve been all summer? I wonder if deer take summer vacations in the mountains to get away from the heat, and if so, how they all get across the Garden State Parkway on their way to the Poconos or wherever they go.

About ten years ago we hardly ever saw any deer at all, and each sighting was a special occasion and a special treat. For the past few winters, we’ve seen multiple deer several times each day, and not just the usual does and fawns. Since we’re surrounded by water on three sides, how’d they get on our peninsula? Did anyone see them sneaking over the Oceanic Bridge?

Now that they’re back we know that they’re going to enjoy more and more of our garden plants. I’m going to plant some garlic around  the borders of the vegetable garden to discourage them next year. It’s hard to get too mad at them, though. Most people around here have a “live and let live” attitude, and it’s actually fun to see the deer cleaning out the sunflower seed bird feeders in the winter. When the squirrels do the same thing, we don’t seem to enjoy it as much.

Seeing the deer is just another one of the pleasures of daily life here on the peninsula. There’s something very rewarding about being able to enjoy the little things in life that we almost take for granted, whether it’s catching a humming bird at the window feeder in May, seeing the bright yellow flash of a goldfinch sitting on a branch in the summer, or enjoying watching the snow gently cover the lawn and the trees in winter.  There’s beauty all around us every day, we just have to take the time to experience it.

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