Bradley Beach

An excerpt from a sermon “Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy”  given by Bow Lum Lee describes life in the 50’s at a summer place favored by the Chinatown folk looking to escape the city life and muggy summer days.

“The summers of my youth in the early 1950s were spent in Bradley Beach, New Jersey, the town adjacent to a Methodist town known as Ocean Grove in which all cars had to be off the streets and driveways too (completely out-of sight) by 12 mid-night on Saturday night.  No bicycles or skating either.  Sunday was the Lord’s Day and people were able to walk safely in the middle of the street without the fear of cars.   All roads led to a large wooden structure in the middle of the town known as the Auditorium; and there was virtually silence throughout the town as we walked towards the Auditorium for worship except for the sounds of footsteps on the sandy sidewalks and streets.  The Auditorium accommodated over 6,000 worshipers, it had a huge organ, a large choir and a trumpeter that helped lift our hearts in song.  Besides the worship services, there were Bible studies, lectures, Sunday school, sacred music programs of all kinds, and noted guest preachers from early morning, throughout the afternoon and into the evening.  It was here that I heard Billy Graham for the first time.  This was what church was like for me back in those days – it was an all day affair.”

“Blue laws were in force back then and most businesses were closed on Sunday’s except for a few convenience stores and restaurants located in the two adjacent towns (Bradley Beach and Asbury Park) that sandwiched Ocean Grove – and their store hours were restricted so as not to conflict with church.  Malls didn’t exist back then.  This was the Sabbath – a day of rest and to enjoy the sea breezes on the boardwalk and to take in the fruits of God’s creation.

We can recapture the spirit of Sabbath if we are more intentional about it and not get caught-up with all the distractions all around us.  “Remember the Sabbath day, and keep it holy (NRSV).”