"Springsteen Tour, Continued...." Freehold Travelogue by happyhourkid

Freehold Travel Guide: 48 reviews and 57 photos

68 South Street

As you drive down South Street towards Main Street, not too far from the previous two Springsteen residences, you will find 68 South Street-the last home Bruce Springsteen would live in Freehold. He spent his high school years here, where it is noted that he developed much of the song-writing material that would one day make him an icon.

As was 39 1/2 Institute Street, this home was a multi-family home. The Springsteens would reside on the right side.

To the immediate right of 68 South Street (Not pictured) is the former location of Ducky Slattery's Sinclair Station, which Bruce has spoken about on several different occasions. Ducky's is now a convenient store.

Bruce's High School Days

Bruce's High School Alma Mater, Freehold High School.

The Foot in the Door......

In 1965, a young pimple faced teenager, showed up at the home of Tex and Marion Vinyard, a couple who helped and sponsored young bands in Freehold. Tex answered the door to "Hi....I'm Bruce Springsteen." Bruce asked if he could join the band they were currently working with. Vinyard asked how many and what type of songs he could play. Springsteen replied, "None...". Vinyard told him to return when he could play five songs. Twenty four hours later Bruce was again at his door, having mastered the lead guitar sections of five songs he listened to on the radio. Highly impressed, Tex allowed Bruce to join his first band, The Castiles, as a lead guitarist.

Asked in later years if Tex's story about the origin of Bruce's entry into the band was true, Bruce responded that it was "better than the truth". The Castiles were a four-piece high school group from Freehold who had named themselves after a soap brand and were managed by Gordon "Tex" Vinyard. They played their first live gig at the Woodhaven Swim Club, where Bruce arranged Glenn Miller’s “In The Mood”; one of Tex’s favourite songs. They were paid $35.00 and gave Tex his $3.50 management fee.

Thirty four years later, upon his induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, in Cleveland, Ohio, Bruce refered to Marion and Tex (who has since passed away) as "two of the unsung heroes of Rock and Roll," as he thanked them for "taking him under their wing when he was 15, for opening their home to a bunch of rock and roll misfits, for letting them make a lot of noise, and allowing them to practice all night long."

Ironoically, the old carpet mill that Bruce sings about in his hit song "My Hometown," ("They're closing down the textile mill across the railroad tracks..") overlooks this park right across the railroad tracks, just like Bruce says.

Vinyard Park was dedicated in 2002, on the plot of land that Mr. and Mrs. Vinyard's house once stood. In honor of his first manager, Bruce attended the dedication.

Born To Give Back

Over at the firehouse sits a gleaming yellow truck and is parked and ready for its next call.

In a demonstration of his appreciation, Bruce bought this brand-new fire truck and presented it as his gift to the people of Freehold. The truck was commissioned for use by the Freehold Fire Department and was named "Born to Run," in honor of the man that gave it to them.

Bruce, from time to time, stops by the firehouse to visit the truck, and quite often he, his children, and other neighborhood children are seen given rides through town, when it isn't being used to fight fires, of course.

Frankie Federici's Pizzeria

Bruce and his family are often seen walking the streets of Freehold, visiting stores, old friends, etc. Bruce has been known to casually stop into Federici's Pizzeria, like he did the day he played the St. Rose of Lima Beneift concert. After the show, he walked to Federici's just like any other common man would have.

Federici's is located right on Main Street just off South Street. Contrary to what some believe, Federici's is of no significance or relation to E Street Band member Danny Federici, who actually hails from nearby Flemington, New Jersey.

Noblelly Trading One Memorial for Another

In 2000, The Town Council of Freehold was drawing up a budget plan to raise money to erect a statue of Bruce Springsteen, Freehold's most famous resident. Ultimately, interest in both sides was mutually dismissed on the count that the project was too expensive. In addition, Bruce did not want to be over-glorified as he simply considered himself nothing more than an average neighbor to the people of Freehold, and felt that the town could honor him best by treating him no differently than anyone else in town.

Ultimately, following the September 11 tragedy, those funds were diverted to erect a memorial next to the Freehold Municipal Center, to honor the victims of the worst American tragedy.

This is a really great memorial in Freehold and is worth a look, even if you aren't nearly the Springsteen fan that I am and need another reason to visit Freehold. In fact, the govenment ought to mandate that every town erects one just like this.

Designed by local 7th graders, the base of the monument recognizes the earth onto which Flight 93 tragically crashed in that open field in Shanksville, Pa. The next level is an exact replica of the Pentagon, honoring those who lost their lives or were hurt when one of the four hijacked planes struck the Pentagon in Washington, DC. The Twin Towers symbolize the obvious, and each stand exactly 9 Feet, 11 inches tall. An outstanding tribute to the more than 3,000 who lost their lives.

CVS Pharmacy

Although not pictured, because I wasn't aware of where it was the last time I was there, is the CVS Pharmacy located on Main Street. The significance of the CVS store is that it now occupies the building formerly occupied by the J.J. Newbury Department Store, which served as inspiration for Bruce's song "Local Hero."

Legend says, which is even supported by Bruce when he introduced the song on his MTV Plugged special, that while he was waiting for a red light to change green, he gazed through the window of J.J. Newbury department store and noticed a portrait of himself done by a local artist, situated between a plush doberman and a picture of martial artist and film star Bruce Lee.

Bruce pulled his car over, parked, walked inside, and approached the counter. When he asked the clerk, who obviously recognized Bruce, who the painting was of, she answered back with a smile "Just a Local Hero who used to live here for a while." (a lyric from the song)

Bruce paid $19.99 for the portrait of himself, which oddly enough was marked down!, and now hangs on a wall in one of his homes.

A Bruce Museum in Our Future?

Local Bruce historians are always on the lookout to collect artifacts and tid-bits that arose during the life of Bruce Springsteen. Eventually, without objection from Bruce, there may very well be a museum in his honor someday.

One of the preserved articles happens to be Bruce's library card, which features his childhoold signature and his address at the time, 39 1/2 Institute.
The undersigned is of Adele Springsteen, Bruce's mother.

  • Page Updated Jan 28, 2005
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