• City Commissioner Maury Blumberg, right, recognizes retiring City Clerk Tom Hiltner with a proclamation naming Dec. 18.MARGATE – Tom Hiltner attended his final government meeting as city clerk Thursday, Dec. 18. He will retire at the end of the year after more than 25 years as the city’s keeper of records. He was also the city tax collector.

    The Board of Commissioners appointed Deputy Clerk Rosie Freed to replace him as city clerk and Linda Morgan as tax collector. Freed was sworn in at the end of the meeting with her family present. Morgan will take the oath of office at the next meeting when her family can be present.

  • ATLANTIC CITY – An activist for open government will be heard in court Monday after the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office denied his request for information about the alleged theft of funds from the Margate Firefighters Benevolent Association Inc. The case is scheduled to be heard 9 a.m. Monday, Dec. 15 by Superior Court Judge Nelson C. Johnson.

    According to a complaint filed Nov. 10 in Superior Court, John Paff of Somerset, chairman of the New Jersey Libertarian Party Open Government Advocacy Project, the Prosecutor’s Office refused to provide any information about the case. He is asking for the immediate release of all incident and investigative reports related to the case.

  • LONGPORT – The Board of Commissioners is considering a request from the city engineer to be more assertive in its support of the pending Absecon Island Beach Protection project – which its neighbor to the north is trying to stop.

    “We went to great lengths to try and get this money and to protect our infrastructure and properties through the dune system. I really think we ought to look at what proactive activities we can do because of the court case out there,” borough engineer Richard Carter told the commission at its Wednesday, Dec. 11 workshop meeting.

    “If you want this, might have to fight for it.”

  • Board of Commissioners appropriates $50,000 more for legal work

    MARGATE – U.S. District Court Judge Renee M. Bumb issued an order Tuesday, Dec. 9 adjourning a court hearing on the dunes project from Dec. 17 to 10 a.m. Jan. 15 to allow the parties to come up with an “amicable resolution.”

    The order was issued in response to a joint request for adjournment from Margate’s special counsel, Jordan M. Rand of Dilworth Paxson LLP, and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

  • CAMDEN – Margate won the second round Thursday in its legal battle to negotiate an alternative to the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers plan to build sand dunes on the beach.

    On Dec. 4, U.S. District Court Judge Renee Marie Bumb extended the temporary restraining order she imposed Nov. 24 that barred the DEP from awarding a contract to build the dunes.

Albertson tells Jersey history through song and story

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Jim Albertson sings during the 52nd annual Philadelphia Folk Festival Saturday, Aug. 17 in Upper Salford Township, Pa. Jim Albertson sings during the 52nd annual Philadelphia Folk Festival Saturday, Aug. 17 in Upper Salford Township, Pa.

UPPER SALFORD TOWNSHIP, PA – One of the skills that comes naturally to legendary South Jersey performer Jim Albertson is improvisation. That tool came in handy and he used it effortlessly Saturday, Aug. 17 during Alberson’s first set during the 52nd annual Philadelphia Folk Festival.

He said he expected more kids in attendance for his noon set sandwiched between two puppet shows on the kids’ stage in the shady Dulcimer Grove. It would be the first of two performances by Albertson that weekend.

Seeing mostly adults in the crowd he gave a disclaimer about the racial and sexist stereotypes that were commonplace nearly 100 years ago and then sang, “On the Boardwalk (in Atlantic City).”

Albertson, 70, of Millville has been the voice of the “Down Jersey” radio program for many years and he can be heard weekly at 9 p.m. on WVLT-FM 92.1. He began telling tall tales and singing the folksongs in 1965 on Steel Pier in Atlantic City when he began broadcasting “Jersey Folkline.”

Since then, Albertson has continued the tradition of telling New Jersey’s history through story, song and lecture as an active folk performer, teacher and festival coordinator throughout his home state.

“Some songs are just good songs,” Albertson said. “Adults or kids can enjoy them.”

When Albertson performs, he weaves his best stories in with a variety of songs that catch the attention of anyone within earshot.

Born and raised in Atlantic City, it is no surprise that Albertson didn’t have any trouble breaking into song about visiting Steel Pier or singing a portion of the Miss America theme by Bernie Wayne.

Albertson said although those aren’t necessarily folk songs in the traditional sense of the form, they do meet some of the criteria that many academics consider.

He said a folk song tells a story using a traditional rhythms and are passed on through oral tradition while the original author is largely unknown. They typically commemorate historical events, nature or people and are memorable.

“’This Land is Your Land’ is a good example,” Albertson said. “Your average Boy Scout doesn’t know Woody Gutherie.”

While Gutherie sang about America, Albertson is focused in carrying on the New Jersey folk life tradition. Albertson sang, “I’m looking for the pineys; oh where are the pineys.”

After hearing the crowd’s delight, Albertson spoke about the history of the A.J. Meerwald, the Delaware Bay oyster schooner designated as New Jersey’s official tall ship and sang, “We’re on our way, to the Delaware Bay.”

While he was on the subject of water, Albertson told his own version of the classic tale of Jonah and the whale except this time he was swallowed by a shark off the coast of New Jersey.

Albertson said his favorite local folk song is “Mount Holly Jail,” which he called the first folk song of New Jersey. It’s about how the food isn’t great and the conditions are worse.

He said it was a good song because kids like all the descriptions of how bad the food is, which one youngster in the crowd equated to his school cafeteria food, and there’s plenty for adults to enjoy too.

Albertson sang, “There’s one other fellow I’d like you to know/ Every Sunday morning we get Preacher Joe/ It’s hard times in the Mount Holly Jail/ It’s hard times in the Mount Holly Jail/ He’ll stand up real straight and the truth he will tell/ To save all the prisoners from going to… Atlantic City… Do not pass go. Do not collect two hundred dollars.”

Part of the folk tradition is adding to it. Albertson has performed in the bluegrass band, the Bottle Hill Boys and his recording “Down Jersey,” released in 1985, is on the Smithsonian Institution’s Folkways Records. He has served as the president of the New Jersey Folklore Society and has received the New Jersey Folk Festival’s award for distinguished contribution to folk music in the state. And he is still contributing.

While singing “Good Fish Chowder,” Albertson added the lyrics about how Mike Trout, the greatest baseball player who has ever lived, came into Jim’s Lunch in Millville and ordered up six cheeseburgers and washed them down with some good clam chowder.

Archives of Down Jersey can be found at www.wvlt.com/downjersey.html

Jim Albertson sings during the 52nd annual Philadelphia Folk Festival Saturday, Aug. 17 in Upper Salford Township, Pa. Jim Albertson sings during the 52nd annual Philadelphia Folk Festival Saturday, Aug. 17 in Upper Salford Township, Pa.


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