Saturday, March 12, 2022

2 New Books Inspired by New Jersey

Author Fred Rossi reads from "Jersey Stories" last weekend
at Halo Roasters in Springfield.

Last weekend I stumbled into a book signing.

I had stopped for a cup of coffee before heading home after taking church photos in the Springfield area (more about that later).

It was fate.

Fred T. Rossi, a writer and journalist since the 1980s (in other words, the better version of my PR self), was standing in the corner, telling stories about New Jersey.

Fred is the author of "Jersey Stories," published last year and subtitled: "Stories you may not have heard about people and events in New Jersey history."

Here are just a few of the questions answered in his book:

  • What did Mundy Peterson from Perth Amboy do that made history 150 years ago?
  • What was it like the night that Martians invaded New Jersey?
  • What was it like having Albert Einstein as a neighbor?
Of course, I bought a copy. You can too: email for information.

My favorite chapter, "Let's Make a Record," describes what it was like when a teenage Bruce Springsteen from Freehold recorded his first songs. There's another interesting chapter about how New Jersey towns got their names. And then there's a chapter about the Addams Family creator who lived in Westfield.

Right now, in the aftermath of today's bomb cyclone and with "Jersey Stories" as a reference, I'm toasting the birthdays or actor Gordon MacRae, born this day in 1921 in East Orange, and astronaut Wally Schirra, born this day in 1923 in Hackensack.


Now, about those church photos.

I post photos of churches every Sunday on my @foundinnj Instagram account, and I wrote about that as a contributor to a soon-to-be-published book about the Garden State.

The book, "New Jersey Fan Club," is scheduled for release on June 17 by Rutgers University Press.

It's (quoting the editor, Kerri Sullivan, founder of the popular @jerseycollective Instagram account) "an eclectic anthology featuring personal essays, interviews, and comics from a broad group of established and emerging writers and artists who have something to say about New Jersey. It offers a multifaceted look at the state's history and significance, told through narrative nonfiction, photographs, and illustrations."

After seeing the list of talented contributors, I'm immensely proud to be even remotely associated with this anthology. You can find links to purchasing information on Kerri's website.

Anyone who preorders or places a library request for "New Jersey Fan Club" can get a free sticker as a thank you for the support. Simply place an order before June 17, and email a request with proof of purchase to

Thank you, Fred. Thank you, Kerri. You've brought some sunshine to this cataclysmic weather.

And here's to you, Gordon and Wally. As long as we in New Jersey have anything to say about it, you will never be forgotten.