Join, or Die

Local barbershops like this are a rarity in New Jersey.

This one is from the set I took during the field trip with the Princeton Photo Workshop. We had exhausted our efforts at the Asbury Park boardwalk and walked our way into the downtown area of Asbury Park. This is where one will find most of the restaurants, odd-ball shops, and art studios of the town. This scene caught my attention because of the sign above the barber’s head with the snake symbol and the words "Join, or Die".

I was not familiar with the phrase. I mentioned it to my eldest, Shaan, who had completed Advanced Placement United States History in high school. She said it was a well-known symbol and phrase coined by Benjamin Franklin before and during the American Revolutionary War. Benjamin Franklin created this political cartoon as a commentary on the disunity of the Thirteen Colonies during the French and Indian War. He later used it to encourage the colonies to unite for the cause of independence.

One distinctive feature of Swagger & Blade is how the front opens directly to the street. The barbershop was opened in October 2011 by Master Barber Shane Bruno, shortly after spending four years in the United States Army 82nd Airborne division, but he has been cutting hair since he was 14 years old. Local family owned barbershops like Swagger & Blade are a rarity in New Jersey. Most traditional barbershops have disappeared to be replaced by corporate-owned strip mall chains.

This image is from a RAW image edited in Adobe Lightroom. I wanted to focus the viewer on the barber, the customer and the sign. I used the shadow tool and exposure tools to darken the inside of the barbershop.


The Asbury Park boardwalk is lined with restaurants. Some are traditional, brick and mortar sit down and be served restaurants. Others are "walk up and order from a food truck in a shipping container" establishments. Let me explain.

In 2018 Madison Marquette, the developer for the Asbury Park boardwalk, added eight 320-square foot shipping containers on the promenade used for seasonal businesses. Other shipping containers on the boardwalk serve as public facilities, such as restrooms. Some food trucks, such as Mogo's Korean Fusion Tacos, are so widely known that they get written up in US News "30 Top Things to Do in New Jersey". I’ve eaten those tacos. They are fantastic.

But the, containerised food trucks have only existed since 2008. This is why the "Est. 1946" text inside the "Tony’s" food truck banner caught my eye. I searched around the interwebs and discovered a little bit of tri-state food history.

in 1946 Anthony Segreto, an Italian American from the Little Italy section of New York City, at the urging of his friend, a local butcher, started selling Italian Sausage and Frankfurters at "The Feast." The business was booming, and soon, Tony was selling Sausage at Italian Feasts and Fairs all over New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. After he retired, he passed the business on to his family. The third generation of Sogreto’s continues to operate this family-owned food concession business at some of New Jersey's largest outdoor special events. The Asbury Park Boardwalk food-truck container is the only fixed-location operation I could find.

Submitted for CBWC: Side of Things.