Bruce Springsteen Exhibit to Premiere in Freehold (Photos)

As a songwriter, Bruce Springsteen is also a gifted storyteller-and the story begins in Freehold.

“The story started here,” Springsteen’s cousin, Glenn Cashion, says in a short film “Bruce Springsteen: Hometown,” directed by Emmy-Winning Asbury Park fillmaker Adam Worth. “We are so close to the stories.”

The film is part of the new exhibit, “Springsteen: His Hometown,” which officially opens to the public this Sunday at the Monmouth County Historical Association (MCHA) on 70 Court Street in Freehold this Sunday (Sept. 29). A grand opening kick-off event featuring Joe Grushecky & the Houserockers and Bobby Bandiera will take place tomorrow (Sept. 28).  The event is sold-out.

The collection–co-curated by Melissa Ziobro, Monmouth University’s Specialist Professor of Public History and Bernadette Rogoff, Director of Collections for MCHA– features 150 original pieces including 20 donated from Springsteen himself, and offers a deep-dive into the thematic fabric of his music and lyrics. The pieces include photos, alternative album covers, pieces from the original Upstage club and items from a scrapbook culled by his mother, Adele Springsteen (which includes press clippings and a handwritten letter by then manager Mike Appel).

The first floor offers a look into Springsteen’s origins, including original tour posters of his bands, The Castiles and Steel Mill, his high school yearbook, a thesis written about the Judicial System of New Jersey, a photo of his favorite English Teacher, Robert Hussey (“You taught me things I could not get from any book,” Springsteen wrote him in his yearbook), his favorite childhood book, “Brave Cowboy Bill” (the inspiration for the future song, “Outlaw Pete”), posters from The Clyde Beatty Circus (inspiration for “Wild Billy’s Circus Story”), original guitars, a set piece from the “Tunnel of Love Express” tour,a signed letter from Bill Bradley, a ring of hotel keys and the famed TEAC machine used to record the album, Nebraska. Another cool addition is a handwritten letter to his “Landlordess,” explaining the reasons for overdo water and rent bills, with a PSS: “I’m practicing my autograph. Whadya think?.

“The first floor gives you a comprehensive look at Bruce’s career, or as comprehensive as we can get,” Ziobro says. ”

The upstairs collection delves into the Springsteen family tree, including relatives that served in the Revolutionary and Civil Wars and historical facts of the town (with a tribute to Adele and the fashion of the times), all of which informs Springsteen’s work. A rare photo of Springsteen at the grave site of his descendant Thomas J. Fallon, who fought in the Civil War, is prominently displayed over Fallon’s medal of honor.,

The exhibit coincides with Springsteen’s 70th birthday and the Centennial anniversary of the town, Ziobro says, but that was “just a coincidence.”

Fans are also included. Gifts created for the musician, as well as a mailbox where visitors can drop him a line, is a part of the story.

“Springsteen: His Hometown” will be on display until Fall 2020. Be listening to Tom Cunningham Sunday morning at 9 a.m for “Springsteen on Sunday” for more insight into the exhibit, and a recap of Saturday evening’s grand opening.

All pieces are courtesy of the MCHA, the Bruce Springsteen Archives and Center for American Music at Monmouth University.

Advisors to the exhibit include Eileen Chapman, Director of Bruce Springsteen Archives & Center for American Music at Monmouth University, and Robert Santelli, founding director of the Grammy Museum in Los Angeles. Meg Sharp Walton serves as Executive Director.

Tickets to the public are $15; $12 for students/senior citizens and MCHA members. Freehold Borough residents are free. To order, look online at www.SpringsteenHisHometown.com.