Everybody has a Springsteen tale 

Published in the Asbury Park Press 12/16/99


Although Bruce Springsteen doesn't live here anymore, the presence of the famed rock-n-roller in his childhood home rumbles just under the surface. Everyone has a story to tell; if you just ask them a little bit.

"Bruce's uncle had a dry cleaning store down the street. (Bruce) used to go to Federici's a lot and he still does now and again," says Peggy DiBenedetto, of Joe's Barber Shop on South Street.

It's noon and a number of men in rumpled disarray fill the shop's seats to squeeze in a quick haircut before returning to the rest of their day. Peggy DiBenedetto watches her son, Mike, give a customer one of the notorious DiBenedetto trims.

"My father-in-law cut Bruce's hair when he was little," Peggy says, referring to the late Joe DiBenedetto, Mike's paternal grandfather.

"We also had a barber here, Mike Patterson, who saw him (Springsteen) on Main Street and talked him into coming back to the shop," DiBenedetto says.

Although DiBenedetto didn't recall any face-to-face meetings with Springsteen himself, she remembers his mother.

"Adele was one of the chaperones at a beach house we had in high school," she says. "We called it the Wiggle Inn, but then we also says it was the Wiggle Inn and Stagger Out."

Down the road from Joe's barber shop, Jack Horenkamp has just stopped in at his bed-and-breakfast, The Hepburn House on Monument St., to see how his guests are doing.

While his guests are mostly businesspeople, Horenkamp has created a map that highlights borough points of interest to Springsteen fans, including the intersection of Route 33 and South Street which was featured in a song, and two of Springsteen's previous homes, on South Street and Institute Street.

And it's the Institute Street house that seems to be the must-visit for fans on the Springsteen pilgrimage. The house on the corner of Parker Street was featured on the lyric sheet of Springsteen's "Born in the USA" album.

"We get all kinds of people from all over. I mean all over," says Joan Venti Kress, whose father once rented the house to the Springsteen family.

Over the years, Kress and her husband have raised two children in the house as the crowds continue to visit. Some visitors may get to sign a guest book which the Kress family began a few years ago and sometimes takes outside for fans to sign. 

As she fixes dinner, Kress pulls out letters, music tapes and pictures that people have left on the doorstep or mailed to the family in hopes it will make it into Springsteen's hands. 

Kress says she's not surprised that this summer, there were more than 600 tourists in chartered buses who walked from downtown just to see her Institute Street house; the house where Bruce once lived.

"The minute I heard that it (the house) was in 'Born in The USA', I knew that was it."

from the Asbury Park Press 
Published: December 16, 1999