Weird History: TV beatnik bust precedes raid for cops

Doug Fuhrmann 

It was a Wednesday night in March 1960, and Carl Asselta was watching television in his Vineland home before reporting for duty on the late-night shift.
Asselta worked as a patrolman on the city's police force. Throughout the year, the force had been breaking up illegal activities operating from Landis Avenue businesses.
Led by Chief Carl Ford, the police recently had halted a lottery racket operating from a store that served as a front for gambling activities.
So it was probably with interest that Asselta watched the black-and-white drama playing out on his television set.
After all, that week's presentation of "Armstrong Circle Theatre" centered on undercover agents posing to expose a beatnik ring.
It was called, "Raid in Beatnik Village."
With the fictional beatniks all raided out, Asselta reported for duty at 11 p.m.
In short order, he and Patrolmen Mickey Tirelli were dispatched to Chubby's Bun and Burger Restaurant at 441 Landis Ave.
They had received an anonymous call that a drinking party was going on. Finding the restaurant locked, but hearing noise and commotion inside, they entered through a back basement door.
Asselta and Tirelli moved in and found the only source of light came from a light bulb suspended from the ceiling.
Huddled underneath was a group of people amongst the Vodka bottles and paper cups strewn about the littered floor.
Asselta may have seen more buns than burgers at Chubby's that night as several of the participants were partially disrobed.
The officers called for assistance, arresting eight men and a woman on disorderly charges.
A front-page story in the next day's Vineland Times Journal told of police raiding a "beatnik-type" party in the restaurant's dimly lit basement.

Only this time, Asselta had seen it all play out in living color.