What a joy it was to celebrate the 63rd anniversary of Hamilton High School's Class of 1951 at Mercer Oaks last Sunday, April 13! It was so nice to spend those few fleeting hours recalling those dear old golden rule days with frequent contemporary interruptions referring to arthritis, pain pills, and our various octogenarian physical maladies. Among other things, we discussed the incredible differences found in our school experiences and the society in which we grew up when compared with the drastic societal changes in 21st century America. The above graphic contains a re-formatted column I wrote 23 years ago when even then society's fabric was gradually tearing more and more each day. To the right is a treasure which is indeed a personal treasure to me. My dear classmate Ms. Carol Sine Black (who has an uncanny resemblance to my late Cousin Ruth Williamson Gore) saved the beautiful card with the famous Emerson quote on it. Carol, along with many of the choir at Hamilton High School were taught by Miss Louise Simpson Baird, who not only taught is the beauty of music, but also the elusive search for a meaningful existence. In addition to that classic Emerson quote from Carol, here are two additional quotations which Miss Baird asked us to commit to memory; I memorized them all:
"The true test of a man's character is what he would do if he knew he would never be found out."
"Make the world a bit more beautiful because you have lived in it."
Despite a blustery and very rainy night, the "Little Theater" at the Hamilton Township Public Library was filled to capacity on Monday evening, April 7th as the Hamilton Township Historical Society kicked off the 2014 season with what Broadway's fabled "Variety" magazine would categorize as a "Boffo SRO crowd." To add to the wonderful and educational meeting, former Mayor Jack Rafferty, himself an accomplished historian, came to the meeting with my old friend, Viet Nam vet and Mayor's Patriotic Committee officer, Ronny Stewart. Their attendance gave much needed boost to the credibility of our cause. Did we ever have a good time! The Hamilton Township Historical Society has been on the wrong path even as far back as when I served as president of the group, with programs having little to do with our incredible local history. With Dr. James Federici as our new president, we have embarked on an exciting new series of programs which will be of interest to not only Hamiltonians, but to Trentonians and Mercer County.
The next meeting on May 5th will also be devoted to local history as we present a program entitled, "ON THE HOME FRONT;" a pre-Memorial Day patriotic program devoted to the military and life on the home front during World War II. You will learn about Blackouts, Air Raid Wardens, the Fifth Column, Rationing, and countless other war years articles and photos in a fascinating on-screen presentation. Included in the program will be time set aside for a musical sing along of patriotic music from "Tie a Yellow Ribbon 'round the Old Oak Tree" to "Anchors Aweigh," "I'll Be Seeing You," and other songs to bring back those treasured memories. Details to follow; stay tuned!
Some of my more popular history related columns revolved around a fictional Trenton newspaper "stringer" named "Lawson Tattler." (A stringer is a neighborhood freelancer who writes for local newspapers when requested). Lawson may be a fictional figment of my imagination, but the questions he asks and the response he receives are historically true. Above is one of those interviews; there will be future "Tattler" interviews in my Times of Trenton "Sentimental Journey" in future editions.
It was big news back in August, 1951 when Hamilton Township hosted the Babe Ruth World Series. In the photo above, we see Mr. Cliff Fovour, one of the founders of the league, throws out the first pitch. This was a red letter day in the history of Hamilton sports.
MANY THANKS TO MY FRIEND, GEORGE GOLDY FOR THIS INTERESTING INSIGHT INTO THE ABOVE COLUMN:
In 1951 the Little Bigger League came into existence in Yardville to give boys a place to play after Little League. Later it evolved into the Babe Ruth League and went national. I was in the athletic officials group at HHS in 51 and we were asked to umpire games for the league. A few of us did and we were paid a cap and shirt. (The days of volunteering). Later I spent 16 years at Switlik as a coach and manager 1972 to 1987. We were never allowed to host the world series in all the years because the facility was not adequate (covered stands, parking, etc) I believe they allowed the series to be held in 2001 because of the 50th anniversary.
The digital age has proven over and over to give credibility to my 20 year old slogan, "The Computer and Local History: Perfect Together." On Monday evening April 7th in Room 3 of the Hamilton Township Public Library at 7 P.M., the Hamilton Township Historical Society will begin the year 2014 with a completely new and very exciting program which will bring truly LOCAL history to the Hamilton-Trenton area. Incoming Society president, Dr. Jim Federici agrees with me that it is time to open the floodgates and let the public see and experience local history in graphic form. Along with me, Dr. Federici agrees that truly LOCAL history will be of much more interest to the public than out of town speakers speaking on out of town or non local interest subjects. This is an exciting new departure in programming. The details of the meeting are in the Program and Activities flyer above. This is a completely free program and open to ALL area residents from Hamilton, Trenton, and indeed to all within travelling distance of the Hamilton Township Public Library. Questions? E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Mr. Tom Tighue is very proficient at the task of finding these old Trenton tax photos from the Trenton Free Public Library's Trentoniana Collection. The graphic is a splendid example of one of the countless merchants who once inhabited the community known as "Jewtown;" due to the area being settled in a large part by those of Jewish extraction. I have an intense interest in that area of Trenton before before it became the victim of "urban renewal" back in the 1960's. Unfortunately, most of these old tax photos were overwritten with a white marker and many of them obliterated the detail in the photo. Fortunately a bit of time consuming PhotoShop image I have altered this photo to its original status. For some reason, one of my regular and very valuable contributors, Mike Kuzma has been posting comments which for some reason have been segregated as Spam. I have an editor section and he was once again listed as spam. I have no idea why, and Google Blogger is not into giving personal attention to problems. Mike, next time you comment, sign in using "ANONYMOUS" and sign your comment if you aren't already doing so. FOLLOWING IS MIKE'S VERY INTERESTING AND HISTORICALLY VALUABLE COMMENT:
Tom: This tire store was run by the Kravitz family. The photo shown was before my ability to get a drivers license. Although there are those who say I was around before Methuselah. When old enough in the late 40's early 50's I spent a lot of time here with Dave, and Mendy Kravitz, and bought many a tire from them. Never new, since that was beyond my pocketbook. The Kravitz's were neighbors and good businessmen. Fair, honest and trustworthy. As the City's chief Real Estate Officer, I bought them and many other homes and businesses in my "Jewtown" neighborhood. The grandson of the founder; Allen ran the business when they relocated to W.Hanover St. just before Calhoun. I too have been to the Trenton Library and gleaned some photos from the Trentoniana Collection. One of which I carried to Jacksonville NC to present to Itcy Popkin who grew up in the block prior to the address on Union St. Itchy a very very prominent businessman today was thrilled abd deeply appreciative of have vestigages of his childhood to share with his grandchildren. We all appreciate your efforts in this regard. Keep up the good work.
It was a time of relative prosperity. It was also an era that saw groundswell changes in the character of Hamilton Township. The township we old timers remember was a very rural area surrounded by the villages of Bromley, Mercerville, Hamilton Square Yardville, Groveville, White Horse, and Deutzville. As a "Bromleyite" for well over 60 years, I recall former Mayor Jack Rafferty improving the area with attractive sidewalks and old fashioned street lights. During his administration Mayor Rafferty changed former Mayor Maurice Perilli's "Hamilton Park" into Veterans' Park; a local community treasure. It was during Jack's years that today's Kuser Farm was acquired. Prior to the acquisition, Edna Kuser, who was a registered Democrat, asked former Democratic Mayor Maurice Perilli for advice on how to go about transferring the land to the township for a public park. She agreed with Maury that developers would love to clear the land and develop the 70 acres into a neighborhood of homes. According to Maury, he assured Mrs. Kuser that then Mayor Jack Rafferty was very history minded and an ardent supporter of the Green Acres program. The rest is history. Jack Rafferty will go down in history as the mayor who changed rural Hamilton into the growing megalopolis we have today. The graphic illustrated and describes the Rafferty years quite completely. As a final note, were it not for former Mayor Jack Rafferty, along with then Mayoral Aide "Mo" Rossi and Business Administrator Joe Bellina, there would be no Hamilton Township Local History program. Thanks, Jack; the success of our efforts here at the Hamilton Library in bringing local history to the fore, has been a smashing and ongoing success!
One of the tragedies of recent years has been the demise of Roman Catholic grammar schools. The above article tells the sad story of the demise of Sacred Heart grammar school; a school that was on par in academic excellence with affluent schools in affluent areas.
I often wonder just how much incredibly important historic material has been thrown into the re-cycle bin by those who do not understand the importance of historic preservation. I recall years ago when the Trenton Police were moving out of the Second Precinct building on South Broad Street. Untold historic treasures were flying out of the upper story windows and into a recycling receptacle below. Undoubtedly there were documents and photos in that project that should not be available to the public for obvious reasons. On the other hand, there was probably very valuable historic material dropping into that huge recycle bucket 3 stories below. The extract above is a glaring example of history being destroyed. Were it not for then Trenton Library Director Robert Coumbe, those tax photos would have been recycled and lost to posterity. Above is a photo from the Trenton tax office collection of various Trenton locations. The originals all had hand written identification information scrawled across the bottom of each photo which I have removed. Unfortunately, many of these tax photos were taken hastily with little attention being paid to focusing the camera on the subject.
It has always been a complete mystery to me why our town fathers back in the 19th and into the 20th century failed to capitalize on the incredible history of one of the most historic cities in America. As I page through millions of local history pages, I see countless articles and photos of the destruction of incredibly historic buildings; all in the name of "progress." However, one of our Trenton treasures still exists and thanks to the wonderful folks who staff Trenton's historic "Old Barracks," a priceless treasure has survived.
Once again, I draw on a splendid engraving of the old market that once ran up the middle of North Broad Street to Academy Street. A partial view of Trenton City Hall can be seen on the far right, under my "1903" date addition. There are currently 71 articles and photos in the "MARKETS-TRENTON" folder and more will be added as they are encountered as I journey through millions of pages of old Trenton newspapers.
I really love those old engravings that were published in the newspaper before the advent of photographs. Above is a pristine scan and enhancement of historic St. Michael's Church on No. Broad Street. We all know the history of that incredibly historic edifice and the part it played in the battle of Trenton. I was baptized and confirmed in this church back in the late 1930's. My father's British roots obviously the main reason.
Google Earth has opened a whole new world for those of us who are interested in travelling to locations referred to in old newspaper articles. Such is the case with the graphic herewith that shows the wonderful beautification effort completed by Mrs. Martha Hunt of 104 Spring Street in Trenton. I have modified the Google Earth view and removed the text which was overprinted on the street view. As you can see, 104 Spring Street is much the same as it was structurally, but those charming window shutters are no more, and the wooded gateway to the alley has been replaced by a chain link fence and gate. I really love those sloping Mansard roofs that were so much in evidence in earlier years.
When you're out in those wide open spaces at Kuser Park, there will never be a standing room only crowd coming to my Sunday afternoon music/nostalgia presentations. The reason is obvious:For many years, professional musicians performed here. That was before the recreational financial expenses had to be curtailed. It all happened back during former Mayor Glenn Gilmore's administration, when the cuts were made. We were left without the wonderful music of my friend Dick Chimes and his Polish Polka band, Bob Smith and his Lamplighters, The Daisy Jug Band, and many other wonderful talented musicians. With all the humility I could muster, I volunteered to fill the void with my non professional music. My offer was accepted, and the standing room only crowds that had been attending the music from the aforementioned professionals, diminished to a precious few. But how those few enjoyed our little Sunday sing alongs! This year, assuming that Hamilton Township wants me back, it is my intent to return for my 8th (or is it 9th?) summer. This year, I am going to extend the season, and also experiment with outdoor computer projection in order to see if bright daylight will be too much for screen legibility with words to the songs projected on a movie screen. Stay tuned!
How we loved to read those rural highway signs back in the 1940's when "BURMA SHAVE" was a very popular product. With the proliferation of tasteless, sometimes vulgar but mostly immature 18 to 49 year olds manning the desks of the advertising agencies, it is a refreshing look back at how a product can endear we consumers. Burma Shave was one such product. Here's an article I wrote years ago for the late, great MERCER MESSENGER, Wayne Davis, Editor
The area in which Liberty Street and Chestnut Avenue meet is the general area of the Lalor Park Tract as illustrated in these old graphics from the early part of the 20th century. I have inserted an extract from my map collection to give a better idea of the neighborhood. This and the post that follows deal with the Lalor family and their extensive real estate from the Broad Street Park Boundary to The D&R Canal, and inland to include Hancock Street, Woolverton Avenue, Home Avenue and streets on the East Side of Lalor Street.
This article I wrote many years ago proves that a young boy's hormones begin to stir at a very early age. My very first girl friend was in the third grade "Glee Club. Her name was Shirley and we were a natural pair way back in 3rd grade when we sang together. The article here jumps ahead a few years when little Tommy Glover was fascinated by two Madelyns; Madelyn Lear and Madeline Bencivengo. It would have been appropriate had I entitled this piece, "Unrequited Love." Look it up.
THIRTY YEARS! Yes, it's been 30 years since I penned this two parter recalling one of the most looked forward teen age events, Cruising the Trenton area on a Thursday night when all the downtown Trenton stores are open for business, and when Trenton was light years different from the Trenton of today. The streets were teeming with downtown shoppers, and it was just plain harmless fun for those of us newly licensed drivers to cruise around town and ogle the lovely ladies who were exiting their respective stores and offices as the 9 o'clock closing hour approached. C'mon back with me to 1952; you're gonna go cruisin' with me and my best buddy, Don Slabicki.
This Sunday, March 23, Page 2 TRENTON TIMES, take a nostalgic trip to Fort Dix as Tom Glover recalls the first 8 weeks of basic training in his three year tour of duty in the U.S. Army. A short story that will be familiar to any and all Uncle Sam's veterans.
Library Director Ms. Susan Sternberg announces a much needed and freecommunity service to those who hold a Hamilton Township Public Library membership card. The details are above. There are many Over these many years since I have been into computing, When I am at my local presentations and ask how many in the audience are into computing, I find that there are MANY who use it for email only. The above classes will get you going full steam ahead. There are untold treasures to be found when one becomes proficient in computing; furthermore, it is NOT a complicated process. Check it out via the details above.
What talent! Not only is Bill Klek an expert at scale modeling, he is also one of my valued researchers helping me in my never ending quest to find additional little known historical bits and pieces of Hamilton's Camp Olden. The photo shows Principal Roberto Kesting's receiving the incredibly beautiful model of the best grammar school in the whole U.S.A. (of course I am quite prejudiced) which was built by Mr. Bill Klek. Roberto and Bill Klek's daughter Emma pose proudly with the incredible keepsake.In a previous version of this photo, Bill Klek emailed me and advised me that I had mistaken Roberto for him in the photo. This is the correction. Sorry for the goof.
The history of the African-American community is and has been one of the subjects that has some very interesting historic facts. One of those subjects relates to the segregation of the African-American population not only nationwide, but locally here in the Trenton area. I have been researching material on local schools for a presentation for the Hamilton Township Historical Society which I will be making in the fall of this year. Along with such intriguing names as Friendship School, Edgebrook, etc. there are the schools which were set aside for the black children who lived in Trenton at the time. Thus far, I have found that there was a segregated school for the "colored" in the mid 1850's on Trenton's Hanover Street. Bellevue Avenue was originally known as Higbee Street. The teacher's log book shown above was from the time when the "Bellevue Avenue Public School" was located there. It is believed that this school was not a school for black students. The Lincoln School, then the Nixon School succeeded it and were schools for black children. Note that this is SPECULATION on my part, and subject to correction if someone should have information that will further enlighten those who are interested in researching the subject.
RALPH LUCARELLA said...
HEY MIKE, THIS IS RALPH, LETTING YOU KNOW I,M STILL AROUND. I'M GONNA BE 95 YEARS OLD IN AUGUST AND LIVING UP IN THE MOUNTAINS OF NORTH CAROLINA. IT'S A CRIME THAT MY BROTHER CHUCK PASSED AWAY SO YOUNG OR ELSE HE WOULD HAVE GONE ON TO BE SOME DOCTOR. BASEBALL WAS THE BIG THING IN BOTH OUR LIVES UNTIL THINGS CHANGED ALL THAT. I OFTEN RECALL THE HAMILTON BOWLING LANES ON ROUTE 33 IN 1954 AND WHAT MY BROTHER LOU AND I DID WE WENT OUT TO INDIANAPOLIS IN 1948 TO SEE CHUCK HELP WIN THE AMERICAN LEGION WORLD SERIES. MAY GOD BLESS HIM AND MAY HE REST IN PEACE .
Glad to hear from you, and learn you are still with us.
Chuck was 2 years ahead of me in school, and I knew him as a super nice, and very accomplished guy. I was in Jr. 4 when the Schroths won the championship. Ronnie Holford, Andy Greener and Gino Silvestro as I recall were his teamates. They too were friends of mine. I also knew his wife, and her twin sister. All great people in a far better time of our country. Where are you in No. Carolina. I'm in Virginia, about a half hour from the State line with NC.
E-mails and guest book entries such as this from Ms. Judy Bingley Staed make this project a personally rewarding endeavor not only for me, but for the many visitors to this blog. Judy captures the moment as she recalls her trips to the movies with her mom back in those innocent, less complicated, and bittersweet times. Thank you Judy; and please thank your friend who put you in touch with this blog. I am humbled. Judy wrote:
Dear Mr. Glover,
I want to thank you and express my appreciation for all the endless photo and fact finding you have done in reference to Trenton in days past. Your work is so valued by so many. Again, thank you.
Just recently I have begun thinking of Trenton and the "old days." I friend of mine directed me to your website. What a wealth of information it is.
I was raised on Hoffman Avenue near Stuyvesant Avenue. Many were the nights as a small child when my mother would take my hand and off we'd go to the Strand Theater. My dad didn't care for movies and so I made for some company for Mom on these outings. Off we'd go down Hermitage Avenue. It was only a short walk to the Strand.
I remember clearly seeing The High And The Mighty and also Dial M For Murder at the Strand during those very young years in my life. There were so many more movies, however, that Mom took me to see.
Those years evolved into my teens and the Strand was almost like a second home. Every Friday night I'd go to the movies there and after the movie cross Hermitage to Tanzone's where friends and I would have a true Trenton "Tomato Pie."
I have been fortunate to see pictures on your website of the Strand in 1916 and also 1930. I have wondered though if you have ANY pictures of the Strand from the 1950's. I would so love to see one.
Thank you, Mr. Glover, for memories restored and renewed, and most certainly for the opportunity for me to recapture in thought some of the sweetest days of my youth.
West End Sal said...
I share Judy's love of The Strand -- It was wonderful place where we would go on Saturdays followed by a trip across the street to The Arctic for the best ice cream in the world. The theater was a short walk from Carteret Avenue. I have downloaded a picture of the Strand from your website so it is as close as my desk drawer. Thanks for all you do, Tom