A blog about living in Aberdeen, New Jersey.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Water We Going to Do About All These Boil Alerts?

A bunch of issues have emerged from our recent struggles with the water supply. Here's a few off the top of my head:
  • The infrastructure is in abysmal shape nationwide. We need to invest in our water supply.  Problems in one place can impact people elsewhere.
  • The infrastructure is vulnerable to both Nature and Man . We need to monitor and assess these vulnerabilities and respond to identified needs as they arise. We can't continue to let events like errant road work or dilapidated, collapsing foot bridges affect the water supply for thousands of people for days or even weeks at a time.
  • The infrastructure is administratively out of control. We need to be able to promptly compartmentalize the individual water systems to preserve water purity and thus avoid county wide boil alerts. We can't blithely continue to share water between systems when one system has been fouled.
  • Local water authorities provide residents with inadequate information about their sources of water. Each municipality needs to post information about where it gets its water and how the municipality is divided geographically if more than one system is involved. While security is a concern, publicly useful information about the system can be safely posted and should be available online. Note that the NJ DEP water management website crashed during this event, so local municipal websites were the only source of information about water systems. And those sites on the whole provided meager resources.
  • Local water authorities provide residents with inadequate guidance when an alert occurs. Posting the county alert is a beginning but fails to provide the granularity that local water users need to make a host of decisions. Re-posting a neighboring town's water alert can be informative but doesn't provide sufficient locally-focused information to serve as a substitute for a locally generated alert. Residents should not have to rely on the media to learn what they need to do. Local authorities need to post detailed guidance on what to do in case of emergency, even how to prepare for an outage.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Fear Overcomes Wisdom

Superintendent Healy made it very clear at last night's Matawan-Aberdeen Regional School District board meeting that he feels that his job hangs in the balance when test scores fluctuate in district schools and he will therefore move heaven and earth to see that those statistics are favorable to his ongoing and prosperous employment. Board President Kenny then repeatedly told the public that his board would only consider 1) Mr Healy's presentation that night and 2) confidential discussions the board conducted in executive session when they voted on the personnel array later that evening.

After standing in the hallway for 2 1/2 hours listening first to Mr Healy and then to a long line of teachers, staff, parents, and other members of the public, I saw the writing on the wall and went home in disgust. Mr Kenny had outlined his guidance to the board on how they should weigh their vote, and it didn't include listening to the public. (Feel free to post a note if the outcome of the vote was unexpected.)

I've come to realize that emotion, not reason, moves today's agendas, and no amount of intellectual argument will change anything. Lies and misrepresentation can be exposed eloquently but to no avail. And poor decision making will never be amended or reversed as a result of well-timed guidance. The fearful, more prevalent than normal in these uncertain times, lust for power. They do not seek wisdom but comfort, and none can be found where they are looking.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Matawan-Aberdeen School District - 2012-13 Draft Calendar, June Meeting

The 2012-2013 MARSD Calendar is available in draft version at the district's website. The calendar provides the planned holidays, training days, parent-teacher days, testing, and the days that the school year is expected to begin and end.

The regular meeting of the school board is scheduled for 7 pm this evening at Crest Way. Regular is probably a misnomer as teachers are expecting word on the board's reconsideration of its plan to  reassign many teachers out of and into Lloyd Road Elementary. Sources tell me that the board plans to stand its ground on the matrix. And who said there would be no fireworks this year?

Sunday, June 24, 2012

History: Kovach's Gulf Service Station, Hazlet (1958)

The 6 Mar 1958 edition of The Matawan Journal announced the grand opening of Kovach's Gulf Service Station at the corner of Bethany Road and Holmdel Road in Hazlet. (Note: B & G Gulf is currently located at 701 Holmdel Road at that same corner.)

The advertisement said to "follow the searchlight Friday night" to the grand opening, which would be held Friday 7 March to Sunday 9 March 1958. There would be "free balloons and lollipops for the kiddies" and "free 4 water tumblers with old car design." They offered S&H Green Stamps, a chance to win steak knives, and, for the grand opening, a free lube and car wash with any oil change.

Wild Carrot in Full Bloom Along CB Seawall

Wild carrot attracts a wasp along seawall.

Poison Ivy Thriving in CB

Leaves of three, leave me be. Poison ivy spotted in Cliffwood Beach.

History: Mayor Robert G Thixton, Matawan (1895-1964)

The 24 Jun 1948 edition of The Matawan Journal contained this Oldsmobile advertisement sponsored by the Robert G Thixton dealership on Main Street in Matawan. The ad was promoting tune ups: Keep Your "Merry Oldsmobile" In Tune.

Below is a timeline of information available about Robert G Thixton, born Robert Gerard Thickstun, who served Matawan Borough as Mayor for one term (1945-1947) and Councilman for two consecutive terms (1936-1942). He was born in Plainfield, NJ on 5 Jan 1895 and died at Monmouth Medical Center in Long Branch on 11 Oct 1964.

As you can see above, he sold automobiles from a dealership on Main Street in Matawan for many years. He served in the military in World War I and worked for the War Department at Camp Kilmer early in World War II. He also clerked at a New York City brokerage.

His future wife, Theresa, was born 21 May 1898.

The 1900 Federal Census for New Jersey showed Robert G Thickstun living with his parents and siblings in the household of his great aunt Mary J Thickstun. The address was 407 Central Avenue, Plainfield, NJ. His father, William D Thickstun was a real estate agent. (The record has a number of errors. Perhaps the enumerator interviewed the aunt?)

The 1910 Federal Census for New Jersey showed Robert G Thickstun, 15 years old, living at 403 Central Avenue in the Plainfield household of William (43) and Elizabeth V Thickstun (38). William worked in real estate. His siblings were David B (20), William D (17), and Gerald Thickstun (13).

Robert Gerard Thickstun registered for the WWI draft on 5 Jun 1917. The form said he was born 5 Jan 1895 in Plainfield, NJ. He was living at 403 Central Avenue in Plainfield. He was working as a clerk at F S Moseley & Co, 26 Exchange Place, New York, NY. He had blue eyes and brown hair.

The 1920 Federal Census for New Jersey showed Robert G Thickstun, 24 years old, living at 403 Central Avenue in the Plainfield household of William D (53 yrs old) and Elizabeth V Thickstun (48). Robert's brother Gerald (23) and their grandmother Elizabeth Thickstun (84) lived in the household.

He lived at 403 Central Avenue in Plainfield, NJ in 1922, according to a local city directory. He was in the household of Elizabeth Thixton, widow of Daniel H Thixton. Others in the household were Gerald Thixton and William D Thixton, the latter in real estate. 

He bought the Main Street property of J August Sochl to be used for a "Chevrolet sales room," according to the 17 Feb 1928 edition of The Matawan Journal. He was due to take possession of the property on 1 Apr 1928.

He bagged a pheasant in Matawan, according to the 16 Nov 1928 edition of The Matawan Journal. The game warden had released 100 rabbits and a couple dozen pheasants in the Matawan area the previous summer. The hunting exploits of numerous members of the community are mentioned.

The 1930 Federal Census for New Jersey showed Robert Thixton, age 35, auto dealer, as head of household at 108 Main Street in downtown Matawan. His wife, Theresa, was 32 years old. They had $25,000 in property.

He and Samuel Bell, of Bell Beef Company, were involved in organizing two of Matawan's twilight league baseball teams, according to a rather amusing investigative article in the 23 Feb 1934 edition of The Matawan Journal.

At the same time Mayor Edward W Currie won his third term in Matawan Borough, Thixton won as Democratic councilman, according to the 8 Nov 1935 edition of The Matawan Journal. In a separate article, Thixton reported weekly sales at Thixton Chevrolet-Oldsmobile Sales and Service in Matawan reached the impressive level of 7 new automobiles. The front page article actually listed the names of those who purchased the cars. See also the 18 Nov 1935 edition of The Matawan Journal.

The Mayor named him to the Finances Committee for Matawan's 250th anniversary celebration, according to the 15 May 1936 edition of The Matawan Journal.

The 12 Jun 1936 edition of The Matawan Journal contained several Thixton ads, including one for used cars and another for Chevrolet trucks. An article towards the back of the paper said Thixton had sold 24 new cars in May 1936, listing a number of the customers and the cars they bought.

The 16 Jul 1936 edition of The Matawan Journal announced his sale of 110 Main Street for $30,000. The property included a dwelling, store, repair shop, and bungalow. Frontage on Main Street was 122.5 feet. The property was 316 feet deep and 63.5 feet across at the back of the lot. The same paper announced that the annual picnic of the Ladies Auxiliary of Matawan's American Legion post would be held at Mrs Thixton's summer home at Metedeconk, described by New Jersey History's Mysteries as "a fishing and shipping village located at the mouth of the Metedeconk River" in present day Brick Township.

He threw a 50th anniversary party for his parents at his home in Matawan, according to the 11 May 1939 edition of The Red Bank Register. His parents lived in Matawan. He was a councilman at the time.

Robert Girard Thixton registered for the World War II draft in 1942. The draft form said he was born 5 Jan 1895 in Plainfield, NJ. He lived on Edgemere Drive in Matawan. He listed two phone numbers: Matawan 1970 and Matawan 2049. He worked for the War Department, US Engineers, NYDE, at Camp Joyce Kilmer, Stelton, NJ. (I had no luck with the NYDE acronym.)

He was to serve as a delegate to the state convention of the American Legion, representing the Matawan Post, according to the 30 Aug 1945 edition of The Matawan Journal.

As a local businessman and member of American Legion Post 176, he worked on Legionnaires Week, which included a fair at the high school on 30 Jun 1947 and 4th of July festivities, according to the 26 Jun 1947 edition of The Matawan Journal.

The 30 Oct 1947 edition of The Matawan Journal covered Mayor Thixton's third campaign appearance, the last one before the upcoming election. He was a Republican and was running against Democratic candidate John W Applegate.

The Thixton's daughter Jean Thixton attended Centenary Junior College, according to the 17 Mar 1949 edition and several other issues of The Matawan Journal. Centenary, located in Hackettstown, NJ, was founded by the Methodist church in 1867 as a co-educational preparatory school. It became a girls preparatory school in 1910 and then a women's junior college in 1940. Currently co-educational again, the school is now called Centenary College of New Jersey.

Robert G Thixton Olds ad appeared in the 5 Jan 1950 edition of The Matawan Journal. 

The 24 Sep 1953 edition of The Matawan Journal featured the dedication of the First Baptist Church of Matawan's new Sunday School building earlier that week. Mr. Thixton worked on the building committee, as reported on pg 4.

He served on the Board of Trustees of the Matawan Business Association, according to the 26 Jun 1952 edition of The Matawan Journal. His term was set to expire in 1955.

This Thixton Chevrolet ad appeared in the 3 Nov 1955 edition of The Matawan Journal.

 He and Theresa maintained a second residence at 231 NE 8th Boulevard in Boca Raton, Florida in the late 1950s and early 1960s.

He died 11 Oct 1964 and is buried in the Oak Hill section of Old Tennent Cemetery, Tennent, NJ.

The 12 Oct 1964 edition of The Red Bank Register included this obituary for R G Thixton:

R. C. Thixton, Matawan, Dies
MATAWAN — Robert G. Thixton, 69, of 5 Edgemere Dr., died yesterday in Monmouth Medical Center, Long Branch.

Mr. Thixton was a former mayor and a councilman here.
He was born in Plainfield, son of the late William D. and Elizabeth Taylor Thixton. He had lived here for 40 years.

Mr. Thixton was a retired automobile dealer. He was a member of the First Baptist Church, Masons and American Legion of this place, Crescent Temple, Trenton, and was a past commander of the Monmouth County American Legion. He also was a veteran of World War I.
Surviving are his wife, Mrs Theresa Jocham; a daughter, Mrs. Jean May of this place; three brothers, Dr. David Thickstun of Plainfield, and William D. and Gerald Thixton, both of Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; and three grandchildren.

The funeral will be Wednesday at 1 p.m. in the Bedle Funeral Home, here, with Rev. Robert Addie, pastor of the First Baptist Church, officiating. Burial will be in Old Tennent, Cemetery, Tennent.

The 15 Oct 1964 edition of The Matawan Journal contained the following obituary:

Robert G. Thixton

Robert G. Thixton, 69, of 5 Edgemere Dr., Matawan, who formerly served as mayor of Matawan for two years and who was a member of the Borough Council for six years, died Sunday, Oct. 11, 1964, at Monmouth Medical Center.
Mr. Thixton was elected mayor of Matawan in 1945 and served from January 1945, for a two-year term. He served on the borough council for two three-year terms from 1936 through 1942.
Mr. Thixton was retired. He had been an automobile dealer of Chevrolet and Oldsmobile cars in Matawan for many years. He was a member of Matawan Masonic Lodge 192 of which he was a past worshipful master, and was affiliated with Crescent Temple, Trenton, Ancient Arabic Order, Nobles of the Mystic Shrine. He was a member of the First Baptist Church of Matawan.

A veteran of World War I, Mr. Thixton was a past commander of Monmouth County Post American Legion and of Matawan Post 176 American Legion.
Son of the late William D. Thixton and Mrs. Elizabeth (Taylor) Thixton, he had resided in Matawan 40 years. He was born in Plainfield.
Surviving are his wife, Mrs. Theresa (Jocham) Thixton, Matawan; a daughter, Mrs Jean May, Matawan; three grandchildren; three brothers, Dr. David Thickstun, Plainfield; William Thixton and Gerald Thixton, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
Funeral services were held at 1 p.m. Wednesday in the Bedle Funeral Home, Matawan, with the Rev. Robert Addiss, pastor of the Baptist Church, officiating. Burial was in Old Tennent Cemetery.
Masonic funeral services were conducted by Matawan Lodge at 8 p.m. Tuesday at the funeral home.

The 26 Nov 1964 edition of The Matawan Journal listed those who received lowered property tax assessments from the Monmouth County Board of Taxation. Robert received adjustments on the following properties:
  • 110 Main Street (building), Matawan - reduced from $29,200 to $28,000
  • Rear of 5 Edgemere Drive (land), Matawan - reduced from $2,200 to $1,700
  • 5 Edgemere Drive (building), Matawan - reduced from $31,900 to $30,200.

Theresa died 27 Aug 1985 in Tobyhanna, Monroe County, Pennsylvania and is buried in the Oak Hill section of Old Tennent Cemetery, Tennent, NJ.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

History: Garden State Parkway to Absorb Cliffwood Peach Orchard and Brickyard (1953)

The 18 June 1953 edition of The Matawan Journal (pp 1, 4) contained this article about local property owners and the acquisition of their lands for the construction of the Garden State Parkway by the New Jersey Highway Authority.

Commissioners In Kuhns Case Named 
Judge Lloyd Prepares Condemnation Court; Clay Lands Of Brick Company To Be Taken Superior Court 

Judge Frank T. Lloyd appointed condemnation commissioners last week to act in the proceedings instituted by the New Jersey Highway Authority against William Kuhns, a farmer residing on Cllffwood Ave., Cliffwood. Mr. Kuhns is owner of 24.0 acres of land wanted for the Garden State Parkway.

These lands are seat of an orchard containing 2000 peach trees nearing fruit-bearing maturity. It is reported the Parkway appraisers have offered Mr Kuhns a top price of $38,000 and he has rejected it as wholly insufficient to pay for the total valuation of the land and the investment and work that has gone into raising the orchard.  Mr. Kuhns feels no adequate recognition has been given the productive capacity of the orchard.

Commissioners named to act are Richard O. Venino, an attorney from Spring Lake, Louis Becker, Morganville florist, and John T. Lawley, Jr., Red Bank realtor. Ralph Heuser, Matawan, is attorney for Mr. Kuhns in the proceedings. No date has been set for a hearing.

Negotiate For Oschwald Parcel

Negotiations also are under way at this time for the acquisition by the New Jersey Highway Authority of 35 acres of the clay-land reserve of the Oschwald Brick Co., Cliffwood. Paul Oschwald, president of the company, has signed a right of entry permit for Parkway work to proceed on these lands.

The Oschwald firm is one of the oldest ones in this area. It was founded by Alex Gaston, for whom the street in Oak Shades is named, 85 years ago. It was a maker of tidewater brick in the years when row-on-row of red front brick apartment houses were lining up in New York from 1880 to 1910.

In 1910 the company became the Bushnell-Lipton Brick Co. It passed to Oschwald management after World War I and was brought to a high peak of efficiency just before World War II. Mr Oschwald reports that in 1939 the company produced 25,000,000 first quality brick. Building activities declined during World War II, but the pick-up in building in recent years stepped up the output to 22,000,000 brick, according to Mr. Oschwald. Removing part of its clay reserve is a serious matter, he acknowledges, and declares that if the 35 acres are released to the Parkway, he wants to obtain other claybearing land of as good quality and reasonable access so that the company's operations and high quality product will not be affected.


It seems the Kuhn family, originally from Pennsylvania, had farmed in Cliffwood for more than 70 years when they were evicted from their peach orchard in the name of modernity.
  • The 1930 Federal Census for New Jersey shows William R Kuhns, age 5, living in Cliffwood as the son of Arthur R and Florence G Kuhns. Arthur was a 31-year-old farmer born in NJ to NJ parents. Florence was 28 years old and born in NY to NY parents. Arthur and Florence had been married about 9 years. William had an 8-year-old sister, Florence E Kuhns.
  • The 1920 Federal Census for New Jersey shows Arthur Kuhns, age 21, living in Cliffwood as the son of John E and Laura Kuhns. John was a 58-year-old farmer born in NJ to PA parents. Laura was 49 years old and born in NY to NJ parents. Arthur's siblings were an older sister, Laura, 22, employed as a teacher; a younger brother Hilburt, 18; and a younger sister Clara, 14.
  • The 1880 Federal Census for New Jersey shows John E Kuhns, Jr, age 18, living in Matawan Township as the son of John E and Barbara Kuhns. John was a 61-year-old farmer born in PA to PA parents. Barbara was also 61 years old and born in PA to PA parents. Also in the household were John Jr's sister Louisa, age 25; a cousin  Mary L Brian, age 13; and a boarder.

Samaha's 2012 - Opening June 20th

Samaha's Market on Lloyd Road in Aberdeen opens for the season on Wednesday 20 June 2012.

Subway Comes to Cliffwood!

Subway Store #54945 will be opening soon at 315 Highway 35 in the A&P Shopping Center in Cliffwood.

UPDATE (29 Jun 2012): The storefront has a Subway banner hanging across the window but the place is still completely empty. No doubt one day the corporate folks will arrive and set it up. These things tend to take a while.

UPDATE: (19 Aug 2012): The construction crew has been busy the past week or so at the new Subway location in Cliffwood. There is a dumpster in the parking lot and I noticed lights on inside today. The Subway website says the store will be opening soon. I'll bet it will be really soon. Take a note Subway: your zip code there is 07721, not 07747, as it says on your website. The Cliffwood Post Office (07721) is in the same parking lot with you.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Cliffwood/Cliffwood Beach: Boil Your Water - 18 June 2012

Aberdeen Township is warning its northern and eastern residents to boil their water.

Fecal coliform bacteria were found in the water supply in a sample collected on June 15, 2012 that may have been due to a construction related event from work on Bordentown and Ernston Road.  This Advisory is limited to the North and Eastern Section of the Township that includes the Madison Park and Central Park areas, Ellen Heath, Oxford Estates, Cheesequake Village, and the Laurence Harbor and Cliffwood Beach areas.

These bacteria can make you sick, and are a particular concern for people with weakened immune systems. Bacterial contamination can occur when increased run-off enters the drinking water source (for example, following heavy rains). It can also happen due to a break in the distribution system (pipes) or a failure in the water treatment process.

Cliffwood and Cliffwood Beach in particular receive some of their water from Old Bridge, which tainted its supply as a result of road construction damage to the pipeline. (ABERDEEN NOTICE)  Old Bridge has posted a similar notice.

Aberdeen Township has three distinct water systems, according to NJ Drinking Water Watch and Aberdeen Township Water Department:
  1. Aberdeen - Cliffwood/Cliffwood Beach (NJ1330002)
  2. Aberdeen - High School/Oak Shades Area (NJ1330003)
  3. Aberdeen -  Aberdeen - Freneau (NJ1330004)
Neither source defines water service with any more detail than this. Perhaps the Aberdeen Water Department could offer a bit more detail regarding which neighborhoods are included in each system?

Since 1988, Old Bridge Municipal Utility Authority has been selling a minimum of 800,000 gallons of finished water per day and up to 3 million gallons of water per day to Aberdeen Township through an emergency interconnection. OBMUA also has such interconnections with Perth Amboy, Sayreville, and Marlboro. (Source: OBMUA)

On a related preparedness note, Cliffwood Beach residents were left to scramble when flood evacuations were issued last summer. Instead of evacuating the entire shore, Aberdeen authorities could have provided more detailed information so many residents would not have felt compelled to leave their homes. An online flood zone map would have aided residents in both weighing the danger and determining their need to evacuate. Blanket evacuation of Cliffwood Beach is uncalled for in most situations as numerous homes are above the flood zone.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

History: NYTEL Promotes Phone Ownership for Travelers (1912)

The 10 Mar 1910 edition of The Matawan Journal contained a New York Telephone Company advertisement pointing out the value of having a telephone when you travel. The ad wasn't focused on bringing a phone with you, of course, and wasn't even promoting the use of pay phones. No, this was much more basic than that. NY Tel just thought you might travel now and then and find it convenient to have a phone at home so you could call ahead and tell people you are running late.

While travelers still run late a hundred years later, they have many more ways to let people know about their likely tardiness than a quick call before leaving the house. Oddly, though, people are once again deciding whether it is worthwhile to have a phone in the home. In the 21st century, people can use their cell phone or computer to reach out and touch someone. If my cable bill didn't include a cheap land line, I doubt I'd still have one.

Taxi Driver Stabbed in Keyport; Fugitive Sought

A neighbor called to say that a taxi driver was stabbed in Keyport tonight and the culprit was on the loose. I heard a helicopter overhead here in Cliffwood Beach, presumably looking for the fugitive.

I've gotten to know some of the local cabbies and hope the driver is doing ok. Let's hope the police catch the person who did this.

History: Cliffwood Beach Pool Constructed (1929)

The 14 Jun 1929 edition of The Matawan Journal announced the construction of the Cliffwood Beach pool. The article was chock full of superlatives, sounding more like an advertisement than a news story. I actually suspect the vendor wrote the piece as it was so poorly written.

Here's a sample. I removed some sections and truncated the piece after it launched into praises for its wonderful filtration system. Feel free to read the whole story at the above link. The story begins on the front page, far right column, and continues on page 10.

Cliffwood Beach Is To Have New Swimming Pool
Will Be Largest One on NJ Coast
In Its Construction All Pool Problems Have Been Solved by the Engineer, Wayne A Becker

The new Cliffwood Beach Pool is the most modern pool of its kind in the State of New Jersey. It also enjoys the distinction of being the largest salt water pool on the Jersey shore. Like all things - pools change; improvements are made. This pool is right up-to-the-minute. The Cliffwood Beach Company believes to build right, you must plan right -- about a year of time was required to investigate the ability of pool engineers to visit various pools and determine what was the very best. The outstanding man on pools in the country was found to be Wayne A Becker, Consulting Engineer of the Kring-Becker Engineering Co, Cincinnati, Ohio. At a recent meeting of the National Amusement Association, where the experience of the whole country is available. . . .

The new pool at Cliffwood Beach has been in the course of construction since last September, and should be finished in the latter part of June. Active construction has been underway constantly for this period of nine months when as many as fifty men at a time have been employed in its construction.

The pool proper will be 50 feet wide by 150 feet long with depths ranging from three feet to nine feet. The holding capacity, filled to the overflow gutters, will be 368,500 gallons of water, in other words over a third of a million gallons.

Along the side of the pool will be located five flood light poles of sufficient height to carry flood lights on an elevation 46 feet above the level of the water. Each pole will carry 2,000 watts of flood lighting . . .

This pool will be equipped with . . .  water cooled marine lights which will be set in the sidewalls of the pool and will provide for underwater illumination. It will be the most brilliant lighting effect of any pool yet constructed in this country. . . . 

Saturday, June 16, 2012

History: St Joseph's Church, Keyport (Second Building 1879-1973)

Demolition of the second St Joseph's Church in Keyport began on Friday 27 July 1973 and was nearly completed by Tuesday 31 July, according to the 1 August 1973 edition of The Independent.

The first building was erected in 1854 in spite of anti-Catholic sentiment in the area, according to "Upon This Rock," a history of the Diocese of Trenton (1993), as cited at Rootsweb. The second building was erected in the same spot and dedicated on 27 June 1879. The first church became a school with two classrooms. It was also demolished in 1973.

The third and current house of worship was built at the same location on Main Street. The first Mass in the new building was said on 8 December 1976.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Glassworks in the Works? Preliminarily

According to its 20 Jun 2012 agenda, the Aberdeen Township Planning Board is scheduled to conduct a preliminary site plan review of the concept plan for the Glassworks development project that Somerset Development LLC intends to build on the old Anchor Glass plant property in Cliffwood. 200,00 square feet of commercial plus 540 residential units are planned. The meeting is set for 7:30 pm, presumably at town hall.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Lloyd Road Donnybrook at Crest Way

Charles Kenny and his Board out in Executive Session at 10 pm on Mon eve.

Outraged teachers and office staff stormed the Matawan-Aberdeen Board of Education meeting at Crest Way on Monday evening. They complained about a rash of notices administrators handed out late last week calling for the compulsory transfer of personnel between schools within our district. Public comments went on for well over an hour and a half until Board President Charles Kenny abruptly called for an executive session and pulled the Board into a nearby room to seek a short term solution.

When the meeting resumed after 10 pm, Kenny announced that the Board, with MRTA concurrence, had agreed to withdraw a thorny staffing array (Appendix 1A) from Monday night's vote in order to review their decision in light of the immense controversy. Kenny cautioned, however, that this did not signal weakness on the part of the Board nor a change of minds. Much thought had gone into the array and the Board might very well find it perfectly fine as presented. They might have even voted in favor of it on Monday evening if Kenny had pressed on, he argued.

So, where did this leave things? The Board could review the staffing array and leave it intact, in which case they could solidify their arguments in answer to the many questions posed on Monday night. On the other hand, after consultations the Board could end up amending or even eliminating the most hated of the planned staff moves. Keep in mind that the arguments were all one-sided on Monday evening; the Board's opinion on things was never revealed. One way or another, the array will come before the Board at its next stated meeting on 25 June 2012.

Overall, people wanted to know if the Board had seriously considered who would handle the transition at Lloyd Road Elementary with so many people in key positions leaving all at once. After all, the school is set to lose its principal and his office assistant, a guidance counselor, librarian, and 12 teachers, so who will guide the school through the more practical intricacies of operating the Lloyd Road school next fall when all administrative experience at that venue is gone?

We never learned the Board's rationale for moving so many teachers out of Lloyd Road after the district paid to train so many of them to use a new reading curriculum. People were irate that Board members didn't know how much they'd spent on the reading program training that they were seemingly now tossing down the drain. Likely the Board realized they couldn't justify pressing ahead with a vote without satisfactorily explaining the whole reading program training issue. The Board never explained why they thought kindergarten teachers could step into 4th grade teacher roles and vice versa. Ultimately, they didn't attempt to explain why this game of musical chairs was necessary in the first place. Beloved staff were being tossed around like rice at a wedding, and for what?

I was struck by how little of this drama was made clear in the mounds of paperwork handed out at Monday's meeting. The community at large could have had no idea what was up. Most in attendance had at least heard rumors of a brewing fight between the teachers at Lloyd Road and the MARSD. The uninitiated wallowed in nearly a hundred pages of seemingly detailed exhibits. Regular folks had no time or opportunity to learn what was buried in those pages. No matter; it would have required more statistical analysis than most could muster to find out what was really going on. Lucky for us, some of the teachers had crunched those numbers all weekend to assess the staffing changes being proposed.

Testimony from teacher after teacher revealed that the Board had waited until the last moment to hand out reassignment notices, seemingly hoping that Monday evening's meeting would come and go before an organized fight could be waged. But the word had gotten out on Facebook and the room was packed. The politicians on the Board huddled after it became evident that the Board's reputation was in the balance.

While I'm inclined to think it's always difficult to sort out who is right and who is wrong in these instances, the "resignation" of a string of key administrators in recent years and now this sudden effort to transfer  teachers and staff between schools suggests on its face that something is wrong.  As someone said last night, Somewhere along the line, the district has lost its way.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

African-American Series: 1940 Federal Census, Matawan Twp (ED 13-97)

Below is my index to the African American residents enumerated in the 1940 Federal Census for New Jersey in Enumeration District (ED) 13-97, which included part of Matawan Township - present day Aberdeen Township.  (Other districts not yet processed included ED 13-98 and ED 13-99)
A few immediate observations:
  • It was a surprise to me that so many folks living here in 1940 came from the British West Indies.
  • A number of households consisted of a single or widowed man and his age-mate housekeeper, who was also single or widowed. There are many examples of this. It's impossible to know the true story based simply on the census, but it seems likely that many of these were unmarried couples "living together", as we'd call it today. It seems unreasonable that so many single men would have had live-in housekeepers.
  • There are a number of cases where a man or woman would claim to be married but the spouse is not in the household. The census supervisor marked most of these with a question mark (?) and crossed through the M for married. The spouse could be living elsewhere, of course, but the supervisor evidently had some doubts.
  • Aberdeen Township Historian assembled a history of local street names some years ago. The census shows some variations to these names and even an additional street. It does not include a Garden Street. And it lists Arlington as an avenue and Bayview Street with Bay and View pushed together.

Entries show head of household and spouse, if married, with ages and place of birth. Children and grandchildren are listed as family. Others are described and listed. The last figures in each entry show the household number and page number from the census. Apparent household numbering errors are marked with an asterisk (*).

Abbreviations for places of birth listed below:
  • AL - Alabama
  • AR- Arkansas
  • BWI - British West Indies
  • CT - Connecticut
  • FL - Florida
  • GA - Georgia
  • LA - Louisiana
  • MD - Maryland
  • MO - Missouri
  • MS - Massachusetts
  • NC - North Carolina
  • NJ - New Jersey
  • NY - New York
  • SC - South Carolina
  • VA - Virginia
 County Road
  • Charles Richardson (47, BWI), roomer in Regan household (98, pg 9)
  • Walter and Marie Bethune (37 SC, 39 SC) (100, pg 9)
  • Joseph and Bessie Paul (42 BWI, 45 GA), plus Thomas Blandford (24 GA), a cousin (101, pg 9)
  • Phillip and Laura Hodge (44 BWI, 40 BWI) and family (102, pg 9)
  • Edgar and Louisa Rodgers (59 NC, 63 CT) (104*, pg 9)
  • Nathan Gumbo, widowed (52 BWI) and family (105, pp 9-10)
  • Sarah Rogers, widowed (48 BWI) and family, including sister Beatrice Richardson (35 BWI) (149, pg 25)
  • Mack and Melinda Jones (48 SC, 49 VA) (598, pg 28)
Bay View Street
  • Fleta Bell, divorced (36 GA) and family (116, pg 11)
  • Robert and Cora Richardson (57 NC, 50 VA) and a grandson (117, pg 11)
  • Mary Riley, widowed (55 VA) with boarder Isaiah Spots, widowed (64 NY) (118, pg 11)
Third Street
  • Joseph and Susan Boles (61 GA, 48 AL) and family (119, pg 11)
  • Claude and Anna Stokes (36 VA, 35 GA) (120, pg 11)
  • Thomas Johnson, widowed (62 VA) and housekeeper Rosie Bouyer, widowed (68 NY) (121, pg 11)
  • Roosevelt and Ruby Bethune (35 SC, 34 SC) and family (122, pg 11)
  • Teresa Foster widowed (48 SC) (123*, pg 11)
West Bay Street
  • Robert Jefferson (43 NJ) and housekeeper Ida Evans, single (35 NY) (123*, pg 12)
  • Susie Dickerson, married (38 FL) and family (124, pg 12) 
  • Fanny Buntin, married (24 FL) (126, pg 25)
  • Frank W and Maude Bell (50 FL, 50 BWI) and family, including son-in-law Hugo Flemming (25 VA) and family (127, pg 25)
  • Louis Bell (40 FL) (128, pg 25)
 Arlington Street
  • William and Mabel Phillips (50 VA, 47 NY) plus the Solomon children as boarders (125, pg 12)
Avon Street
  • James and Maude Gumbo (42 BWI, 45 BWI) and family (131, pg 12)
  • Arthur and Ivy Richardson (42 BWI, 38 BWI) and family (132, pg 12)
Garden Street
  • Ozzie and Sally Williams (52 SC, 42 SC) and family (133, pg 12)
  • William and Nellie Richardson (60 FL, 50 FL) (134, pg 12)
  • Walter and Sarah Hicks (40 GA, 39 GA) and family (135, pp 12-13)
  • Montague and Amanda Hughes (46 BWI, 42 BWI) and family (136, pg 13)
  • Jonas Royster, married (42 NC) and family and housekeeper Maggie Harris, widowed (28 NC) (137, pg 13)
Atlantic Avenue
  • Samuel and Mary Parlor (66 SC, 50 NC) and widowed brother Wesley Parlor (77 SC) (138, pg 13)
  • Harry Knight, married (51, NC) and family (139, pg 13)
  • Col Henry and Nettie Washington (50 FL, 52 MD) (140, pg 13)
  • Benjamin Evans, married (58 VA) (141, pg 13)
  • James Smith, widowed (52 LA) and housekeeper Laura McCray, widowed (46 SC) (142, pg 13)
Fourth Street
  • Otis and Melissie Washington (25 AL, 20 NC) and family (143, pg 13)
  • Isham Edwards (45 LA) with boarder Joseph Darry, widowed (67 FL) (144, pg 13)
  • Missouri Owens, widowed (73 GA) (145, pg 13)
  • William and Florence Pope (44 AL, 40 AL) and family (153, pg 25)
  • George and Carnie Smith (66 AL, 64 AL) (154, pg 25)
  • William and Estelle Baskerville (55 VA, 43 VA) and family, including a granddaughter Centamac Ogden (13 NJ) and a niece Anna Mae Matthew (14 VA) (599, pg 28)
Fifth Street
  • John and Annie Mills (60 NC, 55 GA) and Annie's mother, Fanny Murphy, widowed (94, GA) (155, pg 14)
  • Joseph and Lillian Page (51 VA, 50 AL) and family, including a step-son Nathaniel Mumford, single (20 NJ) (156, pg 14)
  • Louella Boswell, single (33 NJ) and her mother Lavenia Boswell, widowed (55 VA) and family (157, pg 14)
Matawan Avenue
  • Lee and Maggie Brown (41 NC, 32 NC) and family (165, pg 15)
  • Carl and Elizabeth Tullis (55 AL, 50 AL) and family, including son-in-law Roger Mitter (26, VA) and family (166, pg 15)
Center Street
  • Edward and Minnie Causby (57 GA, 45 GA) and family (265, pg 23)
  • Elizabeth Lowe, widowed (60 GA) and family (266, pg 23)
  • David and Lillie Bullock (45 NC, 35 NC) (267, pg 23)
  • John Fields, widowed (98 NC) (271*, pg 23)
  • Harold and Grace Dodson (59? MA, 38 VA) and family (272, pg 23)
  • Gabriel and Sophie Simms (56 GA, 65 GA)(273, pg 23)
Raritan Street
  • Anthony and Stella Todd (55 AR, 57 MO) (274, pg 23)
  • W Henry and Mary P Jackson (48 PA, 46 VA) and family, including a son named after Charles Lindberg born about 1928. (The pilot accomplished the first transatlantic flight in 1927.) (275, pg 23)
  • McKinley and Dorothy Askew (27 NC, 22 MD) and family (276, pp 23-24)
  • Sadie Battle, married (59 NC) and family (277, pg 24)
  • Dorothy Anderson, widowed (31 GA) and family (278, pg 24)
  • William and Annie Gross (47 MD, 39 VA) and niece Frances Dockery (8 NJ) (279, pg 24)
  • Charles and Mary Jane Penny (52 MO, 51 AL) and daughter Catherine Hall, married (3X AL) (280, pg 24)
  • John and J Annie Leary (58 GA, 52 AL) and boarder James Brown, widowed (54 SC) (281, pg 24)
  • Union and Marie Lester (41 GA, 39 GA) and family (594, pg 24)
  • Mamie Coakley, widowed (47 GA) and roomer Joseph Foster, widowed (66 ??) (595, pg 24)
Cliffwood Avenue
  • Weyman Jetins (43 AL) (ff, pg 24)
  • George and Elba Shaw (52 AL, 51 FL) and sister-in-law Mary Tillman (?? FL) (88, pg 25)
  • George and Barbara Mack (41 SC, 37 NJ) and family (89, pg 25)
  • Arthur and Ruth Yancy (45 VA, 42 NJ) and family (293, pg 28)
Unreported Street
  • Arthur and Sarah Mouring (58 AL, 64 GA) (596, pg 28)

Saturday, June 9, 2012

History: Elizabeth Spader Clark at Smith College (circa 1909)

Group photo at Smith College
Above is a group photo, which was found in Elizabeth Spader Clark's belongings. I believe it is from Smith College, where she graduated Class of 1909. She is the person seated in the front row, second from our right. The young ladies in front are all wearing YMCA uniforms. Ms Clark would soon be off to London and France as a service volunteer during the Great War.

Ms Clark's untimely death in 1929 is marked with a planter pedestal in Memorial Park in Matawan. Reference several previous articles in this blog on the subject.

The photography studio's marking appears on the bottom right. It looks to read "White's N. Y.". The photograph's serial number is 94193-2. The back of the photo has 93-2 written in pencil.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Huskies Boham Takes 1st Place in Triple Jump at South Plainfield

Congratulations to Matawan Regional High School girls track's Gaynelle Boham, who took first place in the triple jump in NJSIAA Group 2 championship competition at South Plainfield on Saturday 2 June 2012. Ms Boham achieved a distance of 38' 10.5". (Source: nj.com)

African American Series - Ice Man's Daughter Crushed in Wagon Mishap (1908)

The 4 June 1908 edition of The Matawan Journal included this article about a wagon accident involving an African-American girl.

Caught In Wagon Wheel and Has Hip Crushed and Otherwise Injured. 

What may prove a fatal accident happened to Luella Hancock, the seven year-old daughter of Charles Hancock, colored, about 4:15 o'clock Tuesday afternoon.

Mr. Hancock is employed on George Linzmayer's ice wagon and he was driving down the lane to the barn, with Montgomery Hoose on the seat with him, Mr. Linzmayer having left the wagon before it went down the lane.

On the back of the wagon is a step about thirty-two inches wide and six children ran to catch a ride to the stable. Three of them were Mr. Hancock's, two Frank Pasteur's, and the other Michael O'Hara's. Luella Hancock was on the extreme outside of the group and slipped from the step, which is always wet, and caught her left foot in the wheel. In this position she was drawn up between the side of the wagon and the wheel, those on the front seat knowing nothing of her perilous position.

Thomas Waters lives on lower Broad Street and as he turned to go down the lane, he took in the situation at a glance and called out. Mr. Hoose looked around the side of the wagon and saw the girl in the wheel and had Mr. Hancock stop the horses at once and jumping off pulled the injured girl away.

Drs. Jackson and Ervin of Matawan and Cooley of Keyport responded to calls and assisted in the care of the child. Her hip was crushed and she was otherwise injured, the nature of which being somewhat similar but not to so great an extent we are told, to that which befell Merrill Brown in December, 1906.

Upon the advice of the physicians, the girl was taken to the hospital at Long Branch on the train leaving Matawan at 6:23, where she is likely to remain many weeks, if she recovers.

A lesson should be learned by the children from this accident. There are too many of them "cutting on behind" as wagons pass up and down the street, and it is surprisingly strange that a similar accident has not occurred before. It is to be hoped there will be less of it in the future.