I remember standing on the northwest corner of Piermont Avenue and River Vale Road, looking towards the northwest and seeing about 200 acres of corn planted on the Kessler property by Bill Handwerg. Now the same space is the 27 hole golf course.
I remember Mrs. Fischer, who owned all the property at the end of New
Street, having her house flooded out almost every spring. It was all the
way down by the river so it was in constant jeopardy. She had the place
moved closer to New Street, which was much safer, but then constructed
another place just at the end of New Street. This area was probably the
best fishing spot along the river. It sure was my favorite.
I remember the big gun fight on Beck Place on New Year’s Day 1950. A
friend who grew up with us probably had too much to drink and started shooting
up the neighborhood and then did battle with the many police that came
to quell the action. Our friend, John, was shot and killed by a local policeman.
Many, many shots were fired, but John was the only one that was injured.
It was a very sad thing for the entire town.
I remember, during World War II, waiting for the Thursday edition of
the Westwood News to come out so we could see if any of the local military
people were going to be listed on the front page as killed or missing in
action. In such a close knit area as Pascack Valley, most people knew each
other and all were affected by any of these grim announcements.
For many years, the River Vale kids went to either Park Ridge or Westwood
High school. I can remember in Westwood High School, as being referred
to as one of the River Vale “hicks”. As far as I can remember, we didn’t
mind that label either, probably had some truth in it…
I remember the Hill Bus number 12 that would go through our town coming
in from Harrington Park and travelling all the way up River Vale Road to
Piermont Avenue and then turning left to Westwood. This bus came only once
an hour and if you missed it, you walked to Westwood. For a short time
during the war this service was cut to every two hours, but this didn’t
last for long. This bus was our main connection to the “outside world.”
Dumps. I remember dumps! Every house had a household dump pile on its
grounds somewhere. In the summer months when suffering from extreme boredom,
we would tour our section of town and see what valuable things that we
could find in other people’s dump pile. A great find would be a certain
baby carriage that had removable wheels. I would take these treasures home
and make a coaster car which would keep me occupied for several days.
There was a fellow named Merritt Dean, from Harrington Park, who had
a pretty good size truck. With this truck he would take the job of cleaning
out people’s houses as they were getting ready to sell them, or clean out
a store that was to close. Merritt would then dump the whole thing in the
back yard of Mr. Hashagen to try and fill up the swamp that was there.
This was better than Christmas! We’d be in that dump pile for days until
we had examined each and every box, bag or dresser drawer that found its
During the war there were “scrap drives” where men from town who may
have had a truck would volunteer themselves and their truck to travel around
the town and pick up any metal that people would donate to the “war effort”.
All this metal was heaped into a big pile behind the firehouse. That was
our exclusive territory, at least so we figured. The pile sat there for
a couple of weeks so we had plenty of time to be sure that there was nothing
donated to that pile that would have been badly needed. I remember taking
many things home that I figured would have a better future with me. I used
some of that valuable stuff for trading material for several years after
that. We won the war anyway…
About the same time I remember that if we took an aluminum pot or anything
aluminum to the Pascack Movie Theater on Saturday afternoon all we had
to do was toss the aluminum article into a big pile in the lobby and we
got in to the movie for free. That was easy. All we would have to do is
go to one of our favorite dumps and pick up a pot and we had free passage
into the double feature (plus cartoons and a newsreel), saved us 11 cents!
I remember crawling through the drainage pile that came from the Pascack
Pool to get into the place at a greatly reduced rate. Saved 25 cents there,