Thursday, May 3, 2012

I Remember...

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 way there.

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, too!

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