A place that was most fascinating to me was about 200 feet into Old Tappan on Poplar Road. It was a most memorable place. About the year 1936 my uncle, Harold Riedel, took me to see his friend who lived there in this little place not much bigger than an old chicken coop. This was just across Slunski's bridge on Poplar Road which is presently covered by the big reservoir. This friend came from Missouri and looked to us kids like a big bear. He and his house and property could easily have come from a scene from " The Grapes of Wrath." We barely made it down Poplar Road because of all the mud and then had to park my uncle's truck on the road and walk 100 feet to the house. The path leading to the house had mud at least a foot deep and there was no other way to get there. The house did not seem to have any heat except a kerosene heater and part of the house had a dirt floor. I think that the ceiling was not much more than 6 feet high.
The best part of the short visit was when 2 goats came out of the back bedroom to see what was going on in the front room of the place. We were informed that the goats lived inside because it was too cold in the outside barn.
I used to wonder why my uncle and my father were so friendly with this man until I learned a few months later that they helped him process some great firewater in his working still on the property. Fortunately neither one of them were working the day that the federal agents raided the place and took this fellow off to jail. Seemed like he was back in town only a day or two later.
He also had a herd of unruly pigs that he would let roam around where ever they wanted to go. A while later the pigs made a real mess of Mr Handwerg's golf course by rooting up the place with their snouts.
Someone probably could have written a book just on this unusual man alone. He always told us that his family left Missouri because of Jesse James. Supposedly Jesse would rob his father's store once a year at least. Taking this as an unfriendly act the father packed up and moved to New York and then to Old Tappan...
A Little More Old Tappan...
If you were to cross Lachmunds bridge and head into Old Tappan you would have come upon this building about 400 feet into Old Tappan. This was what was known to us as Lachmund's Hotel. This place was built in the 1870's and was where most everything happened that happened in Old Tappan. It provided a place for wedding receptions and dances, occasional silent movies, had a general store on the right end , had a bar room, also had rooms for the "city slickers" who would come to the "country" for a brief stay, also had the local post office for a time plus a meeting hall for town meetings . You could buy your hunting and fishing license there too... It surely was the most important place in the town. (This picture is from a very old post card)
In 1894 this small area was not a part of Old Tappan, but rather a part of Eastwood, which was later to become River Vale, but when Eastwood disincorporated in 1896 Lachmunds all of a sudden was not part of any borough.
Soon after, also in 1896, John Lachmund petitioned Old Tappan to annex the small area so he would be part of something. Old Tappan had no problem doing that so thus Lachmund's became part of Old Tappan. They then used the Hackensack River as the boundary between the two towns..
This place was one of our regular stops for penny candy, soda or an occasional cupcake when we happened to be walking or bicycling by...