As one would look at River Vale Roads nowadays, it would be hard to imagine that River Vale had many roads that were not paved until after World War II. Our street, Echo Glen Road was not paved all the time that I was growing up. Many times after a heavy rain we would wake up in the morning and see a car imbedded in the street just past our house. We lived about 250 feet off of River Vale Road and the street would end at our house any time there was bad weather. It would be mud or snow all the way up to Rockland Avenue and those that tried to get through would often get stuck in something.
There were many other streets that were at least as bad. The ones that come to mind as the worst were Poplar Road, Cooper Lane, Rockland Avenue, the south end of Cedar Lane, all the streets that run from Westwood Avenue through to Central, also Central, Elizabeth, Roosevelt, Hermann, New Street and most other local streets.
About once a year a truck would come through and pour some kind of oil on the streets to kinda keep the dust down and this would pack the streets for a few weeks, but as soon as any bad weather would come along you would travel these roads never knowing if you would reach the other end or not. We would walk to school on Rockland when it was passable and I can remember more than once seeing a car up to its' running boards in mud and it would sit there possibly for two or three days until somehow someone extracted it.
New Street at times was so bad that people with cars would park their cars by River Vale Road and walk home. Poplar Road and Cooper Lane were impassable a good part of the winter months. Once a year the county would pour hot tar on the county roads and cover it with small crushed stone. Then for days people would be driving around with tar speckled automobiles and these small stones stuck to every part of the car that you could imagine. It was like undercoating your car while driving. This was really bad news for those of us who traveled around on motorcycles...
Over a period of time, probably in the '50's, the streets were all gradually paved and the citizens quickly forgot "the good old days"... I remember!