Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Driving 101: Raider Blvd. Eastbound at Route 206

Let's talk about the intersection of Raider Boulevard and Route 206. Specifically, driving on Raider Boulevard eastbound approaching Route 206 - the area where you pass Greenfields Lane on your right and the old red barn on your left.

Okay, do you understand where we are?

Now, there is a sign on your right. This sign...

Apparently a fair number of drivers don't understand parts of this sign. It means that you are approaching a three lane area and the left lane is for those turning onto Route 206 North only, the center lane is for those going straight across the highway, and - pay attention now - the right lane is for those turning onto Route 206 South only.

And a few feet down the road at Route 206 there is yet another sign that indicates the same thing...

And there are arrows painted on the road...

The drivers in the left-turn-only lane seem to understand that concept.
The drivers in the center lane all seem to go straight across the highway.

But...for reasons that passeth understanding...an appreciable number of the drivers in the right lane don't seem to understand the right-turn-only instructions. They go straight across. They then cut off the drivers from the center lane who are going - correctly - straight across.

This would be a really good spot for some action by the local gendarmes. They could write so many tickets there that Hillsborough's taxes could go down.

Now, there are those of you who are going to argue that there has been a change in the traffic pattern there and the right lane used to be straight and right. You are correct. That was a long time ago. When you are in a motor vehicle accident the other driver won't want to hear that. The nice officer won't want to hear that. And, trust me, the judge won't want to hear that.

Oh, and I know your insurance company won't be happy either.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Fifty Years of Progress?

The first Presidential campaign I remember was in 1960 when Senator John F. Kennedy was the Democratic candidate. It's also the first time that I encountered political chicanery, although I was too young to know what it was.

Not long after Mr. Kennedy became the candidate, whispers started that were overheard even in our elementary schools:
Mr. Kennedy was a...well, a Catholic. Not only that, he was a Roman Catholic. And look at his name - John Fitzgerald Kennedy - an Irish Roman Catholic.

They would always include his full middle name. Somehow this was supposed to make us afraid.

Living in a relatively small town that still managed to support two Catholic churches, two Catholic elementary schools, a Catholic Junior High, and an all-girls Catholic High School, I'm not really sure what most of us made of this "information."

So, the whispering campaign expanded. We should understand that if Kennedy won, then the Pope would run the United States of America. President Kennedy would have to do everything the Pope told him to or be excommunicated.

Recent events reminded of this time 50 years ago. We should all read Kennedy's address to the Greater Houston Ministerial Association on September 12th,1960 and wonder how much progress America has made.

Two excerpts from this speech:

"... That is the kind of America in which I believe. And it represents the kind of Presidency in which I believe, a great office that must be neither humbled by making it the instrument of any religious group nor tarnished by arbitrarily withholding it -- its occupancy from the members of any one religious group. I believe in a President whose views on religion are his own private affair, neither imposed upon him by the nation, nor imposed by the nation upon him¹ as a condition to holding that office..."

"...I want a Chief Executive whose public acts are responsible to all and obligated to none, who can attend any ceremony, service, or dinner his office may appropriately require of him to fulfill; and whose fulfillment of his Presidential office is not limited or conditioned by any religious oath, ritual, or obligation..."

Sunday, August 29, 2010

SCPC Concert: The Jumpers Orchestra

Sadly the Somerset County Park Commission's 2010 Summer Concert Series is coming to a close with this evening's final show of the season featuring the Jumpers Orchestra.

According to the SCPC brochure:
The Jumpers are a high energy orchestra that play all the hits of yesterday and today. They match the swing sounds of Brian Setzer Orchestra and the Stray Cats, and add the smooth sounds of Bobby Darrin, Tony Bennett, and Louis Prima. The rock and pop hits of Van Morison, the Rolling Stones, and No Doubt are also included. End your summer with the amazing sounds of this orchestra.

The concerts run from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at Duke Island Park on Old York Road in Bridgewater. Bring your chair, blanket, picnic, friends, and family. Make new friends. Dance. Remember the ice cream truck is there.

For more information and a sample of their music, go to the Jumpers website.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Raptor v. Squirrel

A few years ago we developed squirrel problems.

First they attacked our bird feeders. It took us several tries to figure out a way to discourage their messy and expensive visits.

Being banned (more or less) from the bird feeders must have riled them up. As revenge they chewed through our siding and insulation into the attic, necessitating an expensive visit from Mr. Squirrel the Removal Guy.

But early one morning last year I looked out into the back yard and noticed...something missing. It is confusing for a few moments to identify the absence of something, but finally it dawned on me that their were no squirrels running rampant around the yard.

Then I noticed this...

Later we found the raptor nest in one of our old evergreens. They are a lot cheaper than the squirrel guy and neat and efficient.

I have noticed the turkey buzzards along Hillsborough's roadsides performing similar work.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Friday at the Somerville Cruise

I can't find a specialty car show listing for this evening's cruise, so just enjoy photographs of some of my favorite cars...

This evening's 2010 Connie Tarantino Summer Concert features Gordon James' jazz. The concert will be held on the front steps of the Somerset County Courthouse from 7:00 - 8:00 p.m.

So have I given away my age by my choice of cars...?

Thursday, August 26, 2010


Hillsborough finally had an appreciable amount of rain on Sunday and Monday accompanied by some lower temperatures - so here is a picture. It was only last summer that the HNJJ was photographing a sunny day in the midst of rain.

We have been trying to determine which plants have been permanently lost to this summer's heat and drought and which may survive, especially our more mature bushes - for example, the rhododendron in the front yard. For some, the final viability conclusion won't be reached until next spring.

Damp ground makes it easier to weed. Up until now we have been able to avoid weeding by swearing that we will get around to it when the temperatures are little lower.

Well, I have to go outside and weed now...

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

VNA Rummage Sale Donation Days

For years - maybe decades - the Visiting Nurse Association's Rummage Sales in Far Hills have been a saving grace for the smarter members of our families.

Someone moving into their first apartment? Go to the VNA sale for a kitchen table and chairs, a few basic cookbooks, measuring cups, bowls, flatwear, lamps, and even a bookcase or two.

New babies or kids growing up? Clothing, toys, games, kids books, furniture.

Need clothes for work or play? You could find almost anything in any size...some with the tags still attached.

Now, though, at our house we have reached the stage of downsizing, decluttering, and, unfortunately, disposing of the household effects of family members who are going into nursing homes or are deceased.

So it is time to give back to the VNA. From September 4th through September 22nd, Monday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., they are accepting donations for the October Rummage Sale.

In the next ten days got through your stuff, pull out those no longer needed items, and donate them to the VNA.

Mark the fall VNA Rummage Sale sale dates on your calendar: October 1st, 2nd, and 3rd.

At one time I worked for a company where a number of the employees took a vacation day on the first day of the sale. They said it was well worth it!
For information on the VNA Rummage Sale, go here.

Go here for donation guidelines...which will also give you an idea of what will be for sale!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Hillsborough Going Sonic?

The Hillsborough Township Planning Board will be reviewing Thomas Mascia's application to build a SONIC drive-in fast-food restaurant on Route 206 at the corner of Oxford Place.

The 1.5-acre site currently contains a karate school, but is probably best remembered by long-time residents as the old location of Briken's Dairy Farms, a burger and ice-cream joint with a barn shape and a black-and-white cow hide patterned roof.

The applicant proposes razing the existing building and constructing a 1,818-square-foot building with a drive-through lane, outdoor seating, and 46 parking spaces with 23 of them under a canopy where car-hop service would be provided.

As designed, the restaurant would need variances for lot size, lot width, front yard and side yard setbacks, and impervious coverage. Waivers would also be needed for parking, no loading spaces, parking buffer along Oxford Place, the size of the rear-lot parking stalls, and the width of the rear 2-way aisle.

SONIC should be prepared to reconsider the size of their proposed freestanding sign. According to the file, Hillsborough allows one sign, not to exceed 40-square-feet per sign face and not to exceed 15-feet high. SONIC proposes a 24-foot-high sign with 112.3-square-feet per sign face.

Other board considerations include landscaping and buffering, lighting and wall signs.

The September 2, 2010, Planning Board meeting starts at 7:30 p.m. at the municipal building at 379 South Branch Road.
The canopy over the car-hop spaces looks like the perfect place for a solar array.
The Planning Board's September 2nd agenda may be viewed here.
From the agenda:
"Thomas Mascia / SONIC – File #10-PB-07-SRV – Block 177, Lot 22B (New: Block 177, Lot 22.02) – 838 Route 206.
Applicant seeking preliminary and final major site plan with ‘c’ bulk variances from minimum lot area; minimum lot width; minimum front yard setback; minimum side yard setback; and maximum impervious coverage and waivers from minimum parking spaces; minimum loading; minimum parking buffer; and parking aisle width to demolish the existing building and construct an 1,818 sq. ft. Sonic fast-food restaurant with drive-through lane, an outdoor seating area and covered area for service at vehicles on property in the C-1 District."

For more information on SONIC Corp., go here.
In March, 2009, the Lebanon Borough Board of Adjustment heard a Thomas Mascia/SONIC application.

The Route 22, proposed Green Brook SONIC appeared before their BOA in January, 2009.

Mr. Mascia's Franklin Township (Somerset)Sonic was set to "open soon" on Route 27 when this September, 2009, article appeared.

Monday, August 23, 2010

CruiZe Somerville

This past Friday evening's Somerville Cruise featured Z-cars, so here are some Zs for you to admire:

Sunday, August 22, 2010

SCPC Concert: Junior Walker's All Stars

Before mentioning this evening's Somerset County Park Commission concert's featured group, I would like to repeat that these are outside concerts held from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at Duke Island Park on Old York Road in Bridgewater. If the weather looks questionable for outdoor activities, call the SCPC at (908)722-1200 X 351 to check if the concert has been cancelled.

This week's concert features Junior Walker's All Stars. From the SCPC 2010 Summer Concert Series brochure:
"Junior Walker and the All Stars were signed to Motown in the 1960s, and became one of the label's signature acts. Although Junior Walker has since passed on, the All Stars continue to tour and play all the R&B hits that made them a legend on the Billboard charts, including Shotgun, Come See About Me, and How Sweet It Is To Be Loved By You. They have been inducted into the Rhythm and Blues Foundation and the Roll Legends Hall of Fame. Their songs have been inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame."

The original 1960s Motown group appeared at my college in the early 1970s led by the late Junior Walker (1931-1995), performing such early hits as Shotgun, These Eyes, and Come See About Me.

There are so many tribute groups with variations on the Junior Walker name that I am not even going to try to pick out a website for this evening's group.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Jockey Hollow and Dogs

It's not always easy to find dog friendly activities, but this past week we went on a dog-inspired walk at Jockey Hollow, part of Morristown National Historic Park.

For an hour-and-a-half four humans and two dogs strolled around the park with ranger and historian Erik Olson learning about revolutionary-era humans and their dogs and cats.

We heard about British General Howe losing his dog, which was found by the Americans and returned by General Washington. Most pets were owned by officers and some of the dogs owned by starving troops met an untimely death; be forewarned that not all of the stories were pleasant.

While on our walk, it was obvious that a lot of people use the park to walk their dogs. Dogs are not allowed in the visitors center, don't forget plastic bags for doggie pick-ups, take water along, and keep your dog leashed.

Although the summer programs are ending, the fall schedule may offer more of interest - we hope they continue some doggie programs. The National Park Service Morristown (not only Jockey Hollow) information can be found here.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Cruise Music

Somerville's Friday Night Cruise is more than cars.

Each cruise night from 7 to 8 p.m. the Connie Tarentino Summer Concerts present free live music on the County Courthouse steps.

This evening the featured group is Marshall's Dixieland Band. From the Find Somerville website:
"Come enjoy New Orleans Jazz on Friday, August 20th with Marshall's Dixieland Band as Somerville celebrates 29 years of outdoor concerts.

The concerts are held on the Somerset County Courthouse lawn, weather permitting. The concerts are free, bring a blanket or chair.

The 29th Annual Connie Tarantino Concert Series is made possible by the generous sponsorship of PNC Bank, Connie's Music Center, LaFontaine & Budd, Inc., Lloyd's Furniture, Skylands Community Bank and Somerset Savings Bank, with additional support from Alfonso's Family Trattoria."

Here are some photographs of Marshall's Dixieland Band taken during their July 11, 2008Cruise performance:

The specialty car show is the Z-Car Club, with the featured cars parked in front of the County Court House on Main Street.
The final concert of this summer's schedule on Friday, August 27th, is Gordon James playing jazz.
And while you are strolling down Main Street, stop in front of the church and say hello to one of our favorite DJs playing the oldies music that matches the cruise cars:

If you look at all his pictures, you'll notice he is also a cruiser!

Concert photos courtesy of Susan Gulliford.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Johnny's Hot Dogs

My family provided some of the original customers for Johnny's on Route 46 in Buttzville, NJ. You can tell that we have been stopping there for at least half-a-century because we refer to it as just "Johnny's".

During the 1940s and 1950s, when a generation of family members were moving from the Pennsylvania coal mines to aboveground jobs in New Jersey, there were constant trips back-and-forth with stops half-way at Johnny's for a meal. It was part of a visit home.

I forgot how limited Johnny's menu was until we stopped there this past week and I went to the counter to order. Geez, when I asked for sauerkraut on one of the hot dogs and was told "no sauerkraut" I felt like a newbie. I also had a flashback to Seinfeld's "Soup Nazi" episode; I didn't know how to order!

The beverage choices are unique: birch beer or buttermilk. The birch beer reminds me of root beer for some reason, but nothing will entice me to drink buttermilk. My grandmother always had the buttermilk and I just found out that my father-in-law also ordered the buttermilk. Maybe it was a tradition of another generation, an early twentieth-century treat.

This time lunch for two ran $6.10 - hot dogs, a shared birch beer, and split order of fries.

Johnny's is actually Hot Dog Johnny's and has modernized to the point of having its own website.

I remember the kids going down to the Pequest River behind Johnny's, probably to stretch our legs, burn off some energy, and let the adults finish eating in peace.

This visit I noticed that the river had gotten a lot smaller and there appeared to be a fence behind Johnny's discouraging visits to the water.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Welcome To America!

On August 18, 1922, my grandparents and their eleven children (ranging in age from 22-years-old to 18-months-old), arrived by ship in New York City accompanied by a nanny for the youngest. In reality, the "nanny" was the fiancee of one of the older boys.

This photograph was probably taken about 1929-1930. How did they come up with such fancy clothes and, the biggest question of all, how did they ever get all eleven children together for a photo?

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

From Black Lung to White Lung

Anyone who regularly reads Central Jersey obituaries should be familiar with the City of Nanticoke in Pennsylvania, often the birthplace listed.

Nanticoke was a destination in the late 19th and early 20th centuries for immigrants looking for work in American coal mines. When my grandparents arrived, they became quickly familiar with Polish Hill and the Welsh section, with immigrants from Poland and Wales the source of many of the mines' employees.

But many of the families did not want their boys going underground. So, the story goes in my family, when Johns-Manville came to Luzerne County (where Nanticoke is located) looking for employees for its Manville, NJ, manufacturing plant, they found willing workers.

These lucky men, the tale continues, felt that not only would they not have to go underground to work, they would be avoiding the coal miners' scourge - black lung, Coal workers' pneumoconiosis.

It was decades before they came to understand the trade that they had made, going to work with asbestos - white lung, mesothelioma, a cancer caused by asbestos exposure.

For many years I have tried to verify the truth of this story, so I am going to make another trip to Nanticoke...where my grandfather died from black lung in the 1950s.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Our Historic Household??

Several months ago an acquaintance gave me a catalogue from The Vermont Country Store with the comment "I thought of you when I saw this and figured you might enjoy it."

Okay, I wasn't sure what to make of the comment, but I like country stuff so eventually I sat down and started flipping through it.

A few pages in I spotted the Pilgrims and Turkey Candle Set, the same as the ones we had in the 1950s. Around Thanksgiving moms would buy them for about 19-cents each. Most kids had a set. You didn't actually use them; you carefully put them away for reuse - until the year you stored them in the attic over the summer and had to replace them. Well, the reproductions in the catalogue cost $17.95 for the set of a girl Pilgrim, a boy Pilgrim, and a turkey. Maybe they figure that we boomers will pay anything for our memories.

The next familiar items were two-pages of bedspreads - chenille, the ones that left a pattern on you when you laid on them. While we still have one, it has migrated to the guest room. It was also the material in my grandmother's bathrobe.

There were more things: clothespins, Nivea Skin Lotion, Tangee Lipstick, Fuller brushes, colognes - evening in Paris and No.4711, the German Weather Haus (predicted weather by which figure came out of the two doors).

Ah, Fels-Naptha heavy duty laundry bar soap - one of my mother's indispensable household items, always referred to as "yellow soap." This was the spot remover of the 1940s and 1950s and 1960s. My mother would dampen the men's shirt collars and rub yellow soap vigorously on them before putting them into the washer. She also used it vigorously on us when we had gotten into poison ivy; I have no idea if this works or not...I'm just passing along a memory.

Then there were the timepieces - a wind up watch, and a folding Bulova travel winding alarm clock.

Then I spotted the reproduction brass Wind-Up Twin Bell Clock with a Loud Alarm and Friendly Tick. Now look at the picture at the top of this post. That is not a reproduction; it works and it is in our kitchen. By the way, not all twenty-first century people think of the tick as friendly. Some of them find it downright annoying.

I leafed through pages of food: the Liquorice Allsorts that my grandmother loved, the raspberry Candies with the soft centers that always turned up at Christmas, the raisin Biscuit bars that my aunt always had with tea at her house.

And, finally, flannel sheets, plaid flannel bathrobes and nightgowns. Now, the acquaintance who gave us this catalogue isn't close enough to us to know about the night wear and the flannel sheets, so we have to ask ourselves: Is it that obvious?

FYI, we also have a working dial telephone in our shop...

The Vermont Country Store has a website.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

SCPC Concert:

This evening's Somerset County Park Commission concert will feature The B-Street Band - A Springsteen Tribute.

According to the SCPC 2010 Summer Concert Series:

"The B-Street Band was formed in Asbury Park in 1980. Since then, this entertaining six-piece band has earned its great reputation by setting the standard for tribute/party bands, performing in a wide variety of musical venues. They include a wide selection from Bruce’s early albums through his latest releases. In its recent years, the band has played at one of President Obama’s inauguration parties, at Governor Christie’s inauguration party, and at a recent Superbowl pre-party. They are the longest running tribute band."

In New Jersey Springsteen is known and appreciated as a Jersey boy - born in Long Branch and raised in Freehold - who made good and didn't forget his roots. Some of his best known songs include Born in the USA and Dancing in the Dark.

The SCPC B-Street Band concert runs from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at Duke Island Park on Old York Road in Bridgewater. There is no admission. Bring blankets and chairs.

As the concert is outside, if the weather seems questionable, call (908)722-1200 X 351 to check for cancellation.

For more about the The B-Street Band, go here.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

V-J Day: For Uncle Mel

Today is the 65th Anniversary of V-J Day, Victory over Japan Day; the date used in America to memorialize the end of World War II. So I want to tell you the little that I know about my Uncle Mel.

He was only 10-years-old when my paternal grandparents immigrated to America with their eleven children, ten of them boys.

In his 20s, Uncle Mel ended up in the United States Army, possibly the only one of "the boys" who served in World War II in the battles in Europe. Some of them were too young, at least one may have served elsewhere, and most of the older boys held jobs that were considered necessary to the war effort, coal miners or, I think, some type of railroad work.

According to my father, Uncle Mel was an Army medic.

After his return to the United States, Uncle Mel confided to my father some of the horrible things he had seen in Europe, but my father never broke that confidence. Unfortunately none of us will ever know those stories...or, maybe, fortunately.

Uncle Mel moved "out West" to Ohio before I was even born, becoming a butcher. His brothers kidded him about having been a medic and then becoming a butcher. That's what brothers do. That and hold your confidences, your worst memories, close.

Friday, August 13, 2010

4H Fair - Closing Day

Every year I go to the Somerset County 4-H Fair with a list of things I want to try for the first time and things that I have enjoyed in the past and want to do again.

I never get through either list.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

New and Old

This past year we contributed to the ending of the recession by purchasing a new set of pots and pans and new bed pillows and pillow covers.

As we were choosing and buying these items we realized that this was the first time we had ever owned any of these items new.

Our pots and pans had been inherited over the years, migrating into our first apartments from relatives' kitchens and bought at flea markets. None of them matched and over the last forty-or-so years it didn't matter. But eventually handles loosened, dents appeared, lids stopped fitting, and the ones that were used constantly just plain wore out.

The bed pillows came from our parents' houses. As time passed, we resewed the hems and replaced worn pillow covers, but it finally became obvious that no amount of fluffing was going to restore these pillows. Even the dogs and cats wouldn't use them.

We are happy with our new stuff and found it on sale, but it then occurred to us that having used our old pots, pans, and pillows for all these decades....well, based on our ages, we will probably never have to buy them again.

This thought led to other items that we will probably never buy again.

As we use our cars for a considerable number of years and the ones we are currently driving are less than ten-years-old, we will probably buy, maybe, one more.

Last Christmas when there was a Timex watch sale and I had about damaged my old one beyond repair, I ended up getting two. So each of us now has an everyday watch and a dress watch. Figuring that our old watches were about thirty years old, we did the math and decided these were likely our last ones.

Houses? We like the one we have lived in for the last few decades, so, unless we have to downsize or the school taxes just plain force us out financially, we are probably in good shape.

We seem to be set for dressy clothing [if we can just not gain or lose too much weight], lawn mowers, furniture, linens, silverware, china, bowls, lawn chairs, ladders, tools, cookbooks, and all the other detritus of everyday life.

Well...except for, maybe, the mattress...which is under discussion. Some of us are comfortable with the perfectly good one we have, while others insist that it is time for a new one. The only good thing about possibly replacing it? It would move over to the list of things we will never have to buy again.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Somerset County 4-H Fair

Despite the hot weather, we couldn't resist a trip to the opening day of the 4-H Fair in Bridgewater.

Here are some photographs for you old-fashioned types who think that the 4-H is all farm stuff:

Here are some twenty-first century 4-H exhibits - trains, rockets, robots, model airplanes, go-karts:

And then there are the llamas, the dogs, little pets, lizards, karate demonstrations, science experiments, and - oh, yeah - the food tent:

The HNJJ crew hopes that seeing all the fun and activities at the 4-H Fairgrounds at North Branch Park on Milltown Road, in Bridgewater encourages you to attend this week: Today through Friday, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

For more information go here.

If we can get over there again later this week, we will try to get more pictures.