Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Traditional Memorial Day for Uncle Mel

This essay was first posted on HNJJ on August 14, 2010 under the title "V-J Day: For Uncle Mel". It is being reposted today, the traditional date of Memorial Day, in order to include two recently located photographs of 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.


Born: 1912. Enlisted: 1941 Died: 1983

Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day 2011: Breakfast of Champions

On Memorial Day, before the bands and public ceremonies, before the politicians and the fire trucks and ambulances, before the scouts and little league, before the balloons and waving flags, and before the antique cars, Hillsborough hosts an even more important event: the Salute to Veterans Breakfast.

The breakfast guests are the veterans of Hillsborough, their spouses, and their widows and widowers.

After the great food and hot coffee, after the greetings and welcoming speeches, after the reunion of friends who may only see one another once a year, comes the moment that is the most important time of the day. The moment for which each one has ultimately waited. The most important moment of this important event: the Roll Call of Veterans.

At the Roll Call each veteran - from World War II to those still serving - stands and states their name, their branch of service, when and where they served, and what they did. Sometimes they add a poignant memory - a certain battle, a loss. For some this is hard. Occasionally they make a joke about their service, understood best by those other veterans in the room.

No matter how long it takes, each one has his unhurried moment. The attention of the room. Dignity. Empathy. Respect.

For more about Memorial Day 2011 in Hillsborough, go here to meet the parade marshals.

Go here to see pictures of the parade.

Go here to see the Garden of Honor Ceremony.

Go here to see the people and their pets.

Memorial Day 2011: The People...and Pets

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Rolling Thunder PSA

Memorial Day is not a political event.

Thank you to elderblogger Kay at Kay's Thinking Cap.

Memorial Day 2011: Garden of Honor Ceremony

Hillsborough Township's Garden of Honor is located at the Municipal Building.

One day, after all the ceremonies, when it is quiet, take a few minutes to stop by and pay your respects.

All Memorial Day photographs courtesy of Susan Gulliford. Due to the number of pictures, the sizes have been reduced.

The Memorial Day Parade 2011

Saturday, May 28, 2011

With A Little Help From My Friends

Armondo Consalvo and Assemblyman Pete Biondi, a former Hillsborough mayor, were co-grand marshals of Hillsborough's Memorial Day services this morning.

Mr. Consalvo served in the U.S. Navy from 1942 until October, 1945, but never received any of the medals he had earned. Last year Nancy Compton, the manager of the Friendly Mobile Park where Consalvo lives, inquired about the oversight and found that Mr. Consalvo was eligible for eight medals.

Sixty-five years after leaving the Navy, Mr. Consalvo, 90, received the medals last December 7th from Assemblyman Biondi at a ceremony at VFW Post 2290 in Manville.

For more on Mr. Consalvo's story go here.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Somerville Cruise and Concerts 2011

From now through Labor Day Weekend Somerville is the place to be on Friday evenings. Somerville Cruise Nights and the Connie Tarantino Summer Concert Series are back!
Every Friday evening classic cars begin arriving in Somerville, some - trying to get the "best" parking spots - as early as 3 p.m. Both sides of Main Street, many of the side roads and an entire municipal lot are reserved for these fabulous cars.

There are seven specialty shows scheduled so far: Radio Motor Patrol on June 10th, Corvettes on June 17th, Novas on July 1, Cadillac La Salles on July 8th, Triumphs on July 22nd, Corvettes again on August 5th, and Z Cars on August 12th:

The owners are always glad to talk about their cars.

Walk over to the front lawn of the Somerset County Courthouse to enjoy the free Conni Tarantino concerts. Go here to see what's playing and remember these are outdoors and can be rained out:

There is a golden oldies DJ in front of the church on Main Street: say hello, request a tune, dance a few steps...

And it's all free!

A few hints:
Wear comfortable shoes. Allow enough time - a few hours. Take a camera. If you are going to spend time at the concert, take a chair or blanket. If you family dog is well-behaved take them along - although it can be hot and crowded.

There are at least 14 restaurants that offer outdoor dining (Not free!) on Cruise Nights:

Many of the Main Street businesses stay open during Cruise - stop in.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The No-Thank-You Helping

My father was a picky eater. This is amazing considering he was the tenth child in a family of eleven and nine of his older siblings were boys.

My mother ate everything and apparently determined early on that, while she would accommodate my father, her children would not be picky eaters. As soon as her oldest child could eat "grown-up" food she instituted the no-thank-you helping.

When dinner was being served my mother would offer each child whatever was being served. For example, "Would you like some peas?". If the child answered in the affirmative, mom would put a serving of peas on his or her plate.

If you said "No, thank you.", you received a no-thank-you helping. This was a spoonful of the food you had declined. All four of us understood that we were expected to finish the no-thank-you helping.

Apparently it worked. All four children grew up eating just about every food served.

Oh, except for liver and onions.

My father stayed with us for a few months when he was almost 90-years old. I could understand my mother's long-ago frustration as I watched my father pick out every single pea from his mixed vegetables. When grandchildren asked why Grandpa didn't have to eat all his vegetables the only answer we could think of was "When you are as old as Grandpa you can eat whatever you want."

Sunday, May 22, 2011

The 206 Bypass Rapture

For many years - no, make that decades - there have been rumors that a Route 206 Bypass would be built through Hillsborough in order to relieve traffic congestion on "Old" Route 206.

Well, the construction has started and local residents may now file this whole project under "be careful what you wish for".

For months locals watched the construction equipment clear roads across the fields and vacated houses get boarded up.

Then Hillsborough Road between Route 206 and Willow Road closed on April 26th. There were plenty of warnings about this closing, but apparently many local drivers thought that the closing would only be temporary and kept coming back. Be advised, this closing will last six months - until sometime in October. This wasn't a major problem as you could still cut across nearby Homestead Road.

Next they slowed down - and sometimes stopped - traffic on Amwell Road between "old" Route 206 and the Clerico Lane bridge as they moved the lanes of travel to one side in order to allow the realignment of Amwell Road. This section of Amwell Road is part of the official Hillsborough Road detour.

This past week a lit-up sign went up on Homestead Road warning that there would be 15-minute stops. They have started putting up the bridge over Homestead Road near the railroad.

Now, if you are following this, there are now three parallel roads between Route 206 and Willow Road with traffic delays - three roads that let you drive from the west part of town to the east side.

On top of this, last Monday on Route 206 it took me 40-minutes to go down Route 206 from Homestead Road to the Belle Mead Bridge in Montgomery. [If you aren't from this area, that normally takes about five minutes.] The construction on the replacement bridge reached the point where they were only allowing one lane on Route 206.

One more thing:
The New Jersey Department of Transportation announced it will be resurfacing about 2.5-miles of Route 206 from about Hamilton Road to the Somerville border.

Rapture: "...mystical transportation: a mystical experience in which somebody believes he or she is transported into the spiritual realm..." - Bing Dictionary.