Author Topic: Christ Church Recollections  (Read 3159 times)

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Christ Church Recollections
« on: February 23, 2006, 11:31:11 AM »
Edward P. (Ed) Essertier sent me these recollections:

I'm guessing the photo was taken sometime between 1915 and 1925. I was born in 1921 in a home at 275 State Street, now three doors north of the church, where my father, a physician, also had his office. As far as I know the house still stands, at the southwest corner of State and Clay Streets, and I understand it is now a home for unwed mothers. The house was built in 1914-1915. I grew up there along with my brother, Harland, who was born in 1915, and sister, Marilyn, born in 1926. Both are deceased.
We all were active in Christ Church. My brother and I were both acolytes and my sister sang in the girls choir. My father's hobby was woodworking and he built several cabinets for the church which I'm guessing are still there, because they were fine pieces. My mother attended regularly, sometimes twice a day, and was on the Altar Guild. I lived in the home on State Street until 1946, when I got married and moved to Ridgewood.
The rector of Christ Church during the 1930s was Augustine Elmendorf, who baptized and confirmed me. He was succeeded by Father Cook (I can't remember his first name).

Members of the church clergy used to frequent our house because my father made good beer in our basement during Prohibition and also had access to hard liquor, which the clergy enjoyed and where they could not be seen publicly. As a boy I climbed ladders to the top of the church steeple on a number of occasions, obviously without my parents' consent. You could see the New York skyline from there, and you can also see the church steeple from the Empire State Building on clear days.
The house in the foreground, to the left of the church in the photo, was the rectory for the Episcopal priest and his family. It probably still is. The house to the right, partially seen in the photo, was a boarding house called The Warner. It was operated by a Mrs. Parcells, a widow and wonderful lady who served excellent food. We ate there frequently. You could get a wonderful three or four course dinner for $1.
Mrs. Parcells had a son Charles, known as Chubby, who was an outstanding football player and all-around athlete at Hackensack High in about 1930. Mrs. Parcells would wash his jersey and hang it on the clothesline in their backyard. My friends and I would tackle the jersey off the clothesline, which would not set well with Mrs. P who would chase us out of the yard and threaten to call our parents, which she never did.
Chubby Parcells was the father of Bill Parcells, coach of the Dallas Cowboys. I don't know if Bill ever lived in the house next to the church but I'm sure he'd remember it. I think Bill was born in Englewood Hospital.
Anyway, I'm just passing these recollections along for your interest. I'm 84 now and living in Culpeper, Va., a historic town rated as one of the top 10 small towns in America. Nevertheless, I have many memories of my boyhood in Hackensack and commend you for keeping the history of Hackensack alive.
Edward P. (Ed) Essertier

« Last Edit: December 14, 2006, 01:50:06 PM by Editor »


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Re: Christ Church Recollections
« Reply #1 on: February 24, 2006, 12:21:55 AM »
Hello Ed from Virginia, do I have news for you. You evidently havent been to Hackensack in a very very long time. Many many decades.

Im 41 and have lived here my life. I never saw the house to the left of the church. Thats been a parking lot for as long as I can remember. The Warner, once an upscale bed-and-breakfast hotel, deteriorated into a drug-ridden inner city boarding house. The Warner House was absolutely hell-on-earth in the 1970s, you would be afraid just to walk by it.  In the late 1980s, the County of Bergen purchased it and the house next door and spent several hundred thousand dollars renovating them. They have been restored and now serve as residences for otherwise homeless persons. Its an improvement over the boarding houses, I guess.

 Your former house, 275 State Street, was leveled in 2004.  An 8-story luxury condominium was erected, complete with underground parking. The units are for sale now. The Main Street business district has really declined, and most of the quality stores are gone. Prozy's was the last of the great stores, it closed in 2005. The residential character of State Street is heavily office buildings and commercial, but Union Street still has some homes. Park Street is half homes, half apartments and condominiums.  All the wealth and class of the neighborhood that you remember has gone to the hill, to the northern parts of the city, or out of the city entirely.

However, the new condo at 275 State Street is touted as the great hope for the future that will turn the neighborhood around and restore prosperity to the downtown area. Thus you should not dismay that your house was leveled. Your address is the key to the future. Please provide us a picture of your house, to post online.

A large estate to the rear of the church (owned by a life-long member who you surely know) was donated to the church when she died as an elderly woman in the 1970s. They tore it down and built The Holley Center, which is a facility for orphaned and abandoned and emotionally disturbed children. Across Union Street from the Holley Center is a row of very old boarding houses.  The NW corner of State and Clay Streets is now a one-story liquor store called Simon Sez with a large parking lot. When it opened in the 1970s it immediately brought down the neighborhood. It caters to a clientele that walk up and down Clay Street from State Street to First Street, loitering, throwing beer bottles, and making trouble. Around 1997-1998, there was an unsuccessful effort by a neighborhood group and the police to shut it down. In 1997, I lived in a 6-story condo at 300 Park Street (formerly the site of the Gateway Christian School), and I worked on that effort. We were successful in forcing the sale of 3 overcrowded and severaly dilapidated houses on Park Street owned by outside investors (#'s 347, 351, and 355), and they were fully renovated. This helped turn Park Street around.

Christ church is now the citys leading social activist congregation. Im sure you are aware of the well-publicized national rift within the Episcopal denomination on social issues. Hackensacks Christ Church is far on the left side of that rift. Christ Episcopal has been the leading force bringing many homeless shelters and homeless people into the city. They are now hundreds. They run a shelter there called Peters Place, which caters to the homeless that are so unruly and troublesome that they are evicted from county-run facilities. Christ Church has generally been at odds with the city administration for about 15 years due to the homeless issue.

Hackensack is a unique city of about 43,500 people (2000 census). Thats right, 43,500, and no bigger in land area than you remember. The city is about 30% Latino - if you havent been here in decades, that will surprise you. Hackensack just elected our first black mayor in 2005. Marlin Townes is a good family-oriented guy, hes friendly, intelligent, concerned, low-key, and he works to build a consensus on all issues. Hes quite popular among all residents here.

Parts of the city are affluent, other parts middle-class, and other parts poor. The terrain and character of the city varies greatly from block to block in ways that you cannot imagine. Prospect and Overlook Avenues is the most densely populated street, all luxury high-rises 15-25 stories, but Summit Ave is all homes. The hospital is now bigger and denser than you can possibly imagine. Whatever you are thinking, multiply it by ten and then add five 6story parking towers. It looks like something from Manhattan.

If you have more old pics of Hackensack, please provide.