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Topics - Long Ago

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Hackensack History / The Founder of Hackensack, Minn
« on: June 08, 2016, 06:32:58 PM »
When I was a youngster, back in the days before zip codes were invented, I once ordered a nifty glow-in-the-dark Roy Rogers belt from a merchandise offer on one of the General Mills breakfast cereal boxes.  When the company sent out my package they made a mistake and addressed it to me at “Hackensack, Minn.”  The “Minn” had later been crossed out and someone had handwritten “try N.J.” on the package, and believe it or not I actually received my belt after a long delay.

This was the first time I had ever heard of another Hackensack, and I learned that it is actually located in the lake district of Minnesota.  It is just a small community of about 300 people, and as an advertising gimmick they say it is the home of Paul Bunyan’s fictitious sweetheart.  :)

The Wikipedia entry for Hackensack, MN says it was named after Hackensack, NJ.  Out of curiosity, I did a little internet searching and found out that the town was founded and named by a former Hackensack, NJ resident named James Curo back in the 1880s.  Here is one of the links:

I’ve been trying to find out more about the man who was apparently so proud of being from Hackensack, NJ that he gave the same name to his new settlement in Minnesota, but I’m not coming up with anything.  Does anyone else have any information?  Who was James Curo and why did he move to Minnesota?  Does he or his family have any descendants living in NJ today?

Hackensack History / Remembering Fanny Meyer Hillers
« on: October 31, 2015, 11:20:47 AM »
Hello to all.  I am a retired teacher who attended Hackensack schools during the 1940s and 1950s.  Subsequently my career led me out of state, and unfortunately I haven’t been back to NJ for nearly fifty years.  The first school I went to was Longview Avenue elementary school, which at that time included kindergarten through sixth grade.  I was there before, during, and after the name change from Longview to Fanny Meyer Hillers school. 

Recently I had occasion to access the website of Hillers school, but when I checked out the Hillers History section of the site, I was astonished to find that there is barely any mention of Fanny Meyer Hillers herself.  The only reference I saw was the briefest of statements saying that the school was renamed in 1950 after an educator who had 41 years of service with Hackensack public schools. There is no indication that Mrs. Hillers even taught at the same school that now bears her name.  In my opinion, this is inadequate for a person who was once held in such high esteem that a school was named after her.

So, for anyone who may be interested, I will describe what I remember about Mrs. Hillers.  She was a very special person who taught kindergarten while I was at Longview, and it was said that she had been teaching at this school for a long time.  Thus, she was in a position to give positive direction to children during some of their most formative years.  Although I met her at a very young age, I have distinct memories of her as a rather thin elderly woman with boundless energy, optimism, and enthusiasm for everything she did.  She placed great emphasis on reading, and she once told me that if I practiced my reading each day I would learn more about the world.  She didn’t forget her students either after they had completed kindergarten.  First grade was just down the hall from her classroom, and she would sometimes stop children she knew to ask them how they liked being in first grade and what they were learning.  She just never stopped caring about children. 

I didn’t see as much of Mrs. Hillers after I entered second grade, as my classroom was located on a different floor, but I do remember one notable incident that occurred the following Spring.  I had become sick with a respiratory illness that turned into pneumonia, which was a very serious disease in those days.  I was home recuperating for nearly a month, and one day my Mom came to my room and told me I had a visitor.  When I looked up I saw Mrs. Hillers smiling at me from my doorway.  She had heard about my illness and had stopped by on her way home from school to see how I was doing.  No one from my second grade class had come to see me, but apparently Mrs. Hillers still remembered me.  She said she also brought me a couple of books to read from the school library when I felt up to it, but when I asked how many books she brought, she patiently explained to me that when she used the word “couple” it meant exactly two, and not “a few” as I had mistakenly assumed.  I remember her saying that I should always check a dictionary if I was unsure about the meaning of a word, and I never forgot that lesson from her.

It was possibly only a year or so later that Mrs. Hillers herself became ill with cancer and eventually passed away.  I was very sad when this happened, as Longview just didn’t seem like quite the same place without her.  Later I remember my parents talking about a proposal to change the name of the school to Hillers school in her honor.  I liked the proposal because I thought then that people would always remember her, but now that so many years have gone by, it seems to me that most people today don’t really know who the person was behind the name.  If I may make a suggestion, I think it would be beneficial for someone at Hillers school to do a little research and compile a brief biography of this remarkable person and include it as part of the Hillers school website.

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