Show Posts

This section allows you to view all posts made by this member. Note that you can only see posts made in areas you currently have access to.

Messages - Long Ago

Pages: 1 [2]
Hackensack History / Re: Holy Trinity School 1950's
« on: April 18, 2016, 10:53:07 AM »
My comments are in response to several questions asked by prospectgirl and others in earlier threads on this site about Holy Trinity School. 

I attended HTS from grades 7 through 9 in the original old building during the early-1950s.  Sister Alice was the Mother Superior.  My teachers were Sister Margaret for 7th grade, Sister Juliana for 8th grade, and I had a religion class from Sister Jude in 9th grade.  Sisters Margaret and Jude were thin, but Sister Juliana was quite heavy (300 lbs.?).  You could almost always tell when she was coming down the hallway because the floorboards would creak beneath her.

All of these sisters were quite strict in the classroom.  Sister Juliana accepted no nonsense and often maintained discipline among the boys by slapping them hard about the face and head if they misbehaved.  Even Sister Margaret was not beyond an occasional rap across the knuckles with her blackboard pointer. 

The thing I remember most about Sister Margaret was her habit of lining up all the students around the perimeter of the classroom and then quizzing each person about homework assignments.  Homework often involved going to the Johnson Public Library to look up authors of famous quotations.  If you answered her questions correctly, you moved up in line to replace those who answered incorrectly.  If you actually made it to #1, then you got rewarded by being allowed to wear a special gold lapel pin.  Although this was supposed to be a motivational tool for the students, I’m sure it often caused kids at the back of the line to feel embarrassed, and if you were absent or late coming to class you were automatically sent to the back of the line.

Although 9th grade was technically a part of the high school, students did not go to multiple classrooms for their subjects.  Instead, 9th graders were all required to take the same subjects in one classroom and the various teachers would come by at different times during the day.  Girls all sat together on the left side of the room by the door and boys sat on the right side by the windows.  Sister Jude taught religion and she would always open the windows when she arrived, even on the coldest days in winter.  Some of my other teachers were Mr. Cafasso for algebra, Mr. Campanella for English, and Mr. Conlin for Latin (yes, believe it or not, taking Latin was a requirement at that time).

After 9th grade, I transferred to HHS and completed my high school education there, but I still have fond memories of my days at HTS.  After all these years, it is sometimes strange what you remember from your school years.  One of my most vivid memories at HTS is of a little boy who would sometimes come by on his tricycle to watch students during our lunch hour.  He was said to have cerebral palsy, and he had some difficulty controlling his neck muscles.  I tried to speak with him on a couple of occasions but he would never reply and would just look wistfully at all of the activity going on.  I wonder if anyone else remembers this very special little boy.

Hackensack Discussion / Re: Education/Charter Schools/Testing
« on: April 16, 2016, 08:18:36 PM »
The latest info I’ve been able to find about academic achievement at HHS is a ranking of 339 NJ public high schools by New Jersey Monthly.  The report is dated Sept., 2014, but it covers data from the 2012-2013 academic year.  The rankings showed that HHS was ranked 242nd on their list, or in the bottom 1/3 of all state public high schools:

For those who may be interested, here is the methodology that was used for the rankings:

This result is in stark contrast to the overwhelmingly positive evaluation from Newsweek, but is possibly due to differences in data interpretation and weightings.

Hackensack Discussion / Re: Education/Charter Schools/Testing
« on: April 15, 2016, 05:28:02 PM »
According to info presented earlier in this thread, HHS has been designated as a Focus school ever since the 2012-2013 academic year, despite expectations that it would only be a temporary situation.  From what I’ve read, there has been a wide discrepancy between the performance of special needs and bilingual/ESL students relative to high performing students. 

I have not been a resident of NJ for many years, but I am concerned about equal educational opportunites for all HHS students.  Does anyone know what HHS is currently saying about this matter?  Have test scores of these two subgroups improved at all over the past couple of years?

Hackensack History / Re: Oritani Theater
« on: April 15, 2016, 01:35:52 PM »
Growing up in Hackensack during the early 1950s, I spent many happy Saturday afternoons at the Oritani.  TV was still in its infancy then, and movies were a popular place to go. 

Admission prices were 25 cents for kids (under 12 years old) and 50 cents for adults.  Age was monitored closely by the theater, and if a kid was tall for his age he would sometimes not be admitted unless he paid the adult price.  Of course, some kids paid nothing by sneaking inside the emergency door to the side of the front stage.  On special occasions the normal prices were waived and you could get admitted for the price of one penny, but it had to be an Indian Head penny only.

A typical show would consist of a newsreel, often followed by a cartoon, and then a double feature with an intermission between the two films.  The newsreel often contained coverage of events happening in the Korean war.  Most of the cartoons were the classic Warner Bros. fare, and I was fond of characters like Yosemite Sam and Marvin the Martian.  Western and sci-fi movies were popular, and I remember the introduction of 3-D movies with special glasses for the patrons.  The first 3-D movie I saw was House of Wax with Vincent Price.  Those were good times.

Hackensack Discussion / Re: Education/Charter Schools/Testing
« on: April 14, 2016, 09:15:55 PM »
The NJ Dept. of Education still lists HHS as a focus school as of Oct. 21, 2015:

Congratulations to Mr. Bloom!  It is somewhat sad to see him now in a wheelchair, but I’m also happy to know that he had such a long and distinguished career at HHS.

I remember Mr. Bloom as one of the history faculty at HHS during the mid-1950s.  He had a great sense of humor, and was one of the more popular teachers at that time.  I was also in his homeroom class during my junior year.  He had a remarkable facility to stimulate students to think critically and apply lessons learned from the past to current issues.  One of the lessons I learned from him was to always consider both sides of an issue very carefully before drawing any conclusions.

Hackensack History / Re: Old Candy stores
« on: November 30, 2015, 05:22:42 PM »
Breslow’s was one of my favorite places to go as a youngster during the late 1940s and early 1950s.  I know the store was there as early as 1946.  My mom would often shop at the Grand Union grocery store a few doors to the east on Essex St., and if I was with her I could usually persuade her to take a detour to Breslow’s.  :)

At that time the entry to the store was through a somewhat dilapidated screen door and then through an old front door. The cash register and luncheonette were to the right of the doors as you entered (east side) and the newspapers and magazines were at the rear of the store on the left side (west side).  The rest of the store had counters of merchandise that appealed to kids.  The store was usually busy on weekends, especially the luncheonette crowd on Sunday mornings.

Some of the items I would buy occasionally were rubber balls, paddle balls, kites, yo-yos, and balsa wood gliders.  The items I would nearly always buy with my weekly allowance were Topps baseball cards.  I kept the cards and usually threw away the bubble gum.  I remember other collectable cards that were also available from year to year such as wild west cards and U.S. license plate cards.

Regarding store personnel, it is interesting that kduerr53 mentioned an Old Lady Breslow.  I don’t remember her, but I do remember a person called Old Man Breslow.  He was a thin, elderly, bald man who could often be seen scurrying between the luncheonette and the cash register.  It seemed to me that he was always quite busy.  I also knew one of the Breslow boys who used to live on Sutton Ave.  He used to say his father worked at “our store,” but I’m not sure what his exact relationship would have been to Old Man Breslow.

Hackensack History / Re: "County on the Move" 1957 BC Freeholders film
« on: November 29, 2015, 12:15:36 PM »
Hi Just Watching,

Thanks for the link!  It looks very comprehensive and I plan on looking through all of it.

I will post more on some of the topics covered in existing threads, but regarding open spaces, I was describing the two largest areas that I remember that were subsequently developed into residential housing.  There were other woodland areas that were not developed before I left NJ.  One was south of Mary St. and just west of Polifly Rd., but I assume it was eventually cleared when the I80 expressway was built.  Another area was north of there and to the east of Polifly Rd.  Every year there were pink wild roses growing that you could see from the road.  There were also cattails in the swampier areas, and we would sometimes collect them, dry them out, and smoke them.  Very effective in keeping away mosquitoes!

Some people have mentioned the park at Polifly Rd. and Sutton Ave. in other threads.  There was, and perhaps still is, a wooded area that extended up the steep hill to a fenced playground right behind Hillers school.  We would often play ball on the playground, but if it went over the fence and into the woods it was usually a goner.  The park itself was a fairly popular place for kids.  I remember a structure that was built there for storing equipment that consisted of two enclosed storage areas connected by a wide cement breezeway.  Around July 4th, kids would sometimes toss cherry bombs into the breezeway because the sound was magnified into a such a loud blast.

Looking back, I can’t ever remember encountering any dangerous wildlife in the areas I mentioned.  But I did once stumble on a venomous snake, and believe it or not, it was less than 30 feet away from a bus stop on the SW corner of Essex St. and Prospect Ave.  This would have been in the late 1940s and there was a vacant lot at this corner covered with bushes and undergrowth.  I was traipsing through the lot with some friends while waiting for the #80 bus to take us downtown and we must have disturbed the snake.  Someone thought it was a rattlesnake, but it didn’t make much noise and I didn’t think there were any rattlesnakes in Hackensack.  Well, it turned out that it was not only one rattlesnake, but a den of them that had to be removed by the city.

Hackensack History / Re: "County on the Move" 1957 BC Freeholders film
« on: November 24, 2015, 10:13:09 PM »
Watching this film was very interesting for me, as it covers the time period (1945 to 1957) during which I was growing up in Hackensack.  Thanks for posting the link :).

The narrator talks about the residential development of woodlands in the county, and this was certainly true in Hackensack.  During the mid 1940s, Prospect Ave. was only paved as far south as Standish Ave., and there was a large wooded area to the SE of this intersection.  I remember a winding dirt road that led into the woods to a summer cabin that was still being used by a NYC family as late as 1947.  Sometimes you would see deer in the vicinity.  By the mid 1950s it was nearly all gone and replaced by single family homes.

I also remember woodlands just north of Essex St. a few blocks to the west of Summit Ave.  It had large trees, some of which had fallen to the ground, along with grasslands.  In early Spring there was always standing water along the road and you could find skunk cabbage growing amidst the early vegetation.  Most of this area was eventually developed into apartments.

The film also mentions the growth in the number of telephones during this time period, but it doesn’t mention the improvement in service.  The first telephone our family had was an upright two-piece model, where you would pick up a receiver and talk into a mouth piece.  The operator would say “number please,” and you would tell her the phone number you wanted.  Our number was on the Hackensack 2 exchange.  A few years later we were upgraded to a dial tone phone, and we chose a wall model.  Although you could easily make errors turning the dial, it was a vast improvement over the upright phone, and our exchange was renamed Diamond 2.

The demand for telephones was so great during the mid 1940s that getting a single line for a new telephone was nearly impossible.  Instead, there were party lines that you had to share with other families.  We were initially on a 4 party line, and then were moved up to a 2 party line, and finally to a private line.  Can you imagine people today tolerating the lack of privacy that came with a party line?  When you picked up the phone to make a call you never knew if someone else was already talking on it.  Thus it was quite easy for others on your party line to eavesdrop on your conversations.  As a result, our telephone calls tended to be quite brief :).

Hackensack History / Re: Remembering Fanny Meyer Hillers
« on: November 03, 2015, 04:52:45 PM »
Hi again Chief,

Thanks for your latest response and for your very kind words.  I’m glad you liked the info about Mrs. Hillers.

I did not think you had an attitude or anything of that sort.  When I reread my post, I saw that I’d said that Longview wasn’t quite the same place without Mrs. Hillers, and I didn’t want anyone thinking I was inferring that other teachers didn’t compare favorably to her.

I really liked all of my teachers at Longview, and while I was there they had to function under some very trying circumstances.  All of my classrooms were overcrowded, and facilities were still strained even after the new wing was added behind the main school building.  Teachers were in short supply and were sometimes transferred between grades.  My 4th grade teacher, for example, used to teach 2nd grade.  I actually had the same teacher for both 5th and 6th grades, which I didn’t think was such a good idea but it was apparently deemed to be necessary.  To top it all, my 6th grade class was held for the entire school year in a temporary area that was partitioned off in the SW corner of the school auditorium.  Through it all, the teachers performed admirably and I was well satisfied with what they were able to accomplish.

Hackensack History / Re: Remembering Fanny Meyer Hillers
« on: November 02, 2015, 05:32:33 PM »
Hi Chief Oratam,

The purpose of my original post was to describe Mrs. Hillers to those who may have forgotten her or simply didn’t know much about her.  Although I only knew her for a few years at the end of her long and successful career, I was hoping my recollections might help to explain why some people once held her in such high regard.

It was certainly not my intent to suggest that there weren’t other good teachers at Longview besides Mrs. Hillers, as there certainly were.  Some teachers that come to mind are Miss Fallon, Miss Zito, and Mrs. Dodge.

Your mention of Mrs. Layers rekindled some fond memories for me, as I do remember her.  She was one of the third grade teachers when I was at Longview, but I was not in her classroom.  Rather, I knew her from attending several cub scout den meetings that she hosted at her house, and I always thought she was such a kind and generous person.  :)

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.

Pages: 1 [2]