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Courier News, May 8, 2005

Time capsule bares memorabilia from '38 in Green Brook

Staff Writer 

GREEN BROOK -- The voices of school board members from 1938 spoke Saturday through letters discovered inside a time capsule from the demolished Irene E. Feldkirchner School.

About 100 people watched from bleachers in the Green Brook Middle School gym as historian Rens Eelman used a power tool to cut open the small copper time capsule. After he and school board President Gary LoPinto gingerly bent back the lid, applause erupted from the crowd.

The first items pulled out were two folded newspapers -- copies of the Plainfield Courier News and the Newark Evening News of Feb. 19, 1938, a Saturday. That was followed by three coins, two letters and a photograph of the Feldkirchner School foundation.

The letters got the most attention. One was typewritten and addressed to "the future taxpayers of Green Brook." The other was dated 2 p.m. Feb. 21, 1938. It was handwritten at the ceremony when the school's cornerstone was placed.
What school board President Frances Bohl wrote in 1938 didn't differ much from the concerns of today's parents and school board members.

"We have overcrowded conditions, outside toilets and poor heating," Bohl wrote of the two-room school replaced by the Feldkirchner building.


From left, Alice Fisher, Hendrina LaFleur and Violet Boyle react Saturday as contents of a time capsule from the demolished Irene E. Feldkirchner School are revealed. One of the items in the capsule was a letter signed by then-Board of Education member Alba Fernstrom, Fisher's mother. 

She boasted that the new 1938 building would have a classroom for each grade and cost all of $65,000.

Some people chuckled at the school's cost, ridiculously low by today's standard. Even better, as the letter explained, the township received a $29,400 federal grant and taxpayers paid the balance over 27 years at 4 percent interest.

The ceremony was a homecoming of sorts for Alice Fisher of Piscataway, who heard the name of her mother, Alba Fernstrom, among the board members who signed the letter.

"I expected something here," said Fisher, 83. "I realized she was on the board."

Her friend Hendrina LaFleur remembered the building which Feldkirchner School replaced.

"The Green Brook grammar school had outdoor toilets and it was a wooden school, which was later used as the firehouse," LaFleur said.

The ceremony also gave students and adults a chance to think about what to include in a time capsule that will be buried at the new middle school at a ceremony in September. Gabriella Marano, 14, said that's one reason she came to the ceremony.

"I have a good idea what we'll put in it," she said.

The time capsule was saved by Eelman after the school was torn down last June.

Before the ceremony, some students correctly guessed what the time capsule contained.

"There would be pictures of the school or a newspaper," said Steffainie Monteledne, 13.

"It could be anything, documents from that period or letters," said Chris Baldowski, 18.

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