Memories of Green Brook Residents
A Green Brook "native", Bill was born in 1895 in his father's house on Rock Road West, and that is where he grew up. As a young man, he helped his father as he worked on many of the farms in the Green Brook area. He remembers harvesting wheat for Mr. Albert Brokaw who lived on the property that Fred Burns acquired on Warrenville Road that later became the Blue Hills Plantation restaurant.
He also recalls, as a small boy, cutting corn on the Ephraim Vail's farm for "Uncle Abe." Ephraim was the last Vail descendant to live in that house. He died in 1909 at the age of 80.
Bill also remembers fishing in a large pool on the Green Brook near Madison Avenue, where a early powder mill had once exploded leaving a large crater. He caught bass, pickerel, eels, and carp in that old fishing hole. The spot was also a favorite swimming hole in the summer.
Mr. & Mrs. Alvin Kappelmann
The couple moved to Green Brook in 1924. They remember when the "Four Corners" area, at the intersection of Washington Avenue and Greenbrook Road, was Green Brook's "downtown." It consisted of a small grocery store on the South corner where a real estate office stands today, and Block's Ice Cream Parlor across the way on the East corner. The Hughes place, with its immaculate lawns and big red barn, occupied the North corner. It has been replaced by a delicatessen and small shopping center. And to the West, there was nothing but open fields.
The couple also remember when the Warrenville Road intersection with Route 22 (then Route 29) was completed. It was March, 1931, and the temperature stood at 16 degrees below zero. The Civil Works Administration gang who had built a bridge near Wickett Avenue worked all day in that freezing weather to complete the project.
Mr. Walter Pritchard
Mr. Pritchard was Vice-President of the Green Brook School Board when the corner stone for the Andrew Street School was laid in the Fall of 1938. He remembers the day, August 3, when it was formally dedicated with appropriate ceremonies.
The Members of the Board of Education at that time were: Francis Bohl, President: Walter T. Pritchard, Vice-President; Darby Beetham, Custodian of School Funds; Mrs. Ada Coddington; Mrs. Alvin S. Fernstrom: Mrs. Anna H, Mullen, Mr. Edward B. Moore: Mr. Harry L, Pound, and Mr. Clarence Scheurman. The teaching staff included Miss Sarah Bloom, Miss Irene E. Feldkirchner, Miss Madeline Malone, and Miss Ella Haver. This five-room school with auditorium and kitchen was built by PWA funds with a grant from the government of $4,000 for the land (4 1/2 acres) plus $36,000 to be raised by a bond issue at 4% for 27 years.
Miss Viola Sebring
Miss Sebring was born and grew up on her family's farm on King George's Road near Sebring's Mill. She remembers attending the Pierce School in East Bound Brook (now Middlesex) and walking two miles to school each day - "unless she were lucky enough to get a ride on a wagon." Her great-uncle, Charles P. Sebring, was the last member of the Sebring family to own and operate the Sebring Mill.
Mrs. Josephine Deutschlander
Mrs Deutschlander was born in Freiborg-on-the-Rhine, Germany, on her family's farm. She remembers coming to the United States in 1910, to live with her aunt and uncle who had a little farm on 119th Street and the East River in New York City.
She was a bride of only two months before World War I broke out in 1914. She and Mr. Deutschlander came to Green Brook in 1948. As the first secretary and charter member of the Green Brook Republican Club, she recalls holding meetings first at Renda's on Route 22 and, when that business burned down, at Mike Kerwin's on the highway.
Mrs. Dorothy de Rosset
Mrs. de Rosset was born and raised in the house her father, John B. Buckalew built in 1915 on Greenbrook Road. He was a Green Brook magistrate from 1943 to 1953 and a member and Chairman of the first Green Brook Township Committee.
Mrs. de Rosset remembers coasting down Washington Rock Road (Washington Avenue) on her "Flexible Flyer" with a friend riding on the back for ballast. As she rounded a curve, she saw an automobile parked in her path. The sled, gaining momentum, headed straight for the car. Her friend rolled off and the sled with Mrs. de Rosset still onboard shot under the car. She came out from under the front with nothing to show for it but two bruises.
Mrs. de Rosset also recalls the family's horse and sleigh coming to pick them up after a day of sledding. Her friends would hitch their sleds on back of the sleigh and drop off one by one as they reached their homes in Dunellen.
It was said that with a good start at the "Rock", you could coast all the way down to the corner of Washington Avenue and Greenbrook Road. At that time, their was no Route 22 to interrupt the flight.
Mr. & Mrs. William Wickett
The Wicketts rmember buying their first lot on Wickett Avenue in 1926. It stood in the middle of a cornfield where cows were grazing. To honor them as one of the "first settler" in the development, the developer named the street after them. At that time, Warrenville Road was nothing more than a path going up the mountain.
They also recall when "all of Green Brook" could fit into the Town Hall Elementary School by opening the folding doors. When the annual Christmas Pageant was performed, everyperson in the community attended.
Mrs. Kurt Frede
Mrs. Fede, Mrs. Wickett's daughter, attended the Town Hall Elementary School from first through eighth grades. She recalls when the boys used to go "skinny-dipping" in Green Brook behind the school.
Mr. Henry J. Lund
Born on a small farm in West Dunellen near the Buffalo Tank, Mr. Lund was the custodian of Washington Rock Park for 36 years - from 1926 to 1962. He lived in the "Lodge" on the mountain top which had been built for Pat Hickey, his predecessor. Pat also maintained a refreshment stand selling ice cream, candy, and soda to visitors.
The "Rock" was a favorite picnic spot for local residents and a popular sightseeing destination for out-of-towners. As a boy growing up on his father's farm, Henry worked during school vacations on a nearby 97-acre farm for 50 cents a day. He gave half of his wages to his mother.
During his tenure as custodian for the Park, Henry also served as a police officer on the Green Brook Police Force.
Mr. Lund also remembers when the Lodge originally belonged to the Washington Rock Park Association. It was purchased in 1911 by Charles McCutcheon of North Plainfield and maintained by the Continental Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution.
The Chapter, which was based in Plainfield and North Plainfield, furnished the Lodge with beautiful antiques and kept it as a museum. People from all over the State would come to visit. In 1913, the land and memorial was deeded to the State. By 1954, the number of visitors to the Rock had declined to the point that the Chapter decided to move the articles to other locations in the area where they would be displayed to a larger audience. Some of the items went to Rockingham, George Washington's headquarters at Rocky Hill, and others went to the Drake House in Plainfield.
Mr. Robert H. Lund
Mr. Lund was the Green Brook's Police Chief. He was born in his father's house on the mountaintop in Washington Rock State Park.
He remembers as a small boy swinging on a huge iron ring attached by a chain to a tree. Originally it had been the outer rim of a locomotive wheel. When hit with a hammer, the sound could be heard for miles around.
This ring was Green Brook's first fire alarm. It began its new life at the first Fire House on Greenbrook Road, and, after the town acquired its first fire siren and installed it at Alvin Kappetmann's house on Greenbrook Road, the ring was moved to the top of the mountain. During World War II, the ring was donated for scrap iron.
Mr. Vernon A. Noble
A former seven-term Mayor of Green Brook, Somerset County Freeholder, and Chairman of the Green Brook Flood Control Commission, one of Mr. Noble fondest memories was courting his wife Shirley on his bicycle. In the Depression years of the late 1930’s, they would pack a picnic lunch and pedal off for a day in the country.
Bicycle riding was something he continued to enjoy. Sometimes solo, sometimes on his tandem bike with one of his daughters, Bonnie or Cathy, on the rumble seat, he was a familiar figure riding in the Fourth of July parades. He was "solving the energy crisis" in his own individual, common-sense way.
He also remembers a time when the town had a portable traffic stanchion which was wheeled out into the intersection of Washington Avenue and Greenbrook Road. The unit was manually operated and used to cope with the increased automobile traffic on Sundays and holidays.
Mrs. Peter Eelman
As a young girl, Mrs. Eelman remembers coming to the United States from her native Holland in 1920. She was hired as a companion for the five daughters of Mr. and Mrs. Maxwell Perkins of North Plainfield. During her time with the Perkins, she recalls meeting F. Scott Fitzgerald, author of "The Great Gatsby" when he was a house guest in the Perkins home. Maxwell Perkins, the famous editor of Scribner's Publishing Co., "discovered" Fitzgerald, Thomas Wolfe, and other noted authors.
Mrs. Eelman and her husband, the late Pete Eelman came to Green Brook in 1930. They lived on Route 22 and Warrenville Road in a house that Mr. Eelman built single-handedly in his spare time.
A talented artist, her paintings of Dutch landscapes with canals, windmills and brilliant flowers, reflect her girlhood memories of Holland. "Nell" Eelman never knew she had this talent until she was 65.