Oldwick, New Jersey: 1965-1966

Visited in Jan 2002

Notes on Oldwick

Dad left for UCONN in 1964, and his family moved to Oldwick, New Jersey in 1965. He was home for the summer over the summers of 1965 and 1966, his sophmore and junior years.

The home was on Ridge Road, a long, twisty road which lead up Hell's Mountain. His home was at the very top, with a gorgeous view out over the landscape. Dad's room was in back and had a great view. Apparently you can see this mountain from very far away, and can see the birds and bats circling over it. While he lived there there were no house numbers, but it is now numbered #31, home of Robert Lorello.

At the time he drove a 1961 TR3 Triumph sportscar. He remembers one time he had it parked at a small gas station down in town, and was inside talking to the clerk. He saw the antennae of his car drift past the window, and realized it was rolling towards an embankment. He ran out, dove into it head-first and yanked the emergency brake up, stopping it before it went over the edge.

Mom told us how he had a canvas roof for it with a plastic window in back, and the window cracked. In the winter he had to keep a shovel in the car, to empty out the snow that got into the back seat. One winter he was driving to his job at Pratt & Whitney and was stopped at a light where a policeman was directing traffic. The policeman took one look at the car and got down on his knees and prayed.

I later found out from mom that she crunched the rear of the Triumph by accident. She was parked next to it, and went to back out of the parking space. She didn't realize the Triumph was next to her - it was snowy and she thought it was just a big snowbank - and she cut her car into it, destroying its back end. It later died of engine failure. Dad said that he had to roll it into the garage where he sold it for $300.

Note that this picture I found of a 1961 TR3 Triumph was in fact of one bought in NJ. I checked, and apparently it's not dad's.

Dad also got to drive a yellow 1964 1/2 Mustang, which his father owned. Lucky guy! This was the car featured in Goldfinger. There are little tiny stone bridges in this area, over creeks. There's one at the foot of Hell's Mountain in fact. Dad almost slid that Mustang off of one, there are no rails because the bridges are so small and the rear tires slid off the bridge. Luckily the rest stayed on.

Grandpa's was similar to this, but a convertible

sister Becky says:
I ended up with the 1964 1/2 Mustang for a while. It was yellow with a black convertible top and black interior. My father made a deal that if I got a certain average for a semester in college (I know it wasn't all A's, but I don't remember what it was) I could have it. It was my best semester in undergraduate school. After I finished college and the ol' Mustang started having its expensive problems, I sold (!) it back to my dad for the cost of a bicycle. Blake and Bruce drove it in to the ground and I think a collector finally bought it, so maybe the ol' Mustang is still in one piece. I named the Mustang Illya after a character in the Man from Uncle TV series in the 60's.

We got to see the school at the bottom of the hill where Dad's brothers went; they were 8 and 10 at the time. We saw the home where his sister Beckey's friend lived.

Here's the house that Dad lived in. Click for a larger version.

Becky says:
The Oldwick house looks like they converted the garage. I don't remember the picture window on the front right. Dad also put a swimming pool in the back several years after we moved in and would unwind after his day at work skimming and cleaning the pool. I know we all enjoyed the pool, but my dad found it really a peaceful project. My mom also would get on a tear and decide to clear out half the trees in the back to get a better view. One day Blake and Bruce (always called 'The Boys') said they were going to cut down a tree and Mom said sure . . . thinking they would cut down some bush somewhere. The she heard a little "Timber . . ." followed by a huge crash and the landscape view was greatly improved. You couldn't put anything past Blake or Bruce. Knowing them, they may have hitch hiked to New York City at ages 7 and 9. Thankfully Blake was the oldest, because I think Bruce had the better dangerous ideas.

Here's a neighbor's house up the road. Click for a larger version.

We asked what Dad had done while out here. Apparently his dad had gotten him a job at Union Carbide for these two summers, and he worked double shifts to get as much money as he could. He didn't do much else - no dating or pizza parties during these summers. The work wasn't easy, either. For one job, he stood by a chute which had plastic pouring out of it, and he filled bags with 50 pounds of plastic, then put them onto a palate. He did a ton an hour of this.

For another job, a chute came down from the ceiling with plastic, pouring into a palate. He drove a forklift which held another palate into that stream, filled it up, went and got another one, and so on. Yet another job involved plastic pouring into a giant water-cooled cast iron palate. He'd wait until it filled and cooled, then break the plastic into chunks with a hammer. Sometimes the job was even more fun. The plastic was mixed in gigantic metal tanks. To clean them, he would have to wriggle inside a tiny porthole at their base, and chip plastic off the inside walls.

I asked if he got to play any games at home. Apparently Jane, his mom, was the biggest game player in the house. She'd be up for any board game, pingpong, scrabble monopoly. softball. She was the athelete of the year in college.

We asked how his dad got him such a demanding job. Apparently this was not unusual. When dad was a senior in high school, his dad tried to send him off for the summer to work on a freighter that worked along the eastern coastline. He'd have to lug freight all day, and then sleep on the ship or at a dock motel at night. He turned that down.

Other Thoughts on the Trip

While driving back through New York, Dad saw the spot where, when he was much older than college, he and a friend broke down on the side of the highway. They'd been driving back from the Olympic volleyball trials, and ran out of gas at a point that was too far to walk to get more. They sat there from 3am to 8am, and a cop passed them but didn't bother to stop and help. Dad figured if someone dangerous looking stopped, that he'd just run for it. Sure enough, a white cadillac stopped and two black men got out. One was 6'7" and the other was 5'7" and very hefty. They asked where Atlantic City was, because they had women in the car. Luckily they left after relieving themselves.

We talked about Fun City, a kid's place in NY. Dad said the spookiest movie he ever saw was a movie with Peter Faulk, where a kidnapped kid was in Bridgeport. Faulk discovered the kid while taking his own kids to Fun City.

We asked how he ended up at UCONN. Apparently his two choices were Dartmouth, where his dad said he'd have to work clearing tables, or Uconn where he wouldn't have to work to pay. He went up and liked the campus and chose it. He wanted to go into political science/business, and was thinking of being a lawyer.

We asked how he chose the Air Force when he left UCONN. He thought at the time that the Air Force was safer than the army, but he ended up in training to be a ground radio operator. These are the guys they drop in in advance of troops to tell them where to fight. He was in fact twice ordered to go to Vietnam. Luckily his supervisors at the Pentagon had the order cancelled. He was too valuable doing portuguese/spanish/english translations for them.

We asked about his childhood. In 1955 was the Davy Crockett craze. He was visiting his cousin Warren Lee in Tennessee. Warren Lee was the son of his aunt Nancy (my grandma Jane's sister) and her husband Lynwood. The family owned 1,000 acres of black soil - good for cotton, and had cows. Dad had a Davy Crockett flashlight, and was out with Warren Lee, and a cow chased them into the woods. He lost the flashlight. The next day out they found it. And yes, he owned a coon skin cap. Coincidentally, Daniel Warren, the first Warren in Lincoln County, knew Davy Crockett.

Becky Says:
Also, on a visit to Aunt Nancy and Uncle Lynnwood's, your dad and Warren Lee were out doing their boy adventuring. I was left behind (obviously) and whining about having nothing to do. The boys came up to ask Uncle Lynnwood if he would take them out in the power boat he had, and Uncle Lynnwood said . . ."Boys, I don't know. I just gave the boat to Becky. You'll have to ask her." He was such a cool uncle. Needless to say I had a better day from that point on.

Dad's Uncle Lynwood was a fighter pilot. His other Uncle Joe was a fighter bomber in Europe. His own dad (George F) was a tabulating equipment operator. George F tried to apply to fighter school but it was too late - the war was over.

We asked about this Uncle Joe, who we'd never heard of. He was a Marine colonel at a base in South Carolina - brother to Jane Waller. One Christmas Eve, he, his friend and his expected soon to be son-in-law (who was supposed to marry his daughter Julie 2-3 days later) went out duck hunting in the Atlantic Ocean [Becky says it was a river with a flash flood]. They vanished, and were never found again. Julie later married Mr. Castleberry which is where our Castleberry cousins come from.

That left Jane with only one sister Nancy, and George with only one sister Dot.

The George Pages

Lisa's Genealogy Pages