Saturday, May 30, 2009

High Point Brewery: Great Micro-Brewed Ramstein Beer in Kinnelon's Back Yard

ramstein beer high point brewery butler nj
Do you like beer?

Is the Pope on Facebook!!??

Answer: Yes! He is!

He's German you know -- I betcha he likes beer.

I like beer, too, and even better, or worse, I like DRAFT beer. I like freshly brewed, unbottled, craft beer loaded into my 2 liter gasketed, stoppered growler. And I like it better than almost all bottled beer.

Because it is a lot better. Did I say I like it a lot?

We have just such beer in our back yard, made down in Butler on Kiel Avenue by the High Point Brewing Company and owner Greg Zaccardi, in the form of Ramstein Beers.

These are German style wheat beers and lagers from light to dark made from German and Belgian ingredients.

Some of the varieties include Classic Hefe Weissen, Dunkel (Dark) Hefe Weissen, Blonde, Double Platinum Blonde, Gold (a light summer beer), Maibock, Amber Lager, and, seasonally, others.

You can go check them out most anytime, but they have a tour and beer tasting on the 2nd Saturday of each month from 2 PM to 4 PM -- in June that's Saturday, the 13th.

The physical plant occupies a multi-story space in the old red-brick rubber factory complex and the vestibule has a small bar with several of their draft beers on tap -- visitors and customers are welcome to try the current offerings.

The brewery is generally open 6 days a week, Monday through Saturday, from 9 or 10 in the AM to 6 or 7 in the PM. You can go there and buy your beer directly from them, on draft, or in bottles (if you must), and I suggest you call first to make sure they are there when you want to go, especially if it's at the beginning or end of the day. 973 838-7400.

I have seen their bottled beers in some local stores such as Lucerne's on Route 23, and Bottle King on Route 23 in Wayne, but the thing to do is get your growler, or any well-stoppered jug, and go down to Butler and fill 'er up.

I understand also that Outback in Butler on Route 23 serves Ramstein beers as well, if you want to try it at a local restaurant -- don't know if they have it on draft or not.

The beer will last for a week or even longer in an unopened jug, but once opened, will need to be consumed with a 24 hour period or it will go flat.

I know -- such a hardship to have to finish off that growler!

Why do I like the Ramstein beer so much? Well, draft beer in general has a fresher flavor than bottled, and the Ramstein Beers in particular are balanced, well defined, complex, and have a long finish -- none of the weak soda water finish of some Other Beers which shall remain nameless, and should remain un-drunk.

Support your local brewery!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day 2009 in Kinnelon

Here's the view from the green outside the Kinnelon NJ Borough Hall on this beautiful Memorial Day 2009. A ceremony of rememberance and appreciation for all those who died for our country took place at 11am.

Did you attend? If you did, would you share your thoughts with us here?

Lisa mentions that Butler had a parade. Did you take part in it? Would you share your impressions?

I remember the parade making its way up to Kinnelon several years back. That was impressive -- seeing all of the cub and boy scout troups, girl scout troups and the other volunteers groups - firefighters, police, ambulance corps... -- that serve our communities.

My friend Ilene O'Donnell in River Vale, NJ serves on the volunteer ambulance corps; she is fierce about her calling. She also marches in her parade.

We are all fortunate beyond belief to be surrounded by so much generosity and selflessness. Don't you think?

As you think about the meaning of the day, would you read through my post titled MyVetwork - The Veterans Networking Site over at Flooring The Consumer? The post describes a fantastic social networking site focused entiredly on veterans and their families.

MyVetwork, though, needs help finding office space in New York City.

Perhaps you or someone you know can help?

And, perhaps, too, you could get the word out about MyVetwork to anyone you know who has served or is serving in the US military.

Thank you and Happy Memorial Day!

Technorati Tags: Tags:

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Kiel/Sisco Family Math Night in Kinnelon

Do you remember Kinnelon's Family Science Night? The companion event, Family Math Night, took place on April 1st, 2009 in our very own Kiel School from 6 to 8pm. [The Kindergartners and Jr. K Sisco students came earlier.]

Although many others were involved, three teachers - Mary Ellen Cook, Nicole DiTommaso, and Jamie Nyegaard - played a major role in organizing the program.

The evening's program consisted of 6 separate activity stations, all based on Everyday Mathematics principles, that we rotated through.

Above, you see Emma taking part in Dice Graphing.

The kids could pick whether to graph 1, 2 or 3 die and then plotted/colored the totals associated with each cast.

We tried Tangrams.

We experimented with Geometry and Straws.

Next, we had Top-It.

Then,the Coin/Dollar Exchange.

Our last activity was Name That Number.

I discovered these number game resources that you might find interesting:

From the Everyday Math site, descriptions of many of the games. Here, a list of the Top 10 Math games relating to money from And, here computerized versions of the Everyday Math games!

What did I like most about the evening's program - apart from it taking place in one room [although we did enjoy exploring the Stonybrook school during Family Science Night]?

I really liked that the age and grade ranges of the kids were limited to first and second grade.

I also liked that the games were based on concepts that the kids were actively exploring in school.

Finally, it's fascinating to observe parent/child interactions. I enjoyed hearing from other parents about which games they play at home and which ones resonate more with their kids and why.

The brochure we received included several websites to visit for more information and activities:

+ Everyday Math

+ The McGraw-Hill Wright group offers Everyday Math information and resources.

+ Everyday Math game demonstrations

+ Figure This! with interesting math challenges for families to work on together at home.

+ NCTM Illuminations which provides activities to help with learning math.

+ ThinkFinity is a comprehensive digital learning platform for all subjects.

We had a great time with these interactive math games.

Many thanks to Ms. DiTommaso, Ms. Nyegaard and Mrs. Cook - pictured here, but not all visible, with Mrs. Pat Hart - for a wonderful evening.

If you know of other math based games that you've had success with, please let me know and I will add them to this post.

Technorati Tags: Tags:

Friday, May 22, 2009

Discovering Kinnelon's St. Hubert's Chapel in 1965

Sometimes, the wondrous happens... as in discovering St. Hubert's Chapel when you are 9 years old and tlhe structure all but abandoned, and having that grown up nine year old share the tale with us here.

That is what I have for you today. An amazing tale from John J. Connelly, now in California, who lived in Smoke Rise on Orchard Road as a child and left in 1974. He graciously shares this tale.


One especially cold winter in 1965 when I was 9 years old, I and a boy from the neighborhood named Richard Waltmann, hiked through the trail at the end of Orchard Road, finally arriving around by the Smoke Rise lake. We were freezing and spotted the Chapel out on the island. The ice was frozen solid, so we decided to walk across the lake and explore the building in the hopes of possibly seeking shelter from the cold wind.

It is one thing to be escorted to the Chapel Island by informed guides who can share its history, the origin of the stones used in its construction and its original purpose, but I'm telling you, it is quite another to be a young Catholic boy discovering it quite by accident.

Stepping on to the Island, I was struck by the stark image of the dark Chapel against the purity of the deep snow all around. The roof was white with snow. A driven snow bank covered the front steps and partially obscured the immense front door covered in strange lettering. Richard and I were dumbstruck. We looked at each other in awe and I remember him just saying "Whoa!".

The door was locked so we climbed through one of the broken windows and entered the altar area. The floor was thick with debris and bird droppings. The air was filled with the sounds of birds, cooing and fluttering their wings. I fancied myself to be an artist back then and the images flooding into my brain were, frankly, intoxicating.

Richard found a little blue stone on the floor under some rubble. I looked up at the ceiling and noticed some moisture. The whole roof looked like it could come crashing down at any moment. The floor was so thick with droppings and debris that we were leaving footprints where ever we walked. But, ours were the only footprints, suggesting to us that we were the first sojourners to the Island in a long time.

"Who built this?" we said to each other, and "Does anyone know this is here?"

We stooped down to see if we could find other colored stones on the floor in front of the altar, when we noticed that there were two large white oval places on the face of the altar where stones had once been. They were right in the center of the altar. Richard and I couldn't resist, so on the one on the right I scrawled the date and my initials and Richard took the one on the left and did the same.

Walking forward I was drawn by the soft blue light of a stained glass window across the way. As I approached it, staring up, I was suddenly startled by a large white angel on the left. Having just spent 3 years at St Anthony's Catholic School in Butler, I instinctively kneeled before the statue, removed my wool cap, and blessed myself. I mean, I wasn't about to take chances being disrespectful in such a mystical and obviously Holy Place. The gentle rhythm of the cooing was all around.

Richard called out, "John, there's a room here with a staircase!"

Richard and I slowly made our way up the stairs in pitch darkness.

"Are you sure this is safe, Richard?"

"I don't know."

Just then bats began to flutter around us, and birds frantically flapped about in the near total darkness. We ducked and waited for the commotion to die down, then continued to scale the steps. As we went higher there was a little light from above that illuminated three large bells suspended from wooden planks. We continued until finally reaching a roof. "Did the steps just go to the roof?" we wondered. But, pushing hard, the roof flipped open, and we entered the clock room.

Back then, it was shin deep in bird droppings. Pushing the panel to enter the clock room had stirred up the droppings and we coughed violently for a minute or two. Wind was howling outside and slight breezes were entering into the clock room from weather worn slits in the wood clock faces. I felt like I was going to throw up from the smell and the debris in the air when I noticed a latch on one of the clock faces and pulling it open, fresh air and light filled the tight space.

The view revealed was extraordinary. It was of the Smoke Rise Beach, the Talbot's home and the Tower. We admired the scene and then turned to examine the clock works in the middle of the room.

Richard found an old lever in the debris which he went about trying to figure out where it fit. Finally, we figured out it was a cranking device, and placing it where we though it should go, gave it a half turn.

Suddenly the clock came alive, spinning, clicking and large weights dropping. Faces alive with glee, we watched it move until suddenly, without warning, the large bells below us sounded one powerful gong.

Nervous that the bell would alert adults that we were there, we decided to begin to make our escape. We closed the clock face, and carefully made our way down the spiral staircase to the landing below. Richard went straight to the window, but I to the angel. I don't know why, but climbing up on the base of the angel, I kissed her on the cheek, then kneeled again in front of her and blessed myself. Climbing through the window, we left the island. I was nine years old and I felt that I had been in the presence of God.

Now, the story could have ended there. But it doesn't.

One of my closest friends growing up was Tom Kline. Almost every day we would meet up and go on some sort of adventure together. I was Alice through the looking glass when I was with Tom, and he was my white rabbit. I'd just follow him down the rabbit hole and the adventures we went on together are legendary.

One day I told Tom about the Chapel. He listened intently as I told him about the condition, the statue, the altar, the stained glass window and the clock works. He asked if I could take him there, and I said sure. So, off we went.

As it was spring, we climbed aboard his canoe and paddled to the Island. Tom was enraptured. He studied the place, not like a young boy, but like an archaeologist. When we went to the bell tower, he spent a long time peering at the machinery. "Hmm", he'd say, "I think this piece goes here and that piece goes here....but, there's a piece missing. See if you see something that looks like this on the floor." And so on. I couldn't drag him away.

Next thing I remember, we were spending our summers at the island. Painting the clock faces, sweeping the debris, trimming the landscaping. I was there at Tom's side through all of it in the early days. He even sweet talked the man building the legendary "Million dollar house" across the way from the chapel into donating roofing materials for the chapel. Had Tom not re-roofed the chapel that year, the entire structure would have been lost. Thanks to Tom, it was preserved. At a time when I don't recall much talk about historic preservation, Tom just did what he felt he had to do.

Now, I have blue eyes, and one day Tom brought some blue powder out to the island and he squirted the powder into the angel's eyes. He just said that she should have blue eyes. He never explained it any further. Was it because he was appreciative that I'd told him about the Chapel? Was he in love with a blue eyed girl? I never asked and he never said. Tom's like that in many ways. A man ultimately of very few words but very deep passions. But one thing was clear; Tom had found his true love and he was to go on to devote his life to the preservation of that Chapel. I feel honored to have been there at the moment he'd found something so rare and beautiful that it changed his life.

He was there when I did the same, but that's a story for another day.

After many years of Tom's loving restoration efforts I had the opportunity to return to the Chapel with Tom as my tour guide. Just him and me. Yes, this time it was Tom taking me to the Island. It was a beautiful day and Tom showed off all the extensive work that has been accomplished in the many years since I'd been there with him. So much of the damage I remember has all been erased. The entry doors have been preserved. The large key that he'd somehow managed to gain possession of years ago still unlocked the entry door.

As we stepped in, I still felt the awe of a 9 year old and had to stop to pay my respects to the beautiful blue eyed angel that still greets visitors to her sanctum all these years later. Tom explained that no matter what he's done, the blue can not come out of the marble. He joked "So, don't try that on your marble unless you want it to stay blue." Maybe. Or maybe he just prefers that his angel stay a blue eyed one.

Everywhere I looked, evidence of vandalism and neglect had been reversed. Tom's made sure of that. But, as I made my way to the altar, there on the two prominent soft white patches, were two bits of vandalizing that Tom had purposely not erased. My eyes teared up as I read there written:

"RW and JJC - 1965."
Thank you, John.

Technorati Tags: Tags:

Sunday, May 17, 2009

The Grand Canyon Suite at the Kinnelon Children's Library

I wish I were a kid so I could participate in the cool programs that the Kinnelon Children's Library organizes. The latest was about the Grand Canyon....

Galina Adair, head of the children's library, contributed the following:

In April the Kinnelon Children’s Library had a program called the Grand Canyon Suite – a MUSIC AND SCIENCE extravaganza!

The Grand Canyon Suite program was a way to introduce children to an American musical piece written in the late 1920s into the 1930s.

Ferde Grofe, the composer, expressed his personal memories of a visit to The Grand Canyon in Arizona. The Grand Canyon Suite is a symphonic poem (musical work based on a literary background).

Louise Solomon, Mine Cellikol and several artistic helpers transformed the art room into the Grand Canyon - this added greatly to the impact of the program. [Note the photos above where you see that the room has been transformed into a Grand Canyon wonderland.]

The children listened to the Grand Canyon Suite by Ferde Grofé and were asked to discuss their responses to the music in the 5 separate movements:

+ Sunrise,
+ Painted Desert,
+ On the Trail,
+ Sunset,
+ Cloudburst.

Their reactions and insights were awesome!

The session with the older children included a little more information about geology than the younger children were given. Each session included a craft.

It was a very successful program and about 36 children participated!

Thank you, Galina, Louise, Mine and the other artistic helpers, for inspiring our children. I know Emma had a wonderful time identifying the Grand Canyon images that Grofe captured in his music and learning about Arizona!


In researching The Grand Canyon Suite for this post, I came across a site dedicated to The Grand Canyon Suite with lessons [note, some links are broken and you'll need to download some additional plugins]. It looks to be music focused; I did not have a chance to thoroughly check the site out.

I also found marvelous videos of three of the movements paired with video imagery of the Grand Canyon. Breathtakingly spectacular!

Subscribers, please click on this link for a YouTube video of Sunrise from The Grand Canyon Suite, created by Michael Lynch.

Subscribers, please click on this link for a YouTube video of Ferde's On The Trail from The Grand Canyon Suite.

Subscribers, please click on this link for the YouTube video of Grafe's Sunset.

If your children participated, what did they find most interesting?

And, whether they did or they didn't, what do you and they hear when you listen to the three YouTube videos above [or the Grand Canyon Suite CD]? I definitely hear clippity-clops of horses and donkeys in "On The Trail."

Technorati Tags: Tags:

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Kinnelon's Summer & Fall Recreation Programs, Text Caster, Too

Registration for the Summer and Fall Kinnelon recreation programs is underway. It started on May 11th and ends May 21st, 2009. Don't wait too long.

In case you didn't receive it from your child's school, do check out the Summer Newsletter from the Kinnelon Recreation Commission for yourselves. You'll note not only programs for kids, but also ... an adult co-ed Summer softball and information on using the tennis courts.

We registered for fall soccer - a big hit last season - and discovered that the Text Caster system in place for the school system, has been expanded to include the recreation programs. Hurray!!

Are you participating in the Kinnelon Text Caster system? If you aren't, I encourage you to do so. Whenever there's an announcement, emergency, closure, etc., you receive an email and/or text message. It's brilliantly simple and extremely effective. When you register, you select which school applies to you -- and now the recreation program --go through an authentication process and you are done.

To enroll, go to, scroll to the bottom of the page and you'll see this message:

Sign up for KINNELON SCHOOLS ALERT! and receive important information about the Kinnelon Public Schools sent as text messages directly to your mobile phone, wireless PDA or pager. You can even receive the information via email. Click here to register.

When you try the system out, will you let me know what you think?

NOTE: For those of you interested in Little League T-Ball and Baseball, are you aware of the Tri Boro Little League for Kinnelon, Butler and Bloomingdale? I just heard about it yesterday from one of the Coaches. He says that few parents in Kinnelon know about the league.

See you on the Soccer field in September!

Technorati Tags: Tags:

Friday, May 15, 2009

Kinnelon's 2nd Annual Poetry Contest

Did your child take part in the Kinnelon Annual Poetry Contest? You do know about the program, right? It's sponsored by the Kinnelon Children's Library and the second annual contest just took place.

I consider it wonderful for two reasons. The kids get to try their hand at creating their very own poem. And, they also get to experiment with presenting a poem - either their own or another that they've memorized - in front of a crowd.

This was our daughter' s second year participating and I can't say enough about the experience: practicing presentation skills in front of a friendly audience, and having to conceive of and develop a poetry concept, building off of the skills acquired during the school year program. It's an unbelievable learning experience and we were so impressed with her new skills as well as those of the other children taking part.

This year's event started out on April 29th, with Galina Adair, who heads up the children's library, setting the stage. Now, I'm quite fortunate because Galina contributed to this post.

Here is what she shares.
[The poetry contest judges hard at work...]
This April the Kinnelon Children’s Library held its second annual Poetry Contest celebration of National Poetry Month.

The goal of the contest is to encourage young patrons in Kindergarten – 5th grade to explore writing and reciting poetry. The contest for written poetry was announced at the beginning of April and poets were encouraged to write poems relating to or inspired by the topic of books or reading.

Over 90 original poems were entered in the contest and the winners were notified on April 28. Each of the winners attended the recitation contest held in April 29th and read their winning entries.


There were three winners in the Written Poem Contest:

+ Kindergarten – 1st grade winner:
Emma Whittemore (1st grade) the title of her poem is “Oh, how I love spring!”.

+ 2nd – 3rd grade winner:
Rachel Giordano (3rd grade) the title of her poem is “Books”

+ 4th – 5th grade winner:
Julia Balick (4th grade) the title of her poem is “Hope”

[Rachel Giordano reads her poem "Books."]


There were three winners in the Poetry Recitation Contest:

+ Kindergarten – 1st grade winner: Emily Petruccelli

+ 2nd – 3rd grade winner: Concetta Vecchione

+ 4th-5th grade winner: Anna Tiajoloff

The Recitation Contest was held Wednesday, April 29th in the Children’s Library.

The standing room only crowd was treated to a lively recitation of celebrated American poet Nikki Giovanni’s poem “The Drum” by resident storyteller Eileen Gelenter.

After Eileen’s inspiring performance the recitation began, featuring 11 VERY talented participants from the 4th-5th graders, 12 VERY talented participants from the 2nd-3rd grades AND 10 VERY talented Kindergarten – 1st graders!

These are the poems that the Written Poem Winners wrote.
[Emma Whittemore reciting her poem.]
Oh, How I Love Spring! by Emma Whittemore

Oh, how I love spring when the robins sing,
When you know it's spring.

There you see a baby foal,
How cute its wobbly knees.

As my dad and I ride our bikes around the bend,
We see kids flying kites.

When we get home,
We see rain dripping down from the sky.

My mother just knows that flowers might bloom,
And she's right.

Oh, how I love spring when the robins sing!

BOOKS by Rachel Giordano

The pages rippling in the cool summer breeze
Gliding through the crisp air
Slamming on the glazed wood table
Sharing information with the wonderful world

HOPE by Julia Balick

Is tragic,
Is a blanket,
Is there,
Always there,
Is pushing,
Is pulling,
Is tugging,
always trying,
Is respect,
Is absent,
Is friend,
Is rival,
Is heart,
Is soul,
Is raining,
On me.

Thank you, Galina and all those who participated in the poetry contest, for making this such success. You made this experience truly memorable and help our children develop intellectually.

Congratulations, too, to the winners, and also to all those who participated. It's exciting to watch our children develop new skills before our very eyes!

Technorati Tags: Tags:

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Reminder: Sterling Forest Fire Tower Hike May 17, 2009

Just a quick reminder that the Sterling Forest Fire Tower Hike will be taking place this Sunday, May 17, 2009 at 1pm.

I captured the original details [including pictures of what to anticipate] in Save The Date: Sterling Forest Fire Tower Hike.

Ken Bitz and I exchanged emails today. We are aware that the weather may not cooperate.

However, it just might.

Consequently, we plan on meeting at the Smoke Rise Inn parking lot at 1pm. Don't forget to bring water and a light snack.

If the weather truly doesn't cooperate, we'll decide on a raindate at that point [so far, the weekends of June 6/7 and 13/14 are NOT options; others are].

In the meantime, be ready, get psyched, do a sunshine-dance and see you on Sunday for what looks to me to be a spectacular walk!

Technorati Tags: Tags:

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Meet Smoke Rise Mom Blogger & Author Jen Singer

Happy Mother's Day! What a perfect occasion to introduce you to Mom Blogger and Author Jen Singer - photographer, too; these are her two boys jumping into Lake Kinnelon - a Smoke Rise neighbor whom I've just 'met' thanks to Sunita Narma, another neighbor who joined in on the Kakeout Reservoir Hike.

Jen is amazing. A fellow blogger, she writes Good Housekeeping's Good Grief! Mom of Tweens blog, started in May 2007.

She's the creator of, a community for mothers around the world in search of comic relief. Do explore, laugh over the sweet stories that's community shares, and linger over the insightful blogposts, too.

Most recently, Jen just published Stop Second-Guessing Yourself--The Toddler Years: A Field-Tested Guide to Confident Parenting. You can find all kinds of information on the book including the Blog Tour, which just ended, and Book Signings.

Here follow a few questions I asked Jen about herself, her family and the Kinnelon area.

C.B.: Jen, you've lived here in Smoke Rise since 1994. Where did you move from and why?

Jen: My husband, Pete, was working in Butler at the time, and the commute from our condo in Somerset was wearing on him. We knew we wanted to start a family, and we thought Smoke Rise was a great place to do it. Thanks to my husband’s boss at the time, Norm Dotti, who with his wife Nancy raised their kids here, we knew all about how wonderful Smoke Rise is.

C.B.: What do you love most about the area? What about your boys?

Jen: We love the neighbors, the woods, the lake and the feeling of community. When I had cancer two years ago – at the same time we had house-wide construction – neighbors pitched in to cook for us three times a week. Susan Stadeli was in charge of the dinner schedule and Kim Marsden organized carpools and playdates for my kids. We couldn’t have done it without the help of the kind friends and neighbors in Smoke Rise. I am now 18 months in remission – and the house is all done.

The boys love playing in the woods and at the lake with their friends. Last summer, they played Manhunt on the beach one warm Saturday night while the grown-ups sat on the benches and talked and ate. I remember thinking that so few kids these days get to have experiences like that, and how lucky my kids are to grow up here.

C.B.: How do you use Smoke Rise and the Kinnelon area? What activities do you do?

Jen: My husband Pete is in the Smoke Rise Runners Club, and I belong to the Tennis Club. One son plays baseball and soccer, and I help coach soccer. Both boys are scouts, too.

C.B.: Are there any Kinnelon specific resources you'd like to bring to people's attention?

Jen: Don’t forget our local library, which is really well stocked and is staffed with very bright, helpful people.

C.B.: How did you get started with

Jen: I launched it in 2003 and it’s grown considerably since. I just published the first book in a series of MommaSaid branded parenting guides, “Stop Second Guessing Yourself – the Toddler Years.” You can find it at the Kinnelon Library and at the Borders in Riverdale.

Thanks, Jen, and congratulations!

Happy Mother's Day to all of the Smoke Rise and Kinnelon Moms!

Technorati Tags: Tags:

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Didja Know? "Kinnelon" Estate of Francis S. Kinney Part II

Continuing with Cornie Hubner's Didja Know? series, here follows his article about the "Kinnelon" Estate of Francis S. Kinney Part II which relates to his house and property in what is now Smoke Rise in Kinnelon, NJ.

The series about Kinney's Estate starts with Didja Know? Francis S. Kinney's "Cottage" Life which includes a reference map and continues with Didja Know? "Kinnelon" Estate of Francis S. Kinney - Part I. There are 5 parts in total.

The "Stonehouse No. 4" [see map in previous post and photo below] is the oldest building standing in Smoke Rise, no matter which of the several versions of its origin, you are prepared to accept. One of these places, the first structure a little distance away, occupied by one of the Iron Forge owners. It was the meeting place for regional operators concerned with the prosperous smelting business when activity waned. Another story has it at its present site, serving as an underground Slave Railroad Depot, operated by a sympathetic early settler. The verifiable account has the Kinney family erecting the stone building on an original foundation in 1885. [Note: per Tom Kline, the Stonehouse dates back to 1828].

This building together with the mysterious "Lodge" was used in May and June, as well as every September and October, until the Cottage [no. 15] was completed in 1891. There is no vestige of the "Lodge" to prove it ever existed. Its contents were listed in the 1891 inventory and there are frequent references in log books as late as 1896. One story places it on the west shore of Stickle Pond. In this it is described as a three bedroom log cabin which was burned down when the dam was heightened, the lake doubled in size and the overflowing water obliterated all signs of a base or foundation. More credence is give to a reference in an old manuscript, vaguely placing it near what is now New or Stillwater Pond.

The Kinneys moved into the "Cottage" on Thursday, June 9, 1892, "by 12 o'clock train, from New York, Mrs. Kinney still suffering from rheumatism-attack of March 17th." They found carpenters, plumbers and decorators still finishing details which they critically supervised for some time. On one occasion the woodwork in one suite was torn out and completely replaced by a more pleasing finish, less exotic, than that specified by the architect. Arnold Constable, then the popular New York store servicing wealthy families, maintained a full time operator supervising the installation of carpeting, draperies and furnishings as planned by their decorators. Even a Tiffany's representative whose connection dated back to St. Hubert's Chapel in 1896, made frequent visits supervising the completion of marble fireplaces, mantels and installation of oils and statues so dear to the affluent Victorians.

The arrival of the Lord of the Manor, is family and the entourage that accompanied him, made local conversation for weeks. A prototype "Upstairs-Downstairs" staff befitting the maintenance of the 84 room palatial "Cottage" made a noticeable increase in the area's population. Except for two locals employed as grooms, this same staff provided their professional services for the summer at Narraganset and the winter in New York. England, Ireland and Scotland provided the professional household and personal staff, that based on statistics were paid far above average wages, particularly when food and shelter and, in some cases, uniforms were provided. The interesting data was taken from the first entry in the 1892 log, shows positions and wages paid.

CHEF, $150 monthly (German or Austrian); BUTLER, $70 (English); HEAD COACHMAN, $60 (American); 2 GROOMS $55 (Local); 2 NANNY/NURSES $15-20 (English); 2 SCULLERY MAIDS, $15-18 (Irish); 2 CHAMBER MAIDS, $20 (Scotch); WAITRESS, $23 (Irish).

The highly trained staff did much to assuage any discomforts of the almost finished residence. Records of following years show few changes and all replacements from an unlimited field of expert professionals vying for the opportunity to serve in "the land of plenty." One Scotch, fourth generation chamber maid, proudly told of her great-grandmother who received "honors" from Queen Victoria for her outstanding service. Married locally, descendants, unable (or unwilling) to recognize the value of household service, acquired Engineering, Legal and Medical degrees starting generations of professionals unattainable by their forebears.

A local prosperous business man tells of a nineteen year old Polish "Servant" obtained through an international agency, that joined his household at the turn of the century. This willing, $4.00 per week, semi-indentured domestic, was guaranteed room and board for a year. In return she cared for the three bedroom home, cooked and "did the laundry" for a family of five with one day off every two weeks. Ana, with the willing help of local swains, soon acquired enough English (good and bad) to do the shopping and read. At year's end, fully Americanized,she arranged for a replacement and left. Several years later a be-minked and be-jeweled former "Servant" returned to thank her first employer. She had married the widower of the home she had managed since leaving. ("Servants" like Ana were always available from an inexhaustible supply of willing "exploitees." Kinneys continued to make replacements from professional groups until the start of World War I.)

Life at the "Cottage" evolved about Mrs. Kinney who although handicapped by illness, regularly attended Mass at St. Hubert's. Celebrated by priests from the Monastery in Butler, it provided her with an opportunity to sing. Prof. Lambetti, an organist, with an opera singer arrived each Saturday for rehearsals and a one time Sunday duet performance for the appreciative congregation. The diary shows that Mrs. Kinney must have retained almost exclusively service of the Butler physician Dr. Day, who frequently called twice daily. One wonders how he found any time left for local patients and the "borning" of all "blessed events" in the area. He must have had almost exclusive use of one of the grooms.

The local Franciscan priest called weekly to instruct the children in the Christian Doctrine leading to their confirmation. Local youngsters had an insight into a world they knew little about, when after service as altar boys at Sunday Mass they were treated to a sumptuous breakfast and left with a fabulous tip. Another unusual participant in the Estate largess, Mr. Risden, the local barber, calling every three weeks, who after finishing with the family, provided his service for all household employees.

There is little information recorded about the social life at Kinnelon although the "log" shows weather reports,temperature almost by the hour and the level of water in the lake (maybe that was needed for the tobacco industry?) It is known that Mr. Kinney conducted his business with subordinates who came to Kinnelon and by an irresponsible phone that required almost the full time service of an operating engineer.

On October 6, 1891, a cryptic entry recorded, "The factory on 22nd Street burned down." Apparently it was no major catastrophe as it is followed with such innocuous reports as "moved three barrels of applejack from storage to the Cottage." "Paid J.Bott, bounty for three red fox." About one a week Mr. Kinney would catch the 9:15 to New York, returning on the express that was met by the coach at 5:14. The children spent their time boating, fishing, riding and becoming experts in the use of hunting equipment and "following the hounds."

More and more local labor was being employed in the operation of what was becoming a completely self-sustained enclave. The various buildings were gradually being put into the use for which they were intended. Experts for the various fields of farm and animal training were employed and the nucleus of what later would become the operation that produced prize winners in all branches of husbandry was being assembled.

Next: Part III.

Technorati Tags: Tags:

Sunday, May 3, 2009

A Hot Hike Around Kinnelon's Kakeout Reservoir on 4/26/09

We missed you this past Sunday, April 26th when we had our very hot hike around the Kakeout Reservoir in Kinnelon, NJ... [For background info on the hike, read Kakeout Reservoir Hike Next Sunday 4/26/09 and Save The Date: Kakeout Reservoir Hike....].

Here you see part of our group as we were about to set off. This is by the trail head. Missing are six kids [Arianna, Emma, Paul, Miles, Roshan and Keith], three dogs [Sunshine, Midnight and Little Sunshine] and the men [they were parking the cars].

By the way, if you ever take this hike and have two cars, definitely park one at the trail head and the other at the trail end, thereby avoiding having to walk single file along that 1/2 mile stretch of Fayson Lakes Road that I personally consider scary.

This photo comes from the first part of the hike as we took footbridges across streams. We were disturbed to encounter kids playing pellet games and leaving a trail of colorful round plastic beads in their wake. Something tells me these beads aren't biodegradable...

Notice the skunk cabbage leaves unfurling. Contrast that with the view out your window today, just one week later. Pretty amazing what sunshine and rain can do to transform the scenery!

First formal break: shade from evergreens! Phew! Temperatures had quickly risen to 95 degrees - remember this is late April - and the deciduous trees provided no shade and no relief from the heat.

Sunshine and Midnight had the right idea, launching themselves into the reservoir every five minutes, then cooling us down as they shook off the excesss water.

Don't ever hike without water...

I noticed delicious flowers - sweet violets.

Miles and Emma decided early on that they would keep up with Midnight and Sunshine, two enthusiastic and youthful Labradoodles. Which meant that we were often far ahead of the group as you can see from the photo below...

These photos all come from that first part of the trail.

A note of caution: as you cross the large concrete dam where the pump house is located, stay away from the railings. We noticed wasps buzzing and probably nesting in the warm structures. Walk in the middle on the concrete path. [Note to self: bring stingkill for next hike.]

The trail on the other side of the dam, although uphill, was shadier. We also didn't have the benefit of the water-cooled breeze off the reservoir. We were all definitely drooping, given the heat, but made it.

At the highest point, the trail intersects a white trail which we intend to check out. We believe this is part of a Butler to Boonton trail that you can also access behind the Boonton Avenue soccer fields.

[This Pyramid Mountain and Butler Reservoir from Kakeout Road in Butler description follows portions on our walk.]

Next hike takes place May 17th as described in Save The Date: Sterling Forest Fire Tower Hike. See you then!

Technorati Tags: Tags:

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Kinnelon Fire Department Practices on Smoke Rise House

This is 6 Hemlock Lane in Smoke Rise, also known as 'the old Kindig house.' This was also the site of a Kinnelon Fire Department practice last Monday, April 27, 2009. The house was scheduled to be torn down the following day [we just checked out the scene and it has indeed been demolished].

We found out about the practice -- and a Fire Department search and rescue drill [which took place on 4/20/09] -- from George Cox, the Smoke Rise Governor of Communications. My reaction? How fascinating! How do I learn more?

George suggested that I contact the Kinnelon Fire Chief, Gail Bresett.

I did and learned quite a bit.

Chief Bresett explained that the Kinnelon Fire Department routinely reaches out to builders and purchasers who intend to tear a house - or part of a house - down. The purpose? To use the structure in a drill situation to simulate structure fire.

You see, during a fire department intervention, damage occurs. We're talking broken windows, holes in the roof to help vent, even damage to walls. And the best way to be prepared for the worst situation is by practicing in and on a structure where the damage doesn't matter and on one the closely resembles a real life situation. [A big deal is being able to practice 'laddering' a house.]

Opportunities such as this don't happen frequently - and fire school isn't quite the same. According to Chief Bresett, the Fire Department had the opportunity to practice two years ago on a Gravel Hill Road house, and also on a 1920s house on Ricker Road. Sometimes, too, a partial house opportunity [i.e., only a part of a house is scheduled for demolition] might present itself.

Monday night is the normal drill night for the Kinnelon Fire Department. In this kind of a practice, they will proceed in real time and then debrief afterwards. She expected at least 20 firefighters from the department to participate. All active members are encouraged to participate without restriction. The Kinnelon Fire Department totals approximately 45 firefighters, including junior and senior members.

The department was also able to hold the previous week a small group practice rescue with a "rapid intervention team" for rescuing firefighters. At the same time, it prepared scenarios for Monday's session.

Chief Gail Bresett has held the position of Kinnelon Fire Chief since January 2008, for a 2 year term. Most recently, she was first assistant, then second assistant. She has been active in the Kinnelon Fire Department 29 years.

Lisa, Miles, Glenn Sisco, Denise Bresett and Emma.
Lisa and I met up this past Monday night to witness the fire department practice -- from a distance.

As we approached the scene, we encountered Mayor Glenn Sisco in full firefighting gear and standing by to support and coordinate any unexpected needs for the evening's program.

He graciously spoke with us, answering questions and explaining what was taking place. The evening's activities were considered a corporation drill involving all three Kinnelon Fire Companies. I counted a least six trucks, including a tanker truck and a light truck to illuminate the scene as it got darker.

Mayor Sisco also introduced us to his granddaughter, Denise Bresett, a junior firefighter. She was taking photos which will be available on the KVFC website photo gallery [see the photos of the 4/26/09 forest fire].

Unfortunately, we couldn't see all that much. Not only was it getting dark, but as observers we really couldn't get in so close that we might interfere. As you can see from the photo above, the street was filled with fire trucks, and hoses. Lots of activity was taking place up at the house with firefighters in and about. Denise confirmed that windows had been broken.

Later that evening [i.e., 10pm +] I heard firetrucks go by, returning to Company 3. I assume the practice lasted until then.

Interestingly, Lisa had mentioned the 6 Hemlock Lane house to me back in January. She had spoken with the realtor who explained that the house had been abandoned for 6 years; all of the systems within had failed; and that the house was best suited for demolition and reconstruction.

Kind of neat, though, to realize that - despite not having been of much use these past 6 years - the house had one last service to offer the community: a chance for the Kinnelon Fire Department to practice and be better prepared in case of a Kinnelon fire emergency.

By the way, please do check out the Kinnelon Volunteer Fire Department Blog. Also, the Kinnelon Fire Department website encourages you to visit the borough's new Kinnelon Boro Street Index guide and to take the Morris Country Preparedness Survey.

Did you see my previous post on Kinnelon's Semi-Annual Pancake Breakfast? Consider volunteering for our fire department.

Technorati Tags: Tags:
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...