Wednesday, August 27, 2008

"Didja Know?" by Cornelius A. Hubner

I wish I had met Cornelius [Cornie] A. Hubner.

He is responsible for a series of articles documenting the history and stories associated with Smoke Rise, the days of Francis S. Kinney and the early days of Kinnelon. The series was titled "Didja Know?" and appeared starting on June 15, 1985 in the Smoke Rise Club News.

The stories are magical.

Cornie lived at 218 Hemlock Lane. He started writing these stories at around age 85, producing close to 100. Nowadays, the newsletter comes out twice per month. I suspect it came out once a month back then. Assuming he wrote one story per issue, Cornie would have written this series for over 8 years... Wow.

Cornie writes: "Beginning with the one paragraph contribution "Eagles," June 15, 1985, and encouraged by the Editors' reception of "Prices," two months later, the column became a full page story. Historical dates are included with otherwise unrecorded facts?, hearsay and folklore embellished my sometimes vague recollections of almost 90 years."

My biggest regret is that these stories aren't digitally available so they can come alive again for a new generation of Kinnelon and Smoke Rise residents.... So, when appropriate, I intend to quote from Cornie's writings whenever possible to add context, perspective, and texture to the stories I share with you here.

I strongly recommend that you get yourself a copy of the articles from the Smoke Rise Club Office. By the way, you may already have a copy from the packet you received when you moved into Smoke Rise. A second copy costs $6 and is well worth the money. It is sponsored by the Women of Smoke Rise and dedicated to Cornie's wife of 67 years, Peg.

According to Lynn in the Smoke Rise Office, Cornie was a wonderful man who loved the community -- an old school gentleman who always drove around with a cap on his head. He was brought up in Butler, and was probably one of the early residents of Smoke Rise.

He died in 1992.

I think Cornie would have been a natural at blogging.

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Unknown said...

Hello Christine,

Cornelius Hubner is my grandfather, and I grew up in Smoke Rise from the 60s to the 80s. If anyone wants to trespass, I am listed as "Baby" in the concrete on the back stoop of the 255 Long Meadow house :-)

Pop, the only name I ever knew for him, always had great stories for us and was _never_ afraid to add as many 'facts' to the stories to make them as interesting as possible. We were rapt. He really was well versed in all thins Kinnelon and was a happy as could be to write for the newsletter. As a boy, I used to get excited when the (correct: monthly) newsletter arrived and I could flip to the back page to read his stories.

He lived in the area all his life, and was truely quite brilliant. He was a businessman, inventor (check Google for his patents), model railroad buff who made the cover of Model Railroad Magazine, and was the youngest man to run the Butler Rubber plant around 1919.

I'm not going to go on and on, though I'm sure I could with all those stories. Instead I'll leave you with my opinion that he was a wonderful, energetic, wise, crazy, fun loving man whose memory still fuels my creativity everyday.

Best Regards,
Paul (at) Hubner . net
McKinney Texas

CB Whittemore said...


I am delighted to 'meet' you and thrilled to learn more about your grandfather. Although I feel like I am getting to know him better and better with each Didja Know story, I'm missing detail about the man. With your clues, I'm looking forward to discovering more about him. I'm not surprised that he contributed so much professionally and intellectually during his life. His stories exude humor and intelligence.

Should you ever want to write a story about him for the Smoke Rise blog, I would be honored to publish it - along with a photo of him.

Thank you so very much for taking the time to reach out. I'm seriously considering your suggestion to trespass. It would make a wonderful story!

Anonymous said...

Hi Christine;

I had the pleasure of growing up next to Cornie Hubner. When Paul Hubner's family outgrew the house they had built next to Cornie's, my parents bought it in 1965. They still live there.

The Hubners were always very kind to me, almost like another set of grandparents. They allowed me to play and wander around their own property as though it were an extension of my own. I especially recall hanging around the pond to play with the frogs. They had a terrific sledding hill in their backyard, which sloped right down into mine.

The Hubners presented a plate of silver dollars on Halloween and I can recall going home to change costumes so I could go back to their house repeatedly. I think he caught on after a while but didn't say anything.

His knowledge of the area was truly amazing; and though some might argue his "embellishments" denegrate the value of his viability as a historian, I cannot help but believe we would all be poorer without such tales to illustrate Kinnelon's past. What is history after all but the way someone remembered things?

Holly Ennist Stewart
Suburban Trends Columnist
West Milford, NJ

CB Whittemore said...


What an amazing story! Thank you so much for sharing it. I love the image of you changing Halloween costumes and playing with frogs - something my daughter loves to do!

I completely agree with you about Cornie's tales. I consider him the ultimate storyteller and can imagine him telling these tales. By recapturing them here I hope to make them live on so we can all enjoy a bit of Cornie Hubner as you did growing up next to him.

I also think he would enjoy all of the conversations we are having as a result of sharing his stories.

Thanks so very much for commenting. Perhaps we can meet some day soon and toast Cornie.


Anonymous said...

I have blue prints of the Hubner home from 1948. I found them buried in the basement of my previous home in Butler. I have no idea why they were there. Must've been some connection I'm sure. If anyone is interested in them, I'd be happy to share them!

CB Whittemore said...

Anonymous, how fantastic! Those must be from the original Smoke Rise development company! Don't you just love serendipitous finds like that? Have you considered approaching L'Ecole Museum with the blueprints?


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