Saturday, January 30, 2010

The Smoke Rise Fishing Club

Paul Ramirez and son John fishing on Lake KinnelonPaul Ramirez, Smoke Rise resident and Kinnelon Recreation coach extraordinaire, is passionate about fishing, as I discovered last summer when Paul was putting plans together for the latest Smoke Rise Club: The Smoke Rise Fishing Club!

I recently caught up with Paul to learn more about the newest Smoke Rise Club.

Paul Ramirez and The Smoke Rise Fishing Club

C.B.: Paul, tell me about yourself; what you do, how long you've lived in Smoke Rise & Kinnelon and why you moved here.

Paul: I am 38 years old with three children - Julia 10, Susie 9 and John 7 - and married to Tonia. I am self employed in a printing and marketing business name Barrington Press located in Paramus, NJ. We moved to Smoke Rise 5 years ago from Bergen County. We were looking for a more rural setting with access to all the benefits of the metro area. Since we both work locally (Tonia is a teacher in Ramsey), the commute was reasonable and the setting was spectacular. It was (and still is) quite an adjustment.

C.B.: What do you love most about Smoke Rise & Kinnelon?

Paul: I love the fact that I feel like I am on vacation every time I pull into my driveway. It's great to come home to that. I love the setting and the wildlife that comes with it.

C.B.: Why did you start the Smoke Rise Fishing Club?

Paul: I didn't start the Smoke Rise Fishing Club alone. It was a joint effort from 7 people. We all liked to fish, boat and enjoy the lake.

There were a few main reasons for starting the club. One was to sponsor events that would be open to the club and attract more people to the club. All of the members became friends through a common interest in fishing. We hope to attract more people and in turn more friends. We also want our children to become interested in fishing.

The Smoke Rise Fishing Club wants to increase the number and quality of fish currently being stocked. We would like to work with the Smoke Rise Lake & Environmental Board to purchase additional fish to stock in the lake.

One of the projects we would like to see most is the construction of a fishing structure near the boat docks that would contain lockers and storage so members could stow their gear and equipment for convenience and security. This would be funded through the Smoke Rise Fishing Club.

C.B.: What would you like to do or see happen with the Smoke Rise Fishing Club?

Paul: We would like people to get involved and get out and fish. We welcome beginners to experts. We're willing to teach and we're constantly looking to learn new tricks. We are hoping it becomes one of the strongest clubs in Smoke Rise, known for its friendly members and great events. Of course we would like to see our structure built as well to give us the storage we need.

C.B.: Paul, have you always been interested in fishing? What kind?

Paul: I've always loved to fish. I would spend hours as a kid fishing whether I caught anything or not. I have been primarily a freshwater fisherman my whole life fishing for trout and bass, but I love to saltwater fish as well.

C.B.: What's the nitty gritty on becoming a member of the Smoke Rise Fishing Club?

Paul: Membership is limited to Smoke Rise residents only. You can become a member by filling out our application for membership on our website and paying the annual dues of $50.00. The money goes towards annual events, seminars and stocking the lake.

We currently have 7 members and 4 who just filled out our application to become new members.

We meet the 4th Thursday of every month at the Smoke Rise Village Inn at 8pm. All are welcome.
The Smoke Rise Fishing Club
C.B.: Talk to me about ice fishing...

Paul: First of all you need safe ice that is at least 4" thick.

For equipment you need an ice auger to drill holes in the ice and an ice skimmer to clear the hole from ice and slush. The auger is required to cut a circular hole in the ice. Power augers are sometimes used. A skimmer is used to remove new ice as it forms and to clear slush left from making the hole.

There are two ways we ice fish. We jig for fish with small fishing rods and use brightly colored lures or jigs tipped with bait such as wax worms or minnows. We also use tip-ups, which use a line attached to a spool that triggers a flag that "tips up" when a strike occurs and lets us know there is a fish on. We bait our hooks with live minnows, set them to the correct depth through the hole and then set the flags. Then we wait for a flag to go off pull the fish in by hand.

C.B.: Are there areas on Lake Kinnelon that you wouldn't go ice fishing on because of the fresh springs feeding the lake?

Paul: We have been on all areas of the lake and yes, you need to be aware of springs. I think the key is never go alone, don't all walk together, bring a long length of rope and ice picks in case you do fall in. You really need to ice fish with someone you can rely on. It's very safe if you use the proper caution.

We stop fishing when the ice gets too thin. We drill test holes as we walk out and measure the thickness.

C.B.: What's the biggest fish you've caught in Lake Kinnelon?

Paul: The biggest fish I've caught in Lake Kinnelon is a 10 lb catfish and a 5 lb largemouth bass. Other members in the club have caught very large fish as well. One member caught a 9lb Walleye and my son caught a catfish just shy of 13 lbs.

We let the catfish go. It has been our experience that the smaller fish taste better than the bigger ones.

C.B.: What other fish have you caught in Lake Kinnelon? Where and how did you catch them?

Paul: Largemouth Bass, Smallmouth Bass, Pickerel, Walleye, Catfish, Perch and Crappie. We catch all these fish year round. We all have our special spots that will remain a secret but most people use artificial worms, topwater lures or spinnerbaits when they fish. You can catch fish with anything on any given day.

[Learn more about these and other fish in the "Our Lake" section of the Smoke Rise Fishing Club website.]

C.B.: Where else have you fished in Kinnelon?

Paul: I have fished the Pequannock River by the North Gate of Smoke Rise, New Pond, Split Rock Reservoir (Kinnelon?) and Fayson Lakes.

The original members of the Smoke Rise Fishing clubC.B.: Any last thoughts?

Paul: No, we just love to fish. I really don't want to take credit for starting the club. I was just one piece of the puzzle. Tom Braden is the captain of the club. He was really instrumental is starting the club and was the one who drafted the charter and layed the groundwork. I just get more exposure as I am in charge of communications, web, printing, etc. and get the most press.

Here is a group photo of the original 7 who formed the Smoke Rise Fishing Club: from left to right: Dan Manoogian, Dylan Altieri, John Roberts, Tom Braden, Paul Ramirez, Mike Iozzi, and Bob Davis.

Congratulations, Paul, to you and the rest of the Smoke Rise Fishing Club and thank you for sharing all of this information!

Do check out the Smoke Rise Fishing Club website, which includes a photo gallery. Become a Facebook fan or follow the club on Twitter.

Happy fishing!

NOTE: The images above are courtesy of Paul Ramirez. They cannot be used or reproduced without permission and attribution.

Friday, January 29, 2010

The Smoke Rise Tower on Kitty Ann Mountain

The Smoke Rise Tower atop Kitty Ann MountainHave you wondered about the Smoke Rise Tower in Kinnelon?And what about Kitty Ann Mountain? Here is a tale about both from Tom Kline, St. Hubert's Chapel restorer and Smoke Rise & Kinnelon historian.

The Smoke Rise Tower on Kitty Ann Mountain

This a story that ends where it began. Last August, a group of Smoke Rise refugees gathered at the top of Kitty Ann Mountain for a reunion and a toast to friends. There we were, gathered under a dreamy moonless starlit night. The night air was warm with gentle breezes. As we talked an occasional shooting star would flicker on by as they so often do in the August sky. It was not only a reunion of friends; it was review of our childhood days in Smoke Rise, perhaps more notably our teenage years. The Smoke Rise Tower was always a magical spot, one that was endeared into each and every one of us who gathered to celebrate friendship and our joint connection to that very special place called Smoke Rise.

Francis S. Kinney constructed the Tower in 1904 as an additional diversion for his burgeoning 5000 acre estate. Contrary to what may be written elsewhere, the stone for the Tower was quarried on site. It is a distinctive sandy brown color. The structure is approximately 80 feet tall and sits on the highest point within Kinnelon. The elevation at the base is 1156 feet. From the top of the structure is a 25 mile view in almost every direction. The skyline of Manhattan is readily visible to the East, the lower Catskills to the North, the rolling Ramapos to the South and East. Rumor has it that on a clear day you can see the High Point Monument to the Northwest. I am not so sure how true that is.

View of Lake Kinnelon from the Smoke Rise Tower before Smoke Rise was developedThe New Jersey State Forest Fire Service, under an agreement with the Kinney Family, manned the structure from 1919 until 1943. It was also used to spot for enemy aircraft during World War II. After Morris Kinney died in 1945 the structure became neglected and eventually the iron staircase rusted beyond usability. There was some movement in 1963 to restore the structure in memoriam to the founder of Smoke Rise, J. Alden Talbot, who passed away on Christmas Day, 1962. This movement was very short lived.

The Tower always held both mystique and wonder. In 1957, when I was a one year old, my parents, Emmie and Charlie Kline, bought their lot on Ski Trail. We were clearly not the first to venture into this new development but we were there for an awfully long time. Our house was built the following year. It is a gorgeous lot on the edge of a ridge line that offered views of the surrounding mountains. In the winter, we could see the lights from scores of Smoke Rise homes that dotted the landscape like the lights on a Christmas tree.

Dad was sort of an oddity in the early days because, unlike many of our neighbors, he did not cut down every tree in the back yard in order to obtain the full panorama. It may be that he did not like looking across the valley into the gravel pit, which was this huge brown scar on the landscape. Instead, he cut two vistas one towards Kitty Ann Mountain and the other looking out to the northwest to Copperas Mountain. In my formative years, I would gaze across the valley from our living room, up to the top of the mountain where the Tower stood, dark and menacing. It intrigued me from my earliest days.

In those early years, I am talking about the early sixties, my brothers, who were five and seven years older, had managed to gain entry to the Tower, through a low window, and were able to ascend to the top via the handrail because the stair treads were too rusted through to be trusted. They told me their tale of the magnificent view, in every direction. This only led to my being further intrigued with this historic structure.

There were, of course, a few families that lived in the immediate area. One such family, the Hunts, lived in such very close proximity, that Mr. Ralph Hunt, could easily hear when any shenanigans were occurring at the Tower. The popular story, at the time, (circa 1965) was that some teenage ruffians had gained access to the top of the Tower and had managed to push one of the pretty massive turret stones from the top. Another teenager, who was standing precariously at the bottom of the Tower, was in perfect line to be crushed, save for his being thrown out of the way by Mr. Hunt who appeared at just the right moment to stave off the imminent catastrophe. It was shortly thereafter that the remnants of the staircase and handrail were cut out and removed. This happened about 1965.

One of my earliest friends was Byron Coley who lived at the intersection of Mountain Road and Mountain Road Terrace. I recall the Coleys installed a propane powered street lamp that burned day and night all year. The warm yellowish glow that was cast by the long gone lamp illuminated the intersection.

As young adolescents, Byron and I would venture to the Tower, lugging personalized white lunch bags that Mrs. Coley carefully packed. There at the base we would eat our lunch by the giant purple stone, which was another glacial erratic pushed here thousands of years ago from some distant place. As one of our group recalled, there was a time that you could sit atop of the massive stone and could see New York’s Skyline in the distance. The trees, having grown significantly, now obstruct this view.

The Smoke Rise Tower under construction, early 1900sThere was an interesting cast of characters that lived in the immediate area. The Coleys, the Hansens, the Hunts, the Swansons, ( who were rumored to be related to the TV dinner bearing their name) the Moorehouses, the Orlandis (who had fantastically elaborate Easter celebrations) and the Peabodys, whose home included a concrete bomb shelter, complete with bottled water and cases upon cases of canned saltines. The semi famous Smoke Rise aviator, Herb, and Emily Fischer rounded out the residents at or close to the summit.

There were always great adventures to go on at the top of Kitty Ann Mountain. We could sneak into the Moorehouses’ back yard and observe where the stone for the Tower was quarried. Hike along the old part of Mountain Road that lay off to the west of the present course. Walk out to a rock cliff to the west, to a place we called Tower rock, where a view of thousands of undisturbed acres could be seen. (Regrettably, someone came along much later and built a house there.) Hike down the east side of the mountain in search of aircraft parts. (A plane had struck the Tower in December 1948 and left miscellaneous parts strewn down the east side of the hill.) Or just sit in the tall grass and watch an occasional plane go by. In those early days, it was rare to see a jet passing by.

The Tower was quiet, somewhat obscure and like so many of the old buildings in Smoke Rise, definitely neglected. Most of the plantings around the base were so thick that a car passing by could not see the base of the building. This would become an important fact later, during our teenage years. By late summer the grass was a good two feet tall. After the stairs were removed the metal chain link door was also removed leaving a hollow cylinder. Inside, the echo of the cooing pigeons reverberated from the stone and made the birds seem much larger than they actually were. The bottom of the Tower was littered with the massive turret stones that had become dislodged from the top by lightning and vandals. A full post and rail fence which surrounded the driveway was obscured by the overgrowth.

It was this neglect that became one of our first public service causes and the beginning of my interest in historic preservation. The Tower engaged me long before I ever set foot on Chapel Island. As preteens, Byron Coley, Sanford Peabody and I, would routinely gather at the Tower equipped with rakes, loping shears, lawn mowers and the like. Our aims were to try to cut back the overgrowth so as to expose the wooden fence, keep the grass cut low, and generally try to make the place look presentable. It was an endless battle.

Now, as I pointed out, the overgrowth that separated the Tower driveway from the road was so thick that a passing car could not see through it, even in winter. As we matured (maybe) the area became the perfect spot for, well, parking. Some of you may recall first dates, first kisses, and well, parking. As the 70s rolled on the Tower also became a favorite spot for our friends to gather. A picnic table was commandeered from the beach to add to the park like setting. The tower was always the place to go to observe the summer meteor showers and other celestial events. This lasted for a short while until disgruntled neighbors, reasonably upset at the late night shenanigans, complained. This is when things started to go from bad to worse. In order to dislodge those who would park at the Tower, it was determined that a good offense would be to collect all of the turret stones from around the base of the Tower and line them across the entrance to prohibit anyone from driving around to the difficult-to-see back side. This definitely prevented obscured parking, but friends would just park by the road and celebrations continued on for some time.

Tom Kline, ascending the Smoke Rise Tower in 1975Along about 1973, Mr. George Foley had acquired all of the assets of the Smoke Rise Company, including the Tower. Mr. Ned McIntosh, who was a neighbor and friend of the Foleys, agreed to be Vice President of the Smoke Rise Company. Turns out, one of my best high school friends was Bob McIntosh. So, as we met with other friends at the Tower during our high school years, Bob and I would frequently discuss how one could best access the top of the structure. Tales of my older brothers’ ascent kept haunting me. Once off to college, Bob had met some rock climbing enthusiasts. My lifelong dream of gaining access to the top, as my older brothers had done so many years before, was beginning to become a reality. So, with the blessing of Bob’s father (as VP of the Smoke Rise Company) we obtained permission to scale the Tower. I will not elaborate on how it was done under the heading of “don’t try this at home”. However, in 1975 we ascended to the top platform on two occasions, once in the spring, when the trees were leaf bare and again during the fall at the beginning of the fall foliage.

We were the first people to be on the top in almost a dozen years and probably the last unofficial types to have been to the top since. The view was every bit as spectacular as I was lead to believe. Interestingly, the turret stones sat atop a thick piece of bluestone or slate. I was amazed at the carvings in the stone. The ledge was inscribed by previous visitors that had been there decades before. Initials such as MK 23’, RR 40’ and JJC 65’ (only kidding) were timelessly preserved in the stone.

This monumental event also corresponded with our being off to college. Although we continued to visit the Tower after the legendary ascent our visits became infrequent and eventually almost nonexistent. As we grew up and moved out the Tower came to symbolize everything about our youth: our adventures, our friends, our loves, our losses and our desires.

Sometime later, in the mid 1980s, when the first East Gate Restoration was underway, it was decided to construct a member’s entrance lane, which required a new retaining wall to be built. Unimaginably, there seemed to be a lack of stones to use for this new rock wall. At one point, a moron (every story needs at least one) decided to collect all the turret stones from the front driveway of the Tower and utilize them in the new wall. If one looks closely at the wall by the gate, the distinctive brown stones, so carefully hand squared so many decades ago, can readily be distinguished from the standard blue gray stones that are most prevalent in this area. Hopefully someday, when serious Tower restoration occurs, the stones will be retrieved from the wall and restored to their proper location on the Tower at Kitty Ann Mountain. In the interim, the lack of stones guarding the entrance to the Tower has lead to, well, parking.

So there we were again, BH, LO, KP, PD, TK and later JJC, at the place where it all started. It was a grand evening, doing what we did in our youth, sharing our stories of first loves, first dates, first friends and first parties, first cars and fast cars, motorcycles, horseback riding, camping, and canoeing. Recounting our legendary childhood adventures in Smoke Rise until the summer crickets were fast asleep. As long as the Tower stands, these tales and the memories of a lifetime will be forever preserved.

As I drove home from the Tower in the morning I realized it was a bittersweet moment. It was great seeing friends whom I grew up with and many of whom I had not seen for decades. It was sad knowing that a repeat of this re-union will likely never happen again. Well, maybe.


Thank you, Tom! What a marvelous story about The Smoke Rise Tower and Kitty Ann Mountain!

NOTE: All of the images above come courtesy of Tom Kline. They cannot be used or reproduced without permission and attribution.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Save The Date 2/6/10 Fosterfields Hike

Fosterfields Hike on 2/6/10. Will You Be There?

The Morris County Park Commission next Hike a Park a Month Club group is coming right up. Destination: Fosterfields Living Historic Farm in Morristown. Will you be there?

Here are details. As with all of the MCPC hikes, please do contact Tom Edmunds, the hike organizer, to confirm that you will be participating.

DATE: Saturday, February 6, 2010

WHERE: MCPC Fosterfields Living Historic Farm ( 73 Kahdena Rd, Morris Township)

TIME: Be prepared for a 9AM start

MEETING AT: Far parking area. Visitor center will be opened if you wish to stop there first but you must move back to far parking area for the hike.

OTHER NOTES: The Farm will be holding a Winter’s Day on the Farm event at 12:00 to 4 PM---do join in, there is a small fee. Perfect for kids and grandkids. The theme is From Sap to Syrup.

DIRECTIONS: From Interstate 287

Traveling North: Take Madison Avenue Exit 35 and turn left onto South Street. Proceed WEST to the Center of Morristown. At the Morristown Green look for County Rt. 510 WEST. Turn Right onto 510 WEST (Washington Street) and go one mile. Turn RIGHT onto Kahdena Road. Entrance to Fosterfields is at top of hill on LEFT.

Traveling South: Take Madison Avenue Exit 35 and bear RIGHT onto Rt. 124 WEST, to center of Morristown. Follow above directions.

If you are interested in participating, you MUST contact Tom Edmunds at

I'm excited about this hike because Emma and I have visited and really enjoyed the farm. At the same time, we've seen the kind of marvelous discoveries that Tom and Janet McMillan have uncovered for us and have high expectations for what is to come!

We are set to be there and look forward to seeing you, too!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Isabelle Garland's First Smoke Rise Encounter

Isabelle Garland, Smoke Rise 1970Do you remember your first encounter with Smoke Rise? Isabelle Garland, who lives in England, does. From her distant vantage point on the North Sea, she shares with us her first encounter with Smoke Rise in the early 70s.

Isabelle [aka Izzy] has returned several times to visit, most recently in 1997 or thereabouts. The photos she has seen on the Smoke Rise & Kinnelon Blog inspired her to write this story.


Somewhere Over a Rainbow in Smoke Rise

by Isabelle Garland

Let me start by saying that I am not now, nor have I ever been, a chemist. I am so un-chemically inclined that I can barely follow a cooking recipe. When you open the oven and see the cake boiling over the pan, and you just scrape it back in, you can only hope no one notices. When you get certain chemicals too near a flame and they go up, whoosh, people do notice. Don’t ask me which chemicals, I just told you! I am no chemist. And after that little experiment in chemistry class I had no eyebrows and the fringe was completely burned off the front of my hair. It was one of the latest in a series of small mishaps, and mum rang Auntie Jean.

Auntie Jean’s mother and father had left Scotland years before for a new life in America. Her father had gone first, 1923 New York City needed strong young blacksmiths to bend iron around windows, gates, and grills. Within a few months he had settled into life in America and had rented a large flat in a Victorian house in Montclair in anticipation of his wife and two wee girls joining him.

Annie Blackwood and her daughters had kissed her mother goodbye through many tears and long hugs.

I’ll be over to see you, hen!” Grandma Jessie had promised, but both she and her Annie knew the promise was false. They would never set eyes on each other again in this world. Every time I visited Paisley the remaining Aunts and Uncles spoke with such love and familiar warmth as if she’d only stepped out to the market the moment before we’d come in.

The same warmth and love was reserved for speaking about Auntie Jean. Her sisters, Aunts Clara and Jessie, had been born in Paisley but their younger sisters, Florence, Anna, and Auntie Jean had seen the light of day in New Jersey. The family back home in Scotland was so proud to have three genuine Americans added to the fold, and their pictures were cooed and fussed over whenever a bit of post arrived.

As the girls grew and the pictures continued to come they were noted as being quite sophisticated lassies, what with the influence of New York City and all. There were plans made on both sides for a reunion, but then the war came and everything changed.

Clara married a soldier who was blown to bits on his first time out. Jessie became a nun. Florence married a man from Kentucky and grew big as a globe. Anna married a man who never seemed to work but had plenty of money. And Jean married a man who did work and was also a success.

She met John Connelly at a soirée one night when she was supposed to be studying for biochemistry exams. (Some of our family are chemically minded!). He’d just returned from the war where he’d spent a year and a half as a prisoner in Germany. He too a son of immigrants, his mother having come to America from Ireland. She managed the date, passed the exams, graduated with a First (oh I don’t know what it’s called in America), a top university degree, and got married all in the same year.

Uncle John grew up longing for a safe community where he could raise his family and discovered Smoke Rise. After he married Auntie Jean he worked hard, built his business on his natural friendliness and one fine day moved Auntie Jean to their airy home on the gentle curve of Orchard Road.

They built a pool, had five children, but never forgot their roots or their aging parents. It didn’t require a formal holiday for the Connellys to all be gathered around the large table enjoying a large brisket or a turkey with all the trimmings. One of the Nans would tell a story about the fairy folk back home and the other would try to read the tea leaves. Both grandfathers enjoyed a whiskey with “the Lad”, as they always called Uncle John, and then they would fall asleep in wing chairs kept just for that purpose.

Back in Britain, when I set my face on fire, Sir put a cooling cloth on it and called the school nurse. Before I knew it, hey ho, I was sitting in A & E having my face assessed. The conclusion of the matter was that silver sulfadiazine was spread liberally over my face and mum booked me a flight to Auntie Jean’s. (Of course now no one uses silver sulfadiazine as it seems to prolong the burns, but we are talking about medicine in 1970, in this instance.) Term was ending for the holidays and Mum reckoned I needed a little break. I, for my part, was embarrassed to be seen shopping in the High Street with a face that looked like a Bakewell Tart!

Isabelle by her Dad's HornetThe morning I left Dad bundled me into his green Wolseley Hornet and drove me to Gatwick reminding me to mind my manners, keep the ointment on my face, and make regular trunk calls – long distance International calls – back to Mum.

She will worry, you know.” He said as he patted my hand goodbye. Dad was a senior lecturer in Physics and very logical. Mum was the weeper and we’d left her at home, rather than risk a scene at the airport.

It wasn’t my first trip out of the country. We regularly holidayed in France and Spain, which were both warm and sunny. British pound bought a lot then, though life under Mister Franco was a bit harsh for the native Spaniards.

The plane took off in thundering rain, but soon rose above the clouds, flying into the cold weak sun of a short December day. I tried to sleep but just couldn’t. This was my first time to America and I felt electric!

Uncle John sent a driver to meet me at Kennedy Airport. He had a sign with my name on it, helpful given the hundreds of Christmas time travellers, all rushing about the terminal like so many “Mad Hatters”. By now I was starting to flag a bit; so when I sank into the soft leather seats of the blue Lincoln Continental I noticed that the world was covered in white powder, but was soon sleeping like a baby.

I awoke as we were just drawing up to a small cottage with an immense pointy cone-shaped tower. It was a darling little gatehouse with a gate-person and all! The ground floor of the building was constructed with rough stone of various shapes and colours. The upper portion was wooden, painted white, with a small window in the eaves of the snow covered roof. There was a leaping stag weathervane on the top of the turret and I felt a familiarity – our neighbours had a weathervane fastened to the side of their chimney. It was a cockerel, rusted squeaky, but my heart made the connection.

Anticipation renewed my energy. At sixteen it doesn’t take much! I sat up and gave a proper ogle as we wound our way into the trees and sunshine. In earlier times the roads in our English villages had been defined by sturdy oak or horse chestnut trees. Children regularly played “Conkers” with the hard nuts in September and October. But most of the trees had been cut down to widen the roads as more and more people began driving automobiles. Yet now we passed mansions ensconced by the veritable forest! I had never seen anything like it – nature on the doorstep.

We turned into a curved drive and the auburn haired woman who came out to greet me could only have been Auntie Jean. She was lovely – I felt so welcomed and it mitigated the nervousness that suddenly hit me. I was so far away from home, in the woods, and I think my itchy skin was pealing because there were brown flecks on my gloves and the front of my red coat.

Come in dear girl! Welcome to America!” She gave me a hug and thanked the driver for carrying in my bag. She swept me along into a large kitchen where a young girl was pouring water into large mugs.

Auntie Jean said “Isabelle this is your cousin, Fawn.”

Fawn pushed a strand of long dark hair out of her eyes and smiled.

Would you like some hot tea?

Young John Jay A hurdle. Tea? This was tea and they put lemons into it? Was it drinkable? Was it legal? What on earth did it do to the milk? One part of my brain reminded me that I am no chemist and if Americans put lemons in their tea there was probably a perfectly good reason to do so, and I should be bold and give it a try.

Yes, thank you!” I smiled.

Fawn should be in school today but she stayed home to help me get the room ready.”

You’ll be downstairs in DeDe and Debbie’s room!”

Will they mind?” “Oh it’s OK” Fawn just shrugged in that easy American manner.

We sat, sipping tea, as Fawn told me about her brother and sisters. There were four Connelly girls, two of them older than me and two of them younger. In between was a son, John Jay, who was also slightly younger. Colleen and John Jay were in secondary school – high school; Debbie and DeDe were at university in Florida. Uncle John phoned that he’d be along soon so Auntie Jean set about making dinner as Fawn and I dragged my baggage downstairs to the older girls’ bedroom.

We went down into a massive room that had a full bar built into it, just like a pub, brass rail and all. Off of that was another huge room – the bedroom with its own en suite. I could not believe I would have this room to myself for most of the visit. And I had to grin – the walls were covered with Beatles posters – including some from their days in India and some from Yellow Submarine. No Rolling Stones, though. Well, that was to be expected, it was the Beatles or the Stones in those days.

Were all the houses in Smoke Rise as beautiful as this one? Foxglove Cottage, my home, was very old and though it was two storied, with thick wattle and daub walls, it was comparatively small. And it sagged. (Well, it has been standing there since 1595 so I guess it has a right to sag a bit.) Plus it was cold in the winter and we had to continually feed coppers into the gas meter as if it was still World War II! This house was open and airy, but cosy at the same time.

Auntie Jean had given me my own corner of the bedroom with a chest of drawers and a comfortable bed. Fawn helped me to unpack my bags. I gave her the Cadbury’s chocolates I had brought for everyone and she squeaked in delight.

Upstairs I heard voices in the kitchen, and suddenly I needed to use the loo! A hand painted mural had been painted along the walls and I was examining the details when I turned to wash my hands and glanced up into the mirror. Oh no! Silver sulfadiazine was caked on my ears and in blotches on my cheeks! I went to grab my flannel – my wash cloth – wondering if there was going to be any time to repair myself. But the door burst open and a young girl, all freckles and long brown hair, burst in with a laugh.

She gave me a hug and exclaimed “I’m Colleen! Come on, dinner’s ready!

We went up the stairs, into kitchen, where the family was already seated. I could feel my face flaming as introductions were made but to give them credit no one commented on my appearance. We spent dinner discussing all of the things there were to see and do. Colleen and Fawn wanted to shop at a mall. I had no idea what a mall was, other than Pall Mall, but I was willing to give anything to do with shopping a go!

Their brother, John Jay, wanted to show me around Smoke Rise. He proved to be a cheeky devil with a quick grin and sparkling blue eyes, often earning an “Oh Johnny Jay!” from his mother. He made it all sound like so much fun. I thought it would be lovely to see this civilised woodland and the next day we all decided to take a walking tour.

Later, after I’d seen to my skin, I climbed into bed and listened to the silence. Our cottage was just off the High Street of our village. It was relatively quiet – if you compared it to the actual High Street, but there were pubs at the top end and the bottom end of our street, which sometimes meant that “merry” lads strolled past the house in song. During the day women with prams (nowadays they use push chairs) went along to the butchers or the fishmongers, the bakers or the chemist. There was constant activity in our little village and though there were few cars, back then, one never lost touch with the sense that one’s neighbour was only a few feet away, separated by a wall or a few meters of garden.

To lie and listen to the peacefulness of this new world, to hear the hushing of snow as it drifted, to feel the cool air of the night made my bones want to melt into the bedding. And then, faintly, ever so faintly somewhere upstairs, I heard someone playing the piano. A sonata, quietly passionate and tender.

In the morning we all dressed up in winter coats and sturdy boots. We don’t get much snow, if any, in England but we get cold weather. I came prepared! As John Jay led us through the snow I couldn’t believe how hushed everything was. We crossed an old stone bridge and I heard a car go by in the distance, but it was well muffled. We went over a knoll randomly pelting each other with snow along the way.

Chugging through the thick covered paths, working our way along, we came to a red brick stable block. I breathed in deeply, loving the smell of stables though I am, at best, an indifferent rider. Young girls were going to and fro – some getting feed, others with the stable doors open, chatting merrily as they groomed their horses. A lad was sitting on what must have once been a fountain, cleaning some tack. John Jay and Colleen introduced me to a couple of their friends. They said they loved my accent, and kept me chatting, not so much as to hear about life in England, but to hear me speak. I had to laugh, back home we did the same thing when Yanks came to visit! We got a few American programmes on the BBC, but it was never enough.

After we left the stable we continued on into the woods proper. John Jay suddenly stopped, put a finger to his lips, and pointed. A large deer was quietly chewing on the last leaves of the lowest branch of a silvery tree. Suddenly it lifted its nose in the air and scampered into the bushes.

Where did it go?” I knew we hadn’t made a sound.

“Maybe it smelled a mountain lion!” “Johnny don’t!!” Colleen and Fawn both wailed at the same time.

You’re joking, right?” “No, there really are mountain lions in the woods around here.” His eyes held a steady, not joking, gaze.

I suddenly felt like Edvard Munch’s painting “The Scream”, “Uh, maybe we’d better go then? What is that?

A strange little creature had wandered out from under a bush. About the size of a hedgehog, it had fluffy black fur and a bushy tail. Up the middle of its back was a thick white stripe. It paused, not two feet from us and its bottom end began to rise in the air.

RUN!!!!” shrieked Fawn and we scattered in all directions as the most noxious fumes I had ever smelled came wafting from the hind end of that darling little creature!

I ran and ran and ran. No mountain lion or malodorous little beastie was going to get me! I ran through the woods, slid down a hill, and got up to run some more. Behind me I could hear Colleen and Fawn shouting, “Isabelle come back!” but I kept on running. There was something terrifying about this new world! And now there were pounding footsteps behind me! Dear God, a mountain lion had come to kill me in the New Jersey woods! I ran even harder, screaming one long scream as it suddenly caught me.

STOP!” John Jay made a lunge for me, grabbed the back of my coat, and we both tumbled, bum over teacart, down a small knoll into a ditch. I lay there looking up at the sky and then I heard laughing. And I started laughing! Fawn and Colleen came flailing down the hill and tried to help us up but fell over too, which caused more whoops of laughter. Blood is thicker than water, and a good laugh thicker than both.

No one could be serious for the rest of the walk. We walked in a huge circle, down along past the Smoke Rise Inn, which was closed but with door unlocked. There we stepped inside to warm up a little – Colleen found some packets of hot chocolate, John Jay boiled some water, and soon we were warm and glowing. Naturally we left money on the counter by way of thanks. Five dollars – worth more than the chocolate but we were children who could afford it.

Hoot Owl Pond skating, Winter 2009That night we agreed to go ice skating. My cousins rang around to their assorted friends and soon a skating party was organised. Fortunately my foot was the same size as DeDe’s foot, unfortunately, the only ice skating I had ever done was when I was eight and my dad took me to Somerset House one winter. I was now twice as old and a good third taller. A longer way to fall if my feet refused to co-operate! But I was chuffed – pleased – that they would make the effort.

The sky was ink black with diamonds thrown in her hair. We trouped to Smoke Rise Lake and others came along in twos and threes. There was a gathering place, marked with huge logs that had been gnawed down during the summer by beavers and forgotten. Someone had dragged them together and central to that a ring of stones with burnt ash waited attending. The boys built a fire to light the way for us girls and to warm their own hands later on. We all sat on the logs putting on our skates, laughing and chatting, exchanging pop-culture titbits as young people do. I explained about the double-decker buses; they told me who had the best pizza. These are the ways we bond.

Out on the frozen lake the water was glass. The bonfire threw light across places where blades cut through ice throwing diamonds onto the pond so that it was like skating on the very sky its self. Not that I could skate, no. I wobbled about, managing to keep a bit of dignity, as the others glided past like swans. One boy took my arm and propelled me around. Other boys linked arms with Col and Fawn and everyone even made a huge chain which went in a big circle until the end person was flung off into the night. They called it “Crack the Whip”. I saw John Jay fall, saw a girl try to get him up and saw him laying there playing dead. She leaned over and whispered something in his ear and he was up like a rocket shooting off into the night. I have no idea what she said, but they both laughed about it later.

We skated across the lake and around a strange solitary island. Lacy fingers of leafless branches reached to the sky, framed against the night. And in the midst of it all a shadowed tower bleakly watched over our tomfoolery and high humour with a dark eye. One boy kept looking to it, but the rest just went around in circles and I avoided it completely. It needed seeing to.

This was like a wonderland world. I’d seen snow in Aberdeenshire, but never had I felt such a freeness of heart and mind as I did that night with my American cousins and their friends. Someone had flasks of hot chocolate, my second that day as all dieting was abandoned. Someone else had brought a guitar. We sang and skated and the boy who’d propelled me around the lake stayed by my side the whole time. I don’t remember his name, so don’t ask, but I think he fancied me a wee bit, if only on that occasion. It was sweet, really.

Later that evening when the house grew quiet I heard the piano again. This time I went quietly upstairs, I didn’t want to disturb and you know how people get when they realise they have an audience. I just wanted to hear the music. I found my way, through the study into a music room all done in green. It was amazing, like bringing the woodland indoors on a summer’s day. The door was open and John Jay sat playing at a baby grand piano. Off to the side Colleen was doing something to the shag carpet. She was raking it! I’d never seen such a strange sight in all of my life.

I came in quietly and sat in a wing chair, pulling a throw over my legs. I rested my head against the leather as John Jay began Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2 and Colleen raked the sod of a new Ireland.


So concludes Izzy's reminiscence. It captures very well a few moments in time which for many of us remain in living memory.

Thank you, Izzy!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Night: Gustave Dore, Francis Kinney & Kinnelon III

NightThis story from John J. Connelly is titled Night. It started with Gustave Doré Captures Soul, Memories & Coincidence. It continued with Gustave Doré, His Art, His Times. This is the third and final part.

Night - Part III

Francis S. Kinney Brings Gustave Doré To Kinnelon

It is no secret that Francis Kinney was a true American magnate who traveled to Europe on many occasions. Like many industrialists of his generation, he had an eye for art. We have only recently discovered that he was quite taken by the bronze works of Doré.

While researching the life of Beatrice Kinney, Tom Kline discovered that St. Hubert’s chapel once housed a full-sized sculpture of the Madonna and Child. He emailed me photos of the masterpiece and I was thrilled as I imagined the huge bronze standing on the pedestal under the stained glass window. But when he mentioned that the artist was Gustave Doré, I was stunned. This was the same creator of the “Poem of the Vine” which had entranced me just a few months before.

Doré had made his entrance.

Tom went on to discover that Kinney had purchased other Dorés. The rock with the enigmatic “Night” carved into it, had in fact once served as a pedestal for another Doré. He even managed to find a nearly 100 year old picture of “Night.” She was a sensuous slender bronze girl. Her gentle sloping “S” shaped naked form high atop the rock had once overlooked Lake Kinnelon.

But that’s not all.

When Tom was younger, he befriended a group of older women who lived in Butler and who had worked for the Kinneys at the turn of the century. They confirmed to Tom that Smoke Rise once was home to quite a collection of bronzes. They were plentiful on the lawns and grounds. Given that we now know that Kinney prized Doré's art particularly, it is quite possible Smoke Rise was once home to one of the largest collections of his bronzes in the world.

But, what happened to them?

In one of life’s little ironies, the ladies of Butler claimed that the good people of Kinnelon began to whisper disdainfully about Kinney’s “Lawn ornaments.” It seems that during the First World War “Lawn ornaments” were thought to be Germanic in nature and at their urging the priceless bronze works of art were gathered up and sent to foundries to be melted down for the war effort.

Gone forever, Doré’s masterpieces would never again adorn the hillsides and rock formations of Smoke Rise.

Ironic that Doré, the fierce French ultra-nationalist who devoted his youth to the denigration of the German nation, would have his works of art melted for scrap because they seemed too “Germanic” to the good people of 1917 Northern New Jersey.

Or perhaps someone thought it fitting that his work should go into the making of shell casings which bombed the German people.

The life-sized Doré bronze Madonna and Child that once stood in the St. Hubert’s chapel survived, safely hidden in the chapel itself.

Bequeathed to Beatrice after the death of her father, Francis, in 1923 it remained in situ until the madness of another World War ended, at which time Beatrice, for reasons unexplained, quietly removed the Madonna and entrusted it to a church in Aiken, South Carolina.

I think I know why.

Doré lived to see a darkness overtake his homeland that must have been unimaginably painful for an artist to witness. A dark gloom born out of nationalism, militarism and hubris. A dense fog that would eventually expand and consume the entirety of the world, bringing shadow and misery on a scale never before seen.

As the British statesman Edward Grey observed at the start of the First World War, “The lamps are going out all over Europe; we shall not see them lit again in our lifetime.

With the outbreak of the First World War, the Belle Epoque in Europe was over as was the Gilded Age in the United States. In its place a dark night that would cast its shadow over the whole world, including one wondrous village in New Jersey called Smoke Rise.

Yes, I think I know why Beatrice removed the Madonna.

The lessons and questions of our lives are at times easily learned and answered, as was the lesson of September 1970. Others, like the lessons of 1870, seem to perplex well into old age.

Perhaps Horace’s words apply best to Doré when he said "Exegi monumentum aere perennius” or “I have erected a monument more lasting than bronze.” Perhaps.

But, I finally understand a riddle which perplexed us as kids: The meaning of the single enigmatic word carved into a lonely stone in the middle of a forest near a lake.

A chill will always accompany my memory of that single word:


Thank you, John.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Night: Gustave Doré, Francis Kinney & Kinnelon II

Francis Kinney's NightThis story titled Night and written by John Connelly started with Gustave Doré Captures Soul, Memories & Coincidence. It is about Gustave Doré, Francis Kinney and Kinnelon.

Night - Part II

Gustave Doré, His Art, His Times

In 1870, France had become pompous, ostentatious and decadent. About 60 years earlier, under Napoleon Bonaparte, France had terrified all of Europe leaving 3 million soldiers and 1 million civilians dead and many of its cities in ruins. While French militarism had earned the detestation of continental Europe, memories of the Grande Armée and its many conquests still filled the hearts of French nationalists, Doré being one.

As Germany made attempts to unify its republic, France balked, threatening war. Doré, a French ultra-nationalist, went about plying his art to stir up the populace.

Doré’s pencil sketches and brilliant oil paintings of 1869 and 1870 all spewed onto the French people patriotic images of Lady Liberty leading armies against a dark and sinister looking Hun, portrayed as a bloodthirsty black eagle.

In “The Marseillaise” of 1870, a robed woman crying out advances across a battle field leading an enthusiastic regiment of French stick-wielding young boys as she holds a sword of victory high in the air.

Journalists of the time were unimpressed with Doré's idealism.

One wrote regarding a Doré painting, “It is odd in that it presents quite effectively the romantic concepts of tumultuous and picturesque scenic effects upon which we have subsisted since 1792 (the time of Napoleon). One does not have the slightest inkling of the mechanistic, grasping, regimented nature of the battle to come. One is surrounded by a circus-like atmosphere.” He went on to call it naïve and clumsy art.

The king of France, Napoleon III, had quite a different view, hailing Doré’s genius and embracing fully his art. It fit well the political climate of the day, and resonated with the public’s imagination and fascination with war. In piece after piece, Doré fueled rage at the Prussians and stirred the French to war.

Finally, Doré and the people of France got their wish when France declared war on Germany July 19th, 1870.

Six months later France was in ruins. Approximately 80,000 soldiers and 700,000 civilians were dead. Prussia annexed the Alsace and Lorraine provinces and established a united Germany. The French government collapsed, and a brief but bloody civil war was fought in Paris that claimed between 10,000 and 30,000 Parisians, until finally a new government was established and heavy war reparations were imposed on a humiliated French people.

Doré witnessed much drama and episodes of ruin during the war and subsequent siege of Paris. Touching are the paintings of this period, for example, “The Overturned Cradle”, which depic ts a young mother in that terrible instant of time when she discovers her baby has been killed by a German shell that has torn open the wall of her home. His drawings and oils from this period reflect his profoundly devastated emotional state as he experienced the full brunt of the political and social rupture of war.

Dore BibleDoré, wrote to a friend, “Ah! Both of our heads were filled with too extravagant dreams! My drawing has no longer any reason to exist; I give it to you. Keep it in remembrance of our vanished hopes.”

He further wrote, “Our poor capital is in flames; its palaces destroyed – its finest streets, and all that make it beautiful. As I write, I have before me immense volumes of smoke, rising to the heavens. In the whole history of the world, I don’t think there is a parallel instance of so sanguinary a drama, and of such ruin.

Emile Zola in his book The Debacle, personifies the French nation with a young woman searching for her brother in the aftermath of the war. As she looks upon a Paris in flames she laments: “The thought of fire devouring human lives, the sight of this blazing city on the horizon, throwing up the hellish glare of cities accursed and destroyed, made her cry out in spite of herself. She clasped her hands together and asked: ‘What have we done, oh God, to be punished like this?’

While Germany had won the war and initially enjoyed the support of Europe, Doré’s striking images created a new and disturbing portrait of Germany. Whereas France had previously viewed Germany as a land of poets and dreamers, stark Doré’s paintings had cemented an image in the popular mindset of many across Europe of France as a “defiled maiden”, and Germany as a cruel and rapacious beast that would forever more have its way with her.

Germany had “won”, but his face was forever altered.

Though Doré would not live to see it, Alsace and Lorraine would change hands 4 times over the next 75 years, and France and Germany would eventually draw the whole world into conflicts which would claim over 100 million lives, most of them civilians.

The war over, Doré left off patriotic images and turned with renewed vigor to the painting of religious images instead. The 1870s saw multitudes of paintings depicting scenes from the Bible such as Entry of Christ into Jerusalem, 1876, Dream of Pilate’s wife, 1874, The Mocking of Christ, 1879, and scores more. His oils, sketches and illustrations depicted powerfully moving religious scenes. So moving, in fact, that during the 1870s Doré was selected to illustrate various noted English translations of the Bible which so stirred the imagination that Doré became literally the most well known artist in the world. It has been said that his images “took the English speaking world by storm”, as evidenced by mention of the Doré Bible in “Tom Sawyer” by Mark Twain.

By the 1880s Doré’s illustrated Bible was THE sought after Bible in America. It would fire the imagination of an entire generation of Americans, including a young man in Pompton Lakes, NJ by the name of Cecil B. DeMille whose “most fingered book” is said to have been his Doré Bible and who would go on to create religious movies in Hollywood based on Doré’s dramatic images and which would influence millions.

In addition to his religious images, Doré produced other moving works of art, including, from about 1877, bronze sculptures. The sculptures could not have been produced without all of the turmoil and anguish that preceded them, and Doré instilled them with his essential experience. Gustave Doré died in 1883, the year Francis Kinney purchased Smoke Rise.

These events bring us to Francis Kinney, Gustave Doré and Smoke Rise.

Next: Francis S. Kinney Encounters Gustave Doré

NOTE: The image of Night above comes courtesy of Tom Kline. The Doré Bible image comes courtesy of John Connelly. Neither can be used or reproduced without permission and attribution.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Kinnelon's Nikki Ramsden Needs Blood & Platelets

Nicole Ramsden

Blood & Platelet Donors Needed for Nicole Ramsden.

This is Nicole - aka Nikki - Ramsden when she was 10. She is now 12 and has just had a relapse of her myeloid leukemia. Can you help?

She needs blood and platelets in anticipation of grueling rounds of chemotherapy. More specifically, she needs Type O (positive or negative) blood and A+, A-, AB+ or AB- platelets.

This site - Blood & Platelet Donor Information for Nicole R. [nikkirdonors] - shares the following information:

Nicole R. is in need of blood & platelet donors. Nicole has recently relapsed and will be undergoing chemotherapy once again. She will need more products than usual due to the type of treatment she will be receiving. We need donors more than ever before so please spread the word to help Nicole. Call Community Blood Services at 201-444-3900. Ask for Joan or Faye. You must specify that you are donating for Nicole R.

Two blood or platelet donation sites for Nicole Ramsden:

Lincoln Park Donor Site
63 Beaverbrook Road, Suite 304
Lincoln Park, NJ 07652

Paramus Donor Site
970 Linwood Avenue West
Paramus, NJ 07035

For any further information, contact Rosemary Colella via email RMC501@OPTONLINE.NET or leave a message at 973-633-1858 [your call will be returned after 4pm EST].

I don't personally know Nikki, but many do. I can't imagine what she and her family are going through. You can get a first hand perspective on it via Nikki's Blog. Her mom, Mary Ramsden, writes many of the entries and takes you through her emotional roller coaster ride - from anguish to joy and back again - as the Ramsden family lives through Nicole's ordeal and what no child should have to experience.

[The site also lists other ways of helping out. Coming up on January 29th, 2010 is an Annual Beefsteak Dinner Fund Raiser to benefit the Ramsden family.]

Can You Help Nikki Ramsden?

If you have the right blood type that Nicole needs, would you consider donating blood? If so, you have the information above.

Regardless of your blood type, would you please forward this message about Nicole Ramsden to as many people as you know in the Northern New Jersey area? And, whether they can or can't donate, please ask them to forward to other people they know.

Thank you.

Note: the photo above comes from an online article written when Nicole first got sick: Wayne parish reaches out to family of 10-year-old girl undergoing cancer treatment.

[I also located this article about July 2009 Kinnelon Cares Kinnelon 5K Run proceeds benefitted Nicole.]

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Silas Condict Hike Encounters Smoke Rise Hospitality

Smoke Rise Hospitality & Silas Condict Hike

Silas Condict Hike Defies Description!

Surprise Encounter With Smoke Rise Neighbor Offering Memorable Hospitality

Many thanks to Tom Edmunds and Janet McMillan from the Morris County Park Commission for putting so much enthusiastic effort into creating a memorable and unexpected Silas Condict hike that led to an encounter with unbeatable Smoke Rise hospitality!

As announced in Saturday 12/5/09 Silas Condict Hike, we met at Silas Condict Park for the last group hike of 2009. Approximately 30 hikers took part, including Silas Condict Trail Adopter Susan Schaechter, Tom and Janet, to hike a recently opened area of the park.

For us, it was a special treat to walk over to the park and visit the fun and interesting Silas Condict Casino where we met up with the group. The Casino building evokes the Roaring Twenties inside as I had hoped. A wooden bar along one side of the room faces a small stage area on the other side and I can imagine bathtub gin being bottled in the back and served at the bar in the front while scenes of 80 years gone by fill the room! There is quite a view with windows giving directly onto the lake. Thank you to MCPC Park Foreman Jim Neill for making the space available to us.

Silas Condict TrailThe trail was every bit as spectacular (really) as Tom had promised. A climb to one of the steepest points in the park, down along a temporary trail route that **Janet and Tom had carefully marked and taken a leaf blower to the day before**. Pretty special!

The trail took us along the Pequannock River and the New York, Susquehanna &Western Railroad. Shortly before reaching the North Gate, we climbed back up into the woods, hiking behind the Community Church of Smoke Rise, onto the infamous 'golf ball' trail and back onto the main Silas Condict trail.

Our path in the attached image is faintly highlighted in yellow.

Total distance: approximately 2 miles with lots of ups and downs.

Tom and Janet hope that the trail will soon be added as a new blazed trail offering park goers a respectable loop to hike.

My hike summary doesn't capture the most amazing part of the hike: an encounter with Smoke Rise resident and Silas Condict Park neighbor Harry C. Hicks -- the father of the “golf ball trail” -- who met us behind the Smoke Rise Community Church. At that point, we had no idea what to expect...

Harry made a cryptic phone call [something about 30 hikers rather than the original 17 expected], before leading us along the trail and through a gate into his property. You see us all assembled around a pond in the photo above. From there, he invited us INTO his house - all 30 of us! - where his wife Marnie graciously offered us her famous Christmas Hot Cider Punch made from only the best fresh spices and ---only she knows.

[Emma being an enthusiastic consumer of Christmas cheer sweet-talked Marnie into a tour of her beautifully decorated living room; she also met Barna the 18 year old cat.]

Thank you, Marnie, Harry and Barna, for sharing your hospitality!

The last 1000 feet back to the main trail of Silas Condict took us along the 'golf ball trail' so-named because it is whimsically marked off by golf balls - which, by the way, are easier to spot than many trail markers are.

One last note about the morning. As soon as we stepped back onto the main trail, it started to snow.

What a memorable hike, from beginning to end and all points in between!

[Below you'll find my trail file. Unfortunately, I lost GPS contact for a good portion. However, between the hike map image above and the trail file, you can guesstimate the actual trail.]

Silas Condict Hike

Map your trip with EveryTrail

Here is the slideshow of my photos from the Silas Condict Hike.

2010 Morris County Park Commission Hikes

Janet, Russ Nee and Tom are planning 2010 hikes starting with a rather loosely scheduled hike for January on the 9th at Lewis Morris Park (meeting at the Sunrise Lake boathouse). For more information, please do contact Tom Edmunds [] directly.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Night: Gustave Doré, Francis Kinney & Kinnelon I

Gustave Doré Madonna & ChildThere's something about Kinnelon and Smoke Rise that leads to unusual coincidences and serendipitous connections. I've noticed it happening as a result of this blog. Case in point is this tale from John Connelly titled "Night." It weaves together discoveries I've shared with you here about Gustave Doré, with perspectives on Kinnelon and Francis S. Kinney. The story is in three parts.


Night - Part I

Gustave Doré Captures Soul, Memories & Coincidence

In the end we are the sum of our choices, our memories, and coincidence.

September 1970 was my freshman year at Kinnelon High School. Kids from varied backgrounds met uneasily in the hallways, chatted outside waiting for school buses, exchanged glances in libraries and dressed together awkwardly in heavy green outfits in gym locker rooms. Some would forge strong and lasting bonds of friendship. Others would discover new and menacing enemies. My friend found both.

It would be difficult to recall the offense that started it all. But, by October of that year, a simmering rivalry had developed. Over the year, it worsened. Conversation could quickly turn to the enemy; his smug demeanor, irritating smirk or clearly intentional effrontery.

“Did you catch that?” my friend would say. “The impudence! The cad! This calls for a calculated response!” These comments often followed by a Snidely Whiplash sort of hand wringing gesture and evil grin. It was all such good fun!

Or so I thought.

By spring tempers reached a boiling point. War plans were being drawn up. The enemy would be confronted at a time and place of my friend's choosing and the score would be settled firmly and finally. As my friend was bigger and stronger than his wiry opponent, a quick and glorious victory was assured. Days passed.

Then war!

As a crowd of kids marched towards the auditorium, a quip from the enemy ignited an instant and savage response. The others and I stepped back stunned. A circle of onlookers formed. In the center my friend, still holding his books with his left arm, unleashed a ferocious volley of right-handed punches on the smaller enemy. A year’s worth of anger was spilling out in one glorious paroxysm of rage. My friend was the clear winner….until the little guy, falling back, feebly threw one lucky left hook and caught my friend’s nose, laying it quite literally over onto its side.

The little guy ran off defeated. My friend stood beaming, blood everywhere and his face, well, his face forever altered. Tell me, how does one “congratulate” such a “winner?”

It was to be the first and last violent episode of my High School years. Though just children we’d grasped in that moment the futility of violence. There were to be no further retaliations or hostilities. Participant and observer alike “laid down their arms.”

The memory of that day returned to me this summer through strange coincidence.

In June, thousands of anxious visitors were drawn to the De Young Museum in San Francisco out of a curious interest in the past. They were there to see the treasures of the boy king, King Tutankhamun. A group of friends and I were also drawn there. As we waited on line, a curious bronze sculpture caught my eye.

The Poem of the Vine” read the placard.

It rose about 20 feet high from a garden near the entrance to the museum. A massive vase littered with clashing images of soft naked bodies, rats, spiders, snakes, lizards, flies all interwoven by vines and ripe clusters of grapes, and everywhere little expressive cherubs, their faces each alive with emotion; praising, joyous, despondent, angry, naughty, pious, bored, hopeful, dejected, silly, tired, crying, singing. Each expression a new and different emotion. The range of human experience summed up with little cherubic faces. Above, a seated Bacchus his head thrown back in merry-making, drinks in all of it to the fullest.

I pressed my face to the cool bronze Bacchus and I joined, giddy-drunk with emotion.

Are you coming John?” my impatient friends asked.

Yes, of course, but this vase, this work of art. I want to….to…..dive into it!” Such is the power of great art.

While the Egyptian artifacts proved pleasant enough, it was the vase, that incredible vase, that haunted at day’s end. A simple inscription at the base identified the artist: Gustave Doré.

Next, Part 2: Gustave Doré, His Art & His Times
After that, Part 3: Francis S. Kinney Brings Doré To Kinnelon!
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