Archive for September, 2011

September 30, 2011

Inside the Summit Library

Summit Library, inside

This is what the inside of the Summit Free Public Library looks like.

They have a much better selection of graphic novels than the New Providence Library, but their local history section is, in my opinion, not up to par. (Yeah, sorry, did we not know I was a giant nerd? We do now.)

Also, you have to pay to park there. %&^!.

But: Better selection of graphic novels.

It’s a tradeoff.

September 29, 2011

Masons in Madison

To be a Freemason you need to be (1) male and (2) worship a higher power. Wellllll, I'm out.

I was going through some old photos, and I came across this drive-by shot of a Masonic Lodge in Madison.

Something seemed vaguely familiar about it, so I leafed through my historical text on Madison.

Oh and there's a building behind that tree. FYI.

It’s the old 1825 Presbyterian Church!

According to the Freemason’s own website:

When the Presbyterian Church moved to larger quarters on Green Avenue, Madison Lodge purchased the building at 170 Main Street, renovated the interior and have met there since 1931 utilizing furniture from the early days on Waverly Place [the first meeting place of the group] and benches from the church.

How ’bout that. Apparently they’ve chopped down that obstructive tree, too.



Cunningham, J.T. (1998). Images of America: Madison. Arcadia Publishing: Dover, NH. ISBN 0738537802.

Madison Lodge #93, F. & A.M. (n.d.). “Freemasonry in Madison.”

September 28, 2011


Single-handed Klezmer soul

There was a klezmer concert in the New Providence library this past weekend, performed by the Hester Street Troupe [website].

Klezmer music [Wikipedia] is a style of Jewish folk music characterized by emotive and/or wailing melodies. (That description doesn’t do the style justice, though; don’t think it sounds like mating whales or banshees or something.)

It was pretty awesome. Oh my gosh, I’m so glad I went.

Audience members were encouraged to participate.

Everybody follow the musician!

(Also note the demographic. I wonder why younger folks apparently aren’t attracted to this sort of thing?)

All in all, if you find that the Hester Street Troupe (or any other klezmer band) is performing in your area, I encourage you to go check them out!

September 27, 2011

Roots Building 2

Roots Building, Springfield Avenue, Summit, NJ. Gawd this is boring alt text.

I discussed the Roots Building in an earlier post, but… let’s talk more about it! Who doesn’t love local architectural history, come on.

Roots Building, c.1893, in progress

In 1893, William C. Risk decided it woud be a good place to put a proper post office for Summit, and he bought the lot on Springfield Avenue. The first half of the building (which later became the “right side”) was built in 1894 by Charles E. Dodd, Mason and Builder (according to the photo above). The post office used this portion until 1910.

Roots Building, c.1910?

The second half (i.e. the left side), shown above, wasn’t completed until 1900. Because the post office already had its own space, the ground floor was occupied by a grocery store.

After the post office had moved out of the right side, the First National Bank moved in, in 1911.

(And if you’re wondering what was going on on the other floors, “from 1898 to 1927, the local telephone exchange’s ‘Central’ girls had their manually operated switchboard in a room at the rear of the second floor” [Summit Historical Society, 1978, p. 60]. So this is where the Summit phone operators operated!)

In 1923, the First National Bank bought the whole building, both right and left sides.

When the bank moved out in 1956, it sold the building to Root’s Mens Shop, which is why it is now known as the “Roots Building.”

After that, I’d just have to cite the last research I did on this, which was a little vague– apparently Perry Root died, and his family didn’t know what to do with the building, so it sat abandoned downtown for five years. Eventually someone bought it and put $3 million worth of renovations into it. It’s currently home to the Roots Steakhouse [website] and a Coldwell Banker real estate office [website].



Flierwire. (2009). “NAI James E. Hanson completes 4000 [square foot] office lease transaction in downtown Summit, New Jersey.”

Meola, P.E. (1998). Images of America: Summit. Arcadia Publishing: Charleston, SC. ISBN 0738563307.

NAI James E. Hanson. (n.d.). “Case study: The estate of Perry Root.”

The Summit Historical Society. (1978). Glimpses into Summit’s Past: A Selection of Photographs and Texts Tracing the City’s Growth. Benway, Maxwell, & Smith, Inc.: Chatham, NJ.

September 26, 2011

Harvest Festival 2


I told you yesterday that Union County’s Harvest Festival featured a bunch of demonstrations and living history folks, right? I did, trust me. So today I’m gonna show you a few of ’em.

This potter was one of the demonstrators. He gets his clay from south Jersey— “The other gold of Atlantic City,” he grinned. It’s apparently quite strong, so it can withstand dishwashers, microwaves, and the usual wear and tear that accompanies food-safe dishes. Normal red clay (even with a good glaze) apparently can’t handle all that.


"Lenape" woman

This woman gave a demonstration of how and when food was prepared in an average Lenape village. Apparently there was always a pot of beans, dried corn, and… dried squash? simmering in the middle of the village, and this stew provided “all the amino acids and nutrients you need to live.” Meat, like venison and rabbit and squirrel, would also be roasted and subsequently shared.


bang bang bang (or, since I just listened to a Smothers Brothers rendition of "John Henry," whop whop whop)

This blacksmith was making a nail. He showed how to make it the correct size, and he explained the idea behind form following function. (Then he started getting into a discussion about different types of steel, and I zoned out.)

So yeah, fun times! Everyone’s got a hobby. 🙂

September 25, 2011

Harvest Festival

Scarecrow contest at the Harvest Festival

Union County’s 2011 30th Annual Harvest Festival was today! (That’s the scarecrow contest that you see above.) It’s in the Watchung Reservation, which is a place I like to go in the fall anyway.


Walking around the festival

There was a lot of stuff to do, all very family-oriented. Plenty of living history, many demonstrations, craft vendors, a petting zoo, a pumpkin-painting area, pony rides, storytelling, live bands, a farmer’s market stand, and more that I’m not thinking of right now.


Sausage, funnel cake, Oriental BBQ, and a generic fair-food vendor = the food court.

This is not a festival you visit for the food, though— which is a little unfortunate, being a HARVEST celebration and all. The entire eating area consisted of (1) a sausage truck that apparently also specialized in funnel cakes, (2) an Oriental BBQ tent, and (3) a generic festival-food vendor. Italian ice and popcorn were also available around the grounds.

You can visit Union County’s website or for specifics.

(I’ll continue with a couple more photos tomorrow.)

September 24, 2011

New Providence has brand new ticket machines!

New Providence train station (New Jersey Transit)'s new ticket machines

New Providence station got ticket machines!

NJ Transit policy is that “a $5 surcharge is applied to tickets purchased aboard trains if a ticket agent or ticket vending machine is available at time of boarding.” However, neither ticket agents nor ticket vending machines have ever been available here, so New Providence customers have always been exempt from the $5 surcharge.

But that all changes on September 26, 2011.

Purchase tickets before boarding to avoid $5 surcharge!

Here’s what the sign says:

Purchase Tickets Before Boarding to Avoid $5 Surcharge
New Ticket Vending Machine available at New Providence Station

A new Ticket Vending Machine (TVM) has been installed at New Providence Station. Located in the shelter on the platform, the new TVM is available at all times, and accepts cash, credit or debit cards. Simply touch the screen to begin and follow the instructions.

NJ TRANSIT applies a $5 surcharge to tickets purchased aboard the train when a ticket agent or Ticket Vending Machine is available. With the installation of the new machine at New Providence Station, this surcharge will be applied at all times on trains beginning Monday, September 26, 2011. Please remember to purchase your ticket before boarding to avoid the surcharge.

So as of this coming Monday, it is assumed that the machines (which have been crammed into what used to be a bus-stop-style bench) have been available long enough for everyone to get used to them, and customers will now have to make sure they get to the station early enough to buy tickets.

I doubt this will be a problem for regular commuters, but for the New Providence natives who occasionally like to go into the City for a show, the new surcharge will almost assuredly catch some of them by surprise.


Edit, January 2012: Apparently new ticket vending machines have been installed at ALL stops along the Gladstone branch, so this is new for a LOT of people. In the past few months, I have witnessed at least six cases of passengers being surprised that they are no longer exempt from the surcharge. And this is just for passengers within earshot.

I guess all the $5 surcharges help them pay for the cost of installing the machines!

September 23, 2011

Duck duck duck


Preening ducks!

Initially, I thought this was just a bunch of female mallards, but I guess it could be a bunch of juveniles of both sexes.

Apparently those purple feathers on the wings are called speculum feathers.

That’s weird. To me, speculums specula are, as Wikipedia puts it, “medical tool[s] used for examining body cavities.” (Think gynecology.)

September 22, 2011

Melrose Building


Sorry about the processing. Sometimes I get bored with my formulaic color adjustments.

This is the Melrose Building in downtown Summit.

Melrose Building, c.1910?

It opened in 1907, and the lions on either side of the second floor balcony were added in 1909. In the old photo above, you can see a clock tower that was lit nightly until it was removed in 1937.

Currently home to Garden State News [ listing], it remains a landmark building on Summit’s Springfield Avenue.


Meola, P.E. (1998). Images of America: Summit. Arcadia Publishing: Charleston, SC. ISBN 0738563307.

September 21, 2011

Lycoperdon, puffed for the very first time

Lycoperdon? Puffball? False puffball? I dunno.

I’m guessing this is some variant of the Lycoperdon group of fungi [Wikipedia], but I usually find these little balls on lawns, not on trees. So maybe not.

Usually, I just call ’em “puffballs” and move on with my life.

Do you know what these little spiky puffball mushrooms are called?

P.S. The title is totally from this website.

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