Archive for February, 2012

February 29, 2012

Leap!

Leaping!

February 29 is Leap Day! I think I can manage an honorary leap every four years.

(Alternate title: Jumpin’ at the Woodside.)

February 28, 2012

Vistas

Note the Mercedes.

When I checked out Johnston Drive for its Weird NJ folklore, I was not expecting anything beyond a road with some bumps.

What a view!

The panoramic mountaintop vista views were completely unexpected and A-MA-ZING.

I knew I wouldn’t be able to photograph them very well; it was the wrong time of day, and the wrong KIND of day, and I didn’t want to trespass too much, and there were trees and power lines and houses in the way, and I am unfortunately somewhat limited by my equipment.

Those hills! I'm standing on one part of the First Watchung Mountain, looking west at another part of the First Watchung Mountain.

But that didn’t stop me from wandering around and gazing at 180-degree panoramas and trying to bring them home with me.

February 27, 2012

Milton Avenue School

Milton Avenue School

According to this PDF, Chatham’s Milton Avenue School was built in 1948, with an addition completed in 2001.

That’s all I can tell you about the history, but here’s a link to their website, if you have questions about calendars or enrolling your kid or something.

It’s also right in front of the Chatham Borough Mulch Area, in case you were wondering.

February 26, 2012

Suicide Tower

Suicide Tower, Watchung Reservation

In the southeast corner of the Watchung Reservation, there’s a big water tower (on trail maps as “WT”) colloquially known as “Suicide Tower.”

Only one documented suicide has been committed there, back in 1975. Gregg Sanders, a local high school student, killed his parents (the descriptions “axing to death” and “sliced and diced” have been used) and then jumped to his own death here. (Back in those days, the tower featured a spiral staircase and an observation deck. They’ve since been removed.)

Rumor has it that the double murder-suicide may have been linked to Satanist Rituals also rumored to take place in the park back then. That’s totally unconfirmed, though.

Nowadays, it’s just a cool place for rust to aggregate, and for kids to practice their graffiti. (For all you graffiti-tagging aficionados out there, the only tag I could discern was “swag,” which— is that even a tag? I thought it was just slang. But I am no expert on these things.) There’s also a cell tower immediately adjacent to the water tower. In fact, a Verizon guy was hanging out in his truck just off-camera when I took this photo. We exchanged hellos.

 

Sources:

Anonymous. (2001). “Watchung Suicide Tower Tales.” Weird N.J. http://www.weirdnj.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=129&Itemid=28#29.

Balogh, D. (2008). “Watchung Reservation.” Dan & Laura’s Photo Web Album. http://www.danbalogh.com/watch.html.

The Lostinjersey Blog. (2009). “Watchung Reservation.” http://lostinjersey.wordpress.com/2009/04/07/watchung-reservation/. {Comments here also used.}

February 25, 2012

Hay chapel

A chapel of hay!

The Watchung Stables need somewhere to store their hay, of course. This just happens to be one classy-lookin’ hay structure.

February 24, 2012

Lonely amusement

Bowcraft!

Bowcraft Amusement Park is a little bit of amusement off Route 22 in Scotch Plains. The park is closed October through March, so it’s a little lonely this time of year. But there’s ample parking now!

For more information, check their website.

February 23, 2012

Winterdils

Daffodils! What!

Do daffodils usually start peeking up in February? Is this normal? Or have they been lulled into a false sense of spring? Am I crazy? Help me out here.

February 22, 2012

Thirteen bumps

Johnston Drive, site of 13 buried witches. Or something.

ACCORDING TO LEGEND…..

Back in the days of Feltville, the children of the village kept disappearing. It was eventually decided that THIRTEEN MURDEROUS SISTERS were responsible for the childrens’ disappearances. The “witches” were all hanged and buried beneath Johnston Drive, which was dirt at the time. Because, I mean, obviously, what better place to bury someone than somewhere your wagon wheel could accidentally plunge into a muddy half-rotten grave, right?

But I digress. Their graves created small bumps in the road, as graves in a road are presumably wont to do.

After Johnston Drive was paved in later years, THE THIRTEEN BUMPS EMERGED FROM THE GROUND.

The bumps were removed and paved flat. YET AGAIN, THIRTEEN BUMPS EMERGED IN THE ROAD.

And it KEPT HAPPENING. Every time.

According to the story, if you drive over the bumps and count all thirteen, say “thirteen witches,” and then look behind you, you can see the witches following you. DUN DUN DUUUNNNNNNN!!!

Personally, I didn’t really notice any outstanding bumps when I drove (‘Was that a bump? Maybe that one? Maybe all of these bumps? If they all count, there are way more than 13 bumps here’), so this is just a generic photo of the road. I kept thinking of a quote I’d read earlier: “Every time I go there I’m either drunk or high so I count like 52 or like 5 bumps, so I’m looking around for a hell of a lot of witches or I’m wondering what the hell is going on” (Weird N.J. n.d., para. 2).

(Just to be clear: I was neither drunk nor high, Mom.)

One more reasonable theory asserts that Johnston Drive has lots of bumps ‘cos it’s always been a steep and tortuous road through the mountains, and bumps used to help prevent carriages from sliding backwards down the hills.

For other more reasonable theories, check out my sources below. OR TELL YOUR OWN TALES.

 

Sources:

Everson, E. (2011). “The ghosts of Union County: 13 bumps for 13 witches.” Patch.com. http://newprovidence.patch.com/articles/theghostsofunioncounty-13bumpsfor13witches.

Weird N.J. (n.d.). “Bumps road revisited.” http://www.weirdnj.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=62&Itemid=28.

February 21, 2012

Watchung Stables

Walkin' around the Watchung Stables

The Watchung Stables are located on the Watchung Reservation. As evidenced by this photo, they do in fact contain real live horses.

The stables used to be the site of a Nike missile launcher! There are reportedly no longer any signs of that, though.

February 20, 2012

Rivulet

Isn't this tranquil? And people think I'm weird for living in the 'burbs.

Just a stony little rivulet off the Passaic River.

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