April 4 – Postponed – Sound on Sound: Exploring the Evolution of Les Paul’s Pioneering Techniques

Exploring the Evolution of Les Paul’s Pioneering Recording Techniques on the Road to Multi-Track Recording

**Postponed until Fall 2020** 

A lecture by Dr Sean McClowry

Saturday, April 4 at 11:00 am

at Mahwah Museum

 

Dr Sean McClowry, professor of music at the College of St. Rose, will discuss Les Paul’s “sound on sound” methods.  While known as a pioneer in multi-track and multi-layering recording, Les Paul’s methods were constantly changing.  Each new method presented new advantages and challenges.  This talk will include live demonstrations, in an effort to unpack the genius at work as a recording artist and a pioneer in music technology, and also highlight the historic artifacts on display at the museum.

The program is free for Museum members, $5 for non-members.  Reservations are recommended; to reserve seats, contact programs@mahwahmuseum.org or call 201-512-0099.

Les Paul – Photo courtesy of The Les Paul Foundation

 

April 2 -Postponed- The Making of a Village: Ridgewood Comes of Age, 1894-1905

Historians Peggy Norris and Joe Suplicki

Postponed 

A Lecture by Peggy Norris and Joe Suplicki

Thursday, April 2 at 7:30 pm

at Mahwah Museum

Bergen County Historians Peggy Norris and Joe Suplicki will present a lecture on these critical years of this Bergen center.  Using documents, maps and historic panoramic photos, they will illustrate Ridgewood’s growth and transformation into a village.

Ridgewood Train Station Circa 1900

Long-time members of the Genealogical Society of Bergen County and many county historical societies, Peggy Norris and Joe Suplicki share their love of regional history with others as genealogists, volunteers, and lecturers. Together, they have lectured on a wide variety of subjects, including genealogy, local cemeteries, and the history of Bergen County’s Camp Merritt.

The lecture is free for museum members and $5 for non-members.  Reservations are recommended; to reserve seats, please contact programs@mahwahmuseum.org or call 201-512-0099.

Postponed – Premiere of the Trackside Drive-in Theater

Postponed

At the Donald Cooper Model Railroad

Through May 31

The volunteers of the Donald Cooper Model Railroad at the Mahwah Museum announce the opening of the Trackside Drive-in, a working drive-in theater in HO scale.  Our first feature being shown on the big screen is “King Kong vs Godzilla”.  Come and relive the nostalgia of watching a movie under the stars during the summer evening from the comfort of your favorite car.

Free Gifts for Mahwah Residents Who visit during April

Attention Mahwah Residents!

The Mahwah Museum is offering two special free gifts to all Mahwah residents who visit the Museum during April (while supplies last).

The first of these gifts is an historical map of Mahwah based on the 1876 Atlas of Bergen County, with additional information from other maps dating as far back as 1709.  The map is very suitable for framing  and would be a great addition to home or office.

The second gift, a 12-page booklet, reprinted from the recent Autumn Years magazine article on the history of Mahwah,  presents many interesting facts about Mahwah, and is a great way to learn more about our town’s history.

One of the Museum’s objectives is to increase understanding and appreciation of our town’s history.  By providing a map and a short summary of Mahwah’s past, we hope to encourage your knowledge and appreciation for Mahwah’s rich history. These gifts may answer some questions about our town’s past, such as the location of the Nike Missile base and George Washington’s route during the American Revolution.

To obtain the free gifts, simply visit the Mahwah Museum and request your historical map and Mahwah History booklet.  One map and booklet per Mahwah household, please.  Supplies are limited, so please  visit soon!

The Mahwah Museum is open every Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday from 1-4 pm.  Located at 201 Franklin Turnpike, it is next the the Mahwah Police Station and Fire Department, and just up the hill from the Mahwah Train Station.

April 2 – The Making of a Village: Ridgewood Comes of Age, 1894-1905

Historians Peggy Norris and Joe Suplicki

A Lecture by Peggy Norris and Joe Suplicki

Thursday, April 2 at 7:30 pm

at Mahwah Museum

Bergen County Historians Peggy Norris and Joe Suplicki will present a lecture on these critical years of this Bergen center.  Using documents, maps and historic panoramic photos, they will illustrate Ridgewood’s growth and transformation into a village.

The lecture is free for museum members and $5 for non-members.  Reservations are recommended; to reserve seats, please contact programs@mahwahmuseum.org or call 201-512-0099.

New Exhibits for the 2019-2020 Season

New Exhibits for the 2019-2020 Season

 

Mahwah’s His-“TREE”:  75 Years as a Township, 1944-2019

 

Mahwah’s history dates back to the 1600s and 1700s, belonging to several territories with different names.  In the 1700s and 1800s, Mahwah grew from a seedling of Franklin Township and later stemmed from Hohokus Township.  As other towns broke off from Hohokus Township, Mahwah remained, leaving it the largest tract of land in what is now Bergen County.

Mahwah blossomed as an independent community, and was officially incorporated as a township in 1944.  Our exhibit will explore the different branches of what makes a community live, breathe, and thrive.  Mahwah’s roots as a township were strengthened through the growth of borough organizations, housing developments, schools, recreation, religious and civic groups, and industry.

No matter how far back you can trace your roots in Mahwah, come share our shade as we honor the people, places, and organizations that have continued our history into the 21st century.

 

Palisades Amusement Park Comes to Mahwah – In Miniature!

(Photo credit: Vince Gargiulo)

New Jersey’s famous Palisades Amusement Park closed nearly 50 years ago. But most Jerseyites over the age of 60 will still smile at the mere mention of this classic American fun center.  Mahwah resident, Vince Gargiulo, has been keeping the memory of Palisades alive for the past quarter of a century. He founded the Palisades Amusement Park Historical Society (PAPHS) in the early 1990s. His book, “Palisades Amusement Park: A Century of Fond Memories,” was the fastest selling book in the history of Rutgers University Press. His 1998 PBS documentary of the same name won several awards for outstanding documentary and was nominated for a New York Emmy.

His latest project is a working 1930s model of the park that he has been restoring for over a year. A long time park employee, Joe Prisco, originally built the wooden model in the 1990s. After his death, the model was moved several times and sustained a great deal of damage. In 2018, Gargiulo reached out to Prisco’s family, who donated the model to the PAPHS. Gargiulo set about to restore each piece, most requiring a great deal of work and patience. “The Carousel was the hardest piece to restore,” Gargiulo noted. “Many of the ornamental decorations were missing. Half of the light bulbs were burned out, and replacing them was not cheap!”

But his biggest challenge with the carousel was getting it to rotate. “I wish this model came with some kind of instruction manual,” Vince joked. “It would make repairing it so much easier.” After a month of experimenting, he was finally able to get the merry-go-round to operate properly. Gargiulo has completed restoration of 25 pieces including the Tunnel of Love, the World’s Largest Outdoor Salt Water Pool, the Ferris Wheel, the Carousel, the Free Act Stage, the Bumper Cars and much more. On September 22, the miniature amusement park will be on display as part of the Mahwah Museum’s 2019-2020 lineup. Also on display will be some extremely rare artifacts from the park from Gargiulo’s extensive collection.

 

A College Comes to Mahwah: Ramapo College, 1965-1975

(Photo credit: Vincent Marchese)

When the State of New Jersey decided to build a new college in Northern New Jersey in 1965, few towns wanted anything to do with it. Fears of radical students, traffic, and lost tax revenues dogged early efforts in Leonia, Hackensack and Saddle River. When the Birch Estate was proposed as a potential site, Mahwah quickly became the front runner. Our exhibit on the establishment of Ramapo College in Mahwah takes a look at life in the township 50 years ago and the creation of a unique liberal arts college.

Working with early faculty and graduates from Ramapo College, the exhibit will provide a brief history of the College’s aspirations and a look at its early curriculum. Students recall what campus life was like when the campus was being built around them; the makeshift “dorms” at the Carmel Retreat, a Boy Scout Camp,  and Club 300; the jazz festivals; and student and faculty strikes. These challenges forged a tight community and left fond memories. Come and experience an early 1970s college in Mahwah — sights, sounds, and recollections!

 

These exhibits will be on display along with our very popular permanent exhibits, the ever expanding Donald Cooper Model Railroad (open weekends only) and Les Paul in Mahwah!

John W. Bristow Papers Open for Research

After over a year of work, the Museum’s archive volunteers have completed processing the John W. Bristow Papers. Archivist Cathy Moran Hajo worked with a team of volunteers and college students to organize, re-house, and describe one of the Museum’s largest and richest archival collections. A guide to his papers has been posted on the Museum website.

John W. Bristow (1924-2010) was a high school teacher with an abiding interest in history. He moved to Mahwah in 1973 and became involved with the work of the Mahwah Historical Society and the Mahwah Historic Sites Commission. He became Mahwah Town Historian in 1993 and is best-known for his newspaper column “This Month In Mahwah History” which ran in the Home and Store News from 1985-1992.

John W. Bristow, taken in 2008 (Courtesty of Ruth Bristow Portela).

The Bristow Papers was a large and unorganized collection when it arrived at the Museum. After separating materials like newspaper clippings, Mahwah Historical Society and Mahwah Historical Sites Commission records, and duplicates, the collection still spans 24 boxes! Among its highlights are John Bristow’s many presentations on local history, a rich collection of photographs and the photographic slides that accompanied his lectures, and ephemera he gathered while conducting research.

We could not have completed this major reorganization without the help of a dedicated team of students who volunteered on Saturday mornings.  We want to thank Kevin Cosenza, Jeffrey Fischer, Meg Hajo, Lee Herman, Nicholas Incorvaia, Cristina Macari, and Jennifer Zgola for all their efforts to make this collection available to researchers. I would also like to thank Ruth Bristow Portela, John Bristow’s daughter, for sharing photographs and biographical information that we used to write up the guide to his papers.

To view the papers, please arrange an appointment by either calling the Museum or e-mailing the archives directly at archives@mahwahmuseum.org.

 

Any Youngs, Hagermans, Bodines out there?

Any Youngs, Hagermans, Bodines out there?
The Mahwah Museum archives are processing a large collection of photographs from the Martha Young Kuklinski Collection which document the lives of J. Frank Young (1905-1960) and Henrietta Morriss Young (1909-1984) and their families, ranging 1910-1940s. There are also some older historical family photographs. Henrietta Morriss’ mother was Bessie Hagerman and she lived with Andrew Hagerman. The photos from this branch of the family are fairly well labeled. The photographs of the Youngs, who came from Tallman, often have no labels at all. J. Frank Young’s mother was Anne Jane Bodine and his father was John Franklin Young. His siblings were Alta, Freda, and John Young. If you can help up put names to faces, it would make this collection much more useful to researchers.
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Inventors: Charles E. Ellis

Charles E. Ellis

Charles E. Ellis

Charles Ellis began his career in 1926, at the age of 19, at Norton-Blair-Douglas in New York.  He was recommended for an internship by Bassett Jones, a renowned electrical engineer, who was one of the prominent residents of Cragmere and who also holds at least one patent. Charles applied for his first patent in 1929 at the age of 22 when he was working for Norton Blair Douglas. That patent was awarded in 1934 after Norton Blair Douglas had been bought out by Westinghouse.  This patent was for a safety device for vehicle doors, particularly those of elevators, that involved the use of beam of light which, when interrupted by a person’s foot for example, would not let the elevator door close.  Like the electric eye on your elevator door.  He was chagrined that the builders of the Chrysler Building did not use it on their elevators, but was glad that Rockefeller Center did.

Patent drawing

Patent drawing

When Norton-Blair-Douglas was bought out by Westinghouse Electric Elevator Co, Mr. Ellis and the partners moved to Chicago where they worked for Westinghouse.  During this period he was awarded a number of patents for elevator related controls and systems.  In 1933, he left Westinghouse and got a $10,000 severance which he used, in part, for a trip around the world, in the depth of the depression, on a Japanese steamer.  When in London, he heard that the U.S. was likely to go off the gold standard so he converted his travelers checks into gold coins and weathered the devaluation that occurred in U.S. money when it went off of the gold standard. His nephew John Edwards, who now owns Charles house is still looking for 2  gold coins that Charles told an interviewer in 1981 that he still had in the house.

After returning he worked in a company making packaging machinery and claims he was the first to seal plastics with a radio frequency rather than heat.  He did not patent this invention.  Through World War II he worked for Sedgewick Machine Works, where one of his inventions was large elevators for aircraft carriers, resulting in multi-million dollar sales for that item.

 

Ellis's invention

Ellis’s invention

After a period of self employment, between 1948 and 1951, when he continued to invent, specializing in adjustable speed motors, he joined Sperry Rand Corporation where he worked from 1959 as the director of quality control.  From 1959 on, he continued to invent and refine adjustable speed and supersynchronous motors.

In his later years, he became very interested in Mahwah history and the environment.  He warned of the dangers of earthquakes along the Ramapo Fault, west of the Ramapo River, as subject that was also addressed by Howard Avery.  When Mahwah put sewers into Cragmere, he did a drawing and analysis of the water system on Armour Road that formerly served Ezra Miller’s mansion, and became incorporated into the Mahwah water system.  He was invited to become a member of the first Environmental Commission, but declined to serve because, he said, the Township refused to provide a personal indemnity and insurance.

Ellis's house in Cragmere

Ellis’s house in Cragmere


Photos courtesy of John Edwards.

Inventors: Robert Armstrong Smith

Robert Armstrong Smith

Robert Armstrong Smith

He did much of his creative work from a basement laboratory in his house on Beveridge Road..  Early in his career he obtained patents for better machinery couplings and bushings for his business known as Smith & Serrell. He also held patents on a better snow shovel and a coin holder.

But the most interesting stories come from his work in polarized light.  He was an associate of Lewis Warrington Chubb of Westinghouse.  They were working on polarizing the lights from headlamps in a car.   Polarization, as you probably know from figuring out how your sunglasses work, is the process of taking light waves which are in a random pattern and changing them into a more concentrated stream.

Patent for light polarizer

Patent for light polarizer

Before the work of Chubb and Smith and of Edwin Land, headlights were dangerous because they were not polarized.  Chubb and Smith were working on mechanical means of polarizing light which polarized it at is source.   Edwin Land had dropped out of Harvard and was working on a chemical solution that polarized the light using a film on a windshield, or on the headlight lens.  They were engaged in a patent battle that resulted ultimately in Chubb and Smith selling their patents to Polaroid Corporation for stock in that company and a job for Chubb.

Smith's laboratory

Smith’s laboratory

In 1933, in the midst of the patent negotiations, Land came to Mahwah and they did some testing.  Here, thanks to Audrey Artusio, the current owner of the Smith house, Margaret Smith Pryde (1910-2008), Robert’s daughter,  Mary Ellen Pryde Abrams, and Tara Van Brederode, Robert’s granddaughters, is a description of that test by Robert’s daughter Molly:

Dr. Edwin Land …..came to Mahwah in 1933 to witness a test run. Our cars were equipped with polarized headlights and windshields.

 I was to be the guinea pig.  It was a dark, rainy night.  Dad gave me instructions. “I don’t want to know where you’re standing,” he said.  “That yellow slicker is too light. Go borrow your mother’s black raincoat.”

 I did as he said and then stationed myself on the road.  Dad and Lew [Lewis Chubb] got in the car at one end of the road and Dr. Land rode with Mother in the second car which began at the other end of the road.  Both drivers were supposed to see me.  I was scared.

 

Smith's home on Beveridge Place

Smith’s home on Beveridge Place

Dad had said, “Don’t move, no matter what.  I’ll honk the horn when I see you.”

 I was beginning to panic. “But what if you don’t see me?

 He calmly replied, “I will.”

 I stood, mesmerized, as the headlights of the approaching cars moved closer.  I felt rooted to the ground.  I muttered to myself, “Please dear God let them see me in time.”  My fists were clenched in the pockets of the raincoat.  I heard the swish of tires on the wet road as the cars came closer and I closed my eyes.

No sound was ever sweeter than the “beep, beep” of the Essex horn and the answering beep of the Hupmobile.

Smith did not live to see Edwin Land’s most famous use of Polaroid light, the Polaroid Camera.


All images from the Mahwah Museum

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