31 May 2010

Blockhead Pens 600th Post

“No man but a blockhead ever wrote, except for money.” - Samuel Johnson, April 1776
Dr. Samuel Johnson. (detail)
James Boswell noted Dr. Johnson's remark during a conversation in which Johnson was explaining why he would not be writing about his upcoming trip to Italy.  Why go to all that trouble if you are not getting paid for it?

I have often asked that question of myself in the course of writing the previous 599 entries of this blog.  I confess there are many days I am in complete agreement with Johnson. 

When I began writing "Gillette on Hillsborough" for the Courier News in 2007, I thought of this enterprise as a bit of an adventure.  A chance to try something new.  The newspaper showed me how to get started on Blogger - on a page with no ads that would be linked to from the newspaper's website.  This seemed reasonable enough to me.  I wasn't getting paid - and neither were they.  The blog was purely a public service with no cost to the newspaper.

Over the course of the first two years, the blog also appeared 175 times on the Courier News editorial page.  This pleased me as it allowed many more readers to come into contact with the blog than would ever look for it on the computer.  During the second year, the Courier News switched from Blogger to a proprietary blog format - on a page filled with ads.  In the third year they switched again - to a proprietary blog format based on WordPress, also filled with ads that I did not control.  Then editorial page changes at the Courier News and Home News Tribune eliminated the revolving "Local Voices" section from the page.

During these past two years then, I have kept up BOTH versions - "Gillette on Hillsborough" at the original Blogger site, and "The View From Hillsborough", as it is now called, at MyCentralJersey.com.  I even experimented with putting ads on the Blogger site - but there just isn't enough traffic to generate any income of note. (I have yet to reach the $100 threshold where they will actually send you a check!)  Since the original Blogger site has about four times as many visits each week as the MyCentralJersey.com site, I would assume that the newspaper isn't making any money from me either.

So here I am back at Johnson's question - why go through all the trouble?  I get little enjoyment from it, and it takes a fair amount of time.  Still, I derive satisfaction from having written these posts.  I can look back on the 600, and state that the vast majority of them are unique to this blog.  In other words - no one else is writing about Hillsborough's past and present the way I am.

The Courier News surely no longer recognizes my work on this blog as having any sort of value - indeed they have valued it at $0.00.  No matter.  When I quit or move the blog to another newspaper all they will be losing is one blockhead, they've still got a boatload.

30 May 2010

Memorial Day Observed in Hillsborough

Hillsborough Residents observed Memorial Day on Saturday, May 29. I did as well - and I took my camera along.

The Grand Marshall was Viet Nam veteran and Purple Heart recipient - and long-time Hillsborough resident - Ted Dima.

Freeholder Jack Ciaterelli, Assemblyman Peter Biondi, and Committeeman Anthony Ferrera were among the Hillsborough public servants who marched in the parade.

The Raiders Marching Band.

Girl Scout Troop 255

Making that perfect candy toss!

Ted Dima addresses the assembled.

Mayor Frank DelCore

Mayor Frank DelCore and Committeewoman Gloria McCauley lay the first wreath.

A final salute to the fallen.

29 May 2010

Last Man Standing

At Hillsborough's Memorial Day Parade this morning, more than one person remarked that there were so few veterans of World War II still living. That's true enough, but not so few that every community isn't proud to have at least a handful in their midst. After all, there are still approximately two million U.S. World War II veterans among us.

World war I is another story entirely. There is just one surviving U.S. veteran of the Great War - Frank Woodruff Buckles.
Born in February of 1901, the underage Buckles bluffed his way past Army recruiters, enlisting at the start of America's involvement in the war in April 1917.  He served as an ambulance and motorcycle driver in both England and France.  He seems to have spent his active duty uneventfully - his real adventure came twenty-five years later in his civilian life.  While working for a shipping company in Manila in 1942, he was captured by invading Japanese, and spent three and a half years in a WWII Japanese prison camp.

Albert Woolson, who died in 1956 at the age of 106 was the last surviving Civil War veteran.

Anson Wolcott Gillett didn't live quite that long.  Born in 1845, he served three enlistments, then spent the rest of his career in the directory and advertising business.  He was one of Blackhawk County, Iowa's last remaining Civil war veterans when he died in 1937.

28 May 2010

A Leak Worth Talking About

Here's the latest news from Reuters on the BP oil leak.

And here's the live feed from BP - courtesy of PBS.

27 May 2010

"Wage Freeze in Progress, 379 South Branch Road...."

Hillsborough Township police dispatchers may be looking to make a few extra bucks now that they have voluntarily accepted a wage freeze for the upcoming year.  With the agreement, members of Police Dispatchers' local 701 who have been working without a contract since 2008, will retroactively receive the same 3.5% increase for 2009 that was given to all non-uniformed personnel.

So what can a police dispatcher do in his spare time to earn enough money to make ends meet?  How about become one of the mostly recognizable voices in television history?

That's exactly what real-life LAPD police dispatcher Shaaron Claridge did in 1968 when she signed on to be the radio dispatch voice heard on "Adam-12"!  Producer Jack Webb, Sgt. Friday of "Dragnet" fame, decided that having an authentic dispatcher in the role would add a touch of realism to the police drama.

Who can possibly forget one of the most famous lines in television history?  "One adam twelve, one adam twelve..." ranks right up there with "Lucy, I'm home" and "Heeeeeere's Johnny!"

You can hear Ms. Claridge on many 60s and 70s television cop shows - "Dragnet", "Columbo", even "Lou Grant" - always in the often uncredited role of "police dispatcher".  Her voice even appeared in the 1983 Roy Scheider police helicopter movie "Blue Thunder".

So, take heart Hillsborough dispatchers - there's always show biz!

12 May 2010

No Fireworks over "No Fireworks"

The Hillsborough Township Committee announced yesterday that the annual Fireworks and Family Fun Day would not be held this year due to budgetary considerations.

Canceling the event will save taxpayers at least $20,000 - the minimum usually budgeted for the fireworks and entertainment.  In a year when township employees have agreed to wage freezes and salary reductions, asking the public to sacrifice our July 4th celebration is reasonable and responsible.

Almost two years ago I wrote about the fireworks, "even the most frugal family takes a small vacation once in a while - and that's what the Independence Day Celebration is for Hillsborough."  Now it's time to cancel this year's vacation - maybe save up for next year.

I'm sure it will be worth the wait.

11 May 2010

Jumbo Jet Jettison not a Joke

Did you hear the one about the jumbo jet that dumped 170,000 pounds of fuel on Central New Jersey?  Yes, by now you have, but it's not a joke.

A Continental Airlines Boeing 777 bound for Tokyo experienced hydraulic issues shortly after taking off from Newark Airport on Sunday.  Before the jet could return to Newark and make a safe landing, weight needed to be reduced by dumping its fuel.

I was out behind Woodfern School for Junior Raiders Track and Field, on the sidelines with dozens of other parents, when we spotted the plane flying low, with landing gear down, and ejecting fuel from both wings. 

Here is a video shot by, presumably, a Hillsborough resident, of the jet over Hillsborough.

You have probably heard that this incident is no big deal, that the jet fuel is vaporized in the atmosphere - breaking down into its constituent atoms - and poses no risk. Then why have we never heard about a plane dumping fuel over New Jersey before? It seems to me that every previous story of this nature always includes a passage about the aircraft flying out over the ocean to dump fuel.

I am glad Leonard Lance is looking into this and looking for answers. Let's make sure the joke - and the jet fuel - isn't on us.

08 May 2010

Verizon, Inverted

The Associated Press is reporting today that Verizon has put in a request to New Jersey regulators that it be allowed to stop automatic delivery of their White Pages telephone directory.  The company claims that this move will save 5,000 tons of paper a year.  Sounds "green", doesn't it?  Yet the report does not mention Verizon's Yellow Pages.  Apparently no request has been made to save those "yellow" trees.
Go to your kitchen drawer right now and pull out the Verizon book.  The White Pages take up only about a third of the book!  Most of it is the Yellow Pages.

The ad sales and listings in the Yellow Pages pay for the personal listings in the White Pages.  This has been the business model for directories for at least 150 years - before the telephone was even invented. 

If Verizon doesn't have to print the White Pages, the profit from the Yellow Pages is increased.  And make no mistake, they have to deliver those Yellow Pages to every home, or they won't be able to sell the ads.  One of the rationales for stopping White Pages delivery is that people can find these listings on the internet. Hey, Verizon!  People can find the business listings on the internet too.

If Verizon is going to turn the directory business on its head, maybe they should invert their logo too.

07 May 2010

Hillsborough Art Show May 20 and 21

[From the Hillsborough Township Web Site]

Hillsborough Cultural Arts Commission 6th Annual Art Exhibit - May 20th & 21st

Unveiling of New Public Art Collection Portrait

Release Date: May 07, 2010

The Hillsborough Township Cultural Arts Commission proudly announces the 6th Annual Art Exhibit at the Municipal Complex. The show will be open to the public on May 20, 2010 from 3:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. and on May 21, 2010 from 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. As many as 300 pieces of art are expected to be on display.

Prizes totaling $3,000.00 will be awarded in two divisions – Student Two-Dimensional Art and Photography created by Somerset County High School students and Adult Two-Dimensional Art and Photography created by Hillsborough’s adult artists. Artwork and photography will be judged by a group of world class professional artisans working in a number of disciplines. The judges will be available during the afternoon of May 20th to speak with entrants and guests alike.

"This event is an excellent opportunity for residents to enjoy and admire the work of local artists. I am especially excited to see the newest addition to Hillsborough’s Public Art Collection," stated Committeeman Anthony Ferrera, liaison to the Commission.

The Public Art Collection – the brainchild of International award winning illustrator and portrait artist Kevin Murphy, will be a series of paintings depicting notable Hillsborough residents from yesterday and today. The student grand prize winner in each Annual Art Exhibit will receive a $1000.00 commission and the opportunity to work with Mr. Murphy in his Hillsborough studio to create the portrait.

The first painting in the Collection is a portrait of Assemblyman Peter Biondi, painted and donated by Kevin Murphy himself. Last year’s grand prize winner, Gabrielle Fiorillo, has been working on the second portrait – a painting of opera singer Anna Case Mackay – which will be displayed for the first time at 7:30 p.m. on May 20th.

Greg Gillette, chairman of the Cultural Arts Commission, will speak about local legend Anna Case at the unveiling. "Anna Case, although not well-remembered today, was a huge star in the first half of the 20th century," said Gillette. "The daughter of the South Branch blacksmith, she rose to become a star at the Metropolitan Opera, a best-selling Edison recording artist, an in-demand concert performer, and a pioneer in both radio and motion pictures."

For more information about the show, or to enter your work in the adult division, please contact Marie Hankins, 908-672-7041, lucashankins2@comcast.net or Nancy Edwards, 908-359-2516, nancy.edwards@comcast.net .

06 May 2010

Meet the New Boss....

In my recent post about the Manville - Somerville football game, I said that at that time - 1958 - Manville High School was "nearly new".  In fact, between the time of Manville's secession from Hillsborough in 1929 and the construction of the High School in the mid 50s, only one school building, the Roosevelt School, had been built in the boro.  And that school was built in that first year of 1929!

In 1954, twenty-five years after Manville's incorporation, the school board began to pitch the idea of building a high school in town.  In those 25 years, Manville's population grew from 5,441 to 9,375, and more importantly, the number of school children increased dramatically.  In just the years from 1943 to 1954, enrollment went from 793 to 1,293 - and was expected to go to 1,800 pupils by 1961.

The Manville Board of Education produced a booklet with all of this information, and the arguments in favor of building a high school - you can see it here

What is most amazing to me about the 1954 publication is what it says about the conditions school children in Manville were subjected to, including teaching some classes in basements and other sub-standard rooms, perpetual split sessions for students, and even twelve classes being taught on a "half-time basis" - meaning the students were not even getting the required amount of time in school.  All of this in addition to the fact that Manville's teenagers were forced to attend three different area high schools, because no single school could accommodate the 375 students.

In essence, all of the things Manville complained to Hillsborough about in the 1920s, were still being perpetuated a quarter-century later!