26 November 2011

Princeton Christmas Tree Lighting

One of the interesting things about the annual Princeton Christmas Tree lighting - a terrific event attended by thousands each year on the day after Thanksgiving - is that the entire event is put on by the local business community.

16 November 2011

Happy 100th

Heaven exists.  How do I know this?  Simple, there is no other place my grandmother can possibly be.

Wedding day, 1931
Born in 1911 in Brooklyn, NY to Polish immigrant parents, she grew up in a typical immigrants' turn of the century apartment building with cold running water and outhouses in the backyard.  An often absent father meant she spent much time caring for her two younger brothers and working from an early age to to help provide for her family.

With first grandchild, 1964
Despite not having much more than a sixth grade education, she worked continuously from her early teens until her retirement at age 65, finding work during the Depression as a switchboard operator - a career where she transitioned from working for the phone company to manning the switchboard for some of New York's biggest steamship companies.

90th Birthday, 2001
Happy 100th birthday, Grandma.  I hope to see you again someday.

12 November 2011

Pete Biondi, Hillsborough's Best Friend

Thomas Jefferson, Secretary of State under George Washington, Vice President under John Adams, third president of the United States, upon designing the inscription for his tombstone, famously left off all of those titles.   Instead he wished to be remembered for just three things: writing the Declaration of Independence, writing Virginia's Statute for Religious Freedom, and founding the University of Virginia.

In that same spirit, as I reflect on the passing last week of Peter Biondi, I barely think about his ten years as a Hillsborough Township Committeeman, his term as a Somerset County Freeholder, or his dozen years representing the 16th district in the New Jersey Assembly.

More than anything else, Pete was Hillsborough's best friend, plain and simple.  

It hurts to lose your best friend.  It hurts a lot.

Sometimes looking at pictures helps.

Black Horse Stable Family Day for special needs children, 2007.   Pete was a tireless supporter and  advocate for the special needs community.  Over the years he made generous personal donations to Autism Speaks and the Organization for Autism Research, as well as fighting in Trenton for insurance reform and a common sense vaccination policy.

Rotary Club of Hillsborough annual Easter Egg Hunt, 2008.   Pete was  a proud member of the Rotary, and exemplified its motto, "service above self".  He was actively involved in all of their community activities, including the Easter Egg Hunt, and in later years, the annual Rotary Fair.

Portrait by Kevin Murphy, 2009.  When Hillsborough artist Kevin Murphy came to the Cultural Arts Commission in 2008  with an idea to transform our annual art show to include a commissioned portrait of a notable Hillsborough person, he already knew who the first subject should be. We Agreed.  Not only did Pete fit every imaginable criteria for inclusion in Hillsborough's "hall of fame", he was also a strong supporter of the arts, offering his personal financial assistance to the art show in subsequent years.

Memorial Day Parade, 2009.  Pete was a fixture at Hillsborough's annual Memorial Day Parade.  His support for our veterans, as well as those currently serving was unquestionable.

07 November 2011

Gibraltar Rock

On October 24, I joined the Cub Scouts on a visit to Gibraltar Rock, formerly the 3M quarry on Route 601.  Here are some photos.

We were not permitted to leave our vehicles as we toured past the huge pit where the aggregate is mined.  It was difficult to capture the awesome breadth and depth of the quarry with this car window snapshot.  Suffice it to say, it's enormous.

Huge trucks are required to move the thousands of tons of stone.

Quarry managers were available to answer questions, and explain operations - including the somewhat sobering news that there is enough stone in the quarry to continue operations for at least another century.

01 November 2011

Central New Jersey Walk Now for Autism Speaks

Here are some photos from the Central New Jersey Walk Now for Autism Speaks event held October 9th at Mercer County College.  I was so happy to have Patty back again as co-chair, and to be able to enjoy the day with my family, friends, and my second family of dedicated volunteers.  This was truly the most personally rewarding Walk event in the many years that I have been involved with Autism Speaks and its predecessor organizations - the weather was great,  the walkers were full of enthusiasm and smiles, and we raised a lot of money.  As of this blog post, we are well on our way to raising over $250,000 for autism research!  [note: we did it!]
Our dedicated Walk Committee, who spent nearly a year planning this event, pose for a group photo on walk day.

Our friends and neighbors who walk with us as Hillsborough's Hope are so generous with their time.

Patty, clipboard in hand, with William before the Walk.

Each year I get to thank the walkers for their fundraising efforts.  This year, I invited Miss NJ International, Brielle LaCosta, up to the stage to recognize her awareness efforts.

The sight from the stage as thousands of Autism Speaks supporters begin the Walk. 


I am hoping that dedicated and enthusiastic Walk Committee volunteer Emily Josephson will be able to join me as Co-Chair in 2012.  [note: Patty and I did not participate in the Walk in 2012]