Carolyn Carlson Mills
- Mailing address:
Green Valley, AZ 85614
- When and where were you born?
Glen Ridge, NJ 1927
- What years did you live in Mountain Lakes?
1939 to 1976
- Tell us something about your family did your parents also live here?
My parents, brother and I moved to Mountain Lakes, from Montclair, in 1939. My brother (Severn S. Carlson ’42) and I attended MLHS until graduation (with a short time out of the states during the war years).My brother and I stayed in town after being married – his children attended Mountain Lakes school thru Junior High and my children all graduated MLHS – my parents staying in town until our youngest graduated (mostly so my father could attend all the football games) my in laws stayed in town until death.
- Where have you lived in the Borough? In which houses?
57 Melrose, 89 Melrose, 50 Bellvale, 22 Bellvale (with my parents) 183 Laurel Hill after marriage.
- What do you remember particularly about the houses and properties where you lived?
On Melrose there were woods on all sides and the houses on Bellvale were close to the school. Laurel Hill was very much in the woods and close to island beach plus a short hike thru the woods to Birchwood. The lot on one side was owned by the water department, behind us was water department property plus a “paper” road thru to Condit and on the 3rd side the water department had a 50′ right of way – we were very well protected.The 2 houses on Melrose and the one on Laurel Hill were about the same floor plan, 50 Bellvale was different and the one on 22 Bellvale was built by my parents shortly after the war.
I particularly remember 50 Bellvale because it was close to the school and there was time to go home for lunch and about 9 of my close friends brought their lunches to my house – my father and brother were both in the Navy so I think my mother enjoyed the company. I also remember the sledding down our yard and the one next door – even long after “lights out”.
- What are some of your special memories growing up in Mountain Lakes?
High school and friends, swimming and ice skating and bike hikes. Everyone knew everyone and you were pretty much free to wander thru yards and know that if you misbehaved they knew who your were!
- Where did you go to school? What particular memories do you have from your school years? Are there any special stories you associate with that time of your life?
High school brings nothing but special memories of good and sad times. Because we were the “War Year Classes” I think we have a special feeling to friends of that era. We have yearly reunions including all 4 years. We were limited to where we could go (gas rationing) and a bit limited as to food (victory gardens) and clothing (2 pairs of shoes a year).Knowing that the after graduation the boys would go off to war was accepted with great sadness – and when one was listed as missing or as being killed the entire town felt it.
- Where did you and your family shop?
Main street Boonton, with an occasional bus trip to Morristown.
- What were the roads and the lakes like?
Cobb Road was dirt. Town town closed off N. Glen and Pollard for sledding when there was snow and the residents on those street accepted it! There was a private beach on Wildwood which very few went to during my years in town – can’t remember when it closed.Island was the only “public” beach and was very well used by all. The club had a small beach which was really not too good because of the location at the end of the lake and near the canal which was not used for swimming. Sometimes the more adventurous would go to Birchwood and swim and have fun hanging onto a rope from a tree and swinging out over the water. There was no beach or dock there – just woods.
- Are there any special people you remember who contributed to the life of the town? Why do they stand out in your mind?
No one comes to mind – but I did learn to appreciate the leaders at the time of the “settling” of town – those with the foresight to have the town buy up so much land!
- What did you do for fun formal recreation, sports and entertainment in general?
Because of gas rationing we rode the bus – Saturday night was movies night in Boonton at the Sate theater (the film changed 3 times a week). The bus was crowded with teen agers and I wonder how the driver survived. We all sang and enjoyed the ride with friends. After the movie it was ice cream at Ratti’s (Main St.) and then home on the bus – things were timed by the bus schedule.Friday nights (during the winter) were basketball – in town we all walked to the game – away games were a problem – who had enough gas to drive or did we take a bus? Summer was swimming and biking. Fall was football which was a bit of a problem in that we did not have a home field but played on a field in Danville which meant a ride of some kind. I remember that Wharton’s basketball court have some sort of steam pipe over the basket at one end! And Netcong (I think) had a football field that was only 80 yards – after a run for a touchdown you were then moved back to the 20 yard line to try again.
We had 4 formal dances during the school year plus the graduation dinner (for seniors only) served by the 11th graders and dance for senior and the commenced dance.
Graduation was held in the school – classes were very small and we all sat on the stage – after getting our diplomas we marched out and lined up on either side of the mail hallway – every one then went down the “receiving” line to congratulate us and many of the girls received flowers which were “delivered” by volunteers from the junior class.
- Are there any special events that stand out in your mind?
Memorial day parade. 4th of July fireworks from island beach – during the “black out” time of the war years there were no fireworks but the fire department shot water up into the air and shone colored light on it.Many family picnics. If we won a football game (that was a major event) we would have a “snake dance” thru town and a bonfire at island beach.
Senior week was a great time for seniors – with an even every day for the week preceding graduation. These were picnics or swimming parties or dinner each including all classmates and held in private homes.
- Did your parents and the parents of your friends work nearby? In New York or elsewhere? How did they get to work? How did commuting change over your time here?
When we first came to town my father commuted (by car) to Montclair. In 1940 he went back into the Navy and we did not see him for several years – when he was stationed at Floyd Bennet field in Brooklyn he came home once a week, by train.Most of my friends fathers worked in NY and commuted by train – in on the 7:33 and home on the 6:19 – this pretty much set the daily schedule for the entire town. Weekdays to siren sounded at 7 AM and Saturdays at noon – this was another time setter for all of us.
- How did various laws affect the way people lived?
Mostly we kids knew that we were known by almost everyone in town and we better behave. There were no drugs and very little drinking. No driving fast – no gas to drive at all. We had a police chief and a lieutenant but I don’t think they were kept very busy enforcing any laws.During the war years we did have neighborhood watches and they walked the street at night during a black out to be sure no one had any light showing – if that’s a law we all abided by it.
- Did you have a sense of Mountain Lakes as a unique place in its lifestyle, its homes, as a community?
At the time I did not think about it. We were all pretty much in the same income bracket – which we didn’t think of at all. We all lived in “big” houses which we assumed the rest of the world did also. Looking back I’m sure many out-of-towners considered us a bunch of snobs. I did not really appreciate the uniqueness of the town until I was an adult and raising by own family in town.
- How did the world’s events — World War I, the Depression, World War II, the Korean War, the assassination of JFK, Viet Nam, Watergate, etc. — affect you and fellow Mountain Lakes residents when you were growing up?
Of course we were greatly effected by WWII – I think we all grew up to be very patriotic and now feel and deep sadness at the way our country is going now. The war years brought us much closer together than other grades – why do you think we have so many reunions?
- What made living in Mountain Lakes special to you, as you think back over your life here?
Looking back I know what a wonderful town it was at that time and how lucky I was to be a part of it. The town, like everything else, has changed over the years — to those now living there can appreciate the uniqueness of that wonderful spot — to those of us from former times we are a bit saddened by the changes.