Jane Lynahan Karklin
- Mailing address:
- When and where were you born?
New York, NY, 1947
- When did you come to Mountain Lakes?
- Tell us something about your family. Did your parents also live here?
- My parents, Keith and Audrey Lynahan were from New Jersey but didn’t live in Mountain Lakes until we moved there in 1952.
- My brother, Keith (Mountain Lakes class of 1964) died in 1982
- My mother, Audrey, died in 1996
- My father, Keith, died in 1998
- Where have you lived in the Borough? In which houses?
57 Melrose Road
- What do you remember particularly about the houses and properties where you lived?We had a wonderful yard and were surrounded on three sides by woods. There was a stream where my brother Keith and I and our friends played when we were little. We had a screened in side porch that we practically lived in during the summer months.
When I was 10 years old a black bear was chased from the Tourne into Mountain Lakes. The poor, tired, juvenille bear, hid in the woods directly in back of our forsythia bush. Our little Daschund, Susie, knew exactly where the animal was. Armed men began to walk through our yard. When they found the bear they shot it. I, along with many of my friends, was very upset about this occurrence. A short time later people from a zoo arrived. They were going to capture the bear and take it into captivity. I have never forgotten the cruelty shown by the “mighty hunters” who killed the innocent bear. This incident has left me with a life long aversion to hunting.
- What are some of your special memories growing up in Mountain Lakes?Swimming at both Island Beach and Birchwood Lake. Ice skating on Wildwood and the Big Lake. We would go sledding on Melrose Road hill. My mother would come out once in a while and sled down the hill. All the children would yell, “Here comes Mrs. Lynahan”! She was the only mother I knew of who did this.
Keith and I and the Weeks children used to build forts in the woods near the Weeks home on Kenilworth Road. Playing hopscotch with my friends. Learning how to ride a two wheeler on our street. Watching meteor showers with my brother.
We had an ice storm in the mid 1950’s which cut out our electric power for three days. My mother had to resort to cooking our meals over the living room fireplace. My brother and I enjoyed this new way of life so much that we were not pleased when our power was restored.
I was lucky to have had a wonderful childhood in the most beautiful town I’ve ever seen, Mountain Lakes.
- 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? I began kindergarten at the Lake Drive school, then went to first and second grades in Wildwood school returning to Lake Drive for third, fourth and fifth grades. Sixth and seventh grades were at the Old High School. Eighth through senior year of high school were spent at the “new” high school on Powerville Road.
There were so many wonderful times in my life in elementary school, that it would take me pages to write them all down. The same was not true, for the most part, of the later school years. But, what teenager would say those years were wonderful? Some of them were, but there was also a lot of pain. But, that’s growing up.
Two classmates, Clark Matson and Susan Metelski, were killed in separate car accidents during my high school years. It was all terribly sad and shook us all from our serene little world for quite a while.
I believe I received one of the best educations in the country. I was a very lucky person.
- Where did you and your family shop?
We shopped in Boonton, Denville, and many other places in New Jersey, i.e. the Paramus Mall, Morristown, etc. Sometimes we would venture into New York City to shop.
- What were the roads and the lakes like?We had fine roads, I guess. It never occurred to me to think much about the roads. I know that my parents used chains on the car tires during the winter. I don’t think anyone does that now, but folks did then.
The lakes were just wonderful for children. I spent most summer days, unless we were on a family vacation, at the lakes. I learned to swim when I was 5 years old. I remember sitting under the trees near the snack bar at Island Beach having a picnic lunch with my mother, brother and Mrs. Weeks and her children. For some reason a day like that stands out in my mind. The little, seemingly ordinary days are what we remember all of our lives.
- Are there any special people you remember who contributed to the life of the town? Why do they stand out in your mind?
Peter Meinke, my seventh grade English teacher was the one who spiked my interest in writing. He was a wonderful individual and has always been my favorite teacher. I can remember him walking around the classroom, book in hand, reading Edgar Allen Poe stories to us. What a great man!
- What did you do for fun formal recreation, sports and entertainment in general?
We swam, ice skated, sledded in the winter, went bowling in Parsippany. I was in a few plays at the Barn Theater when I was in high school. My mother and I used to go into Manhattan frequently to catch a broadway show matinee. Since a lot of our relatives lived in New Jersey we saw them often.
- Are there any special events that stand out in your mind?
The GAA sports night with the Orange Team competing against the Blue Team. During my 4 years in high school the winning was split evenly between the two teams. I enjoyed all the plays I acted in during my teen years.
- 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?My father worked in New York City. He took the Erie Lakawana train to and from work. My mother worked for a nearby firm, I think it was in Denville, for a few years, part time, while Keith and I were in high school. During our earlier years she was a housewife. She was, for many years, a volunteer nurses aide at Riverside Hospital.
Most mothers in those days didn’t work. I believe the family structure was much better all those years ago than it is today. There was a slower, nicer pace to life back then. I think that the folks in Mountain Lakes truly cared about their fellow citizens. By the way, I was back in Mountain Lakes a few years ago and noticed that the citizens still have that same glow of happiness that I remembered. Some things never change.
- How did various laws affect the way people lived?
I know that under age drinking laws were in effect then as well as now. However, I knew plenty of teenagers, including my brother and his friends, who regularly broke those laws. Time doesn’t change how teenagers react to such laws.
- Did you have a sense of Mountain Lakes as a unique place in its lifestyle, its homes, as a community?
I have moved around the country a great deal during my life and I still say that Mountain Lakes is the most beautiful town I’ve ever seen. I guess I was spoiled by living in such a wonderful community. Nothing is perfect, of course, but the town was and still is as close to perfection as one can get.
- 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?I was too young to remember the Korean War. However, I was in high school in 1963 when President Kennedy was assassinated. I remember exactly what classes I was in when we heard the news of his death. I was extremely upset by this senseless murder and wept at school.
Unfortunately, since most of the people in town were Republicans many of the teenagers did not seem to be too upset about a Democratic President being killed. I’ve wondered about that all these years. As far as I’m concerned it shouldn’t matter what political party is in power, the president of our nation is everyone’s head of state.
- What made living in Mountain Lakes special to you, as you think back over your life here?
Mountain Lakes had everything a child could possibly want. Our imaginations could run wild and free in such an almost magical environment. My love of nature, poetry and literature was fostered during those years. I look back on my childhood as the best time of my life. If it were at all possible to live in Mountain Lakes once again, I would jump at the chance.