Randolph Hobson Guthrie, Jr.
- Mailing address:
New York, NY
- When and where were you born?
New York City, 1934.
- When did you come to Mountain Lakes?
- Tell us something about your family did your parents also live here?
My mother, Edith Welton, lived in ML with her aunt, Harriet Moore, on the hill at the West End of the big lake on Fernwood Place. This would have been about 1931-34. Harriet also owned the long, little island at the bottom of her property in the end of the big lake. She planted it all as a garden. When my parents married in 1934, they moved to 1 Hanover Road. In 1936, they moved to 1 Briarcliff Road and in 1941 to 157 Lake Drive. They sold the latter around 1975 and moved to South Carolina.
- Where have you lived in the Borough? In which houses?
All 3 above and I remember them all.
- What do you remember particularly about the houses and properties where you lived?
1 Hanover was very small and had a scary attic. I was 1-4 years old. 1 Braircliff was across from the town hall/police station/fire house and on the little lake. I walked to grade school. I remember learning to skate. The house seemed large. 157 Lake Drive was larger and was surrounded mostly by woods in those days. We had a canoe and sailboat on the big lake. There was a lot of grass. I remember because it was my job to mow it.
- What are some of your special memories growing up in Mountain Lakes?
Idylic. Unaware of the world outside. Walked or rode a bike everywhere. Whole class in school occupied one room. Knew everyone. Innocent. No pressures.
- 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?
First to sixth grade in Grade School, 1941-46; 7th and 8th in High School, 1947-48; high school at St. Paul’s in New Hampshire; Princeton; Harvard Medical. Usual scrapes from time to time.
- Where did you and your family shop?
Heaney’s Drugstore and A&P in Boonton; Jaccarino’s and Soldano’s in ML. I remember that a building next to Jaccarino’s had burned down and only the foundations were there. The post office was next to Yaccarino’s on the uphill side. It, the courthouse and the police station later moved to the bottom of the hill.
- What were the roads and the lakes like?
Roads always in good condition and cleared in the winter. Lakes were clean. Bottoms were full of muck because they were all artificial. We put sand in front of the house every year. The current toward the dam would slowly take it away.
- Are there any special people you remember who contributed to the life of the town? Why do they stand out in your mind?
There was Bob Hodge who loved sports cars and the high life. Normally placid, he had a terrible temper on the golf course and no one wanted to caddy for him. He occasionally bent a golf club around a tree. He has a bad stroke around 1960 and two complete families showed up at the hospital. He had married two women, one in ML and the other twenty miles away, and neither had any idea of the other until the hospital. One of them was one of my mother’s best friends, Ceil Hodge, so we heard plenty about the perfidy of males. For the males, the wonder was how he had gotten away with it for twenty-five years. Then, there was Judge Roberts — a very successful lawyer in New York City and the town judge. I had an official session with him once and he left a major impression for the good on my life.
- What did you do for fun formal recreation, sports and entertainment in general?
There was a field next to my house where we played sports. We had to mow the two-foot-high grass before we played or the ball would get lost. Entertainment was in people’s houses. The whole class in school was always invited so no one was ever left out. In retrospect, our parents covered a wide spectrum of social status, but this was never apparent to the children. Perhaps, it came out in high school, but I was away by then. Formal recreation was at school.
- Are there any special events that stand out in your mind?
I always loved the July 4th swimming races at the ML Club. I managed to win one once, and I was in heaven for a while.
- 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 NYC. He took the 7:33 train in the am and arrived on the 6:17 pm train. I remember because I would go with him and my mother, and I went into the station to buy the newspaper (3 cents).
- How did various laws affect the way people lived?
I was oblivious of laws. I did what my parents, my teachers and other adults told me to do.
- Did you have a sense of Mountain Lakes as a unique place in its lifestyle, its homes, as a community?
Not at the time. Looking back, it was an oasis. We knew nothing about the outside world. My best outside contact was the Lone Ranger on the radio.
- 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 scarcely aware that WW II was going on. When I think of what it must have been like to be in Germany or Russia as a child at the same time, I am appalled.
- What made living in Mountain Lakes special to you, as you think back over your life here?
It was a world that will never come again — safe, secure, happy, innocent, caring, classless, unpressured, part of a special group.