- Mailing address:
New York, NY
- When and where were you born?
New York, NY 1950
- When did you come to Mountain Lakes?
- Tell us something about your family. Did your parents also live here?
Yes; Horace and Barbara Toy [deceased]. Two brothers and a sister; none remained beyond 1963.
- Where have you lived in the Borough? In which houses?
416 Morris Avenue
- What do you remember particularly about the houses and properties where you lived?
The house seemed huge and lovely in my memory; it had a wonderful year-round greenhouse in the rear, which was always the target of malicious Trick-or -Treaters and just plain bad kids year round. [In truth, it suffered very little damage, perhaps due to my father’s almost paranoid vigilance.] My father also planted a blue spruce in the front of the house; it survived drought and several horrendous winters– I wonder if it’s still there… Shortly after we moved, the upper story of 416 was destroyed in a fire; the original dormers apparently were never restored. After hearing about it, I couldn’t bring myself to go back, to see it so altered.
- What are some of your special memories growing up in Mountain Lakes?
I remember a good friend from Reynold Road, Scott Donahue. We were best friends, and spent time flattening pennies on the Lackawanna tracks down by Dixon Brothers, fishing for perch and “sunnies” in the Cove opposite Morris Avenue and swimming at Birchwood and down at Island Beach.
- 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?
Wildwood, Lake Drive and Briarcliff. Left at the end of 7th Grade. An exceptional and beautiful teacher, Miss Kimball [perhaps the Second Grade??] who taught me to love writing and science as much as I loved her– I was devastated when she announced that she was getting married! A terrifying, bitter, spinster “Art” teacher, Miss Calloway, who should not have been allowed near children of ANY age. The bicycle ride to school [only in good weather!] got longer and longer..
- Where did you and your family shop?
Del’s Village, certainly, but eventually the A&P in Denville [?]. Rasmussen’s Meats in Boonton… Kresge’s in Morristown.
- What were the roads and the lakes like?
The roads were paved and the lakes had water in them, as I recall.
- Are there any special people you remember who contributed to the life of the town? Why do they stand out in your mind?
A contracter named John Kitcherik [sp] who played Santa to us kids and the good Doctor Michael Palazzi; both died tragically young. The Palazzi funeral was in many ways the end of my childhood, so completely sad… Father Glynn, the Catholic priest who gave us R.C. kids our first Communion– I think he was probably one of the Good guys. The town cops, Officer Castelluci [sp?] who inducted us Safety Patrol nerds [I was PROUD of that sash and badge!] and ‘Monk”, whose real name I don’t think any of us ever knew..
- What did you do for fun formal recreation, sports and entertainment in general?
I remember shooting at the Rifle Range [I eventually earned an Expert rating from the NRA years later], going to movies at the State Theater in Boonton and that-other-one in Denville. I was a Cub Scout, but was so embarrassed that I couldn’t get a Boy Scout uniform that fit my puny frame that I never got past Tenderfoot. We swam mostly at Birchwood Lake; I don’t really remember why my family preferred it over Crystal or Mountain Lake, but there you have it. Had to pass the swim test at Birchwood, which involved swimming out and around The Raft and then back. Seemed that I would never make it that first time… Oh yeah– and bowling somewhere out on Rte 46 towards Parsippany.
- Are there any special events that stand out in your mind?
Fourth of July. I’ve been to the Brooklyn Bridge Centennial, the Bicentennial display but in my child’s mind, sitting on top of a car parked on the Lake was the epitomy of happiness. Does anyone remember the year that someone broke into the fireworks lock-up on July 3rd and stole most of the fireworks? The display went on, and we kids always wondered what happened.. And the Year that the basketball team won the championship; riotous joy! Caravans of horn-honking cars streaming crepe! Yeah..
- 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?
Dad commuted to New York City on the creaky, fume-filled Lakeland buses. Only 45 minutes if you were lucky. He had originally taken the Lackawanna train to and from, and I forget why that changed; did they cease to stop in Mountain Lakes? But oh I loved going to meet him at the train station- the smells, the noise, my Dad…
- How did various laws affect the way people lived?
- Did you have a sense of Mountain Lakes as a unique place in its lifestyle, its homes, as a community?
All those big stucco houses… I just assumed the rest of the wonderful wide world must look just like that.
- 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 remember practicing “Duck and Cover” fervently at Briarcliff during the Cuban Missle Crisis. I also remember that the smarter kids did the Math and figured out that an elementary school desk in M. L. was probably just a big briquet in a nuclear attack on New York City. It frightened us, but we didn’t talk about it- we just KNEW that all of those up-tempo drills were a pathetic joke. Welcome to the Sixties… We listened to Alan Shepard’s first American flight into space on radio in a hushed classroom; THAT was amazing.
- What made living in Mountain Lakes special to you, as you think back over your life here?
It was my childhood.