Frances J. Smith (Retired Teacher)
- Mailing Address:
- When and where were you born?
1921; Norfolk, Virginia
- When did you come to Mountain Lakes?
I came to Mountain Lakes as a visitor in 1942 to see the parents of my future husband, Edward Jefferson Smith. Ed had been one of the early draftees. He was shipped out from Fort Dix, and I came up to Mountain Lakes to tell him goodbye. I then visited Ann and Howard Smith (in-laws) during the summer, lazing on Island Beach to pass the time. I returned to be a bridesmaid in Loral and Helen Pancake’s wedding. I moved here in 1948.
- Tell us something about your family; did your parents also live here?
My parents lived in Virginia and only visited at holidays. My in-laws lived here until their deaths.
- Where have you lived in the Borough? In which houses?
24 Beechway Road; 57 Briarcliff Road; 12 Yorke Road; 59 Briarcliff Road; 6 Center Drive
- What do you remember particularly about the houses and properties where you lived?
The Beechway house was on a big corner lot, the only one on the street. 57 Briarcliff was on the Canal and the small lake. It was adjacent to the area where the kids came to ice-skate. I loved the view up the length of the lake. 12 Yorke Road was another corner lot property which we forested with birches from the nearby woods. It was relatively free of traffic and wonderful for the children to play outside and ride bikes. 59 Briarcliff had been my in-laws’ home and was so welcoming to me. I loved the remodeling we did, but I understand it has been further remodeled. It had a marvelous location, convenient to all the schools and the station. 6 Center Drive was a typical “village” house. When I moved there with the children, I finished off the second floor with 2 bedrooms and a bath between. My neighbors are still my friends today.
- What are some of your memories of growing up in 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?
Not applicable. I went 1-12 in Norfolk (VA) Public Schools, and William and Mary College. So it’s all removed from Mountain Lakes.
- Where did you and your family shop?
Del’s Villlage, Mountain Lakes Market, Boonton stores, and Morristown.
- What were the roads and lakes like?
The roads were fine, and the lakes as well.
- Are there any people you remember who contributed to the life of the town? Why do they stand out in your mind?
I remember Al Earle and his generous opening of his home for families on the 4th. It really gave a great view of the Big Lake and Island Beach. Loral Pancake had a strong influence on Community Church. Drs. Hornick, Luippold, Ward, etc. of the Medical Group certainly had a big part in the health of Mountain Lakes’ inhabitants.
- What did you do for fun — formal recreation, sports and entertainment in general?
Swam, ice-skated, played bridge, pot-lucked, went to movies, went into New York City to see shows and museums.
- Are there any special events that stand out in your mind?
Memorial Day Parades, and July 4th Fireworks.
- 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 husband took the 7:33 a.m., and returned on the 6:18 p.m. There was a club car where the men could play cards. It disappeared as did many of the trains on the line.
- How did various laws affect the way people lived?
To my knowledge, Mountain Lakers were law-abiding, and so showed no signs of distress.
- Did you have a sense of Mountain Lakes as a unique place in its lifestyle, its homes, as a community?
It stands out as a place apart. The homes are spacious, the people cultured and friendly, and the community is dedicated to preserving its special unique aura.
- How did the world’s events — WWI, the Depression, WWII, 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 a child of the depression in Virginia. All I know about Mountain Lakes is that real estate prices plummeted. Several Mountain Lakes’ boys served in WWII. The assassination of JFK struck old and young alike. No one could fathom such an act.
- What made living in Mountain Lakes special to you, as you think back over your life here?
The spirit of the community, the quality of life, the location which simply set it apart, and the wonderful friends I made over 40 years seem to be my reasons.