- Mailing address:
Palm Desert Ca.
- When and where were you born?
Born March 1942 in Dover taken to Hospital in Police Chief Harry Dennis’s patrol car.
- When did you come to Mountain Lakes?
- Tell us something about your family did your parents also live here?
My father’s family Prosper & Margaret Beneville came to Mountain Lakes in 1915 or 1917 and lived at 145 Kenilworth Road. My Mother’s family Vincent and Florence Morris came in the 1920’s and lived in the house at Lake Drive and Midvale across from the boat ramp to Mountain Lake or the big lake as it was known. At that time the town was full of Morrises, Benevilles and Murphys. All my aunts and uncles and cousins lived there.
- Where have you lived in the Borough? In which houses?
I grew up with my brothers Peter, Bertram II (Dee Dee) and Richard (Dick) in the “Big House” at 119 Lookout Road. My dad bought the house in 1937 for $4000 and remodeled it and restored the gardens and lawns, which were extensive.
- What do you remember particularly about the houses and properties where you lived?
Like us everyone lived in these huge big houses and I think we thought everyone lived like this. We all had live in help. We had Emory Dixon who came to us at 17, to cook and care for us boys, Henrietta who did the ironing, Mrs. Cookaroo who cleaned, Mr. Price the handyman and Mr. Bell the gardener. The house was huge and the most wonderful place to grow up. The old Boonton Trail from pre-revolutionary war days bordered the back of the property, now the Tourne Park.
- What are some of your special memories growing up in Mountain Lakes?
Life in Mountain Lakes at that time was idyllic; no one locked doors as nothing ever happened. It was fun peaceful and carefree. Everyone knew everyone else. We swam and played in the lakes at the Mountain Lakes Club, fished and canoed in the summer, skated and sledded in the winter. I for one thought that the entire country was like this. It is all most of us knew.
- 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?
We went to Mountain Lakes Elementary School next to the Club. Our Principal Mrs. Corbett taught my Dad in 6th grade. I recall Miss Calendar the Kindergarten teacher and most of the others. I recall that by the time I got to school my shoes would be untied and a girl in my class named Betty Ann Bollanini would retie them and they stayed tied. I remember in 5th grade with Miss Beauchamp that the girls were in the gym when the piano fell over and Linda Hill was killed. It was very sad but the next day we were back in school as normal.If there was a group of boys who got in jams it would have been my brother Bert, our cousin Barry Murphy, John Smart (Laurelhill Rd and Martins Lane) and Cookie Duckworth (Lookout Rd. and Briarcliff Rd.). Cookie was always getting in trouble. His Dad owned the Lakeland Bus Line and was in trucking I think. They got caught smoking cigars and Cookie gave me my first pair of long pants which I had to return. My mother felt boys should be in shorts and knee socks until they were 10 or out of the 4th grade.
- Where did you and your family shop?
Not too sure, I know the green grocer came to the house in a panel truck and he carried all sorts of produce, the bread man came in his truck with his wares and the milkman with his. On occasion mother went to Yaccarinos. During the war and after we had huge chicken and Turkey coops on the property.
- What were the roads and the lakes like?
The roads were just roads maintained by a man called Vito Mola who was a friend of Dad’s and always did extra things for him. He would show us the Empire State building by picking us up by the ears. He thought this great fun. The Lakes were just the center of our lives for swimming, boating and fishing. My brother Bert and his friend John Smart of Martin’s Lane trapped muskrats in the woods by the Tourne.
- Are there any special people you remember who contributed to the life of the town? Why do they stand out in your mind?
All the teachers. The most memorable character was Mr. Hollis an odd little man who we would always see walking by Lake Drive; he wore a bowler hat, ascot and tattersall vest and spats carrying a cane. He had a little thin moustache and was so nice. Most of my life centered on my parents circle of friends, The Guthrie’s of Lake Drive, The Birmingham’s of the Boulevard, the McGuire’s of Kenilworth Rd. and others. Our families all grew up together vacationed together, etc. The most important person in our lives was Emory our houseman who was in charge of us kids and we loved him dearly. When he went off to war in the Navy and Mildred took over and she was great but no one could ever replace Emory who came back to us after the war and was always part of our family.
- What did you do for fun formal recreation, sports and entertainment in general?
The Lakes were the center of everything. Canoe adventures to all the lakes, climbing in the Tourne. If we went away in summer it was to the house in Sea Girt near Asbury Park or summer camp in Maine or weekend trips to the Dawson’s farm in Bucks County to ride the horses Dad kept there.
- Are there any special events that stand out in your mind?
The parades on July 4th the fireworks from Island beach.
- 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 Dad was a Dentist and had his office at 444 Morris Ave. at Midvale and Morris Ave, a white Cape Cod house/office. My friends’ fathers commuted by train to New York.
- How did various laws affect the way people lived?
Chief Harry Denis was for years the only police officer we had and he was great and very gentle with us when we misbehaved. He finally got an assistant who came out of Brooklyn or Harlem and things got less fun. He did not know how to handle us Mountain Lakes kids and we resented him greatly. I think he still thought he was dealing with New York kids. He was out of his element.
- Did you have a sense of Mountain Lakes as a unique place in its lifestyle, its homes, as a community?
Not as a child but now, oh my yes. There was no place like it and my never will be again. It was so special looking back, so perfect and protected.
- 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?
We grew up during WWII and rationing and sitting by the radio for news. My Uncles Jack and Vin, my Mom’s brothers, were in the war. Jack in the Marines and Vin in the Navy. Uncle Jack was in Europe I think, Uncle Vin on a minesweeper in the Pacific. His was the first to enter Tokyo Bay before the battleship Missouri. My great Uncle Jack (John Ten Broeck Phair Barincle) was in the Merchant Marine. We left Mountain Lakes when Dad was called up at the end of the Korean War. My Uncle Jack was in Korea and at Chosen Resolver.During WWII, we had two brothers, the Hartman brothers. they lived in a large gated house where Tower Hill Rd turns into Lookout Road. They had a Japanese houseboy so you can imagine two very reclusive German brothers with a Japanese houseboy. They had a German Shepard and a blind Airdale that bit my brother Bert once and the houseboy came to take him to the Doctor but mother refused to let him near the house.
- What made living in Mountain Lakes special to you, as you think back over your life here?
The entire place was so perfect and like no other place I have ever seen. I look back with the fondest of memories of a lifestyle not ever to be repeated