Tish (Beneville) McGee
- Mailing address:
Haddonfield, NJ 08033
- When and where were you born?
Morristown – 1952
- When did you come to Mountain Lakes?
At birth – 1952
- Tell us something about your family did your parents also live here?
My father, Ed Beneville, had grown up in Mtn. Lakes, and eventually ended up settling there a few years after marrying my mother, Pat (Flannagan). All six of us- Ed, Sue, Di, Bill, Biff and I went through the school system, most of us K-12.
- Where have you lived in the Borough? In which houses?
Before I was born my parents and older brothers and sisters lived on Pocono Road. I’m not sure what year they moved to 344 Morris Avenue where we lived until around 1965. Then we moved to 159 Laurel Hill Road.
- What do you remember particularly about the houses and properties where you lived?
344 Morris Avenue – great old stucco house with stone wall surrounding the property. For most of my years there we had a great big side yard where we played endlessly. My parents eventually sold that piece of property and a house was constructed there.
159 Laurel Hill – So different from the traditional Mtn.Lakes home. Much more modern – flat roof. Beautifully situated on the property – at the top of a hill with terraced landscaping. There were great woods behind the house with a huge rock we used to climb on.
- What are some of your special memories growing up in Mountain Lakes?
There are almost too many to name! 4th of July, Memorial Day parades, passing the swimming test at the beach so our tag could be painted with nail polish, allowing us to come w/o our parents, walking to school, picking up my father at the train station every night, ice skating on the lakes when the flag went up…
- 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 (K-2), Lake Drive (3-4) Briarcliff (5-8) MLHS (9-12)
I could probably think of at least fond memory for each of those time periods. At Wildwood, I was thrilled to have Miss Boone, the same 1st grade teacher the four previous Beneville’s had had. At Lake Drive, it was Mrs. McChesney and learning to write cursive (I failed miserably), at Briarcliff, the standout memory is not so fond – JFK’s assassination and at MLHS, the GAA show!
The best memories are the friendships, several of which I maintain to this day.
- Where did you and your family shop?
Yaccarino’s, Del’s Village(my mother went almost daily I think), Boonton(Laurie’s for back-to-school shopping), Morristown – Bamberger’s and M. Epstein’s.
- What were the roads and the lakes like?
- Are there any special people you remember who contributed to the life of the town? Why do they stand out in your mind?
Officer Castalucci – he didn’t particularly like the Beneville’s, but he and I got along okay. I guess there was a family propensity for getting in trouble.
- What did you do for fun formal recreation, sports and entertainment in general?
Swim, go to the Jersey Shore (Pt. Pleasant usually), ice skate in the winter, go sledding in the winter, hike at the Tourne, movies in Boonton, and Denville, and as I got older, trips by bus into NYC.
- Are there any special events that stand out in your mind?
4th of July, Memorial Day parades, Pollard Road and the road on the other side of the Boulevard being closed off for sledding!
- 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 commuted to NYC for 40 years on the Erie-Lackawanna. He played cards both ways. I used to love going into to work with him. Almost every year when the circus was at Madison Square Garden, I’d take the train into work with him, go to his office for awhile, and then to the circus.
- How did various laws affect the way people lived?
Can’t say I remember much about the laws other than the fact that our dogs were always in trouble and my father was forever in court over some dispute involving one of them!
- Did you have a sense of Mountain Lakes as a unique place in its lifestyle, its homes, as a community?
Not at the time, but as I became an adult, I knew that I wanted to recreate the magical childhood I had had for my children, and certainly living in Mtn. Lakes was a major piece of 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?
JFK’s assassination and the Viet Nam war stand out. Also, the riots during the height of the Civil Rights movement. I’m not sure how they affected us. We were so insulated from the horrors of the world. We knew they were happening, yet as teenager, life in ML was blissful.
- What made living in Mountain Lakes special to you, as you think back over your life here?
Everything! The safety, the size, the lakes, the people and a sense of community all converged to create a utopia of sorts. As the alma mater says – I “will always think of Mountain Lakes as home.”