I have been to Lucky Larry’s Luncheonette, which is one town over from me, for both breakfast and lunch and I have to say that the food, service and atmosphere are very homey and down to earth. It is a real neighborhood spot, one of those places that the locals hang out to meet one another and catch up on town gossip.
The Lucky Larry’s logo
Blog under the old Lucky Larry’s:
It is more of a deli than a restaurant so there is limited seating but that does not stop the crowd of diners from eating and relaxing there. They will even bring your order to the…
I had been sent the notice that the County of Morris, New Jersey was having a two-day Open House of many of their historical sites for touring and for special events for a program entitled “The Pathways of History: Museum and Site Tours of Morris County, NJ”.
The “Pathways to History” event takes place every May
The weekend event spread to small museums, historical homes and cemeteries all over the County with walking tours and lectures at various sites. Having never been or even heard of many of these sites, I was interested in visiting as many as I could for my blog, “VisitingaMuseum.com” which is here on WordPress.com as well.
I plotted my two days of the event and tried to organize the trip so that we could see as many sites as we could. The event asked the sites to open one of the two days as most of these sites are small and have a tough time getting volunteers. So, I tried to coordinate the sites I had wanted to visit with visiting other places along the way such as farm stands I wanted to visit and restaurants I wanted to try.
The map of historical sites that I wanted to visit
I recruited my aunt to help me take pictures of the sites and travel with me to get her opinions on each of the sites. She also wanted to get out of the house and travel with me so off we went. We started the day with a good breakfast at the Blue Cafe at 273 Valley Boulevard in Wood Ridge, NJ (See my reviews on TripAdvisor and DiningonaSheStringinNYC@Wordpress.com). I like the hometown atmosphere and service of the restaurant.
The Blue Cafe at 273 Valley Boulevard in Wood Ridge, NJ
My review on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com:
Not wanting to snack along the way, both my aunt and I had a large breakfast. She had an Egg White Omelet with bacon and tomatoes with a side of hashbrowns and toast ($8.95). I had the Pancake Platter which came with two pancakes and two scrambled eggs with a side of link sausage ($8.95). I have to say that everything came to the table promptly and was delicious. The portion sizes were very fair, and the service could not have been nicer.
We needed a good breakfast at Blue Cafe for the long journey
My pancakes were perfectly cooked and had that nice, malted taste and the scrambled eggs had a nice taste of clarified butter. The sausage had a nice spicy sage taste to it. My aunt could not finish her eggs and asked me to take some. They were delicious as well. The flavors of the bacon and the tomatoes had a nice complexity to them and the hashbrowns were well seasoned and crisp.
My pancakes and eggs that morning was delicious
With a nice breakfast behind us and a warm sunny day, we both looked forward to visiting the sites without stopping much. We travelled down Route 80 and then down Route 206, which once upon a time was one of the only highways to travel through the State of New Jersey. It took us down to Route 24 through the rolling hills of Chester, NJ and to our first stop, the Obadiah La Tourette Grist & Mill at 12 East Mill Road in Long Valley, NJ.
East Mill Road lead into a quaint little town that looked like something out of the early 1800’s with older clapboard homes and historic churches with old cemeteries surround them in a highly wooded spot. It reminded me of my trips through the Hudson River Valley.
The Obadiah La Tourette Grist & Mill at 12 East Mill Road
The Grist Mill was fascinating. The mill has been a working mill from the early 1800’s until about the late 1930’s, during the Depression when they needed to expand operations. The place had pretty much been abandoned until the 1980’s when it had been falling apart by the side of the road and concerned citizens got together to save it. It is now going through a renovation.
What the mill looked like in 1993
When I toured both the upstairs and the downstairs, upstairs was all the equipment to move the wheat and bundle it for processing and for milling. I even saw amongst the equipment the old portion size bagging attachment where the final packaging took place.
On the lower level of the mill, you could see the stream under the building and the turbine wheels of the old mill still placed in the stream and along the side of the mill. You could view from the deck the workings of the equipment and how the stream powered the mill itself. You could also see the flow of the stream and how it is now affecting the structure of the building.
It is amazing how we survived with just Mother Nature at one time
The staff takes immense pride in the building structure and how the renovation is coming along as well as its unique history. The tour guides could not have been more enthusiastic about explaining to myself, my aunt and the other visitors about the history of the mill, the way they milled the flour and the ongoing structure improvements. It was also so picturesque with the small flowing stream and woods that surrounded it.
We walked along the property back to the car and please to all readers, watch yourself on the road because for some reason everyone was speeding that morning and there is no sidewalk. Remember to walk to the back of the buildings to view the stream, the woods and all the historical homes in this little hamlet.
Our next stop was on the other side of the stream and around the corner from the mill. We visited the Union Schoolhouse & Union Church and Burial Ground at 6 Fairview Avenue in Long Valley, NJ. The Union Schoolhouse has been converted into Washington Township Historical Society building housing its collection. The Union Church burned down years earlier and was left is a stone structure that you can view inside and out. The church is surrounded by the old cemetery where prominent members of the community are buried.
The Washington Township Historical Society at 6 Fairview Avenue
The Union Schoolhouse/Washington Township Historical Society is a well-organized two-story building, that houses a collection of antique objects from the community. There was a set up a school room, selection of quilts, old dishware, antique furniture and on the first floor a complete display of the Welsh Farms Ice Cream Company and Dairy.
The second-floor school room reflects the buildings past as a schoolhouse
The original ice cream factory (no longer exists) used to be right down the road from the old schoolhouse and members of the Welsh family are buried in the cemetery. I thought that was fascinating as I never knew it had been started here.
The local Welsh family started the Welsh Farm Dairy and Ice Cream factory down the road
The Welsh Family cemetery plot
I toured through the old church with another patron and the tour guide while my aunt, who did not want to walk on the uneven ground of the cemetery got her own verbal tour with one of the members of the historical society. We got to walk through the cemetery and see the graves of the prominent families that were once members of the church. We also got to see how the staff used tombstone cleaner to make the tombstones brighter.
The Union Church and Cemetery
What was also impressive about the building was the beautiful flower garden that lined the stone wall between the schoolhouse and the cemetery. One of the local Garden Clubs must have planted and taken care of the gardens because they were so well pruned and planted. It was so colorful with an array of flowers line with blooming tulips along the path.
The old Washington Township Schoolhouse is now the museum
On the way back down Route 24, my aunt and I decided to stop for a snack. We stopped at an old favorite mine that I have been visiting since the early 1970’s, the Hacklebarney Farm Cider Mill at 104 State Park Road which is right outside Hacklebarney State Park, which I had also visited many times as a child for walks and barbecues.
The Hacklebarney Cider Mill Farm at 104 State Park Road
I love coming to Hacklebarney Farm Cider Mill at all times of the year. It is especially best in the late Spring and in the Fall months when the leaves are changing, and all the Halloween events are happening. The farm had opened their hot dog stand early on customer demand the owner explained to us as well as made sure the bakery was well-stocked for visitors on the tours.
The hot dog stand and the work buildings remind you that this is a working farm and not a tourist trap
We toured through the bakery, and I ordered a Cider doughnut ($2.95) and a Fruit Dumpling ($3.95) for dessert, and we shared a Chicken and Cheese Quesadilla ($5.95) and two Cokes for our lunch (See my reviews on TripAdvisor and DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com). It was so nice to just sit and relax and enjoy the weather.
The wonderful baked goods at the Hacklebarney Farm bakery
The Quesadilla was well made and stuffed with lots of chicken and cheese and the salsa had a nice spicy flavor to it. I love the crispiness of their Cider doughnuts with lots of cinnamon sugar on top of them. The Fruit Dumpling was filled with fresh blueberries and strawberries and had nice buttery sweetness to it. We devoured everything in record time, and I could not believe how hungry we both were that afternoon. Maybe it was all the driving or maybe it was just looking over all the rolling hills and the soft breezes from the field.
We got a chance to talk to the owner again when she came over with an old picture of the farmhouse that her great-grandparents had built and the pride that they took in all their baked goods. She told us that everything is made from scratch in their kitchen and all the fruits are hand peeled for their desserts. In the Fall, I have watched them make their apple cider on property and you can watch the steps to make the cider you will buy inside (when it is in season, make the trip out here for it. It is well worth the trip).
The Hacklebarney Farm family farmhouse
After a relaxing afternoon of relaxing, playing with their dogs and walking around the farm, we left for Downtown Chester, which is located right down Route 24 and on the other side of Route 206. We passed the old shell of a building that was once Larison’s Turkey Farm Inn which closed in 2009.
The old Larison’s Turkey Farm building is a reminder of changing times
I had eaten here a few times with my family over the years and you used to be able to get a full turkey dinner for a reasonable price. Forget trying to visit the place at Thanksgiving. The place is now falling apart, and I read online that they want to knock down this historic landmark for a strip mall.
Our next site on the listing was the Chester Historical Society or otherwise known as the Chester’s Rockefeller Center at 137 Main Street. Main Street Chester was a madhouse on Saturday as there was a food truck festival going on in the park downtown and traffic was all over the place. We must have circled the downtown three times looking for the Historical Society.
The soon to be Chester Historical Society at 137 Main Street
We finally found the empty building that was falling apart right next to the park. All that the historical society was an empty building that had been moved to the park and a kiosk that was closed off by the food truck festival. When we were able to stop and talk to the members who were there, they were closing up shop for the afternoon.
They said they were showing the plans for the renovation of the building and how they wanted to store the collection. That is what amounted to their current historical society. It was a work in progress. The little building was built in 1897 and was ordered from the Sears & Roebuck Company.
The Chester Historical Society is just beginning to be established
We quickly got out of downtown Chester and headed back up Route 206 North and took some back roads to our final destination that afternoon, the Silas Riggs Saltbox House/The Roxbury Township Historical Society at 213 Main Street in Ledgewood, NJ and the King Canal Store and the King Victorian Home at 209 and 211 Main Street right next store to the house. The sites were closing up shop for the afternoon, but they were nice enough to stay open so that we could have a long visit.
I am so happy that we could visit the sites as the people running them were so interesting and they took such good care of the sites. A few of the volunteers said that this always happens that someone comes late, and they were hoping to close on time, but they take such pride in all these sites that they did not mind staying for us.
Our first stop was the King Canal Store. The store had been sealed off after the death of Albert King by his wife, Emma. After his passing, she followed his wishes and closed the store down only opening it during the Great Depression when locals needed supplies.
After Mrs. King’s death in 1975, the store and her home, the King Homestead were bought by the Rotary Club of Roxbury, NJ and they set out to renovate and restore the site. The King Canal Store was left untouched and is a step back in time when the Morris Canal was a major form of transportation in the state. The store had been open since the Civil War and closed on the eve of the Great Depression even though the family had been seeing declining sales since the closing of the canal to traffic.
The King Canal Store is a step back in time when this was the neighborhood gathering place
Next to the King Canal Store at 211 Main Street is the King Homestead built in the Queen Ann style by Albert King for his family. The house was closed by that point, but I was able to walk the grounds and on the porch. It is a spectacular home.
The last place on the tour before we ended the first day of touring sites was the Silas Riggs Saltbox House at 213 Main Street. The home had been Emma Riggs King’s parents and it had been moved to this site when it was threatened with demolition. The home is a perfect example of the “Saltbox” architectural style.
The Silas Riggs Saltbox House/The Roxbury Historical Society at 213 Main Street
I loved touring this smart little house. Talk about well taken care of and well appointed. The home is well decorated with vintage antiques and artifacts and when you walk in the door you have this welcoming feeling. The house is so warm and cosey that volunteers have commented that people feel that they could move in here.
The front room of the Silas Riggs Saltbox House
What I enjoyed about the Silas Riggs Saltbox house is that the home was decorated in period furnishings that all worked to welcome you into the home. It was almost like the people who lived there just left for the afternoon.
What I really liked about the house was the back-room kitchen with the open hearth. Not only was it a perfect place to cook but it must have been the gathering place for the family and also heated the house. One of the volunteers told me that they had a successful “Soup Dinner” fundraiser during the holidays where they made homemade soup from scratch and homemade cornbread as well. It must be nice to eat a hearty meal in this period home during Christmas as the family once did.
The rustic kitchen at the Silas Riggs Saltbox House
After the house closed for the after, all the other sites had closed at 4:00pm as well and we made our way down Route 10 just off the old main street and then back on to Route 46 East to head home. It had been getting warmer all day and we both needed a snack before dinner. It was by coincidence that we just happened to pass the Dover Dairy Maid Ice Cream store at 240 East Route 46 and stopped for a cone.
Never having travelled down this part of Route 46 East before, I had never seen this popular place for ice cream and all of a sudden, I turned the car and needed some ice cream. There are times in life that you take a different bend in the road, and this was one of the more popular ones. Their homemade ice cream was amazing.
The Dover Dairy Maid at 240 East Route 46 is the best
While my aunt tried the Mint Chocolate ice cream, I had a yearning for something more fun and I got a bowl of Cotton Candy ice cream and at $5.45 for two large scoops, it was a reasonable trip. It is nice that a business not only does not gouge a customer but offers that personal service was reflective of when I was a kid in the 1970’s when this business opened. I felt like it was a step back in time when things were simpler. We even at our ice cream out on the benches in the back of the store. Talk about 70’s! Between here and Hacklebarney Farm I felt like a kid again.
There was no traffic on Route 46 East that evening and got home in record time. My aunt and I needed some recovery time, so I dropped her off and met her for dinner later that evening. We finished off the evening at Napoli Pizzeria at 25 Washington Street #2 in Lodi, NJ for dinner. Napoli’s food is consistently excellent, and I love their pizza. The best part is that the parking is always plentiful and never have to travel far to go.
Napoli Pizzeria at 25 Washington Street #2 is wonderful for lunch and dinner
It was a nice evening chatting over a cheese pizza ($10.95) and a glass of wine. We talked about all the sites we had visited and the ones that we could not and made plans to revisit some of the sites in the future. There was a lot more to see and do in Morris County. It was a nice way to end the first day of touring and it had been such a perfect sunny day that it was a pleasure to stop and really enjoy each site.
The historical marker at the Ayres-Knuth Farm at 25 Cooper Street
On the second day of the “Pathways’ tour, my aunt was busy, so I started early with a quick breakfast at home and was on my way back to Morris County for a second day of adventure. My first stop on the tour was the Ayres/Knuth Farm (The Ayres/Knuth Farm Foundation Inc.), a former working farm just off Route 10.
The main farmhouse on the Ayres/Knuth Farm
Not only was the site open for touring but they also had a mini car show with antique cars and fire trucks owned by some of the members. Seeing some of these Model T Ford’s and Steam Engine Fire Trucks in perfect condition shows American quality motorship at its finest.
What interested me about the farm is that it had been a working farm up until the last fifty years and showed the progression that the farm took in its almost 100 years in the county. The farm itself dates back to pre-Revolutionary War days with the farm being purchase in either 1735 or maybe 1759 by Obadiah Lum. The property itself was settled and developed by Daniel Ayres, who was born in New Jersey in 1778 (The Ayres/Knuth Farm Foundation).
The Ayres-Knuth Farm and the outer buildings
105 acres of land was given to him by his father-in-law, David Garrigus upon the marriage of his daughter, Hanna in 1803. His son, William took over the farm in 1856 upon the death of his father in 1856, changing the farm to add husbandry and fruit cultivation. When William retired in 1896, none of his children wanted the farm and it was sold. Changing hands many times, it was bought by Martin and Anna Knuth in 1906. The farm was taken over by two of their children and it remained in the family until the 1990’s upon both of their passings. In 1996, the Township of Denville purchased 52 acres of the original farm and it is now managed by the Ayres/Knuth Foundation Inc. (The Ayres/Knuth Farm Foundation).
On this clear and sunny Sunday morning, it was fun to walk around the former working farm to see how it developed. Both families learned to modernize and add to the operation. I was able to tour the smaller tenet farmhouse (built in 1895), the barn (built in 1895 (and the various outer buildings like the chicken coops (built in 1895), outhouse (built in 1930) and the Smokehouse (built in 1825). The small well was built in 1797 and was the oldest structure left on the property.
What got my attention is that there still are tenant farmers on another tract on the property still working the land and the property is protected by grants from Morris County. So, it still is technically a working farm. A lot of care was taken to preserve the farm as is and the volunteers told me that there were plans to fix up the other buildings. The Tenant House needed a lot of work and was run down but the main Farmhouse had been renovated and was closed that day.
After having a nice conversation with many of the volunteers about the development on the farm, I was off to the next site, The Whippany Railway Museum at 1 Railroad Plaza in Whippany, NJ. I usually don’t get excited by railway museums one looking like another but the care and dedication of the volunteers of this museum is just mesmerizing. They really care about the detail and condition of every railcar and artifact that comes into possession of this museum, and it shows by the way its displayed.
The Museum was so well organized and told the story of the rail systems not just in New Jersey but their development all over the country. Unlike some rail museums that I have been to where they put dishes, lanterns and tickets all the same shelves, the Whippany Railway Museum took a lot of pride in setting up their displays more as a progression to how the railways evolved over time starting with coal, then to steam and then electric.
Not only that it was the way people traveled and how dining and then First Class tried to rival the growing Jet Age travel to keep customers. Each case line told a story. The cases show a progression in communication, ticketing, uniform, dining and equipment used on the trains. Take time to look over the information supplied in the cases as well. They also have a nice gift shop inside the museum.
It was the hour-long walking tour that really blew me away. This volunteer named Mike walked around the museum asking people if they would like to take a tour at noon and then for the next hour and a half, we toured all the train cars.
Each of the train cars were at different stages of renovation and some were fully restored. Mike explained to our small tour group that different members of the museum had special skills, and everyone had a hand in restoring the cars. The volunteers all dressed like period conductors and would be stationed at each car to describe the railcar to us.
Where the museum really shines and where I saw the most pride is in the rail cars that have come to the yard over the years and have been carefully restored. The Southern Railway No. 385 built in 1907 for faster freight service, the Texaco Fireless Cooker No. 7240 built in 1937 for industrial switching duty and one of the newest steam locomotives still surviving, the U.S. Army No. 4039 built in 1942 for WWII service are just some of the cars on display (Whippany Railway Museum pamphlet).
The railcar that most impressed me was the Lackawanna Railroad Subscription Club Car No. 2454 that was once known as the “Millionaires Express” (Whippany Railway Museum). The mahogany paneled car carried businessmen from New York City through towns in the middle of New Jersey. What I thought was interesting was the people who rode it (Christie Todd Whitman’s father was a member) and the fact that you had to ‘buy’ the seat, which meant that no one could ever sit in ‘your chair’ if you were not there. This car ran for 72 years finally retiring out in 1984 (probably due to the recession and changing times).
After the extensive tour was over, I visited the model trains that were riding around the outside of the rail cars and talking with other volunteers on what the future plans of a new railcar that just arrived. I also walked up to their snack shop that is at entrance of the museum site and was bummed when they did not have any of the large pretzels in stock. The woman said that they are their most popular item and had not arrived for the tour day. I then moved on to my third site, The Whippany Burying Yard at 325 Route 10 East.
The Whippany Burying Yard was also having a tour that I just made when I arrived. It was given by a retired college professor who had lived in town all of his life and knew the history of the cemetery quite well. The old cemetery is steeped in history as one of the oldest cemeteries in New Jersey and home to many Revolutionary and Civil War veterans. As we learned on the tour later on, the only people that can be buried there now are former Mayors of the Town of Whippany who have died.
Two of the founding families of the town have many family members buried here, the Tuttle’s who still have relatives living in the area and the Kitchel’s. The guide for the afternoon took us on an hour tour of the cemetery, pointing out prominent members of the war years including Timothy Tuttle (died 1754), a founding judge of Morris County, Keturah Tuttle Platt (died 1850), who was a Charter member of the First Presbyterian Church, Captain Timothy Tuttle (II of III-died in 1816), who was a member of George Washington’s First Regiment in the Continental Army, Samuel Tuttle (died in 1762) and Colonel Joseph Tuttle, a blacksmith and Deacon at the Presbyterian Church who served in the French & Indian War.
The entrance to the Whippany Burial Yard
The Kitchel family was prominently represented as well with Abraham Kitchel (died in 1741), who was one of the six original judges of Morris County and his wife Sarah, whose family was claimed to date back to Charlemagne, Emperor of France, Abigal Kitchel (died in 1768), Uzal Kitchel (died in 1813), a Militiaman in the American Revolution and his wife, Anna (died in 1815). Many of these people as well as their ancestors made major contributions to the growth of the surrounding community.
We were also given a lesson in the construction and care of the old tombstones, some of which were beyond repair. Some of the original grave sites were made from sandstone, marble and granite with granite becoming the popular choice later on. Here and there some of the tombstones were decorated with winged skulls or cherubs. These show morality images of the dead (Whippany Burial Yard pamphlet).
We were also walking by the river that the graveyard sits on and were told that current erosian is affecting some of the grave sites. These might have to be moved in the future and the tour guide was not sure if any have been lost over the years. The old Presbyterian Church that sat on the site (built in 1718 and removed in 1755) has since disappeared and there is no trace of it now.
The Whippany Burial Yard has many different types of tombstones
At the end of the tour, the guide explained to us that the old Tuttle House, dating back from the late 18th Century was just left to the town by its last owner to be preserved as a museum for the community. The Tuttle house will need a lot of work in the future.
The Tuttle House at 341 Route 10 will be a future museum for the Historical Society
It was getting late in the day after my last tour, and I figured I had time to see one more site before the day was over. I wished they did not end the day so early at 4:00pm. It does not give people much time to visit all these sites in one day, but the museum tour guides made them so interesting that you did not want to leave so quick.
My last stop on the tour day was the Florham Park’ Historic Preservation Commission’s Little Red Schoolhouse and Hancock Cemetery at 203 Ridgedale Avenue. On the map it looked so far away but it was only ten minutes down the road from the cemetery and I got there in plenty of time to spend the last half hour of the day at the museum.
The Little Red Schoolhouse Museum at 203 Ridgedale Avenue
I was the only one there with two members who said that they were surprised on how busy the day was for them. They told me that almost every person who visited said the same things: either they passed the place a million times and never knew it was a museum or they lived here for about twenty years and never knew the town had a museum. I said I was from another area of the state, and this was my first time as well. The little museum is nicely set up.
In the back there is a small classroom set up keeping with the theme of the building. This lets students who are visiting the building of their counterpart’s early education with desks, ink wells and chalk boards that have not changed that much over the years. There are old desks and chalkboards and items that date either from the late 1880’s to about the 1930’s.
Not much has changed in the modern classroom over the years
There is early century clothing, farming equipment from the town’s farming past and event Native American objects found in the town and in private collections. Other items included decorative items from the home including dishware, home products and furnishings. Each section of the museum is divided up by lifestyle.
The docents that day explained that the items were reflect the town’s past and some came from families that have been in town for years. The museum reflects the community spirit of town’s past. It explains that times have progressed but not changed too much over the years. They also told me how hard they work to promote the museum.
I asked where the Hancock Cemetery was, and they told me down the road from the museum, so I left after about a half hour to let them close and looked for the cemetery. I never found it “down the road” so I was not too sure what direction they were talking about. By the time I got back to the museum, it was shut, and all the cars were gone. It was now 4:30pm. I decided to head off to dinner.
I got lost trying to take the back roads from Route 10 to Route 46 (later on when I got home, I found I was in the right direction but did not know it). I passed the Parsippany Historical Museum at the Bowlsby-DeGelleke House at 320 Baldwin Avenue on the way but at 5:00pm I could see one of the costumed docents was desperately trying to close up for the day, so I did not stop.
I finally made it to Downtown Boonton, NJ for dinner. The town was really quiet on an early Sunday evening. I passed the Boonton Historical Society and Museum at 210 Main Street that was closed for the evening. They had a full day of activities that day and must have closed early.
Boonton Historical Society and Museum at 210 Main Street
Ever since I got involved in the Bergen County Firemen’s Home Association, I have been visiting this interesting little museum. They have the most intriguing walking tours on the history of the town’s development and on the ruins of the local iron works. They also have nice inhouse tours of the museum and very inviting Holiday Open House (pre-COVID).
Dinner that evening was a restaurant I had wanted to try several times but it either was not open or did not look open because there was no one in it. I2I at 408 Main Street just up the hill from the museum.
I had been looking forward to eating here for some time and even though the food and the service were quite good, the owner did something that really irked me, and I will not be returning anytime soon. (Please read my TripAdvisor review above for details on my experience).
After dinner, I walked around Downtown Boonton for a bit, looking over stores that had opened since the pandemic. The downtown is getting more and more hipster businesses and you can tell that an ‘artsy’ crowd is starting to move into the area. All the neighborhoods around the downtown are having a lot of home improvements from new paint jobs and windows to new landscaping meaning the artists from the City are starting to move in.
Please read my blog on Exploring Downtown Boonton, NJ-Day Two Hundred and Two:
I drove home later that evening. It had been an interesting two-day exploration to Morris County, NJ and I did not realize the rich history that it had. There are many more places that will be visiting in the future on their list as they open up for the summer months.
Please look at their link for more details and happy exploring!
I love Toast’em’s. I had never been a big fan of toaster pastries, thinking that items like Pop-Tarts by Kellogg’s were for little kids. Over the last few years, I discovered Toast’ems when I was shopping at the Dollar Tree and needed to bring a snack with me on my walks in Manhattan in the afternoons. These delightful treats carry so well and there is such a variety of flavors to choose from.
The Frosted Strawberry Toast’em’s
You do not even have to heat these pastries as they are good just out of the bag. They have the same consistency as a Pop Tart at half the price and sometimes they have a bonus pack where you get an extra package of pastries for the same price.
The taste is delicious with fillings that include…
I first discovered the ravioli from Pede Brothers in the frozen food section of Dollar Tree and for $1.00 a package I thought I might as well give them a try. I was surprised by how delicious they were when I made them at home.
First, these raviolis cook in about three minutes in boiling water and are perfect coming out of the pot. They are so tender on the outside and creamy from the ricotta cheese on the inside that they ooze when they are cut. They blend so well when they mix with the sauce.
What is nice about a package of their ravioli is that there is just enough for two people with a nice salad and garlic bread or nice sized meal for one person who is really hungry.
I recently came across Munch Rights snacks on a recent trip to Dollar Tree and have enjoyed the quality and taste of the three flavors that I have tried. Going from bag to bag I wanted to try them more.
First what I like about the Munch Rights snacks is that they have 0 trans fats, very low in saturated fats and low in calories. For people with special dietary concerns, the snacks are gluten free (due to their corn meal base) and Kosher. These guilty pleasures are a welcome to someone who absolutely loves Fried Extra Cheddar Cheetos. The problem I have like most snackers is that once I open the bag, I have to eat the whole thing because they are so addictive. Munch Rights takes that guilt away.
Please check out my new blog, “Add This To Your Grocery List” and then add it to your cart.
I carry Mrs. Freshley’s snack cakes when I walk around Manhattan for MywalkinManhattan.
Mrs. Freshley’s Dreamies snack cakes.
Don’t underestimate the quality and taste of Mrs. Freshley’s products. I pack them for my journeys around Manhattan for my walking project. It brings back that taste of childhood during recess, for a bag lunch dessert or coming home after school. Even as an adult, I love snack cakes.
When I roam the aisles of the Dollar Tree, I am always looking for snack foods to bring to work with me to save on the ever rising prices at the vending machines. A snack cake can cost now $1.50 for one piece. When you have a craving for something sweet, you need to bring it from home.
This is when recently, I came across Mrs. Freshley’s Swiss Rolls on the shelve. A box of eight twin packs is a $1.00 instead of the Hostess brands that will run between $3.50 to $4.00 a box. The quality and taste are very similar.
I have only had the Swiss Rolls, which is a thinly rolled chocolate sponge cake with a sweet creamy filling. These light desserts are then dipped in…
Having been to many food shows over the last few years, I have come across so many new food items that are not seen in the larger supermarkets. You see those niche products that end up either at fancy gourmet stores, specialty grocery stores or you might see at select Whole Foods. Packaging and pricing will depend on what grocery shelves they end up on.
It is nice to see so many vendors that are American made and some made locally in the Tri-State area. Some are priced for the high end, but others are reasonable and will hopefully be found in many outlets.
This site was actually inspired from a trip to my local Dollar Tree. People really underestimate this store. Our local branch in Lodi, NJ is an amazing store. Not only does it have ample parking, always clean, well merchandised and well stocked but has the most diverse selection of smaller food vendors and American made products in their frozen food and grocery sections.
Imperial Garden Egg Rolls
The Dollar Tree buys from vendors that sell in smaller qualities or package their products differently so that it caters to single customer. You won’t find the big box items or a lot of the name brand products here unless they are packaged dissimilarly with smaller portion sizes.
These smaller manufacturers produce a quality item that competes on a lesser scale with the bigger names and since their production levels are smaller, their retail base is not as extensive as the name brands like Coke or Kellogg’s.
Having found products like Mrs. Freshley’s Snack Cakes and Imperial Garden Egg Rolls, I have enjoyed the taste of new companies making their way into the large grocery industry. I will share with you all the grocery items that you will want to add to your grocery list in the future.
Mrs. Freshley’s Snack Cakes
I will also feature all American made brands to support our manufacturing base in this country. This way we know not only are we supporting products made here in the United States but connecting with local channels of distribution that need support.
I cannot believe that another Christmas has come and gone and COVID is still raging around. Talk about having to adapt to a new world a lot wiser and more aware. I have just become more careful over the last year and kept my activities to a minimum (yeh right, I still run all over the place for work and keeping people informed about happenings all over the place). I just try to stay safe. I put my walk of the Garment District on hold for the Christmas holidays and all that came with it.
Christmas started right after I came home from Thanksgiving dinner in Lambertville when the next morning, I had to wake up at 6:00am to get ready to go to the Christmas tree lot for the Annual Hasbrouck Heights Men’s Association Christmas Tree Drop Off of the trees. We had 390 trees being delivered and it was all hands-on deck.
Setting up the Christmas trees
Who knew that the truck would arrive at 8:00am and we got caught off guard. No one expected it to come until at least 10:30am. So, at 9:00am, over thirty members and their children emptied all 390 Christmas trees off the truck (they shorted us ten trees), got them tagged and ready to sell. We had not even finished tagging the trees and our first tree sold at 10:30am.
The Hasbrouck Heights Men’s Association at Christmas tree set up 2021
I stayed on the site until 4:30pm and we had already sold the first twenty-one trees. I could not believe how fast the trees sold that day. The only reason why I left is that I had to help with the Hasbrouck Heights Fire Department on the town’s Annual Holiday Parade. God did it get cold that night.
The night after Thanksgiving, the Hasbrouck Heights Chamber of Commerce holds the Annual Holiday Parade and the Hasbrouck Heights Fire Department is always a participant from helping Santa enter town in the Parade to setting up the sound system for the Tree Lighting Ceremony. I swear it got so cold that night by the time the town lit the tree it must have gone down to 35 degrees. Thank God we bundled up!
The Hasbrouck Heights Fire Department at the Annual Hasbrouck Heights Holiday Parade
After the tree was lit, I never saw a place empty out so fast. People were so cold! Even with all our layers, we were cold too.
I did an about face and the next morning left for Beach Haven, NJ to attend some of Long Beach Island’s Christmas activities. The day ended up being much nicer and was a bit warmer. It is a two-hour trip to the shore and you would think that a beach community is not the place to spend an early Christmas weekend but you would be amazed at the activities they had planned all over the island that day.
I left the house around 8:30am on what started out as a gloomy morning that turned sunny and clear by the time I reached Long Beach Island. I decided to visit the Barnegat Lighthouse first to see if it was decorated with lights like the lighthouse at Montauk Point. That was always impressive the years I went out to visit my friend, Lillian.
The lighthouse was not decorated for the holidays but was finally open to walk in and climb the stairs. It was over a hundred steps up and back down. What a view all the way up. There were small stops on the way up with views on each level landing. By the time I reached the top of the stairs there were only three of us up there and God was it windy. I only lasted at the top of the lighthouse a few minutes before I almost blew off. What views of the waves coming in!
The Barnegat Lighthouse at the tip of Long Beach Island
Before I made the journey to the southern part of the island on my November trip, I stopped by the “Santa’s Viking Christmas Village” to see the arts and crafts festival at Viking Village at 19th and the Bay Barnegat Light. It was a sunny but cool afternoon but the winds had calmed down and I was able to walk the booths with no problems. I was in search of homemade Santa’s for my mother’s upcoming birthday. I found them in two different booths, one made of a conch shell and another made of wood.
The local seafood restaurant was open for takeout and you could smell the fried fish in the distance along with the horrible singing by a guitarist who could not carry a note. Thank God he took a break in time for the Barnegat Light Fire Department to bring Mr. and Mrs. Claus to the Village for a visit to the local children.
Santa’s Viking Christmas Village at dusk at closing
After touring the Village, I made my way back down Long Beach Boulevard to the LBI Foundation of The Arts & Sciences Holiday Market 2021, which was mostly full of more expensive artwork and home decor products. It was not as festive as the Village Market and all our mask wearing steamed up everyone’s glasses which was a big complaint.
My next stop was the Long Beach Island Historical Society which sponsored an “Elves Workshop” for kids and their parents with all sorts of arts and crafts happening at twelve different tables lining the front room of the museum. There was cookie decorating and Christmas tree creation with beads and cloth and gingerbread house making. To end the evening, they had Smores and Marshmallows roasting over open firepits in the park across the street.
The Elves Workshop at the Long Beach Island Historical Society
The museum knows how to welcome in the holiday season.
The Christmas display at the front of the Long Beach Island Historical Society
After my visit to the Historical Society, I went down the road and revisited the NJ Maritime Museum 528 Dock Road right by the water. I had read so much at the shark attacks in New Jersey back in 1916 and wanted to see the exhibition again. I also wanted to see the exhibition on shipwrecks again so I spent the rest of the afternoon at the museum and then walking down to the harbor to watch the sun set. The sun sets on that island are amazing.
For dinner that night, I went back to the Chicken or the Egg at 207 North Bay Avenue in the Beach Haven downtown. The food and the selection here is just excellent and the perfect place for comfort foods on a cool night. My waiter could not have been nicer and recommended the White Clam Chowder, which was so thick and rich and you could taste the cream and fresh clams in every bite. God the seafood was so sweet.
The Chicken or the Egg at 207 North Bay Avenue in Beach Haven, NJ
For dinner, I started with the New England Clam Chowder and did it hit the spot. Loaded with clams and potatoes in a rich cream soup. It warmed me up inside. I ordered the Chicken Pot Pie for the entree, which was delicious as well. Chunks of chicken and fresh vegetables in a flaky crust and a rich gravy. On a cool night by the shore, there is nothing like it to warm you up. Talk about making the perfect choices for dinner.
After dinner on my visit in November of 2021 at the Chicken or the Egg, I finished dessert at The Woo Hoo and walked up through the downtown to see the last of the people roasting marshmallows in the park and walked to Kapler’s Pharmacy at 1 South Bay Street. The drug store was sponsoring horse drawn carriage rides around the neighborhood. I thought what a nice way to end the evening with a twilight view of the sun setting and watching the Christmas lights going on at houses around the neighborhood. The Jersey Shore at Christmas can really surprise you.
Kapler’s Pharmacy event at 1 South Bay Avenue in 2021
I thought it was a nice group of visits to get my mind off what is going on in the world. What’s better than the Jersey Shore in warm weather? Visiting at all times of the year in warm weather and then returning for the Christmas holiday events. Who says the Shore closes at Labor Day?
Later that day I found out that Michigan State beat Penn State 30-27. What a way to end the day on my November trip!
After a short trip down to my mom’s for her birthday and two Private Member Nights in New York City at The Met and the Museum of the City of New York (see blog below):
Day Two Hundred and Eight: Private Members Nights in NYC:
it was back to Rhinebeck, NY for the Sinterklaas Parade and Celebration on Saturday, December 4th. I swear I was running from one place to another the whole week but was looking forward to the parade that had been cancelled last year because of COVID.
I travelled back up to Rhinebeck again for the festivities and got there by 10:00am in time to help unload the truck at the Starr Library. That brought back a lot of memories from parades past and it was so nice to walk around the cool air of Upstate New York. What started off as a very gloomy morning cleared up and it ended up being a clear, sunny and mild day in Rhinebeck.
We unpacked the familiar floats and puppets from years past and put together the bees, owls, geese, knights and dragons, horses that would lead Sinterklaas down his route and Children’s puppets that had children hoping for better times ahead. I always enjoy the comradery of the morning of putting the puppets together for the parade. Our theme this year was “Miss Mouse and Mr. Toad get married” so our events were based on the two characters getting hitched.
(I wanted to thank volunteer Jonathan Green for these pictures)
Me (in the jacket and khakis at the set up for the ‘Sinterklaas Parade’ in Rhinebeck, NY
Setting up the puppets for the parade is interesting
All the latest puppets ready to enter the parade
Mr. Toad preparing for his marriage to Miss Mouse
Miss Mouse preparing for her marriage to Mr. Toad in the Sinterklaas Parade
The Dragon is preparing for his duel with the knights of the parade
The puppets were set up in record time and we were finished by 11:45am
After we were done with the puppets, I drove down to Downtown Rhinebeck and parked a few blocks away and walked over to Main Street and joined in the opening festivities at the Beekman Arms. The restaurant was already packed with customers when I got there and the banquet room was full of visitors at the Opening Ceremony.
I had already checked in to my hotel, so I did not have to come back to the hotel until later that evening. This time I stayed at the Marriott Poughkeepsie which was much closer to Rhinebeck than staying at the one in Fishkill. I have to say that both hotels were wonderful when I was visiting the area.
The Marriott Poughkeepsie at 2641 South Road/Route 9
The Opening Ceremony at the Beekman Arms is always a lot of fun. All the costumed characters are introduced like the Pocket Lady, Mother Holly (who is always feeling jolly), the Queen Bee and the Snow King and Queen. They also introduced the Mayor of Rhinebeck and his wife, who portrayed Mr. Toad and Miss Mouse and reconfirmed their wedding vows in real life in front of the whole crowd. I thought that was very touching and I told her this later when I ran into her at another event.
After the marriage ceremony and the traditional Polar Bear Dance, Jonathan Kruk, a well-known storyteller, told the story of Sinterklaas. Mr. Kruk is a wonderful speaker and knows how to tell a story. He always captivates a crowd. Even though I have heard the same stories for years, I still enjoy listening to him speak.
No one is better at storytelling then Jonathan Kruk at Sinterklaas
Because I said that I would help with the checking in with the volunteers for the parade, I had to be back to the library by 4:00pm so that only gave me about a little over two and a half hours this time to enjoy the festivities.
What was nice was the policy blocked off the Downtown area so that everyone could walk in the streets and watch the performers do their thing. There were bands on stilts performing rag time music and holiday classics, the Polar Bear danced around and greeted visits with a quick spin on the street and I visited the Toad Stool where Mr. Toad and Miss Mouse greeted each visitor with a bundle of ribbons so that you could give them to strangers for good luck. I had never heard of that tradition before but it was interesting to walk through a giant toadstool.
I also walked around the businesses that were open and admired the store window displays. It was as if each store was trying to outdo the other for creativity and beauty of the Christmas season. My favorite was Samuel’s Sweet Shop at 42 East Market Street in Downtown Rhinebeck.
I watched the Grumpuses, Sinterklaas’s helpers do their traditional dance, singing groups entertain the outdoor crowds (Keeping COVID safe) and performers with sticks doing their routine. What I liked about Sinterklaas this year is that there were a lot of outdoor venues, so people were not cooped up inside wearing masks.
By 3:00pm I was starved and knowing that I would not be able to eat until way after the parade was over, I stopped at Pete’s Famous at 34 East Market Street. I love dining here and like their generous portions and the friendly service. I had my favorite Turkey Club sandwich with French Fries which is always good. They roast their own fresh turkey every day for their sandwiches.
The day started to fall into dusk and the whole town was being lit up. This is when Rhinebeck shows its true beauty as a Christmas village. All the trees in the Downtown are lit with white lights and adorned with paintings of the Sinterklaas Festival and ribbons. Also, all the stores light their windows and it makes the whole town look like a Currier & Ives woodprint.
Downtown Rhinebeck at dusk
Downtown Rhinebeck at night when its magic comes to life
I got back to the library at 4:00pm and assisted the staff in getting everyone ready for the parade, explaining how to work the puppets and hold them and making sure that everyone knew to listen to the marshals who were running the parade when it started.
It had been two years since we had a parade but it felt like time had not even passed by. I love to watch the parade come to life. As everyone lines up, the lights go on at each puppet and the bands get into high gear. Then there is the excitement of walking down the hill into Downtown Rhinebeck to the adoring crowds of the parade.
The crowds have tripled in the decade that I have been volunteering for the parade. The first time that I volunteered it was in 2010 with my father on my first trip up to Rhinebeck since being at the Culinary Institute and then I started volunteering again in 2014 when I started working on the Halloween Parade in the City. Just like that parade, excitement builds as the parade starts.
Walking down that hill is an amazing thing as people get so excited to see the floats and hear the music especially at this time with COVID raging on. Things seemed more festive as this is an outdoor event and it was two weeks before the omicron outbreak raged the country. It was a night of revelry and welcoming in the holiday season.
Sinterklaas is a magically evening in Downtown Rhinebeck
Because the positions in the parade and the puppets were all filling myself and the other person, I worked with on checking people in took the “Follow the Banner in the Parade” banner down the hill to get everyone to the staging area for the conclusion of the parade. We were right behind the drumline of women who concluded the parade and whipped spectators into a dancing frenzy. I watched as people literally danced in the streets happy to be outside enjoying this evening. It was so nice to see families have such a good time.
This wonderful view of the parade that was posted online of ‘Sinterklaas 2021’
The parade ended in the community parking lot with all the characters are introduced and the well wishes to Sinterklaas and his entourage. There was music and the fire eaters showing their talents off to the large crowd who were looking towards a much happier holiday season. It was just nice to see everyone having a festive evening.
After the ceremony was over, I just walked around Downtown Rhinebeck, admiring the beautifully decorated windows and admiring the white lights adorning the trees. I love this downtown at Christmas. I stopped at Village Pizza for dinner and it was nice to just warm up. God is their pizza delicious.
After dinner, it was another quiet walk around downtown Rhinebeck to admire the lights and the window displays. I love walking around this town.
Downtown Rhinebeck before nightfall
Downtown Rhinebeck before dusk
The next morning, I was off early to join some of the other members of the Bergen County Firemen’s Home Association for a modified Christmas hello to all our retired firefighters living in the NJ State Firemen’s Association.
Since our party was cancelled for the residents due to COVID, we gave our gift to the residents the week before (we got each resident a long-sleeved shirt that was monogramed with their name on it which I heard they all loved) and we also had a special Jersey Mike’s lunch for the residents the month before to ring in the holiday season.
Because of COVID regulations, we could only have a few members come but myself and the President of the Bergen County Firemen’s Home Association talked with our fellow firefighters during ‘Holiday Bingo’ or walked around to greet them and wish them a ‘Merry Christmas’.
Santa greeting guests at the NJ Firemen’s Home in Boonton, NJ in 2019 in better times
It was just for a short time that we were allowed to stay but the members of the home appreciated it. We wanted to let our fellow firefighters know that we did not forget them during the holidays.
Members of the NJ State Firemen’s Home enjoying the Jersey Mike’s dinner we sponsored
Classes took up most of next week for me as we prepared for my Introduction to Business class to make their big presentation to me for their final grade. So, I was running around most of the week working with both my online class and my live class as we were getting ready for final exams.
On Thursday, December 9th, I took a break from all of my grading and went to see the production of “A Christmas Pudding” at Bergen Community College where I work. The students were putting on a Christmas retrospect of songs and readings which was a very nice performance.
The Theater students sang many traditional and contemporary songs from the American songbook with one student singing a very emotional version of “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” from the movie “Meet Me in St. Louis”. Considering everything that was going on with COVID, I thought it was very touching. The students did a good job with the production and it really put me into the Christmas spirit.
The Play “A Christmas Pudding” at Ciccone Theater at Bergen Community College on December 9th
Another thing that put me into the Christmas spirit was all the new songs coming out this year. Did we need some Christmas cheer this year! I wanted to share two of my favorites that came to me via YouTube.
These two songs appeared on the Internet when I was writing this blog and I thought they were very symbolic of what is going on right now during the holidays as we try to resume to a new normal. I wanted to share them with all of you.
John Legend’s new Christmas song: “You Deserve it All”
Nora Jones new Christmas song: “Christmas Calling”
Kohmi Hirose did this great version of “Sleigh Ride” in English
On December 10th, my students presented their Class Group Project entitled “I’ve got a Golden Ticket to Bergen Community College-Homecoming 2022” and the students did a terrific job with the project.
The students logo to “I’ve got a Golden Ticket to Bergen Community College-Homecoming 2022”.
Here is the presentation with all the commercials:
Day Two Hundred and Nine on my “MywalkinManhattan.com” blog:
This “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory themed project was inspired by the 50th Anniversary of the film. I had the students watch the film for inspiration and ideas, then put the framework for the project together and they took it from there.
There is a message from me their CEO as well:
A welcome from CEO/Co-Founder of Bergecco-Parc Consulting Inc.
I could not have been prouder of my students both in my live class and in my online class who created the individual Class Project, “Market Street Candy & Confections”, reopening a 100-year-old candy store with a modern twist.
Here is the project with all the graphics that the students created:
Day Two Hundred and Ten on “MywalkinManhattan.com”:
With the major class projects over with, I prepared the students final exams and emailed off my online students their exam first. While they came in, I was able to grade along the way. Taking a break from that over the weekend, I visited Hope, NJ for a Lantern Walking Tour of the town and then a Candlelight Church Service at the Methodist church.
The Hope Annual Moravian Christmas Tour and Church service in Hope, NJ
I discovered this tour when I was traveling out to the Delaware Water Gap when I was updating my blog on “Visiting Budd Lake” and I stopped in Hope before heading to Blairstown, where I had wanted to visit the Blairstown Museum at the end of the day (it had closed by then). I saw this flyer when one of the shopkeepers in town handed it to me and I thought it would be an interesting event. What an eye opener!
I never heard of the history of the Moravian religion before and how they founded the town. We toured all the former factories and homes that had been built around the turn of the last century and then heard actors talk about that time during Christmas. Life just seemed slower then.
This is also where the opening scenes of the cult film “Friday the 13th” were shot. The initial scene where Annie arrives in Crystal Lake for her journey to the camp. I included the clip from the opening scene and the what the current locations look like now.
“Friday the 13th” from 1980 filmed in Hope, NJ
The famous opening scene from the film “Friday the 13th”
The inside of the Hope Junction Antiques with one of kind artwork and antiques.
This unique store carries an array of local and regional artists work, the owner’s personal art pieces and a selection of decorative items and antique pieces. It had an interesting selection of holiday items when I visited the town both on my journey through Budd Lake and Route 46 and when I took the walking tour on December 11th. The store was open still right before the tour.
Burgdorff Realty at 2 Walnut Street where Annie enters the truck
The cemetery is the ‘crossroads’ but is actually right down the block from the antique store and the realty company. This is now part of the St. John’s Methodist Church. This is where the Candlelight Services were held.
But I was not there for a movie tour but a cheerful Christmas tour of Moravian history. I met my tour group at the Hope Community Center which was beautifully decorated for Christmas. Before the tour started, the Hope Historical Society who was running the tour was selling food and Christmas items as a fundraiser. We started the Lantern Tour from this location.
The Hope Community Center at 5 Walnut Street decorated for Christmas
When we finished visiting some of the old factories, we visited ‘Trout Alley’, where people used to travel to get around the toll booth when they arrived in Hope. The path is now used to get to the antique store at the end of the path.
The Hope Historical Society was the sponsor of this program and was open the evening of the tour. We got to walk inside and look at old pictures of the town, old maps and artifacts that have been donated over the years by local residents that are part of the history of the town. The small one room building also houses vintage furniture and household and dress items. Please look at my blog at VisitingaMuseum.com above.
Looking down the street from Downtown Hope, NJ to the Inn at Millrace Pond where the Festival of Trees was located.
The house on High Street where we heard about Moravian Christmas traditions
Costumed characters sat on the porch that evening and reminisced about life at the turn of the last century as they prepared for the Christmas holidays. They talked about the hours needed to prepare the decorations and food for the legions of relatives and friends that would be visiting.
It was more spectacular at dusk when it was lit for Christmas
The First Hope Bank and Moravian homes that are now private residences
The bank was called the Gemeinhaus, which was the church/community center of the village. It was built in 1781. The house next door which is part of the bank is the Caleb Swayze House that was built in 1832.
Moravian Residences by the bank
The Caleb Swayze is the house towards the right and it was built in 1832. It is now part of the bank.
The homes and the current bank at dusk lit for Christmas
The Toy Chest Toy Store at 335 High Street a former Moravian home
I have been to the Toy Chest Toy Store many times on my journey to Hope, NJ and it has the most amazing selection of toys, games and collectibles in the area.
Moravian home where the Manger program was performed and after it was over, we visited many local homes of prominent residents from the area. To end the tour, we visited the back of someone’s garage where there was a live nativity scene performed that evening with actors reading from the Bible.
This interesting little barn/garage is across from the church and I thought looked quite festive
St. John’s Methodist Church at 354 High Street and the former Moravian Church where the Candlelight services were held. The service is posted on their Facebook page below.
I attended the Candlelight Christmas services at St. John’s Methodist Church which had once served as the Moravian Church and the service was followed as it would have been at the turn of the last century. The visiting priest had once been head of the church here and gave a very inspirational talk on the holidays that was followed by the lights being dimmed and caroling by candlelight which gave the whole church an interesting glow (you can see the whole service on the church’s Facebook page attached).
Afterwards I took one last walk around Hope to admire all the lights and decorations. After a quick slice of pizza at Hope Pizzeria at 435 Hope Blairstown Road, I was on my way home through the darkness. It really does get dark on these back roads until you hit Route 80. The little pizzeria is tucked into a small strip mall on the side of the road and has great pizza. It really was a festive and interesting evening.
Hope Pizza and Catering at 435 Hope Blairstown Road
For my Christmas present to myself every year, I go to Carnegie Hall for the NY Pops Christmas Concert but it ended up being on the night of my final exam and there was no way to cancel it, so I had to miss it again this year (COVID cancelled it last year).
When I visited the City the Sunday before for the “Shark” exhibition at the American Museum of Natural History, I walked back to Port Authority through Lincoln Center and I wanted to see what was going on this Holiday season and I saw that Kristin Chenoweth was performing a one woman show to promote her new Christmas album that Monday night. I was on the Internet that night to see if there were tickets left for the show.
The “Shark” exhibition at the American Museum of Natural History at Central Park West at 79th Street
The next night I had tickets in hand and off I went to Lincoln Center which I had not been to in two years since I had seen “Whipped Cream” in December of 2019 for the holidays. It was so nice be dressed up and going to the Met again. The theater was packed with people with the same idea. The City was ablaze with Christmas colors and lights.
Lincoln Center in all its glory at Lincoln Center Plaza
What a concert! Talk about being in sync with the holidays and just what the doctor ordered after a long semester. I needed a good concert and this really put me into the holiday spirit. Ms. Chenoweth was really in great spirits that night and brought the house down with these two songs from her album plus playing from Broadway shows and the Great American Songbook. It was a great Christmas concert and I left humming down Eighth Avenue.
This song opened the show at the Metropolitan Opera House on December 13th, 2021
I was starved when I left for the theater since I was in a rush to get into the City that afternoon with enough time to make the concert and still grade quizzes that were coming in from my online class at the Cornell Club.
I had a sudden craving for Linguini in White Clam Sauce so off I went to Amore Pizza Cafe at 370 West 58th Street which I had visited over the summer. I ordered their Linguini in White Clam sauce which ended up being a piping hot almost pound of pasta with a quarter pound of clams on top ($10.95) with a Coke. Talk about excellent and the perfect dinner on a cool night. The sauce was so flavorful and the clams were so sweet and fresh. I ate contently and the manager was so happy when I told her the food was excellent. Talk about an end to a wonderful evening.
The Linguini with White Clam Sauce was just superb that night at Amore Pizza Cafe
For the rest of the week, I had visited the Met and the Museum of the City of New York for private events and while seeing the new “Shark” exhibition at the American Museum of Natural History, I went to see the “Origami Tree”, that has been a staple of the museum for years. All of these events really put me in the Christmas spirit and put the ghosts of last Christmas behind me. It was not too last.
The Origami Tree at the American Museum of Natural History
I wanted to visit the Hudson River Valley again before the holiday season was over and I saw on the Dutchess County Tourism site that Mount Gulian, a mansion near Beacon, NY was being decorated for the holidays and December 15th was the first day it would be open for touring.
I grabbed my aunt and we decided to spend the day visiting decorated homes and towns for the Christmas season. Our first stop was Beacon, NY to visit some of the stores on my website, LittleShoponMainStreet@wordpress.com, Colorant and Flora a Good Time both located in the downtown area and then off to Mount Gulian, a decorated mansion up Route 9.
Downtown Beacon, NY at Christmas
Mount Gulian was the home of the Verplanck’s for generations, the original house burned to the ground in 1938 and this house is a replica of the original sitting on the original home’s foundation. The house is decorated in many of the Verplanck’s family heirlooms donated by branches of the family over the years.
The main rooms on the first floor of the home including the former living room, dining room, sitting room and library were all decorated for the Victorian Christmas holidays. The hallways and doorways were also adorned with garland and bows and lights giving a festive and warm appearance to the house.
The tour took about an hour (see my blog on VisitingaMuseum.com) and the history of the house was discussed at various times and how family members called it home. Our tour guide also gave us interesting facts on the family and their connection with the house today. It is so nice to hear that various members of the Verplanck family still take an interest in the home.
Mount Gulian’s Dining Room decorated for Christmas Dinner
The sitting room at Mount Gulian
After the tour was over, the tour guide invited us to enjoy refreshments of hot cider and home baked goodies. Since there were only three of us on our tour, it gave us a chance to discuss the history of the families in the Hudson River Valley, the status of these famous homes and the future of historic sites of the region. It was really an engaging and interesting afternoon and the tour guide could not have been nicer. The whole event really represented what the Christmas experience is in the Hudson River Valley.
Between the Sinterklaas Parade in the beginning of the month, visiting the decorated homes of the region and walking the festive downtowns of the area giving them a “Currier & Ives” look about them. Dutchess, Ulster, Greene and Columbia counties really know how to convey the holiday spirit.
Downtown Rhinebeck, NY at Christmas
Our next stop was visiting Rhinebeck, NY which we arrived before dusk. The town was just lighting the trees and all the storefront windows were beautifully decorated for the holidays as they were on the night of the Sinterklaas Parade. The only town I know that can compete with Rhinebeck for the title of ‘Christmas Village’ is Cape May, NJ.
Rhinebeck has a magical look at nightfall
Samuel’s Sweet Shop at 42 East Market Street gets into that spirit every year
I love the way they merchandise the store for the holidays and their prices are very fair on their candies and desserts. You have to try their doughnuts.
Our next stop after leaving Rhinebeck was downtown Red Hook, NY which to me represents the best in small towns in the Hudson River Valley with excellent reasonable restaurants, creative store owners and a blend of old and new in architecture. Plus, everyone is so friendly when you shop and dine there.
Downtown Red Hook, NY
I have written about my many trips to Red Hook in my blog “MywalkinManhattan.com” and discussed visiting the downtown and its proprietors.
The Red Hook town Christmas tree is such a great addition to the downtown and it more amazing at night as is the rest of the town when it is lit. When it gets dark in town, Red Hook gets that classic Americana feel to it.
Downtown Red Hook’s Christmas Tree
Downtown Red Hook, NY at dusk is so beautiful
After the walk around Red Hook (most of the stores closed early that night), my aunt and I crossed the Kingston Bridge and visited the ‘Stockage District”, the historical and shopping district of Downtown Kingston, to see how the town prepared itself for the holidays. It really was beautiful even with the light rain.
Downtown Kingston, NY at Christmas
The businesses had garland and beautiful white lights adorning them and the windows were very festive as in the other towns. Large snowflakes decorated the main streets which were lit brillantly.
Downtown Kingston, NY Christmas tree
The Kingston, NY Christmas tree is right in the middle of the downtown shopping district and gives off such a holiday vibe. It is also so beautifully decorated. It really brightens up this stretch of the street.
Our last stop that evening was visiting Woodstock, NY, where I had spent three wonderful Christmases and is a place that I highly recommend spending the holidays. The Christmas Parade every year is so festive and well organized. The town is also so nicely decorated for Christmas and the square always has the most unconventional Christmas tree. They are usually oddly shaped and decorated and that’s their charm.
By the time we got to town that evening, all the stores were closed for the night and we dined for our early Christmas dinner at Shindig at 1 Tinker Street.
The love the Christmas tree in Downtown Woodstock, NY. It always looks so unusual.
Downtown Woodstock, NY square and Christmas tree
My visits to Woodstock, NY during Christmas meant a lot to me and I always loved going to the town’s Christmas Parade on Christmas Eve night. Santa always makes such interesting entrances.
Shindig has the best hamburgers and some of the most delicious mac & cheese. Talk about great comfort food on a cool misty night in the Catskills. We were the last customers to dine there that night, so they did not rush us as they were cleaning up for the night. Don’t miss their Cowboy burger. I highly recommend it.
We had such a wonderful time visiting all the towns with their Christmas decorations and beautiful window displays. The Hudson River Valley is a wonderful place to get into the Christmas spirit. Who knew with all this Christmas cheer that all hell would break loose two days later.
Thank God I did all these events when I did because by Friday, December 17th, the night of my final exam, there was panic all over the country with the spread of a new variant of COVID, Omicron. All of a sudden, this new variant from South Africa started to move like wildfire all over the country and New York City was inundated by it.
I had to stay home all weekend and grade final exams because grades had to be posted by Tuesday. All I heard on the Internet and on TV was the rapid spread and the almost panic mode that everyone went into. I hauled up in the house and concentrated on school and getting the students emailed with their grades so that they could relax and enjoy their Christmas break.
I posted all my grades by Monday night and had to drop off all the paperwork on Tuesday at the college. I was just glad that they had not cancelled classes on Friday night when I was giving my exam. That would have been too much on me scrambling to get the exams done. Since I was the only one teaching on a Friday night, I was hoping they just forgot about me and the class would just happen which it did. Thank God!
Tuesday afternoon, we had a sparsely attended Faculty Party which I thought was very nice considering what was going on all over the country. We kept our masks on while we were walking around the room and enjoyed a lot of finger foods made by our Culinary Department and soft drinks. It was nice to just talk to people through our masks and catch up with people I had not seen all semester.
On the Sunday, December 19th, the Sunday before Christmas, the Hasbrouck Heights Fire Department held its Annual “Santa Around Town”, one of the highlights of the holiday season for both the town and the department. Last year because of COVID rules, we could only drive down each street slowly waving at residents.
This year we were able to go back to making stops and greeting each resident and taking pictures with children and their families. Even a family dog decked out in its Christmas jacket joined in the fun. It was nice to see people outside and engaging with their neighbors.
The Hasbrouck Heights Fire Department’s ‘Annual Santa Around Town’
The Hasbrouck Heights Fire Department’s “Santa Around Town” 2021
By Monday, December 20th, it seemed that the whole country was going crazy with the new COVID variant. Flights were being cancelled, people were putting get togethers on hold and families were abandoning their plans for the holidays. Our family seemed fine until one by one, things kept happening the whole week and everything was derailed by Christmas Eve.
First my brother’s flight was cancelled and he could not get another flight until late Christmas Day so he nixed coming to Delaware for Christmas. Then a family member got sick so my mother cancelled all Christmas plans including our family dinner. She did not want anyone at the house who was not vaccinated. This derailed the plans even more as family members and friends were not vaccinated so no one was going to visit her house that day.
So when my mother called me to tell me that everything was being cancelled, I immediately looked into going back to Woodstock, NY where I had spent many happy Christmases. These plans were abandoned when my other brother’s flight was fine and he was coming for Christmas and he did not want to spend it alone in Rehoboth Beach.
So, I changed my plans again and booked a room at the Chalfonte Hotel’s Southern Annex and Thank God was able to book the last room at the resort. The main hotel was closed for the season but the Southern Quarters is the small B & B concept they have next door, which serves guests all throughout the winter months (the main hotel will not reopen until May).
This was the weird part about the eve before Christmas Eve, it snowed overnight which it was not in the forecast and it looked like we would have a white Christmas. Since it was supposed to rain all day on Christmas, I looked at the weather and thought ‘great having to walk around with wet weather on Christmas’ but like the rest of the holiday season, Christmas Day brought its own surprises. After paying my respects at the cemeteries, it was off to Cape May to start the holidays.
My Christmas Eve was spent as it had three years earlier, going to dinner at the Boiler Room at The Congress Hotel for dinner. I love their coal-burning oven pizzas and their fresh salads. The dinner was really amazing and the restaurant was pretty busy all things considered. I guess some people were not going to be spooked by everything going on around us, myself included. I figured I was fully vaccinated and if I wore my mask every place, I needed to I would be fine.
The Boiler Room Pizzeria at The Congress Hotel in Cape May, NJ at 200 Congress Place
I had the most wonderful dinner. I started with a Mixed Green salad with Balsamic dressing and chopped strawberries which had the most complex flavor with the sweetness of the strawberries playing off the Balsamic vinegar. The greens were so fresh that they crunched when I bit into them. For the entree, I had the Prosciutto and Arugula Pizza with fresh mozzarella. Talk about a crisp pizza and the sauce could not have been more delicious with the fresh tomatoes and olive oil.
After dinner was over, I walked all over The Congress Hotel which is always so beautifully decorated for the Christmas holidays. The halls are lined with white lights and garlands and a fire roaring in the fireplace in the main hall. Outside on the lawn, there a colorfully decorated tree and decorated tables with pool heaters for people to sit under.
Seeing the casual and engaging conversations the other guests were having you would have never known that there was a major outbreak going on. Most people walking around the hotel were not even wearing masks.
After walking through the grounds and through all the gift shops to see what was for sale (their gift shops are really nice and they have an interesting bakery), I walked the Washington Mall which serves as the Cape May downtown. All the stores were closed by this point but I got to admire all the beautiful window displays and the white lights adorning the trees. The only town that can rival Cape May at Christmas is Rhinebeck, NY. Both have that Christmas feel to them.
The Gazebo in Downtown Cape May
After my walk around Downtown Cape May, I went to 9:00pm Christmas Eve mass at Our Lady Star of the Sea Church in Downtown Cape May at 525 Washington Street. I needed some spiritual guidance at this time of the year as well as the rest of the congregation did as well. What really surprise me again was that 95% of the parishioners did not wear masks. I guess people in Cape May thought they were away from the danger (I wore mine through the whole service, hey you never know).
Our Lady Star of the Sea Church at 525 Washington Street in Cape May, NJ
It was a beautiful service with the choir singing and a very inspirational Christmas talk from the priest. The service could not have been more perfect and the church was so beautifully decorated with Christmas trees with white lights and poinsettias all over the place. Very secular but still in the spirit of the holidays.
The next morning, I had to be on the Cape May ferry at 10:15am and there was literally nothing open for breakfast without going to one of the hotels and there was no time for that. There was no food service at the ferry and the woman at the ferry was unsure if food was going to be available on the boat (it was we both found out later), so I left the ferry and had to go to the local WaWa around the corner at 3719 Bayshore Road.
If there was ever a meeting place on Christmas Day that everyone congregated at it was the local Wawa. The place was mobbed with people socializing with one another and wishing everyone else a Merry Christmas. You would have thought I was at City Hall or a Town Square. Everyone knew everyone else in the store and they were all ordering their breakfasts, getting coffee or their takeout orders or filling up on gas for a trip somewhere. I felt like I was in Mayberry.
The surprising part was I ordered a Bacon, Egg and Cheese omelet on a fresh hoagie and it was really good! I was amazed. The All-Berry Smoothie that I ordered with it was also terrific. I was blown away on my Christmas breakfast which I ate on the back of my car since there was no place to sit down.
After breakfast, I noticed the gloomy morning was starting to clear up and by the time the ferry left Cape May for Lewes, DE, it was becoming sunny and bright. When we got to Lewis by noon, it was sunny, clear and going up into the 60’s. It ended up being 65 degrees and sunny the whole day. God answered my prayers for a warm Christmas!
By the time I got off the ferry at noon in Lewes, De, it was a bright sunny and warm day. This is when the forecasters predicted rain all day. The entire afternoon was in the high 60’s, sunny and clear. It was the perfect day to be at the shore.
After dropping some presents off at my mom’s and wishing her a Merry Christmas, my brother, niece, my brother’s girlfriend and I went to Dos Locos in Downtown Rehoboth Beach for Christmas lunch. Unusual choice but it was the only place open. I had the most delicious Shrimp Quesadilla for lunch and that was more than enough after the big breakfast I had two hours earlier.
Before we left the restaurant, we took a memorable group shot in front of their Christmas tree. As we were leaving, I was amazed by how many people had the same idea we had and the restaurant really started to fill up.
My family at Dos Locos for our Christmas Dinner
To work off lunch (and my earlier breakfast), we walked all over the boardwalk that afternoon. Being such a nice day, again everyone had the same idea and we were wishing other families a “Merry Christmas” as they walked on the beach and walked their dogs around the downtown area. It was also ideal to go window shopping. By 3:30pm, it had reached almost 67 degrees and we walked along the beach and watched as one brave soul took a Christmas swim in the ocean. I know it was warm but it was not that warm outside.
My family by Santa’s House on the Rehoboth Beach Boardwalk
We took a lot of family shots around the Rehoboth beach Christmas Tree and at Santa’s House. He had left for the North Pole, so he was not around at this point. Still, everyone on the boardwalk was taking pictures by the tree.
My brother and I by the Christmas tree in Downtown Rehoboth
My brother and I in the bandstand in Downtown Rehoboth Beach
Me at the holiday displays in the Bandstand in Rehoboth Beach
The Manger at the bandstand in Rehoboth Beach with Santa’s House in the background
It started to get dark by 5:45pm at that point (the days are starting to get longer) and we headed back to my brother’s hotel as they prepared for dinner and I had to head back to the ferry to go back to Cape May.
I was surprised on how well Christmas had turned out. For a day that started off as the original ‘Clusterfuck’, it is amazing how plans change and the day can still turn out to be pretty good. I got on the 7:45pm ferry back to Cape May and we were in by 9:00pm. Again, not much was open on Christmas Day for dinner and I refused to have dinner at WaWa.
When I got back into town, the only two restaurants were the Chinese restaurant in the mall but they were closing for the night. So, I went to the Ugly Mug at 426 Washington Street in the Washington Mall for a snack. It was the only place open besides going back to Congress Hall.
Talk about crowded for a Christmas night! All the locals either had tired from their families, tourists need to get out of their hotels or people had just gotten off their shifts from work, people lined the bar having a good time eating, drinking and laughing. The Christmas games were going on and the bar was in full swing.
With only five minutes left to order, the manager of the restaurant who was eating right next to me was eating a cheesesteak and highly recommended it. So, it was a cheesesteak and a Coke for me on Christmas night. It was nice to sit back and talk with the other patrons and bartenders in a relaxed environment.
The Cheesesteaks at The Ugly Mug are fantastic. Just like Philly!
I spent the rest of Christmas night walking along the shore, listening to the waves hoping to get a glimpse of Santa on his way back to the North Pole. For the craziest Christmas Day with twists and turns, it ended up being a really great day. Not at all what we had planned but sometimes things work out for a reason. I ended up getting the best night’s sleep.
The day after Christmas my plans changed when a friend of mine who came into town changed the plans again and I decided to go to the theater at the Cape May Stage at 405 Layfette Street. I saw the final show of the season “Adopt a Sailor: The Holiday Edition”, which was performed by the Theater Director and his wife who are professional actors.
The Cape May Stage: Adopt a Sailor: The Holiday Edition
It was a clever story about a Manhattan couple that ‘adopt’ a sailor from the deep south for Christmas Eve. I thought it was a bit predictable with the stereotype of the uptight Upper West Side couple and the ‘naive’ sailor from the South but it ended up being a very bittersweet story about the couple looking within on their own relationship with this sailor shipping out on Christmas to a dangerous part of the world. It made them think about how small their own problems were and what Christmas was all about.
After the show was over, I decided to spend my last night in Cape May watching the sunset at Sunset Beach in West Cape May at 502 Sunset Boulevard. If you ever want to see the most spectacular sunset in the world and I have literally seen them all over the world, this is the most fantastic location to see the sunset over the Delaware Bay.
I stayed until after 5:00pm to watch the sun dip below the bay in most spectacular fashion. It really does amaze the way it slowly disappears into the bay and then the whole sky is a brilliant variety of colors. People were literally applauding the sun setting. I left Cape May for home after this.
You have to see the sun set at Sunset Beach at least once
In the week between Christmas and New Year’s, I spent the night in the City before the Ball dropped museum hopping between the Met and the MoMA trying to see the current exhibitions before they closed and taking the long ride up to Inwood to see the Cloisters decorated for Christmas and the current exhibition “Spain: 1000-1200” and taking a second look at the Christmas decorations all over the City.
I wanted to explore the neighborhood for changes since COVID and my last trip to the area since the summer, so I walked from The Cloisters to West 155th stopping for lunch and visiting stores and bakeries that I had written about in the past.
I stopped for lunch at the New Golden Star Chinese Restaurant at 4247 Broadway, a restaurant that I had passed many times on my walks down Broadway and had wanted to try. The food is excellent and the service could not have been nicer. I had a Chicken with Broccoli ($11.95) with Hot & Sour Soup and an eggroll.
New Golden Star Chinese Restaurant at 4247 Broadway
The Chicken with Broccoli was delicious and the sauce with a combination of Hunan and Soy really made the dish. The Hot & Sour Soup was one of the best I have had recently. The chili peppers added some kick to the soup and it was loaded with vegetables and sliced pork. The service could not have been nicer.
After lunch, I continued my walk down Broadway. I had originally planned had planned to go the Met on Fifth Avenue but it was too late for that and then I decided to walk down Broadway but by the time I got to West 155th Street near the cemetery I was pooped. I needed something sweet, so I stopped at one of my favorite bakeries uptown Five Star Estrella Bakery at 3861 Broadway for a snack.
I had the most amazing Vanilla and Strawberry Iced Doughnut ($2.00) and between the sweet thick icing on top and the rich dough, every bite was heaven. I was reenergized but my feet were beginning to kill me. I stopped at Ilka Tanya Payan Park and sat down to finish my doughnut and relax.
I just admired the Christmas tree in the park for a bit before taking the subway back to midtown. I never knew that the park was named after the actress and activist, Ilka Tanya Payan. I thought it was nice of community to set such a beautiful tree up for the holidays and it was nicely decorated. I was finished for the day.
Ilka Tanya Payan Park at Edward Morgan Place & Broadway
New Year’s Eve this year was a quiet evening at home watching the ball drop on TV. There was no way I was going back to the City with those crowds in that cold. Thank God that 2021 is now over and hopefully better days ahead!
This was not the Christmas I planned but things took so many twists and turns that I just went with the flow. This is why I am fully vaccinated. Life needs to go on as normal in these unnormal times.
Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!
My three favorite Christmas songs: These are the songs that I wait to hear on the radio.
The Ronette’s: Sleigh Ride:
Ray Parker Jr.: Christmas Time is Here
The Waitresses: Christmas Wrapping
I also thought these Christmas songs in Chinese were interesting when I found them on YouTube:
I find it intriguing how other countries see Christmas and interpret it.
Open: Sundays 1:00pm-3:00pm from June to October: Please check website for times
My review on TripAdvisor:
I recently went on a Lantern Tour of Hope, NJ’s downtown district for the Christmas holiday season visiting this once Moravian founded town. The evening was an interesting tour of the history of this small town near the Delaware Water Gap with visits to historical homes of the residents of the town and the manufacturing hub.
We toured the historic downtown district that was ablaze with lights and garland learning about the residential and commercial district and the role it played in the development of the town. We toured the former Grist Mill, Cannery, Distillery, homes and former barns and churches and given…
I have to admit that I am a very proud Spartan of Michigan State University and am willing to travel to support my Alma Mater when they are playing locally. I feel the same support for Cornell when they are playing football games locally as well.
I recently talked about my trips to New Haven, CT and Philadelphia, PA for Cornell football games that had mixed results. I have to admit that Cornell football has not been one of the college’s strong points over the years but at least we have a good turnout from Alumni.
So, I put my walk in the Garment District on hold and attended the games both in New Brunswick and in Midtown Manhattan and supported my Alma Mater.
When I went to the Michigan State University versus Rutgers game back on October 9th in New Brunswick, NJ, it was finally nice to see what I consider ‘real football’ between Division One teams. This is usually the only game I can see when it is played every other year at home for Rutgers. Otherwise, it means going out to East Lansing, MI for the games which I have not done since 2013.
It was a rather gloomy day for the game even though it was a warm Fall weekend. Since New Jersey and New York are top recruiting states for out of state students, we have a sizeable Alumni Association in the Metropolitan New York City area. So, we formed a pretty big block at the stadium.
SHI Stadium (Hale Center) was just renovated in 2009 to expand the capacity to 52,454 seats. This makes it ready for other Big Ten games but I have to be honest. The place was a third empty and it was Homecoming Weekend for Rutgers. I kept wondering when everyone was going to come in from Tailgating.
The gentleman sitting behind me, who was a lifetime Rutgers season ticket holder, answered the question. He said the fans prefer to tailgate then come into the stadium and will hear the game on the radio or watch it on a tv near the tailgate. So much for Homecoming support.
The first half of the game was pretty exciting with the teams going back and forth. Rutgers led in the beginning 10-0 but it did not take long for us to catch up. By half time, we came back to a 21-13 lead before we left for the locker rooms. We would score 10 more points in the second half and hold Rutgers to a 31-13 win.
I have to say one thing during half time. It got very quiet with Rutgers Alumni as they left the stadium. Michigan State alumni hit the concession stands and I had a pretty amazing fried chicken sandwich with a Coke. Because of COVID, there was no place to gather and eat, so I found the edge of a closed concession stand and ate with other alumni from both schools. None of us were very impressed by the game at half time.
The game went back and forth in the second half but we pulled out ten more points and again, we won the game 31-13. After the game was over, everyone headed back the to the busses to take us back to the parking lot at the back of the campus. This was the weird part. We were all on top of one another in the stadium and again on the line for the busses and then they made us wear masks for the ten-minute trip back to the parking lot. That made no sense whatsoever.
I have to say one thing, don’t underestimate Rutgers Football. With their coach and the recruiting pool he has in the State of New Jersey and the surrounding states, this team will be a powerhouse in the future.
Before I headed home, I stopped in Bridgewater, NJ for a taste of nostalgia. I stopped at Joe’s Pizzeria in Martinsville, NJ (see reviews on TripAdvisor and DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com) for an early dinner. I swear that the pizza has not changed in 50 years since I started coming here as a kid.
The pizza is still so crisp on the bottom and at the crust and the sauce has the same fresh tomato taste that it had in 1971. I came here as a kid and all the time when I was growing up. The pizza is still amazing and the restaurant is still on only its third owner (the original Joe still owns the building). I relaxed and enjoyed my pizza and then headed home for the evening. It had been a nice afternoon in New Brunswick.
Michigan State versus Rutgers in football at New Brunswick
Highlights from the football game
About a month later, I got an email from the Alumni Association that out basketball team would be playing at Madison Square Garden for the Champions Classic. We were playing University of Kansas (who was Number 3 at the time) and Duke would be playing University of Kentucky for the second game (Duke would end up having the best record). The event would be starting with an Alumni mixer and get together at Mustang Harry’s, a bar near FIT and just south of Madison Square Garden.
I had not planned on going into the City that night but since nothing had been planned, I decided to be the good Alumni and support the team at the Alumni mixer. I thought at least the Greater New York Alumni Association might have a nice buffet.
It ended up that when I got to Mustang Harry’s at 352 Seventh Avenue, I talked with the host who said that the Alumni Association was meeting upstairs. That ended up being the Parents of the Players get together. The woman organizing it invited me to stay and have dinner with them but I double checked downstairs to see if there was a formal get together. I talked with another Alum eating at the bar and he said no. They just met here to watch the game.
Mustang Harry’s at 352 Seventh Avenue
I decided to head upstairs again and join the players parents and ended up having some very nice conversations with members of the families whose sons played for the team. I got the insights not just on the kids careers through high school but many of the fathers had played college basketball (many of whom did not have careers after college).
The inside first floor of Mustang Harry’s
Even though the food is good here I felt it was an expensive rip off. I was not that hungry and I ordered a small plate of sliders and a Coke. With tip, the bill was about $28.00! For four little sliders that could have fit into a dollhouse and a Coke with a piece of lemon? I think that the restaurant gouges people during game day. They could have offered some specials. Also, they had one waiter working our whole section. I saw what looked like the manager bring my order up which took almost a half hour.
I had a nice time talking with the parent’s and decided to stay for the game. I had not been in Madison Square Garden since the Big Ten Championship a few years before. Most of the stadium was empty because most of the Duke and University of Kentucky Alumni waited until their game started after our game was over.
I have to say for such a young team we kept up with Kansas in the first half. At the half, we were 39-32 with Kansas just slightly ahead of us. We thought we could keep up which we did for most of the second half but then Kansas started hitting the three-point shots and we kept missing the baskets. The second half we were only outscored 48-42 but the difference of the points in each half was too much to overcome.
Still, I think this is a young team with a lot of promise and I know that they will do well in the future. They all have two or three years together as a team so when it plays in the future, they will know how to depend on each other.
Michigan State versus University of Kansas game at Madison Square Garden