Monday, November 19, 2007

Cherry Blossom Trees in Autumn

Those tens of thousands of visitors who come to town each Spring to view our Cherry Blossom tree display are missing out on a real treat when they do not return in late October and early November to see the explosive Autumn display of vibrant colors afforded by our trees. Fall foliage is pleasant to see anywhere, however, our trees offer a unique opportunity to see a stunning array of rich, contrasting shades of nature's very best artwork. There are many different species of trees in the park, each one with it own way of celebrating the harvest season. There are more shades of red than you can count blended with plum hues, yellows, bright orange, burnt orange, amber and elegant shades of copper. Sometimes you see several colors on the same tree. All the new, young trees planted this spring are already making their contribution, now, to this fall extravaganza. Autumn has come late this year. The weather has been so warm that a few of the younger trees were fooled into reacting to the Spring-like temperatures and began blossoming. It was really strange to see cherry blossoms in October ! Better see the Autumn colors quickly though, as in springtime, the display doesn't last long. It would be a pity to miss it.

This second pageant of color is one we reserve for ourselves. If we were the tourist center that we should be, there would be a steady stream of visitors sharing it with us. We certainly have ample opportunity to be a thriving tourist center, not only for our famous cherry blossoms, but as the acknowledged birthplace of the American Industrial Revolution and as one of the very early Dutch settlements in New Netherland, not to mention the Battle of Second River where our stalwart citizens stood off the British army in a holding action while General George Washington made a hasty retreat to save his troupes and his neck. But, alas, no one has attempted to develop our potential. I guess the town just doesn't need the extra business, besides, it would only crowd our streets with tourists wanting to spend money. Perhaps it is better this way; we enjoy this Autumn display in peace and quiet. Some folks may think it odd to put the words 'peaceful' and 'tranquil' in the same sentence with Belleville, but, if you have not taken the time to spend a quiet Autumn afternoon among the cherry blossom trees, you are missing one of the highlights of living in old Second River.

We can look forward to the next couple of years when two thousand more trees will be added to the collection. It is just getting better and better.


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Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Headlines - 1929

1929 was the trailing edge of the roaring twenties, the twilight of the Jazz Age, that bewildering era of affluence and "anything goes" self-indulgence. Popular music included such hit tunes as "Puttin' on the Ritz" and "Star Dust". Guy Lombardo and his Royal Canadians played "Auld Lang Syne" for the first time that New Years eve. Towards the end of the year, the stock market crash would put an end to the affluence and usher in the Great Depression.

And what was happening in conservative, law-abiding Belleville during this pivotal year? Let's look at some of the leading headlines to see what was important to folks then.

Police Ask For Authority To Watch Cafes

Dateline Belleville, NJ - January 11, 1929

In an effort to obtain for Belleville police authority to raid alleged speakeasies, Police Chief Michael J. Flynn Tuesday night asked the Town Commission to enact an ordinance requiring soft drink parlors to be licensed as cafes. This, the chief said, will permit police to raid suspected places and bring the proprietors before the local recorder. Under the present town ordinance, he added, police are without this authority. If the proposed ordinance is passed a maximum fine of $200 can be imposed on offenders, he explained. The chief's recommendations will be considered by the commission.

License Is Refused for Junk Business, Dealer Not A Citizen

Dateline Belleville, NJ - February 1, 1929

The Belleville Town Commission Tuesday again refused to grant a junk license to a local dealer. A town ordinance provides that a junk dealer must be a citizen. During the past six months, the dealer, who is not an American citizen, has been arrested twice and fined $25 each time for operating without a license. The Chief Justice recently denied the dealer a writ to restrain the Belleville authorities from interfering with his operations.

Snowball Barrage Brings Fines For 5

Dateline Belleville, NJ - March 1, 1929

Five young men are minus $2 each today because of their snowball-throwing proclivities. They were fined that sum by the town recorder in Belleville Police Court Monday following a complaint made by the owner of a dry goods store at 126 Franklin Street. The owner said the boys pelted his windows and customers with snowballs to the detriment of his business.

Union Avenue Property Owners Against Paving Street

Dateline Belleville, NJ - August 2,1929

A special meeting was held Tuesday night for the purpose of discussing with the residents of Union Avenue the proposed taking over of that street by the County and the sharing of the cost of improvements. Residents objected to paying any assessment because the people living on the street would derive no benefit from the paving. A petition signed by 47 property owners was presented. They said, "Why should we improve a street which is alright today in our opinion ?"

Dateline Belleville, NJ - August 9, 1929

The Board of Commissioners at the weekly meeting held last night, passed a resolution rescinding a resolution asking the County Board of Freeholders to take over Union Avenue from Belleville Avenue to Joralemon Street and curb and pave it. Mayor Kenworthy explained that inasmuch as the property owners on the street did not want the improvement at this time, the Board felt that the matter could wait.

Kindergarten is a "Useless Expenditure"

Dateline Belleville, NJ - September 20, 1929

"Kindergartens are an absolutely useless expenditure," declared the School Commissioner at a meeting of the Belleville Board of Education Tuesday night. This statement was made following a discussion of the attendance in the kindergartens, the first of which started in Belleville a year ago and to which three have been added since. "To my mind the kindergarten is a serious mistake. The expense is a burden to the taxpayers," he added. A dissenting commissioner said, "the kindergarten is by far the most expensive branch of the schools, but I believe the children get a corresponding benefit."

Should auld acquaintance be forgot, And days of auld lang syne?

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