Tumbling over falls and down Hacklebarney’s rugged ravines as it leaves Morris County, the roiling dark waters of the Black River rush headlong to the village of Pottersville, where the landscape begins to flatten and the river banks become wider, and the once raging waterway transitions to the Lamington River and flows gently into Hunterdon and Somerset Counties. The Black/Lamington River is the heart of Pottersville, a village that grew up around the mills and foundry along the river bank, and reached it’s heyday with the arrival of the “Rock-A-Bye-Baby” railroad in the late 1800s. But while the mill wheels and rail cars stopped turning long ago, Pottersville still retains an abundance of 19th century charm and is a popular stop for day trippers and Sunday drivers. Spread out among four townships and three counties, Pottersville is also the place where the boundaries of Hunterdon, Morris, and Somerset Counties all converge, and The Black River Journal is the meeting place for all three. We’re bringing together readers that share a love for the villages, historic town centers, and open countryside that make our area of New Jersey such a unique and special place to live and work!
DECEMBER 8 - JANUARY 2 - Last presented at the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey in 2016, this song-filled celebration of the season has become one of their most requested holiday offerings. Based on Dylan Thomas’ classic story about his childhood Christmases in Wales, in the 1920’s, this heartwarming piece about a time gone by rejoices in the simple delights of childhood, the spirit of goodness, the comfort of family, and the magic that music and the imagination bring to us all. The F.M. Kirby Shakespeare Theatre, 36 Madison Avenue, Madison, NJ 07940 (located on the campus of Drew University). For tickets and more information, please visit shakespearenj.org or call the Box Office at 973-408-5600.
For decades Seneca Falls, NY has claimed to be the true inspiration for the town of "Bedford Falls,” in the 1947 holiday classic film “It’s a Wonderful Life,” and they back up the boast with a museum and annual “It’s a Wonderful Life” festival. Hints throughout the movie make it clear the Bedford Falls in the movie is somewhere in New York State, even Westchester County, and it may be that director Frank Capra had Seneca Falls and it's steel truss bridge in mind when he created the fictional town. But Philip Van Doren Stern, the writer of “The Greatest Gift,” the short story that the film was based on, said that he drew his inspiration from a small town in Hunterdon County, NJ. According to a 2017 article by NJ.com, Stern, a Rutgers graduate and historian who was best known in later life for his works of non-fiction, told a reporter in a 1946 interview that "Actually, the town I had in mind was Califon, New Jersey."
Vintage image of the Califon Bridge courtesy of Donald Freibergs
"FINDS SANTA CLAUS IS REAL"
"Clark Hackett of Easton, whose legs were crushed in an accident on the Lehigh Valley Railroad, necessitating their amputation above the knees, several days ago received the following letter:
My Dear Friend:
I understand that you have both feet off and I am sorry for you. Enclosed find a check for $100 signed “Santa Claus.” Do not think this a joke. Have the Lehigh Valley Railroad Co. or any business concern send the check through for collection and give you the money when it is forwarded. Funds are on deposit at the North Philadelphia Trust Company to meet this check.
Hackett was in doubt whether some one was trying to fool him, but he decided to try it. Tuesday he received the $100... "
The market at Metropolitan Seafood was closed, as it always is on Monday, when we slipped through the front door on a drizzly mid-morning, and locked it behind us. The only light came from the kitchen, where the tenor lament of Luciano Pavarotti, channeling Leoncavallo's cuckolded clown, Canio, played on a low volume but still drowned out the sound of a simmering pot of salted water steaming on the flame of a gas-lit burner... Metro’s owner and renowned fishmonger, Mark Drabich, greeted us with a tray heaped with iced Maryland Blue, and Maine Rock Crabs that brought a tear to my eye – Pagliacci and Atlantic crustaceans always make me cry... READ MORE
Fishmonger, Mark Drabich of Metropolitan Seafood and Gourmet
We do tend to connect gingerbread with Christmas but people have been eating gingerbread since the time of Ancient Egypt and Ancient Greece. Ginger was taken for medicinal reasons, including the soothing of the stomach and digestion. Today gingerbread houses and gingerbread men come to mind, thanks to the stories of the Brothers Grimm. Louisa Macculloch (1785-1863) had several gingerbread and ginger cake recipes in her cookbook. All of these recipes call for baking powder or baking soda which may mean they date from the 1840s to the 1860s.... READ MORE
“Out on the lawn there arose such a clatter” – no it wasn’t St. Nick. If the thought of a lump of coal isn’t enough to induce good behavior in your kids at Christmas time, then maybe you need a fur-clad, masked man with a switch – who is not afraid it use it.
It had all the trappings of an old fashioned country Christmas in Dingly Dell, but it was in the rugged village of Mountainville, in Tewksbury Township, where we were first treated to a famous 19th century punch in an idyllic 18th century home.
The beleaguered American defenders holding the Belgian town of Bastogne during the Battle of the Bulge, were low on everything except courage. The few, exhausted medics, who tended to wounded GIs in dank cellars had no penicillin and damn little of anything else, when a young Lieutenant from Far Hills, NJ volunteered to fly supplies in on Christmas Eve.
Although Clement Clarke Moore had given us a good description of Santa Claus in his 1822 poem, “A Visit from St. Nicholas” also commonly known as “’Twas the Night Before Christmas,” It wasn’t until 1870 that Morristown's Thomas Nast gave us a Santa Claus we can all agree on.
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