Sunday, July 31, 2011

Dr. Paul Sloat Miller: Principal 1929 to 1940

Dr. Paul Sloat Miller (BA, Gettysburg College, 1910) was appointed principal of both Stockton School and Eastern School in 1929 following the death of Edward H Dutcher who had also been principal of both schools. Miller is listed in 1922 and 1924 Yale University catalogs working on his masters and/or doctorate and his dissertation* was published in 1928. Dr. Miller had been serving as a professor of secondary education at New York University when he was appointed principal.  He was addressed as Dr. Miller and a former Stockton student writes that it was pointed out to the students that he was not a "medical" doctor.  In 1940 he  became principal of Vernon L Davey Junior High School following the retirement of William Hemans Smith who had been Stockton's first principal. Dr. Miller was still at Vernon L Davey in 1952 (according to a magazine called The Clearing House, 1952).

above image is from the 1944 Vernon L Davey yearbook which appears at 

Dr. Paul S Miller was born December 27, 1887 in Manheim, PA, son of Henry B Miller and Susanna Sloat (Schlott). He died February 14,1964 in Woodland Hills, CA.

above photo from 1951 Vernon L Davey yearbook 

Friday, July 29, 2011

William Hemans Smith: Principal 1905 to 1908

William Hemans Smith was Stockton's first principal serving from 1905 to 1908.* He then became principal of Elmwood School and in 1930 he was appointed principal of the new Vernon L Davey Junior High School and was there until his retirement in 1940.

                                            Photo courtesy of Bill Mares, Mr Smith's grandson

William H Smith was born September 26, 1870 in Middleville, NY to William C Smith and Mary Elizabeth Hemans. He graduated from Syracuse High School and enrolled at Syracuse University from 1890 to 1892.  He attended Harvard starting in 1892 and received an A.B. in 1895. He was principal of St. John Avenue School, 1900 to 1902, and Robinson Street School, 1902 to 1904, both schools in Binghamton, NY. On August 31, 1904 he married Margaret Parsons Nichols in Binghamton, NY. They had four children: Delia Nichols, Margaret Hemans, William Shepard, and Marshall Parsons. Mrs. Margaret Nichols Smith died May 21, 1932 and on November 4, 1933, Mr. Smith married again, this time to his sister-in-law, Content Shepard Nichols.**

His first wife, Margaret Nichols Smith was born April 30, 1875 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She attended Binghamton (NY) High School, graduated from Bryn Mawr College in 1897 (A.B.), and taught high school in Binghamton from 1898 to 1904. She is listed in the 1914 Woman's Who's Who of America where she's described as "Favors woman suffrage. Presbyterian. Progressive."

                                      Photo courtesy of Bill Mares, Mr Smith's grandson

                                    Above image courtesy of Bill Mares, Mr. Smith's grandson

*Charles Jacob Vrooman (principal 1908 to 1922) followed Mr Smith as principal.
**Birth and early career history from early Harvard Alumni books; 2nd marriage information from Harvard Alumni Bulletin 1934

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Paul Alfred Shelly: Principal 1955-1960

 Paul A Shelly was only 29 years old when he became principal at Stockton in 1955.* The school was in the midst of a massive expansion with additions in 1951 and in 1958 and many first year teachers were coming to Stockton to fill the new classrooms. At the same time, the racial demographics of the neighborhood were changing rapidly, meaning many new students in all grades. It seems like it could have been a recipe for chaos, but from my perspective as a student (1952 to 1959) during those years, the transitions felt relatively seamless. This had  to be due in large part to Mr Shelly's leadership, which was recognized in his quick ascent in school system administration. 

photo below: Mr Shelly near retirement at about age 58

Photos courtesy of the Shelly family

*Mr. Shelly was preceded by W. (William) George Hayward as principal.

Helene Louise Cottrell: Vice Principal and Teacher in the 1930's

In 1938 Miss Helene Louise Cottrell was a 6th grade teacher and vice-principal. She then left Stockton to get her doctorate. Dr. Paul S Miller was principal of Stockton from 1929 to 1940 but Miss Cottrell may have had the position of vice-principal because, for many years, Stockton principals, including Dr. Miller, were concurrently principals of Eastern School.

Beginning in the 1920's and on into the 1940's Miss Cottrell is listed as the author of articles and booklets on education techniques and late in the 1940's as a coauthor on an education article with future Stockton principal John Thomas Greenan. One of her booklets lists her birth year as 1893.

According to a 1956 (in Vols 36-37) issue of Safety Magazine, Miss Cottrell had just passed away. The article stated that she had still been a teacher at Stockton when she retired and that, before her final illness. she had been operating a gift shop in Basin Harbor, Vermont.

A July 1, 2011 post lists some teachers who served with Miss H Louise Cottrell in the 1930's.

Photo of Miss Cottrell and some information courtesy of former Stockton student Marion Wohlhieter

Monday, July 25, 2011

John Thomas Greenan: Principal 1940 to 1952

John Thomas Greenan (A.B. Bates 1915, M.A. Columbia 1921) was listed as an instructor of Social Studies at East Orange High School in the 1920's and 1930's;  by 1940 he was head of the social studies department at Clifford J Scott High School and the same year he was appointed principal of both Stockton and Eastern Schools. 
Above: photo from 1932 EOHS yearbook where he is pictured as coach of the debate club

In the 1940 census Mr. Greenan is listed as living at 312 North Walnut Street, East Orange, with wife Persis K, daughters Sybil J and  Jean K, and in-laws Winfield W and Sybil L Kendall.

He was a prolific writer of education articles and of popular textbooks including Everyday Problems of American Democracy which came out in the 1930's. On one article in the late 1940's he's shown as a coauthor with Miss H. Louise Cottrell who had been vice principal and a teacher at Stockton in the 1930's.  W. (William)  George Hayward followed Mr Greenan as principal.

Above: Mr Greenan in the 1923 East Orange High yearbook pictured as faculty advisor to the boys' debate club

In 1958 Mr Greenan published a book titled Way Down East in Maine telling the story of his wife's family and covering the family's two hundred year history in Maine. That book lists Mr Greenan's birth year as 1889.

Charles Jacob Vrooman: Principal 1908 to 1922

Mr. Charles Jacob Vrooman, born in 1874, (A.B. 1898,  Union College, Schenectady, NY; a member of Psi Upsilon, Theta chapter) became principal of Stockton in 1908 and was preceded by Stockton's first principal, William Hemans Smith. Mr Vrooman graduated from Albany (NY) High School in 1893. A 1906 ad for a teacher/principal employment agency touts its services by writing that a C J Vrooman had been working in Racine, Wisconsin and was easily able to to find new employment in Utica, NY. A 1905 NY school bulletin writes of a Mr Vrooman as principal of Mary Street School in Utica.

Mr. Vrooman was killed in an accident in 1922 as reported by the New York Times in a story with the following headline:

"Rain Squalls Lash City in 72-Mile Gale; Wild Ship Adrift in Hudson Three Hours"

The story reports on various disruptions and accidents due to the storm and includes the following:

                                                  New York Times March 22, 1922

                                                    Below: from School, a magazine

                              Below: Racine Journal News/ Wednesday March 15, 1922:

Charles J Vrooman former principal of the Howell School, this city, was almost instantly killed when struck by a taxi cab during a severe storm in East Orange, N. J., Tuesday, March 7, according to information sent here by Phoebe E. Brewer, a former teacher in the local schools, but who is now resident of West New York, N.J. 

Mr Vrooman was connected with the Howell School for three years accepting the principalship in 1903 and leaving for the east in 1906. While here he resided at 1635 Twelfth street. 

The driver of the machine which struck Mr Vrooman was placed under arrest and charged with manslaughter, the report says.

Hurrying Through the Storm:

The fatality occurred while Mr Vrooman and two other educators were crossing a street during a heavy rain storm. His skull was fractured and his neck broken, and he died before reaching the hospital. The Newark Evening News story of the accident and the developments follows:  "In the rain and wind Mr Vrooman and his companions started through the high school grounds from Winans street with their umbrellas held close for protection. Mr Nester was leading and next came who Vrooman. Mr Brady, who had returned for overshoes, was a considerable distance in the rear.

Mr Nester turned as he reached the far curb and as he did so he saw an umbrella fly through the air and heard the sound of the auto striking Mr Vrooman. The automobile, he said, continued on for about twenty feet before It came to a stop.

The taxi was owned by Richard Cross of 104 Amherst Street and driven by Frank J Little of 1 Jones Street in that city. With the assistance of Mr Nester the driver placed the victim in the taxicab and accompanied by Mr Brady they started for the Orange Memorial hospital. Mr Vrooman died on the way. 

A complaint charging Little with manslaughter was signed this morning by Chief of Police William H O'Neill of East Orange who ordered the defendant held for examination tomorrow. In a statement to Chief O'Neill, Little who is twenty years old said that he had not seen Mr Vrooman crossing the street. He stated that he was going about ten miles an hour when he felt the machine strike something and then applied his brakes. Mr Vrooman was born Aug 10 1874 and was a graduate of Union College where he was active in athletics especially football. Before he assumed the principalship of the Stockton School on Nov 30 1908 he was principal of a school In Utica. He was a member of the School Masters club of New York and president of the Educational Council in East Orange." 

Charles J Vrooman is buried in Elmwood Rural Cemetery, Bethlehem, NY.

                                                 from School and Society, April 29, 1922*

*John T Greenan was a teacher at East Orange High School in 1922 and would be principal of Stockton (and also Eastern School) from 1940 to 1952.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

The East Orange Oval: 1930's to 1970's

Photo view is looking NNW from the elevated Grove Street Lackawanna station. Part of the Hotel East Orange (corner of Grove Street and New Street) can be seen on the extreme far left. That building (now known as the New Grove Manor Center For Rehabilitation) and the large apartment building to its right in the photo, directly across Grove from it, are still standing in 2013. The other apartment building just to the left of the flagpole (which would have placed it at Grove Place and Grove Street) is no longer there and the massive apartment building that is just to the right of the flagpole in the distance (probably corner of William St and Grove St) is no longer there. There were apartment buildings on three of the four corners at the William/Grove intersection, so it's possible that two are blending together in the photo to appear as one.

The official name of  "The Oval" is above the entrance: "East Orange Playground" and an earlier post has the beginnings of The Oval.
                            Below: A 1930 photo of former Stockton student Edie Dim and her brother.
                                      The Oval grandstand is behind them: photo courtesy of Mrs. Dim

                                  Below: An article about the use of The Oval by Negro Leagues

                                               Photo above is from a 1938 book about playgrounds

                                                                   A NEW FIELD HOUSE 

The outstanding improvement for the year is the new field house at the East Orange Oval the city's oldest playground. The architecture of the building is of Spanish Mission type. It is made of hollow tile and stucco with Spanish tile roof and reinforced concrete floor. There is a clock donated by Wilbur S. Johnson which strikes the hour and half -hour on a 125-pound bell suspended in the little belfry, the gift of the East Orange Baseball Association. The cost of the 
building was $12,750 exclusive of clock and bell. across both ends of the play room and a built-in seat along one side with hinged tops and locks. In this room is an upright piano donated by the Griffith Piano Company. There are rooms for women supervisors and the superintendent, with lavatories, toilets and lockers, and lavatories and toilets for girls and boys. In front of the building is an open paved court 10'x26', upon which have been placed two large heavy settees made and 
donated by William F. O'Brien. A few feet from this is a concrete fish pond six feet in diameter into which overflows the water from the two drinking fountains. 

Above: The 1908 wooden grandstand (capacity 1800) had burned in May 1925 and was replaced by a larger concrete and steel grandstand (capacity 2500) in 1926.

              Below: The 1926 grandstand in a circa 1970 photo. This grandstand was torn down in the late 1970's. The Hotel East Orange is in background.

Orange Athletic Club and Its Operation of The Oval:1896

"The Club is the owner of large and well-arranged grounds near the Grove Street station. These grounds contain running tracks and spaces for football and other out-door games. The management and conduct of the games at The Oval by the committees in charge have been so careful and judicious that the entire resident population has come to regard the club grounds as one of its cherished local institutions. Ladies flock to the Club games without escort, and parents gladly permit their children to visit the grounds unattended, confident of respectful care and treatment, and of the absence of the rowdy element which too frequently resorts to athletic games. As a result of these precautions and as a consequence of the policy of management indicated, the audiences at The Oval have been unrivaled as to numbers and character during the past four years, and in these particulars without a parallel in the history of any of its sister organizations. So well known has this feature become that all the other crack athletic clubs are eager to secure dates for games with its teams long in advance of the events, and the leading college teams of the country look forward with pleasure to their annual visits to Orange. The Club is a strictly temperance athletic organization and has constantly sought to afford the best facilities for the instruction and entertainment of its members and friends. It has, year after year, brought a succession of champion athletes to its grounds, in exhibitions as various in character as they have been absorbing in interest. It has, through its junior membership features, brought in a large contingent of the youth of the Oranges, and has exercised a wholesome educational and restraining influence upon them in several directions. Its aims have always been high in whatever it has undertaken, until by its achievements and influence it has become a large and leading element of life in the Oranges, and a power in furtherance of clean and wholesome living and a moral force in the community second only to the body of religious organizations there located."




Thursday, July 21, 2011

Stockton Neighborhood in 1911

East Orange population in 1910: 34000  Between 1904 and 1911, Stockton School was built (1905), the City bought and improved The Oval Playground (1908), and houses were built on the last vacant lots.  Tall apartment houses would soon be built on major through streets in the neighborhood especially along Grove Street and along William Street and the Hotel East Orange would be built at Grove and New Streets. The Lackawanna would be elevated* in 1921.  The area then stayed fairly stable for thirty years until East Orange was chopped up by the Garden State Parkway and I-280 in the 1950's and 60's.

*Public and private interests in East Orange fought the elevation of the railroad, preferring that the railroad be put in a cut (trench) as it was through Newark, but the fight was lost. A similar fight took place during the late 1950's regarding the elevation or depression of I-280. 

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Stockton Neighborhood on a 1904 Map

East Orange population 1900: 21500  Between 1890 and 1904 hundreds of houses were built in the neighborhood, a parkway was built on the lowland between Maple Ave. and Munn Avenue, and a place for the new elementary school was set aside on William St between 19th St and Greenwood Ave. The Orange Athletic Club was in its last years at The Oval, and in 1901, a larger Lackawanna station was built between Grove St and Greenwood Ave.

 The houses built in the neighborhood were of various Victorian styles on narrow,  deep lots. Some had their own driveways but many shared a driveway or had none. Bay windows were often part of the architecture to catch as much sunlight and ventilation as possible. Our house (built between 1890 and 1895) at 145 William St facing Stockton Place* still had much of its original architectural detail in 1959 but eventually succumbed to the vinyl siding revolution. 

*Stockton Place was originally named N. 21st St when it was laid out between 1890 and 1895 and was renamed Stockton Place between 1905 and 1911. Vernon Terrace was originally laid out as N. 22nd St and was renamed Vernon Terrace before 1904.

Above: 145 William St, 1959 

                                                          Below: 145 William St,  2010

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Stockton's Free Musical Instrument Lessons

Starting in 5th grade, I took advantage of the free music lessons the school offered. For some reason, probably because some friends had chosen it, I picked the violin. Parents had to buy or rent a musical instrument to get the free lessons and my parents bought me a 3/4 size violin. We got out of class once or twice a week, one of the main incentives to take lessons, and violin class was in an otherwise unused room at Stockton. We quickly realized that, if we asked the right questions, the violin teacher, Mr. Ovid Barton Lewis,* would spend most of the lesson telling us suspenseful stories instead of making us play. And outside of violin class we students tended to debate and obsess about the qualities of different types of bow rosin rather than concern ourselves with the actual playing of the violin. Mr. Lewis created a school orchestra in 1958 and we played for the 1959 8th grade Promotion Ceremony.

Professional musician Steve (Steven Michael) Lowry (born in 1945) writes that

"My plastic Emenee was the first [trumpet], followed by the Olds cornet provided by the music program at Stockton School in East Orange, my actual hometown. I outlasted the majority of students throughout the school year and garnered the " best new student" award in the spring. I never lost my love for singing though, and even began writing songs for performance that same year. I was 11."


Another former Stockton student has written that Janis Ian's father Victor Fink was a music teacher at Stockton:

"Janis Ian’s father was a music teacher in East Orange @ Stockton School in the 60′s.
I still have a ‘recorder’ that I bought in his class for 3$ in 1962. I can still play the recorder solo from ‘Wild Thing’ by the Troggs.  Janis used to play guitar over at my friend’s house on Munn Ave."

Another Stockton student has written  "In Stockton in the 60's there was Mr. Fink who [in addition to being a music teacher] was also my seventh grade homeroom teacher. I was in Mr Fink's class in the 61-62 year and his class was the first room on the right when you entered from No.19th Street across from the nurse's office."

                                                 Below: Victor Fink in a 1967 photo

*Ovid Barton Lewis (8/11/1905 to 2/1991, buried in Hollywood Memorial Gardens West, Broward County, Florida): Mr. Lewis and his family lived in Iowa until the late 1930's; he graduated from Columbia University, October,1939, BS; By 1940 the family was living at 287 North Maple Avenue (near Park Avenue)
Wife: Julia Lee Lewis, 1909-1990; son, Ovid C, born about 1933 (; daughter, Barton Lee, born about 1937;

Friday, July 8, 2011

The Flagship in Union

By the late 1950's more East Orange families had cars, more people had moved to the new suburbs, and big "bargain" stores were opening on Route 46 to the north and on Route 22 to our southwest. Our early 1950's weekend family excursions that were just scenic drives, or to visit relatives, or to destinations like The Gingerbread Castle or the Mighty Mite, became combined with shopping for bargains in those big stores by the late 1950's. The ones on Route 46 seemed to be constantly opening, then "going out of business," then suffering an "accidental," catastrophic fire.  But the only big store I remember well is the American Shops'  Flagship Store.  

It was on the part of Route 22 that has a very wide commercial median between the east and west bound lanes and the store was in the median. The Flagship had been a fixture on Route 22 in Union for a long time but not as a clothing store. A nightclub/restaurant called Donahue's was built at the location in the mid 1930's and then burned down. Another nightclub called Flagship 29* was built there in 1938 in the shape of an ocean liner and in 1942 it too burned down.  It was rebuilt after WW2 again as a nightclub, hosting well-known entertainers of the day. Former Stockton student Seth McQuillan writes that it was his uncle, Charles Fitze, who owned and operated The Flagship (and Donahue's) when it was a nightclub/restaurant.

Below: the 1938 to 1942 version of The Flagship when it was called Flagship 29

Above: from Billboard, July 5, 1947

After a complete remodeling/rebuilding, on September 30, 1956, there was a "christening party" to celebrate its new incarnation as a clothing store** and about 1958 my parents decided I needed a new sport coat;  I'm not sure that they knew there would be celebrity greeters at the store, but my father read the newspaper from front to back every day and knew I was a Yankees fan so the date of the shopping trip was probably intentional. 
I got to meet Phil Rizzuto and Bill "Moose" Skowron, they gave me their autographs, and I was thrilled in my own subdued way (I'm sure I was thinking "Holy Cow!").
Above: from the newspaper The Independent-Leader, 9/27/1956, p.7

More great photos of The Flagship at the site of the Union Township Historical Society

*The highway there at the time was named NJ Route 29 and it consisted of the eastbound lanes of what is now called US Route 22  
**It has since been another nightclub, a furniture store,  a U-Haul agency, demolished, rebuilt, and occupied by various electronics retailers.

Flagship historical info courtesy of  New Jersey Curiosities by Peter Genovese.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Stockton Area: 1878 to 1890 Transistion

Map above: 1875

Map above: 1878; East Orange population 1880: 8300   In 1878 most of the area that would become the Stockton neighborhood was still low lying, undrained farmland including dairy farms owned by families that had been in the area for over a hundred years, Mitchell, Peck, Hedden, and Munn, for example. The majority of the houses and other buildings were on the few pieces of high ground in the area especially on Main Street and Grove Street which were on the ridges that had been trails through the area for hundreds, if not thousands, of years.
Bottom map: 1890; East Orange population 1890: 13300    By 1890, the landowners had realized their land was more valuable as housing developments and they were able to drain the land, lay out streets, and sell building lots. William, Greenwood, Maple Ave. and New finally became through streets, but Vernon Terrace (shown as N. 22nd St on an 1895 map) and Stockton Place (shown as N. 21st St on an 1895 map) don't appear yet. The pattern of development of the area during the 1890's could lead us to conclude that, if the Orange Athletic Club hadn't leased and improved the Peck property as an athletic field in 1887 and into the 1890's, acting as a placeholder, the Peck property probably would have been developed as just one more housing area and East Orange would not have had a property to turn into a six acre playground in 1907.