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Fond Memories of Wood-Ridge

Fond Memories of Wood-Ridge
By Mike Lutgen

My family moved to Wood-Ridge in August of 1951 when I was 8 months old. The fifties were a strange time. Cold War fear and hysteria underlying a peaceful family life. I remember a hurricane in 1955 or 1956. I was outside on Innes Rd (where our house was) and seeing trees blowing and no cars at all on the street. The blue lights under the fire boxes. The bellowing fire and evening whistle. It made your stomach rumble it was loud. Dr. Gelman making house calls in the middle of the night. Curtiss-Wright firing up the jet engines at night. The patrol on the other side of the Woodland Park fence. The Acme on the Boulevard and Sussex Rd. The Esso station on Innes Rd. 

My interest in "Industrial" music came from listening to the rhythms of the machines and hydraulics coming from the garage on the Innes Rd side.  Hy's Appliances where we bought our first dehumidifier.  Crest Cleaners. The smell of baking from Mill's Bakery. Boulevard Pharmacy. Mike's Hardware where he had the entire inventory of a Home Depot in his store.  Goldfarb's fruit and vegetable Market. Dero's Soda fountain where you got the egg crèmes and 10 cent comic books such as Tales of the Unexpected, Strange Adventures, Turok Son of Stone, Metal Men, Fantastic Four, Superman, etc.

The beauty parlor next to Deros. Pop's on the corner of Marlboro and Blvd.  This is where 2 generations of kids "hung out". The IGA. The laundermat across from Mill's Bakery. Siegel's Hardware. Big Ben's 5 and dime. The VFW across from Pop's. And I think a Strauss store. I remember driving with my Dad in 1954 with his brand new 1953 Willey's to Mickey's Texaco. I think his son still runs it.  On Hackensack Street we had the laundermat which burned down and was put up again. The Soda Pop Fountain next to it. Alfonso's Pizzeria, Jahn's Deli, Gorab Agency, and Goldy's. 

Wood-Ridge garage on Moonachie Ave was always busy. I moved to Moonachie Ave in 1962, right down the block. There was the National Conservatory of Music, which had the three Veltri brothers as teachers. They helped me enormously as I now, 40 years later, have a career in music composing and computer animation. And that little store right around the corner that has changed owners countless times.  Wood-Ridge High. Let's see if my memory serves me well.

Kindergarten was Mrs. Liming. 1st grade Mrs. Beck. 2nd grade Mrs. Tunison. 3rd grade Mrs. Trutner. 5th grade at Mt. Pleasant Miss Putzer. 6th Grade Mrs. Schwartz and Mrs VanDerWinkle. 7th grade through 12th was Mr. Quinzer, Mr. Labenski (Thanks, Jerry for keeping us healthy), Mr. Mueller (grouchy!), Mr. Weber (We finally made friends again), Mrs. Macilvane, Mrs. Salvo, Mr DeCandia, Mr. Cunha, Mr. Marotta, Mr. Nuziale (great sense of humor and family friend), Mr. Bowles (made you love science), Mr. McDonnell, Mrs. Eckerson (She was tough!), Mr. Tobiason, Mr. Stoesser (what a dynamo!), Mr. Gorab, Mrs. Gambuti, Joe the janitor, Mr Murphy (owning a house, his shop teaching comes in handy), and more that escape me now.

There was the farm on 17, Shultz or something. Climbing the hills over the Fiesta and Eclipse.  That was such a long journey. From Moonachie Ave behind Terminal Construction to Hasbrouck Heights! Frogs, snakes, fungus, trees, small animals. It was sort of scary. There was Park Place east and west. The Heydt family. The train station and the booth on Route 17 that was always getting knocked over. In those days, tire treads used to "sing". You could hear them in the middle of the night from my house.  The Little League teams. Lion's, Boulevard Pharmacy, VFW, Terminal Construction, The Hawks, and The Red Team (I forget). 1962 and 1963 all-star teams went far. I was on the 1963 team.

The members of the police I remember. Jack Frank, Nick Valdez, Chief Bugnon, Paul Haebler, and Jack Dolci. I had a band in 1972 that played Pink Floyd styled "space music" right across the street from the police station in 35 degree weather!  Some people I miss. Joe Nuziale, Julie Tabor, Joe DeFalco, Pam VonGarlem, my parents Jeannette Lutgen, and Milty Lutgen and grandma Katherine Wrubel.

Wood-Ridge was a great town to live and grow up in. My wife and I live in Jersey City now, but take walks through Wood-Ridge every once in awhile. We only hope they will leave more of the Curtiss-Wright woods when it is developed.

Mike Lutgen

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