Remembering The Past: Hopelawn Winter Memories

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by Diane Norek Harrison

WOODBRIDGE—Some winter memories the from Hopelawn section of Woodbridge sent to me by Thomas Saboy:

“It seems that the winters of the 1940s were colder and there was more snow then now! In the 40s, the area to the west and north of Hopelawn school (now Laurel Street), was all woods and swamps. There was a stream in that area that ran all the way to the Raritan River. The stream refereed to as ‘the brook’ virtually separated Hopelawn into two parts. All the streets that ran east/west were dead ends except for a crossing at Warden Avenue and a bridge at Luther Avenue and of course New Brunswick Avenue. The remnants of the New Brunswick Avenue bridge still remain (across New Brunswick Avenue from Pathmark.) I assume the stream still exists, but has been piped underground.

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“At the time there were only three streets (Howard, Luther and May) that were paved and of course New Brunswick Avenue. All the other streets were covered with gravel, stone, or crushed tile. When it snowed all the kids crossed their fingers that the fire house whistle would sound indicating ‘no school!’ We all got out our sleds (mostly Flexible Flyers) and headed to the steepest, fasted hill in town, Luther Avenue from the top of Pennsylvania Avenue. It was in the 40s and in comparison to today there were very few cars on the road. We would ride down Luther Avenue all day until we went home for supper. If conditions were really good we would sleigh ride under the streetlights at night.

“There were no snow tires or radial tires in those days and all cars were rear wheel drive. If you drove in the snow you had to equip your cars rear wheels with chains. They were very noisy and you could not drive fast or they would come off. Most cars on the road then were built in the 30s.

“When sleigh riding, we played all the usual games, sled racing, train, snake and double deck. However we had the most fun when the occasional car slowly turned onto Luther Avenue from Pennsylvania Avenue. The most daring of us would get on our sleds and grab on to the bumper and hold on for a ride until we decided to let go or we were discovered by an occupant of the car. We called this ‘hopping cars.’ Looking back it was somewhat dangerous, but when you are young, you think you are invincible! Only as you grow older you realize your not!”

Thanks Mr. Saboy!

I’m looking for contributors for my 2010 columns. Send what you remember or have saved from the seven towns listed below.

If you have your own memories or past information for Carteret, Edison, Metuchen, Perth Amboy, Sayreville, South Amboy or Woodbridge you can email me at dianenorekharrison@juno.com or send copies of your material to me c/o CMD Media, 1139 East Jersey St., Suite 503, Elizabeth NJ, 07201


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