Remembering The Past: Woodbridge Clay Pits

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by Diane Norek Harrison

WOODBRIDGE-Memories from Ed Wilson after seeing a 2009 column of mine:

“Diane, I was born in 1944 and grew up in Woodbridge, having lived there until 1962. We lived on North Park Drive, where the pond is located (part of Heards Brook.) It drew dozens for fishing in the warm weather. N. Park Drive ended at Rt. 9 right where the original Hess gas station was located on Rt. 9 North.


“If you crossed Rt. 9 (which we did dozens of times a week) you would be in the area where Woodbridge Mall is now located. The area was massive and completely deserted save for the occasional truck would sneak in to dump trash. There were caves large enough for half a dozen of us kids to play inside. They were cliffs that were 30 ft. high and large pools of water, the clay not being terribly porous. We took our BB guns to “hunt” wild animals, though I don’t recall ever seeing so much as a squirrel or a rabbit there. We hauled in armloads of dry branches and lit campfires on which we cooked hotdogs and roasted marshmallows.

“The area was massive and every now and then, a Woodbridge Township police officer would venture into the clay pits to check our activities. As I recall, there was only one minor mishap there during the 10 or more years I played there. A kid, whose first name was Bobby, fell and broke his wrist.

“We trekked out of the pits behind Herd’s Brooks and Maple Hill Dairy and went to the small factory which was located on upper Main Street, near where Main intersects with Rt. 9. The custodian there, Warren, called Bobby’s mother, who came to claim him and took him to Perth Amboy Hospital. Warren allowed us to stop by the plant and use the bathroom and get a drink of cold water-which was always welcome. because it got hot in those clay pits. Many years later, I learned Warren’s last name. It was Donnelly-a fact I discovered in about 1995 when my brother married Warren’s sister, Fern!”

More to come!

If you have your own memories of the past in Middlesex or Union counties, email me at or send copies of your past material to me c/o CMD Media, 1139 East Jersey St., Suite 503, Elizabeth NJ, 07201

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