by Diane Norek Harrison
WOODBRIDGE-More from Ed Wilson: “There is a subdivision (that I believed is called Hollywood Park) at the northwest end of North and South Park drives. That area was developed in the early 50s by David R. Martin. Roughly where Fleetwood Road intersects Iris Place and Hunter Lane (none of which existed during my childhood) stood ‘the woods.’ If we said we were going to play in ‘the woods,’ there was no question in our parents’ minds where we would be.
“The woods were behind what was, I believe, the original Hess gas station on Rt. 9 northbound. One section of that hill was relatively devoid of trees, save for a few stumps. It was fairly steep and provided an excellent venue for sledding when there was sufficient snow. ‘Suicide Hill,’ as we knew and loved it, was not for the faint of heart. It was fairly steep and studded with the remains of fallen trees. Lugging your sled up the hill was something of a chore, but the saplings that bordered the hill provided plenty of handholds to help pull yourself up.
“There was one stump right in the middle of the hill that presented a particular challenge. Just as you approached the stump, you had to pull up sharply on the front of your Flexible Flyer sled (the ONLY sled for the adventuresome!) in order to clear the stump. We all hit it at one time or another, but one day there was a particularly gruesome collision. A kid from the neighborhood (I think I remember who it was, but will refrain from using his name in the event that I am wrong about his identity) failed to launch at just the right moment and rammed headfirst into the stump. He was a bit too far forward on his sled, so his mouth absorbed the entire impact. He lost several teeth and bled profusely. The hill had claimed another victim, who would, no doubt, return to go sledding another day.
“The bottom of Suicide Hill was ‘interesting’ as well. There was no level place to decelerate from your ride down the hill, but only more trees. We all learned early in our outings to stop our sleds quickly or faced the ignominy of slamming into the trees and having to endure the taunts of our playmates.”
If you have your own memories of the past in Middlesex or Union counties, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org 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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