In His Words:  The Early Years

(Formerly titled "Dad Looks Backward")

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Young George Haupin, circa late 1920's

     A number of years ago, shortly after he completed writing (with my mother Betty's help) his war memories, my father decided to write this account of some of his memories of his childhood.  Some of these stories, like picking the tulips and the famous "fireworks display" were well-known to me, because I remember Dad telling them to me many times.  Others in this account are ones I had never heard before.

     For the extended Haupin Family of the decades of the 1930's thru to the early 1960's the Haupin Farm in Pottersville was a magical place and time.  My father George also remembered it as a place which represented a whole lot of work to be done.  The work part of it comes in very clearly in this account, but so does the fun.  In later years during the Christmas vacation, James Haupin would have his Bloomfield teacher buddies over for a fun and games weekend there, calling it the "The Winter Retreat for the Bloomfield Elite."  They played a lot of cards and ping pong, and I suspect they did a certain amount of drinking.  Even though it was a "no women allowed" event, my grandmother Margaret (Nannie to me) would pack them a mountain of sandwiches and treats.  With no central heating system back then, it must have been very chilly in parts of the house, but there was a huge fireplace in the main room, and I'm sure they enjoyed using that.  The farm in Pottersville was also the site of the annual Bloomfield Lion's Club picnic, and I remember being to a at least one or two of them.  I will always remember the sense of abundance we all felt when we were there.  My grandmother would give me a basket, and send me off into the strawberry or raspberry patches to pick berries.  I would come back to the kitchen an hour afterwards with berry stains covering my face.  I don't remember many berries ending up in the basket!  I remember the mill race, and swimming in "The Glen."  Papa Haupin had a barbeque pit built to resemble a little stone house, and everywhere, there were Nannie's flowers and the many butterflies and hummingbirds they attracted.

     My sister Linda and I and our cousin Jeannie are probably the last of the grandchildren who have clear memories of the farm.  For cousins Barbara, Tina, Cheryl, Karen and Ricky, who were older than us, the memories must be even more palpable.  For my brothers Jim and Rob and Cousin Bobby, the farm exists only in old photographs in family albums.  In April of 1963, my grandfather James died at the farm just a month or two after my other grandfather Edward Bohsen.  James had been burning leaves in the backyard, getting the farm ready for the spring planting, when the heart attack came.  In the following year, Nannie offered the farm to any of her three children who wished to buy it, but each had built their own family life in different places by that time, and none had the financial means or the time to keep it up.  So ownership of the farm passed from the Haupin Family, and the world changed for us forever.  For many in our family, we have never gotten over that loss.

     The last time I visited Pottersville was when Nannie passed away in April of 1990.  Both she and my grandfather are buried in the church cemetery there.  Having Pottersville as their final resting place made perfect sense to all of us, because they always considered it the most perfect  place in all the world.  On the way to the cemetery, we all drove past the farm.  It's not a farm anymore.  It's a millionaire's mansion and estate now...

            My earliest memories of my grandmother, Anna Boneker, are centered around the farm, for she visited us there yearly for a few weeks in the summer.  She would wear long, dark-colored dresses with an apron and she had an old-fashioned hair style with her hair drawn back in a bun.  She read German newspapers while sitting in a chair on the porch.  She was nice, and I liked her.  She must have lived with Aunt Ann and Uncle Ferd in Flushing, Long Island the rest of the year.

            I remember dimly my grandmother’s funeral.  It was in Flushing.  The smell of the flowers was overwhelming.   The cemetery in Long Island had a gatehouse and it played “In the Garden” in chimes.  We visited there several times.

            My grandmother and grandfather William Boneker had lived in New York City while my mother was growing up on 126th Street in a typical brownstone building which was occupied by a Jewish, Italian and German family.  My grandfather was a New York City policeman who patrolled the waterfront.  Every Saturday evening, it was the standard custom for the three fathers to go to the tavern to bring back a pail of beer, so apparently the families were very close. 

            My mom was the tomboy type.  Every St. Patrick’s Day she and her sister followed the parade and one year they got lost and ended up in Chinatown.  An Irish cop gave them carfare to get home   That was good for Chinatown was scary, then.  Mom and her sister used to bedevil the ragmen who came by with carts and horsedrawn wagons.  Ann was three years younger and my mom was her protector.

            Mom had an argument with a neighborhood girl with long pigtails and pulled her down the steps of her house.  When the girl’s mother complained, my grandmother said the kids should be able to take care of their own battles.  My mom used that idea later with us.  One time, Mom had Lu take a stick to school with her to help her with one of her playmates.

            The whole neighborhood was saddened when many neighborhood children and their parents were killed on the ill-fated General Slocum, a sightseeing boat which burned and sank on a Sunday School outing a hundred years ago in the East River.  The doors in the neighborhood were draped in black bunting acknowledging family losses.  It was a sad time.  Channel 13 recently ran a television program on the tragedy.  The boat was an old one and completely made of wood, and it burned fast.

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Margaret Bonneker as a young woman, circa 1916

            Both my mother (Margaret) and her sister (Ann) were beautiful when they grew up, and I have some pictures to prove it.  Aunt Ann married Ferd Mallgraf and they had a pretty home in Flushing.  They were comparatively wealthy, and they gave the nicest gifts for Christmas.   Uncle Ferd started as a sweeper for the American Tobacco Company and became the chief purchasing agent for the company without going to college.  He was built like a football player, while Aunt Ann was pretty, refined, and dignified, with a New York accent.  We went to Flushing for dinner, and when they came to our home, they brought dried fruits and fruit baskets.  Uncle Ferd was given gifts because of being in the Purchasing Department, so he passed them on.  In World War I, his lungs were scarred by mustard gas, but he was all right.  Another thing, Aunt Ann and Uncle Ferd had a nice fireplace in which they used pressed wood logs which were safer than real logs, for they were made out of sawdust.  I remember Aunt Ann had a pretty brown fur coat, and my mother had a black seal one.

            Aunt Ann and Uncle Ferd had two sons.  Bob was a radio operator on the Ben Franklin, a Navy aircraft carrier in World War II and that was hit by a kamakazi pilot.  Bob was lucky to survive and he got a heroism award.  He became a cabinet maker after saleswork for International Harvester, then married a girl who worked in a bank and went into cabinet work, working out of his home.  They went to live on an island off the coast of Maine.  He visited the farm and was the same age as me.

            Jerry served in the army and physically resembled our Robbie (Robert Wolverton Haupin, George’s youngest son).  Jerry looked a lot like his father in build.  He worked in a gas station as a mechanic and went in that direction.  He came to our wedding in his army uniform.  Your mom (Betty) remembers him, too, from that day.       

            In later years, Uncle Ferd and Aunt Ann lived in Montauk Pt. after they sold their housing in Flushing, and eventually Uncle Ferd had to care for Aunt Ann, for she developed Alzheimer’s disease.  Both are gone now, of course.

            From the stories I heard, my mother loved to dance with Papa (James Proctor Haupin), and I have fond memories of them dancing together, especially at the square dances up in Pottersville.  Nannie had three boyfriends but her mother liked Papa for she though he had such nice eyes.  While they were courting, they went on canoe rides up around Mountain View, and one time, I think the canoe overturned and my mom fell in.  My mother didn’t enjoy her trips to Sugar Grove, for they regarded her as a city girl, and Mom thought they lived in the boondocks.

            In the pre-World War I days, before she married, my mom applied for a job at Gimbels in New York City.  The line was a long one, and when the manager looked down the line, because of her height, and also I think because she was pretty, the manager chose her. She worked in the import-export department there involving the sale of paintings, pictures and statues.  She really enjoyed it.  They must have liked her, too, for when she left to get married, they gave her a silver set.  We have the teapot in our corner cupboard for she wanted us to have it.

            My mom and dad married and settled down in an apartment near the high school (in Bloomfield) before they bought the house on Willard Avenue which had gas fixtures in the house then for lighting, but of course when I came along, there were electric lights.

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James Proctor Haupin as a young man, circa 1916

            Later on, when she went in to New York City with my dad when he went to Columbia for his Master’s Degree, she would meet Aunt Ann at Gimbels and they would shop and have lunch together.

            Before my dad met my mom, several teachers had their eyes on him, especially Miss Russell, the gym teacher Miss Terhune, another math teacher, and Miss Albinson, the music teacher.  But after the marriage, my mom found a lot of friends on the high school staff, especially Mr. and Mrs. Kunkle and the Foleys.  They became our unofficial aunts and uncles.

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The Haupin Children, in 1927.  From left to right are Lucille, George, and Jean

            Their decision to buy the Pottersville house was largely based on the health of my sisters and myself.  They thought the air and country environment would be healthier for us.  I had a bad bout of ear infections which involved mastoid operations on both my ears when I was sixteen months old, and my sisters had scarlet fever, necessitating Grandma Chloe to care for me to keep me away from them so I wouldn’t catch it.  Mom had trouble getting me back under her control for I was Grandma’s pet.  So they bought the farm to give us a healthier place to live.  My dad loved it for he was a Pennsylvania farm boy at heart.  The neighbors used to marvel at his vegetables and corn crops for they thought he was a city slicker school teacher.  We split our time between Bloomfield and Pottersville, and it was our way of life.

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The Haupin Farm in Pottersville, date of the picture unknown.

            They bought the farm in 1928 and I was four.  Our original barn burned down, and Mr. Bassett our neighbor, replaced it with a three-car garage, for it was his field that had burned, taking our barn with it.  Mr. Bassett was a millionaire and the grandson of the founder of Prudential.  There was no bathroom or running water or electricity when we moved there, just a well that the previous owners had sabotaged.  They left two buckets without any bottoms, and in the upstairs bedrooms, someone had apparently peppered the walls with buckshot.

            We used chamber pots with lids at night and for lighting we used kerosene lamps, too, all over the house.  We all used the outhouse, which had two big seats and three little seats, but we all used it separately, of course.  My dad put lime down the holes.

            In the ‘30’s, my dad and Mr. Buffington (eventually the principal of Center School) put electrical wiring in.   When they drilled holes in the wall, grain came out.  The walls were thick and the grain insulated them, so it was always cool in the house.  The cellar was like a refrigerator with its stone walls, and dry, too.

            There were seven bedrooms on the second floor.  One was made into a bathroom and one bedroom downstairs became a bathroom, too.  There was a shower in that one, and we all used that.  We never used the bathtub upstairs.  My bedroom was the center room over the front porch.  Downstairs was the living room in the central area, and to the left was the kitchen with a big black wood-burning stove, and later a small electric one by the sink.  To the right of the living-room was the music room for there was piano in there, and also our records and a victrola.  In back of that was the guest bedroom. 

            Potatoes were grown in the back field by the road; raspberries frown on the side with strawberries and rhubarb.  Corn was planted in the front with pumpkins, squash, beans and tomatoes.

            At the end of the property and bordering it was a mill race.  At first it had a muddy bottom, but Mr. Wortman, the miller, drained it and paved the bottom so it was fun to cool off there.  Once I caught some nice big trout there by whacking him over the head with a stick, and my mom cooked them for supper.

            Dad planted all line trees on the farm by the driveway from the well down to the mill race.  He got them from Sugar Grove, and I got one from Stevens Engineering Camp when I was 14.

            There were three cats up at the farm.  Lucile was a big cat lover and still is.  One day when I was young and foolish, I put a cat on Mom’s iron stove, and I never saw it again!  I had a collie named Rosie and she was hit by a car at the farm so my dad had to shoot it.  That was awful.  We all loved Rosie and my dad sent us all in the house for she was really suffering, so he had to put her out of her misery.  He loved her, too.  At Bloomfield, I had a mongrel dog, Bounce, and he slept under the front porch, bu t his chain wrapped around the leg of our neighbor, old Mrs. Morton, so we had to give it to the Herzogs in Pottersville and it became a herding dog on their farm.  Bounce would come to me with his tail wagging whenever I visited him.

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Young George W. Haupin with Rosie

            I had a lot of fun playing ball with my friends up in Potterville, but when my dad needed me to help him, he’d come and get me from the baseball field.  It was embarrassing,  My mom would take all three of us down to the Glen for a swim.  Dad never went, for he had too much to do.  We all loved that Glen part of the Black River.  Every summer my sisters and I would go to Bible school in the Dutch Reformed Church up there, and we all went o the square dances at the Community House across from the church.  There were dances in the neighboring towns, too.  We went to Pluckemin once and looked upstairs and found a KKK hall up there with glass enclosures with silk banners of orange and black.  The banners were big, two-thirds of the area of the ceiling to the floor.  We had to put our coats up there so that’s when I saw them.  I didn’t know that the banners were KKK then.  I saw a movie with Humphrey Bogart later on about the KKK Black Legion, and the banners were the same.  I later read that there was a Klan in that area. 

            Lucille had a few dates with the square dance caller, for he had a crush on her.  He was one of the reasons why we went.  His name was Herb Hand.  My mother and dad waltzed as well as square danced, and I danced with my mother, too.  We always saw the same people wherever the dance was. 

            At night we ate in the farm kitchen and Dad and I had to chop and saw plenty of wood for the stove.  We chopped down a lot of the apple trees with a two-man saw (in our garage now) but left some, too.  We’d load up lots of apples and we would take them over to the Oldwick cider place and through barter, we’d bring home cider based on apple weight.

            After supper, we’d play Chinese Checkers, listen to records, and play cards in the living room.  Jean would play the piano, or we would play ping pong at the pool table in the music room.  My dad was so good but he’d let me win some.  That wasn’t much fun when he did that.   Dad used a lousy radio with no aerial to listen to baseball games, and Mom would do her knitting and crocheting.

            There was a blacksmith shop down the road, and I’d watch Mr. Bush form horseshoes and work on the bellows.  He wore a leather apron  Later, he and his wife turned the shop into a gas station.

            Further down the road, across from the church, was Lindaberry’s Store and Post Office.  He was the unofficial town mayor.  Mr. Lindaberry would turn mail over to Dad and tell him what the postcards said and from whom they came.  Two or three men were always in the store that he’d kabitz with and gossip.  They’d sit on barrels around a pot-bellied stove.  He sold bread and groceries, candy and pastries, flour, sugar, and salt, but my folks bought most of their groceries in Bloomfield markets.  However, most of the summer everyone but my dad was up there all week.  Dad had to teach summer school in Bloomfield so he’d commute. 

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            Lucille mostly helped Mom with the housework, but Jean and I helped Dad.  One job we had was pulling the weeds out of the tennis court we had in the front yard by the corn field.  It had a red clay bottom and my mom and dad both had tennis rackets and had fun playing together.  By this time, we were accepted by the townspeople for our house looked great and the folks admired the crops.  Mom had beautiful flower gardens in the front and back.  She spent a lot of time gardening and would cover up her arms with stockings and wear a hat, for she was allergic to the bugs.  A while ago, I talked to Jean about our chores, and she said that all three of us would be assigned our own area to weed when he would go down to teach in Bloomfield, and that he would expect us to have them pulled when he would get back. 

            Incidentally, our farm originally belonged to Colonel Potter in the 18th Century and early 19th century.  I found ledgers with John Honeyman’s name in them, and also discovered an old flintlock rifle in the woodshed when Nanny needed to sell the farm.  When Nanny sold the farm for $21,000 it was purchased by a contractor, who turned it into a beautiful $350,000 home.  [The property is worth millions of dollars now.] My folks bought it for $2800 from a family in Elizabeth furnished with big, massive, old-fashioned furniture.

            I remember my mom doing the wash with a scrub board and a washtub, a swing in a tire on an apple tree in the back yard, and Mr. McCrae making a cooking grill where the tennis court had been with cobble stones my dad had gotten on Bloomfield Avenue when it was paved.  The grill was in the shape of a little house. I had a butterfly collection for there were a lot of butterflies up there, but mites ate them up. 

            There was one snake that I remember, a copperhead, which bit Papa’s boot, and he killed it with a pitchfork.  It was about the length of a yardstick.  Of course, there were watersnakes in the Glen, but they weren’t poisonous.  Periodically, Papa killed rabbits and woodchucks which tried to eat his garden.  Once he stumbled and accidentally pulled the trigger when it went into the ground, but later on in the fifties he used the one good barrel to shoot a deer.  They had venison to eat that winter.

            There was a barn adjacent to my folk’s place owned by Mr. Bassett by a field with his horses.  My friends and I, Harold and Alan Connor, used to climb up the cross beams and jump down into the hay.  There were ladders on the inside of the barn walls, and we’d climb up and do it again.  The hay was stored for the horses’ feed.  Mr. Connor taught Sunday School in the Pottersville Church.  Jean remembered all about this barn, too.

            Another place we liked to prowl around I was the mill by the mill race which was also adjacent to our property on the other side.  We knew all the secret places to enter the locked mill.  The mill race ran under the mill and the huge mill wheel had troughs that would catch the water and would make it turn.  It was a noisy rumbling operation and we had to shout to hear each other.  Jean and I, and the Connors brothers.  There was a nice sweetish cereal smell from the grain that had been ground by the mill.  Jean loved that smell, too.  Later on, when I was older, I’d help out Mr. Foxy Fields who would deliver the ground grain and also some bales of hay to the farmers in the Chester area.  Jean also remembers the times we spent sitting on the slanted cellar doors playing mumbly peg with my pen knife, and we also had fun playing Tarzan on the honeysuckle vines going down the hill by the outhouse.  One time I was making doll house furniture for my sisters and used a small axe to shave the square sticks into round table legs.  In doing so, I cut off the tip of my finger.  There was a convention of doctors that day and there were no doctors available.  So we had to drive to Morristown Hospital.  That was one time my mother couldn’t fix me with iodine as she did when I ripped my leg on a wire fence after telling ghost stories in the Pottersville Cemetery.

            Coming home from the farm we’d all sing and when we got to Morristown, our half-way point, after we would around the square, we’d pass Washington’s Headquarters directly across on the right, there was a peanut vendor.  Dad got a bag for the front seat, and one for the back.  Jean was in the middle and she’d dole them out—“One for Lu, one for me, and one for George.”  I’d always get the little ones with one peanut.  And then we’d all laugh.  Also, on an alternate way home, we’d stop for ice cream cones in a little confectionary store in Gladstone.

            I have vivid memories of helping Papa with the planting and cultivating of all our farm property, four fields in all, which we maintained for all our vegetables and fruit vines and trees.  Until I was old enough, Jean helped him with the horse, and he was proud of the way Jean could ride.  But when I was eight, Papa would drive me to Herzog’s farm at the foot of Knight’s Hill, which led into Pottersville.  (By the way, that hill would be great to coast down on my bike.  I used to see how far into town I could go without peddling.)  I would ride this swayback horse all the way back to the farm.  The horse was so old it seemed sedated, and I always hoped no one would see me.  Later on, when I was older, I walked him.   What a horse!  He had a knack of putting his feet on two rows at a time instead of walking between, and there wasn’t just one horse like that.  There were several beauties which could not walk in a straight line.  I usually would ride them, and Papa would hang onto the cultivator behind.  Sometimes he’d get mad at the horse and hit it with a stone and I would have to hang on as it reared up.  At lunch time, we’d stop and I’d go in and open up a can of Campbell’s vegetable soup and we’d eat crackers with it and drink well water, and then go back to work.  We did this every spring on Saturdays to get the seeds in.  He got the seeds for vegetable at Ellis Tiger Feed Store in Gladstone, and the plants and berry bushes and peach trees from a nursery in Hightstown.

            Jean and I would help deliver vegetable to my father’s friends in Bloomfield.  He had between ten and twenty customers, and we sold beans, raspberries, corn, tomatoes, potatoes, onions, squash, carrots and rhubarb.  We’d deliver them in baskets which we would get back, eventually.  He got store prices, but his friends got extra fresh produce.  Everyone was pleased to see us.  Dad always seemed to know what his teacher friends wanted.  We never had a backlog.  Everything sold.

            The Herzogs had the second most property in Pottersville; Mr. Bassett had the most.   Herzogs sold milk but their cows produced and a dairy truck came in to pick it up.   They kept some back for local sale, and we had milk cans they’d fill for us at five cents a gallon. We’d bring them over empty and bring them home full.  That was a long walk, one mile for Lu, Jean Rosie our collie, and me, and the cans were heavy going home.  We only did that during the week when Papa would be teaching summer school in Bloomfield.

            I had a bike but could only ride it up in Pottersville.  I bought it for $12 that I had saved up and rode it all around the town.  Bob Wortman and I rode the 15 miles to the Flemington Fair each way, and also to a carnival at Oldwick on dirt roads at night.  It was hard to see going home in the dark  I remember being glad when a car came along so I could see the road and then pedaling as fast as I could to keep the tail lights in view.  I also rode to Gladstone to see a girl I met at a Pottersville dinner, but that was the only time.  My dad came to meet me, and trailed me all the way home.  So I didn’t do that again.  I think I was only thirteen when I did that.

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Young George W. Haupin with his bicycle, late 1930's

            I’ve told you lots of times about my big fireworks display.  When I was eight or nine, I bought some fireworks with some money Papa gave me and I bought Roman candles with balls of fire, Mt. Vesuvius which were pyramidal and spewed out eruptions, and extra big sparklers.  I told all my friends that I was going to set them off when it got dark, but issued no invitations.  But towards dark, the Pottersville grownups started coming to our house and sat down on the chairs on the porch.   My mom got them drinks wondering what was going on.  I didn’t tell her I had bragged about our pyrotechnical display.  So at dusk, I brought out the fireworks and I spread them out as much as I could.  I held the Roman candles, about three feed long, and they shot off about five whooshes—balls of color—nice!  Then I got on my hands and knees, and lit the Mt. Vesuvius, about a foot high on the sidewalk.  Then everyone went home while it was still light.   I was teased about that by my family for a long time.

            The farm was part of our lives and we all loved it.  But at the same time, it represented so much work.  But we were happy there and I was proud to show it to your mom (Betty) when we were going together those years so long ago.  I showed your Mom the Glen, and took her to a church dinner in Fairmont, and we had fine reunions at the farm with my sisters’ families in the summertime.  Your mom feels a closeness to the farm, too, and we were proud to have shown it to kids, even when it belonged to Mrs. Hazel Pontin who bought it in the late 1960’s.  Interestingly enough, she and her late husband had spent their lives on a larger farm raising mules.  Now I wonder if she had sold any to the U.S. government in the 1940’s.  Life sometimes has a way of making full circles.

            Our house in Bloomfield on Willard Avenue held all the preserves my mother canned in Pottersville on shelves in the cellar.  My mom was a good cook and I remember her meatloaf, macaroni and cheese, and mashed potatoes especially.  She baked great cookies and took good care of us.  She had tubs in the cellar and an Easy washing machine, too.  My mother was very church oriented and all three of us went to Sunday School every Sunday at the Baptist Church near the Center.  My mom had a fur stole, and she looked pretty in it.

            Christmas was fun.  The tree was in the sun parlor with its lights.  It was cold in there, for it had been part of the porch.  The living room had sliding doors and Mom and Dad kept them shut on Christmas Eve.  It was a ritual.  And Christmas morning we’d open tem and see all our toys and I think we had stockings.  Over the years I remember getting an erector set, Lincoln logs, Tinker toys, a wagon and a sled, and five harmonicas.  Id get my Boy Scout books and a brown Boy Scout hat with a brim.  I was good at spinning tops, and had a whole box of marbles.  I had a set of Lionel trans (helped out by the Mallgrafs).  Our favorite gifts were from the Mallgrafs. They gave me a fire engine with a Bunsen burner and a drive wheel.

            My father was big on Valentine’s Day cards and we made Valentines from packs.  We had Easter baskets and we all dressed up on Halloween.

            I remember playing ping pong with my dad and also bagatelle on the dining room table.  He took me bowling once.  I got a 200.  I don’t remember going again.

            We saw every high school football game when I was little.  Papa sold tickets and we’d leave the house in the middle of the morning and pick up the Kunkles (a history teacher and athletic director) and I would roam around the stands.  Lucille and Jean were in the high school band and Jean became the first drum majorette that Bloomfield ever had.

            I had my chores.  I mowed the lawns at both houses, took the garbage out, and kept my room clean.  Willard Avenue was easy to mow, but the farm took three and a half to four hours.

            I took piano lessons first, but when I was eight or nine, I began violin lessons and in the orchestra I played thirty-second violin, I think.  I ducked out of the dress rehearsal to catch salamanders.  The teacher told my dad and I got spanked.  But I did play in the concert at Caldwell Women’s Club.  Next I tried the saxophone.  No go for that.

            I was good at the trumpet from 5th grade on and really loved it.  Bob Lobell and I played lots of duets at Berkeley and were really appreciated.  We both got brass pins for orchestra and Bob and I got silver ones for outstanding achievement.  Bob, Betty Sherwood, and I played Harbor Lights and we were so good we played in the Auditorium for assembly.  My piano lessons were on Belleville Avenue, and I enjoyed playing, but really didn’t practice.  Both Jean and I enjoyed playing by ear.

            I remember the radio shows, The Shadow, Green Hornet, The Lone Ranger, and I read Big-Little books, Robinson Crusoe, and the Hardy Boys and Robin Hood.  Going to the movies at the Center was fun, too.

            My friend Harlow, who lived across the street, had a paper route and one time he asked me to deliver his Sunday papers.  Unfortunately, it was snowy, and my bike slipped and the papers fell and got all mixed up.  Harlow’s customers were angry.  No one got comics that Sunday, either, for I didn’t pick them up at the store.  When we met a month ago at the Turkey Farm [then a popular restaurant near Morristown], he still remembered that.

            Another friend was Bob Lobell, and we played knights.  His shield was better than mine, for his dad made his.

            One time on the way home from visiting a friend on Berkeley Avenue, I picked tulips for my mom and hopped over Harlow’s fence to my house.  The man who owned the tulip bed did too—and my poor mom opened the door to him with the tulips still in her hand. She tried to give them back, but he said, “If he ever does that again, I’ll kill him!”

            Harlow and I were in the Boy Scout troop at the Baptist church and I was the Bugler and Assistant Patrol leader.  We had a hike at Lyndhurst in the Meadowlands and we found ammo shells.  I brought one with a 4-inch diameter home in my pack and it was one and one-half feet long. I was going to polish it up.  My mom called the police and they came and took it away.  I think it was live.  We had a camporee in Brookdale Park and on Memorial Day, we always marched in the parades and placed flags on the graves of the servicemen.   We met in the basement of the church and Mr. Healy was the Scoutmaster.

            We took several trips when I was growing up  One was when I was very young and my father was very proud that he drove 1800 miles to Montreal and Ausable Chasm and Fort Ticonderoga.  All those miles and no flats!  We saw the boats of the St. Lawrence River. I slept in a long drawer in a tourist cabin in my parents’ room.   Lu and Jean were in the adjoining room. 

            Another time was in 1937 when we got in our brand-new 1937 Ford V-8 to drive to Lucille’s work site,  Darts, a summer recreation resort on a lake in Kingston, New York.  She was working there to fulfill Cornell’s Hotel School requirement.  We left from Pottersville at 3 A.M. to get an early start.  We had some Pottersville friends, the Wortmans, over the night before to play ping pong, and none of us got to bed before 11:30.  We loaded the car with a lot of apples and peaches for Lu and had gotten to Sussex Country when my dad got sleepy and the tires went off the road.  He tried to compensate and turned the wheel abruptly and we flipped over three times and landed in the center of the road, straddling the centerline.  My mother had the presence of mind to turn off the ignition key, so we didn’t explode.  Jen and I were in the back seat and landed on Aunt Kate who had to go off in an ambulance to a local hospital for the better part of a week.  I remember my dad was in a dazed state and after he climbed out, he was walking around the fruit-covered road.  I watched him bend over and pick up a peach and eat it.  The battered car was still drivable, and we limped back to Bloomfield and he pulled up the driveway and put it into the garage and unpacked it there.  Then he locked the door.  Very early the next morning, he took it back to the dealer, and since it was totaled, he got a new car.  We did get up to see Lu without Aunt Kate.  When we arrived there, we found out that one of the girls’ dormitories had burned down.  So those were hard luck trips.

            I first went out for football when I was in eighth grade, in Park Grammar School, so I played for five years.  I liked being part of the football scene because it was rough, and tough.  I was teased in the beginning because my dad was a teacher—“Oh, here’s Mr. Haupin’s son.”  But as I progressed through the years, we were all friends.  But I never hung around the Center like a lot of them did.

            Mr. Foley had been like an uncle to me when I grew up.  Uncle Bill.  But I always felt that put me at a disadvantage for he took it out on me.  The relationship was a negative factor and he had it in for my friend Bob Lobell, too for his older brother Stewart left BHS to go to Fork Union in Virginia, a military school.  He got a scholarship for his senior year, and after that, Coach Foley had it in for Bob.  Neither one of us were starters, but we got in all the games 2nd and 4th quarters.  The two teams were the equal of each other and there was no letdown in talent when Foley substituted teams.  Only sixteen players played senior year, and I always played.   All of us were listed, and the rest sat on the bench.  We had a State Championship team, and we all got little gold footballs.  I gave mine to your mother.  We were the last Bloomfield team to go through a season without a loss.  We had one tie.

            I enjoyed swimming a lot in high school, too.  We went up to the Montclair YMCA when football ended and I went on the swimming team when I was a sophomore.  I was captain when I was a senior.  When we went to Nyack, my dad came on the bus, too, and he was so excited with my race because we were about five yards behind and I made up that difference as we cam to the finish.  My father was running along the side of the pool and he got all wet.  He was proud of me when I touched the end of the pool before the Nyack boy did. We won the meet!  The water was so cold I still remember it.

            Senior high was good.  I enjoyed going to Christian Endeavor at Westminster Church.  We had a fun group, girls and fellows and we socialized together.  I remember two canoes full of us in Pompton Lakes. Walter Robinsons glasses fell off when his canoe tipped over, and he was the only one of us in our carload with a license.  Some of the girls in the group were Peggy Banks, Marilyn Sheldon, Ruth Williams, and Mary Jane Cananaugh.  The boys were Victor Dahn, Charles Venner, Bruce Sheldon, Hamby Gaddis, and Howard Kirk.  We were all good friends.  The girls had the parties at their houses, and their parents were home, too.  All of us fellows were in the Senior Class Play, Ever Since Eve.  We were the last class that graduated in the middle of the year, at the end of January, 1943.

            Practically the next day, I was shipped to Cornell in a snowstorm with my footlocker trunk for the start of college.  I had been a college technical major and was accepted at Cornell Engineering School with my army deferment.  It was predetermined that I go to Cornell because my two sisters had.  Jean was still there. I had a room off campus in “Collegetown.”  We had to get our own means with money paid by ourselves, no meal plan.  My dad sent as much up to me as he could, but I had to be careful.  It was a beautiful campus.  Jean was married to Walter Sickles then, and we met for some meals, but it was lonely up there, and the work was very hard.

            I applied for Officer’s Candidate School and used Walter as a reference.  He had graduated from OCS, so I went in front of a review board and I was accepted.

            So, I joined ROTC and took an equestrian course.  One time, I was riding in the armory in my uniform, when my horse got kicked and it reared up.  We were trying to ride without using the stirrups, and therefore, he galloped down to the end of the riding hall, and I slid off and split my blue ROTC pants.

            At spring football practice, I met Walter at the gymnasium and he introduced me to the captain of the football team, Nick Daukas, and I got some equipment and did some practicing.  Shortly thereafter, there was spring practice, but I didn’t do too much, for my courses were too had and I had no time.  But in the course of the practices I did do, I felt equipped to hold my own with the rest of the football team, which a year or two later went undefeated.

            About the same time, Walter, who graduated in 1941 with Lucille, was in a fraternity, Acacia, a Masonic fraternity.  He was out of Cornell as a graduate but was working as an assistant coach.  He had a reputation at Cornell as a fine athlete.

            After that first semester, I was discouraged.  Everything was too much.  I had had a college deferment, but I couldn’t wait to go into the service  That’s why I went down to the Draft Board in May of 1943.  They said that their quotas were filled for June, but I could go in July if I passed the physical.  My neighbors, the Mortons and McKenzies were asking me why I hadn’t gone in yet, and I really wanted to go.  I had had it at Cornell, too.

            I went to Newark with John Lowe.  Both of us wanted to go together.  He was turned down right away.

            I was afraid I would be turned down, too, due to my lack of hearing in one ear, so even though I had to hold my hand over my good ear, I loosened it enough so I could pass.

            At the end of the exam line, they had two desks for recruiting, the Navy desk and the Army one.  Both had openings.  So I decided to take the Army.  It was safer on land.  In high school, I had taken an Army test for training to eventually become an officer, but I was too old for the Navy program.  The Army program was discontinued.

            I still had a two-week wait.  So I spend my time at home and the farm.

            On July 23rd, I went by train to Fort Dix.  The train was loaded with a lot of guys.  I talked to John Hester, a black player on our high school team, and he was assigned to a segregated unit.  Those first days were a nothing experience.  It was very hot, and soon I was shipped to Fort Bragg, North Carolina.  My army life had begun.

 

           

© George P. Haupin 2012