At various times, I have received recollections of life in, around, and connected to Blawenburg from our valued readers. These are first-hand accounts of what people experienced. In this blog, I am publishing three such recollections, all related to previously published blogs. I encourage you to reread the blogs and then read these recollections.
Remembering Camp Pahaquarra
By Larry May, Related to Blogs 91/ 92
After Blog 91 about Boy Scout Troop 46 was published, Larry May and others shared memories about their experiences in the troop. Larry had some additional memories and details that are published in this blog. Camp Pahaquarra was a Boy Scout camp owned by the George Washington Council of the Boy Scouts of America from 1925 to 1971.
Troop 46 at Camp Pahaquarra in 1967
Blog author Larry May is in the first row on the far right.
To add another piece of nostalgia, I thought I would provide a glimpse of camp life at Camp Pahaquarra, especially at Unami, the Indian name of our troop’s campsite.
Back in the day, and probably much more so than now, scouting was conducted along the lines of the military, which provided structure and order. There is a chain of command led mostly by the scouts themselves in leadership positions. At Camp Pahaquarra, the day began with reveille, which until the early 1960s was played by a live bugler. In subsequent years, the camp was unable to find a bugler and had to switch to recorded bugle calls broadcast over loudspeakers.
Reveille was the call for all troops to assemble on the parade ground for morning roll call. Each troop marched in formation onto the parade field and took their position in a large “U” shape facing the flagpole. Once all the troops were in position, the designated senior camp leader would face the troop to his extreme right and the leader of each troop would salute and report in order “Troop 46 all present and accounted for, Sir.” Then the bugler played “assembly” as the American flag was raised. The entire camp saluted at attention, and a small cannon was fired. Following roll call, all the troops would exit the field in formation and march to the mess hall for breakfast.
After breakfast, each troop was on their own for whatever activities they had scheduled for that day. Activities could include canoeing, row boating, swimming, shooting at the rifle range, hiking up to the Appalachian Trail, and a variety of other activities. Each year at camp, we usually had one or two new scouts in the troop, and as part of their initiation, they were sent on “special” errands. One would be sent down to the lifeguard shack at the swimming area to get “50 feet of shoreline.”
Another errand was to go to the camp office and get the morning “canon” report. Often in the evening after dinner, we would have a campfire in our troop area. As everyone knows, if they have ever sat around a campfire, you will frequently get smoke in your face. So, we would send the “newbies” out to see if they could locate a “smoke shifter” to eliminate the problem.
Each day at 5:00 pm, troops would once again march in formation onto the parade field and take up their position for evening roll call. The bugler would play “retreat” as the colors were lowered and the entire camp again saluted at attention. At the close of the ceremony, the troops would exit the field in formation and march to the mess hall for dinner.
At 10:00 pm the bugler played “taps”, and it was lights out. Rest up, boys, because we’re going to do it all again tomorrow.
This was the first year scouts from Troop 46 went to Philmont. This picture shows all the scouts who were at Philmont for this session. Blog author Larry May is the fifth person from the left in the top row.
The Scout Troop Turtle Shell
By Nina Stryker, Related to Blog 92
In Blog 92, there is a picture of a large turtle shell that is in the Scout trophy case at Blawenburg Church. No one was sure of the story behind it until Nina Stryker left a comment at the blog site. Her father, Parvin Stryker (aka Pop)was a troop leader at Troop 46.
The numbers painted around the edge of the turtle shell represent the years Troop 46 went to Camp Pahaquarra. And for the record, I found the turtle beneath the ice while skating at the lake. (Lake Sylvan at the Neuropsychiatric Institute).
Pop went up to the cinderblock guardhouse, which was right near the NJNPI lower entrance, and got their fire axe. He hacked the turtle out of the ice. The boys had the turtle bite their hockey stick in order to get it over to the edge of the ice. Pop somehow got it up the hill to the car.
Blawenburg Village Life
by Deb Chapman, Related to Blog 27
Annie Allen published her memories of growing up in Blawenburg’s oldest house, Blawenburg Tavern in Blog 27. After Val Hartshorne passed away in 2023, it triggered some memories for Deb Chapman, who also grew up in Blawenburg. Deb recalls her friendship with Annie’s sister Caroline (aka Moose).
In May 2023, I attended the memorial service of my childhood best friend’s mother, Valerie Hartshorne. I wanted to speak, but there were so many speakers I thought the audience wouldn’t appreciate sitting through one more tribute. Remembrances were initiated by Caroline, my earliest friendship when she was six and I, eight…only then she was nicknamed “Moose”. I heard it was a transformation of her father’s affectionate “Mouse”, a term of endearment for his youngest.
Lemonade stand at Blawenburg Tavern
L-R: Caroline/Moose Hartshorne, Wendy Chapman, Jen Hartshorne
When we moved to Blawenburg in 1966, our mother had divorced our father after a tragic accident left him quadriplegic and living with his parents in Michigan. We flew to spend summer and winter vacations with them yearly throughout our school years. Our mother remarried her high school sweetheart, Dr. Tom Robbins. They had both grown up in Princeton and met in high school. He worked at NJNPI, the New Jersey Neuropsychiatric Institute, as a psychiatrist.
Our first year we rented from Mr. Torelli, who lived at the storefront house on the corner of Route 518 and the Great Road, with his son, Michael. The Hartshorne family had the old Tavern, and it was the center of the neighborhood for most of us. The four Hartshorne children befriended everyone around them.
Mrs. Hartshorne was a good cook who threw dinner parties often. When Moose and I wanted to help out, she let us pretend to be French waitresses, with accents, outfits, and made-up names for ourselves. Everyone played along and we loved it!
My mother had the forethought to want to buy the old storefront (now Blawenburg Bistro), and turn it into an antique shop. In order to save up, we lived in two separate Montgomery Township houses for the two years before returning to Blawenburg. By then, the post office had moved off the property. My brother took it over as his “bedroom”. The old outhouse remained, which Moose and I turned into “The Blue Mountain Nature Club”! Mrs. Hartshorne let me throw a carnival in their yard with Moose, to raise money for muscular dystrophy. The whole neighborhood came for fun and games. I won a Jerry Lewis watch!
Moose’s birthday party at Hartshorne’s Blawenburg Tavern
Families came and went, but the neighborhood children all played together: 4-Square in the Hartshorne’s driveway, Kick-the-Can in the graveyard, roller skating to and around the church, swimming in the pond, jumping in off the tree-strung rope at Beden’s Brook or ice skating there in winter, and sledding off the Province Line Road hill. We were so glad to be back in Blawenburg again!
Moose and I would climb to the top of our roof and look over the four corners at night. We’d ride our bikes down the “Institute hill” without hands (or helmets). The A&S across the street from our house had a jukebox and a pool table. Mr. Cochran started a “Rec Center” for all of us to dance and play ping-pong.
My brother, Reed, moved back 30 years ago, and I returned just last summer (2023). I was able to express to Mrs. Hartshorne all my love and gratitude before she passed. Caroline reminded me of that at the memorial service. That was another example of how she had inherited the care, empathy, and understanding that her mother was famous for. This woman, Valerie Hartshorne, helped me—helped all of us—become the mothers we wanted to be as we watched, listened, idolized and emulated her.
Growing at the New Jersey Neuropsychiatric Institute
By Jim Beachell, related to Blogs 62-65
In Blogs 62-65, we published a four-part series on the State Village for Epileptics, which became New Jersey Neuropsychiatric Institute (aka The Institute), and later North Princeton Development Center. Jim Beachell grew up there and shared memories in the original series. Afterward, he had additional thoughts, which are shared here.
In a previous blog, Larry May mentioned a patient from the Institute who rode a scooter. That person's name was Donald Biggs. In my time, I knew him to have two different scooters. One was a Cushman and the other was a Harley Davidson. Both had side cars. I never knew Donald to be a patient. I knew him as an employee. His last job was in the library. As a young man, Donald got polio. It severely handicapped him, but his speech was understandable, if you were patient and listened carefully. Later in his life, he lost his physical abilities, and it limited his freedom. He had to give up his scooter.
What was important about the Institute was that it was self-sufficient. It had a store for food and groceries. It had a hub where patients and workers could go for ice cream, soda, and cigarettes. Workers lived at the Institute, and it had its own fire department and patrol force. It had its own farm with a dairy, piggery and poultry. They also grew their own pear trees, apples, and strawberries.
Patients were protected from the time they entered until their death. The Institute also assisted in research and was instrumental in finding a way to control epilepsy. The Institute also became a court-ordered containment facility of men or women with alcohol and drug violations. Court-ordered residents had to finish a program in order to re-enter society.
The Institute fire house
There were also a number of very serious fires. I remember two in particular. The laundry, which was a large brick building, went to the ground as a 13 alarm fire, and the library also burned to the ground as a 12 alarm fire.
The Institute Fire Department was all volunteer and made up of the employees who lived on the grounds. Many were veterans of World War II and Korea. These men and women knew how to take orders and work together.
One Friday, a payday, a fire broke out at the library in the afternoon when many of the volunteers were off cashing their paychecks. The fire got a good start, allowing it to get up in the walls in the wood frames under brick walls with a slate roof.
My father, brothers, and I were the first to show up to fight the fire. Chief McQuade told us what to do. Two of my brothers went with him to vent the second floor by opening windows. My father went to get one of the Institute fire trucks to supply water. I got the hose job and my father ran the pumping from the truck. It seemed like a joke because I ran out of water so fast I couldn't do very much.
Soon emergency calls went out, ringing the Institute firefighters to come back to help fight the fire. One of the Chief’s assistants brought a bigger American LaFrance truck that held more water. By this time, they put in a general alarm and other fire companies started to arrive. They set up a direct water line from the lake to bring in more water. Unfortunately, it was a little too late to gain control. There were many valuable antique books that went to waste.
The library was a beautiful old, red brick building with a wonderful design. Long after it was cleaned up and removed, you could still find the bricks from the building down at the old piggery, which became a dump for its remains.
Do you have good memories of Blawenburg? Please share them with others who read this blog. Send them to email@example.com.
Thanks to the contributors to this blog.
Camp Pahaquarra (two images) - Larry May
Turtle shell – David Cochran
Lemonade stand – Deb Chapman
Birthday party – Deb Chapman
Institute fire house – Ken Chrusz
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