Clifton (Acquackanonk) April 100 Years Ago
April 2, 1902
The regular monthly meeting of the township committee was held in the post office building on April 1, all the members being present. The minutes of the meeting held March 15 were read and approved as read. The treasurer reported a cash balance of $1158.87.
The following bills were presented and on motion ordered paid: Herbert R. Sipp, account poor, $69; Herbert R. Sipp, account services as poor master, $23; John Weller, services as member of board of registry and election, $10; J. H. Walters, services as member of board of registry and election, $7; Alvin Webb, rent of room March and April, $10; J.P. Walters, care of and erection of election booths third district, $15; Richard Berry, services serving notices, $10; A letter was received from the Clifton Fire company, giving reasons for desiring telephone placed in the fire house, and renewing the request that the telephone be so placed. On motion the request was denied.
Washouts and choked culverts were reported in Mount Clair Avenue and in Gould Avenue. On motion the matter was referred to Committeeman Piaget with power.
On motion tax bill No. 1559, year 1901, against G. and A. Neske, was ordered cancelled of record. Bonds for the faithful performance of their duties were offered by H. B. Kesse, Thomas Dutton and Alexander McLeod. They were referred to Counsel W. B. Gourley, who examined them and pronounced them correct as to form. J. C. Van Winkle also offered a bond, which was not in proper legal form and on motion was returned for correction. On separate motions the bonds of Messrs. Kesse, McLeod and Dutton were received, accepted and ordered filed and on motion the committee then adjourned.
Allison J. Van Brunt
Says the Change in Postal
Facilities Will Not Better Conditions, But Make Matters
Editor Daily News – We in Clifton sympathize heartily with your attitude on the license question, but we have a trouble of our own, and I would crave the loan of one of the editorial wars while I relate it. It is all about free delivery.
There is a charm in that word free which opens the heart of the average mortal to anything to which it is applied and like the inhabitants of several other places, we are not adverse to getting whatever we can for nothing. We would welcome free gas, free water, free trolley cares – I doubt not some would look with favor upon free beer – but we shun free delivery even as we shun free silver, and for the same reason; its costs too much, not in dollars in this case, but in inconvenience. However, the siren has sung her song and some of the deluded ones are even now headed for the rocks.
Free delivery of mail in Clifton has only one meaning – we have it on the authority of the postmaster general – [that] we must become a substation of Passaic. Instead of the thirteen mails each day, coming constantly between the hours of 7:30 a.m. and 5:50 p.m., only the coming and going of the country postman’s cart twice a day; he would leave Passaic in the morning at 8o’clock and in the afternoon at 3:30 o’clock.
In all this little world of commuters not one shall after that get his letters hot from the mail on his morning trip to the station, not one shall get the day’s letters as he returns at night. The evening appointment by an afternoon mail from his friend in Passaic or Paterson will be thirty hours old before he sees it, the order his wife now sends in the late afternoon to the butcher or baker in Passaic, which brings the needed supplies by the following noon, can be dispatched no more. He will buy his stamps and mail his letters over a cracker barrel in the corner of some Main avenue store and curse the enchanting postal “progress” which condemns him to the inconvenience of the farmer’s life without giving him the farmer’s compensatory advantages.
There is a second spot where the prospective postman’s whistle gives our nerves a twinge. For many years, Mr. Editor, when time has permitted, and rain has not prevented, we have stood on the shores of the Weasel Brook and gazed admiringly across at our big and growing sister. We are proud to hold that affectionate relationship with Passaic; farther than that we do not care to go. But this free delivery scheme is the first step towards losing our identity as an independent community. That proper local pride which all communities encourage, is strong within our borders; it bubbles out on every conceivable occasion; the spirit of ‘76 is here, too, and- all affection and admiration in the winds – we will not be the tail to anybody’s kite.
Yet another phase of this question gives our nerves a twinge; it is the contemplation of the loss of our present faithful postmaster. He presents in himself the anomaly of a first-class postmaster occupying a fourth-class post office, yet for some unknown reason, though ostensibly planning to have Alvin Webb appointed to the charge of the projected sub-station, from the camp of the agitators comes the whisper that they are working to have him ousted.
One of the popular features of this agitation, too, is the interest taken in it by the local branch of the Anti-Exertion society. That one of this society’s most prominent lights should suddenly have abandoned all its tenets and devoted his waking hours to the cause of free delivery is one of those psychical phenomena well worth investigation.
Your recent article on this subject stated that there wee one or two kickers against the proposed change. Mr. Editor, the name of those one or two kickers is legion, their voices are as the sound of many waters and their determination is as irresistible as a southbound trolley car on the Lake View hill.
Bertram H. Saunders.
Apr. 7, 1902
Some of the young men have organized a baseball team and called it the “Clifton Busy Bees.” A few days ago they challenged the Botany district team, or the Silver Springs. The game was played Saturday morning on the field between Clifton and Madison avenues. The boys played well and the result was a score of four to one in favor of the Cliftons. The owner of the field angrily appearing on the scene in the middle of the game and only made it more exciting.
As reported in the Passaic Daily News.
Apr. 8, 1902
Says Don Quixote Saunders is only Fighting the Windmills and With Weapons More Antiquated Than the Poor Old Spanish Don’s.
Editor Daily News:- Kindly grant me space to say a few words on the other side of the Clifton postal controversy.
We are surprised at the temerity of “Don Quixote Saunders,” in attempting to do battle with the windmill of postal improvement, still more at the weapons he uses. This valiant knight is simply the tool of a small organization known in Clifton as the “Ancient Order of Knockers.” When this movement was started we know that we could expect the opposition of this clique, because they always oppose anything which has the earmarks of advancement. They are just where we want them, for their opposition always adds strength to the other side.
Misrepresentation is made when it is stated that the name of Clifton will be obliterated when the free delivery is established from Passaic. Did Carlstadt and Wallington loose their identity when delivery was instituted from Rutherford, of Garfield, when made a substation of Passaic? Letters will be addressed to Clifton, the same as heretofore, and a station maintained for the transaction of all business now being done at the Clifton post office. Mail will not be delivered from a dreadful postman’s cart either, but by two carriers appointed for that purpose.
Objection is made that commuters going to New York will not be able to call at the post office before taking the morning trains. Why should they want to do this? They will find their business mail awaiting them when they arrive at their offices. Mail arriving in Clifton is almost exclusively family mail and under the new order of things will be delivered promptly twice a day where it belongs. Are the men who want to inspect this mail every morning afraid [that] members of their families will receive mail without their knowledge. Hundreds of businessmen find it no hardship to go to New York each day without a call at the local post office.
Three-fourths of the patrons of the Clifton office live at a distance of from a half mile to a mile away and this small body of kickers would compel them to plod to the post office every day in all kinds of weather. Many residents in Doughertyville and the rapidly growing Eastside work in factories. They are compelled to go to their work before the post office is open in the morning and it is impossible for them to get their dinners and get in the office before it closes at 7 p.m. It is small comfort to these people to know that thirteen mail pouches are thrown off at Clifton during this interval.
It must be a touching sight to see this brave knight with his feet planted on the boggy shores of the classic Weazel brook, gazing with envious eyes at the growing city of Passaic. If he is so loyal to it, why does he not spend some of his leisure time and immense energies towards its advancement, instead of devoting a portion of nearly every day in the up building of a public institution in this hated rival city? Again it would be sad to see him traveling to Hawthorne every morning without his daily bunch of “billet doux.”
Another time the truth is twisted when they state that letters to the butchers and bakers of Passaic cannot be mailed here. Mails will be dispatched in the same manner as before. If they are so saturated with civic pride, why don’t they buy their supplies within their own borders?
The weakness of this little band of obstructionists is exposed when they fall back on the sympathy dodge and shed crocodile tears for the fate of Alvin Webb. The originators of this position have no interest in the appointment of the agent to have charge of the station nor has it ever been considered. When the proper time comes we presume the most available man will receive the appointment. If Mr. Webb is not that man he can have his own supposed friends to thank for it. Sympathy for Mr. Webb is only a mask and if he stood in the way of their resentment they would take as much pleasure in knifing him as any other man.
The ”antis” have not a valid objection to offer except their stubborn opposition to improvements of all kinds. This select body of kickers are still living in the tallow candle and kerosene age and the sight of an electric street light gives them a nervous chill. This government, however, is run for the greatest good to the greatest number and they will have to abide by it.
Our friends on the other side are gracious enough to say they would accept free delivery, provided they could still retain the old post office. This of course is absurd. On the same principle they would refuse a halo from St. Peter, unless it had an electric light attachment.
April 8, 1902.
APR. 9, 1902
Dubbed “Don Quixote” by “Progress” - Mr. Saunders Replies With a Desire That He May Know His Sancho Panza.
Editor Daily News:- I must mildly protest “That Little Clifton Row” is not a row at all; by way of thrashing out this postal matter we are simply exchanging pleasantries with an undertone of seriousness, truly, but pleasantries, none the less.
I shall not, however, off the slightest objection to the very apt allusion with which “Progress” opens his delightful contribution to the discussion. It had been our impression that there was a good deal of wind connected with the movement for free delivery, but not till “progress” wrote did we know that back of it was anything using quite so much breeze as a windmill. But “Progress” says so and to prove his assertion puffs, flutters and whirls through several fanciful paragraphs. The lean old knight himself could not have started a windmill into such energetic, though important, motion.
When it was first suggested that I state the case against the petition in The News I thought first to be just plain “Pro Bono Publico” or “Constant Reader,” but as there was nothing to conceal and the situation seemed to demand perfect candor I signed my name. And it is perplexing, indeed, that the airy champion of “improvement” should hide his light under a bushel and that that bushel should be “Progress.”
But this is not the only perplexing thing about “Progress.” Why does he, in the sentence charging me with misrepresentation, distort my statement about the possible tendency of free delivery from Passaic to affect the independent status of Clifton? I said that to make Clifton dependent upon Passaic for the postal service is to take a step in the direction of making Clifton a corporate part of Passaic, nothing less, nothing more.
Why does he confuse and obscure the truth by such statements as that about the distance three-fourths of the people of Clifton have to travel to reach the post office and the many residents of East Clifton and Doughertyville who go to work in the morning before the post office opens and return at evening after it is closed? The positive facts are that of all the business done at the Clifton office less than one-tenth is for the people over whose comfortless condition “Progress” laments. The business which is the mainstay of the office comes from Clifton proper, where hardly a man favors free delivery.
This past-master (not postmaster, Mr. Proofreader) in the art of dissimulation also imputes to me the statement that letters could not be mailed in Clifton under the projected order of things. My statement was that letters could not be dispatched as now in the late afternoon or early morning. This is undoubtedly the fact and the average of seventy-five letters now mailed and dispatched daily between the hours of 7 and 8 a.m. would have to wait until taken away by the carrier and probably would not get into mails leaving Passaic until shortly before noon. But “Progress” seeks to raise a dust over this disadvantage by saying that “mails will be dispatched as before.” His sophistry about family mail and business mail is of a place with the action of those who allowed some to sign the free delivery petition without explaining that it meant “from Passaic.”
Speaking as one that has authority “Progress” tells us there is to be no postman’s cart, instead two postmen. Shades of delay and linger, this is worse than all! The last ameliorating hope, if the new “improvement” appears, is gone; no horse and cart, only two foot worn carriers.
“Progress;” I long to shake your hand. Your compliment to my understanding and your other genial flings have endeared you to me. I long to count you among my warmest friends. But, alas, I know you not. Tell me, “Progress,” do you live in the Botany district or in Dohertyville; in Clifton, or over the Athenia line? Or is it possible that you live in Passaic? Is it possible that you draw a salary from Uncle Sam? And is it - is it possible that you spend some hours every day swinging in a nice new chair, in a new office, in a nice new building, behind a nice new partition, upon the door of which is a word which begins with “P?” Tell me, “Progress,” for I am not the only one who wants to know.
Clifton, April 9 Bertam H. Saunders
Gives Reasons For Free Delivery
Gives Reasons For Free Delivery
But Clifton Should Take Advantage of the Liberal Care Taken of Passaic and Bergen Counties by First Assistant Postmaster-General Johnson Before He Steps Out of Office.
A News reporter called upon Postmaster Mahony today and found him seated on the new swinging chair, behind a new desk, in his new office, over the door of which is a word beginning with the letter “P” exactly as described by Bertram H. Saunders, of Clifton, in a letter to The News yesterday. It is only just to Mr. Mahony to say that he is not the author of the “Progress” letter which pictures Mr. Saunders as the Don Quixote of Clifton.
“Somehow I overlooked “Progress’s” letter in my News of Tuesday,” said the postmaster, “and it was only after I had read Mr. Saunders’ clever dig at me last night that I looked it up and read it. Say for me that I think Clifton is entitled to congratulations on having among its population such clever dealers in wit and sarcasm as Messrs. Saunders and “Progress.” I do not know the letter, even by his real name (the reporter had told Mr. Mahony), but I have known and admired Mr. Saunders for a dozen years or more, and if I had been called upon at any time to prepare a list of the bright and commendable young men of my acquaintance, his name would have appeared well up towards the top. It is therefore, a very great surprise to me to see him write so much and so intemperately in The News without knowing what he is writing about. What I am going to tell you now about free postal delivery in Clifton I would have been glad to tell to Mr. Saunders at any time had he asked for information.
“Let me begin by explaining my interest in the extension of free delivery to Clifton. Personally I would not gain one cent by it. Postmasters in office of the size of Passaic get an increase of $100 a year salary for every additional $5,000 worth of stamps sold. The total stamp sales at Clifton must be less than $1,000, so that it would fall far short of the mark required to gain an increase for me. The addition of Clifton to our territory, would increase our responsibilities, as the more men you have under you the more you have to watch. Thus you will see that I have no selfish motives in the matter.
“The exact truth is, and I feel sure Mr. Saunders will believe me when I say it thus publicly, that any interest I have taken in the matter was prompted by a desire to benefit my friends and neighbors in Clifton. And my part has been very trifling, anyway. Some six months ago at the request of, and in company with, two Cliftonites I called upon chairman Thorburn of the township committee to explain the circumstances under which free delivery could be had. Mr. Thorburn very frankly said the older and more solid folk of Clifton were opposed to the thing for fear it would lead to annexation and for other reasons. I took Mr. Thorburn at his word, dropped the thing on the spot and did not hear of it again until recently when Mr. Brick and one or two others called and obtained the same information I had given Mr. Thorburn as to the manner in which free delivery could be obtained. They left telling me they proposed a petition and I have not seen them since.
“Now Mr. Reporter, let me tell you just exactly what I told Mr. Thorburn first and Mr. Brick later on. It will enlighten Mr. Saunders. I told them I thought that if a committee of representative Clifton men called on First Assistant Postmaster-General Johnson at his home in Hackensack they could get the services of at least two letter carriers without cost to the village and without disturbing the present local postal arrangements. This could be done by following the example of Carlstadt. The mails to that town do not arrive through Rutherford but direct by rail. The only difference between the present and old regime is that carriers are stationed at the Carlstadt office and employed to collect and deliver the mail. The same is true of Woodridge borough also attached to Rutherford and of Hasbrouck Heights which is attached to Hackensack. The former postmasters in all cases but that of Carlstadt were appointed as superintendents for life at much more than they were paid as postmaster. In Carlstadt the postmaster opposed the change and lost his job.
“You ask why Carlstadt and such places have to be attached to other places in order to get free delivery. The answer is easy. The Federal Law dealing with free postal delivery limit’s the privilege to towns either with a population exceeding 10,000 or with postal business in excess of $10,000. Of late years the skilled men in the post office department have become convinced that this limit is too high and are extending free delivery, in spite of the law, by creating suburban towns into stations of the nearest urban community. This is never done against the wishes of the smaller places, however. In fact, it is not always done when they wish it. To get a carrier service without cost is regarded as a favor of the department. The Clifton office takes in, say, $1,000 a year now and costs $500. Extend free delivery and the cost would be: For two carriers, $1,700; for the superintendent of the office, say, $800; total, $2,300 outlay for $1,000 income. If Mr. Saunders or any other Cliftonite thinks the heads of the Federal post office department are sitting up nights to force a situation such as this on Clifton they are laboring under delusion.
The reason why the delivery has been so widely extended through the small towns of Bergen and Passaic counties is that First Assistant Postmaster-General Johnson takes a natural personal interest in his own neighborhood. Mr. Johnson’s resignation is now in the hands of the President and he will be out soon. With a stranger in his place, neither Clifton nor any of the other places hereabouts will stand as good a chance for favor in Washington. It is therefore up to Clifton to act. If free delivery is not desired, nobody need fear that it will be forced on the village.”
It was learned today that the petition favoring free delivery, recently in circulation in Clifton, was today forwarded to Washington.
As reported in the Passaic Daily News.
Building Was Block and a Half From City Line, But Passaic Firemen Saved Adjoining Buildings - Loss About $1,000.
Once more the members of the Passaic fire department were called out to fight fires in Acquackanonk Township. At 7 o’clock this morning a two-story and a half brick and wood building, owned by L. Beversky, a baker at Dayton and Lake Avenues, one block over the city line in the Duttonville district, caught fire from an over-heated bake oven. When discovered the building had ignited and a fierce fire was in progress.
Fearing that adjoining buildings would go, a neighbor ran to Hamilton Hose house and rang in an alarm from station 47. This called out Hamilton Hose Engine and Truck One and the Chemical. The firemen responded promptly and when they learned that the fire was in Clifton were loath to go to work. The fire had, however, gained such headway, that had they not taken hold, adjoining buildings, consisting of several large three-story tenements, would have ignited and been destroyed. It took the combined lines of Engine One and Hamilton Hose to reach the fire, which was soon extinguished under the efficient work of the local firemen.
The building was completely destroyed and the loss will amount to about $1,000. A barn adjoining was saved by the Passaic firemen, as were several hundred dollars worth of flour. Assistant Chief Everett responded and had charge of the firemen.
A big crowd was attracted by the smoke from the fire. Beversky saved the greater portion of his goods stored in the bakery.
As reported in the Passaic Daily News.
Apr. 26, 1902
At the Clifton school yesterday there were special Arbor day exercises. At 9 o’clock there was a twenty-minute song service, in which the entire school participated. Then the classes went to the different rooms where some of the scholars read compositions, which they had written on the subject of Arbor day; recitations were given and selections read. All this was very entertaining and at 12 o’clock school was dismissed for the day.
As reported in the Passaic Daily News.
Apr. 28, 1902
A special school meeting will be held in Eckhart’s Clifton hall on Wednesday, May 14, at 8 o’clock p.m. At this meeting there will be submitted the question of voting a tax for the following purposes.
For teacher’s salaries, $8,000; janitors salaries, $1,980; text books, apparatus and supplies, $3,000; fuel, $1,200; repairs and improvements, $3,475; bonds and interest, $2,050; other purposes, $1,000.
The total amount thought to be necessary is $20,705.
The reason for holding a special meeting is that the last meeting was conducted in the same manner as heretofore, voting for appropriations one item at a time and when there was no objection to an item, the secretary of the meeting cast the ballot of the meeting for that item. A citizen wrote to the state superintendent, objecting to that way of voting. He was upheld, Superintendent Baxter giving his opinion as follows:
“The law provides that at an annual meeting, when appropriations are to be voted, there shall be two ballot boxes and two sets of tellers, one box for ballots for members of the board of education and one box for ballots for appropriations.” And says further: “A legal voter might be very much interested in the election, but it might be impossible for him to be present at the opening and remain until the close of the meeting.”
This means that ballots for members of the board of education and for appropriations should have been cast at one time and in two boxes.
As reported in the Passaic Daily News.
Apr. 29, 1902
Editor Daily News:- I see in last night’s News that Acquackanonk township is to have another school election held Wednesday, May 14, as the meeting held last March was illegal.
Well, that does not surprise me in the least, as the manner in which that meeting was conducted was anything but decent. William J. Orr, of Lakeview, insisted upon his right to vote for appropriations, but his request was refused by John H. Adamson, who was chairman of the meeting. Mr. Orr, at the time, with others, pointed out the fact that the secretary could not cast a ballot for the appropriation of money, but Mr. Adamson, nevertheless, allowed A. W. Smith, who was clerk, to cast the ballot. A number of citizens appealed to the state superintendent, who upheld them, as seen in his decision given in your paper yesterday. Mr. Adamson, at the time of the meeting, said that “he would take the responsibility” is hard to conceive. Does he not think that the citizens of the township have more to do than merely attend school meetings on account of his ignorance of the law? There is also an expense attached to holding meetings, namely, the hiring of a hall and printing. Mr. Adamson, “no doubt,” will pay this out of his own pocket.
I would also like to know whether Mr. Adamson (who is to take the responsibility) will be kind enough and send a stage to Richfield, Albion Place, Lakeview and Delawanna so as to convey the voters to the meeting place which is held in Clifton, a few blocks from Mr. Adamson’s home. If he does this I, as well as a number of voters will forgive him for his blunder. He will also be taking a little part of “the responsibility” which he assumed at that time.
Trusting that Mr. Adamson will have the stage at Vorrath’s hotel that evening to convey a large number of citizens to the meeting, I am respectfully, Richfieldite.
Richfield, April 29.
Apr. 30, 1902
Matter has been in hand for past two years - that new building at Lakeview - Mr. Kesse chosen as custodian of monies.
Eight of the nine members of the Acquackanonk township school board were present at the meeting held in the Clifton school house last night. Mr. Hepburn was absent.
County Superintendent Wilcox was present and advised the board in the matter of a disputed bill, which has been up before the board the past two years. The bill in question is for $150 for tuition of scholars at the Upper Montclair school in Montclair township, the local board claiming that the transfers of the scholars had not been legally made from Acquackanonk. The Montclair board has lately refused to accept any of Acquackanonk’s scholars until the bill is paid. The matter was finally left to Mr. Wilcox, who, with the president of the board, are empowered to straighten out matters, which they promise to do at once, as the scholars from that section are unable to attend school unless transports are supplied or the bill paid.
The petition of the Lakeview residents for a new school was given to a committee consisting of Messrs. Cartwright, Baker and Hutchinson who are to ascertain whether another school is needed in that section and report back to the board.
Messrs. Henniger, Barrett and Nathan were appointed a committee for the new addition to the Albion Place school. The case of Miss Bartlett, a teacher, who is suing the township board for a year’s salary, is likely to come up at this term of court. President Barrett will act on the committee in place of Mr. Stagg, the late president. Lawyer Gourley has charge of the case for the township.
On Thursday, May 22, the board will make its annual tour of the various schools.
The board acted wisely in retaining H. B. Kesse, who is collector of the township, to be the custodian of the school moneys. It was thought that the new school law has so changed that Mr. Kesse could not act. This, however, proved to be so.
As reported in the Passaic Daily News.
As gathered by Donald C. Lotz 4/11/02