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Morris County Landmarks

Ironia

by Tammy Scully

134 years ago, in 1871, a small section of Randolph Township was given a name, and an identity. It was born when the booming iron industry in Morris County was the third largest in the nation. Surrounded by several of the larger and most productive mines, in neighboring Chester, Mine Hill, and Port Oram (Wharton) this section of land drew the attention of several prominent local men. Soon, plans for developing a town out of this isolated woodland were formulated; a town christened, appropriately, "Ironia". It would be the "missing link" along the rich vein of ore that ran from the Dickerson Mine south into Chester.

At the time of this conceptualized plan, there were about 50 dwellings in the surrounding area, mostly farmhouses, along with various gristmills, sawmills and distilleries. But there was no "downtown" as had developed in nearby Chester, Dover, or Succasunna. This was a rural area, where neighbors were miles apart, roadways barely passable, and self-sufficiency a requirement.

The potential for prolific and profitable mines within Ironia did exist. In 1828 the first mining operations began in the Comb's Hollow section, and over the next 60 years about 12 mines were worked. None of the mines, however, proved productive enough to warrant railroad extensions, and families, rather than mining companies, operated most of them.

Daniel Budd and Nathaniel Cooper were two prominent Chester citizens who lobbied for the railroads to come to Chester and connect to the mines further north. The line was opened in 1869, passing along the Black River and through the land upon which Ironia would be developed. Budd joined forces with the Canfields, owners of the Dickerson Mine, and several others to embark upon a three-tiered project to create an industrial town out of this area of wilderness and scattered farmland. The Ironia Iron Company was to develop future railroads needed to access area mines. The Ironia Car and Transportation Company was to manufacture train engines and cars. And the cornerstone of the project, the Ironia Land and Improvement Company, acquired rights to purchase up to 1,000 acres of land in the vicinity of the railroad for the development of a planned community based around the iron industry. A grid of grand paper streets, only a few of which were ultimately constructed, described 50X150 lots which were to be sold along the streets nearest the railroad tracks. And four furnaces, along with the already existing Thorpe's sawmill, were to harness the waterpower from Bryant's Pond to provide the needed materials for the Car and Transportation Company and the Iron Company.


Not a trace of the hotel and general store, shown above in 1902, remain at the Patriot’s Path trailhead (below) at the end of Ironia’s Main Street.

Main Street, Budd Street, and Chester Avenue were the names given to the roads that were to have anchored the town of Ironia. Main Street led to the depot, where a large 14x22 foot station was built. A three-story hotel was constructed here as well, along with a general store and a freight building. Along Budd Street and Chester Ave, three homes were constructed to house mining families. But no more were built, despite the grand scheme of the Ironia Land Company.

In 1873, the country went through an economic downturn and the iron industry suffered. Financing and developing a town based entirely around iron mining now became a risk and the Ironia companies folded. The Land Company sold its accumulated property, and Ironia never materialized into the industrial hub it was envisioned to be. Although several of the larger Ironia-area mining operations were able to continue production for another decade the small Ironia mines could not recover, and their ore was left untapped. Hacklebarney, in Chester, stopped production by the turn of the century. The largest mines, such as the Dickerson and Scrub Oaks Mines in Mine Hill, continued operating until the mid-1900s.


Upon the dissolution of the Ironia Land Company, Dorastus Bryant, who owned a mine, as well as a cider mill and distillery on the Turnpike road from Morristown (Sussex Turnpike), acquired much of the company's land holdings. He farmed the land, planting apple and peach trees. Bryant developed Park Avenue, which leads from Upper Ironia down the incline and over Bryant's Pond, and into Lower Ironia, in the 1880's. He apparently felt that it was a more advantageous route down to his property holdings than the original roadway. A schoolhouse, circa 1903, was located on Park Avenue, sharing a lot with the Ironia Presbyterian Church, built in 1907. The grandson of Dorastus Bryant at one time operated a milk processing plant across from the pond. And the Bryants' Evergreen Park House, which accepted boarders, was the genesis of a tourist trade.

Evidence of tourism in Ironia continued into the mid-1900s. Greenhut Park, located down Pleasant Hill Road along the Black River, just before the boundary with Chester Township, was a summer colony that operated until the 1970s. Greenhut Park boasted its own hotel, the Peggy Lee, which had a large dance and recreation hall. Along the border with Mendham, off of Ironia Road, was the Polish Solkol camp. In the 1930s the Woodland Club nudist colony operated until the days of going naked ended in the 1960s, when early housing developments came too close for comfort. The Woodland Club is now a sportsman's organization.

Although the railroad was meant to serve the now-defunct iron mining industry, it continued to play apart in the development of Ironia. The Chester Railroad, a branch of the Morris and Essex line, offered passenger service as well as the freight line. Ironia children utilized the train to attend classes in Dover. The train ran from Chester and stopped in Horton, Ironia, Succasunna, McCainsville (Kenvil), Port Oram (Wharton), and Dover. Connecting trains into New York City were available. The last Chester Railroad passenger train left Ironia on December 31, 1932. The last freight soon followed. The railway was officially abandoned in December, 1933, and the track dismantled.


Farmland, woods, and a handful of tourist resorts characterized Ironia until the 1970s. The Crowley family had a large milk goat farm. Wally Wrede's River Game Farm had about 20,000 pheasants, and was in operation until the 1980s. The Manning farm, where the very important Almatong Wells are located, was sold to the Morris County Municipal Utilities Authority. These lands supply water to thousands of residents in Randolph and nearby townships. There was the Merrimac Turkey Farm off of Dover-Chester Road, in operation from 1952 until the mid-1970s. The Messer farm on Doby Road and the Hollander farm on Park Avenue are now day camps. Part of the Bryant complex at the intersection of Park Avenue and Sussex Turnpike became the home of the Westinghouse Elevator plant in the mid-1950s. Dairy farming was prevalent here until recently. The Cramer family operated a dairy along Ironia Road, which was known as the Mt. Heist Dairy. Approximately a half-dozen dairy farms were still in operation around 1970.


Bill’s Luncheonette, the repository and symbol of Ironia’s heritage.
Below: Bill Crowley, seated at his general store, has written a small booklet, entitled “Bill Crowley Recalls Stories of Old Ironia”, available for purchase at the store, and is highly recommended for anyone interested in Ironia's past.

The names of the early Ironia families, as well as the later farmers, are reflected in many of the street names. Yet Ironia's heritage- both that of the railroad and iron industry that gave Ironia its name, and the tourism and farming industries which sustained it well into the twentieth century, is disappearing. Its most lasting monument has proven to be Stryker's store, now Bill's Luncheonette, which has presided over Ironia since 1860, from its vantage point just over the border in Chester Township on Route 513, also known here as Dover-Chester Road. In the early days, a forge and a blacksmith shop, located across the side street from the store, and a handful of houses were clustered here, and became known as "Upper Ironia". The road between the store and the forge led down to the railroad depot and the planned town, connecting the roads to Chester and Mendham with Ironia. The store has served as a Sears and Roebuck outlet, the post office, a stop for travelers passing through to Chester or Dover, and a meeting place for local residents.

The Crowley family settled in Ironia, on their Breezy Hill goat farm, in the 1940s. They purchased the general store from the Strykers, and became Postmasters. Bill Crowley worked as Postmaster from 1944 ­ 1982, served on the original Ironia Fire Department from its inception in 1947 until the 1960s, and has been owner of Bill's Luncheonette and General Store since 1949.

The general store retains much of the character of a store from a by-gone era. Many old photographs of Ironia are displayed here along with many other interesting items in this 140 year-old building. You can buy newspapers, milk, snacks, toiletries, and other necessities, and the grill is always on, with seating for about 50. The store has been a gathering place for locals and travelers alike, and remains so today. But there have been changes.

Bill states that "all people, from all walks of life" visit the store. Now, most come in for a quick cup of coffee in the morning and to pick up milk after work. It used to be more of a gathering place, he admits. "A lot of these (new) people don't even know we are here," he states. Unlike the recent past, when the store was the meeting place for all residents, newcomers and natives alike, the changing face of the Ironia population, and its growth, is reflected in the store's clientele. But Bill can be found there almost every afternoon.

In "Lower Ironia", Main Street still exists today. It is a small residential roadway to nowhere... unless one is familiar with the history. Today, the former railroad bed, from the location of the Ironia station and through to the Chester station, is part of the Morris County Park System's Patriot's Path. Additional trails connect through the Black River Wildlife Management Area and up to Bill's General Store. This is hunting land, and hikers must take precautions.

Ironia’s five designated landmarks are listed in The History of Randolph Township, published in 1976. Pictured below from left:
• At 1547 Sussex Turnpike, near the Park Avenue intersection, the banked stone and frame structure known as D.L. Bryant Distillery, was begun in 1809. In 1869 it was remodeled and was soon famous as the home of “Bryant's Pure Old Cider Brandy”, locally renowned applejack. In 1938, the distillery was remodeled into a residence.
• One of the few Ironia Land and Development Company Homes that was actually built around 1872 on Budd Street.
• Community Church, built on Park Avenue in 1907.
• Golden Corner House, Ironia’s oldest house, built in 1826 on the corner of Pleasant Hill Road and Route 513.
In addition, the Combs Hollow Historic District is at the intersection of Combs Avenue and Combs Hollow Road.

Comments

John Balderson
02 Sep 2014, 20:52
Does anyone remember the old Polish camp to the right of center grove rd. my parents use to bring us there on weekend in the summer to swim.
Nancy (Vanecek) Fromnick
03 Apr 2014, 13:32
To John Foray,
I met a friend of yours on a ski trip to Steamboat, Colorado this past January.
Hope you are well.
David Emmerich
15 Jan 2014, 11:59
A big Thank You to Jean Manning for sharing the link to this site!!!!\r\nI grew up on what is now Park Ave, and it was all that a young boy could ask for... hills to hike on, fields to ride our horses on, and later on, the old railroad bed to drive my Model A on...
Matt Glaser
14 Jan 2014, 08:26
This website is FANTASTIC! I moved away with my family in '84 at the age of 11, but, boy, do I remember walking my bike up tiger-lily-lined Pleasant Hill, then up steep Park Ave (passing lower John Court, then Upper John Court) to go get slushies at Bill's! The return bike ride down at break-neck speed was exhilarating! I also remember the commenter here, Joe Stropoli, or at least his house. He was across the street from us and we would sometimes cut through the Stropoli's yard to get to the Schnatter's house. I think they had either a Cutlass or Grand Prix, maybe, and they lived next door to the Hassens. What a trip! Ironia had incredible schools, which I only realized after moving to AZ where they were teaching students in 8th grade the exact same things we had already learned in the 4th grade at Ironia Elementary. I have never returned, but still think about Ironia fondly to this day.
Dave
12 Oct 2013, 19:29
I grew up in this neighborhood, very close to where the original train station once stood. By walking around these streets, you would never suspect a train that connected to New York City had once made stops. Some of my friends had older siblings that would tell us stories about hearing a "ghost train" when they were alone in the woods. I don't specifically remember hearing it myself, and it was probably their way of teasing us, but I did have a friend find some railroad ties that are now in the Randolph Museum in Brundage Park. \r\n\r\nWe used to walk the trail left behind by the old train tracks all the way into Chester, particularly for the flea market on Sunday, or take a side trail up the mountain to Dover Chester Road as a "shortcut" to get to Bills. I was amused by the post about the Hamilton Beach blender. It was always a thrill getting one of those shakes as a kid, especially after the long walk up the hill. \r\n\r\nThe walks had their memories too, including one experience where a friend and I were doing some sort of animal walk, with our hands folded behind our backs, as if we were deer nibbling on plants. Then at some point we started belting out an overplayed Whitney Houston song from the radio at the top of our lungs, jokingly, thinking no one was around, only to look up and see a hunter perched up in a tree, staring at us with rifle in hand, his face expressionless. I still don't know if we ruined or made his day, but we both shut our mouths and walked away, just in case he decided to shoot us.\r\n\r\nWhen I was about 14 I asked Bill about working at his luncheonette. He handed me an application, which was a handwritten index card, looked at me, and asked: "Do you want to work here for the work, or for the money?"... "For the work," I naively responded. "Wrong answer," he muttered and walked away. Slightly puzzled, I never filled out the application. Instead, I got a job working at Sun High Orchard on Canfield Ave throughout all of high school, and began to understand what he was talking about.\r\n\r\nI live in Queens now, so my experience has been the reverse of what some of the other stories on here have been. I never knew that so many people from places like the Bronx, Bensonhurst and Astoria had wandered through the same swampy woods that provided so much wonder for my imagination growing up.\r\n\r\nCarol, I was neighbors with the Schwartz family, very likely related. You can contact me.
Burt Bell
07 Oct 2013, 19:35
I have nothing but the greatest memories of spending my summers in Greenhut Park. My mother always prolonged our end of the summer trip back to Brooklyn. (She hated to leave also.)I remember the adventures that Marty Alter and I shared while at Greenhut. I remember I was a lifeguard there. My house was across the street from the pool. I also remember bringing my band up there for teenage night. \r\nTHOSE WERE GREAT TIMES!!!
BILL NEWMAN
18 Sep 2013, 23:08
WHAT A GREAT READ --- I RECALL BILL WORKING IN THE STORE WEARING 2 OR 3 OR MORE HATS. HE HAD POSTAL WORK TO DO , AND SELL ITEMS IN THE STORE THAT HE HAD TO SELL , AND JUMP BEHIND THE COUNTER TO MAN THE GRILL . --- I WAS A ROUTE MAN IN THE AREA AND HIS STORE WAS A WELCOME SIGHT WHEN I FELT I NEEDED A BREAK. FOOD WAS GOOD , COFFEE WAS GREAT AND THE PLACE WAS ALWAYS FRIENDLY
Kim Shann
01 Aug 2013, 17:03
This is reply to Robert Shann. I grew up on North Road (actually,Orchard Drive), across from Grandma and Grandpa's farm. I was there daily. My father is Ralph. Sorry, but I don't know who you are... Who is your father? Would love to hear from you.
Ronnie Siegel (Mitchell)
29 Jun 2013, 20:01
Cant stop thinking about Greenhut Park! Just remembered the fabulous costume parties..one night my parents and their friends came to the casino on a real fire truck all dressed like firemen. I remember "Butsy" Blumen and his daughter Thelma, the Lefko family: Artie, Essie, Ilene, Allie-Sue, Roberta, and Shelly. Pat Hacker lived diagonally across the street from me with her older brother and parents. The Dubovs lived to our right. In the bungalows were Steve Justry, Sue Silberman. Madeleine Shoen with the two long braids. The Cocoziello girls. Denny and Jeffrey lived down the road in one of those log cabins. The campfires at night and long sticks with burnt marshmallows. Abe and Lillian Greenhut. The general store. Hay rides. What a time. One winter, however, when we were back home in Brooklyn, we got a phone call in the middle of the night, and we're told that our home burned down! My parents built another house on the same spot!
Ronnie Siegel (Mitchell)
29 Jun 2013, 16:59
I am so happy I found this site. My parents had a home right next to the softball field and the Greenhut Park summer camp! Their names were Reba and Cy Siegel. My extended family also lived in Greenhut Park as well, Fritzie, Bobby, Toby, and Paul Kleinmsn, and Izzie and Suzie Siegel. I loved the casino and their chocolate fudgicles and egg cream sodas! I loved the lake behind the camp house and rowing there catching turtles!
Wendy Goodman
27 Mar 2013, 14:15
I came across this site after my cousin told me that he went searching for Greenhut Park recently. I spent the summers 1959-1966 at Greenhut and have wonderful memories of it. I have enjoyed reading everyone's comments. Jane Deutsch- I think you were my counselor at least one summer! I vividly remembe the Rosners, Greenwalds, Bells, Medoffs, Cases. I also remember Janet Tabak- she had an older brother and younger sister. What wonderful summers I had there!
John Foray
19 Feb 2013, 07:03
Sad News for D A Sokol Campers:\r\n\r\nMildre Matous, wife of D A Sokol Camp Director Gus Matous passed away 18 February 2013 at age 91.\r\n\r\nThe following is an email received fromher son:\r\n\r\nMy Mom, Mildred, passed away today. She had a great life and will live on in the hearts of Ron and I and her three grandchildren. At least now she can join Gus forever in peace.\r\n\r\nThere are many of you to contact so excuse the mass email. Please feel free to pass this along to other of her friends as I do not have emails for so many of you.\r\n\r\nBest regards,\r\n\r\nSteve (Matous)
Barbara Bhakti Cohen (nee Axt)
02 Feb 2013, 18:35
What a thrill for find this site! In the fifties, my grandparents purchased a home/bungalow just a block from the Black River, next to what back then was Slim's Ranch, and a quarter mile from the entrance to Greenhut Park. Our property backed up to Morgan's Farm who, we were told, supplied produce to the US Army. My grandparents were Ben and Alice Weiss, their neighbors on the other side were John and Shirley Cocoziello with children Margie, Joan, and Barry--also summer dwellers. Their pool parties were quite the talk of the town! When my grandfather bought the bungalow in 1957, there was an outhouse and no running water. My father was adept at construction and plumbing and transformed the house. My brother Michael Axt had a lot of friends his age in the neighborhood but he's 6 years older than I. We frequented Bill's store almost daily every summer for ice cream. What fond memories!
Natalie Miller-Cline
08 Jan 2013, 07:29
Wow some amazing stories about Ironia. Scott Dewey I remember you, what are you up to these days? I grew up on South Road across from ED and Elsie Longanecker's farm. Our Dad Ted Miller had a small farm on our property and farmed our grandparents land on Combs Ave just down the street.My sister and her husband are still farming that land today and have a farm stand there, Miller's Hill Farm. There are 3 mine holes on the property which I am sure are still there not far from the beech tree were we all carved our names and came back years later to see them still there. My dad was one of the regulars that went to Bill's for coffee every morning, in fact there were times when he would call Bill up from the phone booth outside and wake him up to open the store (over slept I guess). Back in the day we walked to Bill's on hot summer days for a coke or ice cream. Life was so much simpler then. We walked or rode our bikes every where. Ice skated on Bryant's pond, had girl scouts at the old church. Picnicked in the woods behind my Aunt's house on South Road, we found some really good boulders back there to picnic and play on and also off of Combs Hollow at Buttermilk falls which I think belonged to the water department. Grew up with the Borer's, Scott Dewey, Roberta Geer, guess I have to get out my yearbook since I am forgetting names! We are the Miller Girls from Ironia, times were tough but family life was great we have a lot of good memories. My sisters all still live in NJ, and Ruth lives on the farm. I am the only one who skipped the state to Ohio. Would love to hear from anyone who grew up in Ironia.
Bob Stepanek
05 Jan 2013, 10:07
Hi, A thought just came to me. Would anyone be interested in having a site page devoted to the old Sokel Camp in Ironia? Possibly one that would have a place to upload some old pictures and a section for stories and comments. Any ideas on setting this up. Let me know. We could also include some stuff on the Sokel hall in Manhatten and Astoria.
Bob Stepanek
05 Jan 2013, 09:55
Hey, Mike, Tried to email you but email bounced. Send me a good email\r\nThanks
Larry Crowley
22 Dec 2012, 14:24
What a pleasure to read this article and to recall the times when I was there. My sister Virginia Crowley was actually the first person to take over as Postmaster and running general store from David R Stryker passing the baton to brother Bill after a short time. Virginia is now 94 and living in California. As the youngest of the family my contribution to the Crowley store was to talk brother Bill into putting in a small grill so we could make hamburgers but I spent many hours grumbling in the basement separating soda pop bottles . I left Ironia to go to college and seek my fortune only to find it in the memories of the store, the farm, the schools, my family and childhood friends.
Michael Mastrobuoni
21 Nov 2012, 17:55
Robert/Bob Stepanek??? I remember you.I was at camp when I was approximatley 8-10 yers old.I was introduced and did gym by Melvin Sokup at Bohemian hall, and was born and raised in Astoria.I rember Gus,Everett,Johnny4A(thats not the way you spell his name unless it was a nick name) and Robert Liptak.You were my counsiler there.My God they were days I'll never forget.I would love to see that piece of wood you have,and plan on riding up to Ironia on my motorcycle as soon as the 2013 Summer riding season begins.I remember Murphys too.It was right near the teather ball pole and canteen.Mike1958@ymail.com
Michael Mastrobuoni
21 Nov 2012, 17:55
Robert/Bob Stepanek??? I remember you.I was at camp when I was approximatley 8-10 yers old.I was introduced and did gym by Melvin Sokup at Bohemian hall, and was born and raised in Astoria.I rember Gus,Everett,Johnny4A(thats not the way you spell his name unless it was a nick name) and Robert Liptak.You were my counsiler there.My God they were days I'll never forget.I would love to see that piece of wood you have,and plan on riding up to Ironia on my motorcycle as soon as the 2013 Summer riding season begins.I remember Murphys too.It was right near the teather ball pole and canteen.Mike1958@ymail.com
Lois Justry
15 Aug 2012, 13:40
Susan Miller turned me on to this site. The Miller's, Fay, Eddie, Arlene, Susan and Stuart. My parents' closest friends. I'm bad with years, but I do remember having a bugelow in Greenhut Park. It was opposite the pool, a bit up the road. \r\nMy dad worked in Manhattan and would drive up on the weekends...on a motor scooter!!! I remember he would give the kids rides on the scooter. My Dad was a bit of a camera buff, and took movies of all the dances, and the costume ball. Had them put on DVD's a few years ago. \r\nI did go to Camp Greenhut......what a trip down memory lane. Keep posting those memories, great to read.
Carol
28 Jul 2012, 17:12
I'm trying to locate a living relative of Mrs. Schwartz who lived on Park Ave./\r\nIronia Road, Randolph, NJ in the 1930's.\r\nI know she had a son (maybe William) that was a Randolph Police Officer. She drove a Model T. Ford and she use to buy fruit and vegetables from Gregory Grabovetz's\r\nstand on route 6 (46) Kenvil, NJ.\r\nGregory Grabovetz was my grandfather. My dad (93) remembers Mrs. Schwartz and told a few stories about her.\r\nI hope to connect with someone related to her.\r\n
Fred Biolchini
14 Jul 2012, 04:19
Yesterday, in an old suitcase, I found copies of the DA Sokol camp newsletter (the Sokol Bugle) from August 1960 and August 1961. I'll send jpeg copies to anyone who might be interested. My e-mail address is linked to this message.\r\n\r\n Zda! Zda! Zda!
Alan Goodale
09 Jul 2012, 17:26
Dorastus Bryant was my grandfather on my mothers side her name was Winifred Bryant. My aunt Amy taught school in the original one room school house in Ironia. I remember that my mother had to go to Ironia one time to sign papers to extend the land lease that the school and the Church were because the 100 year lease had run out. I remember my mother speaking of my grandfather making Apple Jack and how people would come from vast distances to buy what many claimed to be the best Apple Jack around. People would drive from New York City to get the apple Jack...\r\n\r\nAlan Goodale
maddy cohen (schoen)
01 Jul 2012, 16:23
Jane\r\nI have been going nuts for years trying to remember triple lake ranch ive been calling it triple A and nobody knows what I'm talking about. Thanks for clearing that up. I remember when my group was ready to ride out of the corral and wound up jumping onto the gravely road that led to the nudist camp there Don't know which was scarier the jump or the thought of the nudist camp. Great story we brought back to greenhut with us!\r\nMaddy
Jane (Deutsch) Cohn
01 Jul 2012, 16:01
OMG I can't believe I found this site! I have the greatest memories of our summer bungalow in Greenhut Park. We came in 1960 and my first year I was a Senior Girl at Camp Greenhut. Irving Laverman was the Head Counselor. I certainly remember the Rosners and the Greenwalds. Some of the other kids there over the 10 or so summers we had our bungalow were: Bobby Banghart, Pete Krakoff, Steve Lightner, Brad Ferencz (now a judge in New Brunswick), Burt, Stevie and Kaye Bell (Burt still has his band and I will always remember Stevie as the lifeguard with the zinc oxide on his nose); Bobby and Cookie Ganzer, Rona Agress, Suzanne Miller, Sheldon Pokodner, Barbara and Linda Miller, Barry Tiras, Burt Medoff, Bobby Greenberg, Rhoda Case, and so many others whose names I can't remember. Some of us were "up the hill" and some of us were "down the hill". The casino, the "chicken path" and playing "Johnny on a Pony".\r\n\r\nThe ranch where they took us horseback riding was called Triple Lake in Randolph. I also remember Tony's Atomic Hot Dogs on Rt 10 and we always went to Clothing Town and Shoe Town to stock up on clothes for school.\r\n\r\nI remember "hiking" to Crowleys, Teenage Night when we would be shuttled to the other bungalow colonies and hotels for a dance with a live band, Bertrands's Island and the Lost River ride (makeout heaven!).\r\n\r\nThanks for the opportunity to put this down for posterity. Would love to hear from others who shared this special time.
NANCY MILLER (CAMAUR)
21 Mar 2012, 09:40
This site is amazing, and brings back a flood of memories about GREENHUT PARK. In 1950 My parents Paul and Maxine Miller bought a summer bungalow in Greenhut Park as did some of their close friends, ie. Rabin, Circus and Parker families. The Parker's actually bought an existing "big" house. We left in 1954.\r\nOur bungalow sat on a long lot that bordered on the Black River. \r\nMy brother, Ed, and I attended Greenhut Day Camp. I have fond memories of swimming in the pool across from the Peggy Lee Club. Taking a row boat out on the Black River and a Water Moccasin tried to get in the boat.\r\n
Jennifer Manzo (Strelec)
19 Mar 2012, 05:09
This is the best article. \r\nMy parents still live on Selma....Some of the people I grew up with still live there or in the area. I enjoyed the stories from "well before your time"........\r\nThe house I grew up in was a summer home and my neighborhood was a lot of fun. My parents moved into the house with two kids in tow, shortly after with the addition I came along. Our neighborhood was very tight, did everything together. I always remember jumping in the Black River, ice skating at the "dam", the people I have met as well as the people we have lost, snow forts, and everything else the people from "Selma" did. I enjoyed babysitting for the younger generations of the "Wrede Family" and working at "Bill's Lunchonette". Walking on the old railroad tracks in the woods. To the storms of 2011-the flooding was terrible, the worst that area has ever seen as well as the trees and power loss. I also can't imagine what the future will hold for this area. Whatever it may be I will continue to watch it bloom. Till this day my dad is a regular at Bill's.
Melissa Millward (nee McCarthy)
18 Mar 2012, 21:45
I am so happy to have found this site! I was born in 1971 and when I was 3, my parents, Dennis and Madeline bought 117 Selma Blvd, almost directly across from Ann Lane.\r\n\r\nI see most of the stories are about the decades before it ceased to be a resort village, which I'd heard about growing up, but growing up their in the 70s and 80s was so much fun. Very close neighborhood, although the Selma kids stayed to themselves because we didn't go to school in Randolph, like the Sorman, Marre Dr, Greenhut kids.\r\n\r\nWe used to sleigh ride down William, Ira and once rediscovered the part of Mel that connected back to the end of Selma, by the Wredes. We used to ice skate at 'the dam' which was at the end of Roy. We'd continue in that path and walk all the way through the railroad beds to Bill's luncheonette.\r\n\r\nI'd say in the early 80s, the clubhouse at the corner of Selma and Ann was torn down and a house was built. All the kids, from ages 6-20 protested and surrounded the racquetball court, one kid Rex sat on to for hours as a machine operator tried to tear it down. That field, the ruins of the clubhouse and the court was the meeting place for every kid that lived there. My aunt used to ride her horse from Calais to that field for me to ride, we played matchbox cars in the dirt, baseball, soccer, the older kids rode quads and did God knows what else down there. I can imagine how fun those ruins were when that neighborhood was in its prime. I just wanted to let everyone know that spirit took decades to die!\r\n\r\nPrevious questions about the Johnsons: we lived two doors from them (to the left if facing their house). They left in the 80s and a family with the last name Munson moved in. I recall hearing that one of the Johnson sons had died in some sort of fire...I'm not sure.\r\n\r\nAnd regarding the Whitings: the Mrs. Whiting I remember, that in the 70s had a black Great Dane named Goliath is still living---I saw her at the Randolph library and she was exactly as I'd remembered her, I stopped dead in front of her, with her documents spread all over the table and a highlighter in hand and just said, "Mrs. Whiting??", I told her who I was and she said, "why hello dear, you're all grown up now!"\r\n\r\nI have many childhood friends on Facebook, I'll share this with them and encourage them to post their stories as well!
Laura
28 Oct 2011, 10:39
Those of us kids who lived in the Dogwood Acres subdivision in the sixties knew about the D.A. Sokol camp. When no one was there, we would walk through the woods and go swimming in the pond.
jane putkowski rotella
22 Oct 2011, 17:12
My father brought us to Sokol's Camp a few times every summer. He died in 1968. I don't remember anyone's names. But we have great memories of eating in the dining room. That was the first place that served me a triple-decker sandwich with a little sword stuck in the middle. There was also a little cemetery there, not far from the lake.
Kim walsh
20 Oct 2011, 06:36
Hello!\r\n\r\nThis is anamazing site. We currently live on Cromwell Dr. which was once (we believe since we have seen the sokol Camp sign) The DA Sokol Camp. My son who is a 3rd grader at the Ironia School is doing a report of the history of Randolph. On of the 4 items he is writing about is the Sokol camp. any of you cmpers have stories or history of the camp, please let us know!\r\n\r\nWe are all enjoying reading about your memories of the town we now call home!
Abbe Rosner
02 Oct 2011, 20:27
Hello to all - My name is Abbe Rosner. My husband, Yossi Rosner, and his family used to spend summers in Ironia during the 1950s and 60s. His family: Hy and Ruth Rosner, Norman, Bernice, Marsha, Yossi, Bernard; Eddie and Fran Greenwald, Stuart, Marla and Nina. I have heard all about the wonderful times there. I am planning a surprise 60th birthday party for Yossi and would love to get some pictures (and memories) of this great place. If anyone remembers the Rosners/Greenwalds or has pictures - please get in touch with me: abberosner@yahoo.com.\r\nThanks ,\r\nAbbe Rosner
Martin Alter
21 Jul 2011, 13:12
Hello Maddie,\r\n\r\nNice to hear from one of my neighbors at Greenhut Park. I remember your parents and the time some guy came down the hill and lost control of his car and crashed into your fence and busted some boards off the fence. Your father wasn't a happy camper.\r\n\r\nI don't remember Triple A ranch, I never went horseback riding. I remember some of the teens I hung out with: Burt Bell, Susan Silberman, my cousin Robert (Gantzer). We hung out at the pool, the casino, and playing ball and the field by the Camp House, and fishing at the lake behind our houses. What a great time that was. But alas, we all have to grow up sometime. What a drag!\r\n\r\nTake care and keep in touch.\r\n\r\nMartin
Maddy Cohen nee Schoen
21 Jul 2011, 10:05
Hi Martin,\r\nso glad to see a post from someone who lived right there. I remember the Alters. It's hard to take others with me to see the area, they don't understand the memories attached to it. Do you remember the name of the ranch the camp used to take us to for horseback riding lessons? I wrote in my first post that it was the Triple A ranch, but in retrospect, I'm not so sure. I left at age 12 to go to sleepaway camp and only returned the summer I was 18.
Martin Alter
20 Jul 2011, 05:57
My family (Jack & Fay Alter and my 2 brothers: Warren & Elliott) spent many summers in Greenhut Park during the 1950's. Our bungalow was right acroos the street from Abe & Lillian Greenhut. On our block were: the Bell's, the Schoens, the Gantzers (my aunt Helen & uncle Nat, cousin Robert and Cookie (Dorothy). Went swimming in the pool and played pinball in the casino. I was just back there a couple of weeks ago with my brother-in-law to look the place over. All the memories rushed back to me in a flash. I will never forget those days. Life was much simpler then.
maddy cohen nee Schoen
05 Jun 2011, 09:19
\r\n
Peter Stromblad
16 May 2011, 16:23
Susanne,I saw your post.We lived at the first house on Draco Dr.I wish more people would look at this sight.Bye.Pete stromblad
Susanne Kedrowitsch DeFinis
15 May 2011, 11:13
my brother Rene came across this site and emailed it to me. I love it! It brought back all kinds of wonderful childhood memories! Of going to Bills for the mail and an ice cream, and of swimming at Heistines Lake and of ice skating on the pond. I have not been back in a long time and have been afraid to because i want to remember it the way it was when i was a kid and life was good and there were no worrys. I used to live on Draco Drive across from the Elementary school. I swear our house was haunted even though it wasnt a very old house. I wish that my children have as fond memorys of their childhood as i do of mine. Too bad we cant go back to that simple time!
Harry Picciuto
07 Feb 2011, 16:35
We grew up in Dogwood Acres Chester in the mid sixties. The camp was abandon then,so we as kids had the run of the camp to grow up in for years. It was left like a ghost town.Just wondering if anyone has pictures of the camp in the day
Andrea Stryker-Rodda
28 Jan 2011, 14:11
The Strykers who had the store were my father's mother's family. They also had a farm nearby; there was a fire before the turn of the 19th-20th C. that destroyed the older house and delayed the marriage of my grandmother, Cora Augusta Stryker, to Samuel Hockings Rodda until 1895. (They're buried in Chester, as are my parents.) My father (Kenn Stryker-Rodda, 1903-1990) remembered his grandmother piecing quilt tops by feel in the evening after supper; her husband always saved the last 1/8 yard from the bolts of calico in the store for her. What had been the Stryker farm property was absorbed into the expanding park in the late 1960s.\r\nThe descendants in Dad's line have all been taken to Ironia and shown the location, as well as locations of other family homes throughout the NY/NJ area (those Hortons that came to the 'western frontier' from Southampton in 1743 are ours, too). \r\n\r\n
PETER STROMBLAD
13 Dec 2010, 08:58
My Father William built the development across from the Elem.School and he went back to Sweden to get us in 1960. We lived in the model home on Dover Chester Rd.Then on Draco Dr. and Aldebaran Dr.We have pics of Houses for sale w/lot for 18.000!Growing up there was fun with the Ryans,kanouses,Heymanns,Shaws.Jacobs etc.I drive thru once in awhile when I'm down that way.Swimming at Heisteins and hanging out at Bills store with my buddy Pat Crowley.Having to move out of Ironia after my fathers death in 1969 was hard. Pete Stromblad Woodstock VT.
Alan
09 Nov 2010, 09:36
Following up on my post from about two years ago here.If anyone has pictures (particularly recent ones) of the town they would be willing to share, I would be greatly appreciative. Specifically the area in and around where Greenhut Park Day Camp was (the home I summered in was a very short walk away). I am very curious to see what the neighborhood looks like now. Of course,old pictures are welcome too.\r\n\r\nThough I only spent the summers there, I did know some families who I believe lived there full time, including the Johnsons(Barbara)and the Whitings (Jay), among others whose names I can no longer remember and faces have long faded from memory. Anyone know how they are?\r\n\r\nFinally, to whoever is managing this site, perhaps a section can be devoted to those who have pictures they would like to share (i.e. a photo gallery section). I have a couple of dozen or so that may bring back a few memories for some.\r\n\r\nRegards to all,\r\n\r\nAlan\r\n\r\n
Vera Luchart Brodany
31 Aug 2010, 07:21
I too made a trip to Ironia approximately a year or two ago. I noticed that the "D.A. Sokol Camp" sign was still on the entrace way. Was wondering if it is still there, and if it could be removed and kept at one of the Sokol Hall's as a memento. Didn't think Murphys would still be there - Didn't go down that road to have a look. Didn't know if it was now private property. Would love to see recent photos.\r\n Vera
Fred Biolchini
31 Aug 2010, 06:14
Made a pilgramage to Bill's 2 weeks ago and,once again, little has changed. They make the best chocolate milk shakes on the same Hamilton-Beach blenders that were in used 50 years ago.\r\n\r\nIf any former DA Sokol campers would like pictures of what Bill's and the camp entrance look like today please send me your e-mail address. (Also available is a current portrait of Murphy's).\r\n\r\nHi Nancy!\r\n\r\n Fred Biolchini
Robert Shann
17 Aug 2010, 07:08
Chester, NJ hosts many fond memories of my childhood. I was born and raised in Kenvil, NJ so going to visit my relatives in Chester back then, was a treat to us. Actually, was a long trip back then, even though it was only about 7-10 miles from home. Most of my aunts and uncles lived in Chester (North Chester Road). My father was born and raised in Chester. I remember visiting all during the summer months, like it was just yesterday. Going to my Granfather's farm (Louis Shann), help cleaning the troughs, chasing after chickens, and ducks. \r\n\r\nMy father would take us to Bill Crowleys store when he had to pick up a few things. We got to know it as "Billy's Store". It was Bill Crowley who got my father a job with Colgate Palmolive soon after the end of WWII. The pictures of "Billy's Store on this site is almost exactly as I remember it when I was a kid growing up in the 50's and 60's. Unbelievable!! I also remember the hill going down then up, passing by Bryant's Pond. That was a thrill to us! We would roll down the windows of Dad's car and prepare for the steep decline, then up. It was great. Also did alot of hunting back then. My grandfather owned about 180 acres in chester, and Dad would bring us there to do our hunting, plus go hunting across the way to Jimmie Wess Swamp, by the Black River Swamp area. \r\n\r\nAll but one of my realatives still live on North Chester Road. Such great memories!! Wouldn't trade it for the world. \r\n\r\nIf any is reading this, and know of any of my relatives from North Chester Road, please let me know. Picture to share would even be better!!
Nancy Vanecek Fromnick
06 Aug 2010, 19:23
I can't believe I came upon this website. Great memories and how lucky to be able to go to camp for 6 weeks during the summer. My husband and I visited the property in 1974 (we were attending a nearby wedding) and saw everything abandoned. It broke my heart.\r\nCamp wasn't fancy but rich in culture, virtue and patriotism all because of Gus, a marine who kept us in shape. I couldn't have been luckier. My Dad worked on installing the electricity during construction and my Mom was assistant cook once for two weeks in the 50's, because they needed help.\r\nBoy, did we have fun.
Maddy Cohen
26 Apr 2010, 12:23
What a wonderful find. I was googling my old address on Selma Blvd in Greenhut Park and was kind of down because I saw aerial views of some houses but not of mine as a child. I remember going to Greenhut Park day camp and the Triple A ranch to learn how to ride a horse. I remember the casino with the pinball machines and the fun our parents used to have on the weekends when the the celebrities would make the rounds from Saltzes and Ackermans Hotels to our bungalow colony. I remember a coffee shop called "The Spot" on Sussex Turnpike across from the Saltzes Hotel. I remember learning to swim with the pool divided with parents sitting on one side, and the campers on the other- changing in those rustic bathrooms in the camphouse afterwards. Has anyone been back there to visit that area recently? would love to hear from you.
ALAN H. GOLDBERG
02 Feb 2010, 07:38
\r\n\r\n I am so happy I found this webb site.\r\nAs a child of 6 years old,and my sister\r\n2 years old we stayed at Messer's farm\r\nand country hotel,in the40's-50's,for \r\nthe entire summer.Those were the wonder\r\nyears.This brings back many fond memories of my childhood.My sister is in her60's and iam in my 70's.Thank you\r\nvery much.\r\n Respectfully,Alan H. Goldberg\r\n
Vera Luchart Brodany
17 Oct 2009, 11:34
I have very many fond memories of Sokol Camp in Ironia, as I'm sure we all have. Remember the stories of CROPSIES??? We had many a scary night telling those stories. Also enjoyed our campfires with Gus "singing" "I had a bottle of beer, - campers shouted "YaY", Gus - but I threw it in the river - Campers - "Boooo" - and so on it went, with - "As we gather by the River, the beautiful, beautiful River..." I just this past weekend shared that song with my family around a campfire in our back yard. Of course, they thought I was silly. But .... Ohhh, those great memories.
Kathy Lonigan Emond
10 Oct 2009, 04:32
I guess it's up to the Irish kid to say that Sokol wasn't Polish but Czech?
Andy Powers
09 Oct 2009, 12:14
Wow, I never expected t find this page. Sitting here at work my mind drifted to childhood days gone by. Born in '52 in Bronx NY my Aunt Florence and Uncle Ed Travers moved to Ironia circa 1958 buying an old farmhouse (where they used to raise and slaughter sheep-ugh)on Ironia & Mendham Rd., down from Bill's General Store which we would walk a mile to daily. For a kid from the Bronx it was like going back into time with hudreds of acres of woods where I imagined were Indian tribes. I remeber sneaking up to the 200 year old house next door ('bout a quarter mile at least) to look for signs of early settlers. After cleaning out the barn and tilling the soil by hand (lots and lots of rocks) we planted 200 tomatoe plants and corn that Uncle Ed would sell at the A&P where he worked. We would target shoot with .22s, do archery, picnic, badminton, baseball, hike to the Sokol Camp (being on alert for bears) where we would swim (I still have 8mm movies) and all kinds of need stuff. \r\n\r\nAunt Florence and Ed sold in 1982 to the shore but I visited Ironia in 1999. When I got there is was getting dark and pouring rain but I was surprised to see the General Store still there. But utterly disappointed when I drove down the old Ironia & Mendham Road only to find fancy developments and the old homes gone, along with my childhood memories. As the saying goes, "you can never go back".\r\n\r\nIf anyone has photos of I&R Road back then I would love to get copies. If anyone remembers Ed & Florence Travers please share this as well. I can be emailed at ajp1431(at)comcast.net.\r\nAndy Powers \r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n
Robert (Bob) Stepanek
30 Aug 2009, 11:10
John & Fred,\r\n Wow, just found this page by chance and it really brought back memories. I was there on the closing day with my wife and small daughter at the time. I remember all the fun times as a camper and spent a year as a junior counsler. UGH, I used to hate having to clean Murphy's. I think I still have a piece of wood that used to be part of a window sill on the boy's cabin. The red paint has since worn off. Sorry to hear about Gus. He was an influence on me also as he was to all the boys and girls there. I was there during the time Fred refers to and am sure we knew each other back then. Hope to hear from you and others in the future.
Kathy Lonigan Emond
14 Aug 2009, 12:54
Martha Jane told me about this site today, and I just want to add one memory of those weekly walks to Bill's: dusty road sundaes. Of course I have many more memories of Sokol Camp: swimming, hiking in the woods or on the roads, archery, picking blueberries, and so many more wonderful activities. \r\nAnd, John, if you wrote that article and still have it, I'd love to read it.\r\n
jeanne crowley burritt
11 Aug 2009, 18:42
My Father, Bill Crowley, devoted his life to the store and to Ironia and to his family. My Mother Marjorie helped my Father make this store a sucess. My sister Nancy now deceased and myself Jeanne and my brothers Pete/Bill, Mike, Pat, Bob and Chuck all worked there and had all our childhood memories there. We loved our father and respected him..some children do not..we did..Now all 11 of us own the store and rent it to 1 person..We all were left the store by our father..we miss him dearly love jeanne mae crowley burritt
Joe Stropoli
30 May 2009, 04:06
It was 1969 and we, (my wife and two daughters) were living in a two family home which was owned by my parents in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn. Mom & Pop were downstairs and we were upstairs.\r\n\r\nPop had developed a nasty cough, so at our insistance, he agreed to see a doctor. I drove him to the appointment and after what seemed a very long while, the doctor called me into the office while Pop was dressing and told me that Pop had lung cancer and probably wouldn't live more than a year. But he never told Pop, and neither did we.\r\n\r\nMonths passsed and Pop got progressively worse until we had to rent a hospital bed for him. He never complained. One day, when he was still able to get around, he called me to the side and told me that he wanted to put his fingers in the ground before we put him there. He loved gardening, but we had a tiny back yard.\r\n\r\nWith his words echoing in my mind, off I went to find two houses in NJ which were close enough together so that we could keep an eye on Pop. Finally, after a few months of searching, I located two modest homes across from each other on Marre Dr. in Ironia, right outside of Greenhut Park. We signed the contracts, but it took a while to sell the Brooklyn house as all this time Pop grew progressively worse. He finally died on May 5, 1970 at the age of 56 and we had to move two weeks later. He never got to see his country place. Mom tried to live in her home, but eventually got homesick and moved back to Brooklyn.\r\n\r\nIronia turned out to be a wonderful place to raise our daughters and I guess we have Pop to thank.\r\n\r\nI remember many of the places and people that were pointed out by others, particularly Bill Crowley. It seems that at some point, everyone gravitated to his store.\r\n\r\nSo, almost 40 years later, I happen across this terrific website which I will pass on to my girls and four beautiful granddaughters. My oldest and her family still live in Randolph. She's very active in volunteer work. Her oldest daughter just attended the Senior Prom two nights ago. Whether they want to disclose their identities or add to this thread is entirely up to them. But in the meantime, thank you all so much for the wonderful memories.
Ira Salamon
08 Oct 2008, 04:05
This article and the posts are great. I moved to John Court in Ironia in 1966, and while I may be a relative newcomer compared to most of the other posts, I still have great memories of an Ironia of yesteryear. I was 6 when we arrived in Ironia. I remember walking to Bills everyday after school to get our mail. There was no mail delivery unless you wanted a Dover mailing address. Bryant's pond was a gathering place for camp fires and skating every winter and fishing all summer long. I remember walking along those power lines and actually getting lost back in the woods there once. I followed the old train racks to find my way back to "civilization". I remember playing little league baseball at Heisteins park and swimming in the lake there. That was off South Road and behind Messers. Ed Messer was one of my best friends growing up and I never knew that his family owned a farm. His dad owned a company called Oradell Construction and never spoke of farming. The Manning's of Manning Farm were friends of mine too. I remember riding my sled down John Court toward Park Avenue and almost getting hit by a telephone repair truck. It was pretty close. I remember going horseback riding at Horseshoe acres. We played baseball in the field across from The Old Presbyterian Church. Kind of weird what that's become. I remember going back to try to see stuff at the Nudist Colony too...never any luck. Those were some great times growing up. Thanks for the memories.
Alan
05 Oct 2008, 22:46
Like another contirbutor to this page who may be a cousin of mine I haven't seen in years, I too summered in Greenhut Park as a child in the 1960's. I dearly remember the summer home my parents shared with my grandparents right on the black river. Our neighbors included, among others, the Whitings, the Tannenbaums, the Dubovs and others whose names I have long forgotten.\r\n\r\nSpecial memories include the most incredible starry nights on the east coast anyone could ever hope to see, the sounds of crickets, bullfrogs and other local critters lulling you to sleep, catching bass, sunfish, frogs, turtles and minnows in and around the river and feeding the Canadian Geese that would eat from your hand.\r\n\r\nMore personal memories include the sound of my grandfather's Cadillac pulling up Friday evenings so he could spend every weekend there, trips to Crowleys, toy runs to Two Guys from Harrison,our vegetable garden and drnking the richest, freshest exrta rich chocolate milk from the nearby dairy from my grandmother's clorful aluminium cups while sitting inour recliners and "gliders" in our porch(I'm still trying to loose the weight that put on).\r\n\r\nThose summers, while not perfect, were nonetheless a great break for a kid who lived in Brooklyn the rest of the year.\r\n\r\nMy grandparents are long since gone, as is my mother and I've lived on the other side of the country for some time. I have a family of my own and my profession makes it difficult to get away for very long or very far. I often wonder what it is like there now; still the same sleepy town; commericially overgrow; somewhere in the middle?\r\n\r\nSeveral restless nights I've managed to get to sleep thinking about those days of carefeee fun, endlessley drinking chocolate milk, seeing the fireflies come out at dusk like so many little Christmas lights and playing "stoplight" with my friends well after dark as our parents and grandparents sat and talked and chuckled at us.\r\n\r\nUntil they build a time machine, fond memoeries of the heart will just have to do.
Charles "Rusty" Brewer
28 Sep 2008, 11:50
I grew up on Main Street. We moved there in 1960 and I left for college in 1970. (My father lived there until 1990.) When we moved to Main Street, it was a partial gravel road (our sleds made sparks as we sledded down it) and there were only three houses on the street - one was a tiny log cabin! I remember as a boy playing in the ruins of the old train station at the bottom of Main Street. I believe my father swiped rocks from the foundation for the huge rock wall he built in front of our house. We skated on and fished in Bryant's Pond and attended the Presbyterian Church. We got our mail at Bill Crowley's store. I recently returned to Ironia and found the store still there; it's now a luncheonette run by Bill's son. The tiny church appears to be a Korean Presbyterian church now. I remember hiking along the "bridal path" - what we called the old track track, now Patriot's Path. In the winter we would even ice skate in the swamp - a singularly spooky experience! I liked to follow the power lines that crossed Park Avenue at Bryant's Pond. We used to sneak through the woods hoping to catch a glimpse of the nudists at the Woodland Club - but never saw anything! We suspected the nudist camp story was just a myth. When I tell people I grew up in New Jersey, they think of the opening scenes of The Sopranos. I tell them it was much more like growing up in a small New England town.
Rich
25 Aug 2008, 06:38
I summered in Ironia, in small bungalow colony called Greenhut Park. My grandfather would take my older sister and I to Crowley's for a Mountain Dew in a glass bottle! I'll never forget the ride in his 65 light blue Impala. My parents and Grandparents owned a small house on Selma Blvd, right near Lake Lilian. My best childhood memories are of this sleepy community. I miss it dearly.
Scott Dewey
18 Aug 2008, 18:14
I grew up on Budd Street in Ironia but left after graduating high school in 1975 and have not been back. It was a wonderful place to grow up and I have many, many wonderful childhood memories which include ice skating on Bryant's Pond, snow sledding down the hill on Budd Street, and riding mini bikes on the old railroad trails.\r\nThis is the first article I have ever found on the internet (or anywhere) with such detail about Ironia. Wow!
Fred Biolchini
24 Jul 2008, 05:56
Martha Jane,\r\n\r\n And I distincly remember you! As for the polka, I don't remember it since I never knew how to do it in the first place!\r\n\r\n We all seem to remember each other very well after forty-something years. How strange and how wonderful! My kids are now 35 and 27 and they went to several sleep-away camps but their memories of those experiences qucikly faded. My memories of the DA Sokol camp remain vivid. It was a very special place.\r\n\r\n Also, please send my regards to your sister Kathy.\r\n\r\n Fred \r\n\r\n
Martha Jane (Lonigan) Makse
11 Jul 2008, 19:15
Came across this site tonight, Fred, I remember you distinctly. Remember trying to do the polka at a dance with you in Manhattan. I always tell my students, as I told my own children, every kid should go to sleepaway camp. Weren't those great, simple times!\r\n\r\nI've also seen the remmaining entrance to the camp grounds, Bill's and the new houses. \r\n\r\nMartha Jane
Fred Biolchini
21 Apr 2008, 13:30
Johnny,\r\n\r\n Your note set off a flood of memories. Please do send me a copy of your article.\r\n\r\n Remember the summer of '65 when we set off on bicycle from Manhatten after the camp had closed? At night we would turn the taps on in the old barn and party like Indians!\r\n\r\n Lots of water has passed under the dam since then!\r\n\r\n Cheers!\r\n\r\n Freddie
John Foray
16 Apr 2008, 18:09
Hey, Freddie!\r\n\r\nYour remarks about D A Sokol Camp at Ironia were right on the money. Your remembrance of Gus Matous was especially poignant, as he passed away in Boulder Co. on 26 February 2008. I was checking out this website for background material for an article I'm writing about Gus and camp.\r\n\r\nIt's been quite a while since my last cannonball, but thanks for remembering.\r\nIf you see this, please contact me so I can send you my article.
Laura Null
31 Mar 2008, 19:22
It doesn't surprise me that the DA Sokol camp is now McMansions, but it makes me sad to know it. Those of us who lived in the nearby subdivision used to sneak into the camp when it was unoccupied and skinny-dip in the lake! (Something I've never told my mother....)\r\n\r\nThe whole area is rich in magic and small, intimate histories, and the memories of children who grew up there.
Fred Biolchini
31 Mar 2008, 18:17
I attended the DA Sokol camp in Ironia from 1958 through 1966 as camper, junior counselor and counselor. For the record, DA Sokol was a Czechoslovakian social organization built around gymnastics and sports in general. To a city kid like myself, the DA Sokol camp in Ironia was salvation from the summer streets of New York City, an education in natural history and fun beyond anything I could imagine. The Director at the time, Gus Matous, had such a profound positive influence on my childhood and adolescence that I could not even begin to assess what my life might have been without him and that wonderful camp.\r\n\r\nAmong the memories: swimming and diving in the lake, campfires on Tuesdays and Thursdays (singing “Sipping Cider Through a Straw”, “Be Kind To Your Friends In The Swamp, A Duck Can Be Somebody’s Mother”), the wonderful food cooked by Mrs. Matous (especially the pork roast with dumplings and sauerkraut on Saturdays), the rites of passage, Burma trail (a passage through the swamp made of old mattresses and bed frames), weekly hikes to Bill’s General Store, the sleep-outs at the end of every 2 week session, the morning flag raising and the evening flag lowering (both accompanied by bugle calls) and the Sokol cheer ” ZDA, ZDA, ZDA”!\r\n\r\nIf anyone still remembers, the DA Sokol camp did not have flush toilets. Instead, they had two series of outhouses, one for the girls and one for the boys. Lost in time is the reason why and the person who named those outhouses “Murphys”. In any case, if anyone is wondering where that sign ended up: it’s nailed to the wall of my garage.\r\n\r\nI made a trip there in August of 2008. To my surprise, Bill’s General Store is still in existence. Bill has passed away but his son, Tim, now runs the place. It’s a frozen moment in time. The pipe rails on the steps have never been replaced, the blenders used to make malted milk are still there and Tim is full of stories about his father. The old camp is gone, replaced by the ubiquitous McMansions but there is one remnant. The original entranceway to the DA Sokol camp off Ironia road is still there and, putting my ear against one of the stones I can hear the laughter of children, the thwack of screen doors and the whomp of Johnny Foray’s infamous cannonballs from the old diving board.\r\n
Laura Null
11 Jan 2008, 16:23
It amazes me that Crowley's is still there. It was a landmark of my childhood. We lived for a short time on Ironia Road in Mendham (it is now, for some reason, a continuation of South Road) and we went to Crowleys. In 1958 we moved back to the area, to Dogwood Acres in Chester. My mother always went to Crowley's. It was quicker than going to the post office in Chester. I collected soda bottles from all the home construction sites nearby and brought them to Crowleys to redeem them for pennies and nickels, which of course immediately got spent on candy. The very sight of the place, with its tall front steps, brings back memories, and I can still vividly remember how the inside looked.

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