Saturday, May 24, 2014

Memories of Memorial Day

Memorial Day is upon us once again. It was taught to me when I was a child that Memorial Day was a day to commemorate all the armed forces who gave their lives defending our country.

Somehow along the way, some people became misunderstood and confuse Memorial Day with Veteran's Day. Veteran's Day is a day to "honor" all the armed forces who have and/or are defending our country.  I have seen a lot of Memorial Day media messages that seem to mix the two.  But, hey, at least these brave people are being acknowledged somehow. That's what counts.

Thinking about Memorial Day got me to really reminisce about my childhood and growing up in Somerville, New Jersey.  Coming from a family of military members and a father who served during WWII, it was acknowledged as a special day.

My Dad, oldest brother Tom and me. We were all about the service!
To a young child, it was all about the parade. Oh how I loved the Memorial Day parade! My father would take me and my youngest brother Kevin every year.  It was a big event. All the festivities and vendors selling American flags, pinwheels, hotdogs and balloons.

Memorial Day also was the mark of the annual Somerville Bicycle Races. These races were quite famous and drew people from all over New Jersey.  They began after the parade finished. The races still continue to this day.

That said, I went through and found some great images of my hometown of Somerville and though I would share them with you. It was a great place to grow up in the 60's and 70's and holds some of the best memories for me. I hope you enjoy a little bit of the history both personal and public!!

Main Street Somerville in the very early 60's. I wish I had a dime for every mile I walked up and down Main St.

Main Street today. Not quite the same but it does still have "the feel" in this one spot. 

The famous Hotel Somerset. When I was a very young it housed some of our very best wino's and barfly's. lol. It was special to me because it was also the local bus stop to catch the bus to New York City. My Dad and I went to the city together every year for a day during the 70's. 

The Hotel still stands and operates today and is thought to be haunted now.

Lee Van Cleef, famous actor (The Good, The Bad and The Ugly) was born and raised in Somerville. I always was fascinated that a famous movie star came from my town when I was little.

This was a parade held for Lee Van Cleef when he came home to visit. However, The Cort Theater was very special to me. I saw my first movies there in the early 60's. The Beatles "A Hard Day's Night" and "Help". I remember it like it was yesterday. My brother Michael took me to them. Years later, I was there to see Saturday Night Fever and found out while waiting for the curtain to open that Elvis Presley just died. 

The Howard Johnson's where I spent many a birthday. I was a member of "The HoJo Club". Dinner, birthday cake and ice cream! They had the best fried clams too. 

Somerset Hospital (the original). My Dad was there for back problems in 1964. I can remember walking all the way there and not being able to go in because I was too little. He came to the window and waved and then decided to put on his robe and walked out that front entrance just to see me.  

The new Somerset Medical Center. The building on the right is the far left side of the original hospital shown above.  I chose this photo because it's of the emergency room entrance and drive up.  It's where my mother literally dropped me off when I was in labor with my son in 1982.  The hospital also employed a serial killer without knowing it until much later. True story.

The famous Somerset County Court House. The serial killer Charles Cullen (mentioned in above picture of Somerset Med.Ctr.) was tried here. Other court hearings held here were for Mike Tyson and Kelsey Grammar to name a few. The one hearing that stands out in my mind was in 1985 when Rich adopted my son Michael. We stood on those courthouse steps and Michael presented his "Dad" with a pocket watch that was engraved with the date. It was quite moving

I hope you enjoyed my little piece of hometown history.  Have a happy and safe Memorial Day weekend!!


  1. Thanks for the walk down Memory Lane, Barb.


  2. Hi BB.. Good to see this post come up from you. I haven't put up a post in ages. It's not quite the same as when we first started, I don't think. Crumbs , remember all those Awards that used to go around ?! It was nice for me to see all those images of your hometown , and to hear all the little personal stories. I particularly liked the one about the pocket watch and the one of your dad waving from the hospital window. Lovely post in honour of Memorial Day!

  3. I wonder how many of us remember just what we were doing when Elvis died. I was listening to a Cubs-Reds game, and my sister was cutting my Mom's hair. My sister thought I was joking and was set to kill me.

  4. Hi There, Very meaningful and interesting post... I enjoyed it. This is definitely a time to remember all of those men and women (past and present) who have or are serving in the Armed Forces --for OUR FREEDOM. Sometimes, we forget that, don't we????? God Bless them all.

    You may not know but I had Gallbladder Surgery recently... You'll have to read my blog tomorrow to find out what HEALED me from that surgery--followed by a wicked infection....


  5. It nice to look tkhrough old pictures and remember the good times isn't it. You seem to have many fond memories of your father.

  6. Thanks for sharing this walk down memory lane. I like that when your dad was in the hospital he put on his robe and came out to visit with you. Take care.

  7. I love looking at old pictures and learning the history of diffferent places. Thanks so much for sharing!

  8. Memorial Day is an important day we should never forget all those who have served their country and all those who have died doing so........I love the old photos

  9. That looks like a nice place to grow up. No Snooki either!

  10. So glad to see you back around! I'm doing catch-up myself as I'm in the process of moving to SoCal, so I know what it's like to try and make time for blogging.
    I love all your old photos and the time you take to share them!