Fitzgerald’s 1928: Railroads, Gas Lamps, Bluestone Sidewalks

GR Historical2

I dare you to walk past the Boiling Springs Savings Bank on the corner of Ridgewood and Darwin without looking up at the second floor window of the new location for the Glen Ridge Historical Society.

History is intensely personal, as Town Historian Sally Meyer reminds us.  Prove it to yourself by asking her to show you the folder on your house where you will find original photographs, the date of the first water hookup, hand-written memories going back in time by resident families, and more.

Unravel mysteries like the 1928 in Fitzgerald’s name – the year the building was constructed as one of the nation’s first A&P grocery stores.  Sally will show you ahand-written letter she received from Carol Borthwick who recounts having walked through the store with her mother as a very young girl during World War II.  She describes “the tin plates in the ceiling and the wooden wide plank floor,”  “a pouch with plastic coins for ration meats,” and most vivid, “the ice bed for glass eyed fish that so frightened me with their dead stare.”

The Fitzgerald’s location remained an A&P into the 1970’s.  In 1977, it housed Gaslight Wine & Spirits, a liquor store, then a series of restaurants:  1981, Mickey Finn’s, an ice cream parlor and restaurant; 1982, Peppercorns; 1988, Sirin, a Thai Restaurant; and then Joseph’s Fine Dining until 2008 when the Fitzgerald’s  we all know moved into  13 Herman Street.

Sally Meyer is eloquent on how the history of Glen Ridge is one of Railroads, Gas Lamps, and Bluestone Sidewalks, and how these remain the outward signatures of a unique place to live.  The first thing you see on the second floor home of the Historical Society is the framed 1895 notice announcing the vote that would result in Glen Ridge’s independence for familiar reasons:  “taxation without representation.”

Terry Webster, founder of the society, whose portrait hangs on the wall, riding by on her bicycle one day stopped to talk to Sally Meyer.  At the end of the conversation, Sally nervously accepted an assignment to research a presentation on the history of tennis courts in Glen Ridge.  Years later, Terry Webster passed the torch to Sally.  She put the ball into Sally Meyer’s court who vigorously returns it every day.

For $10, you can become a member of the Glen Ridge Historical Society.   Find out more:  www.glenridgehistory.org .

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