Tag Archives: Knollwood School

Old News: Stokes Law, Order & Grub

This reprise was originally published on June 9, 2022 in honor of the usual end of May to early June Stokes trip. History has taken a turn and those sixth graders, still going to Stokes, are now going at the end of September. Here’s to looking back on the Stokes experience and how it was written about by former longtime Fair Havenite, Stokes parent and Red Bank Register editor, Art Kamin. Indulge in our experience of the Stokes past when it was a relatively new tradition …

When it comes to Fair Haven kids tripping to Stokes State Forest in the sixth grade, old news is always good news and mess hall time means bug juice and Sloppy Joes. And in 1974, it also meant the long arm of the Fair Haven law was cooking up the grub and keeping the kids in line … up.

Yes, back all those decades ago, one of the Stokes helpers was Louis DeVito, eventual police chief, but then lieutenant on the force. We know Bill Lang was in the kitchen cooking up some mischief and goulash, too. Stokes even made the paper back then. That’s because the editor of The Daily Register was Fair Havenite Art Kamin. His daughter, Brooke, was on that trip. So was he. Back then, such things were still newsworthy — the real sort of community journalism brand.

Besides, he thought Stokes was quite the height of hands-on outdoor educational experiences, so he wrote what he knew in a column about it in 1974 when he was there with Brooke’s class. And he knew way back then that Stokes would always be talked about. He was right.

“They’re still talking about Stokes here,” his lede said. “The memory, it seems, will linger on for month after month and year after year. It will transfer from class to class.” Right again. It’s 48 years later and it’s still something to talk about. The lingering? Well, Stokes is its own good ghost.

Kamin had also tripped to Stokes with his son, Blair, in 1969. For the article he did in ’74, though, Fair Havenites John (Jack) and Steve Croft took the photos. Yes, Fair Haven had its own little family of journalists. It still does. Ahem. And, this one is still talking about it.

We’ll get back to Kamin’s own Stokes parent experience at some point, like his misadventure doing the compass thing with the Pathfinder class and getting a gaggle of goofy sixth graders lost. That tidbit somehow didn’t make the column. Everyone did hear about it, though, from the lost kids, who just thought it was a great adventure — even though they were late for dinner.

Hey, Kamin had a way with words, not direction for sure. There was also a time when he drove a group of Girl Scouts to Camp Sacajawea and didn’t make it there until after nightfall. A bunch of giddy girls waiting thought that group had gotten abducted by aliens. They made up fireside stories about it to go with their before-lanterns-out S’mores. Then the leaders remembered Kamin was driving. And, hey, to be fair, let’s not forget that there were no GPS gadgets back then — just compasses, maps and bifocals.

If he were still alive, he’d be emailing me with an editorial note, for sure, probably about something innocuous like “Pathfinder wasn’t the actual name of the class, Elaine.” He knew the truth and may try to argue some of my semantics or proper names, but couldn’t deny a factual report from the most reliable of sources — a bunch of very frank sixth graders.

But we digress … back to those kids being late for dinner with a full plate of angst, giggles and anticipation. There was a long arm of the law in the kitchen, order outside of the mess hall — with the raising of the hands of the gathered to shut their yaps, stand at attention and get in line — and some popular grub being served up inside.

That grub, or a favorite of the kids’ anyway, was good ol’ Sloppy Joes — giant vats of it. Do kids these days even know what that is? It’s a mess of hamburger, some sort of tomato sauce and seasonings slopped onto a soft bun. No one really knows who Joe was, but the thing was very sloppy. To accompany the Joes, there was what we called bug juice. That would be Kool Aid — the green dye number 5 kind. And it was laced with what our parents thought was the healthy alternative of cancer-causing saccharine. Who remembers that? Oh, we clamored for the bad-for-you bug juice and the green tongue it gave us. Slurp.

Hey, this was the era of the frozen Swanson TV dinner being a very cool luxury. So, yes, Sloppy Joes were gourmet. There are faint memories of some fruit being served. Maybe. The Hamburger Helper variety of food and goulash were mostly what stood out, though. With Bill Lang commandeering the ’70s foodie menu, though, we know there was also some spaghetti and meatballs at some point. And the kids clamored for all it, putting Joe first on the popularity list, of course.

From the looks of the Stokes mess hall doings of more recent years, though, it seems as though meals have gone a healthier route. But, who knows, in another 50 years, the mess may be a neat pile of proper nutrition pills — at the Mars Stokes.

Still, there will probably be a Fair Haven on Mars for the Mars Stokes experience in another 50 years from now. After all, this kind of community experience is the kind that binds and transcends time and even galaxies. What became the Stokes tradition began in 1967. That was, indeed, a at least a couple of lifetimes ago — 55 years, to be exact.

As Kamin said, “Stokes in this municipality only means Stokes Forest in northern New Jersey.” Still true. “And Stokes Forest, to seven years of sixth graders, means much more than what has become a nationally recognized environmental project.”

Much more, indeed. For instance, the greatest of lessons learned from the Stokes experience, as described by Kamin, are “developed” rather than immediate. “Time has a way of making the Stokes experience more meaningful,” he said. Right again. They’re still talking about it, writing about it.

Why more meaningful with time? Well, it all goes back to the community family ideal. And ideal is what it was and is in Fair Haven. “After all, Stokes is a community effort and the 130 sixth graders who take part in it sense this early,” Kamin said. Yes, they do. And, for generations, it gives them something to talk about, to write about, to emulate.

Speaking of emulation … I will, with full humor, interject my own editorial note to Kamin that he couldn’t argue — and certainly can’t email about. He said that all the kids were 12. Not all, Art, including your son, Blair, who had turned 12 that summer of ’69. The copy editor missed that one. Some of those sixth graders had summer birthdays. I know. I share that summer birthday and some kid birthdays with Blair and the Kamins. Bobbing for apples comes to mind. Hmmmm. Just had to slip that note in. But, back to the community thing — as if it ever really veered.

This Fair Haven kid was a sixth grader at Stokes in 1972, and, again, in 1978 as an RFH camp counselor, dubbed CAT. We haven’t made it to the Stokes on Mars yet, but the “more meaningful” notion is ever evolving and expanding, starting with the mess hall mindset and bringing it all neatly back to community with a word spill. While most may have never gulped bug juice again, it will never be plain ol’ Kool Aid again, either.

And I’d bet just about every Fair Haven kid who ate in the Stokes mess hall has a hankering for Sloppy Joes or goulash to ease homesick pangs. And when the long arm of the law reaches out, some will remember the ladle at the end of the arm serving up the slop in the ’70s.

Now, raise your hand if you want to get back into that mess hall to gobble up a plate of community as it should be. I have a hankering. That would be Stokes Mars 2072 for me. Aha! Still ’72. See? They say that we come back to what our soul loves. See you at the Stokes Mars mess hall, kids. My hand is raised.

Retro 1950s Fair Haven Kindergarten Class Act

A classic reprise originally posted in 2017 and now reprised every year in celebration of that ever so priceless school picture day. This one takes us back to a Fair Haven kindergarten class of 1955 at Knollwood School. At one time or another, three different schools housed kindergarten classes in Fair Haven. The pictures? Well, there was always that group shot, no matter where, that captured some priceless looks, fashion and hairdos.  

School bells are ringing. Class is in session. Back-to-school mode is still kicking in. Back-to-school nights have welcomed parents back to the school halls. And, for some, it’s about taking a walk back to their own school days in the same place — like Knollwood School.

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In Memoriam: Longtime Fair Havenite & Teacher, Pat Egan, 82

On the cusp of the start of the school year, Fair Haven lost one of its most popular former longtime teachers.

Fair Havenite and retired 25-year Knollwood and Viola L. Sickles schools teacher Patricia “Pat” Egan passed away peacefully on Saturday, Sept. 4. She was 82.

Pat Egan
Photo/family via John E. Day Funeral Home

“Patricia devoted her life and love to family and to children of all ages. She had a boundless faith in God and was a parishioner of the Church of the Nativity in Fair Haven. Patricia’s enthusiasm, love, humor, and smile touched the lives of many, leaving a legacy of innovative education, dedication to family, and a loving devotion to
all who were blessed to be by her side.” 

Loved ones of Pat Egan in her obituary

Born in Teaneck on Christmas Eve 1939 to Elwyn and Marguerite Norton, Pat was one of eight children. She graduated from William Paterson University with a bachelor of arts degree in Education and taught first at the Longfellow School in Teaneck and then for 25 years in Fair Haven at both the Viola L. Sickles and Knollwood schools.
Pat was pre-deceased by: her beloved husband, James S. Egan in 1986; her parents, Elwyn and Marguerite Norton; and two brothers, Robert and Roy Norton. 

She is survived by: her four cherished, loving children and their spouses, Kevin Egan and wife Anne, of Westborough, MA, Richard Egan and wife Carolyn, of West Long Branch, Christen McMahon-Vota and husband Tim, of Little Silver, and Michel Chojnacki and husband Jerzy, of Shrewsbury; her 12 cherished grandchildren, Kevin (Meghan), John and Adelene Egan, Jaimie, Jessica and Emily Egan, Jack and Cole McMahon, Violet and Rowan Vota, Christian and Reed Chojnacki; five siblings, Richard (Camille) Norton, Ronald (Virginia) Norton, Kevin (Barbara) Norton, Kathleen (Joseph) Mobilio, and Dennis (Patricia) Norton; and many nieces and nephews.

— Photos/Family, Eileen Kubaitis and Jeni Weber

Family and friends may visit on Friday, Sept. 9, from 2 to 4 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. at the John E. Day Funeral Home, Red Bank. A funeral mass will be held at 10 a.m. on Saturday at Church of the Nativity, Fair Haven, followed by burial at Fair View Cemetery, 456 State Route 35, Middletown. 
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Patricia’s memory to Grace Healthcare Services, 105 Fieldcrest Ave, Suite 402. Edison, NJ 08837. Email: info@gracehcs.com 

Rest In Peace, Pat Egan. Thank you for all you have taught so many Fair Haven kids that will endure their lifetimes. You are remembered.

— Edited obituary prepared by family via John E. Day Funeral Home

Retro Stokes Hip to Be Square Dancing

Square dancing at Stokes in the 1970s
Photo/courtesy of Lisa Ericson

A reprise from 2019 in honor of the annual tradition of that trip to Stokes State Forrest. In honor of wrapping up the Stokes experience with that last dance … Dance on and dose doe, sixth graders!

It was truly terrifying. The mandatory square dance at the Fair Haven sixth graders’ Stokes State Forrest trip.

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Retro Cheesy Class Pic Posers

It’s time to say “Cheese!” for those cheesy class pictures.

The era, along with its hair and clothing styles, may be bygone, aas are some since dumped picture day prep traditions, but the freeze framed sentiment is the same — straighten up and smile right, even if your bangs and teeth are both crooked. Never mind the sudden blemish pop-up, scratch or missing tooth. It all amounts to classic picture day pomp and circumstance. Classic.

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Retro Knollwood Cool Kids’ Hangout Daze

The cool kids of Fair Haven’s Knollwood School in 1974
Photo/courtesy of Debra Giffin Schluter

A picture is worth a thousand awkwardly cool moments in memory of a middle school kid.

To a Fair Haven eighth grader of the 1970s, there was nothing cooler than being asked to hang out, before the bell rang, on the side of Knollwood School by the bushes with the clique of the coolest kids.

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Retro Cool Dudes’ Summer Class Trippin’

School’s out alright. And the heat is always on to seek out a good time among class friends. So, there’s nothing quite like a final class trip to — with class clowns, friends, foes and teachers. Yes, teachers.

This particular trip was taken in 1974 to a dude ranch somewhere with Fair Haven’s Knollwood School soon-to-be grads and teachers. Where, none of the old folks in the pictures can remember. Hey, some of us don’t even remember the trip.

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Retro Having a Field Day at Knollwood

A field day for Knollwood kids in the late 1990s
Photo/Elaine Van Develde

Beating the heat with a cool memory … A reprise in honor of school days done and a traditional prequel to summertime for Fair Haven kids …

Once upon a time, in those school days right before summer, when Knollwood School kids gathered on Sportsman’s Field for, well, some Field Day fun, let’s just say it was a bit hard to keep them focused.

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Retro Knollwood Grad Fashionistas

Knollwood Class of '74 graduation fashionistas Stephanie DeSesa, Elaine Van Develde (yours truly) and Wanda Becker. Photo/Sally Van Develde
Knollwood Class of ’74 graduation fashionistas Stephanie DeSesa, Elaine Van Develde and Wanda Becker.
Photo/Sally Van Develde

In honor of eighth grade graduations, a reprise of that look back to Knollwood School Class of 1974 and best buds … 

It’s half past eighth grade graduation time in the Rumson-Fair Haven area.

Every year photos up all over social media. And these crews of grade school cronies seem to have a panache we eighth graders of the 1970s lacked. There they all are … posing, arms wrapped around one another, sporting stylish clothes, tans and toothy grins.

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Clipped Perspective: A 60s R-FH Area Back-to-School Era

It’s a different kind of back-to-school week this pandemic-affected school year. That’s for sure. Students were back to school, part virtually and part in the classroom or outdoor class, in the Rumson-Fair Haven area this week. Those classic first day of school shots were plastered all over Facebook.

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