Jumping out of a flak-riddled B-24 Liberator over Nazi-occupied Austria wasn’t scary.
Staying inside the bomber’s death spiral, that would have been scary, Hjalmar Johansson told a pre-Memorial Day gathering in Morristown on Friday.
Never mind that the Army Air Force never gave him any parachute practice.
“It’s too dangerous. You could kill yourself!” the Montville resident said, to peals of laughter.
The roughest ride awaited him on the ground.
Five months in German prisoner-of-war camps. Train journeys from hell. Solitary confinement. A near-starvation diet that shriveled him to 110 pounds.
“That was pretty harrowing,” he told the packed Morris County Freeholders meeting room, where 15 veterans from World War II to Afghanistan received the county’s Distinguished Service medal. Two of the awards were posthumous.
Hjalmar enlisted for duty in World War II at 18. Somehow, the engineer has made it to 88.
Half of his fellow airmen never came home from the war, he said.
In this video, a member of America’s fast-vanishing Greatest Generation reflects on the cost of freedom:
“We’ve been told that freedom isn’t free. And that’s for sure, right? Very expensive. And I know something about that.”
0:20: Compares 8th Air Force and 15th
0:34: Wanted to be pilot
1:00: Was 100 pounds…has gained a few
1:30: German POW diet
2:30: “Milk run” to Vienna
3:35: Shrapnel bouncing off plane
3:50: Taylor Charlie
4:30: Two engines gone
4:54: “Not that scared”
5:35: Fighters in front of me
5:42: “She’s gonna go down”
6:05: Both guns lock up
6:22: Instant frostbite
6:35: Germans ignore surrender signal
7:02: “Gotta bail out!”
7:11: No parachute practice
7:22: “Too dangerous!”
7:33: The Caterpillar Club
8:30: No navigator
8:55: Thanks, buddy
9:24: Recovers fumble just in time
9:50: Rushes parachute, injures shoulder
10:25: “Absolute silence”
10:45: Scared NOT to jump
11:15: No John Wayne
12:22: Solitary confinement
13:25: “Pretty harrowing” train ride
14:30: Brit bombs rock boxcar
14:45: Camp with 70,000 POWs
15:10: Never alone: Lice and fleas
16:20: Grim stats
17:30: What freedom costs
Please click icon below for captions.
Six Democrats are vying for three at-large council seats in the June 4 primary. Incumbents Michelle Dupree Harris and Toshiba Foster and running mate Michael Elms are opposed by Michael Pooler, Tommy Alexander and Jessica Williamson.
The forum was moderated by Catherine Sorge for the League of Women Voters.
Here is the order of speakers.
0:00 Intro by Marie Fornaro & Catherine Sorge
3:10 Michael Elms
5:14 Tommy Alexander
6:50 Michelle Dupree Harris
9:10 Michael Pooler
11:00 Jessica Williamson
13:10 Toshiba Foster
0:00 Moderator Catherine Sorge
0:29: Toshiba Foster
2:13: Jessica Williamson
3:31: Michael Pooler
5:00: Michelle Dupree Harris
6:12: Tommy Alexander
7:43: Michael Elms
Politics can get dirty in Morristown.
Check out our video from Tuesday’s groundbreaking ceremony for the Speedwell Avenue redevelopment.
Councilman Stefan Armington and Mayor Tim Dougherty usually get along just fine. But on this day…
The comical moment came about 11 years after town officials first contemplated remaking the neighborhoods around Speedwell. Phase One of the four-step project calls for 268 apartments on the town’s former public works site, between Early Street and Atno Avenue.
If all goes smoothly, the first tenants will move into the complex, dubbed “Latitude,” in late summer of 2014, said Rich Murphy, managing director of Mill Creek Residential Trust, the developer.
Please click icon below for captions.
“We believe very strongly in Morristown,” he said. “We love the atmosphere in Morristown. We love that our residents can walk on a Sunday morning for a cup of coffee. We love that they can come home and walk to a restaurant.
“When we’re done here, it’s going to be something special. I think it’s going to give a real shot in the arm to this neighborhood,” Rich said.
The moribund economy could not stop the project, a testament to Morristown’s desirability, said Mayor Dougherty.
“Morristown continues to lead the way for the rest of the state,” he said.
Latitude will include 26 deed-restricted affordable units. Plans also call for a game room, fitness center, rooftop deck and shuttle to the train station. The building will be designed for energy efficiency, and kitchens will have granite countertops and stainless steel, energy-saving appliances, according to the developer.
Most of the apartments will have one- or two bedrooms. Previously, Rich estimated rents ranging from around $1,800 to $2,600 a month. Prospect Street is scheduled to be extended through the property next spring, linking to Early Street.
Mill Creek, formerly part of Trammell Crow, closed last Christmas Eve on the $3.5 million purchase of the municipal land. Demolition of existing structures started in January, and a cleanup of oily soil was completed recently. The town agreed to pay up to $500,000 for the remediation.
Over the next two months, paving will commence for a 357-space parking garage; framing for the structure should follow in August, Rich said.
The Mayor credited Jonathan Rose Companies, the planning firm he hired soon after taking office, with getting the long-awaited project moving.
But the happiest guy at Tuesday’s ceremony may have been architect Dean Marchetto, who scrutinized facades elsewhere in Morristown and hopes to replicate the same feel with brickwork in his Latitude design. A park will be centrally located, with building exteriors serving as walls framing the green space, he added.
“For architects, we dream of these things,” Dean said of the groundbreaking. “We draw on paper. But when it finally takes shape, it’s very special.”
About a year from now, Mill Creek expects to break ground on Phase Two of the project. Another 200 apartments will go up next to Phase One, on the site of the ambulance squad headquarters.
Presumably, the ceremonial shovels will be distributed much more selectively.
Buckets of rain. Dripping tents. Strains of music.
The Falcon Ridge Folk Festival?
Not this time.
We’re talking about Festival Earth in Morristown–and what a festival it was on Sunday, thanks to a couple of young singers from Liechtenstein.
Okay, technically speaking, brothers Dan and Noah Rauchwerk hail from Holmdel. But they perform as the Lords of Liechtenstein, and that’s close enough for us.
Dan, 24, and Noah, 18, regaled visitors to our MorristownGreen.com tent with an afternoon of original songs and cover tunes that had people dancing in the streets. (Fortunately, traffic was cordoned off.)
Thank you, Gentlemen! Thanks, too, to MG Contributor Marie Pfeifer for helping with concert security, and to our friends at Sustainable Morristown, organizers of Festival Earth, for their hospitality.
Please click icon below for captions.
At first, Aja Baitey had her doubts about joining the male chorus of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.
But the Morristown eighth-grader is finding that life as a Biblical brother has some advantages.
“I didn’t know how it would be, singing with guys,” said Aja, one of 73 young performers in the Mayo Performing Arts Center’s first original stage production. “It’s not that bad. I get special treatment!”
Aja plays Zebulon (“It sounds like a pill!”) in the Andrew Lloyd Webber/Tim Rice musical, which adapts the “coat of many colors” story of Joseph from the Book of Genesis.
Schools and amateur production groups have successfully done this show more than 20,000 times, by one estimate. But the Mayo cast was leaving nothing to chance on Tuesday, polishing song and dance routines in preparation for the May 31-June 2 run in Morristown.
Director Cathy Roy and Music Director Darius Frowner tossed ideas back and forth at a piano, fine-tuning bits of songs like a head coach and quarterback adjusting their strategy right before the big game. Huddled round were a handful of teenaged boys, cheerfully answering each revision sung by Aja, dialing it in a tad better each time.
Through it all, Aja appeared remarkably calm and composed.
She already knows about thriving under pressure; this year she won the Frelinghuysen Middle School’s talent show with her performance of Rihanna’s Diamonds. As a sixth-grader, she took third prize with her version of Put Your Records On by Corinne Bailey Rae.
Singing since she learned to talk, Aja made her stage debut in Cinderella as a third-grader.
“I like working around here. It’s a lot easier than I thought it would be,” Aja said of the Dreamcoat production.
The Mayo instructors are focused, she said, but “not mean.” And she is familiar with the musical, through her church.
“I like the choreography. I love the melodies, and the people I work with. And I like getting dressed up!” said Aja, who will study dance at the Morris County School of Technology in the fall. Down the road, she hopes to study fine arts at the Berklee College of Music.
Nearby, Joey Walsh, a 16-year-old from Parsippany Hills High School, was waiting for his turn to rehearse dual roles, as Jacob and the comical Pharaoh. He could scarcely contain his excitement.
“I wanted to get my foot in the door with a major production company like MPAC,” he said.
Joey wasn’t pushed by a stage mother; instead, it was his grandmother.
“My grandma loves this show!” he said.
Cathy Roy had the toughest assignment. The Mayo’s education director had to cut about 75 kids who tried out for Dreamcoat.
But she has been busy since March running twice-a-week rehearsals for the lucky ones who passed the audition.
“This is the fun part, when you see all the elements come together,” she said.
Showtimes are May 31 at 7:30 pm, June 1 at 2 pm and 7:30 pm, and June 2 at 7:30 pm. Tickets are $15.
For Daryl Boone, life begins at 59.
The Market Street Mission helped free him from cocaine addiction some years back.
And Walmart has hired him as a supervisor. That may seem like light years from his former job in Princeton University’s legal department, but Daryl is grateful.
Learn why in this video.
Most of Christine Lavin’s songs tickle the funny bone. But this one tackles a serious issue: Gun violence.
The gentleman sitting beside me was an NRA member, and his commentary throughout the evening was almost as entertaining as the show.
He and Christine should tour together, with a point/counterpoint program. The gentleman could hold up poster boards rebutting lyrics with which he disagrees. Sort of like a live version of closed-captioning.
All seriousness aside, last Friday otherwise was among the most light-hearted, delightful romps we have enjoyed at The Minstrel. The Lords of Liechtenstein got the ball rolling and the packed house left in high spirits.
You can argue forever about who is the best folk singer. Christine Lavin almost certainly ranks as the greatest baton-twirler in the folk world. But that’s another video.
Next up at The Minstrel: Singer-songwriter Ellis, on May 3, 2013, at 8 pm.
Paging Dr. Demento: The Lords of Liechtenstein have a tender ballad for you.
It’s called Siberia, and well… we don’t want to spoil it for you. Just watch the video.
Brothers Dan and Noah Rauchwerk are to sweater vests what Michael Jackson was to white gloves. The Holmdel natives delivered two rollicking sets as openers for Christine Lavin at The Minstrel in Morris Township last week.
Let’s just hope that Dan and Noah never find true love. It would ruin them as songwriters.
Next up at The Minstrel: Singer-songwriter Ellis, May 3 at 8 pm.
UPDATE: People keep asking us about the origins of that LoL name, so we went to the source. For the record, Dan is a 24-year-old Rutgers grad and Noah, 18, is an NYU freshman. Dan replies:
The name resulted from an obsession that we’ve had with Liechtenstein ever since our dad returned from a trip to Western Europe in the ’90s and told us about the country. We think it’s hilarious that you can only buy a house in Liechtenstein if you already own a house in Liechtenstein, horrifying that women didn’t have the right to vote there until the 1980s, and downright bizarre that you can rent out the entire country for corporate functions. The place is just one big conundrum.
Somewhere around mile 20 of last week’s Boston Marathon, Karl Fenske slowed down.
His change of pace nearly proved fatal.
Six miles later, the Morristown lawyer and his girlfriend, Julia Scales of Sparta, were in sight of the finish line when the first bomb detonated about 30 yards ahead of them, spewing a thick white cloud in their path.
“Don’t look!” Karl told Julia, turning her away from the carnage he saw on the sidewalk. It was littered with bodies. Blood was everywhere. A leg “was not attached to a body.”
Seconds later, the next blast went off behind them.
The shock wave hit them like a hurricane, Karl recounted on Monday, a week after his fourth–and final–Boston Marathon.
“No more big-city marathons for me,” said the 62-year-old tri-athlete.
His ears still are ringing. Every time he tries to sleep, “I see the white plume of smoke. I see the chaos. And unfortunately, I see the bloodshed.” The other night a truck thundered outside his Morristown window. “I jumped halfway up the ceiling,” he said.
The second explosion pelted Karl “with crap” and set a man on fire, he said. He saw police dashing to extinguish the flames.
Dazed, Karl and Julia sought refuge in a sidewalk alcove, as wails of pain and anguish echoed around them. Fearing more bombs, they left Boylston Street and ducked inside a mall near the Prudential Center. They were shivering in running clothes damp from more than 26 miles of racing.
Boston was chaos. Nobody knew what was going on. Rumors abounded. Mobile phone service was extremely spotty and Karl’s battery was low. One glazed runner asked how to collect his race medal.
Luckily, Karl was able to exchange text messages with his brother in New Hampshire. The brother surfed the web and directed Karl how to navigate a city of closed streets, and how to find a working rail line to take the couple to Karl’s parked car in Wellesley, a suburb at the halfway point of the race.
It took four hours to reach the vehicle, Karl said.
Now, he reports a sense of anomie, a vague feeling of listlessness and disorientation. All he had desired on April 15 was to complete the Marathon.
“Every molecule in my body wanted to get through that finish line,” where food, water and blankets were waiting, he said.
NO STRANGER TO TERROR
Though generally no fan of the death penalty, Karl said it should apply to bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19.
“People who will do something like this are not fit to be walking this earth,” Karl said.
Three people were fatally injured at the Marathon and nearly 200 were hurt. An MIT police officer was slain three days later, and a transit officer was seriously wounded in a shootout that killed the other suspect, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26.
Karl immediately sensed that the first blast was not Patriots Day fireworks; he knew because he has encountered terrorism before.
As a Drew University student in the early 1970s, he studied for a year in London… where he nearly was killed by an IRA car bomb, he said.
“I think I might have used up a little of my good karma,” said Karl, who is grateful for escaping harm once more.
He also expressed gratitude to Boston strangers who fed and clothed he and Julia after the race.
“I’ll pay it forward ,” Karl said, smiling. “I’m saying it publicly.”
ON THIS VIDEO:
0:50: The last mile
1:25: The 26-mile marker
1:51: ‘There was this explosion’
2:06: Smelled gunpowder
2:21: ‘Don’t look!’
2:36: The second explosion went off
3:01: ‘I knew something was very dramatically wrong’
3:11: A hiding place
3:44: Blood and carnage
4:08: ‘People’s bodies were not the way they should be’
4:14: Black dots from second blast
4:38: Man on fire
5:11: Gruesome sight
5:23: Expecting to die?
5:40: ‘Get away!’ More bombs?
6:19: ‘Every molecule in my body wanted to cross the finish line’
6:36: Had to get away
7:07: Second wind
7:52: Nobody knew anything
8:35: Getting out of Dodge
8:55: Boston again?
9:23: Hearing damage
10:03: Not his first close call with terrorism
10:28: Not the Fourth of July
11:04: The karmic bank
11:23: Paying it forward
11:30: Bad dreams
12:15: The death penalty
13:20: Grasping for medals, and normalcy
15:12: The future
A federal immigration reform bill finally is ready for debate in Congress.
On the eve of the measure’s introduction, activists in Morristown marched from St. Margaret’s Roman Catholic Church to St. Peter’s Episcopal Church to pray for its enactment with members of the Principe de Paz congregation.
In this video, organizer Ilana Rossoff of Wind of the Spirit concedes the bill is a mixed bag for undocumented immigrants–but says it’s a start.
Participants also remembered victims of the Boston Marathon bombings in their prayers.