THE INDEPENDENT, APRIL 21, 1993 3
Strathmore marks 30 years way since her. family moved here.
Many residents "I remember the Board of Education
building was over a stationery shop on
sending last Main Street, and the superintendent of
schools was a former township judge. I
mortgage check can just picture him now, leaning back in
his chair, wearing suspenders," she re-
By Lauren Jaeger called. ..'.;.
Staff writer She feels that the trees were among the
development's greatest assets.
A little more than 30 years ago, about "There was a great number of shrubs
2,300 prefabricated Colonial-style homes and bushes," the resident said. "Levitt put
sprung up on farmland in Aberdeen, ful- in apple, peach and pine trees. I remember
filling the dreams of parents who previ- my daughter would sell the peaches from
ously watched their children play on cast- the trees for 25 cents each."
iron fire escapes above busy city streets.
In addition, when the land upon
The new residents — who came at a
which the houses stood was still vast
time when the now congested Lloyd Road
plains of mud, the Levitt corporation put
still had not yet received blacktop or traf-
out all of the grass seed. When two rain-
fic lights —changed forever the quiet
storms followed and swept away all the
place then known as Matawan Township.
seeds, the workers reseeded all of their
Today, many of those "newcomers" lawns.
are still around, and have recently passed
a milestone — they sent off their last "That was unusual, even for back
mortgage installment check. Rich Schultz then," she said. "We also got all our appli-
BLISS IN THE 'BURBS — Paul and Prudence Marino, original residents of the ances, such as the washing machine,
The Strathmore development, de-
Strathmore Development in Aberdeen, celebrate the last payment of their 30- dryer, dishwasher, stove and refrigerator."
signed and built by the William Levitt
Corp., which developed the concept of year mortgage. One drawback, however, was when the
prefabricated communities, had more than home was being built, and Gruft detested
safe here now," she said. "I reaped the struction when she moved in toward the the standardized, gray asbestos tiles that
just back yards and gardens. Complete benefits of living here." end of 1962; and when it was finally com-
with a pool club, parks, churches, syna- the workers were putting on the floors.
Prudence Marino remembers breaking pleted in February 1963, the mothers re- She offered to pay for her own tiles and
gogues and schools, each section of the the happy news in 1962 to her envious ceived a personal tour from Roger Tucillo,
project even had streets with names that have them put in instead, but the workers
Bronx coffee klatch that she and her hus- a fresh-out-of college teacher. Today, Tu- said that was against the rules. After the
all began with a certain letter. band, Paul, along with their two kids, cillo is the high school's principal.
Sometimes, it seems that the develop- tiles were set, she replaced them with ones
were planning to move to the country. "Everything was brand-new, and the to her liking.
ers used all their linguistic resources in "I was really looking forward to mov- new library did not have even one book in
trying to come up with exciting names. Payments for the home came to $161
ing out of that tenement," said Marino, it," Marino laughed, recalling the empty a month. The family paid $600 a year in
Take the "I" section, for instance. There's who knew that Strathmore, was where the but shiny shelves.
Idaho, Icemeadow, Idlebrook, Idlewild, taxes back then, she recalled. Today,
family belonged after reading a newspaper But some drawbacks were in store for someone looking for a home in
Idolstone, Imbrook and Indigo Lanes, as advertisement — even if there were some the new and optimistic residents.
well as an Idol and an Incline Place. The Strathmore could expect to spend
doubts as to whether they could afford it. Although they were living out their
"A" section has names like Andover,
Ardmore, Asbury, Ambler, and Ayrmont.
Marino quickly sent in a $100 check to dreams, this new influx of city folk was a £ee related story. Page 10
reserve a house in the family's name. little startling at first to longtime residents
One resident has a theory as to why the "I signed the check," she laughed. of the township.
streets are named the way they are. $150,000 or more. In the 1960s, Gruft
"Just to show you how times have On the third day of her new life in Ab- recalled, families needed an income of at
"Levitt had a method to his mad- changed, they returned the check and erdeen, a neighbor with a car offered to
ness," said Anne Barker, who moved to least $9,000 a year to buy a home.
asked for a man's signature." take Marino and the other mothers out to Gerald Holland moved to Idlewild
Intone Lane with her family from New After much deliberation as to which of "the town," which was Main Street in
York in August, 1963. "People who didn't Court in 1962 with his wife and four chil-
the five model homes they wanted — Mr. Matawan. However, while looking in the dren. The whole family was living in city
know where they were going cut down on Marino liked one model, she liked another five-and-dime store for curtain rods, one
speeding. Many of the streets wind quarters with his in-laws, he recalled.
— the Marinos chose the ranch. Total salesperson gave the unfamiliar faces the "We were one of the first to move
around." cost: $16,990. cold shoulder.
Barker found the social aspect "unbe- here," he said. "We picked the largest
Then the Marinos had to decide which "I could understand that they didn't home, called the 'Country Club' with four
lievable" when she moved out to plot of land they wanted their home to be want city folk living here. But the city folk
Strathmore, she said. bedrooms." The cost was $25,000.
built on. Pondering a large, sectioned map wanted to come to the 'country, so every- And yes, things have changed dramati-
"We raised five children here, and ev- in the developer's salesroom, there was one came bustling in," said Marino.
eryone had children. During the summer, cally in Aberdeen Township, he said.
the answer — the picturesque-sounding "I heard that they called us the Strath- "The taxes. Have you ever heard of
they'd go to the Strathmore Pool and Ten- Autumn Lane, which made the young morons," said Janet Gruft, who had been
nis Club, which was very well-organized, taxes going down? They've gone up, and
mother think of the song, "Autumn living in an apartment house in Elizabeth they'll continue to go up," he said.
and the kids learned how to swim there. Leaves." with her husband and 5-year-old before
"It's a lot more crowded now, but I felt However, Holland's overall sentiments
Marino also remembers that the the big move to Avondale Lane 30 years echo those of his neighbors: "We have no
safe living here back then, and I still feel Strathmore School was still under con- ago. Gruft has seen the town come a long plans to move."
Not everyone was happy when development came to town
ABERDEEN — It started off as a ru- it, and he did a hell of a good job," re- "I was proud to see it built," he added. Former Aberdeen Police Chief and
mor. People whispered that somebody was called Waters, who now lives in Lake- George Hausmann, a resident of Ab- lifetime resident John McGinty also re-
buying up several acres in the township wood. "Thirty years later, it's still a very erdeen since 1948 and a current council- members the township changing from ru-
and wanted to build hundreds of homes. nice section. man, was not as happy to welcome ral woodland, farms and swamps, with a
"I heard it and said, 'That's a lot of "I said, 'I'm all for it, and I will be as Strathmore, however. few sections of houses, into a thriving
nonsense,' " said Peter Waters, 79, who much help as I can be to you, sir' — yes, I "The taxes went sky high," he said. suburban community.
served as mayor of the township back in called him sir — even though a lot of peo- "When I moved here, my taxes, mortgage "We had to increase the Police De-
the 1960s. ple living there back then thought I was and insurance totaled $50 a month. Today, partment," he said. "When you get 2,000
But soon — after being invited to the going to louse up the whole township," my taxes alone are $5,400 a year. homes all of a sudden, it's quite a substan-
office of lawyer David Wilentz of Perth Waters said. "There was only one First Aid build- tial increase. The only problem was, (we)
Amboy, a representative of the William "Nothing in Matawan Township was ing, and it was in Cliffwood on Prospect couldn't keep pace with the growth. We
Levitt Corp. — Waters found out that yes, worth talking about back then," Waters and Amboy avenues," Hausmann added. had to catch up at a later date. We'd added
the rumors were true. Shortly thereafter, said. "The Strathmore development put "They had to serve Strathmore until one officer a year, sometimes two, and
Levitt and the mayor had a meeting. Matawan Township on the map. I knew it Strathmore started its own station around sometimes three."
"I wooed Bill Levitt to go through with was the best thing that could happen. 1969." — Lauren Jaeger