Manville Library Archive…

librarySome of the great photos recently unearthed from the Manville Library attic

If you pay attention to this blog, or have for a while you might know that I complain a lot about a lack of a proper historical archive in which residents have access to. Well there is good news… we’re building one. The good folks at the Manville Library have given me complete access to “anything and everything in the building” in the name of helping build a usable archive for the people. In fact they are sacrificing an entire room for it. They called the right guy… I spent the entire day on Friday digging through dusty boxes in the attic that haven’t been touched in decades.

As it turns out the archive is much, much more vast than I had imagined it would be. I am turning up chunks of Neal Ranauro’s elusive photo collection… a lot of which still has the negatives in tact. This is extremely good news… since it’s the best proper photo archive that I know of. Hopefully it’s all there. I’ve brought a slide scanner, digital camera, and laptop over there, and basically set up a fully functioning portable archiving system. We’ve also found a lot of 16mm film, so if there is anyone out there that has a working 16mm projector that the library can borrow briefly please contact me at Devildance@hotmail.com. These things aren’t getting any younger and I’d like to get them digitally archived as well.

While I was there former Mayor Joseph Patero (late 1960’s) showed up to thank me for spearheading the project. Turns out he grew up in Lost Valley and knew my grandfather well. Joe is an amazing and humble guy and we traded tons of old Manville stories for a good part of 2 hours. He told me about how the first few years of the town council minutes are recorded in Polish, and how the entire town bussed out to Yankees stadium to see Johnny “Legs” Welaj make his major league hometown debut. When he spoke of the the town then and now, there was still a fondness in his tone. He didn’t once tell me about how “the town is going to hell” which seems to be the popular rhetoric these days. He did however tell me about a MHS sophomore who received a summer scholarship to Cornell and how he planned on helping her. It was an awesome day and I think both Mr. Patero and I walked away with a renewed sense of community and pride. I liked that.

I know this isn’t a typical post for this site and I’m sorry it doesn’t include a bunch cool old photos, but I just wanted to thank the Manville Library for taking this step to honor the history of their town. For giving people access and a tangible glimpse into their great and storied past. Historical perspective always seems to me like good medicine for separated communities. I will try and keep everyone posted on the progress of what turns up!

Speaking of community Manville High School Sophmore Chelsea Phuangthong, who just won that summer scholarship to Cornell, could use some help financing her education. If you are interested in here story you can read about it HERE.

Manville, N.J. Asbestos City

asbestos-cityPhoto by Neal Ranauro circa 1951-1952.

This crazy sign was on the way into Manville coming in from Millstone along River Road. While it may seem really ominous or silly in retrospect, you have to remember that at that time no one knew the adverse affects of manufacturing asbestos. A small industrial town was rising up and proud of its successes.

Pictured is Helen Palochko (left) and Julia Katko (right). Both worked at Johns-Manville. According to Helen they found out later that there was poison ivy all around them. Thanks so much to Helen Palochko Petras for contacting me and providing the details on this one! I love when that happens!

This photo is a bit tall to fit on the page, but if you click on it, it will adjust to fit your screen. Enjoy.

Main Street view off of the Weston-Manville station

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Photo circa 1912 • Click photo to enlarge

Hello folks. So I’ve collected this photo looking down Main Street off of the former Weston-Manville train station, which used to sit next to the overpass going out of the south end of town at Kennedy Blvd. I actually don’t think this is a very good photo at all, but it’s a rare view and I wanted to feature it here for that reason. This photo is from Neal Ranauro’s archive and is dated “circa 1912″ This is pretty crazy because Johns Manville was just breaking ground on their first building in 1912, and while you can see the Weston Garage up the road there on the left… Manville wasn’t even an official town yet, and wouldn’t be for another 17 years. If you are unfamiliar with the Manville-Weston Station you can read one of the many posts I’ve written about it HERE. But just so you can get your bearings here is the reverse view, looking from Main Street up at the station, which is that building right in the middle at the top of the hill. I feel like this one gives you a good look at where the photographer may have been standing when he took the first one. I believe the two photos are from the same day in 1912.

This second photo has been featured on this blog before… but these are priceless early Manville photos!

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Photo circa 1912 • Click photo to enlarge

Manville News, January 2nd, 1942

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Hey everyone. It’s been a long time since we got in a digitally archived issue of the old Manville News. I feel like after wrapping up the entire 1941 year I even needed a break from those things, but the show must go on. This here is issue is January 2, 1942.

If you are new to this blog… a few years ago I acquired a 3 year pile (1941-1943) of the Manville News, which has no relation to the current Manville News. I have since been digitizing them as they contain a lot of valuable information including lots genealogical info. To my knowledge these issues are not and have never been previously available anywhere else. The issues are downloadable and fully searchable.

You can view and download this issue by clicking the following link. Manville News 01-02-1942

If you need to look at earlier issues you can just click Newspaper archive button on the right side of the page.

I’m fixing stuff again

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So when I started this blog back in 2009 I had no idea what I was doing. I didn’t know how to make things the right size, how to crop, or how to allow enlargements on the photos. Also, the category field has grown so much things are not appropriately tagged anymore. Since there was a tiny following as compared to now, and considering how expansive this site has gotten I thought all the newcomers may enjoy a little curation of old posts. So I decided to start going back and fixing the old ones, updating the photos and category tags as well to make them easier to find and reposting links. I started with one of my favorite ones… the construction and opening of the Main Street underpass. This was a crucial and landscape altering construction project that happened starting around 1949, and fortunately Johns Manville photographer Neal Ranauro captured some amazing photos of it all. Please visit (or revisit) the old post by clicking HERE. The photos are now cropped and available to view at about 5 times the size as they previously were. I hope you all enjoy, as there will be more similar updates on the way!

8th Ave. Railroad Crossing?

8th ave train gate operator

Above Photo by Neal Ranauro • Click Photos to Enlarge

So something interesting happened to me this morning. I was sorting through some photos and came across this one I’ve been ignoring. It was really crazy because I had this labeled as 13th ave crossing, but when I took a good look at it, it didn’t make any sense at all! The water tower is on the wrong side of the photo, and is facing the wrong way. In fact… after some careful examination I came upon a new Manville mystery. The 8th Ave railroad crossing.

The old water tower you see in the photo there was formerly located on the north side between 9th and 10th aves, which would seem to put this crossing on South 8th. This was all pretty crazy to me, since I was completely unaware that this existed so I popped open a google maps street view to investigate…

Screen Shot 2015-01-12 at 11.38.58 AMThat is a shot of the end of South 8th next to the tracks looking from South Street (behind the VFW) Sure as hell looks like there used to be a crossing there huh?

UPDATE: According to some Manville folk testimony this crossing did exist on 8th Ave.

“Fred Sopko confirmed that there was indeed a temporary railroad crossing at 8th Ave in the late 1940s. It was a detour for traffic traveling through Manville while the underpass on Main St. was being built.”

Police cars under the old Weston underpass

cop cars weston underpassDate unknown • Click photo to enlarge

I was just cataloging some photos in my external hard drive and found this excellent photo of 2 Manville police cars passing / sharing a moment under the old Weston Underpass. This would be before the road and bridge were rerouted, so this is the underpass that is currently filled in with dirt. (you can see my old post about it HERE) I’m not even sure who to credit for this photo, because I frankly forgot who sent it to me. I can’t believe I haven’t posted this one earlier given how cool it is. You can see the Esso station way back in the distance… love these old police cruisers too! So cool.