Five years ago, as part of the N.J. Meadowlands Commission’s Oral History Project, we interviewed lots of folks about the region in the old days. We are going to reprint the best of them here, every Tuesday, for 11 weeks. This week: Don Torino, president of the Bergen county Audubon Society.
Long-time Meadowlands resident Don Torino recalls:
I moved to Moonachie from Hackensack when I was twelve years old, Although Moonachie was just a few miles from Hackensack it was a different world.
One of my first Memories was having to stop our car on Redneck Avenue, waiting for the goats and sheep to cross the road.
I also remember watching horses trotting along Moonachie Ave. as they went into Teterboro Woods to ride along the beautiful trails they had used for many years.
Click “Continue reading …” to read more of Don’s reminiscences.
Growing up in Moonachie and the Meadowlands area was different. When other kids were out playing baseball we were fishing in the Old Clay pit in Carlstadt.
When kids in other towns were playing football, we were out trapping Muskrats to make a few extra dollars. The winter my father past away, Muskrat trapping help my family manage a Christmas tree and a few gifts.
Our summers were spent gathering blackberries, hiking along the railroad tracks and making rafts to float along Riser Creek and the old clay pit too.
I remember hunters walking along Moonachie Avenue with shotguns and the police waving to them as they went by, could you imagine that happening today? It was a different time for sure.
One of our favorite things to do was to take out of town kids for walks in the Meadows at night, We would take our flashlights and walk along until we would scare a Heron up, of course we would tell the new kid it was the Jersey Devil that found it’s way a bit north.
It was always a good laugh when we got back at school, but some kids still believed it may really have been a strange creature of some kind, maybe… The wildlife of the Meadowlands always played a part in our lives.
We all grew up with a love of nature, I really feel sorry for kids not having the same fun that we did, We would be gone from Sun-up to Sundown when not in school. Hard to imagine parents today letting there kids have the adventures that we did.
I certainly don’t want it to sound like things were better back when. We couldn’t have imagined places like DeKorte or Mill Creek or Pontoon Boat Eco-Cruises in the Meadowlands — it would have been too much for us to believe.
Today I am a board member of the Bergen County Audubon Society. Growing up in the Meadowlands gave me a love of Nature that I took with me the rest of my life, and now I am able to give a little back to the place I love.