The Meadowlands Commission is honoring Black History Month with a weekly post on this blog. Today the focus is a Tuskegee Airman from Rutherford. This series of four posts originally ran in 2009. That’s the great thing about history — it never gets old.
Calvin J. Spann, who grew up in Rutherford, served with the famed Tuskegee Airmen during World War II.
From 1943 to 1946, 1st Lt. Spann served in the U.S. Army Air Force, 332nd Fighter Group, 100th Squadron, as part of the famed Tuskegee Airmen — the first-ever group of black Army pilots.
Spann was among an elite group of Tuskegee Airmen who escorted B-17 bombers and reconnaissance planes over Nazi Germany during World War. Spann flew 26 combat missions.
In a phone interview yesterday from his home in Texas, Spann said: “My growing up in Rutherford inspired me to be a Tuskegee Airman. Planes from Teterboro Airport took off right over my house.
“I was able to do everything any young man in high school did, and when I got into the Air Corps and they said they didn’t think I could learn to fly, I thought that was preposterous. I’d been doing everything everyone else was doing all my life, and it really stuck with me. That was my experience growing up in Rutherford.”
The Meadowlands Commission hosted local and national media yesterday to promote the region in advance of the Super Bowl — and to keep spreading the word that this is not your father's Meadowlands anymore.
A link to a TV news clip from Philadelphia is here.
Record Staff Writer John Brennan's blog post is here.
We are posting some of the photos from yesterday's pontoon boat ride as well… (Yes, we had Black Skimmers galore.)
Three more pix follow…
Pretty crazy-looking skeleton in Harrier Meadow the other day. Anyone know what it is.
Update on last week's Teaser: We put Edith Wallace on the case, and she has ID'd the tree. Her answer will be forthcoming as time allows. Thanks for bearing with us…
We are getting reports of Black Skimmers, a threatened species in New Jersey, from all over the Meadowlands — Mill Creek Marsh, DeKorte, Clay Ave. Wetlands and near Chubb Ave. in Lyndhurst and on the Hackensack River upriver of River Barge Park.
We have been swamped of late — will catch up on other posts as soon as we can…
Jim Wright, who maintains this blog for the Meadowlands Commission, also writes a twice monthly nature column for The South Bergenite.
You can read his latest, about the NJMC's pontoon boat rides with Naturalist Gabrielle Bennett-Meany, can be found here.
Can't wait to get back to Laurel Hill County Park to see how the Common ravens are doing, and the nesting Ospreys, too. Good thing we're having a free guided walk there tomorrow (Tuesday morning) at 10 a.m.!
Full listing follows.
Following up on Ray Duffy's report of a Clapper Rail at Mill Creek Marsh, Angelo Marra got several photos of said rail — including one in flight. Don't see one of those every day!
Says Angelo: "The rail is located along the furthest part of of the trail in MCM. When you pass the back bridge along the turnpike the trail turns to the left is where the flight picture was taken. Stop and listen in that area,and you will hear this big mouth. (Thanks, Angelo!)
P.S. A Clapper Rail was reported as a heard bird yesterday at DeKorte.
Angelo Marra reports:
I saw five skimmers at MCM at noon yesterday. They always put on some show. (See photo above.)
Thanks, Angelo. We saw several at DeKorte today around noon as well but could not photograph them. They are around!
The Barn Swallow babies are hanging out on the Phragmites at DeKorte, along the Shorebird Pool.
Ron Shields writes:
The ripening mulberries have recently become an extremely big hit with many members of the Meadowlands avian community.
Just find a tree and let all the action come to you. (Thanks, Ron!)
Three more Mulberry Madness photos follow.