Tuesday, June 22, 2010


It's time again for Alphabe-Thursday sponsored by our teacher Mrs. Matlock over at Jenny Matlock..."off on my tangent." Today we are studying the letter "W" and it just so happens I grew up in a little town in New Jersey called WESTWOOD. I've been gone from WESTWOOD for many years, but thought I'd take us all on a trip to my old hometown.

WESTWOOD is located in northeastern New Jersey and is a suburb of New York City. The population is around 11,000 people and it hasn't grown much in recent years because they have run out of room to grow. New Jersey is the most densely populated state.

My mother was born in WESTWOOD in 1920 in an apartment above Volz Hardware Store. The store was her grandfather's place and he and his wife lived above the store. He originally came over from Germany, settled in New York City, and then moved to WESTWOOD.

This is a picture of my mom Carolyn "Betty" Morris being held by her father John P. Morris in front of Volz Hardware Store around 1921.

Her dad had a gas station on Center Avenue and the gas station property backed up to Volz Hardware. Grandpa built the station himself out of cinder blocks. That's grandpa pumping gas.

My mom first lived with her parents on Bergen Street in WESTWOOD. She once told me that her father bought this house before he married her mother in 1919.

Then they moved to Lexington Avenue in WESTWOOD. This is my mom in the backyard. (Edited: I made an error. This picture is of the backyard on Lexington Avenue, but it's actually my mother's cousin Bobby Volz standing by the flowers. I was in a hurry and couldn't find a picture of the front of the house. I know I have one somewhere, but couldn't find it in time. So, I quickly inserted this one in the post and realized later it was Bobby and not mom.)

My dad was born in Jersey City in 1918 and moved to WESTWOOD with his family when he was three years old.

This is the house dad grew up in on Seventh Avenue in WESTWOOD.

Standing in front of the house is my dad with his father and siblings. From left to right is his brother Robert, his father William P, his sister Mildred, and dad William J. Durgin.

After my parents got married in 1943 her parents converted the upstairs of the house on Lexington Avenue into an apartment for them. It was during the war and dad was in the Merchant Marine and gone a lot. My sister and I were both born while they lived here. Here we are with mom on the front porch in 1947.

Then mom and dad built their own house on Mill Street in WESTWOOD. We moved there when I was three. This is a picture of my mom on the front porch. I'm assuming this was taken shortly after we moved in.

This is a picture of the house that I believe was taken in the 1960's.

When I was growing up Mill Street was a beautiful street with many old trees. This is a picture of Mill Street taken during the 1950's. I believe it was taken during a political campaign (my dad was involved in local politics). I think that's our 1956DeSoto and they were trying to show how difficult it was for cars to pass if someone was parked on the curve. The telephone pole in front of the car had the fire alarm. Does anyone else remember those?

This is a picture of my parents in the yard on Mill Street in 1999. They're standing in front of a shrub (that grew into a tree) that we used to decorate for Christmas with lights in the 1950's. We used a step ladder. Needless to say, it grew considerably over the years.

This is a picture of Mill Street that my mother took after a snow storm in 1999.

Over the years the street didn't change that much. WESTWOOD is still a town with many pretty old homes.

It was a nice place to grow up in during the 1950's. My friends and I used to play in the woods at the end of the street during the summer and go home for lunch when the 12:00 o'clock whistle blew. We'd spend hours building forts so we could fight the boys. I really don't remember any fights happening, but we sure had fun planning.

We would walk to our friends' homes and play with our Ginny dolls for hours on end.

When we got older we would walk downtown and shop at Woolworth's and have a chocolate Coke at Conrad's. If you've never had a chocolate Coke you're missing something. Conrad's is still there, so it's not too late.

WESTWOOD is still a pretty old town, but there are a lot more people now, the woods are gone, and times have changed. My mom died in 2001 and dad moved here four years ago. We no longer have any family in WESTWOOD. My husband and I do own property in WESTWOOD though. We own plots in the local cemetery and someday will return. :)

I did find this You Tube video about WESTWOOD if you'd like to take a look. It's very short, but does show a little of the old downtown area and other landmarks.

Thank you for visiting and now head on over to Mrs. Matlock's blog so you can visit some of the other students.


  1. Hi,

    Westwood sound like a terrific place. I just went to my old neighborhood today. Like you said, things change but not the memories. Thanks for sharing. I'm praying for your son.


  2. what great old photos and wonderful memories. what a wonderful little town westwood seems to be

  3. Betty, I really enjoyed my tour of Westwood. As I read I couldn't help but think of my hometown, Rockford, IL. I think that you and I enjoyed the same kind of childhood activities like playing with Ginny dolls, paper dolls, and running around a safe neighborhood that a smaller city affords. I, too, will never forget my happy childhood and thanks for reminiscing.

  4. It's wonderful that you have so many family photos. We also had a DeSoto and my grandfather also had a gas station.

  5. This looks like a wonderful place to grow up. What great photos!

  6. I'm in complete and total love with these photos. I'm sorry to confess that the first time I comment on your blog, but it's true. Thank you so much for sharing them!

    Thank you for visiting me!

  7. I love charming older homes. It looks like a good old fashioned neighborhood.

  8. What a nice old town. Just like a picture, and your description of your life as a child there was like something from a movie. Times have changed - wouldn't it be nice for children to be free enough to play outside until hearing the 12 o'clock whistle?

  9. Those porches are to die for. Yep, I remember those fire department boxes on poles: we still have 'em.

    Your grandfather's advertisement is wonderful. I'd go there for my gas just from his welcoming ad.

  10. I really enjoyed this trip down memory lane. Sounds like a wonderful town to grow up in.

  11. These are always my favorite stories...sailor suits and top hats, front porches and building a business yourself.

    I really enjoyed my visit here on my journey through Alphabe-Thursday's letter "W".

    This sounds like the kind of place my heart is still nostalgic for.

    Thank you for linking. You made me smile with your wonderful trip down memory lane!


  12. Betty, I just LOVED this post! I love history and those photos. What a neat place to grow up.

  13. love those vintage pics :D

  14. Betty, I loved the little trip down your memory lane ... geez, times have sure changed ... it all looks so much simpler back in the 50's ... maybe thats just my wishful thinking ...

  15. That was quite beautiful and so nostalgic. I love the old photos and all the memories they evoke for me. It looks like a wonderful town to have grown up in. Thanks for sharing it with us.


    PS. You are lucky to have both yours and your husband's history in one place!

  16. What great memories and I love the pictures. I remember those old gas stations. I think in some parts of the country you can still see them. Makes me think of when I grew up. Life is just too fast paced for me now. Great W post and it was nice to see where you grew up. Thanks for sharing.

  17. Hi Betty....always love to see old vintage photos....the home looks fantastic...and what wonderful memories indeed.

  18. I adore old b&w family photos! There's something about seeing relatives in their younger days that makes me daydream about living back then.

    Thanks for the comment on my post, too!

  19. What a fantastic post! I love all the old pictures, and the history behind your family.

  20. lovely images.
    thank you for sharing!

  21. I love all your photos and the stories you share with them. Your grandpa was very handsome and the homes are beautiful...I especially liked the one that your grandfather had bought before he married.

    And wow! that huge tree was a shrub???

    Blessings & aloha!

  22. What a wonderful post. I love to read about families and their histories. The pictures are great.

  23. what a wonderful place to grow up...I love looking at the pictures, you really captured the feeling of a small town.....

  24. Well, well, Betty, how fun to read of some of your history in Westwood. I thought the picture of the cars on the curve were funny as the cars just whiz by on that corner now. There's no way you would want your car parked there.
    I can remember our Dads on the council together and although they were of different parties, their friendship remained through the years.
    My Grandma lived by those woods on Oakland and those trees were great to play on, weren't they?
    My husband and I are now living with my Mom who has Parkinsons and will turn 89 next week. We're making our own memories now as the grandkids come to visit all the time. Say "Hi" to your Dad for us and again, thanks for the memories.
    Kathie Young Noble.

  25. Kathie...I saw your comment, but there was no E-mail address so I couldn't write back. I hope you see this on your next visit. Yes, I remember your grandmother living down by the woods on Oakland Avenue and I remember the Nylic Review. We always called that curve on Mill Street Young's curve because your house was right there. I did see your brother on one of my last trips to Westwood before Dad moved here. My Dad had Alzheimer's and it progressed. He lived in assisted living for a while and then we had to move him to a nursing home. He died a year ago September. It was good to hear from you! I think our Dads went to high school together too...didn't they? They both worked for NY Life too.

  26. More proof of the seven degrees of separation being real:
    1. I grew up on Mill Street at the "first curve" between Fifth and Sixth Streets. My folks are at least two cars hit while parked in front of the house at 114.
    2. When I turned 15, I went to work for Bob Volz at Volz Hardware and had one of the best educations in common sense available! I was able to keep working on Saturdays until Dec 1968 when I was stationed overseas.
    3. I worked with John Morris at Volz on many Saturday's. The fact he had an apartment at the Westwood Garden Apartments upstairs from a girl I was dating kept my whereabouts very well known.
    4. The photo of John standing in front of the door did lead to what had been the Volz family apartment. In 1967-68, I helped Bob (I was the go-fer) and the builders remodel it into two apartments.
    5. The last of my family moved out of Westwood years ago. It was a great place to grow up in the 50's and 60's - safe for all, and where everyone knew most everyone else.
    Unfortunately, I can only manage an occasional trip back for business or more often, WHS Reunions.
    6. Thanks for the journey down memory lane - it was a great trip.
    Tom Daly


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