Boonton 1950's

Riverside Hospital opens in 1955
(From the Boonton Times-Bulletin 10-31-1955)

“The great day arrived to Saturday for Riverside Hospital – when all the labor, self-sacrifice and prayer of a great many people bore fruit and the saw the new hospital dedicated.

Halsey A, Frederick, president of the board of trustees, cut away the satin ribbon which barred entrance through the wide glass doors to the hospital,

A community hospital in the true sense of the word. Born in our locality, it has been erected by the generosity of thousands of contributions to its cause.”

The cost of the hospital was nearly one million dollars, which included all costs such as the very expensive equipment, legal and architects fees and the cost of fund raising. Relatively small in size, at the time of it opening, Riverside Hospital provided a capacity of 65 patient beds in single two-bed or three-bed rooms.

At the time, the staff of twenty doctors were: Ernest E, Arnheim, R.R. Baldwin, W.K. Booth, Andrew B. Breuder, J.R. Brigante, Dora G. Cook, Ella F. Cummins, Charles Deichman, Struart Zeh Hawkes, Emil Hornick, J.J. Lenko, Eugene Luippold, Monroe H. Mufson, C.A. Musetto, Lyndon Peer, G.S. Rickert, John Roy, A.J. Ward, M.P. Welles and David P. Williams. (Some of these doctors were from Boonton and had offices in town)

Although the hospital was official located in Boonton Township, the many local Boonton individuals were involved in the fund raising. According to the Boonton Times-Bulletin of December 12, 1950, some early board members from Boonton were Dudley Boycott and Edward Maraziti.

The official day of opening was November 2, 1955. The site in which the hospital was erected, was part of the area which was known as the “West Boonton Ball grounds” where for many years the annual Fireman’s parade ended. With the building of the hospital, 1954 was the last year the parade held its festivities at this location. 

Boonton Historical Society is formed - 1959

The Boonton Historical Society was first organized in April, 1959, when a founders meeting was held in the directors room of the Boonton Trust Co. A slate of officers and a board of trustees were elected to serve and the society’s attorney,

David Young III, was authorized to seek a charter from the Secretary of State in Trenton. The society was funded by memberships

Oscar P. Myers, president of the Boonton Trust Co., was elected president of the society. Named to serve with him were: Charles A. Norris, Jr., 1st vice-president;

Peter C. Wendt, Jr., 2nd vice president; Alex J. Martancik, treasurer; Alex D. Fowler, recording secretary; and Bruce Dixon, corresponding secretary.

The board of trustees included the officers as well as: George W. Ross, Harry P. Haldt, Lewis M. Hull, Earl Salmon, Palmer C. Dawson, Gerald Reynar, John B. Howell, all of Boonton; also, Thomas Capstick and Oren F. Browning, Jr., of Montville Township; Charles A. Norris, Jr., of Denville, and Stephen H. Condit, of Troy Hills.

The name of the society was chosen after long debate as that best suited to the purpose of the society, since Boonton was geographically the hub of the area whose history, legends, and provenance the society aimed to study and preserve.

The Boonton Trust Co. continued to serve as the headquarters of the society. Any items or historic artifacts that were donated to the society were kept at the bank or in individual members’ homes.

In 1963, the Holmes Library offered the use of one of its rooms to the society for permanent and temporary exhibits, as well as for storage of the many items that the society was accumulating.

In 1980, the society moved its burgeoning collection to the second floor of the Dr. John Taylor Building at the invitation of the American Legion. Some of the hard working members of the society through those years were: Pearl Clark, Ruth Wootton, Jean Lee, Arline Dempsey and Evelyn Eckardt.

In the early 1990’s, the building was deemed unsafe and was closed to the public. A group of citizens formed The Committee to Save the John Taylor Building and sought funding to renovate the building. A large portion came from a state grant and sizeable contributions from the American Legion Post 124 and the Boonton Historical Society. More money came from individuals who were interested in seeing this portion of history kept alive in Boonton. The building was reopened in May 1997.

Today the Historical Society is a vibrant member of the community offering not only a museum with a permanent exhibit of the history of the town’s origins, but changing exhibits throughout the year which provide a glimpse into the day to day life of Boonton’s past.

Programs of historical interest are offered at the Boonton Senior Center from October through May, as well as fund raising events during the year. Walking Tours of the town are offered during the summer months and a well-stocked gift shop of Boonton-related books, gifts and other treasures.

Visits to the museum by students, scouts, and other interest groups are welcomed and private visits can be made by appointment during weekdays.

Visit the Historical Society at:

PEOPLE of the 1950’s

Hector Cafferata – born November 4, 1929 in New York City, Hector grew up in Parsippany and attended Boonton High School. After graduation in 1949, Hector played semi-pro football in the area.

He enlisted in the Marine Corps Reserve on February 15, 1948. He was a member of the 21st Reserve Infantry Battalion at Dover, New Jersey, until he was called to active duty on September 6, 1950.

Cafferata distinguished himself during the Battle of Chosin Reservoir, single-handedly holding off a regimental-sized enemy force and "annihilating two enemy platoons" after most of his comrades had fallen.

His actions in contact with the enemy started in the early morning and lasted over five hours. During the battle, Cafferata fought the enemy without either his coat or his boots, neither of which he could locate in the early morning darkness.

Hector said: "For the rest of the night I was batting hand grenades away with my entrenching tool while firing my rifle at them. I must have whacked a dozen grenades that night with my tool. And you know what? I was the world’s worst baseball player.”

When a live grenade fell into the shallow entrenchment occupied by his wounded fellow Marines, he grabbed the grenade and hurled it away — saving the lives of many, but suffering severe wounds.

For these heroic actions, he would later be awarded the Medal of Honor. He was evacuated to Japan in December 1950. Cafferata returned to the United States in January for treatment at the U. S. Naval Hospital, St. Albans, New York. He was placed on the medically retired list on September 1, 1951.On November 24, 1952, Marine Pfc received the Medal of Honor from President Harry S. Truman during ceremonies at the White House
Photo above is from the Boonton Times-Bulletin of 12-02-1952. 

Hector was inducted into the Boonton High School Hall of fame in 1996.

Leslie (Les) Dunham - In 1957, Les created Dunham Coach as a result of increasing demand for his custom vehicle fabrication skills. Showcasing his design skills with vehicles at major car show venues, the customer base grew quickly among car enthusiasts.

Known as the “Father of the Pimpmobile”, he reworked Cadillacs of the 60’s and 70’s which were featured in many popular movies.

Les is a legendary East Coast customizer from Boonton, New Jersey. Dunham was born in 1941, and began customizing cars 16 years old.

In 1957 while he was still in Boonton High school, and before he was old enough to have a license he had already began to customize cars. In the beginning, before he opened up Dunham Coach, Les worked out of his fathers' garage. Typical customers in the beginning were upper classmen wanting Les to nose, deck or fill trim holes on their cars.

By the time Les got his driver license, he had a fully customized 1949 Ford four-door. Another car he worked on while in school was a 1951 Ford convertible. After a couple of incarnations, the 1951 Ford turned out pretty wild, and landed Les the cover of Customs Illustrated January 1961. Shortly after graduating, Les bought another shoebox, a 1950 Ford sedan this time, that he turned into a sectioned pickup truck.

After a stint in the Army, Les opened up his shop Dunham Coach in Boonton in 1962. Once settled down in his shop, Les restyled the sectioned Ford pickup another time. The second incarnation of the truck was dubbed "Agent 008". After building the "Agent 008", Les built a show rod called "The Scorpion". Les drew the "The Scorpion" in his history class while in high school, and once completed, it was probably the first East Coast show rod.

By the mid-1960s, customs were dying out, and Les began to customize motorcycles instead. About the same time he was also building modified Cadillac Eldorado’s in a style that would be known as "pimp cars". The 1971 movie "Superfly" featured one of Les' pimp cars. Les had now found a new successful path, and he became known as the guy who made Superfly cars.

In 1973 he put the body of a Cadillac Eldorado on a chassis of a Corvette. He named his creation the Corovado, and the car was later used in the James Bond movie "Live and Let Die". Seven Corovados were built in total.

In 1977, Les started another project based on a Corvette, the Caballista. The Caballista was a hand-fabricated car, and 50 cars were built between 1977 and 1982. Most of the Caballistas were exported to Arab countries.

During the early 1980s, exporting of goods to Arab countries stopped, and Les had to once again find another niche. Les began creating a line of fiberglass components that would transform a pickup into the look of a "big rig" or semi.

In 2005 Les did a comeback on the market for extraordinary custom cars, and presented Caballista #51. With some modern refinements, Les planned to relaunch the Caballista.

Les was inducted into the Boonton High School Hall of fame in 2010

Les in 2005 with the Caballlista #51 
Visit Dunham Coach at:

Local News of Boonton past

from the Boonton Times-Bulletin

Jan 5, 1951 – Parking Meters installed

The bid of International Meters Inc. of New York City for parking meters was accepted by the Mayor and Board of Alderman of Boonton. The cost of the parking meters is $17,655 and are twin meters and will be supplemented by single meters where necessary. The meters are 1 and 5 cent operated.

06-23-1951 – Sunset Lake Property purchase by Town
The Sunset Lake property is being purchased by the Town of Boonton for $25,000. The ordinance appropriates $26,560 for the purchase of the property for public park purposes. The property, which is owned by Mr. and Mrs. Phillip Tanga in Boonton, consists of 20 acres of land, including Sunset Lake which covers approximately 8 acres, a field which can be cleared for a ball park, a picnic area, bath-houses, refreshment stand, parking area for automobiles and additional space for playground equipment.

08-03 1951 – Deep Hole drowning
Ronald Andrew Stefanak, 17 years old of Kelly Lane, Boonton was drowned in the swirling, turbulent waters of Deep Hole, below the Grace Lord Park, Boonton at 4:40 pm on Tuesday afternoon. After approximately twenty-three hours of searching on the part of hundreds of volunteers, Ronald’s body, showing no signs of injury, was recovered at 3:56 pm Wednesday afternoon in the middle of the basin below Deep Hole by John Corigliano of Taft Street Boonton and Joseph Greene of Parsippany with the assistance of Joseph Tanga of Washington Street Boonton.

His drowning was the third in Deep Hole in the past ten-year period. One on July 27, 1946 (James K. Roberts age 20 of Lake Hiawatha) and the other on July 13, 1941 (William Croce age 21 of Boonton).

Ronald, who had graduated Boonton High School in June, was swimming in the basin on Tuesday with Saul Siegel of Boonton. According to Saul, Ronald dived into Deep Hole, and coming to the surface of the water there, Ronald stretched out his hands as if grabbing.

Thereupon, Saul swam across the basin, climbed up the rocks and tried to reach Ronald’s hand but could not. Ronald came to the surface three or four times, but because of the currents and the slippery rock, Saul could not reach his hand.

Saul rushed to Police Headquarters and reported to Sergeant John Dunn that Ronald had disappeared.

Numerous volunteers utilized all available resources to recover the youth’s body. Ex-Fire Chief Peter Wendt Jr. and Police Commissioner Edward E. Baldwin, arrived at the scene shortly after the initial emergency call was sounded and directly supervised the rescue work in its entirety.

An immediate effort to rescue Ronald was made by Edwin Hopkins of Washington Street, Boonton who unhesitatingly dived into the seething water of Deep Hole. On Tuesday, Hopkins made four dives and on Wednesday, seven dives. Except for Hopkins’s initial dive, he had ropes and a safety belt about him. Robert Barnish of Pine Street, Boonton made one dive on Wednesday.

Because of the treacherous currents, the rock formations and the lack of proper equipment to cope with the conditions, four out-of-town experienced divers, who visited the scene Wednesday, declined to dive.

Edwin Hopkins preparing to dive

After unsuccessful attempts to locate Ronald’s body, Deep Hole was blasted three times. The dynamite charges were set off by E. J. Walter, explosive engineer of the Atlas Powder Company. Also to relieve the pressure of the water over the falls near Deep Hole, the sluiceway was closed from the former Morris Canal. Part of the water, normally flowing over the falls, was directed into the Morris Canal bed parallel to Deep Hole. The entire operations were under the direction of Acting Chief of Police Frank Kromka. A life-long resident of Boonton, he was the only child of Mr. and Mrs. Stefanak.

08-21-1951 – Filling-In of Deep Hole in Rockaway River authorized by Mayor
The filling-in of Deep Hole was authorized by the Mayor and Board of Aldermen of Boonton a last night’s meeting and an emergency appropriation not to exceed $1,500 was adopted to finance the cost. This action was in response to the recent drowning of Ronald Stefanak. At the public hearing last night’s meeting, Mr. and Mrs. Stefanak, demanded that immediate steps be taken by the Mayor and Board of Aldermen to eliminate the hazardous condition at ‘Deep Hole’ so that there might not be a recurrence of the tragedy which befell their son. “We have lost our only son”, they said. “and don’t want anyone else to go through what we have. To us, life is no longer worth living. We want something done about ‘Deep Hole’.”

1954 – Marcello brothers Joe and Tony open their Sporting Goods store at 312 Main Street. 
Later, the store moved to the corner of Main and Division.

At the Grand Opening picture are: 
Owner Joe Marcello to the left of Yogi Berra. Dennis Zanone between Joe and Yogi. Owner Tony Marcello, center. Young boy – Joe’s son Gary. Far right in suit is sports writer Dick Young 

1956 – Yankee/Dodger game 
(From the Star –Ledger May 11, 1994)

On October 8, 1956, the day Don Larsen pitched the perfect game to beat the Brooklyn Dodgers 2-0, to give the Yankees a three-games-to-two lead in the World Series they would win, Boonton’s Joe Marcello was there and got caught up in a unforgettable moment. As the top of the ninth got under way, Joe, left his seat and his wife Alice behind, strode down the aisle and got in position to climb atop the dugout. As soon as Larsen struck out Dale Mitchell for the final out of the game, Joe climbed over the dugout and leaped onto the field to become part of the celebration. His image is captured forever as one of the celebrants, happily patting Larsen on the back as he walked off the field. And during that ensuing rush, Joe was the one to pick up Larsen’s cap.

“I saw Joe go down the aisle, I had no idea what was going on” said his wife Alice. Everyone – fans, spectators and ushers – was caught up in the magic of the perfect game, Joe casually found his way back to Alice, hat in hand. He had picked up the Yankee’s cap after it had fallen to the ground when catcher Yogi Berra jumped on the 6-4 hurler in a now-famous bear hug.

At left is Joe displaying the famous hat. He offered to return it to Don Larsen on one condition, that Don Larsen show up in person at Marcello’s Sporting store. Larsen never made the trek to Boonton.

Joe passed away in Oct of 1993, The following year in May of 1994, his family donated the cap to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, where it will become part of the Don Larsen perfect-game display in a section of the Hall devoted to outstanding World Series events.

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