A personal history of Port
Morris, New Jersey by Barbara Carmean Dickisson. -
Editor's Note: In March 2017 we received an email from Barbara sketching out her memories of growing up in Port Morris
from the 1940's thru the 1980's. We then met with her and scanned her
historic Port Morris photos.
A GIRL GROWS UP IN PORT MORRIS, NEW JERSEY
|My Mothers' birth name is Doris Batson, she was
born in 1922 and grew up in Port Morris. When my Mother was 11 years of
age her Mother died and she went to live with her
sister and brother in law, Lela and Howard Witts Force. The Witts family
name is printed on one of the stained glass windows of the Port Morris
Howard and Lela lived on the corner of Main and Palmer streets. Lela was
25 years older than my mother. My mother Doris attended Port
Morris school through grade eight and graduated from Roxbury High School
in the class of 1940.
After her marriage to my father, my mother moved from Port Morris for a short time. When I was about three years old and my brother 1 1/2, my mother moved back to Port Morris to house number 539 Main, at the corner of Main and Palmer. The house was owned by Frank Wiler who worked for the railroad. At that time it was a two family house. Divorced from my father my mother eventually remarried. After Mr. Wiler died my mother and stepfather, Elroy Chapman bought this house and converted the apartments to a one family house.
Helen McKinney & Margaret Henderson - at 537 Main St, Port Morris, c. 1932 - Margaret Henderson, Franky Gensheimer Jr, Doris Batson & Helen McKinney
Cora Gensheimer (Risko), friend of Doris, Port Morris c. 1939
Margaret Henderson (Mino) and Doris Batson
at the Dam at Hopatcong State Park, 1938
In front of 537 Main Street, Port Morris, 1944, Aunt Lila Force and Barbara Carmean Dickisson, the author at age 3.
In front of 539 Main Street, Port Morris, 1944, Barbara Carmean Dickisson and
her brother Robert. Circa 1944.
Doris Batson Chapman with her children Robert & Barbara,
and their friend Sandy Henderson at right, 1946,
near the corner of Palmer & Main, Port Morris.
In 1946 Harold Force was on leave from the Merchant Marine Academy and posed with his cousins Barbara & Robert and neighbor Sandy Henderson, 1946,
.near the corner of Palmer & Main, Port Morris.
Sandy Henderson, Bower sisters, Barbara & Robert Camean - Birthday Party, circa 1948, off Main Street, Port Morris NJ
Neighbor Zane Anderson and his sister Jane, circa 1949, he's wearing the uniform of the Port Morris Athletic Club
Circa 1949, Port Morris Roxbury Fire Co. 2 Truck loaded with kids at the birthday of Carmine Rossi
Neighborhood friend Carmine Rossi, center, with his birthday cake, circa 1949
Harold Force in Merchant Marine uniform & wife Grace Sorentino Force, 1954
Neighbor friend Elva 'Punky' Constantine, 1954
Leber Batson at left with his Daughter Lila and her husband Howard Force, Port Morris 1955
Barbara Carmean, circa 1954 in Port Morris
Leber Batson, the authors Grandfather, on the shore of Lake Musconetcong in Port Morris. Behind him is Sargent's, a large house where an addition on the back served as a local restaurant and bar.
|I attended Port Morris school through sixth grade and my children
through fourth grade. On one of the other pages on this site, a letter
writer, a few years my senior
mentioned that Mr. Bell was principal in 1935 when he attended school
there. George Bell was principal when I attended Port Morris school in
the later part of the 1940's. I assume this was the same Mr. Bell though I am
When in the 1970's Roxbury Township decided the Port Morris school building would no longer be used, they sold the building which consisted of eight classrooms to my brother, Robert Carmean Jr. He converted each classroom into a four room apartment. Several years later Robert sold the apartment building.
I lived much of my life in Port Morris until I moved to Morristown 33 years ago in 1983.
Most of the residents of the town were known to me. Some were even related. Lydia Force was married to Charles Force who was an uncle to Howard Force, relatives of mine by marriage. Charles worked on the railroad and died at a young age leaving Lydia a widow. Lydia was a substitute school teacher and taught my class on many occasions. She kept a post card album which she eventually gave to my Uncle Howard and in his older years Howard gave it to me. I knew this album contained many postcards with pictures of Port Morris, the tow path, canal street, the round house and others. (those photos are now scanned and on this website, Editor). I do have a postcard with a picture of the canal as it passes through Landing alongside the railroad tracks of the DL&W railroad. It shows the station and a canal boat with people milling around apparently waiting to board. The postcard is addressed to Mr. C.E. Force, Howard's uncle. It is postmarked September 3, 1907. I don't know who provided you with the pictures that appear on your web site but five of them appear to be exactly the same as the snapshots in my possession.
Also in my possession are two large original photographs of the Port Morris Church when it was on the eastern side of the tracks. (see them below) Names of some of the people in the pictures are written on the back. I know that these are original pictures because they too, like the post card album, were given to Howard Force by his Aunt Lydia and he gave them to me. Lydia is one of the Sunday school students in one of the pictures. Lydia was part of the family during my childhood. Several years ago a man from Port Morris borrowed my photos saying he wanted to take pictures of them because he too grew up in the town and had a deep interest in its history. A couple years later I happened to be attending an event at the United Methodist Church in town and saw large photographs of my original in frames on one of the walls. I commented to the Pastor at that time that I have the originals. She tried to tell me that those on the wall were the originals. I did not argue with her!
Your website mentioned the fact that there was a diner in town positioned at the upper end of Palmer Street to the right of the round house as you face it. Someone did mention the diner stating that it was owned by Firpo DeFelice. At one time while I was in grade school my parents, Elroy and Doris Chapman, ran the diner. I cannot be sure if they owned it or exactly how they came to do this but I do remember hearing the name Firpo and also Mrs. Oliver was at one point involved with the diner also. I thought my parents owned it at the time they operated it. Some of my relatives worked for them. I remember Wyn Davis who lived on Main Street also working for them. I remember the day he tried to light the gas oven and it exploded into his face causing third degree burns for which he was hospitalized. I can still remember the railroaders coming into the diner for meals and to play the slot machine.
I too remember Sylvio DeMarino's paper store, Chipaletti's candy store
and then Joe Perfetti's store with the counter and soda fountain. It was
so much fun to sit at the counter and order ice cream sodas and banana
splits. Joe and Claire made the best ice cream sodas and banana splits.
I loved going to Riker's candy store for penny candies. Also during the
time I was in grammar school, Dan Bartland purchased and operated one of
the General stores in town. The Bartlands lived in the big
house on the corner of Center and Palmer streets, across from Loppy's
barber shop. His younger daughter, Melanie, and I often played dolls
I loved my school years in Port Morris. I especially remember my
kindergarten teacher, Louise Crater and the way she so enthusiastically
pounded out Zipity Do Da on the piano while the class sang. I remember
the times she came to our home for lunch with my mother and me. During
my grade school years we had many class picnics in my aunts large back
yard. I remember the fire and air raid drills while in school. It was a
treat to be chosen to go outside to clap the chalk from the blackboard
erasers. Friends and I walked to Stanhope during the summer to visit
Mrs. Danley, our second grade teacher.
See the older historic town photos of the album originally owned by Lydia Hoffman Force, given to Barbara Carmean Dickisson:
An aerial view of Port Morris, circa
1935-1950. Clearly visible at center right is the Railroad Train Roundhouse.
Lake Musconetcong is at the bottom. Netcong is just out of view to the right, Landing is at the top left of photo.
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