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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.
Here, with only slight editing for continuity, is her never before published account. (Editing and scans by the Webmaster, M. Balston)

 

A GIRL GROWS UP IN PORT MORRIS, NEW JERSEY
A personal account by Barbara Carmean Dickisson

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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 Methodist Church. 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.


Doris Batson, the mother of the author, is in the 2nd row, 4th girl from left, wearing a dark neck ribbon. This photo was taken at the
Lincoln School building in Succasunna, home to Roxbury High School at the time. This photo is circa 1936, and most likely pictures
a new, incoming Freshman Class in September. Doris Batson graduated Roxbury High School in June 1940.
Others in photo: Cora Gensheimer Risko, blond girl in center, Joseph Perfetti is at top center, both of Port Morris, and RHS '40.

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
 

 

 


Roxbury High School Yearbook of 1940 with Doris Batson Senior Photo and caption below:


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

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Leber Batson at left with his Daughter Lila and her husband Howard Force, Port Morris 1955

 

 

 


Barbara and Robert Carmean with Great Aunt Lydia Hoffman Force
& Lydia's sister Mrs. Todd, 1953.
Lydia Hoffman Force appears as a schoolgirl in this 1887 Port Morris Photo

 

Barbara Carmean, circa 1954 in Port Morris

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Doris Batson Chapman, the authors mother, on the shore of Lake Musconetcong in Port Morris, 1950's.

 

 

 

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.

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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 not sure.

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 together.
In his grocery store Butch Licardellio made his own sausage. At times he would allow some of the town children, including myself and a friend, to go into the refrigerator and watch as he ground the meat, made sausage and put it into its casing. I remember walking to the post office to pick up mail when Dorothy DeMarino was post mistress. It was with thanks for the hard work of Pauline Rogers that the town's people finally got mail delivered to their homes. It was a result of this that Port Morris sort of lost some of its identity and is referred to by many as Landing since the delivered mail comes through the Landing post office and bears the Landing zip code
I also remember various ministers of the Port Morris Methodist Church as far back as James Moore. I became a member of the church during the time David Long Jr. was pastor there around 1954. The parsonage, home of the pastors, once located at #25 Palmer Street  was sold and the Nelson house behind the church was purchased and remodeled to be the new parsonage. This was done under the leadership of Rev. Roger Smith.

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.
I clearly remember the times the fire department blocked the cross roads at Main and Palmer streets in the winter so we children could start at the top of the hill and sleigh ride all the way down to the lake. I had an old sled, one left in our cellar by previous tenants. This was the fastest sled in town and I could start at the top of the hill and go all the way to the bottom and out onto the ice of the frozen lake.
The end of Main Street going toward Netcong had a lot of woods when I was a child. We often played in those woods making tree houses . We crawled through the huge drain pipe that was buried under the road in the area where the inclined plane once was. I too remember swimming, as a teenager, in the deep hole. My father was an air raid warden in town.
One last memory that I would like to share is that of John Wink Senior's house on the corner of Washington and Palmer Streets. One of his granddaughters was a very good friend of mine so I spent quite a bit of time at their home. Mr. Wink had quite a few animals on his property including pigs and geese. He owned property on Palmer street, behind my aunt's house. He raised turkeys on this property and housed them in a turkey coop. When one of his daughters wanted to build a house on this property, the turkey coop was moved to another lot he owned on Washington Street and placed on a foundation built by another of his daughters. This turkey coop became a beautiful house and still stands today.
Thank you for allowing me to share my memories. - Barbara Carmean Dickisson, March 21, 2017

See the older historic town photos of the album originally owned by Lydia Hoffman Force, given to Barbara Carmean Dickisson:

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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.

Editing & Page Design by the Website Editor
View our  Main Port Morris History Page

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The Lake Hopatcong Historical Museum at the State Park, open Sunday afternoons in the Spring and Fall.


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