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Special 1950 Reunion Issue Pilot’s log
Hasbrouck Heights Jr/Sr High School, May 12, 2000

 

Oh, how we’ve changed The road to the future...
by Adrian B.

Unpaved roads, goats in backyards Route 17 a small, narrow thoroughfare, going to Fisher’s or Goldschmidt’s for a soda or ice cream after school...when we think of life in Hasbrouck Heights today, none of these thoughts come to mind. However, for the Class of 1950, these memories are what made Hasbrouck Heights special for them.

Back in 1950, Hasbrouck Heights was a small, one-square-mile town. Our high school was not here yet. Instead, the high school students attended was the now defunct Franklin School. There were more open lots than houses, and there were far less choices of entertainment.

Warren DeHaven, after coming back to Hasbrouck Heights, stated," The biggest change I have noticed is all the traffic and the number of houses."

Peggy Passaglia affirmed this, describing Hasbrouck Heights as a "small rural farming town." She had watched Route 46 be built and lived on the unpaved Baldwin Avenue.

Although the 1950s was a tumultuous time in American history, very little changed in the town of Hasbrouck Heights. Peggy Passaglia states that she noticed very little change in the town until the 1970s, when the town’s population began to increase, and construction on new houses and building began in mass.

Entertainment was much different from today. Boys participated in sport and girls had social clubs. On the weekends, they would go to the Oritani or Fox Theatre in Hackensack to see a movie, which was normally a western. Televisions were rare and having one was a huge luxury.

Warren DeHaven’s family got their first television in 1947. It was made by Philco, and had a 7" black and white screen.

Only a few channels were available, and the programming was not 24 hours a day. The televisions often had to be repaired by replacing huge tubes that made the screen light up. Television programs such as Ed Sullivan, Milton Bearle (affectionately called "Uncle Milty"), Jackie Gleason, and Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball in "I Love Lucy." Programs such as "Real Sex" and "Sex in the City" which are becoming so popular today were unheard of.

Portable radios were another big luxury. New transistor technology made them possible. Nonetheless, they were much larger, bulkier and heavier than our portable radios today. It was a status symbol to take a portable radio to a picnic in the park, or the beach. The new technology that made this possible was expensive, as new technology is today, and not everybody had the means to buy such lavish devices.

Driving up and down the Boulevard was a favorite pastime as it is now. However, instead of driving up and down in a 2000 Ford Mustang or Jeep Cherokee, they drove old model cars. Only wealthy kids could afford such new models as a 1950 Dodge or Cadillac. Cars were a luxury, though. Most high school students, unlike today didn’t have one.

Even though life was so different and simple, most high school seniors still had a desire to leave and go on to better things as they do today. Warren DeHaven treasures his fondest memory as wanting to get out of here during his last year of high school.

After school jobs were as much a reality back then as they are today. Many students worked at pharmacies, soda fountains, or doing odd jobs around the neighborhood. The wage was often under one dollar an hour.

Interviewing class members from the Class of 1950 gives a sense of awe and disbelief. Today, we cannot imagine our small town as a farming community. The thought of cow pastures behind Oak Grove Avenue, goats grazing by Baldwin Avenue, unpaved streets, military installations around the town and corn fields is unfathomable. Moreover, the simplicity of life for adolescents was a stark contrast to the stressful, high pressure nature of growing up today.

It is clear that although the surviving members of the Class of 1950 left this town half a century ago, the foundation they received at Hasbrouck Heights has stayed with them to this very day. Hasbrouck Heights has left an indelible memory in the hearts and minds of all Hasbrouck Heights graduates.

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