Some of the great photos recently unearthed from the Manville Library attic
If you pay attention to this blog, or have for a while you might know that I complain a lot about a lack of a proper historical archive in which residents have access to. Well there is good news… we’re building one. The good folks at the Manville Library have given me complete access to “anything and everything in the building” in the name of helping build a usable archive for the people. In fact they are sacrificing an entire room for it. They called the right guy… I spent the entire day on Friday digging through dusty boxes in the attic that haven’t been touched in decades.
As it turns out the archive is much, much more vast than I had imagined it would be. I am turning up chunks of Neal Ranauro’s elusive photo collection… a lot of which still has the negatives in tact. This is extremely good news… since it’s the best proper photo archive that I know of. Hopefully it’s all there. I’ve brought a slide scanner, digital camera, and laptop over there, and basically set up a fully functioning portable archiving system. We’ve also found a lot of 16mm film, so if there is anyone out there that has a working 16mm projector that the library can borrow briefly please contact me at Devildance@hotmail.com. These things aren’t getting any younger and I’d like to get them digitally archived as well.
While I was there former Mayor Joseph Patero (late 1960’s) showed up to thank me for spearheading the project. Turns out he grew up in Lost Valley and knew my grandfather well. Joe is an amazing and humble guy and we traded tons of old Manville stories for a good part of 2 hours. He told me about how the first few years of the town council minutes are recorded in Polish, and how the entire town bussed out to Yankees stadium to see Johnny “Legs” Welaj make his major league hometown debut. When he spoke of the the town then and now, there was still a fondness in his tone. He didn’t once tell me about how “the town is going to hell” which seems to be the popular rhetoric these days. He did however tell me about a MHS sophomore who received a summer scholarship to Cornell and how he planned on helping her. It was an awesome day and I think both Mr. Patero and I walked away with a renewed sense of community and pride. I liked that.
I know this isn’t a typical post for this site and I’m sorry it doesn’t include a bunch cool old photos, but I just wanted to thank the Manville Library for taking this step to honor the history of their town. For giving people access and a tangible glimpse into their great and storied past. Historical perspective always seems to me like good medicine for separated communities. I will try and keep everyone posted on the progress of what turns up!
Speaking of community Manville High School Sophmore Chelsea Phuangthong, who just won that summer scholarship to Cornell, could use some help financing her education. If you are interested in here story you can read about it HERE.
So I know how boring this sounds, but I swear to god this little booklet is one of the most comprehensive Manville histories that had ever been compiled up to it’s printing in 1938. It includes some photos, some small town history, lots of info on the Manville sewer system, a very comprehensive timeline, and a complete list of Govt. officials right up to 1938. The typography is not too shabby either.
If you are doing any sort of research on Manville this is a great place to start. You can download and save the entire booklet, and you should. But if you don’t have the patience for that I am going to include preview photos of the timeline below since I feel like it’s amazing. OR you can just skip straight to looking at the whole thing… it’s worth it and you can view it right HERE.
Floyd Shimalla • Click to Enlarge
Over the weekend I got an amazing email from Tom Schneck. It included this rare photo of his uncle Floyd Shimalla driving around in the first Manville Police car. If you recognize the name Floyd Shimalla that’s because he was Manvilles first constable and is featured in the pretty famous “First Manville Administration” photo that is on display at the Manville Library. I also posted it on this site… you can see it HERE. According to Tom he was also a professional Heavyweight boxer, which I actually was not aware of, but if you ask me is pretty good experience if you are about to serve as the only constable for a brand new town. Anyway, this photo is dated 1929. I’m not sure what that building is in the background there… anyone know? Thanks so much Tom, for this great photo! Here is the back of the photo…
THE FIRST OFFICIAL FAMILY OF THE BOROUGH OF MANVILLE, NEW JERSEY, MAY 1929
TOP ROW, LEFT TO RIGHT – JOSEPH BULAT, Clerk: CHARLES KUPPER, Engineer: FLOYD SHIMALLA, Constable: JOHN JASINSKI, Recorder: JOSEPH G. WILHOUSKY, Treasurer: ADAM FUCILLO, Assessor
BOTTOM ROW, LEFT TO RIGHT – GEORGE W. ALLGAIR, Counsel: JOSEPH ONKA, Councilman: PETER WHELAN, Councilman: GUSTAV BOESEL, Mayor: NATHAN WEISS, Councilman: BENJAMIN CZAPLICKI, Councilman: JOSEPH SIDORSKI, Councilman: JOHN GREASHEIMER, Councilman.
I was able to score this great photo of Manville’s first official administration from the Manville Library’s archive. Once again we owe the libray’s Director Ed Smith a big thanks. They actually have an enlarged version of this photo hanging up in the library as well… so if you want to see a real life reproduction that would be the place. You’ll probably recognize a lot of the names listed in the photo as mostly all of these men have streets named after them. Despite the fact that there were many markings on the back of the photo I could not find anyone to credit the photo to… so if anyone knows please tell me so I can get a proper credit on here. The back did include this little paste over label to include the names… I thought it worthy of inclusion (sorry about the bad photoshop job.) I wish I had this photo earlier as this is basically the godfathers of Manville’s Goverment. Just awesome… both photos are clickable for enlarged versions.