Taken from the January 20, 1983 issue of THE MANVILLE NEWS.
Column name: Manville Memos
Written by Joe Patero after interview
with Daniel Nebb.
Louis and Katherine Nebozinsky had a very difficult decision to make in 1919; either stay in New York City in the jewelry business or buy a general store from a man named, Vozny, in some area called Manville, which wasn’t even a town yet.
For a while, they tried to do both. Katherine worked the store on the corner of Washington Avenue and South 11thk, while Louis stayed in the city.
“Telephones were few and far between in those days. Whenever my mother wanted to speak to my father in New York, she had to walk several blocks to Whalens home.” says their son, Daniel Nebb, who was then in the fifth grade.
Reflecting back on Manville in the early 1920s, Dan Nebb is filled with admiration.
“Those old timers weren’t afraid to tackle anything. My father was in and out of several businesses, among them, store keeper, well driller, timber, taverns, and wholesaler.
Their kids worked hard, too.
“But things were also different for us kids way back then. Most of us worked all day long and a few of us even had our businesses at young ages.” Dan also recalled the lack of economic activity of the late 1920s.
“1923 was quite a year. He had the onset of the Depression and Prohibition at the same time. I was helping my father in the wholesale beverage distribution business. There were tremendous numbers of general stores in Manville, perhaps four or five times more than today. Every one of them sold soda, candy, newspapers, and 3.2 ‘near beer’ which was legal and they all sold liquor out of the backroom which was illegal.”
“My biggest customer was a man who ran a store out of a shack on South 13thAvenue. The owner had a mix called, ‘Jamaica Ginger’, which was non-alcoholic and therefore legal. When mixed with ginger ale, it turned white and stayed in the bottom of the glass. When you drank it, your throat will burn for an hour. The owner had lines of people waiting to drink his marvelous concoction.”
Trust was also important back then, he said. “My father once put up bail for a suspected arsonist from town. The man skipped and was not heard from for years” . And tradition was important, and it helped solve the crime.
“Manville residents traditionally marched in the New York Pulaski Day Parade. As they were marching, a man on the sidewalk was clapping exceptionally loud. The then mayor of Manville, Al Batcho, and Chief of Police, John J. Jasinski, recognized him as the missing arsonist and arrested him on the spot.”
In 1934, Dan and his best friend, Steve Golumbus, decided to drive to California in Nebb’s Model A Ford Touring Car, which he had just purchased for twenty-five dollars. “America was so different it seems like an alien world upon reflection. We pitched our tent along streams, cooked outdoors, watched sunrises and sunsets. There were no such things as motels, tourist traps, speed limits or toll roads.”
Like many others before and since, he graduated from Bound Brook High School, making the trip each morning and returning at night courtesy of the famous Romano Bus Company while a student.
Dan was an outstanding football player, making the first team all county and honorable mention all state. His wife of 47 years, the former Irmgard Seiler of Bound Brook says, “It always seemed like the best athletes were from Manville.”
“Someday, I’d love to write a book about Manville. It was quite a place.”