A new manager carefully balances what made the market a draw for 71 years with new reasons to shop under the iconic sign

By Ilene Dube | Photos by Charles R. Plohn

Cantaloupes the size of basketballs; sweet red peppers the size of, well, what I previously thought cantaloupes to be. Peaches with a blush of fuzz and tomatoes with names like Oxheart Riviera among the usual Brandywines and Sun Golds. These are among the recent finds at the Trenton Farmers Market, where the air is scented with basil, smoked sausage, and barbecue.

The 71-year-old institution has been infused with new energy since Chris Cirkus, longtime manager of the West Windsor Farmers Market, took the helm in January. She is the fifth manager in the market’s history.

Cirkus wants people to know that she’s still managing, and committed to, the West Windsor market. On a recent Saturday, after breaking down in West Windsor where she’d stood in the hot sun since 7 a.m. greeting customers, making sure everything went smoothly, and playfully interacting with the children accompanying their parents, Cirkus zipped over to Spruce Street in Lawrence Township (technically it’s located in Lawrence Township, even though it’s named the Trenton Farmers Market) and continued her duties. more

By Stuart Mitchner

This Book Scene began with lunch at cookbook legends Melissa Hamilton and Christopher Hirsheimer’s newly opened Canal House Station restaurant in Milford, N.J.

At the time, all I knew about the Canal House series was what I heard from my wife on the drive up. According to an August 12 article in Food and Wine, the “meticulous restoration” of the Milford station took about two years, with the result evoking “the warmth of a dear friend’s home…. Even the entrance, past the small garden and through a back door, contributes to the familiar sensibility the brand new restaurant has already managed to create.”

I understood “familiar sensibility” as a way of describing the quality that has made the Canal House books so popular, an idea that accords with the Cambridge English Dictionary definition of sensibility as “an understanding of or ability to decide about what is good or valuable, especially in connection with social activities.”

Poetry Up Front

I found the “familiar sensibility” in evidence as soon as I opened my wife’s prized copy of Canal House Cooks Every Day (Andrews McMeel $45) to a photograph and a poem that would seem to have more to do with what is “good and valuable” than with cooking. The first image you see after turning the title and dedication pages is a blurry vision of blue sky and cloud mass photographed through the window of a plane en route to Istanbul; taking up the facing page is C.P. Cavafy’s poem “Ithaca,” which begins, “When you set out on your journey to Ithaca,/pray that the road is long,/full of adventure, full of knowledge” and ends “Wise as you have become, with so much experience,/you must already have understood what these Ithacas mean.”

As someone whose heart has never soared at the sight of a cookbook, I was more impressed by the association of cooking with a “beautiful voyage” than with any of the celebrity testimonials on the endpapers, except perhaps the tribute to “this kitchen bible” from actress Jamie Lee Curtis, a Canal House devotee who, like me, is not a “foodie” and admits to “no discernible culinary talent.” In fairness to Jamie Lee, the resemblance is strictly superficial; she cooks every day for “lots of people” and I’m a back-up cook, occasional sous chef, grater of cheese, composer of salads, and cleaner-upper. more

Film still from Cider House Rules

By Taylor Smith

Autumn can often induce feelings of nostalgia. As the weather turns cooler and a hint of the coming winter is detectable in the late evening air, you might be tempted to curl up with your favorite blanket and settle in for a fall movie marathon. Here are a few films that are guaranteed to send you on a journey and make for a memorable evening (or two). more

By Taylor Smith

“I wait for my mother to haunt me as she promised she would; long to wake in the night with the familiar sight of her sitting at the end of my bed, to talk to her one more time, to feel that all the pieces have been put into place, the puzzle is solved, and I can rest.” – Sally Field

The public is invited to “An Afternoon with Sally Field” at Rider University in Lawrenceville on Sunday, October 27 at 1 p.m. The talk is presented by Penn Medicine Princeton Health as part of its Community Wellness programming. Early registration is $40 per person and includes a copy of Field’s memoir, In Pieces. Purchase tickets, here: https://bit.ly/35itbFA more

By Taylor Smith

Beneduce Vineyards in Pittstown, Hunterdon County, is a passion project of Michael Beneduce Sr. and his son, Mike Beneduce Jr. As a family rooted in farming for multiple generations, the Beneduces have a distinct love and understanding of the Garden State’s soil. more

Miller Library at Colby College

By Taylor Smith

Ecology concerns the analysis and examination of the varied systems of interaction between humans and their environment. The trans-disciplinary subject matter relates to topics of anthropology, psychology, environmental management, engineering, biology, animal science, agricultural economics, geography, and sociology, among others. more

By Taylor Smith

Tableware and dining accessories can make a memorable (or ordinary) meal more memorable.

Miya is a third-generation, family-owned business specializing in the import of Japanese tableware and accessories. Their flagship store is located at 41 Palmer Square West in downtown Princeton. more

Charles Addams

By Taylor Smith

Westfield, New Jersey, transforms into all things Charles Addams this October for AddamsFest — a month-long, family-fun series of events including movie screenings, art exhibits, a masquerade ball, paranormal investigations, a costume contest, and a Halloween House Decorating Contest. more

By Taylor Smith

Dogs and cats are typically considered “senior” when they reach 7 years of age. Depending on individual health, older pets may require more frequent exams to monitor any changes in health status. more

By Taylor Smith

 American poet Walt Whitman has been honored with a new United States stamp.

The stamp is intended for domestic first-class mail weighing up to 3 ounces, and is priced at 85 cents. USPS Art Director Greg Breeding designed the stamp with artwork by Sam Weber, who previously illustrated the Flannery O’Connor stamp in 2015 and the Henry David Thoreau stamp in 2017. more

Vladimir Aituganov, Master Mosaic Artist (left) and Mira Nakashima, President of the Nakashima Foundation for Peace (right) stand in front of the Ben Shahn Mosaic.

By Taylor Smith

 “Each tree not only has a different size and shape, but color and character, and each board from each tree has a distinctly different personality.”

George Nakashima

 The Nakashima Foundation for Peace (https://nakashimafoundation.org) aims to build Sacred Peace Tables for each continent of the world and to preserve both the legacy of George Nakashima, a leading innovator of 20th century furniture design, and the National Historic Landmark designated Nakashima Property in New Hope, Pa., for future generations. more

By Taylor Smith

This year’s Oktoberfest Celebration at Asbury Festhalle & Biergarten  (asburybiergarten.com) will take place on Saturday and Sunday, October 12 and 13. Beginning each day at noon, the tented biergarten celebration offers plenty of food, beer, live polka bands, and Oktoberfest fun. more

Education plays a key role in reducing prison recidivism

By Ilene Dube | Photos courtesy of The Petey Greene Program

A cross dangles from Erich Kussman’s neck, just below the white band of his pastor’s collar. From the pulpit at St. Bartholomew Lutheran Church in Trenton, the 38-year-old speaks passionately about social justice, advocating for prison reform and ways for the formerly incarcerated to re-enter society. He reminds us that the 13th Amendment abolished slavery and involuntary servitude, except as punishment for a crime. Kussman wants to rewrite the amendment to abolish all forms of slavery.

Kussman talks from his heart — as recently as 2013 he was inmate 380556c in the New Jersey state prison system, serving 12 years for armed robbery.

It was thanks to the Petey Greene Program that Kussman, who grew up with no father and a drug-addicted mother who also served time, was able to turn his life around. more

Area Nonprofit Believes Children Should Hunger for Knowledge — not Breakfast

By Taylor Smith | Photos courtesy of SHUPPrinceton

Ross Wishnick, chairperson of the Princeton Human Services Commission, remembers a meeting that was held in 2012 to address the problem of hungry kids in the Princeton School System.

Of the Princeton school population, an estimated 14 percent of students receive free or supplemental lunches. Of particular concern to Wishnick and his fellow community members was the fact that these same children who receive supplemental meals during the school week often find themselves food insecure on the weekends and during summer vacations. Studies have proven that improper nutrition negatively affects a child’s ability to concentrate, learn, and ultimately retain information.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), more than 12 million children in the United States live in “food-insecure homes.” The USDA’s annual report on Household Food Security in the United States indicates, “In 2017, the typical food-secure household spent 23 percent more on food than the typical food-insecure household of the same size and household composition. About 58 percent of food-insecure households participated in one or more of the three largest federal food and nutrition assistance programs: Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps); Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC); and the National School Lunch Program.” more

With a 70-year history, it’s at the forefront of today’s educational challenges

By Wendy Greenberg | Photos by Shutterstock

In 1947, a small nonprofit organization with a mission of advancing equity in education began its work in a brick building at 20 Nassau Street in Princeton. After more than seven decades, Educational Testing Service (ETS), located since 1964 on a scenic campus off Rosedale Road just outside of Princeton in Lawrence Township, still adheres to its original mission to “advance quality and equity in education” and “measure knowledge and skills, promote learning and performance, and support education and professional development for all people worldwide.”

But since the early years of ETS, the testing and assessment landscape has evolved. The topic of standardized testing has been in the news, both heralded and under scrutiny, with debates focusing on the importance to college and graduate school admissions, and whether the tests are indeed equitable to all.

Even with its long history, ETS is facing forward, and has evolved as the needs of learners have changed. While it is considered the epicenter of research in and development of tests like the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) and TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) and development of test questions used on the College’s Board’s Scholastic Aptitude Tests (SATs), ETS is also immersed in conducting research to improve quality and equity in education. more

Ellis Island Arrivals, Ellis Island mural detail, 1937. Photo courtesy of The Public Buildings Service, General Services Administration, Washington, DC.

By Stuart Mitchner

Mural painters love walls. In place of a symbolic denial of freedom, a barrier between two countries, they see an immense panorama of possibility, a space free but necessarily and beautifully finite. When muralist Edward Laning (1906-1981) looked at the 100-foot-long wall of the Aliens Dining Hall at Ellis Island, he was pondering his assigned subject, “The Role of the Immigrant in the Industrial Development of America.” He was happy to have the work. It was 1934, he was broke and months behind in his rent for a top-floor loft with skylights on East 17th Street. As he recalls in “Memoirs of a WPA Painter” in American Heritage (October 1970), doing justice to his subject meant “learning how railroads were built and saw mills were operated and coal was mined and steel was manufactured.” more

Shirley Satterfield (at podium), president of the Witherspoon-Jackson Historical and Cultural Society, unveiled the first four Heritage Tour plaques and recognized the Society’s board of trustees (surrounding her) at a reception last March at Studio Hillier on Witherspoon Street. (Photo by Charles R. Plohn)

The Witherspoon-Jackson District Heritage Tour

By Donald Gilpin | Plaque designs courtesy of Studio Hillier

It was nothing less than the transformation of a vision into reality on Saturday morning, August 10, as a large contingent of church members, town leaders, and other participants proceeded from Morning Star Church of God in Christ on Birch Avenue, up Witherspoon Street to Mt. Pisgah AME Methodist Church and Witherspoon Street Presbyterian Church, then to the First Baptist Church of Princeton at John Street and Paul Robeson Place to witness  the unveiling of the first four of 29 Heritage Tour historic plaques.

“These black church plaques and the other plaques to follow are part of a reminder of the history of the Witherspoon-Jackson (W-J) community and the people, personalities, and families that once lived in this community,” said W-J Historical and Cultural Society President Shirley Satterfield, who led the tour and whose vision has inspired and driven the project to preserve the memory of Princeton’s 20th Historic District.  more

George and Lee White have made their home at the former Pennington Railroad Station for 13 years, becoming train buffs along the way.

Area Train Stations Reimagined

by Anne Levin | Photography by Charles R. Plohn

Thirteen years ago, Lee White and her 13-year-old daughter were taking a stroll near their house in Pennington when they noticed that the town’s former train station, a three-story, 1882 building with a curvy, mansard roof, was for sale. The sign on Railroad Place beckoned, and they peeked in. It was love at first sight.

“We both just adored it,” says White, a fourth-grade teacher at Toll Gate Grammar School. “I didn’t think my husband would agree. But when we brought him over, a train happened to go by while he was looking. Since the walls are 18 inches thick, we didn’t hear it. That impressed him.”

So did the former depot’s textbook-Victorian architecture and compelling history. The couple bought the building, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, and moved in with their two children. They were the second private owners to occupy the old station, which had been purchased by another person a few years after service was discontinued in the late 1960s. Now nearing retirement age and ready for a home with less upkeep, the Whites recently put the building on the market. more

PU Wrestling Coach Chris Ayres Builds a Winning Program

By Bill Alden | Portrait by Frank Wojciechowski

Settling gingerly onto a couch in the living room of his Princeton home this July days after undergoing a hip replacement, Chris Ayres laughs through the pain, recounting the beginning of his wrestling career as a fourth-grader.

“I lost my first 14 matches, but then I won my last four,” says Ayres with his face creasing into a grin before he chuckles at the memory. “I wasn’t good at it right away but I loved it.”

That rough debut proved to be a harbinger of things to come as Ayres has gone on to fight and win a number of uphill battles in his wrestling career, fueled by his passion for the sport.

After not medaling in the New Jersey state championships during his career at Newton High, Ayres spent a year competing as a postgraduate at the Blair Academy and then walked on the Lehigh University wrestling team. He ended up as one of the greatest wrestlers ever for the Mountain Hawks, setting a program record with 120 victories and twice earning the school’s Outstanding Athlete award.

Ayres, though, failed in his bid to make the U.S. team for the world championships, and turned to coaching as an assistant at Lehigh. He spent five years learning the ropes and preparing himself to guide a college program.

In 2006, he undertook a massive challenge, becoming the head coach of a moribund Princeton University wrestling program that was mired in the cellar of the Ivy League. The Tigers went 0-35 in Ayres’ first two seasons but, true to character, he kept plugging.  more