Princeton is packed with noteworthy history, and probably a few ghosts and haunted relics as well. In honor of Halloween, the Historical Society of Princeton is offering several tours with a spooky theme that are sure to appeal to history buffs of all ages. Another bonus is that all of the activities are outdoors, enabling visitors and locals to appreciate the autumn season. 

First up is a Princeton University Eating House Walking Tour on Saturday, October 9 at 10 a.m. Join author Clifford Zink to learn about Princeton University’s eating clubs, along with their architecture, origins, and developments since their beginnings in 1895.  more

As part of the Hopewell Theater’s ongoing series, Films That Made Music, the central New Jersey theater presents Moby Doc on Friday, November 19 at 8 p.m. 

With his first electronic single, “Go,” in 1991, Moby helped to define the music of an era. The mega-success of his 1999 album Play brought him into the stratosphere of fame when it became the best-selling electronic album of all time.  more

New Jersey’s historic marathon returns to the boardwalks and beachside roadways of coastal New Jersey and Atlantic County on October 17. 

Established in 1958, the Atlantic City Marathon is the third oldest marathon in the United States. The course is noted for being flat and fast, a great qualifier for both the Boston and Chicago marathons. With eight miles of boardwalk running, the scenic landscape is decidedly beachy and a beautiful setting for a fall race.  more

Downtown’s premier food festival, Taste of the Seaport, will return for its 11th year on October 16 at Pier 16 and 17 in the Seaport District of Manhattan. 

Over 40 of the best restaurants in Lower New York City will come together to highlight one of the city’s fastest growing neighborhoods and its vibrant food and social scene. Culinary lovers are invited to explore a variety of food options that the Seaport and Financial Districts have to offer. Delicious dishes will be available for purchase from Eataly Downtown, Brooklyn Chop House, Industry Kitchen, Watermark Bar, Beatnic, Fresh Salt, Stout FiDi, Route 66 Smokehouse, and Mac Daddy’s, to name a few. Proceeds from the festival support enrichment programs for children at both Spruce Street School PS 397 and the Peck Slip School PS 343.  more

Join Morven Museum for a virtual evening with Wes Modes to reveal “A Secret History of American River People” on Thursday, October 28 beginning at 6:30 p.m. Tickets range from $10-15 and can be purchased online at https://bit.ly/3ETY44D. 

The painter and ornithologist Gerard Rutgers Hardenbergh lived and painted in a rustic houseboat along the shores of the Scow Ditch in Bay Head, New Jersey. For more than a century, shantyboat communities sprung up in industrial towns and out-of-the-way rural areas on rivers and lakes all over the continent.  more

New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) ranks in the top quarter of U.S. universities and colleges in the Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education College Rankings for 2022.

For the second year in a row, NJIT has earned a spot in the top 25 percent of universities, jumping another 16 spots from the 2021 rankings and an impressive 200 places since 2017. Additionally, NJIT is the second highest ranked public university in New Jersey among schools offering degrees in several disciplines, including business, engineering, architecture, and history.

“Since the ranking’s inaugural year, NJIT has steadily climbed the Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education U.S. rankings,” said Fadi P. Deek, NJIT provost and senior executive vice president. “Our upward trajectory and improved standing is a testament to focused and strategic improvements we are making in our academic programs and faculty, and the positive feedback provided by our students.”  more

New Jersey’s longest-running corn maze re-opens in Hopewell Township on October 2. Advance tickets are strongly recommended by visiting https://www.howellfarm.org/corn-maze. The 250-year-old Howell Farm re-creates a 4-acre maze each year that is a thrill for local residents and visitors alike. Other fall festivities related to the maze are two miles of walking paths with a maze master tower, a history bridge, maze games, and more. Tickets are $10 for ages 10 and up and $8 for children ages 5-9. 

The theme of the 2021 corn maze is “Creatures of the Vernal Pool,” a nod to local aquatic wildlife of the Delaware River. Visitors can also expect a courtyard with pumpkins, food tent, and hayrides, all of which are certain to get everyone into the Halloween spirit! more

Princeton University’s Lewis Center for the Arts has named award-winning photographer Jeff Whetstone as the new director of the University’s Program in Visual Arts. Whetstone has been a member of the visual arts faculty since 2015 and succeeds Martha Friedman, who has directed the program since 2016 and will return to teaching full-time.

Jeff Whetstone’s photographs and films imagine America through lenses of anthropology and mythology. His Post-Pleistocene series illuminates the depths of wild caves in Alabama and Tennessee where layers of human markings reveal millennia of cultural evolution. His ongoing New Wilderness project portrays a human-centric American wilderness and questions how human cultural connection to the wild is revealed in contemporary times. Whetstone’s artwork also investigates the role gender, geography, and heritage play in defining the human position in the natural world. A self-described biologist at heart, he explores the cyclical and evolving narrative of landscapes as a force that compels humans to adapt. His work varies considerably with each project, but always addresses the particularities of a place and explores interplay between geography and human experience. For Whetstone, the natural world is a cultural experience, and the built environment is firmly, yet problematically, situated within the web of nature. more

On September 25, India’s most colorful celebration comes to Hoboken in Hudson County. Color playing, performances, live music, dance, and food vendors will occupy the Hudson Waterfront in a magical celebration that honors the Hindu gods and signifies good triumphing over evil. The “Festival of Color” will begin at 10 a.m. with live performances and yoga at City Hall in Jersey City, followed by a 2-mile walk. Participants will then congregate at Pier A in Hoboken, where the festival will run from noon to 8 p.m.  more

COVID-19 and Hurricane Ida significantly impacted available blood supply in New Jersey. As such, Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital (RWJUH) and Sky Zone Hamilton are partnering to host a blood drive on September 25 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Sky Zone Hamilton, located at 17 Quakerbridge Plaza, Unit B in Hamilton. 

“Sky Zoe Hamilton has always been committed to our #DoGood mantra as well as being a strong community partner” said Joshua Harry, general manager of Sky Zone Hamilton. “When we heard there was a need of blood in New Jersey, we reached out right away to our community partners.” more

After being canceled last year due to COVID-19, Fright Fest at Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson is back with even more attractions for children and adults of all ages. The 2021 Halloween spooktacular includes six elaborately decorated areas, a trick-or-treat trail for kids, 10 live shows, rides that will have you screaming in the dark, plus nine haunted mazes. Shopping, games, and dining will also be open during Fright Fest. 

On Wednesdays and Thursdays in October (and Thursdays in September), Six Flags will offer exclusive ride times on the park’s coasters and select rides in the dark, plus the added terror of indoor and outdoor haunted mazes. Tickets and advance reservations are required.  more

Lawrenceville is pleased to welcome the first class of Orion Military Scholars to the School, Rachel Deoki ’25 and Ben McCormick ’24. Lawrenceville is among the founding partners of the Orion Military Scholarship Fund (OMSF), teaming with select boarding schools to provide merit-based scholarships to children of active-duty U.S. service members. Deoki and McCormick’s fathers serve in the Army and Navy, respectively. 

Lawrenceville’s Dean of Enrollment Management Greg Buckles has worked closely with OMSF, which he called “an incredible resource.… We’re leveraging their expertise to help us find outstanding students we know will be a good match for Lawrenceville,” he said. more

Mapping the Future of TCNJ

By Wendy Greenberg | Portraits by Jeffrey E. Tryon

Dr. Kathryn A. Foster, who launched her own academic career as an undergraduate geography major, has found her place — as president of The College of New Jersey (TCNJ). She feels it was a good spot to land. “Taking this position was the best decision I’ve ever made,” she said.

Foster’s presidency seems to suit the school too. Nestled in a suburban setting in Ewing Township not far from well-known neighbors Princeton University and Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, it could be easy to overlook TCNJ.

Yet the school formerly known as Trenton State College has amassed accolades. Among them, TCNJ is ranked the No. 1 public institution among regional universities in the North by U.S. News & World Report (fifth overall). Its 2006 awarding of a Phi Beta Kappa chapter by the prestigious national academic honor society cemented its status as a selective college. TCNJ maintains the seventh highest four-year graduation rate among all public colleges and universities, and it is ranked by Money magazine as one of the top 15 public colleges “most likely to pay off financially.” Under Foster, fiscal 2021 was one of TCNJ’s strongest fundraising years.

When visitors walk onto the campus with its landscaped walkways, green quadrants, and mix of stately Georgian red brick buildings (adjacent to a new commercial center with restaurants and a Barnes and Noble bookstore), “their jaws drop,” said Foster, who has updated buildings and infrastructure.  more

Ni-có-man, The Answer, Second Chief by George Catlin. From the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

The Original Residents of New Jersey

By Taylor Smith

The “grandfathers” or “ancient ones” as the Lenni-Lenape people are known, were the historic inhabitants of large swaths of the Northeastern United States. Originally occupying parts of New York, New Jersey, Delaware, and Pennsylvania, the Lenape suffered forced migrations and removal to reservations at the hands of European settlers. In fact, prior to the 1600s, the Lenape lived all over the Northeastern woodlands and the Eastern Shore of Maryland, as noted on nanticokelenapemuseum.org. The Lenape trace their lineage to the Nanticoke or “Tidewater People” who resisted British colonial intrusion to the best of their abilities. The name “Nanticoke” references the Nanticoke River on the Eastern Shore of Maryland.

At the time of European contact in the early 1600s, the Lenape were estimated to number over 20,000 people. A powerful and influential tribe, early Dutch settlers sought to establish amicable relations with the Lenape through trade of tools, sugar, firearms, animal pelts, and fabric. Unfortunately, like most early contact between Native Americans and European immigrants, tribespeople were deceived and diminished by unfair trade agreements and the introduction of contagious diseases.

Dutch traders were established on the banks of the Delaware River by 1623. Swedish and Finnish colonists followed, significantly predating the arrival of German and English travelers in response to the establishment of William Penn’s colony. Familiar with the forests of Northern Europe, the Nordic immigrants cleared woodland in the new territory and introduced the use of the log cabin. What little is known of these early encounters between the Swedes and the Lenape is that both groups were independent, rugged individualists who practiced similar agricultural methods, rotating productive fields of crops along the banks of the Delaware River, according to paheritage.wpengine.com. In contrast, the Dutch were eager to establish business in the New World. They engaged in the trade of land, guns, and beads for beaver pelts. One of the most notorious transactions between the Dutch and the Lenape was the “purchase” of New York City in 1626.

Long before high rise buildings and endless concrete sidewalks, New York City was truly an idyllic island, scattered with hills and marshland and teeming with plant and wildlife. Oak and hickory forests dotted the landscape while black bears, wildcats, beavers, tree frogs, oysters, mink, brook trout, and bog turtles roamed free. In a 2020 New York Times article, ecologist Eric W. Sanderson of the Wildlife Conservation Society, based at the Bronx Zoo, noted that wolves were known to live on Manhattan until the 1720s and whales were an important part of the local ecosystem.

“Mannahatta” (as it was referred to in the Lenape language) was a trading hub for the Lenape bands of tribes who regularly gathered on the island for the exchange of goods. Mannahatta was also the site of Lenape games and musical performances. The native dwellers certainly made use of the plethora of natural resources at their disposal. For example, soaring tulip trees were favored for making canoes and the rich soil and pond water was ideal for cultivating vegetables and oyster estuaries.  more

By Stuart Mitchner

I still have the bound volume containing the first 20 issues of Classic Comics my parents gave me on my 7th birthday. Along with vivid graphic renditions of the likes of Moby-Dick and Gulliver’s Travels, I found poetry, everything from “Ojibwa War Songs” to Emily Dickinson’s “Railway Train,” pictured in the style of  “The Little Engine That Could.” I also found Walt Whitman’s “I Hear America Singing,” where “each sings what belongs to him or her and to none else,” and Matthew Arnold’s “Dover Beach,” which told me the world “which seems to lie before us like a land of dreams” has “neither joy, nor love, nor light, nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain.”

I doubt if Arnold’s message got through to me at 7 (what’s “certitude”?), but when I was moved by the poem years later in college, the feeling that I’d been there before deepened the experience. Poetry seemed to be a primal element, as much a part of life as the air we breathe. I felt it again at the same age during the singing of Christmas carols, breathing in the beauty of “Above thy deep and dreamless sleep the silent stars go by” in “Little Town of Bethlehem.” Ten years later, when I discovered Keats’s “Ode on a Grecian Urn,” there was a chill of recognition as I read “And little town thy streets for evermore / Will silent be.” I’d been there before, long ago, in another little town.

Issues of the Day

In this pandemic-haunted year, a number of new poetry books for children reflect issues ranging from slavery to social justice to environmental awareness.

One of the most appealing expressions of a time of loss, loneliness, and togetherness is Patrick Guest’s Windows (Starry Forest 2020), illustrated by Jonathan Bentley. Guest wrote the rhymed story at a time when he was forced to isolate from his family as a medical worker. The book begins: “Out the window, I can see a new world looking back at me. The streets are still, there are no crowds … but looking up, I see the clouds.”

A physiotherapist by day and a children’s book author by night, Guest lives in Melbourne, Australia. An award-winning illustrator of over 30 children’s books and the author and illustrator of four of his own, Bentley grew up in West Yorkshire, England. more

Raising Awareness and Appreciation of Wolfdogs at Howling Woods Farm

By Taylor Smith

Founded by animal lover Mike Hodanish, Howling Woods Farm in Jackson aims to educate the public about the true nature of wolves. In contrast to what many read as children in Little Red Riding Hood and observed in numerous cartoons, wolves and wolfdogs are actually submissive creatures that are more comfortable living within a pack of other wolves than being surrounded by people, highways, and fast cars.

The modern world has not been easy on the plight of wolves. In much of America, wolves have been shot to extinction under the notion that they were violent, devilish creatures that would drag a child into the woods or pick apart a farmer’s animal herd, one-by-one. Hodanish tries to educate visitors to Howling Woods that this storyline is simply not true.

Today’s wolfdogs, like Rubix, are not the result of wild wolves breeding with domestic dogs. They are the result of dozens or more generations of wolfdogs bred with other wolfdogs. (Photo courtesy of Howling Woods Farm)

Hodanish’s own experience with wolves began back in the 1980s when he was living in Southern Arizona, adjacent to the Sonoran Desert Museum. One night, a young, lone dog (that looked very much like a wolf) started wandering into his carport. It looked hungry and Hodanish and his roommate at the time began leaving scraps out for the animal. Eventually, Hodanish decided to adopt the dog as a pet; however, within the span of a few months, the dog doubled in size and its submissive, cautious behavior became extremely exaggerated. This, says Hodanish, was his first clue that the animal was, genetically, part wolf.

Hodanish named the canine Heidi, and the two became extremely attached. On long walks through the mountains of the Sonoran Desert, Heidi and Hodanish would wander the natural landscape, enjoying the peace, solitude, and companionship of one another. Eventually, Hodanish relocated to New Jersey and brought Heidi with him. Heidi unfortunately contracted Lyme disease and, after suffering from subsequent kidney failure, passed away. After that, Hodanish’s job didn’t allow him to have a dog due to the amount of traveling involved. But his head and heart didn’t forget Heidi.

Eventually, Hodanish adopted two wolf pups while living in Bordentown (much to the chagrin of his neighbors). The intimidating appearance of the dogs, combined with their occasional howling, left a few people concerned, but others would approach the fence line and ask Hodanish all about the animals, their curiosity peaked.

Hodanish then moved to Jackson and settled into a more rural area nestled within the Pine Barrens and bordered by protected land. There, he sought to establish what is today Howling Woods Farm, a wolf and wolfdog hybrid sanctuary that is open by appointment only to visitors. As a nonprofit, the sanctuary seeks to educate the public about wolves, while also attempting to adopt out wolfdogs to suitable homes.  more

James Fiorentino’s Passion for Both Leads to an Amazing Career

By Justin Feil | Photography by Charles R. Plohn

James Fiorentino intertwines art and athletics in strokes of water-color genius. At an early age he was best known for his athletic prowess, but he already was showing promise as an artist. He rose quickly and prominently to national attention when he began combining his two passions as a teenager, and remains one of the most decorated sports watercolorists in the country.

The Flemington house that the 44-year-old Fiorentino shares with his wife, Jessica, a social worker in the Princeton Public Schools system, and their 12- and 8-year-old boys, is a collage of more than 30 years of colors and collections. A small room just inside the front door is overflowing with collector items and autographed works, an ode to how Fiorentino’s passions for painting and sports first united. A table buried under side-by-side piles of Fiorentino’s recent paintings and giclees primed to be sent to buyers, galleries, and shows sits just outside his studio room. A small TV hangs in one corner of his studio, looking down on the surprisingly neat art table where he paints every day. One wall features a mix of art and books while Fiorentino’s paintings adorn the three other walls from floor to ceiling.

Through the studio and down a set of stairs are more pieces brightening the basement level. Fiorentino’s other works adorn museums, galleries, companies, and private collector’s homes around the country and even internationally. His realistic watercolors and illustrations of sports figures and celebrities, as well as wildlife and landscapes, are highly sought. Art and athletics have been passions he first balanced as a boy, and then later combined when art became a profession. more

(Photo Credit: Rebecca Wilcox, Purdue University)

Economics Professors Anne Case and Angus Deaton — Beyond “Deaths of Despair”

By Donald Gilpin

You might think that Anne Case and her husband Angus Deaton, both economics professors emeritus at Princeton University, would be the epitome of ivory tower academics detached from the vicissitudes of the everyday world.

The title of the book they recently co-wrote, Deaths of Despair and the Future of Capitalism, might lead you to believe that that ivory tower would be a dark and gloomy place to inhabit.

On both counts you would be wrong.

Deaton and Case — or “Sir Angus and Lady Angus” since 2016 when Deaton, a 2015 Nobel laureate, was knighted at Buckingham Palace by Prince William, or “Dada and Lady Anna” as they are known by their grandchildren — joined me for a Zoom interview in July from their home on Pretty Brook Road in Princeton.

Economics may have been labeled as “the dismal science,” but Case and Deaton are a warm, engaging, and entertaining couple — committed to making an impact on one of the most troubling problems plaguing our country, as they wield significant weight in the corridors of power.

Deaths of Despair, which depicts the decline of the American dream amidst a surge in deaths of working-class men, has been cited as one of the most influential books written in the past decade.

“I think most academics would tell you that no one in power listens to them,” Deaton said. “We can’t say that. People in power listen to us, and we know that the people who are running the country know the work.” He recalled the couple’s visit with President Obama in the White House following the announcement of Deaton’s 2015 Nobel Prize for economics.

He continued, “If they’re not doing something about it, it’s because there’s really nothing they’re able to do. One of the stories in our book is about just how difficult it is to reform things, with a system that’s helping keep rich people rich, often at the expense of poor people.”

“Economics is the language of power,” said Case. “We would be delighted if people in positions to make decisions read our book and took it on board. It’s clear that some of them have. Janet Yellen, secretary of the treasury, is a fan of this work. Cecilia Rouse, who was the dean of the [Princeton University] School of Public and International Affairs and is now the chair of the Council of Economic Advisors, is also a fan of the work. So, we’re really hoping that we’ll be able to make some progress through the writing.”

As they state in the preface to Deaths of Despair, “We hope this book … will help put us back on track to make the progress in this century that we have generally made in the past. The future of capitalism should be a future of hope and not of despair.” more

The Battle at Grovers Mill, by Princeton Art Impressions artist  Robert Hummel, is on display at the Grovers Mill Coffee House. www.ArtistRobertHummel.com | www.BattleAtGroversMill.com

A Made-Up Martian Invasion That Continues to Fascinate

By Anne Levin

Decades before the term “fake news” became familiar, there was “The War of the Worlds.” The infamous 1938 radio broadcast, inspired by the H.G. Wells novel of the same name, announced to fans of the CBS Radio drama series Mercury Theatre on the Air that Martians had crash-landed in a farmer’s field in Grovers Mill, New Jersey, and were invading the earth.

It was the golden age of radio, and Sunday night was prime time. October 30, 1938 also happened to be mischief night. Led by 23-year-old Orson Welles, the theater company decided to take things a bit further than usual and give listeners a jolt. Just how much of a jolt they intended remains in question.

An announcer who claimed to be at the crash site just a few miles from Princeton breathlessly described a slimy Martian slithering its way out of a metallic cylinder.

“Good heavens, something’s wriggling out of the shadow like a gray snake,” he began. “Now here’s another and another one and another one! They look like tentacles to me. I can see the thing’s body now. It’s large, large as a bear. It glistens like wet leather…. I can hardly force myself to keep looking at it, it’s so awful! The eyes are black and gleam like a serpent. The mouth is kind of V-shaped with saliva dripping from its rimless lips that seem to quiver and pulsate.”

It was all a spectacular hoax, of course. But to some listeners across the country, the sophisticated sound effects and supposedly terrified announcers reporting Martians firing “heat-ray“ weapons created chaos. Newspaper reports at the time said people claimed they saw things that didn’t exist, and crowded the roadways in an effort to escape the invasion. Local legend has it that in Grovers Mill, an inebriated farmer shot at the wooden water tower because he thought it was an alien (never proven, but people who grew up in the West Windsor town have recalled seeing bullet holes in the tower). more