THERE'S NO PLACE LIKE TABOR LAKE

    It was one of those beautiful days in mid-August in 1973.
Florence and I and two guests were sitting on our patio in front
of our cottage. Our guests were former neighbors of ours from
Poughkeepsie, and were down to spend the weekend with us.

    We had just returned from a refreshing swim in the lake. We
walked up Powder Mill Road, and the upper back road to the rear of
our cottage. Florence and I pointed out the various cabins as we
passed them, told who owned them, and explained, to some extent,
the conditions under which the different cabins were acquired.

    And now, after finishing an outside barbecue dinner, we
were relaxing on the patio.

    After some small talk, our guest, John Evans, spoke up, "Stan,
how long have you folks been here, and how did you happen to find
such an unusual place?"

    After a slight hesitation to think back, I answered, "It was
in the summer of 1939, when we constructed the platform for a
12 X 14 tent we had. We then lived in Bloomfield, and had been
up here on several previous occasions with a group from the Church
we attended. It was in 1937 when we first came.

    At that time, with the exception of a half dozen tents on
platforms along the road past the beach, it was only a place to
come to for a swim, and to picnic. It was easy to get to. It was
quiet and secluded and, we thought, a perfect place for families.

    Previously, we had camped in the Adirondacks in upper New York
State during vacation periods and had, of course, often taken the
children to various Jersey Shore beaches. But these were of short
duration. There was always heavy traffic on weekends. By
comparison, this seemed like a wonderful change from all that.

    Thus, in the early part of 1939, we were very vulnerable to
the suggestion, by the Rev. Mr. Nichols, our Minister in Bloomfield,
that we build a platform at Tabor Lake. And spend our summers here.
It was only a half hour trip, so we could be up here very quickly,
every weekend and all of our vacation. He even talked us into
getting this spot. He had just finished his own next door to us.
By the time vacation time came that year, we were very enthusiastic
about the idea, had the plans made for a platform and had the lumber
ordered.

    We started to construct it the very first day of vacation.
Carrying all that amount of lumber by hand from over across the
railroad tracks was a chore. And when two of us could only carry
one two by eight at a times it took quite a while just to get the
lumber on the site."

    "What do you mean, carrying the lumber by hand?" asked Mary
Evans, John's wife.

"Well Mary, in 1939 Powder Mill Road was only an overgrown
footpath, as the road had not been used as such in many, many years.
The bridge over the outlet could be used as a footbridge, but would
not support a car, much less a truck. When we came here for
swimming, we parked the car over in an empty field back of Sherman's
home. That is the house across the tracks that you passed on the
way in. The other two houses beyond Sherman's were not built at
that time.

    The road you see going down the hill, and road up in back
of us, were only footpaths. So when the platform lumber came, it
was all left alongside the path across the tracks. And it was our
job to get it here, from there. It was the same thing when we
previously came here for a day's outing. We parked the car in
the field, and carried our swimming equipment, chairs, and picnic
lunches from there across the footbridge to the beach."

    "Why do they call the road Powder Mill Road?" asked Mary.

    "That is quite a story in itself. Would you like to hear
it?" I asked.

    "Sure!" was the answer.

    "Well," I said, "When you came in, and just before you
crossed the tracks, did you notice a gully to the left of the road?
During the Revolutionary War, a small powdermill was on a flat
section to the left of the road. And there was a water fall out
of the outlet pond down into the gully, which powered a waterwheel
on the rear of the mill. The road, at that time, extended from
Route 53 (which was then a dirt road, from Denville to Morristown)
past the lake and probably to what is now Morris Plains. Thus,
the road came to be called Powder Mill Road. And the name stuck.
After the War was over, the road was no longer needed nor used,
as no homes were ever built on any part of it. The road from
Denville to Morristown, now known as Route 53, was always the
main road.

    In 1840, the Morris and Essex Railroad extended their single
track from Madison to Dover, and in passing the lake, the track
bed was raised to its present level and the contour of that part
of the lake was changed to its present shape. The second section
of tracks was not laid until the 1920's when the D.L.& W., (who
by that time had long since acquired the old Morris and Essex),
had it done.

    Then, in 1869, the Methodist Camp Meeting Association founded
what is now known as Mount Tabor Village. It started out as a tent
colony, but by 1880, there were some 125 cottages, many of them
built on the original 15 foot wide tent lots. Many of these people
probably walked over the old Powder Mill Road for strolls and
swimming. Except on Sundays, which to the very strict Methodists
of that time, it was literally a day of worship and rest."

    "Yes, we have heard of Mount Tabor with its quaint cottages,"
said John. "And in the beginning it must have been quite a sight to
see a cluster of tents around the main circus type tent, which I
understand preceded the present auditorium."

    "By the way, didn't a trolley line run through here somewhere?"

    "Yes," I answered. "From about 1904 to 1930. Many people do
not realize how short-lived the trolley car was -- only about 30 years.
This was due, of course, to the rapid increase in the use of automobiles.

    In this area, the trolley line was close to and parallel to,
the railroad and crossed the remains of Powder Mill Road about where
the mill once stood. It only ran from Morristown to Dover.

    However, when the D.L.& W. electrified their road from
Morristown to Dover in the 20's it hastened the end of the trolley
cars through this area, at least. Many city workers were moving
into Morris County. As the commuter traffic was heavy, speedy
transportation became necessary.

    In this same period another thing happened here. Ice was
then a much used item. And, because this lake was, and still is,
spring fed to a large degree, the ice formed here was a very
desirable product for the Hotel trade.

    Consequently, the Mountain Ice Company, at that time, a very
large company, bought all the property surrounding the lake needed
for their use. Probably about 1905. We have a picture of their
ice storage house taken in 1909. It was located adjacent to the
railroad tracks, just across the lake. However, it burned down
in 1929, but was not rebuilt. By that time, electric or gas
refrigeration was being used quite extensively, especially by
hotels. Because of this, the Mountain Ice Company was slowly
disposing of such properties as surrounded our lake. As they
could of course.

    As fate would have it, small sports clubs were quite common
during this same period, and one such club must have secured
swimming rights in the outlet pond on the left of our entrance
road just this side of the railroad tracks. In fact, the club
built a small pavilion over the top of a portion of the pond.
The railroad at that time was only a single track, so that the
pond was much larger than at present, and probably afforded good
swimming, as it was not permitted in the lake. Probably because
of the advertised high quality of ice cut from the lake.

    It was probably this club idea that prompted Mr. Lewis
Thorne, a business man from Chatham, to lease the land around
the lake from the Ice Company, in 1930. As the Company was
then trying to dispose of the property, the lease probably
contained a clause with an option to buy, which Mr. Thorne did
actually do - but not until 1945.

    The first thing he did was to make the beach we still use,
and put in a hand operated water pump along the road not far
beyond the beach.

    He meanwhile formed a Swimming Club, first known as Sachem's
Head Club. But later called it Indian Head Club. It was probably
a dues paying private club for business friends of his.

    As you can imagine, it was not long before the residents of
Mt. Tabor approached Mr. Thorne with the idea of obtaining swimming
privileges.

    He had some other things he wanted to do, so the idea
probably appealed to him. For twenty-five cents per person he
soon had quite a few coming from Mt, Tabor.

    Business became so brisk that he soon built a good-sized
bath house adjacent to the beach, a refreshment stand, and the
first section of the present lodge down at the bottom of the hill,
and it contained toilet facilities with the water being brought
from the lake by means of a gasoline pump.

    From the very beginning, the Sherman family who lived, and
still do, in the house just across the tracks, they were a big
help to Mr. Thorne, and later to many of us campers as we moved
in. Their teen-age children worked as life guards, bath house
attendants, and at the refreshment stand, and Mr. Sherman, who
was a stone mason, helped on various construction projects. In
later years, he put in many septic tanks, put up the concrete wall
along the beach road, and helped build many of the cabins. For
many years they had the only nearby phone, and more that once many
of us were grateful for that. And they did alot of other things
for us that many of us have reason to remember.

    Well anyway, the place got so popular, and the same people
came so regularly, that Mr. Thorne had simple fireplaces put in
various places, which could be leased for a mere five dollars per
season. In this way, cooking utensils could be stored in a pup-
tent in-between visits, because everything has to be carried in
from a parking lot near the Shermans. This soon led to a request
for sites for tent platforms. By 1936, there were six or seven
tents on platforms, as it only cost $35.00 per season. So, when
we first came up, we were quite impressed."

    "How long did you folks live in the tent?" asked Mary.
   
    "About two summers," said Florence. "And they were good ones
too. There were quite a few children, so between them, they all
enjoyed the novelty of a place like this. They spent summers
here that they have long remembered.

    Housekeeping was certainly simple enough. So while the men
were at work, the women and children spent many happy days on the
beach and many long-lasting friendships were made. A swim in the
lake on warm days was a very refreshing thing for the men when
they came home from work, too. Also, of course, in the evening,
there was a great deal of visiting between families -- much more
than today.

    However, when Mr. Thorne told us in 1940 that he was going to
have water piped in from the village, it was welcome news.

    Living in a tent all summer instead of several weeks, made
such inconveniences as insufficient water and lack of proper toilet
facilities become very noticeable. Besides, all of us had, at times
been inside a few of the cabins that were already built, and there
were by then three or four. So the advantages of a cabin over a
tent also became quite apparent.

    Thus the news that we were going to have plenty of water
available was all that most of the tenters needed to make plans
for building a cabin.

    Sure enough, the water was piped in next year, and as I
remember, by the end of that summer all of us had converted.

    Of course, that meant putting in septic tanks, or similar
arrangements for waste disposal. But we were all so happy that
it was no real problem.

    It was sure wonderful! Plenty of water coming out of your
own faucet, a sink in the kitchen, a wash basin and flush toilet
in a separate room! It took a long time for the novelty of that
to wear off!"

    "I can believe that," said Mary, "We never went camping in
a tent like you folks did. So it's a real wonder to me how you
did it, especially for so long."

    "Well," I said, "We have heard this said before, and I
believe the answer if this -- when a group does it then it is
different. When everyone here was living in tents it seemed
like it was fun, and no one minded the inconveniences, because
we were all in the same boat, so to speak. That is probably why
we all changed to cabins -- when one started to do it -- we all did."

    "And, of course, as a consequence of this giant step forward,
we soon had a population of over 20 cottages. A result of this
was the increasing need for a formal organization to sponsor
and plan community affairs. So, in those early 40's, the Tabor
Lake Association was formed and soon initiated projects which
are still enjoyed by everyone. Such things as an annual Children's
Day, monthly community dinners and planned entertainment. The
Children's Day grew to be our most important event. It is held
on the first Saturday of August. And the whole day is devoted to
land and water contests of all kinds. Most all of the children
participate. Everyone wins some kind of prize, and a trophy is
given to the leaders of different age groups. All of the adults
are interested spectators, so everyone looks forward to and
enjoys the big day. The enthusiasm of many of the children
practicing for the events weeks in advance, is something to behold.

    The community dinners were also enjoyable affairs, and the idea
was so popular that now we not only have a fourth of July dinner,
and one in the first part of August, but we have informal lunches
on Memorial Day and Columbus Day. And, of course, they are held
in the picnic area right down there in front of where we are
sitting. For some twenty years at least, the Association has
also been responsible for our so-called 'Winter Reunion.'

    That is our one big 'Dress-up' affair -- a good dinner at some
restaurant, followed by a short business meeting, and dancing --
a big evening, usually in March."

    "That's quite a picnic grove you have down there," said
Mary.

    "Yes, it is. And we use it a lot. We even have lights we
string around the trees, so that we can use it evenings. Florence
and I introduced Bingo here some years ago, which we now play every
Tuesday night and we have some fifty attend to have an evening of
fun. If it rains we just go down to the lodge instead -- nothing
stops Bingo on Tuesday nights. And, once a year, on an evening
in late August, everyone gathers here to see any slides or movies
taken by any of us. Of course, we always have refreshments
afterwards. On Bingo nights we all take turns at hosting, and
the hosts not only procure prizes but also supply coffee and
cake. When we have our 'Movie' night, eight or nine families
bring sandwiches, the Association supplies the coffee, and a
good time is had by all.

    Finally, on the Saturday preceding Labor Day, the
Corporation procures all the makings for a Smorgasbord type
dinner. The Directors and their wives prepare and arrange the
food on a nicely decorated serving table, cover the picnic tables
with table clothes and two people from every cabin are invited,
as guests of the Corporation to come about one o'clock to
partake of the really very rich dinner prepared for them.

    While the preparations for the dinner were being made in
the morning, a group of the men and older boys gathered at the
beach, remove all the floats, diving board and other paraphernalia
from the water and the beach, including boats, store it in the
lodge, secure battens over the screened-openings and lock up
the lodge until it would be opened again at the end of the June
of next year, when school ended. Then everything would be removed
from the lodge, and put back in the lake or on the beach. It is
a lot of work, but 15 or 20 men and boys can get it all done in
less than 3 hours, especially under the able supervision of Don
Hutson, originally, and now, Bill Bolsterle."

    "With all that spirit, and because of all the many things
you folks keep busy doing, you surely must have wonderful
summers," said Mary.

    "All I can say," I answered, "Is that if anyone residing
here does not have a good summer, it has to be their own fault."

    "By the way," said John, "I just thought of something.
I notice that cars are parked all around here. When did you fix
the roads? When you folks started staying for the summer, it
surely must have got to be quite a chore carrying many different
things in from that parking lot across the tracks."

    "Yes, Mr. Thorne soon saw the necessity of doing something
about that. It must have been about 1941 that he had a new and
wider bridge built over the outlet stream. The road along the lake
and up the back made usable for cars as well as a parking lot and
the road back down the hill. You can see it on this map I made."

     "That must have really been something," said Mary.

     "Yes, it surely was," I answered. "And ice-OH BOY--everyday
the ice-box (remember them!!), had to be supplied with a new cake.
I remember so clearly getting ice and bringing it here on the car
bumpers we then had, or on the running board. It all seems so
funny now.

     Well, anyway, now we all had so many things to make life
quite pleasant, even Mr. Thorne, who finally, as I said, bought
the property in 1945, built a nice cottage along the upper beach
roads for himself, in 1946. However, the pleasure of that was
very short-lived, as he died the very next year."

     "That was too bad," said Mary, "And I suppose it changed
conditions."

     "Yes," I answered, "It did. First of all, Mrs. Thorne had
to immediately take over the full responsibility of managing
our little community. Having lived among us for so short a time,
losing her husband suddenly, and having to experience, nor special
liking for the job thrust upon her, it was not really surprising
that she soon reached the point where she decided to sell the
property.

     This, of course, was an unexpected and unpleasant surprise
to us. The prospect of some outsider taking over this wonderful
place was a frequent topic of conversation, as you can well
imagine. We were quite convinced, for example, that an outsider
only primarily interested in making a profit, would certainly
not go along with our free and easy way of living. We thought
of many unpleasant things that might happen. We were not panicky,
but we were scared.

     Finally, the idea of everyone contributing a certain amount
of money and making a co-operative of it, came up. It really did
sound like a good solution until all were asked to pledge, I think
$400.00 each. So few were either able, or unwilling to make such
a pledge, that the idea had to be abandoned.

     Time marched on until after over a year or more of anxiety,
the Rev. Len Nichols came up with the idea that solved our problem.

     Besides himself, he got four others, Otto Evans, Jim Herdic,
Herbert Hyer, and myself, to provide the necessary cash for the
down payment, take over Mrs. Thorne's mortgage, and form what we
called the Tabor Lake Corporation. And the five of us would make
up the first Board of Directors. Shares of stock were also issued
and we started off as a closed Corporation, with each Director
owning 35 shares, costing $100.00 each.

    Later on, when we grew larger, more shares were issued, and
with only one or two exceptions, every cabin owner owns one or
more shares of stock. We have done so well that there are slightly
over 200 outstanding shares. We have a rule of course, that if
you sell your cabin, you must also dispose of whatever stock you
have, with the Corporation having first option to buy. And, no
one has had any trouble in getting $250.00 per share.

     This arrangement was not only agreeable to Mrs. Thorne, but
to everyone then here, because of the fact we would be managed by
a group of our own residents with all that meant. So in 1949,
we were incorporated, and one of the first things done by the
Directors was to make arrangements to have electricity supplied
to us. Mr. Thorne had, some years ago, looked into the possibility
but at that time the power company had told him that there were
too few of us to make it worth their while.

     To our pleasant surprise, we had, by that time, enough
families here - over 30 - to satisfy their minimum requirements.
Of course, by that time many of us had replaced ice with bottled
gas refrigerators, gasoline or kerosene lamps for lighting,
and battery operated radios.

     Electric lights in every room, receptacles for plugging in
such things as vacuum cleaners, radios, heaters, and various
appliances was certainly a very pleasant prospect.

     But it sure kept the Directors busy for the next several
years."

     "How come," queried John, "I would think that from then on
everything would be Peaches and Cream!"

     "Well, of course it was for individuals, but not for the
Directors. The decision to have electricity available was an
easy one compared to those that had to be made concerning some
inherited conditions and those to do with problems created by
the pronounced increase in the number of applications for cabin
sites. It sure proved how one thing leads to another. For
instance, as the Directors had already decided to continue
granting swimming privileges to Mt. Tabor residents, this
created the immediate necessity for a formal method of controlling
beach conditions. With a hundred or so villagers using our beach
with our own people, it became a very busy place on good days.

     So, after a lot of discussion, the Directors asked Don Hutson
one of our original residents to assume the position of beach
manager. His responsibility would be the care of the beach area,
over-seeing the duties of the life guard, maintaining order on the
beach, and checking the badges of non-residents. This soon became
an almost full time job for both he and his wife. For she it
was who checked badges. For remuneration, he received a portion
of the significant income derived from these paid memberships.
This arrangement has worked so well that it is still used. For
the past eleven years, Bill Bolsterle has had this position, and
he and his wife Hazel have done such a good job that at one time
we had over 300 outside members using our beach. The beach is
always in good condition, and there has never been any problem
with the life guard and order on the beach that Bill has not been
able to handle on his own. In fact, he likes the job so well that
he has kept it, even though he has been President for several years.

     To get back to the poor Directors--something had to be done
about the extent to which we should expand. There were only about
8 or 10 more sites available in the usable area. To accept any
more applications meant that some of the remaining 20 acres on
top of the hill toward the railroad would have to be opened up.
Cutting a road through a very thickly wooded, and very rocky
section would probably be expensive if much of it were done, so
a compromise was arrived at - open up a small section. So first,
the present road immediately in back of us was put in, and the
back road extended up the hill, along the property line for
several hundred yards and then back down to meet the end of the
new road in back of us. Then, as an experiment in selling, the
Corporation had two cabins built to provide immediate occupancy
for new residents.

     Twenty or more new sites were now available, and the stage
was set for a modest expansion.

     Then, another minor catastrophe occurred. The very next
year after all this road building, the Town passed a new building
code. This code contained so many restrictions that, as far as
we were concerned, we were prevented from proceeding with any
new building. In fact, three new residents, who were in
different stages of erecting cabins, were not allowed to finish
their places.

     This was bad news, of course. We could not obtain even a
variance to finish the three cabins, and a lot of money had been
spent for nothing.
    
     It was quite a shock at the time, but, as things are, it
was probably a blessing in disguise. We have had a population
of 40 families since 1957, we are like one big happy family with
close and personal relationship between ourselves. So much so
that it was 'Len' (the name the Rev. Nichols was really called),
who, about that time, coined the very apropos phrase, 'There is
no place like Tabor Lake.'"

     "Have you had many changes in ownership?" asked Mary.

     "Oh yes the Nichols and Florence and I are now the only
remaining originals. And Florence and I are the only ones who
have lived here continuously, as the Nichols left here and were
residents of Mt. Tabor. However, let me say this - no one has
left here because of a dislike of the place, and I think this is
very meaningful.

     It has been a good life here, especially the last 25 years.
Under the management of a benevolent Board of Directors with 'Len'
Nichols as President, most of the time, many good changes and
improvements have been made. That and the fact that we are so
nicely hidden from the outside world giving us almost complete
privacy, adds up to one thing--we have a very wonderful and
unique situation here."

     "I never heard of anything like it," put in Mary. "We have
a cottage on a lake near Poughkeepsie, but it is a very quiet
place compared to this. I see now why you still consider it
worthwhile to come way up from Florida to spend your summers."

     "We are not the only ones," said Florence. "There are four
other families who do the same - the Moehrings and the Nichols,
who even live in the same city, Boynton Beach, and the Ingles,
from just outside of Lauderdale, and the Stevenson's from St.
Pete. And another family, the Cluens, are getting ready to move
into their own new home near Lauderdale."

     "Do you have any other activities besides the ones you
have already spoke about?" asked Mary again.

     "Do we!" I answered. "A group that I formed several years
ago, bowl every Wednesday night. And, on Thursday evenings
another group play cards in the lodge. On Saturday nights we
have beach parties. It started several years ago when it was
only an occasional thing, but now it's almost a regular event.

     In the early evening, and until it gets dark, some of the
men direct fun games for the children. Then, a big bonfire is
lit, and with maybe some beer, soft drinks, and snacks, the
adults enjoy the rest of the evening.

     The badminton court along side the lodge is used so much
that lights were put up so that the court could be used in the
evening, for either badminton or volleyball. There is also a
much used ping-pong table in the lodge. Several years ago,
Mike O'Rourke initiated an annual fishing contest for the
children, which grew into a very popular and exciting event.
Besides all this, a committee of parents frequently take the
children to a nearby amusement park, to a roller skating rink,
a miniature golf course, or other things of similar nature.
The children are really pretty well taken care of. And, of
course, I must tell you about our end-of-season dance in the
lodge. The young people spend all day trimming the interior,
and a committee provides refreshments. A small, outside
orchestra supplies the music for dancing. Most everyone comes
in a costume suitable for the motif decided upon for that
particular year. It is one of the highlights of the season,
and is attended by most everyone and is really a gala evening.

     Last, but not least, we have for over 30 years, a half-
hour Worship Service every Sunday morning at eleven o'clock.
It is something Don Hutson started and then, because the lodge
was still a small building, the Service was held outdoors in the
space between our cabin and the one next door, where Ray Dennig
and his family spend their summer. Even though they, like several
others, have nice homes only several miles from here. Everyone
brought their own chair, Mrs. Nichols supplied the music with her
violin, and, some years, we even had a children's Choir.

     When the lodge was enlarged in the early 50's, it was
decided to use that, for there had been times when we got caught
in the rain during a Service.

     Not long after we began using the lodge, Al Axt obtained
about 30 folding chairs no longer used by his local Church and
Don made a storage cabinet which served as an Altar, and a
bronze painted wooden Cross. Florence made a proper Frontal,
Fair Linen Altar top covering, and a large hanging back-drop
made of the same cloth as the Frontal. So with a couple of
vases containing cut flowers, we had a real good-looking Alter.

     After Don passed away in '62, Bill Bolsterle and I took
over the conducting of the Service, and we still are.

     Not long after that occasion, we all contributed enough
to buy a small chord organ, Bill made a very nice lectern.
Florence made coverings for the organ and lectern to match the
Altar Frontal. So that, on Sunday mornings, when everything is
all set up by men who take turns doing it, the effect is quite
Church-like. We even have a bell on top of the lodge roof,
which is rung just prior to the Service. And a very handsome
Alms Basin given by Herb and Ruth Hyer in memory of their
daughter."

     "I never heard of so much community activity," said Mary.
"You sure have something unusual and wonderful here. And we
hope it will never change."

     "Amen," I said, simply. There was a pause, which Florence
took advantage of by saying, "Stan, you have held forth for
quite some time. You came to a good place to stop, so why don't
we all go inside and have some coffee and cake."

     WHICH WE DID.