Submitted by PDG Michael Hart (

On Tuesday, December 14, 2021, Warren Rorden spoke to the Rotary Club. He was recounting the “Good old days” when he grew up in Westfield, and how things have changed. Mr. Rorden was owner of Rorden Real estate in Westfield, and is currently retired. He has been a member of the Rotary Club of Westfield since 1987.

Warren moved from Queens to Westfield in 1942, during the height of World War II. His father worked as a scientist at Bell Labs, and also volunteered as an Air Raid warden to patrol the neighborhood and make sure everyone’s lights were off so the planes could not bomb us. Everyone had a “Victory Garden” in their yards, and grew their own vegetables. Ration books were needed for shopping, but frequently there was no meat available. His father bought War Bonds every week throughout the entire war. There was a huge celebration in Westfield when the war ended. Warren’s mom took them to the Empire State Building to watch the parade, and he can remember seeing tanks going up the avenues as small as postage stamps.

There was a farm on Rahway Ave where Edison School is now, called Talcott Farms. They produced milk, eggs and bacon. Milk and eggs were delivered to the house by the “milkmen”.

The Westfield Jersey Central train line only went to Hoboken where commuters needed to take a ferry to New York City. The trains were run by steam engines;

All the kids walked to school. School started at 9 am, and had an hour for lunch, then ended at 3 pm. Warren walked home for lunch. Most wives did not work, so all the mothers were home to serve their kid’s lunch. After school, Warren would change out of his school clothes into his play clothes and play outside until the streetlights came on. He does not remember being assigned much homework. The kids loved to play cops and robbers with cap pistols; build model airplanes or trains, and do stamp collecting. Boy scouts was a very popular activity. Warren took courses in Mechanical Drawing, Metal Shop, Wood Shop and Printing. Many of these classes are no longer offered. The high school was in the Board of Ed building on Elm Street. Before that, in 1885,  it was located across the street where the tennis courts are now. The roof leaked in the English classroom, so if it rained, the teacher Mr. Michaels would cancel the class.  Dodgeball was popular in gym class.

Warren tells a story where he had never read an entire book up to 7th grade. When his English teacher Mrs. Guggenheimer heard that, she promised him a puppy if he would read a book all the way through, as long as the dog was ok with his folks. He read a book about a dog, “Treave” and had that dog for many years until he entered the Navy. Warren said that teacher changed his life, because he now loves to read, and it opened up a whole new world to him. Now he is at the Westfield Library all the time.

The Westfield WMCA was separate from the YWCA, but in the same building. They had separate entrances, and separate classes, but shared the same pool. The boys all swan naked, as this was considered cleaner. It created quite a controversy when they decided to combine the two Y’s. The third floor was rented to single men, mostly divorced or homeless men, many of whom were smokers. They had so many fires there that they eventually decided to stop renting the rooms. The Y also had a bowling alley.

Shopping in Westfield. There was a men’s store called John Franks. Two food stores - A & P where Trader Joe’s is now, and the Acme.  Jane Smith’s was a women’s store. Woolworths was in the center of town, with a lunch counter, and sold a variety of items, including pets. Parking was one cent for ½ hour, and 5 cents for one hour. Mayors Emerson Thomas and Charles P. Bailey helped to develop the parking in Westfield. There were 5 car dealers in Town including Lindeman Buick and Thomas Lincoln Mercury. Two lumber yards in town, since there was so much building JS Irving and Vaneri.

Realtors included Pearsall & Franken back who had most of the commercial connections. Located where Addams Tavern is now. Nancy Reynolds was a woman realtor and only hired women agents. At the time, only men were real estate agents. There were no real estate signs permitted until Weichert took it to court many years later.

Dating couples would go to the Movies at the Rialto on Friday night for 25 cents, then go to the Sweet Shop where the Farm store is now.

In the 1950’s there were no curbs and the town had a terrible drainage problem. The town floated a bond issue and put 6-foot-wide drainage pipes with curbs everywhere. Warren remembers crawling around inside them as a kid for an adventure.

Everyone had “party” phone lines, which means you shared your phone line with another customer. Warren’s family other party was a talker and was always tying up the phone line.

Warren does not like the future direction in which the town is going- building many multifamily housing units. He sees Westfield moving towards the same situation in which Plainfield is now.


Submitted by Anthony Franchini (

On December 4th the Rotary Club of Hillsborough took part in its annual Operation Showbox Holiday Care packing for our military troops stationed overseas.  The Rotarians and family packed 500 care packages to be mailed in time for Christmas to service members stationed at military based throughout the world.  This is the tenth year the Hillsborough Rotary has taken part in this service project.  We have shipped a total of 7,000 care packages over the years. 


Submitted by Anthony Franchini (

The Rotary Club of Hillsborough just finished a Flags For Hero's Project the week of Veterans Day in Hillsborough Township.  Members of the community were able to dedicate a flag for a past or present family member that served our country.  We place 100 Flags at the municipal complex in Hillsborough Township.  Funds raised went to support veterans projects in the township.

Submitted by PDG Tulsi Maharjan ( 
Members of the Branchburg Rotary Club recently donated $100,000 to five Veterans Organizations.
Each year, Branchburg Rotary raises funds for local veterans’ organizations to support various Veterans organizations to support their effort to help homeless veterans and veterans who need additional support.
This year 5 veteran’s organizations because of the great work that they do in supporting homeless veterans and other veterans who need support.  
Rotary club of Branchburg in partnership with Somerville High School Interact Club and Boy Scouts Troop 185 has started its annual Holiday Happiness Fund Drive to help the needy in Somerset County. 
Branchburg Rotary Club Continues its Holiday Happiness tradition with distribution of food and gifts to families in need.
Every Sunday morning the Rotary Club of Branchburg has been distributing food and supplies at the Bound Brook Presbyterian Church for needy families in the community.  
“Many of our members and supporters are doing a “Selfless Service” as part of our Rotary motto “Service above Self.” We greatly appreciate their support said Past District Governor and member of the club, Dr. Tulsi Maharjan.
Every week on average more than 100 families are receiving two bags of goods containing roughly 60 to 70 pounds of food and other supplies. Rotary will be also starting a new “Rotary Coat Drive” to provide warm coats for their children as part of the donation.  
Branchburg Rotary is pleased to partner with the Bound Brook Presbyterian church for more than a year in preparing food for local people and school children in need.  So far Rotary has donated more than $50,000 worth of food and other supplies.  This is a true “Partnership with Purpose”, said the program coordinator Bill Steabil. All these donations are going to needy families in Bound Brook area communities.
“Thank you to the Rotary Club. we appreciate it, the families appreciate it,” Bill said. “And just to be able to give these children the joy of Christmas helps so much.”
Branchburg Rotary club hosted Santa Fly-in and distributed more than 300 presents to local children. 
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