Milltown Mel and His Shadow

February 2, 2011 – Groundhog Day

by Jeffrey Morris
Jeffrey Morris

Jerry Guthlein and Milltown Mel (photo by Jeffrey Morris)

MILLTOWN, NJ – Milltown businessman, Jerry Guthlein, was surrounded by his team of groundhog wranglers this morning, attempting to coach Milltown Mel out of his den and predict the weather.  Mayor Gloria Bradford read a proclamation declaring that Milltown Mel would be the official weather forecaster for Milltown. Guthlein, sponsored the event to benefit  Elijah’s Promise, a food bank located in nearby New Brunswick, and attendees were asked to bring a canned food item for donation.

Jeffrey Morris

A brightly dressed crowd looks on while Milltown Mel determines when spring will arrive. (photo by Jeffrey Morris)

Despite the icy weather, many Milltowners showed up for the event and were treated to hot coffee and donuts at the American Legion hall.  This is the third year that Guthlein has put on this event, and everyone seems to enjoy it, as well as the star of the show, Milltown Mel.

Oh! by the way, Mel’s prediction was for an early and warm spring. Let’s hope he’s right.

Jeffrey Morris

Milltown's groundhog wranglers included Ralph Jasionowski and Anthony Fama (photo by Jeffrey Morris)

Picture Perfect: Magic of a Small Town Sunset

Once upon a time there was a working mill in the small town of Milltown, NJ.  Though the mill is no longer in service, it still stands tall as a symbol of the town’s history.  Over the years, many photographers have captured this icon – through the seasons and for a variety of different purposes.

"Life of the Town" (photo by Christina Rudczynski)

Christina Rudczynski had Sunset Sundays in mind when she shot this photograph on a summer evening.  Here, as the sun sets, it magically brings life back to the abandoned building and makes it seem as though someone is inside and has turned on the lights once again.

Enjoy the magic of this small town sunset…

The Jersey Girl

Milltown Historical Society ~ June 19, 2010 Open House

Saturday, June 19th

1:00-3:00 p.m.

Come visit the newly restored Milltown Museum*

See eight rooms depicting the late 1800s in Milltown!
Answer Milltown trivia questions and get a souvenir!

116 South Main Street (adjacent to the Firehouse)
Milltown, NJ 08850

*For more about the Milltown Historical Society, click here.

Milltown Historical Society

“You must always know the past, for there is no real Was, there is only Is.” -William Faulkner

Please don’t tell any of my old teachers, but history used to simply bore me to tears.  Though I made a legitimate effort to study and do the work required of me, I never really enjoyed the subject; the wars, laws, and government we studied seemed so far away and so long ago – they were of very little interest to me.

Over the years however, this relationship between history and me has changed.  Now, I can’t get enough of it.  Maybe traveling has helped me to realize how interconnected we all are, maybe researching my own family genealogy has sparked the interest, or maybe I’ve just “grown up a little” and can now appreciate the impact we, as individuals and as societies, have on history.  I am honestly not sure what the reason is, but I’m hooked.

Milltown Historical Society Museum on South Main Street

In my quest for all-things-history, I’ve joined the historical society from my hometown, Milltown, NJ.  The Milltown Historical Society was founded on May 9, 1968.  Through the years, the society has acquired two old houses for use as museum and meeting spaces.  Items donated from local residents, as well as people with Milltown roots living as far away as France, have filled the buildings and museum displays.

Today, the Milltown Historical Society is as busy as ever restoring their historic buildings, archiving museum artifacts, updating displays, and raising funds for these endeavors.  Present-day technology makes it possible for the Milltown Historical Society’s busy members to share and receive new information via an interactive website,  On this site, people interested in Milltown history can find out about upcoming events, view archived photographs, and leave messages for one another.

Always happy to have new members with an interest in Milltown history, the Historical Society meets on the third Tuesday of the month in the Annex Building behind the Museum located at 116 South Main Street. For more information about visiting the museum, becoming a member, or making a donation, contact Society President Kathy Heilman at 732-227-1480 or Bruce Schwendeman at 732-828-0249.

~Melissa 🙂
The Jersey Girl

A sweet time at the Sugarloaf Craft Festival!

Admiring the work of photographer, Jon Mullen, at the Sugarloaf Craft Festival.

When I think of crafts, I think of things along the lines of what my late grandmother used to make and hang on her Christmas tree.  You know what I mean, lots of multi-colored yarn, puffy pom poms, glitter, and those three-sided beads (that were always so much fun to stack).  I think of crocheted tissue box covers decorated with dried flowers.  I think of hot glue and tiny dolls made of clothespins and fabric rosettes.

These were the sorts of things I imagined I would see when I visited the Sugarloaf Craft Festival at the Garden State Exhibit Center on Saturday, March 13th.  To my delight, what I found instead was an abundance of accomplished jury-selected artisans showcasing collections of art ranging from sculpture to wearables (like scarves, jewelry, and handbags) to paintings and drawings to photography and so much more. The Sugarloaf Craft Festival, travels through the New England and Mid-Atlantic areas, and is one of the nation’s best shows of its kind.

Marty Silverman demonstrating his work at the Sugarloaf Craft Festival.

Once inside, I shook the rain off of my coat and immediately began to search for the many NJ artists in the show.  The first I came across was Marty Silverman as he was sharing the magic of his work with a sculpture demonstration.  Silverman, a retired art teacher from Jackson, NJ, uses a hammer and chisel to sculpt alabaster, lava, and Rhyolite-Farrago (a stone found in Colorado) and from these raw rocks, manages to capture emotions of daily life as well as the graceful fluidity of nature.  Silverman says of his work, “I let my feelings and the natural forms in each stone lead me on the journey to a finished work of art.”  It is a journey well worth taking.

Continuing on my journey through the festival, I came across a great weakness of mine, accessories (scarves in particular).  When I saw a booth full of vibrant handmade scarves of a variety of designs, I had to stop and (at least) try them on.  Terry Lo, a Manalapan, NJ resident, makes all of the scarves herself, including “string” scarves, shawls, and hybrid scarf necklaces (what I ultimately purchased).  Lo has been crafting her scarves, through her home-based business, for about six years and travels to local craft shows with her daughter, Jimay, who helps her with sales.  Besides keeping busy selling her scarves at local crafts shows, Lo is also available for hostess parties in private homes.  You can reach her by email at and find out how you can update your look for spring with a beautiful new scarf.

Terry Lo demonstrates for Joan Morris the many ways to tie her beautiful scarves.

After a few attempts to get his attention, I was finally able to speak with a talented artist who lives in my hometown of Milltown, NJ, John DeAmicis.  DeAmicis’ work has appeared in galleries all over the world and includes whimsical and inspirational, limited edition pencil and ink prints.  Some owners of DeAmicis’ work whom you may recognize are Elton John, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Henry Kissinger, Pepsi, and the Dr. Seuss estate.  And very recently added to the list, yours truly.  I purchased a print with an encouraging Tennyson quote, “That which we are, we are, and if we are ever to be any better now is the time to begin.” You can view an image of this meaningful and delicate print here.  DeAmicis will be appearing in a show in Verona Park, NJ in May and a show in Haddonfield, NJ in July.  A full list of upcoming shows is available on his website.

John DeAmicis standing with his work at the Sugarloaf Craft Festival. (If you look closely, you can see the print I purchased.)

Though my focus at the festival was with New Jersey artists, I was also hypnotized by the breathtaking photography of Colorado photographer, Jon Mullen.  Mullen is an accomplished photographer, having published his work over 200 times, and was recently awarded the prize of “Best in Show” at the Boulder Creek Festival’s juried competition.  With his work capturing both the serenity and complexity of nature, it was hard for me to choose just one print to purchase at this show.  I ended up choosing a print called “Yellow Pond Lily” for my office.  (I’m hoping that the next print I purchase from Mullen will be one he takes of our beautiful state, New Jersey.)

Christina Rudczynski and photographer, Jon Mullen at the Sugarloaf Craft Festival.

Aside from the 275 artisans at the show, there was also live music, craft demonstrations, shows for children, and plenty of specialty food to purchase (and sample).  I couldn’t possibly experience it all in one day, so I’m looking forward to the festival coming back to NJ in October!

Tickets for the Sugarloaf Crafts Festival are $7 if purchased online, $8 for adults if purchased at the door, and free for children under 12.  (Be sure to visit the website before purchasing tickets to see if any coupons are available.) Tickets are good for all three days. Free parking is available.

The Jersey Girl