Everybody was there. Endless shoes, sneakers and boots bordered the embankment. Cars were lined up dropping off kids and neighborhood friends and classmates would skate together after school until it turned dark. On weekends we skated all morning, went home for lunch, warmed up, then piled on the winter clothes again, and off we went! When the pond would begin to freezeafter several days of extremely frigidweather, very often during the latter partof November, we would begin our endlesscalls to the Fair Haven Police Departmentasking, “Is Schwenker’s Pond safe enoughto skate on?” “Can we skate yet?” Once we were ready to go, with skates tied around the back of our muffler encircled necks, we ran through the hedges, crossed Lake Avenue and jostled down the hill. When we landed on the western side of this beautiful frozen wonderland, the fun was just about to begin. Conveniently, an ancient, just the right size, upright tree trunk was there for us to sit and get our skates on. Years of past skaters had left their initials carved in the wood, many surrounded with hearts and dates, so this tree trunk had quite a story to tell. Maybe we packed a picnic lunch ofpeanut butter and jelly sandwiches andKool-Aid. A whole summer’s afternoon atSchwenker’s Pond would provide us withan adventurous day in this peaceful Edenof nature’s bliss. So “kudos” to you, Mr. Rice, and the town of Fair Haven for a wonderful visionary idea! One of the things I loved and remembered the most was the scary sound of the ice cracking while it was expanding and contracting. When the answer was, “yes, safe toskate,” we would whoop and holler “let’sgo!” Contributed by Maria Innacelli Mullevey, Red Bank I can’t forget to mention the small fires that burned in a hollowed-out tree on Chestnut Street where the pond met the shore. By today’s standards of fire and children’s safety, this wouldn’t even be a considered thought, but way back then there was this great, tall, hollowed-out tree near the front of Schwenker’s Pond and Chestnut Street. When our toes were close to being frostbitten we would skate over to the tree. A fire would be burning under the watchful eyes of parents and we would take a respite to warm our frozen mittens and frigid feet. Marshmallows were impaled on found sticks and hot chocolate was shared from random thermoses brought by parents and neighbors. Rosy cheeks, smiles and the warmth of community emanated from this place of long ago. The waterfall draining to Shippee’s Pond to the Navesink River under River Road ran fast and clear. On hot summer days when we weren’t at the beach, we brought our bamboo poles and worms to try and catch some sunfish or carp. We fed stale bread brought from home to the multitude of mallards that swam near us that eagerly snapped it up looking for more. Now in the summertime, Schwenker’sPond was a whole other story. Then there was a game we playedcalled “Whip.” Maybe 10 or more kidswould hold hands and skate down thepond with a very strong skater at thelead. Then at the leader’s whim, he or shewould yell “whip!” That lead skater wouldcome to a swift halt, swing us around andthen we’d break our grip and glide happilyto our newfound destination. “Wow, let’sdo it again!” As I end my joyful reminiscing of a long ago childhood that I wish for my grand- children today, I can only tell a story of what life was like for their grandma in the 1950s and ’60s. Today, memories are captured on mobile phone cameras. This can be a good thing – and I do this myself – but there is nothing that can replace a good old-fashioned storytelling of how simple life used to be. Even today, when I drive past Schwenker’s Pond, a smile appears on my face. I would like to congratulate and encourage the town of Fair Haven and Mr. Brian Rice to move forward with their creative plan to revitalize Schwenker’s Pond as a “pocket park” that would serve the community well. Strolls along this pond would be a peaceful respite for many and the glory of all four seasons would be enjoyed. I was so happy to have read the recent article in The Two River Times by Chris Rotolo concerning the revitalization and transformation of Schwenker’s Pond. I grew up in Red Bank on Mori Place, a little tree-lined, dead-end street off Harrison Avenue. Our house backed up to a tall privet hedge that connected us to Lake Avenue. Access to Schwenker’s Pond was a breeze – just pass through the neighborly gap in the hedge, cross Lake Avenue and you were there! Mrs. Schwenker was a kind elderly citizen of Fair Haven who allowed the neighborhood kids to pass through her property and down the hill. I have to admit it though, I never once laid eyes on her. While blissful kids skated from the front of the pond at River Road all the way to the back of the pond at Chestnut Street, tired skaters rested for a while on a fallen tree that had frozen into the ice, until it was time to make their journey back to River Road. It wasn’t uncommon to peer into the glistening glory of the clear ice to observe golden carp swimming about as we stopped to watch their voyage, maybe to Shippee’s Pond.