on Monday 27 October 2008
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Sussex County Love

by Rudolph Spatarella

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My story is about a love affair with Stillwater Township in Sussex County, New Jersey, and more specifically Swartswood Lake and its surrounding area. The story is necessarily written with much biographical content because it describes the extreme living conditions of a poor family living in New York City and that, which was found by living much of my life in rural New Jersey from 1930 until the present.

No love could be greater than that, which I feel for the Sussex County countryside. Included here is a description of how life once was and the nostalgic melancholy derived from the sadness of what it has come to be. The love affair continues now in the 21st Century, because here and there reminders remain of the happiest days of my youth and the contrasts of living in two different worlds separated by a mere 60 miles as the crow flies.

There are certain to be other people living, who recall similar memories of unforgettable life experiences. Some are native born residents of Sussex County. Others were city dwellers that found what I found in the beautiful landscapes and the activities that existed in the area. Perhaps my perceptions are more profound and memorable than most residents and visitors. Only comparatively few may have fully experienced the contrasts that existed in my two worlds of extremes that no longer exist.

To city people, Sussex County was thought of as a place peopled by “Hicks,” which was an apt description 75 years ago. On the other hand, the long-time residents of the area came to call urbanites, “City Slickers” who were immediately out of place in the country. Neither group felt completely comfortable in the other group’s environment. Just as New Yorkers were blasé about the nearby Empire State Building and the Statue of Liberty, few Sussex County residents found the landscape including the Appalachian Trail and the general environment that existed as particularly interesting.

Much detail will be found that is new to individuals on either side of the extremes, but I believe that they will grasp the significance of my exposition and find it unusual and hopefully, interesting.