MOUNTAINSIDE, NJ — It was back in June when Matt DeAnna discovered a bulky metallic tube in the basement of Borough Hall. The Director of the Department of Public Works (DPW) had stumbled upon a time capsule with Mountainside mementos from 1995.
More than four months later, on Oct. 23, 2020, the capsule and its contents were on display in celebration of Mountainside’s 125th anniversary year.
It has been 125 years since the borough seceded from the Township of Westfield. These first Mountainsiders, occupying the northeastern hills of Westfield, felt their tax dollars weren’t being put to work for them. So, they decided to take local governance into their own hands and formed an independent municipality.
Fast-forward 125 years and one arrives at the Quasquicentennial time capsule celebration. Those in attendance in front of the Mountainside Public Library at 1, Constitution Plaza were able to capture a glimpse of the Mountainside as it existed in 1995.
Mementos were displayed and included library cards; community-run musicals; pictures of the borough council in 1995; and numerous photos from local Boy and Girl Scout Troops. The capsule even saved VHS tapes of Mountainside’s various centennial celebrations held in 1995 which are now available for viewing on YouTube.
For residents there was a slice of history for everyone—even for this reporter who grew up in Mountainside.
Immediately I was drawn to a small booklet commemorating the 1995 Mountainside Youth Baseball Season Centennial Season. I found my name and that of my late best friend and Mountainside baseball legend Ryan McAdam on the T-Ball roster.
Ryan and I like so many others who attended Deerfield School developed a bond unique to a childhood growing up in Mountainside. We would carry that into Governor Livingston High School in Berkeley Heights where the Mountainside kids never shied away from their roots.
This Mountainside bond is exactly what continues to make the community so special.
It’s a town welcoming to those who want to live the small town American Dream all while being close to New York City. A suburban New Jersey community which thrives off of volunteerism whether it be in government, charity, sports or the arts. A place where you make friends that become your brothers sisters. A hometown built on the values of family and friendship.
Letter from the Past
The time capsule unveiling presented Frank Geiger with a special opportunity. The longtime Mountainside resident, father and Boy Scout leader would read the capsule’s accompanying letter, authored by himself nearly 25 years ago.
Geiger’s letter, addressed to 2020 residents, was inspired after sitting in on a gym class as Board of Education President. The Deerfield Kindergarten class of the 1995-96 school year was being taught by longtime Deerfield Physical Education teacher Kit Carson.
After watching Mr. Carson’s class, Geiger realized those students would be around 30 when his letter would be read. As Geiger explained, this encounter inspired the 2020 time capsule letter.
Geiger’s connection is an important one. Those millennial kindergartners have come of age in 2020. They staff schools and hospitals. They are law enforcement, volunteer firefighters, politicians and community stakeholders. And some are surely Mountainside residents — new families and community volunteers.
If there’s one thing the time capsule demonstrated is even as time marches onward, the Mountainside character endures. Longtime community volunteers like Gary Whyte, Ruthie Goense, and Chuck Fernacola who attended the capsule unveiling are proof giving back to your community makes the town stronger as a whole.
“The town would not be what it is without the volunteers,” said Mayor Paul Mirabelli at the unveiling. "They are the backbone of Mountainside.”