It would seem unlikely that South Plainfield’s Sacred Heart Church would have a connection to the Brooklyn Bridge, but interestingly enough, it was discovered at the March 7th meeting of the Suburban Woman’s Club held at the American Legion Hall.
Each month, Suburban Woman’s Club hosts a guest speaker and to celebrate Women’s History Month, Carol Simon Levin, who is a youth services librarian, author and historical impersonator specializing in "Telling Her Stories: Fascinating Women History Forgot," spoke to the group about Emily Warren Roebling and the building of the Brooklyn Bridge. For each of her presentations, Levin dresses as her subject would have dressed and tells the story in the first person, making the presentation personal and engaging.
In the audience, twenty-six Club members heard Levin, dressed in a long skirt, a deep blue velvet jacket and dark hat, clothing appropriate for a lady living in the late 1800s, recount the story of Emily Warren Roebling, the woman behind the building of the Brooklyn Bridge.
Emily Warren married Washington Roebling, the son of a well-known architect of bridges. The elder Roebling, who sold the idea to New York City for a much-needed suspension bridge over the East River, the first of its size and span in the nation, died during the pre-construction phase which left his son in charge of this complicated project. When Washington Roebling in turn fell ill, he rarely left his apartment, relying heavily on his wife to manage the construction of this major engineering feat.
Emily Warren Roebling had no background in engineering nor in construction, yet she learned higher mathematics, materials strengths, bridge specifications, the intricacies of cable construction and dealt with a wide variety of construction trades, as well as maneuvering the ins and outs of City government. For 11 years she was instrumental in building what was then called the Eighth Wonder of the World, a building project done without benefit of electricity or modern electronic communications. But her role has largely been forgotten and the credit given mostly to her husband.
Where is the connection between Sacred Heart Church and the Brooklyn Bridge? During the question and answer session, Membership Chair Grace Bertucci, who in 1964 worked as a secretary at Sacred Heart Church, said she remembered that a Roebling family member, Mary Roebling, sat on the board of a Trenton bank which loaned funds to Sacred Heart when the large church was built in 1964. We can file that under small world.
Prior to this interesting presentation, President Diana Cotone invited members to sample the Irish-themed buffet courtesy of Maribeth Hugelmeyer, Nancy Stillman-Pender and Cathy Wells, and called the meeting to order.
The Club reviewed preparations for the upcoming Spring Luncheon and Fashion Show, which is the Club’s largest fundraiser. The Fashion Show, to be held on April 28th at the Senior Center, will feature eight ladies modeling casual outfits, business attire, and evening wear. All fashions are from Lord & Taylor of Westfield.
The event will have a tricky tray raffle, a 50/50 prize, and many door prizes for lucky members in the audience. Tickets are $25 per person and are available by calling Lucy Hudson at 908-755-5065. Proceeds will go to the Club’s scholarship fund and to local charities as well as CASA, Court Appointed Special Advocates. This organization helps children in the New Jersey foster care system find a permanent and safe home.
In addition, Hospitality Chair Diana Gallo reminded members that each year the Club brings baked or store-bought cookies to the Keystone Community of South Plainfield. Gallo’s committee packages the cookies and brings them to Keystone for their St. Patrick’s Day Party. The cookies are a big hit with the Keystone members. This organization provides people with developmental disabilities diverse opportunities to lead fulfilling lives.
The Suburban Woman’s Club of South Plainfield is a member of the New Jersey State Federation of Women’s Clubs of GFWC. In addition to fundraising to award scholarships and support local and international charities, the Club offers its members programs on a wide variety of topics designed to instruct and entertain at each monthly meeting.
Interested in joining? Any woman of South Plainfield or the surrounding area is very welcome to become a member! Membership dues are $35 per year and meetings are held the first Thursday of the month at 1:00 p.m. at the American Legion, Oak Tree Avenue, South Plainfield. To learn more, please contact Membership Chair Grace Bertucci at 732-549-9633 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Like us on Facebook!