Boonton 1970's

1976 – “Death Knell for Another Boonton Landmark”

It was a moment of passing and a moment of drama as the high steeple on the Old Main Street Church was pulled down this weekend to make way for a new and expanded post office. The government purchased the 107 year old structure for $100,000 last May.

It took three attempts to bring the steeple down. The first two failed when the cable snapped. There was one short moment of concern when a failing beam struck a workman.

An eyewitness said the workman avoided the 12 by 12-inch beam, but was struck in the leg when it bounced off a truck. The man, apparently unhurt, got up and returned to work. “Someone up there doesn’t like this.” the main said.

The razing of the church has left the Trinity of God congregation homeless. They had held services in the church from 1969 until May 1975, and now share a building with the local Methodists, another former congregation of the Old Main Street Church.

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The United Methodist congregation called the old church home from its construction in 1868 until 1959, when they moved to their present building at the Lathrop and Vreeland Avenues intersection. The Methodist congregation had a $200,000 mortgage on the new building but held a mortgage-burning party May 23.

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The church was used as a warehouse for 10 years before the Trinity Congregation began using it. Ralph Fluharty a member of the Trinity of God, recalled the final service in the old church. It was on the last Sunday in May, last year. (May 25, 1975).

The service was over around 9:30, but the membership stayed around, talking and praying and around 11 pm someone rang the old bell for the last time. “Bell-ringing at 11 p.m. was against Boonton law, he noted. Brother Palmer, new leader of the Trinity congregation, said, “we hated to lose the old church, but when the government decides to take something, what can you do.” Palmer, who came to Boonton from Georgia five weeks ago, said his group hoped to find a four to five acre site in the Boonton-Montville area.

Joshua, the Bible says, brought down the walls of Jericho with a trumpet.

This steeple, erected years ago, was brought to the ground with hard labor, a strong cable and some modern equipment.

Not easily felled, the steeple seemed to the worker shown right to have sprung to life in reaction to the demolition.

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And The Times-Bulletin 05-29-1975

1975- 1977 - New Post Office, mixed reviews.

The new Post Office constructed on the corner of Main and William was faced with mixed reviews of its construction, parking and safety concerns of traffic exiting the new parking lot. Below excerpts are taken from various Times-Bulletins.

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09-14-1975 – The Planning Board got an unofficial look at the proposed Post Office project on Main and William Streets and general expressions if satisfaction were heard. All agreed the structure would be a major improvement in the town’s appearance although board member, David Woodhull, would have preferred an Early American façade instead of the contemporary design.

06-19-1997 – Commenting on the plans for Main Street rejuvenation, store owned Marianne Lowe, mentions “ there are already three modern buildings- Charter Savings, Bob’s Men’s Shop and the soon-to-be-finished Post Office which looks like s prison”.

08-03-1977 – The board question whether the Post Office authorities are upholding their original agreements with the town concerning the new post office building. The original site plan approvals granted to the Post Office, no exit or entrance driveways were to be on Main Street; however, these driveways now exist. Mayor Yanni suggested site meetings with the postal authorities to point out these concerns.

10-16-77 - The town officals here are in the “talking stages” of trying to improve traffic problems arising from the constructions of the new post office. The two matters of concern were the parking lot exiting onto Main Street and the elimination of parking spots along William Street.

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The postal authorities “seemed to go along” with a suggestion to install a “no left turn” sign for the parking lot so cars will not cut across the street. Also under disussion was to have traffic enter only from Main Street and then exit onto William Street. This idea was not favorable to the postal authorities. Postmaster Robert Logan explained that the plan would interfere with posta office plans to keep vehicle operations separate.


The following is taken from the editorial section of the Times-Bulletin shortly after the opening of the new Post Office

Not Nice

The government pulled a fast one on the town of Boonton recently, dumping traffic from the parking lot of the new post office directly onto congested Main Street.

The prison-like structure, which does little for the aesthetics of downtown Boonton, now adds a serious safety hazard to make a bad situation worse. Main Street is bad. The accident rate already runs a steady rate of one to two a week due to the narrowness of the road, the twists and turns, and the hidden side streets.

The very last thing in the world it needed was another parking lot exit.

And it seems that the postal hierarchy didn’t even bother to check with local officials before doing their dirty work. The original plans the town saw reportedly shows a parking lot exiting onto William Street.

The last word the town parking authority heard was a notice concerning the temporary removal of a few parking meters on Main Street to allow construction vehicles to get in and out..

It should be made clear that nothing that Uncle Sam has done is illegal. The government is permitted the legal privileges of coming in and messing up the works whenever it pleases.

Even the plans shown to the town before construction began were a “courtesy” –

But it would have been nice – in fact it would have made a lot of sense – to have used a bit more judgment. The thing took 10 years to get off the ground, but there was no time, it seems, for some sensible planning.

There appears to be little that can be done now. The building is here to stay, and the parking lot will probably stay with it. Some town officials are making rumbling about pushing for corrective action through state representatives.

Their efforts should receive wholehearted encouragement and support.

But in the long run, it will probably just go down in the books as one more case of governmental insensitivity.

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PEOPLE of the 1970’s    

Peter (Pete) Onorati - was born and raised in Boonton and graduated from Boonton High School in 1971. He attended Lycoming College, where he received his B.A. degree in Business Administration.

Upon graduation, Peter signed a Free Agent agreement with the World Football League's Philadelphia Bell. There he and his good friend from college (now a Federal Appeals Court Judge) made it to the last cut and were sent home.

With his dreams of professional football on hold (forever), Peter took a job at Ford Motor Company Export Division and enrolled at Fairleigh Dickenson University to pursue and obtain his M.B.A. and became an assistant coach of the Football team.

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Responding to a dare from his girlfriend, a childhood crush who was working for McCall's magazines, he enrolled in a class in Improvisational comedy. His Master's Thesis Project on Working Mother Magazine (from McCall's) led him to a job as the Director of Marketing and Research for four of McCall's publications.

Peter spent weekends traveling into New York City to perform with the group called Port Authority Theatre Ensemble(Pate). Here he also co-created a standup act called The Kippermans (Hasidic Siamese Twins who played guitar) with GaryRichman. As he continued to perform late nights in New York, Peter had some of his research published in Advertising Age. This led to multiple job offers around NYC.

But Peter wanted to stay at McCall 's; however, his boss decided that she couldn't afford to raise his salary commensurate with his incoming offers, so she created an environment in which he decided to leave. Peter was now dating an actress, Jeanette Collins, from Pate who said "I think you could be an actor". His response was "What so I can starve and have four jobs like you?" After removing the ice pack from his face and considering her suggestion, Peter enrolled in a crash course in commercials given by Bob Collier. Within 2 weeks he was on hold for his first national commercial and within about two years joined the cast for the last season of Kate and Allie. Ms. Collins was so right that she and Peter were married in June of 1988.

In 1987 he joined Actor's Equity as part of the Public Theatre's production of Talk Radio. Peter and Jeanette moved to Los Angeles and he commuted back to NYC to finish Kate and Allie. His first child was due to be born in two days in L.A., when Peter had a call-back for Martin Scorsese's Good Fellas in NYC. He got the job and his first son, Sebastiano, in March of 1989.

Upon his arrival Hollywood, Peter was immediately cast in leading roles in critically acclaimed dramas including: NYPD Blue, Civil Wars, Under Suspicion, Murder One and the Cult Classic, Cop Rock. Peter has successfully created leading roles as "Good Guys" and "Bad Guys" (the pay is the same) for T.V. movies on ABC, CBS, USA, SHOWTIME and HBO.

He has made over 40 feature films including, Goodfellas, Postcards From The Edge, Firebirds, Camp Nowhere, Rocket Man and special events such as Tales From The Crypt, Outer Limits and the HBO World Premiere movies Shelter, Disappearing Acts and Dancing in September. Peter recently returned to the stage in the premiere of Sex,Sex,Sex,Sex,Sex& Sex, written by Tony Award winning author George Furth, and The Iceman Cometh with Al Pacino at the Falcon Theatre. His most recent T.V. appearances included recurring roles on Boston Legal, 24, Desperate Housewives, Everybody Hates Chris, American Dreams, Walker Texas Ranger and Leap Years for Showtime. Peter has been in guest star heaven (or hell) appearing recently in In Plain Sight, The Mentalist, Cold Case, Chuck, CSI NY, Ghost Whisperer, Las Vegas, Sex and the City and many more.

Peter lives in Los Angeles with his wife, Jeanette and sons Sebastiano (Sonny), Francesco (Frank) and Giancarlo (Charlie) and a fervent desire to return to the east coast at least for a little while every year.

Peter was inducted to the Boonton High School Hall Fame in 1996.

To read more visit:

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James (Jim) Lewis - (born 1955) grew up in Boonton and graduated from Boonton High school in 1973. Lewis, is an American writer known for his work with The Jim Henson Company and The Muppets.

Lewis first worked with the Muppets as the editor of Muppet Magazine. The book Before You Leap, which was credited to Kermit the Frog, was written by Lewis. The Disney Channel program Studio DC: Almost Live was produced by him.

Since 1985, when he first met and worked with Jim Henson, Lewis has been writing for The Muppets, including a stint as writer/producer for the ABC television series Muppets Tonight, and such movie, television and theme park projects as It's A Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie, MuppetVision 3D, and Kermit's Swamp Years.

Outside the Muppets, Lewis has written for other Henson Company projects, in addition to work for the Rodgers & Hammerstein Organization, The Walt Disney Company, and others.

Lewis was brought in to develop the Henson Digital Performance Studio series Sid the Science Kid. Although he was a key player in the creation and development of the series, he took a smaller role in the actual production, writing several episode of series.

Lewis discussed his role in the creation of Sid the Science Kid in a 2008 interview, stating

 “I was the first guy in. I worked with an executive at Henson, someone I've worked with for years, Halle Stanford. They had an idea there for a science program – basically a pre-science, I forget what the exact term was, but it was to teach science concepts to pre-school kids.

My involvement in that was I helped developed the show. I basically got it up to the point where it was sold to KCET, which is the public television station in Los Angeles. When they actually wanted to go into production, I realized I'm too old for this, I don't want to be a show runner – it's a lot of work.

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So I found someone that Halle and I had both worked with, Bradley Zweig, an enormously talented writer whose worked on a variety of things, I'm sure you can look up on imdb. He's very funny and has just the right sensibility and he's a lot younger than me, and more willing to work brutal hours for the 18-months it takes to do that kind of thing. And he ran the show and executive produced it with Brian and Lisa and Halle. And I wrote a few scripts, you know, and I feel part of it's my baby – but they deserve all the credit.” – Jim Lewis

In 1998, Lewis won an Primetime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Children's Program- Muppets Tonight (1996).

In 2003, he was nominated Outstanding Children's Program - Kermit's Swamp Years(2002)

Jim Lewis was inducted into the Boonton High School Hall of Fame in 1996.

Read more Jim’s credits:

Local News of Boonton Past

 from the Boonton Times-Bulletin

09-07-1975 – Boonton Teachers went on strike Friday September 5th for the first time in the history of the town. As of the following day, talk of a settlement had ceased and hopes for a comprise were shaky. It was reported of the 162 teachers on staff, 43 came to work that Friday. Thirty-two of that number are non-tenured. The teachers intentions are to urge the board to accept the factfinders report in total which suggested a 7.5 percent salary increase. An agreement was finally met with a 7 percent increase.

02-20-1971 – The Boonton Elks Lodge # 1405 celebrates 50 years.

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