Beautifully situated in Byram Township, Sussex County, New Jersey    

Interview with Viola Simpson-Lozier

January 21, 2018

By Nicole Halajian with clarifications by Al Jarvis

The best memory I have of the lake was fun and freedom.  We weren’t afraid of anything and just played.  We came every summer from when I was born until I was 17 and graduated from high school.

We loved the diving board at the dam.  I wonder why it was taken down?  The beach was for little kids.  But we loved the dam.  The activity there was unbelievable. We had rafts, which were pulled in during the winter time.  The big thing was to swim to the rock.  We had to wait an hour after eating lunch before we could go swimming.  The bathing suits were made from wool.  They would scratch and be heavy in the water.  That’s probably why we were strong swimmers.   (Clarification: the rafts were wooden platforms supported by maybe eight 55-gallon drums. After Labor Day they were pulled onto the beach to avoid ice damage)

We would roam the woods pretending to hunt bears.  We never found any or any other animals.  But there must have been animals because people would hunt.  There was always something to do; swimming, ball, boating, foot races.

There were always a lot of kids and everyone knew everyone.  All the adults knew your parents if you got in trouble.  We were all in the same class (in Nutley) in school until we moved to Newark.  It was a big family place.  We always found something to do.  Life centered around golf, and sail boats (there weren’t too many motor boats).

There was a baseball field and tennis court.  Left of the field they sold candy to families.  All the roads were dirt.  There wasn’t a lot of traffic and there were no road names.  The only paved road was the main one.


There were no house numbers either, only names on envelopes.  The mailman just put the letters in the box and he knew where everyone lived. 

There were two grocery stores in Stanhope and trucks would bring in any orders.  The milkman, vegetable man, and storekeeper came.  Ray Bell lived by Wild West City and he was the milkman.  Across from Wild West City was a large chicken farm and everyone stopped there for eggs. (Clarification: Ray Bell was iceman and milkman. Chicken farm was owned by Tom & Ella Sweeney. Tom had a grocery store in Stanhope & Ella ran the chickens)

My father, Andy Simpson, was the groundskeeper and in 1916 he lost his right arm in an accident at a leather factory in Newark.  He was working on a machine that caught his arm.  He had a prosthesis that was full of cement and very heavy so he didn’t like wearing it.

At that time, the 8th tee wasn’t across the street.  There was no garage either.  My father used a push mower.  There were no machines.  He always carried a pen knife to dig out the dandelions.  He was a semi-pro golfer even with one arm.  He swam and drove a car when no one was looking.  He wasn’t allowed a driver’s license because the gear shift was on the right side.

I remember my father woke up one morning and there was a big footprint painted on the 1st fairway as big as a table.  He wasn’t happy about cleaning it up. 

We lived in the clubhouse and slept on cots on the stage.  Every holiday (Memorial Day, 4th of July, Labor Day) the men from Salmon’s would come at 6am to play golf.  We would serve them breakfast.  We also served meals to the Rotary Club and my mother did all the cooking.  I hated waitressing.

On rainy days the children would come to the clubhouse to play ping pong.  There were also plays and dances held at the clubhouse.  I was nervous to sing “Honey Suckle Rose” in front of all those people.  I made wreaths from Princess Pine. 

I have no idea who built the clubhouse or why it was built so far from the beach.  Maybe because there were already houses there and it was an afterthought for the children.  Maybe it was built there because nothing else could be because of the swamp.

Even though my father ran the caddy shack I wasn’t allowed a soda any time I wanted.  The soda was “Kelly Beverages” and we also sold candy.

There were no houses past the caddy house.  The lake up there was solid green because there was no motion to keep it clean. (Clarification: obviously, there were some.  Maybe she was not aware of or remembered them)

We needed a new badge every year.  My uncle, Frank B. Speer, lived across the street from the beach.  He built houses by the beach, the beach itself, and went hunting.  We would eat outside while my uncle built houses.

My uncle had a canoe and he made a row boat.  It was very heavy but we used it.

We used outhouses.  Everyone had to work to keep it clean.  My uncle had a big field where all the garbage was dumped and the outhouse emptied.  I image it’s very fertile now.  We had to pick apples as well.  An indoor bathroom was put in for my aunt and she was the only one allowed to use it.  She was ill and had heart trouble.  A bucket of water was needed to flush.  There was a well but it wasn’t used until later on.  Everyone had to work while visiting our uncle.  Once the work was done we were allowed to play.  One of my jobs was to swim in the water holes to get the golf balls out.  They weren’t as good as the new ones.  I was afraid of the snakes.  (Clarification: aunt would have been Myra Speer, wife of Frank B. Speer who died in 1934)

My husband’s great-grandfather built axe handles for the railroad.  He died at the age of 104.

People have asked me about a forge in the lake or in Byram but the only forge I know of is in Stanhope. 

Most families arrived around Memorial Day and left after Labor Day.  Some men would stay to hunt.  There were all types of families, some were well off and others weren’t.  The car was used once to drive up then put away in the garage.  If you wanted to get somewhere, you had to walk.  Most people were gone by the 1st of October.  No one bothered staying because they weren’t prepared for snow.  Kids had to go back to school.  There weren’t enough kids for school.  But there was a high school in Newton and one in Netcong.  There was a middle school in Stanhope.  Budd Lake kids went to Netcong High School. 

The bridge going over Lubber’s Run was made of wood.  People would put out eel pots.  I thought that was gross.  There was a house across from the dam where a mother and son lived.  The son was never allowed outside. 

Most families left before winter.  We went around to the empty houses exploring but we never went in the houses.  There was no heat except the fireplace.  My uncle had water from the sink as long as someone pumped it.  He was a contractor and stayed to build houses.

There was no house on the island at that time.  The Hutchinson’s from Nutley built one and a bridge.  We never went there because of the snakes.

Most families were from Nutley, Bloomfield and Montclair.  Dr. Goler’s family was from New York. 

There was a brother and sister who played tennis, and they were very good.  The tennis court was on the 6th hole.

Dr. Miles owned a house by the railroad tracks.

Artie Charles lived there all his life and he had horses but we didn’t go up that way too much.  Most of the lake there was all swamp.  His house was before the tunnel.  There was also a firehouse up that way but no one went by it.   (Clarification: Charles family moved there 1931)

Jack’s shack sold candy, rented out boats and people would go fishing.

Big Mountain was an Indian family who lived by the 7th fairway.  The kids ran up to school in Sparta.  The father was a good golfer. 

There was a lady from Bloomfield in a wheelchair and we would go visit her.

Mr. Hengeveld was a lawyer and lived on the course by the 6th fairway. (Clarification: Hengeveld lived at 55 Lake Dr. and bought in 1950. Henry was a plumber, not a lawyer)

I remember the Deiter’s

My cousin Kenny Glover lived on the 2nd hole   (Clarification: Ken Glover lived at 4 Reis Ave. and owned a sweet shop in Stanhope)

The Laws lived on Main Street.  Johnny Law was a student and he wore glasses.  He loved to read.  He was best friends with my cousin Harvey who didn’t care much for that.  But they were best friends for years. (Clarification: Main St. is Lackawanna Dr.)

Later on we went back to Nutley then moved to Newark.  My brother joined the Navy.  Mr. Bilney, who lived off the 6th tee, got my brother a job at Western Electric (AT&T).  My brother supervised the building of microwave towers.  He finished high school after the Navy.  Mr. Bilney had all boys.  I lost touch with them.

My cousin lived next door to us in Nutley.  When she visited we went to the Red Wing, where she met her husband.  My cousin Ruth Pruden Speer lived next door to me but she died a few years ago.  She loved to play with dolls but I hated it.  I would rather play baseball or climb trees.  My sister met Johnny Seltzer and they got married. 

There was an amusement park in Cranberry Lake.  My grandfather-in-law was the train engineer and he ran the miniature train.  There’s a picture at the church that June Dobson donated. 

There was also an amusement park at Bertrand Island in Lake Hopatcong.  We went to nickel night.  There was a merry-go-round and roller coaster.  We rode the boats that went under the roller coaster.  There was all kinds of stuff.  I was a nurse and one of my patients stood up on the roller coaster and fell off.   

The far end of the lake looks great now.  But like I said it was all swamp back then and we didn’t go there.  We sometimes walked to Wolf Lake.  We weren’t scared of anything.

I volunteer at the Growing Stage sewing costumes; it used to be called the Palace.   My husband passed away 10 years ago.  He built this house.  My cousin built a house across the street from Wild West City.  

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