07641. That is the ZIP code. When my dad bought the lot in 1952 there was no Zone Improvement Program. He knew he wanted to get out of Rockville Center, Long Island and find someplace where everyone (or almost everyone) was WASP. For a long time I thought everyone grew up in a great place like this. Then I found out that is not the case.
Haworth was a nest, a “bedroom community”, that was close enough for the men to go off to New York City every morning and earn lots of money so that the wives and children could enjoy a carefree existence in a picturesque and peaceful town with lots of fun things to do. Everything was “free” (unless you count the large taxes) for us to enjoy. Tennis? Just ride your bike down to the tennis courts (well maintained red clay back then) and enjoy a match with your friends. Swimming? There was a large “swim club” where you could hang out to your hearts content. Schools were fantastic. I was getting college level science in the 8th grade. Everyone was college bound and from an early age, the idea of not going to college was unthinkable. If you had an interest in something, there was always someone in the town who was an expert. Interested in exotic animals? Just hop over and visit the home of James Gordon Irving the illustrator best known for a series of books written by Herbert Zim. When I was getting in to building radio kits and having problems we just dropped in on Mr. Osborn who worked with Edwin Armstrong on the invention of FM radio. He was happy to help out. When I got interested in photography, our next door neighbor, Mr. Studly gave me a job in his New York City studio. It was a very protected and nurturing environment to grow in. There was lots of time to study, think and dream big dreams. All the men were leaders in their professions or in large businesses. Then there was Macon (Chip) Cowles who lived across the street. His parents were involved in the United Church of Christ. They had frequent visitors from all over the world in their efforts to make the world a better place. Macon is now is involved in environmental law and serves the people as city council member in Boulder, Colorado. The Cowles family showed us that achievement could also involve making the world a better place for everyone… not just about making money.
Shortly after moving to Haworth, the railroad service that went from the center of town straight to the ferry to mid-town Manhattan was discontinued unexpectedly. This meant that from that point forward, my dad had to take the bus into NYC… a gruling hour long start and stop ride… for the next 10 years. A far cry from the comfortable train ride.
The house was built by my father’s relatives who came from Norway with hammers in hand. No drywall. It was all plaster with metal lath from floor to ceiling and all the floors were oak. The ranch style house had a basement that was clear space… no supports. This was done with steel I-beams that were very rare in a house in those days.
Mostly, I remember Haworth as an incubator. A place to properly prepare to be a leader in whatever field you might want to choose. Only now that I’m reaching 65 years old do I realize the value of having such a great place in which to grow up.