As a preservationist I am aware that I am only a temporary steward of this historic structure. I have the honor of being the 4th owner of Idylease in a line that dates back to 1903. I am a proponent that past can educate. Architecture as an example, is a direct and substantial representation of history and that places can teach us about our past. By preserving historic structures, we are able to share the very spaces and environments in which the generations before us lived. Preserving historic buildings―whether related to someone famous or recognizably dramatic―strangers are able to witness the aesthetic and cultural history of an area. Old buildings maintain a sense of permanency and heritage. There is no chance to renovate or to save a historic site once it’s gone. And we can never be certain what will be valued in the future. It is a labor of love that I spend my time to ensure that Idylease remains standing for future generations to learn from and enjoy. These past few weeks I spent my days replicating the orginal architectural detailing of the porch columns at Idylease on my wood lathe. My days are often occupied with my effort to restore the structure to its original condition when Idylease opened it door on New Year’s Day in 1903
On this Father’s Day, I received a wonderful letter this afternoon from Ann Genader. Most of you will know her for the many years as a writer who has chronicled the history of West Milford in our local papers. In her letter she told me that there will be an article appearing this Sunday in the Suburban Trends. It will discuss my father, Dr. Arthur Zampella. Ann was always kind to my father and wrote many stories about my dad over the years. She was exceptionally kind to him. In her note she said, “Your dad was a wonderful, kind man with a brilliant mind”. I know my dad respected her immensely and she held a special place for him in his life. She also forwarded me the original negative of the photo that appears in this post. It was taken in the main lobby of Idylease in the early 1960s. There seems to be a finite number of people who knew my dad nowadays. That number dwindles as the years go by. Thank you Ann for remembering him so fondly in your letter. My deep appreciation to you for taking your time to recall him in this Sundays article. You have always been kind to Idylease throughout the years and have always been gracious to me.
West Milford was not the most hospitable place for African Americans in this Community in the 1950s. Jake McNeir would tell stories of befriending Carl Grays in the early 50s and how he was given a hard time and found himself defending Carl against racist remarks.
Carl was the Maintenance Supervision of a high rise on Park Avenue when my father met him in 1949. When my dad purchased Idylease in 1954, he asked Carl to come with him. Their friendship spanned over 20 years. When Carl died in 1975, my father oversaw his funeral and burial arrangements. As a nine year old, I had never seen my father shed a tear until that quiet December morning at the Newfoundland Methodist Cemetery.
Carl Grays was born on April 16, 1911 in Philadelphia. He died in on December 24, 1975 in Newfoundland, NJ. He was raised in Harris County, a suburb of Huston, Texas. He had a sister named Lillian Richardson who resided at 1408 Yates Street in Huston. Carl enlisted in the United States Army during WWll in Milwaukee Wisconsin on August 15, 1940. He was honorably discharged in 1945 with the rank of Sergeant. Carl spent the latter part of his life as the maintenance supervisor of Idylease Nursing Home in Newfoundland, NJ. He passed away in his cottage at Idylease on Christmas Eve in 1975.
I spent this morning at the cemetery cleaning Carl’s headstone. He will always be remembered by me for his soft spoken quiet demeanor and ever present smile. Gone but not forgotten.