As we’ve been focusing on preserving and promoting local history, out of left field comes one of my most humbling honors when the Bernards Township Committee on October 29, 2019 passed a resolution appointing me as the official historian for Bernards Township.
The official historian position has had only one person, June Kennedy, as the previous appointee. June had worked tirelessly in that capacity and I got to be very good friends with her over the years. We partnered on a number of stories. She would drive for the facts and I’d use the internet. As we did our research, June was always a fixture on her IBM Selectric typewriter while I had my laptop. She’d be at the library and I’d be combing the Bernardsville News. We made a great pair.
Origins of Mr. Local History
The term Mr. Local History happened by accident but it stuck. A high school friends partner who moved to town a few years ago would always ask questions about local history. I would always try to answer and she said “Boy you’re like Mr. Local History”.
But it was the second occurrence that sealed the deal. A few friends gathered at June Kennedy’s to celebrate her 90th birthday. It’s was a really fun afternoon. June asked me to put on one of her hats. When I did, she said, “See, now you can be Mr. Local History” to which I replied “You will ALWAYS be Mrs. Local History.” Sadly that was the last time I saw June alive.
Township Resolution and the Future
Then on October 29, 2019 it happened. Unbeknownst to me, a few friend of mine reached out to the Township Committee and as they say, the rest is history. The reason I write this is to let you know that I don’t take the appointment lightly. It’s a great honor to follow in June’s footsteps as the 2nd official historian in town. I’ll never live up to the expectations she set, but I’ll have the same tenacity that she always exhibited. I plan to leverage the Mr. Local History Project to continue in June’s footsteps. Hope I live up to the expectations.
Honoring June in December
This December, we (we do have volunteers) hope you all will stop by the Environmental Education Center (EEC) to see a Christmas Tree that we will decorate with actual ornaments from June’s personal collection. The show runs from Dec. 1 to Dec 28th at the EEC on Stirling Road in Basking Ridge.
Thanks all for listening. See you around town (or online for sure!)
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Mr. Local History aka Brooks Betz