By Kaitlin Stansel, The Glen Echo
Nearly 2.7 square miles, Glen Rock is only a faint iota on the east coast, completely unknown to most outside of Bergen County — yet what is it about this minute town that brings hundreds back to raise their own families on their home turf?
After speaking with several Glen Rock High School alumni (and now once-again current residents of Glen Rock), The Glen Echo has discovered the qualities of our small, suburban town that incites many to move back to their childhood stomping ground.
The small town feel and the unity of our community is one of the many virtues that brings former residents back home. “Glen Rock is a close knit community and people look after each other,” said Wendy Lindley, who has been a Glen Rock resident since 1974.
“My favorite things about Glen Rock are the feeling of community and friendship,” said Mary Lange, who has lived in Glen Rock cumulatively for over 35 years.
“Everyone knows everyone and if you or your family are ever in need the entire town rallies to help,” Patricia Meaney, a Glen Rock resident for 29 years, added. “Another favorite thing is the real community spirit that our town has. It’s not like that in big towns.”
Although the small town feel that Glen Rock embodies is one of its better qualities, to some it is also the town’s Achilles’s heal.
An aphorism commonly said about Glen Rock is “If you don’t know what you’re doing, someone else does.” This both positively and negatively influences the lives of many Glen Rockers.
In response to the closeness of the town, which to some residents is sometimes overwhelming, Meghan Consoli said, “This is a double-edge sword. I take comfort knowing that friends are looking out for the well-being of my family, but it is also important for people to respect what our friends and neighbors are doing.”
Yet others looked more toward the positive aspects of this hometown feel. “I think that with the town being so small everyone knows what is going on is a good thing it helps to keep the kids on the right path and out of trouble provides a good network for the future,” said Joe Miele. “We all sorta keep an eye on each other and our families which is a big reason why people like to return to raise their families here”
However, over the decades, communication between people has changed. Social media has been especially influential in these changes.
“As a kid, I was always aware that someone was watching and that it was hard to get away with anything,” Kara Stansel, Glen Rock resident of over 18 years, said. “Parents found out everything they needed to know at the ‘banana tree’ at Kilroys. I think that Facebook, Instagram, etc. has replaced the ‘banana tree,’ but parents in GR are very much aware of what is going on and still talk to each other.”
In addition to the unique closeness that our town offers, the people of Glen Rock themselves contribute to its increasing population. “I have never found another town that offers the friendships and kindness which the people in Glen Rock have with one another,” said Consoli, a Glen Rock local.
“[Glen Rock] is a small, friendly town with amazing neighbors and people who are genuinely nice,” Denise Kellerk, resident of 22 years, concurred.
The genuine care that residents demonstrate towards one another may be the reason why enduring friendships, originating in Glen Rock, are created.
“My fondest memories of High School would be the lifelong friend I made,” said Lange. “Even though many of them don’t live around here when we get together, it feels like we have never been apart.”
Miele, a Glen Rock High School alum, who returned to the borough in 2004, said, “I made great lifelong friends that I continue to see on a regular basis.”
Many changes have occurred over the past 40 years in Glen Rock. The recent additions that have been made to our school, the expansion of downtown Glen Rock, the transformation of a former Citgo gas station to a Starbucks, field improvements, smaller class sizes, a junior high and a high school who shared the same principal and improvements to the town pool, are just a handful of material changes that have occurred.
“The differences are many,” said Lange. “I think they go along with the differences in the world. We used to play outside all day and only come home when it was dinner time. Our parents never drove us anywhere, we always rode our bikes and there were very few organized sports. Our parents rarely knew where we were and never worried about it.”
Even with all these changes, however substantial and impactful, they have been unable to change the heart of the town.
“One of the main things that is still the same is the community spirit that Glen Rock has always had. It’s still there,” said Meaney. “Also, the ‘small’ town feeling you get when you walk through town. That hasn’t changed.”
Down to the smell of Nabisco when it is about to rain, to the teachers who still teach us to this very day and express genuine care for the welfare of their students, much of Glen Rock has remained intact over the course of the past forty years.
“GRHS and town still has the small town feel that I experienced while growing-up and that is the reason I wanted to raise my family here,” Consoli said. “I love and feel very grateful and privileged to see not only my children but also the children of my friends enjoying all the same traditions that we did while growing up – such as: football games, GR Pool, John’s Boy Pizza (every Friday), trips into town, Kilroy’s, and Library.”
Many of those who have returned to Glen Rock hope future generations will continue this tradition.
“If they had the opportunity to return and raise their families, I think it would be wonderful,” said Meaney. “But, I also think by living somewhere else for a while, you come to appreciate what Glen Rock has to offer you and your family while raising your children here. It’s almost as though you have to leave here to appreciate being here!”
Jodi Stewart added, “I can only hope that my child has as much fun and makes good friends as I did growing in Glen Rock and if he is fortunate enough to return then he will be blessed.”
Glen Echo is the school newspaper of Glen Rock High School.
Student-written articles cover diverse aspects of high school life,
ranging from sports
to feature articles. Read more here.