Visit to Collingswood, Michael's hometown

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BarbT
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Visit to Collingswood, Michael's hometown

Post by BarbT » Sat Sep 29, 2012 5:51 am

Recently, my husband & I visited Michael's hometown, Collingswood New Jersey.

His childhood home is located at 632 South Newton Lake Dr. It is a corner lot with a narrow lane at the back.

Across the street there is a small park, with a jogging path, along the shore of Newton Lake.


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In the photo below, the left hand window on the second floor was Eugene's bedroom.

His window, on the side of the house, faced Chelsea St.

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The following photo was taken by Boomer member bonanza1 when she attended Michael's induction into the Collingswood High School Athletic Hall of Fame in 1997 with other fans and the Landon family.
The owners of the home graciously allowed bonanza1 and the fans to tour the home.
Thankyou, bonanza1, for permission to post your picture of Eugene's bedroom.


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Eugene would go fishing with his father off a small dock with two wooden benches across the street from his home.
I checked to see if EO was carved into the wood. Not that I could determine.

"One of the great joys of my life was going fishing. I'd get up when it was still dark, take a little sandwich and an apple, and leave before anyone else was up."
[From Michael Landon: His Triumph & Tragedy by Aileen Joyce p. 23]

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At a pre-planned time, we met Abbe Effron, a long time fan of Michael's, who lives near Collingswood, at Knight Park, directly across the street from Collingswood High School.

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All of Michael's fans are most grateful to Abbe for her diligent effort at ensuring that the plaque in his honor was re-installed in the park after it was dumped in the trash last Fall.
[See p. 10 of this forum re: the furor this created after the local newspaper reported this.]


In the following photo, Abbe is on the left and me on the right, standing beside Michael's plaque that was re-installed in front of the Little Treehouse that Cindy donated to the park in 1997. Cindy & other fans donated the plaque.

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Abbe composed the tribute to Michael engraved on the plaque.

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However, there are 2 chunks of concrete missing from edge of the base of the plaque. It needs parged.
Abbe has corresponded with the mayor of Collingswood to ensure that the base is repaired but feels there is little concern about the damage to the base.


When I returned home, I sent an emessage to Mayor Maley about the damage to the base, and attached the following photo. Surprisingly, he replied, about two weeks later.

"The imperfection in the base is so minimal we believed the fix would look worse. The new location and position is so very much better."


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Abbe took us for a tour of Collingswood...to Eugene sites.
My husband sat in the back seat, such a patient man.

I am most grateful to Abbe for her wealth of knowledge about Eugene.

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The next photo is the famous bench, now metal instead of wood.

But before he could graduate high school, there was the not-so-little matter of school detention slips. Having spent most of his two years as a sophomore ditching school and raising hell, Eugene had amassed an amazing number of detention hours for various infractions of school rules. In fact, it is rumored in Collingswood that, to this day, Eugene Orowitz holds the record number of 45 minute detentions in the history of Collingswood High.
Whatever the cause behind Eugene's graduation, the fact was that before he could receive his high school diploma, he was forced by the school principle, Mr. Orlinger, to make up somewhere between 200 and 300 hours of detention slips.


"There was a wooden bench outside the school," recalled a former classmate, "and Orlinger made Eugene sit on that bench until the middle of July, making up his detention time, even though school officially ended in early June. It was something that everybody talked about then; and, of course, after Eugene became Michael Landon, they continued to talk about it."[Joyce, p. 34][/size]

[See Interview With Michael Landon's High School Teacher p. 10 of this forum for more "Eugene antics".]

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Across the street from the bench is where it all started. The track & field grounds.

Then something incredible happened that changed his life forever and his self-image completely and forever. It was near the end of the school year, in late spring, when Eugene's gym teacher Maurey Dickinson took the class out on the practice field and had everyone take a turn at throwing the javelin.
In only a moment, Eugene had found something that he could do better than other people. It was, he later explained, "something I could grab onto. And I grabbed."

[Joyce, p. 30]


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In 1997, when the Landon family attend Michael's induction into the high school's Athletic Hall of Fame, a childhood friend, Al Harris, took Sean aside and said "This is the exact spot where your Dad threw the javelin."

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Abbe took us downtown Collingswood.
The main street is lined with cozy restaurants, including the former The Triangle where Eugene hung out with his friends. Michael referred to The Triangle in the press many times. It is now completely renovated. Abbe and the Landon family had lunch there in 1997.


On to the movie theatre, the Westmont, where Eugene worked as an usher.

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Next, was his public school, located on the main street of Collingswood. This building is currently Collingswood Borough Hall.

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The last stop was a touching tribute to Michael by Joan McKenna who headed up WAR, Women against Rape.

Joan planted a tree and a plaque at a lovely quiet site in Cooper River Park after Michael died in 1991.

Michael would do public service announcements for Joan's group.


Michael was always on tap to do public service announcements for causes that he believed in. One of the organizations that he assisted was Women Against Rape, a small group in Collingswood, NJ, his home town. One afternoon when "Highway" wrapped early on the sound stage, he filmed a 30 second promotional spot for them. Editor Marvin Coil pulled it from the dailies the following day, and the piece of film was sent to the group's leader, Joan McKenna.
Later, when Michael made a promotional trip for the syndication of "Highway" he stopped in Collingswood to receive an honor from the group he had helped foster. Joan remembers that when he arrived, "He was tired, He'd been doing promotional visits across the country, but he showed up in the pouring rain and was as bright as sunshine".
After Michael visited the group's headquarters and received an award from civic leaders, Joan recalls that "he sat in a corner the rest of the evening talking with a man who had been a janitor at his high school thirty years earlier."

[From Michael Landon: Life Love & Laughter A Tribute to a Beloved Actor By The People Who Knew Him Best by Harry & Pamela Flynn, p. 50-52]


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This is the tree Joan planted in Cooper River Park Sept. 17, 1991

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On behalf of all of Michael's fans, I wish to publicly thank Joan for this tribute to Michael.

Abbe told us the story about how she made a path through the snow for Cindy and the children to see this tree & plaque. Being from California they had no boots.


Thankyou, again, Abbe for the tour of Collingswood, for sharing your information about Michael's life, and your tireless efforts to keep Michael's memory alive in his hometown.

:flowerbig
Last edited by BarbT on Sat Oct 08, 2016 2:45 pm, edited 36 times in total.
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