August 21, 2019

SPARTAN EFFORT: Val Radvany controls the ball in game last fall during her senior season for the Princeton Day School field hockey team. Star defender/midfielder Radvany is currently in preseason training for Michigan State’s D-I field hockey program as she prepares to make her college debut with the Spartans.Michigan State set to scrimmage Michigan on August 24 and then start open regular season action by playing St. Francis on August, 31 in Kent, Ohio. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Even though it was bumpy ride for Val Radvany during her freshman season with the Princeton Day School field hockey team in 2015, she had faith that the program would get on the winning track.

“My class, Gwen [Allen], Sasha [Sindhwani], and me was always so close,” said Radvany, looking back on a debut campaign that saw the Panthers post a 6-13-1 record.

“From where we started our freshman year and the year before, the program wasn’t doing so well. So when we got there, we were really able to build it.” more

August 14, 2019

The summer season is in full swing at the Trenton Farmers Market on Spruce Street in Lawrence Township. Now under new management, it is New Jersey’s oldest continually running farmers market. Shoppers identify their favorite New Jersey produce in this week’s Town Talk on page 6. (Photos by Erica M. Cardenas)

By Anne Levin

A letter sent to the Rider University community by University President Gregory Dell’Omo on August 7 urged members of the faculty, staff, and students to join “working groups” to assist in “the historic move of Westminster Choir College to Lawrenceville.”

But several members of the faculty have declined the invitation, saying the move from Westminster’s Princeton campus to Rider, projected to be completed in time for the fall 2020 semester, would mean the end of the prestigious music school, which has been located since 1932 on Walnut Lane. Westminster also encompasses the Westminster Conservatory of Music, a community music school.

Two days after the letter went out, Bruce Afran, attorney for the Westminster Foundation, filed an amended complaint with the Superior Court of New Jersey’s Chancery Division. The amended document adds 13 tenured faculty members to a complaint which seeks to prevent the move. more

MARKING HISTORY: This Heritage Tour plaque at the Witherspoon Street Presbyterian Church was one of four dedicated on Saturday at historic black churches in the Witherspoon-Jackson Historic District of Princeton. (Photo by Wendy Greenberg)

By Wendy Greenberg

A week of activities sponsored by the Joint Effort Princeton Witherspoon-Jackson Safe Streets Program was more than a Witherspoon-Jackson (W-J) neighborhood celebration. “If we lift up Witherspoon-Jackson, we lift up Princeton,” said John Bailey, program coordinator. “If we lift up the community, we make it a better place to live, work, play, and to do business.”

Bailey, who stressed that this was a community effort, noted that what started more than 10 years ago with a picnic and small program has evolved to include educational, arts, and historical events including, last Saturday, the dedication of Heritage Tour plaques at four historic black churches in the W-J Historic District. more

MUSIC FOR A CAUSE: Einstein Alley Musicians Collaborative board of directors members (from left) Paul Bejgrowicz, Helen O’Shea, Robert Freeman, Garry Pearsall, and Drew Turock, perform at last year’s Music for Moore concert, which raises money for the Elks-run Camp Moore in Haskell, a camp for youths with special needs. This year’s concert is October 19 at 5 p.m. at the Elks Lodge in Blawenburg. 

By Wendy Greenberg

The musicians at the Woodstock 50th Anniversary Tribute Concert this Saturday have played for countless Princeton area residents who enjoy the locally-produced music at events like Saturday’s upcoming show at the Community Park North Amphitheater.

But what many don’t know is that members of the Einstein Alley Musicians Collaborative (EAMC) volunteer their time all year, supporting organizations like the Elks-run Camp Moore for youths with special needs, and at nursing homes, rehabilitation centers, the Menlo Park Veterans Memorial Home, and libraries, where music is always welcome.  more

DEADLY DELUGE: During the flood of 1955, cars were stranded where they pulled up on the approach to the Yardley-Wilburtha Bridge across the Delaware River to escape the water invading the Ewing Township, New Jersey side. Before the day was out, the bridge was half gone. (Photo courtesy of the Trentonia Collection)

By Anne Levin

A trio of storms that sent flood waters rushing over the banks of the Delaware River in 2004, 2005, and 2006 caused significant property damage in communities along both sides of the water. But they were nothing compared to the flood of 1955, which destroyed bridges, wiped out homes and summer camps, and killed nearly 100 people.

“It’s definitely the record holder, which is hard to believe because 2006 is the big one for most people alive now,” said Mary Shafer, a Bucks County, Pa., resident and the author of Devastation on the Delaware: Stories and Images of the Deadly Flood of 1955. Shafer will speak about the 1955 flood on Sunday, August 18 at 10 a.m. at the Hunterdon Land Trust Farmers Market in Flemington. The talk is part of the Historic Delaware River Series sponsored by the National Park Service’s Lower Delaware Wild and Scenic program, which aims to protect the natural, cultural, and historic value of the Delaware River. more

I SCREAM, YOU SCREAM: Marco Cucchi, owner of the Thomas Sweet ice cream stores, has been involved with the business since his Princeton High School days. (Photo by Matt Altaro)

By Anne Levin

At the newest Thomas Sweet location on Princeton Hightstown Road, homemade ice cream is still the star. But it shares billing with soups, sandwiches, fresh baked goods, and other items that may not be familiar to patrons of the ice cream parlor that opened at 183 Nassau Street four decades ago.

“We have multiple products,” said Marco Cucchi, who bought the business from its original owners in 2005. “We added some items when we opened a cafe in Skillman a few years ago, but I wanted to take it even further with this one.”

The new Thomas Sweet in Windsor Plaza, which opened in June, is just in time for the company’s 40th anniversary year. Founded in 1979 by two Toms — Tom Grimm and Tom Block — the original store quickly gained a following for its homemade ice creams and blend-ins, a novelty at the time. Cucchi, a Princeton native, scooped ice cream at the store all through Princeton High School, from which he graduated in 1986.  more

               Steven Gubser (Princeton University, Office of Communications, Denise Applewhite)

By Wendy Greenberg

The Princeton University and greater Princeton communities are mourning the death of Steven Scott Gubser, and remembering the beloved professor of physics and highly accomplished scholar of string theory and black holes.

Gubser, 47, died as a result of a rock-climbing accident on Saturday, August 3, in Chamonix, France, where he was on vacation with his family.

Not only was Gubser an academic whose research was impactful and influential, but he shared his passion for science with everyone, and was an innovative teacher who impressed students with his wit and depth of knowledge, according to posts by students on the University website.

Besides being a prolific scientist, Gubser used his talents to communicate science to the general public. Among Gubser’s books are The Little Book of String Theory, published in 2010, and The Little Book of Black Holes, published in 2017 in collaboration with Professor Frans Pretorius. Both books were published by Princeton University Press, and they have successfully communicated abstract theoretical ideas to general audiences, particularly in a poignant letter to Albert Einstein at the end of The Little Book of Black Holes. more

YingHua School Hosts STARTALK Program

The YingHua International School (YHIS) in Kingston recently hosted the 2019 YingHua STARTALK Teacher and Student Program, sponsored by the National Security Language Initiative, a federal program seeking to expand the teaching of strategically important languages.

YingHua was selected by STARTALK to share their strength in Chinese academics and methodology. Languages taught under the STARTALK Program include Arabic, Chinese, Dari, Hindi, Persian, Portuguese, Russian, Swahili, Turkish, and Urdu.

YHIS Director of Administration Michelle Tan and Director of Academics Wen-Lin Su created the program to address various experiences and levels of students, with the program beginning online June 17 for one week and then in person for the following three weeks.

The 48 participating students from third to ninth grade joined the program from various public and private schools throughout the New York-New Jersey metropolitan area. more

By Stuart Mitchner

You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you just might find, you get what you need.
—The Rolling Stones

After last week’s news of Toni Morrison’s death, I put aside plans for a column on Woodstock and went to the Princeton Public Library looking for one of her novels, preferably Beloved, which I’d never read. My better-late-than-never mission was delusional because there was no way I could do right by a novel of that magnitude in a matter of days, and in any case, the shelves had been cleared of her fiction, no surprise given the PU Professor Emerita’s literary stature and the town’s pride in a former resident. Aside from audio books, the only work of hers available was The Origin of Others (Harvard Univ. Press 2017), which draws on the six Norton Lectures the Nobel laureate delivered at Harvard in spring 2016. That this little book was still there reinforces my semi-superstitious belief that I can always count on the library to give me what I need even when it’s not what I think I want.

What I needed, among other things, was a way to make sense of my inability to literally get into Morrison’s best-known and most acclaimed novel. My problem was that the opening of Beloved seemed to be a contradiction in terms. The first paragraph simply didn’t open for me. I couldn’t get in the door. I know I should have made more of an effort, but all I saw was an enigmatic number: “124 was spiteful. Full of a baby’s venom.” What follows — about a grandmother named Baby Suggs suspended “between the nastiness of life and the meanness of the dead, who couldn’t get interested in leaving life or living it” — left me in the dark. If I’d read farther, I’d have learned that 124 was the street number for what was, in effect, a haunted house. But I didn’t read farther.

I was reminded of my experience with the opening of William Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury when I first ran headlong into it as a college sophomore: “Through the fence, between the curling flower spaces, I could see them hitting. They were coming toward where the flag was and I went along the fence. Luster was hunting in the grass by the flower tree.” What flag? Who was hitting what? Who was Luster? Of course once I learned that I was seeing with the eyes of a deaf mute at a golf course, I was at least through the door and into a world so many-leveled and many-voiced that for the first time in my life I started rereading a novel the same day I finished it.  more

“TOPDOG/UNDERDOG”: Performances are underway for Princeton Summer Theater’s production of “Topdog/Underdog.” Directed by Lori Elizabeth Parquet, the play runs through August 18 at Princeton University’s Hamilton Murray Theater. Brothers Lincoln (Nathaniel J. Ryan, left) and Booth (Travis Raeburn, right) stare each other down during a game of three-card monte. (Photo by Kirsten Traudt)

By Donald H. Sanborn III

Princeton Summer Theater is concluding its 2019 season with a gripping production of Topdog/Underdog. This edgy, character-driven drama, which depicts the relationship between two African American brothers, is an apt fit for a season whose mission has been to “explore love in all its forms.”

Topdog/Underdog played on Broadway in 2002. It earned playwright Suzan-Lori Parks the Pulitzer Prize, as well as the Outer Critics Circle Award.

Lincoln is a former three-card monte hustler who now earns money at a carnival arcade by impersonating the famous president for whom he is named. This entails wearing whiteface and pretending to be shot.

Booth — the younger brother — has not given up three-card monte, and aspires to emulate his brother’s former success at the game. In his apartment he ceaselessly practices dealing cards, and luring potential victims with smooth chatter, although we will discover that in the past there was a crucial moment in which his skill drastically fell short of his ambition. He persists in attempting to persuade Lincoln to abandon his current occupation and join him. more

With two stages, six bands, Music Fest Princeton returns to Palmer Square on Sunday, September 15. The festival pays homage to famed musical acts from the Garden State.

The show’s headliner, The B Street Band, pays tribute to Asbury Park’s Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band. Also scheduled is a tribute to the songs of Hoboken native Frank Sinatra by Swingadelic, a jazz swing band from New York City.

The family-friendly festival will have two stages, food and beverage vendors, retail offerings, and activity tables from around Palmer Square. more

The West Windsor Arts Council’s Out of This World Performance Troupe, composed of local teenagers, performs “Music Through the Decades,” a revue of favorite show tunes, on Saturday, August 24, at the Nassau Park Pavilion [between Target and Panera], Route 1 South. The performance is from 7 to 8 p.m.

“The goal of the program is to strengthen our young performers’ Broadway repertoire and guide them through staging and choreography. We are looking forward to putting on a great show that gives everyone a chance to shine,” said director Ellen Renee. Under her tutelage, many of Renee’s students have gone on to professional careers on stage, in print, and on television. 

The production will feature professional sound and lights as well as a special guest appearance by Kyle Alexxander, who has been performing since a young age under Renee’s training and coaching. Alexxander’s credits include Walt Disney World, supporting the ensemble of Broadway’s Mary Poppins Main Street USA televised Christmas Day Parade Broadway, and singing pop punk tunes on the main stage of the Seaside Heights Music Festival.

Admission is free. For more information, call (609) 716-1931 or visit

“CHAPLIN’S MEADOWS” This watercolor by Harry Leith-Ross (1886-1973) is featured in “Harry Leith-Ross: Scenes from Country Life,” on view at the Michener Art Museum in Doylestown, Pa., through February 2020. The works in the exhibit depict locations in Holland, Scotland, Nova Scotia, New Hope, and Doylestown, among others.

The Michener Art Museum in Doylestown, Pa., presents “Harry Leith-Ross: Scenes from Country Life,” on view in the Pfundt Gallery through February 2020.

Featuring drawings and watercolors primarily from the Museum’s permanent collection, the exhibition illuminates the artistic process and skilled draftsmanship of the painter Harry Leith-Ross (1886-1973). Born in the former British colony of Mauritius, Leith-Ross grew up in Scotland and England before moving to the United States in 1903. After working as a commercial artist and studying painting in Paris, he enrolled in the Art Students League’s summer school at Woodstock, N.Y., in 1913 and began exhibiting in New York and Philadelphia. more

“BY THE SEA”: This photo by Heidi Sussman is featured “New Jersey Photography Forum — A 25-Year Retrospective,” on view September 15 to November 10 in the Trenton City Museum at Ellarslie Mansion in Cadwalader Park. The exhibit will feature nearly 100 works ranging from film and digital imagery to alternative processes such as cyanotype, glass fusion, and hand coloring.

The Trenton Museum Society will present “New Jersey Photography Forum — A 25-Year Retrospective” from September 15 to November 10 in the Trenton City Museum at Ellarslie Mansion. The museum is located in Cadwalader Park at 299 Parkside Avenue, Trenton. Admission is free, with donations welcome.

The exhibit’s nearly 100 works range from film and digital imagery to alternative processes such as cyanotype, glass fusion, and hand coloring, and will represent the 25 years since the New Jersey Photography Forum’s (NJPF’s) 1994 founding.  more

CAN DO: Josh Teves, left, helps goalie Austin Shaw hold the fort in a game last winter for the Princeton University men’s hockey team. Star defenseman and team captain Teves ended up signing with the Vancouver Canucks after wrapping up his Princeton career. Teves made his NHL debut on March 26 in a 5-4 loss to the Anaheim Ducks. Next month, Teves heads to training camp where he will look to earn a spot on the Canucks roster. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Justin Feil

Josh Teves would have been fine with delaying the start of his professional ice hockey career, but now he’s grateful for the experience gained at the end of last winter.

Three days after the defending ECAC Hockey champion Princeton University men’s ice hockey team lost 6-5 in triple overtime to Brown on March 9 to fall in an ECACH first round series, star defenseman Teves signed with the Vancouver Canucks. On March 26, he made his NHL debut for the Canucks in a 5-4 loss to the Anaheim Ducks.

“It was a crazy experience,” said Teves, a 6’0, 180-pound native of Calgary, Alberta, reflecting on his first taste of NHL action. more

ON THE BALL: Devon Lis dribbles the ball up the field last fall in her debut season for the Georgetown University women’s soccer team. Former Princeton High star Lis helped Georgetown go 21-1-3 in 2018 on the way to the NCAA semifinals. Midfielder Lis is currently going through preseason training for the Hoyas, who are slated to open their 2019 season by playing at James Madison University on August 22. (Photo provided courtesy of Georgetown University Athletics Communications)

By Bill Alden

When Devon Lis started preseason training last summer in her freshman season with the Georgetown University women’s soccer team, she sensed that the squad could do some special things.

“What has always been clear to me is that we were really dedicated and willing to work very hard,” said former Princeton High standout Lis. “Every practice we gave it our all, there was no slacking off.”

There was no slacking off for Lis as she adjusted to the rigors and quicker pace of the college game. more

BACK IN THE FLOW: Stephen Baytin of the Nassau Swim Club Lemmings shows his backstroke form in a 2017 meet. Last month, Baytin starred at the Princeton-Area Swimming and Diving Association (PASDA) championship meet, earning MVP honors for the Division 2 8-and-under boys. Baytin’s heroics helped the Lemmings place third in the Division 2 team standings at the meet. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Although the Nassau Swim Club Lemmings posted a pedestrian 2-2-1 record in Princeton-Area Swimming and Diving Association (PASDA) dual meet competition this summer, Will Kinney was confident that the team would step up at the season-ending league championship meet.

“We saw the quality of our individual swims in our dual meets,” said Lemmings head coach Will Kinney. “We felt pretty good going into champs.”

Nassau displayed its quality at the PASDA championship meet held at the West Windsor Waterworks. Taking third in the Division 2 standings, four of the team’s boy swimmers earned MVP honors. The Lemmings scored 1,394 points in the two-day meet with the Ben Franklin Swim Team piling up 2,339 points to win the Division 2 title. more

August 7, 2019

The 101st Annual Mercer Country 4-H Fair, held last weekend at Howell Living History Farm in Hopewell Township, featured hayrides, animal shows, pony rides, music, magic shows, exhibits, homemade ice cream, and farm tours. Fairgoers share their favorite part of the event in this week’s Town Talk.
(Photo by Charles R. Plohn)

By Anne Levin

Toni Morrison, a world-renowned writer and Nobel laureate with strong ties to Princeton, died the evening of Monday, August 5 at New York City’s Montefiore Medical Center.

Morrison was the Robert F. Goheen Professor in the Humanities, Emeritus, at Princeton University. According to an article on the University’s website, she joined the faculty in 1989 and was a member of the creative writing program until transferring to emeritus status in 2006.

The website published a statement from Morrison’s family.

“It is with profound sadness we share that, following a short illness, our adored mother and grandmother, Toni Morrison, passed away peacefully last night surrounded by family and friends,” the statement said. “She was an extremely devoted mother, grandmother, and aunt who reveled in being with her family and friends. The consummate writer who treasured the written word, whether her own, her students, or others, she read voraciously and was most at home when writing. Although her passing represents a tremendous loss, we are grateful she had a long, well-lived life.” more

By Anne Levin

Princeton Council approved a resolution at its Monday meeting to accept the donation of a biodigester from MetLife Stadium, in order to reactivate the town’s curbside organics program, which halted early this year.

While the biodigester is being given to the town, it will cost some $20,000 to move it and repair rust and dents. During the public comment portion of the meeting, several residents spoke in favor of the purchase, while others said more information is needed before a decision is made. But MetLife made it clear that a decision was needed right away if the donation was to take place, said Municipal Administrator Marc Dashield.

The vote, following statements from Council members as well as the public, was 4-1 in favor. Councilwoman Eve Niedergang, who acknowledged she was “raining on everyone’s parade,” cast the negative vote. more

SPEAKING FOR PEACE: Robert Goldston, a professor of astrophysical sciences at Princeton University, and artist and architect Mira Nakashima both spoke at Monday evening’s rally at Hinds Plaza to commemorate the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. (Photo by Wendy Greenberg)

By Wendy Greenberg

Monday evening’s commemoration of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki took on a broad, timely message as speakers addressed immigrant detention at the U.S. southern border; recent U.S. shootings in Dayton, Ohio, and El Paso, Texas; and nuclear crises between the U.S. and Iran and North Korea.

The event on Hinds Plaza, sponsored by the Coalition for Peace Action (CFPA), began with the peaceful strains of the shakuhachi, a Japanese flute played by Glenn Swann, and ended in candlelight. A minute of silence was observed at 7:15 p.m., which corresponded to 8:15 a.m. on August 6, 1945, when the bomb was dropped on Hiroshima (the Nagasaki bomb was dropped August 9).

“Unfortunately, there is no guarantee this will never happen again,” said CFPA Assistant Director Niki VanAller. The grassroots group calls for abolishing nuclear weapons, encouraging a peace economy, and halting weapons trafficking through changing public policy and education.  more

“FIVE FRIENDS HANGING OUT”: This photo by Princeton resident Ilene Levine is featured in “Woodstock 50: A Look Back,” on view at Princeton Public Library through September 1. The exhibit highlights Levine’s photos and memories from the historic 1969 concert.

By Wendy Greenberg

There are those too young to remember a summer music festival called Woodstock, and there are those who saw the crowds on the news or have a story about a friend going. And there are those like Princeton’s Ilene Levine, who not only was there, but took photographs to document the generation-defining concert held in Bethel, N.Y., August 15 to 18, 1969.

Levine’s photographs and recollections are shared in the Princeton Public Library’s “Woodstock 50: A Look Back,” and bring to life her experience navigating crowds in the sun and the soaking rain while listening to the likes of Joan Baez; Arlo Guthrie; Santana; Crosby, Still, Nash, and Young; Janis Joplin; and others.

The intimate exhibit, which runs through September 1, is part of a commemoration that includes the showing of the film Woodstock on the 50th anniversary of its opening day, August 15, at 6 p.m. in the Community Room of the library. The three-hour film is presented in partnership with the Princeton Garden Theatre and Princeton Record Exchange. more

By Wendy Greenberg

Princeton residents who have found that the Cargot Brasserie on University Place has closed can look toward September, when, pending an official sale scheduled this week, a new restaurant will open in its location run by The Harvest Group, a longtime New Jersey family-owned and run restaurant company.

As reported by Town Topics in April, Jim Nawn, owner of Fenwick Hospitality Group, announced that he was selling the Princeton eateries Agricola, The Dinky Bar & Kitchen, and Cargot Brasserie, plus Fenwick Catering and Events, to The Harvest Restaurant Group, which is based in Morris Plains. Harvest owns 11 different restaurants, including three Roots Steakhouse restaurants. Harvest has been serving customers for almost 20 years.

Plans are for the Cargot space to reopen in September as Roots Ocean Prime, a more “fish-focused” version of the Roots Steakhouse restaurants that have operated in Ridgewood, Summit, and Morristown for some time. more

By Anne Levin

A Princeton physician who was struck at 10:30 a.m. on July 30 by a pickup truck while crossing Washington Road at Prospect Avenue has died as a result of his injuries. Dr. Michael Reiss passed away due to brain trauma, according to information from the McCafferty Funeral Home. He was 68.

A report issued by the Princeton Police Department on Monday, August 5 said the Ford F350 pickup truck was operated by Antonio Pirone, 42, of Princeton. The truck was stopped facing west at the traffic light on Prospect Avenue at the intersection of Washington Road. When the light turned green, the vehicle proceeded to make a left turn onto Washington Road, going south.

At that time, Pirone failed to see Reiss walking eastbound within the southern crosswalk on Washington Road. As a result, his front bumper struck Reiss, who was approximately halfway through the crosswalk. The impact, though at a low rate of speed, knocked him to the ground, causing him to roll and strike the back of his head on the pavement. more