Tom Glover, Local History Collection Historian at the Hamilton Township Public Library.
Do you ever wonder about how things used to be? Does history really repeat itself? This man doesn't wonder; he knows.
One of Hamilton's own, Tom Glover is Hamilton Township Public Library's Local History Collection Historian. Having an impressive background serving our country and as a part of the amateur radio community since the mid '70s, this man comes full circle in his talents and wisdom.
If you haven't heard his name, you're missing out!
Even if your best subject isn't history, Tom Glover is still Someone You Should Know.
Q: What do you enjoy most about being the local historian at the Hamilton Township Public Library?
A: Finding new and exciting historical information relating to our local area. Also finding names, photos and articles relating to local folks who are still with us, or who are related. Example: Posting a class photo which includes a person who is related to one or more of the students. I have received numerous emails from the younger generation who were thrilled to see their grandmother, grandfather, or some other friend or relative from years past.
Q: If there was anyone you could go back in time to meet who would it be?
A: This is a difficult question to answer. There are many whom I would like to meet. I would guess it might be Ernest Thompson Seton, whose books on wildlife set me on the road to being a reader when I was a young boy. His book, “Wild Animals I Have Known” was written in a way that carried the reader right into the everyday life of the wolverine, wolf, shrike, falcon, or numerous other wildlife, each with a personality of its own.
The restrictive nature of the above question calls for an additional comment: There are MANY people whom I would like to meet AGAIN. The Misses Ruth Margerum and Louise Baird, the school teachers who were responsible for my undying love of music, Miss Emily C. Reynolds, who I only got to know as a child, Miss Julia McLain, my 6th grade Kuser School teacher who taught me the magic to be found in literature, Margaret Gaydos, my 8th grade Kuser School teacher who exposed me and my classmates to Shakespeare, Longfellow, Tennyson, and other literary giants. How I would love to sit down with any one of them today and reminisce!
Q: If you could pick one, what would you choose to be the most interesting thing about Hamilton’s history?
A: Interesting question. I would say that it was being able to witness the evolution of Hamilton Township from a very rural farming community into an evolving megalopolis, along with the proliferation of farms that evolved into the numerous housing developments we see today.
Q: You served in the US Army Security Agency, can you tell us about that?
A: I served as a veteran of “The Cold War.” The Army Security Agency was a secret “Cloak and Dagger” organization whose mission was and is top secret. The fact that the ASA is still a viable “Cloak and Dagger” entity suggests that I maintain my age old pledge to not talk about my work, except to say that I was a Morse intercept operator. No one has given me the authority to reveal what we did. Suffice to say it was a “hush hush” organization utilizing the top ten percent of inductees into the military, and based upon the test results of the U.S. Army’s “AFQT” (Armed Forces Qualification Test).
Q: How did you decide what you wanted to be and do for a living? What necessary steps did you take to get you to the point that you are at now?
A: I so wanted to be a teacher when I graduated from Hamilton High School in 1951. However, my mom and dad couldn’t afford the $900 tuition to Trenton State Teachers’ College. I ultimately ended up giving 40 plus years to a “Mom and Pop” business who promised great things when we organized back in 1960 or so. The business was a moderate success, and my buddy and I were sure we would replace the two principles when they retired.
I was given the heady title of “Secretary” of the new company, and my buddy was the “Treasurer.” However, the principles each had two sons who were given the reins to the business. Unfortunately, the company went chapter 11 just as my buddy retired, and I was about to retire, and the inventory and assets were sold to a northern New Jersey company. Bottom line: I found myself retired at 62 with no pension, no medical insurance, and a very challenging start to retirement.
I will be eternally grateful to former Council President Jack Lacy for getting me a position in the Circulation Desk at the Hamilton Library, where I worked full time for 4 or 5 years. I subsequently approached Mayor Jack Rafferty and proposed filling in a long standing void for a local history repository at the Hamilton Township Public Library. Jack Rafferty, Mo Rossi, and Joe Belina were apparently impressed with my proposal and agreed to create today’s Local History Collection which is where I am today, and hope to be until I am no longer physically or mentally able to function.
Q: You also have a background in amateur radio. Can you tell us about your experiences with that? What interests you about radio? Your favorite thing about radio?
A: The computer age is so wonderful! I have always been a lover of “OTR;” which those of us in the hobby know of as Old Time Radio. I love to listen to the radio programs of my youth. Thanks to the digital age, I have literally hundreds of hours of old time radio programs in what is known as MP3 format. I could never begin to list all the programs I have on a separate storage disk. Example: World War II radio news programs with Edward R. Murrow, Elmer Davis, Frank Singizer, Gabriel Heatter, etc. Also “The Lux Radio Theater,” “Terry and the Pirates,” “Dragnet,” my favorite boyhood radio program, “Hop Harrigan, America’s Ace of the Airways,” and…..well I could go on forever.
As to my amateur radio career, It began back in the 1970s when I passed my “General” class FCC license. I purchased my first radio from an amateur radio friend, and talked all over the world with other “hams.” My other little two meter UHF radio was a constant companion for me as I talked with a select group of fellow hams as I commuted to and from New Brunswick during the '70s through the late '80s. The hobby has taken a back seat in my life due to the extremely high cost of amateur gear, the marked downturn in local 2 meter activity, and also to the new highly technical facets of the hobby which are beyond my technical ability to comprehend. I have great respect for those guys and gals who are into the latest hi-tech digital evolution of the hobby. I made many dear friends in the amateur fraternity, and really miss our daily mobile “Commuter Net.”
Q: How do you think radio will evolve in the near future?
A: Commercial broadcast radio has descended (or ascended, depending upon your age and point of view) into a medium for the younger generation. When one turns from 88 TO 108 on the FM dial, it becomes apparent that the music matrix is aimed at the 18 to 45 generation who love “rock” music in all its forms, or “rap” and other loud and crass “music” which is aimed at the 18-49 year old “demographic.” Gone are the Jack Pintos of the world disk jockeys who brought us truly listenable music. (Jack Pinto from WBUD was one of my favorite radio personalities.) I have found refuge in XM satellite radio where I can play music geared to my personal taste. XM and Sirius radio do not have to yield to the 18 to 45 demographics while the commercial radio stations depend on them. I personally don’t approve of the crude and sometimes foul and bawdy language I hear on some of the stations.
Q: As a frequent blogger of a variety of interesting topics, when did you begin blogging? How did you come to the decision that this was something you were going to partake in? How did you begin and what have you done since your starting point to draw in readers and followers?
A: I began blogging in November, 2005 with “Tom Glover’s Hamilton Scrapbook.” (http://www.glover320.blogspot.com/). The very large collection of persons, places, and things relating to the local area of Mercer County grew and grew, and I felt compelled to make them available to the public. My first interest is unearthing material on Hamilton Township, then Trenton, then the surrounding Mercer County area. I love to uncover obscure or little known news items from as far back as I can go.
The response to this website is about to reach 150,000 visitors; far above my wildest estimates. The very sad part of the situation is that there are pitifully few senior citizens in my age category who are interested in learning the basics of computer technology, and are thus denied an experience they would truly treasure. They would be the one segment of the population that would benefit most from the 3,000 plus posts that are on the site as of today.
Q: What do you find inspires you most (in your writing, in life)?
A: Many people ask how I can remember so many details of my early years. I have inherited my mother’s fantastic memory. I can recall the most remote details of seemingly insignificant events from as far back as my early grammar school years. When my readers write and tell me they how they enjoy or relate to my columns, or my websites, or my music presentations, it makes all hard work worthwhile.
Q: Where is your favorite place to visit in Hamilton?
A: Kuser Farm. I worked for Fred and Edna Kuser from the age of 13 right up to my marriage in 1954. My brother Bud preceded me, starting with the Kusers in 1940, and my younger brother Donnie worked there for a short while after I left. The Kuser Farm holds very special memories for me. It was in that very rural environment that I learned to love rural living. I find it a wonderful place to walk, meditate, and commune with God and nature.
Q: What is the earliest memory you have of becoming interested in automotive, radio communications, and aircraft history?
A: Every boy has a special place in his heart for the automobile. My buddy Don Slabicki and I began driving on Kuser Farm when we were 13 years old. I was the owner of a 1961 “Rambler” and also a 1940 Buick “Special” during my antique auto years.
It became a rich man’s hobby and I had to give it up. My interest in airplanes goes back to my WWII years. My oldest brother Len flew 30-plus missions over Nazi Germany as a waist gunner on a B-24 “Liberator.” That and the fact that my brother Bud taught me the fascinating hobby of building airplane models kept me interested in airplanes. I could still identify the sound of an old Douglas DC3 (or the military version C47) if it were to pass overhead today. The same goes for a P51 Mustang, and the whistle of a P39 Bell Airacobra.
Q: Based on your experience, how do you think Hamilton has evolved as a town over time? Where do you think it will go from here?
A: At the risk of sounding jaded, I miss the small town, rural character that was once Hamilton Township. I’m sure that sentiment is due to my advancing age, and equally sure that there are numerous others of my generation who share that sentiment.
My generation grew up in an era that was less complicated. We spent much more time in the great outdoors, before all the modern digital appliances, video and video games, and other leisure distractions became a part of everyday living. I miss that big open front porch on my Hartley Avenue home, where we played cards and games, talked about our girlfriends, and had the chance to commune with our neighbors on their front porches.
As to the question of where Hamilton will go from here, I envision a growing and burgeoning community with ever increasing traffic problems. I remember Route 33 when it was bounded by farms, Kuser Road when it was a two lane road with foliage that slapped your windshield if you made way for an oncoming vehicle, Route 25 (today’s Route 130) when it was also a country highway. We have changed from a very charming rural farming community to a highly populated and growing metropolis in the short span of 50 years, but I love Hamilton and will spend the rest of my days here.