We forget today just what an impact WW1 had on the lives of its participants and their families. Perhaps a better title to this post would be “History is where you find it.” The Webmaster was sitting in a funeral mass for a friend’s mother yesterday, but the mention of her living in the “Chateau-Thierry Apartments” in Madison caught his attention. Where were these apartments, and how, specifically, did they get the name? Over the last 24 hours the Webmaster found partial answers to these questions–and two separate WW1 ties.
Technically, the friend’s mother lived in the Rexford S. Tucker Senior Apartments, 15 Chateau-Thierry Avenue, Madison, New Jersey. These are low income senior apartments operated by the Housing Authority of the Borough of Madison. However, because of the location they are simply called the Chateau-Thierry apartments.
Connection 1: The Road Names
In the Google Maps selection above, one can see that the apartment building is situated on Chateau-Thierry Avenue; with Belleau Avenue running just behind it. The Webmaster does not know how or when these roads were named. According to a spokesperson for the Housing Authority, the property had been a farm until it was subdivided in the late 1930s. The first construction, including streets, took place sometime in the 1940s. Perhaps with WW2 in full swing, the town authorities wanted to remember the previous conflict. Perhaps there is a stronger Chateau-Thierry tie involving a Madison resident.
Connection 2: Mr. Rexford S. Tucker
The apartments weren’t built until the 1980s. When built, they were named in honor of the First Chairperson of the Housing Authority, Rexford S. Tucker. He was still living at the time, but was in poor health. Born in Jamestown, NY in 1897, an online obituary states that he received a B.A. from Harvard in 1918 and then he “did five months military service in the field artillery in that year.” (The Webmaster has been able to locate his regiment /division.) Not from Madison originally, it appears that employment with AT&T and Bell Laboratories in the 1920s and 1930s brought him to the area. The obituary (See link above.) outlines that he had quite a fascinating professional and philanthropic life in Madison.
Just by coincidence, the friend’s mother ended up living in an apartment complex named after a veteran who served in WW1 and that was situated on streets named by the Borough of Madison to remember America’s effort in the war. Americans are notoriously forward-looking. How often do readers pass by buildings and streets with names linked to WW1 without even realizing it? We forget today…