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Saddle Brook Student Makes Township History Interactive

Saddle Brook Mayor Robert White and Thomas Van Winkle
Saddle Brook Mayor Robert White and Thomas Van Winkle Photo Credit: Courtesy: Thomas Van Winkle
A look back at Saddle Brook in 1942
A look back at Saddle Brook in 1942 Photo Credit: COURTESY: Thomas Van Winkle

SADDLE BROOK, N.J.– Who was Saddle Brook's first mayor? At which Saddle Brook church did the Pioneer Girls/Pioneer Clubs meet?

Thomas Van Winkle, 20, knows.

Van Winkle has learned a lot about the township's 300-year history -- and he makes it fun for you to find out, too.

Just go to Saddle Brook, NJ 300th Anniversary Celebration Facebook page .

It's there Van Winkle asks questions such as "Guess who I am?" as part of #TriviaTuesday.

He also posts old photos on #ThrowbackThursday and sometimes #FlashbackFriday.

Most trivia questions come from “Saddle Brook: A Portrait of Our Past (2013),” written by Jack Wasdyke.

"I’ve always been interested in township history, but the book really got me going," said Van Winkle, a 2014 Saddle Brook High School graduate.

Van Winkle first became interested in the history of the First Reformed Church of Saddle Brook while preparing for his confirmation. Because the church dates back to 1893, he learned about the township in the process.

His favorite bit of Saddle Brook trivia? Former clerk Steve Kempf, who was appointed in 1967, grew up in the house next door to him.

"Kempf was injured as a firefighter and spent seven years rehabbing his injuries," Van Winkle said. "He competed in the Paralympics and worked in emergency management positions under George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton."

Saddle Brook has had the same borders since Fair Lawn split from the then Saddle River Township in 1924, Van Winkle said.

"The book is a great resource," he added. "There’s a lot of first hand accounts from elderly residents who grew up in Saddle Brook during the early 20th century."

"Thomas is a valuable member of our 300th Anniversary Committee," Mayor Robert White said. "His enthusiasm and passion are evident in everything that he does for the residents of Saddle Brook. We appreciate his hard work, time and contributions to the township."

Van Winkle recently graduated from Bergen Community College. He plans to attend Montclair State University in the fall where he'll study Education.

While he could end up teaching history, "I'm more into local history than world history," Van Winkle said.

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