A real gas

No “short­age” of ski­ing at Camp­gaw Moun­tain Reser­va­tion


It was the win­ter of 1974. Richie Cun­ning­ham and The Fonz and the rest of the Happy Days crew took us back to the ’50s on TV. Mel Brooks had us laugh­ing around the campfire with his box-of­fice smash Blaz­ing Sad­dles. “The Way We Were” topped the mu­sic charts, and New Jer­sey’s own Kool and the Gang had a hit with “Jun­gle Boo­gie.”

This was also a time when the coun­try was ex­pe­ri­enc­ing a se­ri­ous gas short­age where Amer­i­cans of­ten won­dered if each time they filled up, it might be their last tank of gas. Gas was ra­tioned in Ber­gen, and res­i­dents were di­vided in half by the num­bers on their li­cense plates. Odd and even sched­ules were set up based on the last digit of the plate. Odd num­bered plate, odd day of the month at the pump and so on.

I re­call my mother get­ting up well be­fore dawn to get in line at the Esso sta­tion that was at the corner of Para­mus Road and Ridge­wood Av­enue. She would wait for hours in the cold, hop­ing that the gas would not run out be­fore it was her turn. The en­ergy cri­sis of 1974 would lead to na­tional con­ser­va­tion ef­forts, in­clud­ing a max­i­mum speed limit of 55 mph.

In those days, it was “if you can’t walk there or take the bus, you can’t go there.” Gas had to be con­served for ne­ces­si­ties, not for leisure ac­tiv­i­ties.

Lucky for lo­cals, there was enough snow and cold weather to make ski­ing and ice skat­ing pos­si­ble. Res­i­dents traded the re­sorts up north for the slopes at Camp­gaw, which were bustling with ac­tiv­ity as ski en­thu­si­asts flocked there for win­ter fun.

Have a “Won­der Years” story that you would like to share? E-mail us at 201fam­ily@ber­gen.com.

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