I Remember Dad: The Great Paterson Falls

By Richard Mabey Jr.


As many of you may know, in 2000 my dad published the book, “Then and Now: A Pictorial History of Lincoln Park.” Every red cent, from the book’s sales, was donated to the Lincoln Park Historical Society. After the book was published, Dad began working on another book. This time, Dad wanted to play tribute to the City of Paterson.


Paterson held a special place in my dad’s heart. It was the very place that he chose to have the office and terminal for the trucking company that he and his older brother, Edward, started after they came home from the war. It was also the very city where Mom and Dad lived, for a while, when they first got married. And, it was the city where dad worked part-time at the Majestic Theater as an usher, to subsidize the early days of his trucking company.


Early one Saturday morning, in the Summer of 2000, Dad began taking pictures of the sites of Paterson. He began with the infamous Paterson Falls. I had the honor of going with Dad that day.


If you’ve ever been to the Paterson Falls, you know what an eerie, haunting place it is. If you have not been there, believe me, it’s worth the trip! The craggy rocks, the long steel bridge, the high mountains in the background, the cascading waters descending down the high cliffs, the old nearby mill, the fearful feeling of walking across that high steel bridge; all these elements and much more add to the color and splendor and the haunting beauty of the Paterson Falls.


The Paterson Great Falls is a United States National Park. It is one of the largest natural water falls in America. It played a vital role in the industrial growth of Paterson.


I remember how enthused Dad was about this new project he had begun working on. There was a gleam in his eye, a special sparkle glowed from within Dad’s heart. Sadly, shortly after our visit to the Paterson Falls, Dad was diagnosed with prostate cancer and then with colon cancer.


Dad did his honest best to continue working on his new pictorial book, but it became very apparent that Dad now tired easily. There were the moments of the grimace of terrible pain. Dad wasn’t able to get around as easily as he once could. It was all very sad.


The day that Dad and I visited the Paterson Falls, I took a picture of Dad as we began our walk up to that tall, towering bridge that crosses the massive water falls. I am so glad that I did. For that picture says it all. Dad was just all so happy that day. It is a moment in time that I cherish so very much.


Now, 20 years later, I get to share this photo with you. This picture radiates with the joy and splendor that abounded from Dad’s heart as he began a new project, of writing a pictorial history of Paterson. Dad loved photography. He loved nature. He loved people. Sadly, his cancer stopped him from ever seeing his dream project completed.


Whenever I get a bit down, whenever I am facing a writer’s block; I look back at that very day that Dad and I spent at the Paterson Great Falls. There was almost a song in Dad’s voice. He was just so very happy to find a new dream, a new project. His enthusiasm overflowed from his heart center.


My father gave to me, many gifts. One of the most precious gifts that he ever gave to me was to find enthusiasm and inspiration to work hard, to tow the line, to stay focused and to use my God given talents to uplift others. It is a gift that I truly cherish.


Richard Mabey Jr. is a freelance writer. He can be reached at richardmabeyjr@hotmail.com. Please put on the subject line: My Life Publications.

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