Paterson “Lazy Light”

A retired electrical contractor told the story that during the administration of Paterson Mayor Thomas Rooney (1972-74), all money from scrap was to go into a fund that the mayor’s office had control of, rather than the pool that the contractors had traditionally used for an annual celebration.  Many contractors decided to snub the policy change by keeping much of what they took down in those years, therefore I can thank the former mayor for indirectly helping me obtain a vintage signal from my birthplace almost fifty years later!

To my great pleasure, the contractor still had the end of a “trombone” style horizontal mast arm with a pair of early ’50s Marbelites from the corner of Main & Market Streets. I was driven under these lights many times as a child when Mom and my aunts would take us downtown to shop at Meyer Brothers and other stores.

The signals and hardware were almost corrosion-free, and just had minor damage from the fall. The six original Corning “M” logo lenses are still there. As widespread as these horizontal masts have been in New Jersey, this is not something I expected to add to my collection.  I also did not expect to come across anything from the city of my birth. This one’s special very to me!

Since I don’t have room to display the full back-to-back setup of this light, I decided to make a single head display.  I simply hung the mast from two bicycle hooks screwed into the basement ceiling joist. The light is running on a controller that Sean Breen made for me a few years ago.


The epilogue to this story involves two other signals from my youth.  The contractor whom I bought the horizontal lights from also had this pair of late-1940s fixed-face 4-way signals, a GE on the left and a Marbelite on the right.  Even though these lights were also retired in the Mayor Rooney era, when I was only 4 or 5 years old, I instantly recognized them from the corner of Mill and Grand Streets.  The Paterson-Clifton area only had a handful of fixed-face signals that I could remember, and these were two of them. I remember liking the look of the two lights with different visor shapes hung at the same corner. Money and space concerns were such that I passed on the opportunity to nab these, but it was very cool to see them come out of the woodwork like that.