Highlands: Don't Let History Pass You By

The Highlands Historical Society did what it does best last night. It gave the opportunity for everybody to get on a zoom call and tell their own memories of Highlands and how living here, summering here, working here, or bringing up families here has impacted their own life.

It was an opportunity for out of state former residents to see each other on the screen, if not in person. For some, it was 30 or more years since they’ve seen former friends or adversaries, and it was an opportunity to share common, happy memories. There may have been disagreements over politics or municipal procedures in the past, but gathering together to recall the Highlands in which they lived, none of those things is remembered. Just the good times. And the good people.

It was an opportunity for everyone on the call to see once again what makes Highlands so special, and the conversations, laughter and recalled memories over nearly two hours showed exactly what does make Highlands so special. It isn’t Conners Hotel that is really special…it’s Duke, and Jackie, and Bobby and Bill, the Brothers Black, that those on the ZOOM meeting remembered…how Bill made the best prime rib and most spectacular lobster, how Jack fed dinner to everyone who waited or bussed at the hotel before their work evening started.

It wasn’t Bahrs Restaurant that made Highlands special, nor the fact it is the oldest still operating business in the borough. It was Buddy and Peg Bahrs, Ray Cosgrove, and all the members of the Bahrs family that made the restaurant so memorable. The same with the Stowaway and Sonny and Evelyn Vaughn welcoming guests to that wonderful dining room and superb dinners, or the Bremekamps at the Careless Navigator who out out the best hamburger or shrimp sandwich ever.

It was the opportunity for Vince Mendes, from his home in the south, to remind listeners just how much his granddad, Haik Kavookjian did for the town and for some on the meeting to learn more about the very generous, wealthy man who never wanted any limelight but always wanted to help. Vince’s story on his granddad’s ploys that got a post office to the borough was great.

It was great fun to hear Bill Wilson talk about what he went through to get that clam depuration plant a reality and to hear his pride in being a part of Highlands. Bill’s got plenty more stories to tell and hopefully will be on future ZOOM meetings to share some of them…even the ones that are rarely repeated in public!

So that’s what history is all about. Not so much the buildings or the architecture, not so much about the good and the bad, simply the people. The buildings are just the part of the story that generate the memories that keep Highlands above and beyond other communities. It’s the people.

Walt Guenther is a wealth of information about the borough and its people and places. His research is impeccable and fascinating. President Sheila Weinstock reminded everyone how successful Walt’s walking tour of the downtown area was, and excited everyone with her promise it’s going to be bigger and better in the future.

The president is offering more ZOOM sessions like this to give more folks both from here and now from so many other states the opportunity see faces they might never have seen again were it not for the technology that allows and encourages ZOOM meetings. If you’re interested, let the Highlands Historical Society know you like the idea, you’ve got stories to tell, you have memories you want to share. It’s a good idea to be a member of the Society to share these stories, but it’s not a requirement…though once you feel the enjoyment of sharing your own story you might want to become a member.


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