Page 8 - January 19, 2021
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{ 8 }  SNJ Today  |  JANUARY 19, 2022                                                                                                                                                                                                                        JANUARY 19, 2022  |  SNJToday.com   { 9 }
              THE GREAT OUTDOORS


     Menantico Troll                                                           CU cofounder is remembered for his tough exterior—

                                                                                                    and his love of trees.


     NATURE AROUND US                                                                                             J. Morton Galetto, CU Maurice River

           erwyn Kirby was one of a kind,                                                                          athletic prowess in high regard.
           and I love to reminisce about the                                                                          Classmate Joanne Murphine and
     Bburly fellow who founded CU                                                                                  Berwyn were both selected as Best Athlete
     Maurice River. I remember our first meet-                                                                     in their class and both were original
     ing. It was near the confluence of the                                                                        Trustees of CU Maurice River. Joanne
     Manumuskin and Maurice rivers and the                                                                         relayed to me that Berwyn and his brother
     out-running tide was full throttle. This is                                                                   Ellis were also expert tap dancers and
     where my husband and I first encountered                                                                      entertained classmates on stage.
     the famed Berwyn Kirby. CU’s co-found-                                                                           “I suppose no one dared to tease
     ers were Berwyn and Donald Fauerbach.                                                                         them?”
     The original CU members had organized                                                                            “No way,” Joanne replied with a laugh
     an inner-tube paddle on the Manumuskin,                                                                       and a very knowing look.
     but as they entered the main river the tide                                                                      I asked him about these dance skills
     had switched. Paddling an inner-tube is                                                                       and he told me—with that special twinkle
     no easy task and we offered to lash them                                                                      in his eyes—that he and Ellis were a pair,
     together and tow them to their take-out                                   CU prepares to erect an osprey platform   and that tap dancing earned them money
     point at Fauerbach’s.                                                     across from Berwyn Kirby’s home on the   in their college years—plus a few dates.
        When we offered to tie Berwyn’s tube                                   Menantico. The nest was the first and only   He mentioned their being grunions and
     to the rest of the flotilla he declined with a                            nesting platform that was camouflaged,   pool boys in California. I chose not to ask
     grunt of sorts and a twinkle in his eye. At                               as Berwyn didn’t want it to be obvious to   for details, which were not likely forth-
     that point I had no way of knowing that                                   possible mischief-makers. He was known   coming anyway. But for all his brawn he
     I would see this look many more times                                     for his very protective proclivities. Pictured   was a gentleman too. Berwyn always told
     in the future. He was wearing his iconic                                  above, Berwyn, in his usual bibbed uniform,   the truth as he saw it—a straight talker.
     Carhartt overalls with a white tee, and he                                points to his Chesapeake retriever bringing   However, in my humble opinion when
                                                                               a log to please him.
     was about 50 at the time. His biceps were                                                                     he said he was not a tree-hugger he was
     tree trunks and he kept up with the flo-                                                                      lying, except possibly for literally.
     tilla using sheer muscle power for what I                                 Although Berwyn’s River garb was Car-  He was a big softie for a flying squir-
     would estimate to be a two-mile trip.                                     hartt bib overalls and a T-shirt, at events   rel that lived in his house for a few weeks
        Berwyn passed away in 2020 at 84                                       and local meetings Berwyn always wore a   before wearing out its welcome. I told him
     years of age; stories about him abound. He                                dress shirt and jacket. When he had his first   his friendship would come to a bad end-
     was rightfully proud of his football career                               grandchild a number of us gifted him with a   ing, and Berwyn protested, “But he’s really
     in high school and at Penn State. But more                                mini-pair of Carhartts.             a little character, he’s so cute.”
     than anything he was proud of his educa-                                                                         “Yeah, right, until he becomes mischie-
     tion and his oration abilities. He built his                                                                  vous and  brazen,” I said, suggesting he
     home on the Menantico and it is sided                                                                         end the friendship before the relationship
     with planks that retain their rough cut,                                                                      deteriorated. Too late…
     a testimony to his love of trees. He knew                                 manners—and safer!                     Berwyn understood the connection
     every board and didn’t mind telling you   It surely got him into difficulty at times as   Berwyn could talk about the Menantico   between many things in nature and shared
     so. He used to open many of his advocacy   he confronted trespassers with possibly   like a scholar or a romantic; his love for   those feelings often. Honestly, he knew
     speeches with “I’m not a tree-hugger.”   a bit too much intensity. He sported a   his property and the river ran deep. His   the squirrel would have to be evicted.
     But I knew better. In spite of his brawn   drill sergeant’s flat top and a don’t-mess-  words were articulate and strong. He   That squirrel belonged in the trees.
     and projected gruff spirit, he was also a   with-me aura. He could cast a glance with   would say that words were powerful,   This story brings me to a few succinct
     pussycat especially when it came to the   a smile that would freeze your blood.   but that sometimes you had to take out   points.
     love of his life, Kay.               Sensible people would enter his driveway   the bazooka in your back pocket. So we   What Berwyn knew, because he was a
        He raised his two daughters on the for-  for only a few yards and then retreat.   weren’t always on the same page but we   “tree hugger” in spirit if not in fact, was
     ested property and took pride in defend-  But those who chose to pass the 50 “No   were on the same mission.   that trees do an amazing variety of things
     ing it from trespassers, especially off-road   Trespassing Signs” and “Turn Around   His high school and college football   for us and need to be protected. They
     vehicles. Berwyn was a teacher and was   - This Means You” ending at his house   career were legendary. He owned a bar   hold soils and prevent erosion. Trees
     often given the students who had behav-  might find more than they bargained for.   called Club 31 that was named for the   offer shade, protecting ourselves and
     ioral problems, so he knew how to manage   Berwyn and I grew to be close friends and   Millville Thunderbolts’ 31-game winning   other animals from solar radiation. Trees
     troublemakers. On the river this earned   yet I would never think of going to see   streak. Millville is a sports-minded town,   provide noise and wind attenuation, as
     him a reputation as the Menantico Troll.   him without calling first. That’s just good   and the Thunderbolt Club held Berwyn’s   well as shelter. We build our homes and
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