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Garfield Historians: It's Not 'Garbage-field'

Shupenko holds a portrait of Mark Twain that was sent to the historical society by Twain's daughter, Clara. She attached a note at the bottom.
Shupenko holds a portrait of Mark Twain that was sent to the historical society by Twain's daughter, Clara. She attached a note at the bottom. Photo Credit: Arthur Augustyn
Old copies of The Garfield Guardian. The newspaper went out of business in the 1970s.
Old copies of The Garfield Guardian. The newspaper went out of business in the 1970s. Photo Credit: Arthur Augustyn
Old journals from the Heyden Chemical Company that was based in Garfield. These books are locked away since they contain formulas for dangerous chemicals.
Old journals from the Heyden Chemical Company that was based in Garfield. These books are locked away since they contain formulas for dangerous chemicals. Photo Credit: Arthur Augustyn
The beverage company Yoo-Hoo had a manufacturing plant in Garfield. In 1960, they produced over 600,000 cases. Shupenko purchased this item on Ebay from a seller in Tennessee.
The beverage company Yoo-Hoo had a manufacturing plant in Garfield. In 1960, they produced over 600,000 cases. Shupenko purchased this item on Ebay from a seller in Tennessee. Photo Credit: Arthur Augustyn
Garfield's Historical Society collected this piece of metal that was used to hold together the Dundee Dam. "We have a few pieces of wood as well... you got to try to collect everything you can," Shupenko said.
Garfield's Historical Society collected this piece of metal that was used to hold together the Dundee Dam. "We have a few pieces of wood as well... you got to try to collect everything you can," Shupenko said. Photo Credit: Arthur Augustyn
Former Garfield Mayor Anthony Parrapato was repeatedly mistaken for Al Capone.
Former Garfield Mayor Anthony Parrapato was repeatedly mistaken for Al Capone. Photo Credit: Arthur Augustyn
A cereal box with Garfield-local Wayne Chrebet of the New York Jets on the front.
A cereal box with Garfield-local Wayne Chrebet of the New York Jets on the front. Photo Credit: Arthur Augustyn
The Mark Twain school, Gray attended this school as a child. It was eventually torn down due to necessary repairs costing thousands of dollars. A new school was later built.
The Mark Twain school, Gray attended this school as a child. It was eventually torn down due to necessary repairs costing thousands of dollars. A new school was later built. Photo Credit: Arthur Augustyn
An old Garfield basketball uniform.
An old Garfield basketball uniform. Photo Credit: Arthur Augustyn

GARFIELD, N.J. — Former Garfield Historian Elizabeth Gray recalls her students calling Garfield "Garbagefield," and felt compelled to defend the town's history.

"It's not 'Garbage-field,' Garfield has a tremendous amount of history," Gray said.

"95 percent of the residents don’t know [the history], including the students."

Gray served as historian for 26 years before stepping down in 2016 for health concerns. The position is now helmed by Chris Shupenko.

"You got to try to collect everything you can," Shupenko said in reference to the numerous odd items stored by Garfield's Historical Society.

The historians hesitate to pick their favorite fact about the city, but both expressed the importance of maintaining the town's history.

Gray's encyclopedic knowledge of the town's past goes from Native American burials, to the revolutionary war, up through the modern day and everything in between.

"They should know everything," Gray said.

She recommended residents read "History of Passaic and its environs," by William W. Scott if they're interested in learning more about Garfield.

Click through the pictures above to get a glimpse of the relics stored by Garfield's Historical Society.

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