Nobody asked me, but I’ll tell you just the same: I had a pretty good day last week.
I’m talking about Wednesday, April 4, when one of our steadfast deliverers called in to report a medical appointment that would keep him from delivering his list that day. You might remember the day: a cold, blustery Wednesday, with an unrelenting rain that was more like a January drizzle than an April shower. All that bad weather notwithstanding I still jumped at the chance to deliver the paper.
Why? Because I know that anytime my business is sufficiently under control for me to be outside delivering newspapers rather than inside and confined to the office, things have to be pretty good.
So this good Wednesday began with me delivering papers to the Forrestal Campus and Forrestal Center area, beginning with a stop at FMC, waning as a research center for the food chemical company but about to be resurrected as the new home of the Medical Center at Princeton. It had been a good 10 years since I last delivered this list, and walking up to the visitors’ entrance of FMC I was surprised at how high the ground was above Route 1. The new hospital, I thought, will literally have a commanding presence on Route 1.
Leaving FMC and heading out toward Scudders Mill Road, I discovered the new Campus Road, and marveled at how much open space still exists right here in the nation’s most densely populated state. Somehow I missed my turn on Scudders Mill Road and continued along the new road that eventually connects to College Road East — there was not another car on the road, something the hospital planners might have weighed when they considered emergency access to the new medical center.
After dropping papers in the lobbies of the three Bristol-Myers Squibb buildings on Scudders Mill Road, I headed to Merrill Lynch, and then to the facility that I still refer to as the Merrill Lynch Conference Center, even though I now know it to be the Harrison Conference Center. Well that’s what I knew, but last Wednesday the Harrison signs were covered over with temporary signs that said Lakeside Conference Center — the new name was conferred just last month.
From the gleaming glass and chrome and mahogany of Merrill Lynch I headed back in time to the Forrestal Campus at Sayre Drive, not the Forrestal Center at College Road East, but rather the collection of early and mid 20th century buildings that were the original Route 1 development — the buildings that housed the once top-secret Matterhorn Project investigating nuclear fusion and other installations of the military industrial complex that flowered in the 1950s.
The last time I delivered to the Forrestal Campus most of the buildings were vacant. But now it’s a time for reclamation and there at 200 Forrestal Road were the restored offices of Ford Farewell Mills, a good home for U.S. 1’s old neighbors at Mapleton Road who specialize in working with historic buildings.
Toward the end of this section of the list, the buildings became a little more run down. The space being occupied by the Gas Dynamics Laboratory, once a world center for research in high speed aerodynamics, now seemed headed for the wrecking ball. Further along, at 501 Forrestal Road, the entrance to the front door appeared to be inaccessible. The only entrance was in the back, a small door alongside a loading dock. With the rain bearing down, my feet soaking wet, I debated skipping the building altogether.
Good thing I didn’t. First stop was Princeton Power Systems, a start-up by recent graduates of the university’s engineering school that is developing electric power conversion technology. Then I found Princeton Payment Solutions, the company with Irish ties creating financial software. Down the hall I delivered papers to Princeton Server Group, which has just been purchased for $6.1 million by a Mount Laurel Company. As the March 14 U.S. 1 story had suggested, the place seems to be growing like topsy.
A few doors down I poked my head into the offices of Web Services Inc. Behind a floor to ceiling rack filled with computers, I saw a man at work. It had to be my old neighbor from Moore Street in Princeton, Harrison Uhl.
Further along I dropped off a paper at FXO Inc., and I assumed the cheerful man who greeted me was Fran O’Connell, the president, whose firm consults on spacecraft design. He asked about our regular deliverer, and told me to say hello to him. And then he told me to make sure to drop off two copies next door for “Vic.”
Vic, overhearing this conversation, hollered out over the cubicle: “Rich Rein, how did you ever find me here?” The voice came from our old friend Victor Murray, the commercial real estate broker and tenant representative.
It was old home week at the Forrestal Campus. By the time I reached the Forrestal Center, and the Marriott on College Road East (some of us still remember it as Scanticon), I was feeling pretty good. I delivered a stack of papers at the reception table for the monthly meeting of the New Jersey Entrepreneurs Network.
“I’m not an entrepreneur,” I proclaimed to the man presiding at the table. “But I am a newspaper delivery guy.” For the moment, at least, he seemed caught up in my excitement. “Wow,” he replied.
Back at the office I marveled at how good a day it had been. I had only one regret: If I had had a dry pair of socks back at the office, it would have been not a good day, but a great day.
This Wednesday, April 11, U.S. 1’s Bob Hiel will resume his regular deliveries to Forrestal. I will be stuck back in office.