After the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 7198 was organized in 1957 the post soon afterward owned a home – the former St. Catherine’s Roman Catholic Church building on Lincoln Avenue.
There were obstacles that resulted in the VFW selling the building. It currently is a thrift shop.
The veterans continued meeting in various locations on Sunday afternoons. Headquarters continued to change and included the building at Westbrook Park and their latest place, a storefront in the Aiello building on Greenwood Lake Turnpike, that recently was no longer available.
Pat Loughman, as project manager, has been searching near and far throughout the Township of West Milford to find a building to transform into the permanent home for the vets. He finally solved the problem when he investigated possibility of transforming the old Lake Melody refreshment stand into the local VFW home.
The building was part of the lake recreation business first operated by Walter Walsh (he was township auditor for a time.) Before many years passed Dick and Connie Nobis came to town, bought the lake and operated a popular day picnic/swim business, one of about a dozen throughout the township. They have passed on, but many people continue to remember happy summers at Lake Melody.
The building that was a refreshment stand where hot dogs, hamburgers, soda and ice cream were among the refreshment has been closed – and deteriorating for around 40 years. The veterans are leasing it from the township for 10 years at $1 a year.
Commander Bill Johnson is enthusiastic about the building and proudly shows what has already been accomplished by volunteers. A new roof has been added and work is underway on a kitchen. There will be displays and available information about the military with school visits and tours planned in the future.
Johnson said formal dedication of the building will take place on Veterans Day after the annual Veterans Day Service is completed at Veterans Park. He is hoping that many from the community will attend and support the VFW’s latest efforts.
The VFW is a non-profit service organization comprised of eligible veterans and military service members from active, guard and reserve forces. Roots go back to 1899 when veterans of the Spanish American War (1898) and the Philippine Insurrection of 1899 formed in local groups seeking rights and benefits and eventually banded together and formed the VFW. Before they fought for them, there were no rights or benefits for service. Many were wounded with no medical care or pension and were left to fend for themselves.
The VFW Mission is to foster camaraderie among US vets of overseas conflict. The members serve veterans, the military and communities and advocate on behalf of all veterans.