WEST ORANGE - "Mother" was already seated before dawn to greet the sunrise and visitors May 11 - like she has done the last 65 Mother's Days.
It is not known, however, whether "Mother" was visited Sunday while others tended to their mothers in the neighborhood just east of the 50 block of Watchung Avenue. It is likely that her anticipated relatives from early days have long gone away.
"Mother" is a statue placed before the Freiday family mausoleum in Rosedale Cemetery. The slightly larger-than-life bronze is seated before what would be the Freiday crypt's front entrance. Instead of a door, there are a pair of engraved vases and the following legend overhead: "Life's greatest happiness lies in loving service."
"Mother" was sculpted by Charles Keck in 1936. Keck (1875-1951) was a New York City sculptor who created the World War I "Victory" statue - also a seated woman - for East Orange's Memorial Park, among other noted work.
Who is interred is found in legend behind the mausoleum: William Freiday (1883-1961), wife Ethel Dean Freiday (1885-1959), father Milton Baldwin Freiday (1854-1926) and mother Annie Baker Freiday (1855-1935). "He gives his beloved sleep," is engraved beside A.B. Freiday's name.
As of deadline, Local Talk could not determine whether "Mother" depicts A.B. or E. D. Freiday - or the likeness of a stylized or composite woman.
"I've been working here for 37 years," said a Rosedale office manager named Jan May 7. "It's been handed down to me that four or five models sat for 'Mother.' "
"Mother," however, may well be a symbol of devotion by a son to his mother. The first circumstantial evidence lies in the proximity of A.B. Freiday's 1935 death and Keck's 1936 casting date.
The Freidays, according to reports, were a prominent family in the Oranges. The "Mother" story begins when Annie Barker, of East Orange married M.B. Freiday, of Orange. Nicholas and Elizabeth Baker also raised sister Joan and brothers Abraham and George. Mr. Freiday and a Mr. Williams built horse carriages on Essex Street.
Annie Baker Freiday gave birth to William E. Freiday plus Caspar, Milton H. and Thomas M. in Orange. "Bill" Freiday used to do odd jobs at the family carriage shop before taking on his first real employment - as bicycle escort for funeral processions to Rosedale gravesides.
Wm. Freiday left Rosedale in 1901 to become a runner in New York City for Parkinson and Burr stock and bond brokerage for $4 a week - $1 less than at his former job.
He would rise through the ranks, learning the market's ways, until he bought a seat on the New York Stock Exchange for $395,000 in 1926. That seat also made him a partner in the J. Robinson-Duff Company.
Freiday led an aborted attempt to start a New Jersey stock exchange in Newark, mainly in protest of high stock taxes, in 1932.
Wm. Freiday, besides having the most electronic and paper references of his family, became a man of means. He was made president of a reorganized Orange Valley Bank in 1933. He sat on the boards of Universal Pictures and a Nevada gold mine and was publisher of Palisade Park's "Palisader" newspaper.
Freiday also became prominent in Essex County area politics. He was five-time campaign manager for then-Congressman Hugh Addonizio 1948-62. Addonizio (1914-1981) later became Newark Mayor 1962-1970.
Freiday attempted to run for Congress himself, as an independent Republican in 1920 and as a Democrat in 1942. Gov. A. Harry Moore (1879-1952) named Freiday his staff's Lieutenant Colonel in Trenton in 1932.
Freiday was a two-term South Orange village trustee - equivalent to council or committee member - and was on the South Orange-Maplewood Board of Education in the 1930s. He had thought about resigning his trusteeship in 1932 due to mining interests' increasing demands.
Although "Col." Freiday and his family settled in Vernon Hall - 56 Crest Dr. in South Orange's Newstead section - his political roots goes back to Irvington.
Freiday, while living at 1348 Clinton Ave., first made a name by conducting a successful World War I bond stamp campaign. He attempted to recall an Irvington mayor during the 1920s.
Annie Baker Freiday's death made the front page of the June 28, 1935 South Orange "News-Record" plus an obituary in the "Newark News" and a death notice in "The New York Times." Freiday, 79, died of a heart ailment June 25 while living at Vernon Hall.
The funeral, presided by Rev. Everett F. Hailock of the Hilton Methodist Episcopal Church, of Maplewood, was held at Vernon Hall, followed by internment at Rosedale. 10 grandchildren and six great-grandchildren were among her survivors.
At least two accounts call Wm. Freiday and Keck as friends. Keck had once opened his studio for a reception honoring Freiday. He gave a copy of a 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition coin he had sculpted to son Dean Freiday. Dean, after researching in Alaska, became a Newark Museum official.
William Freiday, 78, died in Orange Memorial Hospital Sept. 15, 1961. He had reportedly died of an embolism 2:30 a.m. a few days after entering the hospital. He had a summer home in Elberon and a winter place in Ormond Beach, Fla. plus membership in five golf and country clubs.
Freiday's funeral was held at Vernon Hall before joining his wife and parents in Rosedale.
Ethel Dean Freiday was struck and killed by another South Orange motorist Feb. 14, 1959. She had left Wm. and their disabled automobile on West South Orange Avenue near Cameron Field Place for a service station when she was hit.
The Maplewood-born Freiday lived 45 years in Vernon Hall. She was a member of the Women's Club of South Orange and of an American Red Cross sewing group.
Wm. E. and E. D. Freiday were survived by sons Dean, of Elberon and Jay G., of Deal; daughters Ruth Grace and Joan Lawrence, both of Miami, brother Caspar, of Passaic and 12 grandchildren.
Neither the Freiday mausoleum nor its "Mother" statue are found in Rosedale's "Noted People Interred" brochure. The brochure does list 28 sites where the remains of tennis champion Althea Gibson and Gov. Charles Edison, among others, can be found among its 92 acres.
Rosedale, founded in 1960, is shared among Orange, Montclair and West Orange.