Just a Simple Mansion
An old news article and photo offer another interesting glimpse into Millburn's past.
A June 1969 newspaper article from the Associated Press notes that Millburn resident J.J. Mascuch lived in Just a Simple Mansion With Many Treasures—and, indeed, it does seem to have been a mansion filled with a great many treasures.
The article notes that “A tour of the Mascuch villa is like a trip through Disneyland and New York’s Metropolitan Museum combined.”
The author relates that when they walked past a closet in Mascuch’s library, the owner “gleefully hauls out a canvas sack filled with ore” from a privately owned gold mine that Mascuch “believes may prove to be one of the richest strikes of modern times.”
The walk-through continues past a gold-encrusted bed given to Mascuch by Benito Mussolini, a circular revolving bed given to him by Gloria Swanson, a 300-year-old, 3,000-pound marble table from Italy, a priceless Holbein, a Rembrandt, a $200,000 “huge swimming pool and enclosed patio whose great glass walls cost more than the building,” Ming vases and much, much more.
Mascuch (pronounced Muh-SHOE) was described as a multi-millionaire inventor-industrialist with 150 patented inventions in the automotive, aeronautic and space fields. When he was still in his teens, he earned $6,000 designing journal boxes for railroad cars. During his years in the Air Force in World War I, he “piloted flimsy Spad planes in air bouts with the Germans. Both sides were trying to use wireless in their primitive aircraft, but the engine ignition caused too much interference.”
Mascuch recounted his decision to cut the motor of his plane, so he could hear—then pray it would restart. After the war he worked on the wireless until he found a way to reduce the interference, which immediately caught the attention of police departments that were anxious to see that capability in their cars. We are now also the beneficiaries of that invention, as we enjoy interference-free sound from our car radios.
For many years Mascuch was the president of Breeze Corporation, apparently an aircraft-related industry. The article elaborates on his life between 15-hour Breeze Corp. work days: “When he isn’t putting in his usual 15-hour work day…(he) likes to hop an airliner to East Africa with a couple of old friends and hunt big game...When Mascuch and his friends journey into the bush, it costs them about $12,000 each for 30 days of sport. But how many sportsmen have steaks and lobsters flown in from Paris and take along a dozen servants to make things comfortable?”
The 1969 photo here shows Mascuch standing in the doorway to his glass-enclosed patio, where we can see some of the trophies of his East Africa jaunts: the taxidermied head high above his head, to the left in the photo; the elephant foot on the floor to the right of him; and what appears to be a rhino horn on the floor, just to the left of his feet.
Mascuch’s remarkable pink ‘simple mansion’ still stands in the Wyoming section, but his estate sale must have been just as spectacular. More than anything else, though, I will silently thank this famous Millburn resident every time I am up in a plane and the pilot and air traffic control can hear each other loud and clear.