Interesting that the Reporter picked up on this snippet of history (having last reported on it sometime in the late ’80’s – early ’90’s).
The last time:
A woman named Enid Bloch had a much more prominent role in the “discovery” and “promotion” of Prince Rodgers as a local historical figure.
One of the Hobbs family was quoted as saying that they didn’t think Prince Rodgers was any relation to the family — having moved north from the Deep South in the 1920’s (via Brooklyn). Somerset County was at the time probably one of the most liberal places for black people to live, in the entire country (few places rivaled it, even though it was by no means a civil-rights utopia.)
Naming the road “Prince Rodgers” was a way to appease the historically black community bordering the soon-to-be excessive overdevelopment in the Commons area. The 100% white people in local government, who decided to screw with the area, always find a way name something after a prominent black, somewhere, when they go to screw with Hobbstown. I think the Raritan Valley Library naming was connected to some later 1990’s development in that neighborhood.
Also lost is the fact that Prudential-Hahn wanted the road named in a way that promoted the Commons (like Commons Way East, for example), but the runners of the time were afraid of antagonizing the Foothill Road crowd any more than it was already doing . . .
Enid Bloch (also a former school board member!) no longer figures prominently in the Prince Rodgers story, because she high-tailed it out of Bridgewater when her husband got a promotion to a university in New York.
She was one of those, “Always sooooooooo committed to the local community, yes I am!” (until a better opportunity shows itself someplace else.)
The irony of “forgotten” Prince Rodgers, is that there used to be a sign detailing his history, on the grass median of Prince Rodgers Avenue. That grass median is now a left turn lane . . .