Edward Fleckenstein has lived through much of Weehawken's rich history and tradition. After all, he still resides in the home where he was born 80 years ago. "Eighty years and two months," said the "semi-retired" attorney last week. "I am indeed part of Weehawken's history." When people think of historical moments that occurred in Weehawken, they quickly point to the July 11, 1804 fatal duel near Boulevard East between the third Vice-President of the United States, Aaron Burr, and Secretary of the Treasury, Alexander Hamilton, a duel that left Hamilton mortally wounded. But as Fleckenstein is quick to point out, there are other historic facts about the township. Like the fact that famed actor/dancer Fred Astaire once called Weehawken home. "I knew a girl who he went to dancing school with," Fleckenstein said. "She was the first one to say 'No,' to a dance with Fred Astaire." Or that the first director of the Central Intelligence Agency, Admiral R.H. Hillenkoetter, also resided in Weehawken. "He was a good friend of mine," Fleckenstein said. "His widow, Jane, still lives in Weehawken. Not only was he the first director of the CIA, but he was also the commander of the battleship USS Missouri in the Korean War." There's more. Van Muenching, the leading distributor of imported beer in the United States, is a Weehawken native. The town also was once the home for the famed Eldorado amusement park. And it's believed that when explorer Henry Hudson first sailed into Manhattan harbor, he landed in Weehawken first and New York second. It was also once the home of wealthy New York banker James Gore King, who was the one who designed a wall around the bronze bust of Hamilton that was erected in his honor. Legend has it that King built the wall to protect legendary author Washington Irving, who penned "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow," from falling down the Palisades. Irving, a constant guest of his good friend King, would like to nap at the foot of the cliffs. All little-known interesting facts about Weehawken. Very shortly, residents of the township will begin to learn more. That's because the township council moved at its regularly scheduled meeting Wednesday night to appoint a new historical commission that will focus on the history of Weehawken. The five-member commission, appointed by Mayor Richard Turner, will be officially sworn in at the next council meeting. Fleckenstein was chosen to serve on the commission along with township residents Barbara Murphy, Marie Alberian, Marie Cassidy and Desiree Sosa. "I'm honored to have Mayor Turner appoint me to this commission," Fleckenstein said. "If I have anything to offer, I feel like I should be able to give it. I'm afraid that I know so much about Weehawken that I had to serve. I can't believe I've been here all these years." Turner said that the timing was perfect to institute a historical commission. "Weehawken has a rich and storied tradition and since we've entered a new millennium, the council figured that it was time to get this up and running," Turner said. "We have to have the ability to preserve the township's history, to catalog everything that people have donated over the years, then encourage others to contribute to the history." All of the memorabilia will be placed and showcased in the Lillie M. Stokes Room of the newly refurbished Weehawken Public Library. Stokes, a teacher who later became a principal in the Weehawken school system, was the unofficial township historian for many years and used to give presentations, especially to the schools, focusing on Weehawken's history, before her death in 1975. "I knew her and loved her lectures," Fleckenstein said. "It was always a delight to listen to her talk about Weehawken." "After Lillie passed away, everything about the history just seemed to fall apart," said Murphy, who is the president of the Library Board. "We needed a leader and we didn't have one." Having a central place to display the historical artifacts, sort of a Weehawken museum, was also a key reason for instituting the commission. "During planning and construction of the library, we had to make sure that we had a room that had the proper humidity controls and that was air-conditioned enough to preserve the materials," Turner said. "This way, we can properly store and maintain all the documents." Turner said that the initial five members of the commission were appointed because of their historical perspective. "They're the ones who deal with the history of the town the most," Turner said, "people who lived in town for a long time and know a lot about it." "I think we will all be able to share our own little different anecdotes and stories," Fleckenstein said. "I think Weehawken is a rather storybook location." Murphy is very pleased to be chosen to serve on the commission. "I think it's an excellent idea," Murphy said. "There are so many people who don't know what Weehawken is all about. There are enough people who can remember what Weehawken was like. The young people have to understand that." Murphy was quick to share two of her favorite Weehawken stories. "There are different theories why the 'Shades' area is called the 'Shades,'" Murphy said. "One theory said it was because the area was always shaded by the hills of the cliffs. But I knew of a woman who said it was called that because there was a factory down there that made lampshades. She insists that was the reason." Murphy added, "And there's another story about the famed Water Tower (located near Pathmark Plaza on Park Avenue), which was built so high because the gravity was needed to send the water down to Hoboken. I know that there was a family who lived in an apartment under the water tower. It's a historical landmark that is now the biggest birdcage in the United States." Murphy said that she was happy that the library will be the centerpiece of the historical commission's hard work. "It's a combined thing and it gets the library involved," Murphy said. "Once you bring people in for the historical perspective, then they can see the other things we have to offer. It should be interesting. I think we can get the children involved this way and they're the ones who should know what Weehawken is all about." Murphy said that a lot of historical material has already been donated and stored. The commission will seek even more material in the future. Other plans include historical walking tours of the town, as well as historical presentations to the schools, much like the way Lillie Stokes did more than 30 years ago. "There will be presentations to schools, adult clubs, whatever," Turner said. "It will bring the next generation along with the history of the town. This is just the beginning of something that could become very varied and extensive. We're all very excited." Fleckenstein thinks it will be a way to recall the past and recapture his youth. "I think our stories will trigger even more stories," Fleckenstein said. "I think it's going to be a lot of fun for me. It's always a special pleasure to re-live the past memories. I'm glad that I can help out." Fleckenstein also was quick to point out one more thing: the amusement park is ahead of his time, and the water tower predates him by 30 years.