How Fair Lawn's Athletic Teams Got the Name 'Cutters'
Six football players sneaked out to see a movie during school hours in 1943, then led their team to a stirring comeback victory over Leonia.
It's one of the more interesting athletic team names in North Jersey, but where did it come from?
Fair Lawn High School's teams are known as the Cutters. What exactly did they cut to earn that moniker? That's what we will explore in this first installment of "You Ask ... Patch Answers."
In 1943, some called Fair Lawn's football team the Comets because they scored quickly in their first game, a 7-6 loss to Lodi. Others called them the Clippers. But according to Fair Lawn sports historian Dick Englehardt, the players had a propensity for disappearing in school. Some team members would leave school early to visit Doc Gurney for football film sessions, forcing Coach Marty Fischbein to wait for the arrival of the "cutters" before he could run a full practice.
Then, before Fair Lawn played Leonia, the players became known as cutters for a different reason. According to Englehardt, team co-captain Jack Van Olden led Tony DiNegri, Art Jaeggi, Jack Knowles, Al Livingstone and Bill Perkins to the Rivoli Theater in Paterson to see a movie during school hours. The players were caught, and Fischbein kept them out of the game.
However, with Leonia winning 12-0, Fischbein put the players back in and Fair Lawn came back to win, 13-12. Livingstone ran for a 20-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter and also accounted for the game-winning extra point, prompting the Fair Lawn fans to declare: "The Cutters won the game!" From that point on, the school's athletic teams were known as "The Cutters of Fair Lawn High," and they still are today.
Fischbein's team, which opened the season without any seniors and played its first three games on the junior varsity level, went on to go 4-1-1 in varsity action. The 1943 Cutters–the original Cutters, that is–were inducted into the Fair Lawn High School Athletic Hall of Fame in 2009.
Is there anything else you want to know about Fair Lawn? Something that's been bugging you recently, or better yet a quandary that's been on your mind for years? Send it to Local Editor Jacob Kamaras at firstname.lastname@example.org, and he'll do his best to produce a detailed answer. One answer is published each Monday in this column, "You Ask ... Patch Answers."