Hawthorne’s History: Where Blondie Came From

Alexander Nadirashvili, Staff Writer

When one thinks of Hawthorne, New Jersey, the idea of the town being interesting or having a rich history does not often come to  mind. It seems as if many of Hawthorne’s residents ignore the fascinating aspects of the town’s history. Thus, a new series of articles is coming to The Clarion, called Hawthorne’s History, to show how our small town is truly larger than we ever thought. First up in the series of articles is the discussion of Debbie Ann Harry, one of the founders of the band Blondie.


Blondie is an American rock band which was founded in 1974 by Debbie Ann, the lead vocalist, and Chris Stein, the lead guitarist. The band has been incredibly influential and successful, often referred to as being the pioneer for the new wave and punk movements in the 1970s. The band has won numerous Grammy and Juno awards, along with being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and it is due to this success that the band is still active today.

Hawthorne was the home of Debbie Ann, previously known in the town under the name of Deborah Ann Harry.

Debbie Ann was born in Miami, Florida on July 1, 1945 with the name Angela Tremble. She was adopted at the age of three months old by a couple in Hawthorne, New Jersey. Her adoptive mother was Cag Harry, an avid member of the community who was a swimming instructor at the Hawthorne Pool. Cag and her husband lived in Hawthorne and also owned a gift shop in New York State. For most of her young adulthood, Debbie Ann grew up in Hawthorne at 41 Oak Place.

During her teenage years, Debbie attended Hawthorne High School, walking some of the same halls most of us do today. As a senior, she was a part of many clubs, including the Majorettes and senior class cabinet. Debbie was also the secretary of the Fencing club, the secretary of the Pins and Needles club, a Student Council Regular, and on the staff of the Ursidae, which was the yearbook club back during her time.

Despite her current claims against Hawthorne, Debbie Ann was clearly an enthusiastic member of her school and community. She was very popular among her classmates, being voted  “Best Looking” in her graduating class. She especially enjoyed her time in Hawthorne when it came to spending time with her then sweetheart Larry, having lunch with her girl friends, and coming to watch the basketball games.

When Debbie graduated from high school in 1963, she went on to attend Centenary College in Hackettstown, New Jersey. From college, she graduated in 1965 with an Associate of Art Degree. Afterwards, Debbie went on to become a secretary for a radio office and the backup singer for a folk rock group, The Wind in the Willows, before she founded the band Blondie.

Even though Debbie Harry has moved on from Hawthorne, her legacy still lives on in the town today. The Hawthorne High School Marching Band’s competition theme this year was #PluggedIn and they paid homage to Blondie by playing her song “Call Me.”

Our own high school librarian, Mrs. DiGeronimo, was close to Debbie’s sister, Martha Harry. When asked about her memories of Debbie, she said: “Debbie was older and so we were not in the same group of friends, but I was close friends with her sister and was often at her house… She was someone with just a unique personality, certainly having a flare for the dramatic, and she very much enjoyed shocking people with her behavior.”

So perhaps Hawthorne is not as plain as we all think it to be, and with a musical icon such as Debbie Harry growing up in the town, who knows what other interesting secrets Hawthorne holds.