ROBERT A. STANTON- Bob to his friends, grew up on Park Boulevard in Camden's Parkside section, and graduated from Woodrow Wilson High School in 1940. His second cousin, Robert S. Hart, was killed in an aircraft accident during World War II, his uncle, John Stanton, was desk sergeant at one of the Camden Police Department's district stations for many years.
In his own words: "As a child I fell in love with just about anything that ran on tracks and have spent a lifetime accumulating pictures and historical facts surrounding the early trolleys and trains which operated in the Camden-Philadelphia area."
In recent years he has become well known for a series of books he has published about trolley car transportation in Camden and Philadelphia, and about life and times in Camden during the 1930s and 1940s.
Bob has contributed a series of essays about Camden to this website, which can be read at A PARKSIDE BOY REMEMBERS CAMDEN- Essays by Bob Stanton.
Top photo is from 1940 Woodrow Wilson HS Yearbook.
by Robert A. Stanton
One man's story of what it was like to grow up in Camden between the two World Wars, this is a companion book to PARKSIDE: The Story of a Neighborhood in Camden, New Jersey Before 1946. This book will have anyone who was there at the time heading down memory lane in a hurry!
Price: $6.00 plus $1.75 USA postage.
Trolley Days in Camden New Jersey
by Robert A. Stanton
Full of vintage photographs and lively text, this book covers the trolley era in Camden and its suburbs from horse cars to the end in 1937. The history of the operating companies of the seven city lines and the six suburban lines along with the cars, car number series and assignments, and carbarns, are all documented. Also included are the ferries, amusement parks, notable wrecks, the special car CAMDEN, and the trackless trolleys. Softcover, 100 pages, 8 1/2"x11" format. Three maps and over 110 vintage photographs, including one in color.
This book contains covering all of the city and suburban lines before 1937. Included are: carbarns, ferries, maps, and even some old busses. Price: $15.00 plus $1.75 USA postage.
by Robert A. Stanton
Early memories of a Camden boy who loved the Philadelphia Trolleys.
Price: $5.00 plus $1.75 USA postage.
PARKSIDE: The Story of a Neighborhood in Camden, New Jersey Before 1946
by Donald W. Stanton & Robert A. Stanton
An interesting history of Camden's Parkside section, containing an interesting collection of great and small memories of growing up there in the 1930s and 1940s.
Price: $5.00 plus $1.75 USA postage.
The Brownell Car Company
Not about Camden per se, but still of great interest. This book is a complete reproduction of the original, with Mr. Brownell's candid analysis of quality problems in the new industry. The original book had 171, 6"x9" pages, which have been combined into 97 full-size pages. Included are three pictures of preserved Brownell cars and the author's comments. Price: $6.00 plus $1.75 USA postage.
to the Jungle” – Trolleys in the streets of
If you would like to purchase a copy of any of these books, or have any further questions concerning them, please contact Bob Stanton at the address below, or e-mail me.
BLUE COLLAR WORK
During the summer of 1942 I worked as a laborer at a large factory, and my experience there has affected my opinions on labor relations ever since.
The J. R. Evans Company Leather Factory at at 2nd and Erie Streets in Camden in Camden New Jersey was established in 1858, and employed many men to remove wool from sheep skins and tan them into leather. It was a smelly, gloomy, hard working, no-nonsense place, but a lot of men made their living there. My job, along with several other 18 year olds, was to hang tanned wet skins on hooks in a dryer, and bundle them up as they came out dry at the other end. The skins had previously been treated with a sulfur compound, the wool scraped off, washed and sold, and then tanned.
There was some razzing of "Little Joe" the general Foreman, who spoke several Slavic languages in order to deal with his many foreign-born workers, but there was no outward hostility. In fact, I classified this company as an old-time Patronial firm where the owners looked out for their employees. In addition to a medical office with a nurse on duty, there were graphic signs on every wall showing what an Anthrax infection looked like and what to do about it immediately.
We came to work before 7 a.m. and started things going. At 9:30, the whistle blew and we all went to the cafeteria for cheap coffee and breakfast. At 12 noon, work stopped for lunch, then we stopped again at 2:30 for another snack break, finally going home at 5. I think I made less than a dollar an hour, which wasn't too bad for those pre-war days. However, late in the summer word was passed around that an attempt would be made to unionize the factory. We were all invited to a meeting elsewhere in the city, and Brother Goldberg from Union Headquarters in New York spoke to the many Evans workers.
I will never forget his impassioned speech, which sounded like it came right out of the Karl Marx handbook. He said, "You men work, you work, you work your selves to death in a lousy stinking place. And what do you get? A few lousy dollars a week. And what do your rich bosses do? They eat all the best food off of silver plates with their gold knives and forks, and drink champagne from crystal glasses and enjoy all the money you made for them." This continued over and over in the exact same vein for forty minutes, and then he shouted, "We want a strike!" Some hollered, "Yes!" but that wasn't enough. He kept ranting the same thing until finally most of the men in the hall hollered "Yes!" because it was late and they wanted to go home.
The next week they went out on strike and the factory shut down for a long time. My buddy and I left for good because school was starting in a few weeks and we could go back to cooking hamburgers somewhere, but the factory was never the same. The men probably got a few more dollars a week, with fewer hours per day, but it was a long time before they made up for those lost weeks.
Since then, I have had many men working for me in chemical plants and I have always been concerned for their safety and welfare, as well as compassionate for the people who actually do the hard work. I still agree that unions were needed to protect workers from heartless management. However, I despise professional union organizers who generate class hatred in order to increase the size and prestige of their national union.
Present day socialists and liberal writers continue to condemn successful business men as "Robber Barons" and "Cut-throat Capitalists" (See Smithsonian Magazine, January 2011. ) and are equally prejudiced against people who risk their money to start businesses. There have, of course, been many company owners who have misused and neglected their workers, but no union or political party has ever built a factory and created jobs for "blue collar' workers.
Concern for the health and welfare of working men has been a controversial subject for centuries. In the early years of the Industrial Revolution, democracy was still a new concept and the welfare of the working man wasn't even considered. Factory owners assumed that people were glad to get jobs and would work in any condition. Unfortunately, as businesses grew, that attitude persisted.
People now agree that the men who build the machines and things we use should have a safe and healthy place to work and there are many laws to insure that. But what about the man who invests his money to start a business? Shouldn't he also be allowed to make money by selling a product?
A small business with a few employees is much like a family. The workers know the man who started it, work hard to make it succeed, and if paid well, do not resent the boss when he gets a return on his investment. After all, what other reason would a man have to invest his money to start a business if he didn't want to make money?
Suppose his company grows bigger with many employees and foremen and supervisors to manage them. Fewer employees remember the man that started the company, but if their pay and working conditions are good, they have no reason to hate him. A man with a family to feed and a job with steady pay might wish for more but doesn't want to risk his family's welfare. This is probably the level where labor relations are not a problem.
However, as companies grew bigger with stockholders and multiple factories, a disconnect between management and labor began to develop. Management began to consider labor as just one of the costs of doing business, and the laborers felt like unimportant cogs in their machine. Even small gripes turned into major problems if not handled properly. Poor management practices that ignored the welfare of the workers soon invited problems and were the exact reason that unions were formed.
Today, it almost seems that we have come full circle. The treatment of employees by large companies is now fairly well controlled by health and labor laws, while large national unions seem to be in decline. The high cost of union labor has probably driven much of our manufacturing overseas. The unionizing of government employees seems particularly unnecessary, because the heartless management that oppresses them is none other than we, the American people!
Time will ultimately sort out the correct roles of workers and investors. Less government control of business and more cooperation between Management and Labor should be of value to both sides.
Camden Courier-Post - January 4, 2008
Camden's railroads the topic of Stanton's new book
THOMAS A. BERGBAUER
Our friend in Seminole, Fla., is at it again. Camden native Robert A. Stanton has published another book about his beloved city.
Stanton, a retired chemical engineer, has been writing books about old Camden since the 1990s. His newest addition is "The Railroads of Camden, New Jersey," a 26-page, soft-cover book loaded with information about railroads and their impact on Camden.
He put the book together in a year -- "but three years to find decent pictures," Stanton said. "There were too few good shots showing people using the trains."
"After I finished my book on the Camden trolleys, I thought it might be useful to do one on the railroads of Camden," he said.
"I had noticed that many current histories were wildly inaccurate and that few people realized how the railroads caused the city to grow in the first place."
Stanton's mission was simply to set the record straight and show how railroads opened a new door to Camden. The need for a ferry
"When the pioneering Camden & Amboy Railroad's trains reached Camden in 1834, there was an immediate need for a terminal and ferry to Philadelphia," he writes. "Camden began to grow, and the presence of regular ferry service suddenly made its reasonably priced ground desirable for everything from houses to factories."
A retired DuPont employee, Stanton writes that it wasn't long before tracks stretched from Trenton to Philadelphia on the Pennsylvania side of the Delaware River.
"However, new opportunities for railroad business began to develop in South Jersey itself," the book explains. "The Camden & Amboy eventually became part of the Pennsylvania Railroad."
Stanton then takes the reader on a tour of railroads in Camden through the ages and discusses the life of specific rail lines.
It offers information on the Camden & Amboy Railroad, the Camden & Atlantic Railroad, the Philadelphia & Atlantic City Railroad, the West Jersey Railroad and the Camden Gloucester and Mount Ephraim Railroad. It also mentions the Camden Terminal, Cooper's Point Yard, elevated railroad tracks, electric trains and what remains today. Lived in Parkside
Stanton was born in Camden in 1922 and his father, William, owned Stanton's Owl Garage on Chestnut Street, across from Park Boulevard, in the Parkside section.
"I loved Parkside and Camden," Stanton said, "and I was a Courier-Post newspaper boy and worked at many jobs while going to Woodrow Wilson High School and Camden County Vocational School."
He was wounded in Germany during World War II, and the government paid his way through Drexel University, where he received a degree in chemical engineering.
"Nobody believes how old I am, including me!" Stanton exclaimed. "At 85, I am old enough to have seen and ridden the busy excursion trains to the seashore, pulled by powerful steam locomotives and later replaced by diesel engines."
Stanton, who moved to Florida in 2003, recalls listening to the great plans to replace the commuter trains with rapid transit to the suburbs, and he finally saw all of the old passenger trains stop running out of Camden.
"I try to include my own experiences in the histories, without making it an autobiography," Stanton says. Besides "The Railroads of Camden, New Jersey," some of his other books include:
"Trolley Days in Camden, New Jersey"
"How The Early Streetcars Were Built And Marketed"
"Philadelphia Traction As Seen From The New Jersey Side," which are memories of a Camden boy who loved the trolleys that were across the Delaware River.
"Parkside: The story Of A Neighborhood In Camden, New Jersey Before 1946"
"Life in Camden, New Jersey Before 1946 -- Memories Of The Years Between The Two World Wars"
Stanton says he collected pictures and data for 60 years for his books, including newspaper clippings from the Courier-Post. Writes for enjoyment
"The real pleasure is in doing my own publishing and distributing," he points out, "and it is not a money-making project. "I enjoy giving them (the books) to libraries and historical societies and friends."
In 1992, Stanton purchased his first word processor and, for 10 years, published a monthly eight-page newsletter for a small group of narrow-gauge-railroad operators. The print shop he used showed him how easy it was to self-publish, so he decided to produce a small book on the Salem line.
"That book came out in 1998," he recalls. "The result was so pleasant that I produced two smaller volumes of local interest."
He's been writing ever since.
Thomas A. Bergbauer is a retired Courier-Post copy editor and can be reached at (856) 346-0371, email@example.com, or through Communities, Courier-Post, P.O. Box 5300, Cherry Hill, N.J. 08034.
TBN Weekly - May 17, 2011
Octogenarian Gives Back to the County He Loves
By Lester R. Dailey
SEMINOLE - Pinellas is the most densely populated of Florida's 67 counties and some people say it's overcrowded, traffic-congested and too touristy. But Bob Stanton doesn't agree.
"I love Pinellas County," Stanton said. "This is the best county in Florida."
Stanton spent most of his life in New Jersey, the state where he was born in 1922. As a boy, he developed a keen interest in airships and was a frequent visitor at the Navy's blimp facility at Lakehurst, N.J.
One day, while crabbing in Barnegat Bay, he saw the German airship Hindenburg pass overhead on its maiden voyage to the United States. A year later, he heard that the Hindenburg was scheduled to land at Lakehurst and persuaded his stepfather to drive him there to watch, but the stepfather backed out at the last minute. That was the day the Hindenburg burned and crashed at Lakehurst.
A train buff, he has written pamphlets about the railroads of Florida and the streetcars of St. Petersburg. He has also written an historical novel about the founding of Florida, entitled Where the Beach People Came From.
After completing his schooling in June 1943, Stanton unsuccessfully tried to get into the Navy's blimp corp. When his draft notice arrived, he volunteered for early induction and ended up as an infantryman in Europe.
One day in February 1945, he was talking with two men when another man called him over. Just then, a German shell came in and killed the two soldiers with whom he had just been talking. Stanton was knocked unconscious but only slightly wounded.
A month later, the half-track in which he was riding was hit by a German shell, killing seven men and wounding Stanton. Afterward, he was amazed to find that the pockets of his field jacket were filled with shrapnel from the exploding shell.
Stanton ended the war with two Purple Hearts and a Bronze Star, although he didn't achieve the goal he had set for himself.
"I wanted to cross the Rhine, but 1 got hit before 1 got the chance," he said. But he's not complaining; he considers himself lucky just to be alive.
"The Lord took care of me many times," he said.
After the war, Stanton became a DuPont chemical engineer. He was promoted to management and sometimes given the job of writing operating instructions for chemical plants.
"You have to be very precise and accurate in what you write or somebody could blow up the whole plant," he said.
He discovered that he has a talent for writing and has now written ten pamphlets and three books, with another book in the works. His topics run the gamut from history to science fiction. But he doesn't write for the money.
"My only interest is in sharing knowledge and history," he said.
While working for DuPont, Stanton had a 40-acre farm in Salem County, New Jersey, where he raised beef cattle, hogs, hay and produce. He jokes that the farm was his full-time job and he worked for DuPont in his spare time.
Today, Stanton is retired and widowed. He has five children, 13 grandchildren and five greatgrandchildren.
Since moving to Seminole in 2003, he has kept busy. He is the vice president ofthe Seminole Historical Society and has continued his writing.
Three days a week, he volunteers at the Bay Pines VA Hospital, pushing the wheelchairs of his fellow veterans. On Saturday afternoons, he can be found guiding visitors through the restored H.C. Smith mercantile store at Heritage Village, the county's 21-acre historical museum in Largo. He also supplies his books to the Heritage Village gift shop at cost, so the profits from their sale can be used to support the village.
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