Upshaw was the first child born in Camden to Allen Upshaw and his wife,
Elizabeth Freeman Upshaw. The couple was living at 1028 Sycamore
Street on April 4th of 1930, when the Census was taken, brother
Robert then a newborn baby. Allen Upshaw, a Virginian by birth,
was then working as an "automobile repairer". The
Freeman family had been living in the neighborhood as far back
as 1887, when they were in the 700 block of Baxter
small street that runs between Sycamore Street and
Avenue. The family would remain in the 700 block of Baxter
Street through 1910, then move to the 900 block by the end of
1919. 1028 Sycamore Street was the home of maternal grandmother
Emma Freeman. Her other children, John, Clifford, and Martha
Freeman also lived at the address.
the 1947 Camden City Directory was compiled, the Allen Upshaw
family lived at 1015 Kaighn
Avenue. Allen Upshaw was then
working as a driver.
a young man Robert Upshaw liked to workout with weights. Two local men who worked as, among other things, professional wrestlers,
Doc Doganiero and Joe
Montana, took an interest in him. Doc Doganiero
had a Pharmacy in South Camden and gave Robert Upshaw helpful hints on
strength training. Joe Montana, who was wrestling as far back
as the early 1930s, resided in a home near Mt Ephraim Avenue and Liberty
Street. Robert Upshaw would go to the Montana home, where the
older man would take him through a good workout.
Upshaw had joined the Camden Police Department
by 1961. Early in his career he partnered with Officer Clyde
Waters. When Waters was killed while off duty, Robert Upshaw
served as a member of the Honor Guard at his funeral.
While on the force
Robert Upshaw was a member of the Camden Police
Departments Powerlifting team. He became what is referred to
in the sport as
the Grand Master, remained in competition into his early 60s.
Although he retired from the police department in 1991, he was
still participating in competitive weightlifting to keep in
shape as late as 1994.
weightlifting, Robert Upshaw is well known as a singer. He had the honor of singing for the
dedication ceremony of the USS CAMDEN. The chief of police
allowed him to perform in front of a packed hall of sailors
from the ship, a moment which Mr. Upshaw remains quite proud
of to this day. There were about 1500 sailors, policemen, and
citizens attending. The Courier-Post published an article with his picture captioned the singing police
officer. After that appearance he was asked to sing at the Philadelphia Tribune Home show in Philadelphia.
The gift of voice runs to his children, a son is attending
Westminster Choir, has the Music Baton and is doing very
well with it.