TOMMY SKYMER was born Thomas J. Skymer on May 21, 1909 in Lycoming County PA, to Thomas A. and Mary Skymer, both of whom were born in Italy. Both he and his older brother Louis "Lew" Skymer were talented boxers in the Camden area Golden Gloves amateur circuit in the 1920s and 1930s, the same circuit that had sent Camden boxer Leon Lucas to the Olympics in 1928.
After the birth of youngest son Albert, the Skymer family moved to Camden in 1912. The Skymers are listed at 6 South 2nd Street in the 1913 and, 1914 Camden City Directories, then at 4 South 2nd Street in the 1915 edition. Thomas A. Skymer worked as a laborer during these years. In 1916 Thomas A. Skymer moved his family to 330 Mickle Street, which had been the home of famous 19th Century architect Stephen Decatur Button, who designed the Richard Fetters School and the City Hall that was in use prior to the current one was constructed. This house also was next door to the home of the late poet Walt Whitman at 328 Mickle Street. Thomas A. Skymer also ventured into business in 1916, operating a jitney service that ran from 9th and State Street in North Camden to the Vine Street Ferry Terminal. In 1919 he founded Skymer & Sons Auto Supplies. The 1920 census reveals that at that point Thomas A. Skymer was still involved in the jitney business. By 1922 Thomas A. Skymer had acquired the building at 1309 Broadway, where he also conducted his auto supply business, which evolved into Skymer Tire Service. The family lived at the Broadway address as well, in quarters above the store.
Tommy Skymer attended Camden's public schools, and was a student at Cooper B. Hatch Middle School for a time. The 1930 Census shows the family at 1309 Broadway, listing sons Louis "Lew" Skymer's occupation as machinist, while brother Thomas J. "Tommy" Skymer was a painter for a sign company. Albert was also doing work. Thomas A. Skymer remained involved in the auto supply and tire business until his retirement in 1941.
Tommy Skymer was one of the many fine Italian fighters to come out of South Camden in the 1920s, the list including his brother Lew, Frankie Rapp, Roxie Allen, Pee Wee Ross, and brothers Frankie and Mickey Blair. He fought Rapp as an amateur, losing that decision, but overall his amateur boxing career was a successful one. After taking the better part of a year of to recuperate from a knee injury, turned professional in the early 1930s. Boxing was not to be his career for long, however.
After graduating from hairdressing school, Tommy Skymer eventually opened a beauty salon at 108 North 5th Street in Camden as early as January of 1938. He married Josephine Grasso in 1940. The Skymers owned and operated the Thomas Beauty Salon at 521 Cooper Street in Camden NJ in the late 1940s. Daughter Jo Ann Skymer Hirsch wrote in July of 2004 "My parents were both hair dressers ....... My father was a hair colorist and my mom a hair dresser."
Tommy and Josephine Skymer later moved to Lake Worth FL and owned and operated the Thomas Beauty Salon there during the 1950s. In the mid 1950s Tommy Skymer founded the Merchantville Auction & Farmers Market, later the Cherry Hill Discount Market. The Skymer family moved back to New Jersey around 1954-1955. As partners Tommy and Josephine ran the Mart, until it burned down on February 9, 1965. After a few years, Josephine Skymer founded a lamp and lighting business within the Market.
When the Market burned down in 1965, Josephine Skymer then started the Jo Skymer Lamps business on Rt. 130 in Pennsauken, NJ. Tommy Skymer and children Thomas Jr. and Jo Ann soon joined the business, which although under new ownership remains open today.
Tommy Skymer kept his interest in boxing, and was involved with the Veterans Boxing Association Ring No. 6, based in Camden.
Thomas Skymer passed away on June 4, 1992, survived by his wife, son Thomas Jr. and daughter JoAnn. Josephine Skymer remained at the business until her retirement in 1996. She joined her husband December 16, 2000.
A. & Mary Skymer
Lew, Thomas J., & Albert
Junior High School
"9AS Graduating Class"
Click on Image to Enlarge
(Bottom row, third from right)
|Camden Courier-Post - January 12, 1938|
& with friends
This picture is of my parents and Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Costanza. He had big architect firm and then his sons went into it. l do not know who the other couple is.
Jo Ann Skymer Hirsch
Left to Right:
|From Left to Right:|
|A Banquet at Chubby's Restaurant - "Home of the Stars" - 1950s|
& Josephine Skymer
(turned around, facing camera)
Seated across the
Click on Image to Enlarge
Kenney's Suburban House
February 27, 1960
This appears to be from a Veteran's Boxing Association Ring No. 6 Banquet.
At far left, seated, is Arnold "Jersey Joe Walcott" Cream, standing behind him wearing glasses is Joe Brennan.
On the left side of the table, unknown, Tommy Skymer, Lew Skymer, unknown, and Les Cranmer.
Ross (in grey suit),
Eddie Fisher, and Tommy Skymer
Barney Ross, born Beryl David Rosofsky, compiled a professional record of 74 wins, 4 losses, and 3 no decisons. He was world champion at lightweight, junior welterweight, and welterweight.
April 10, 1966
Thomas J. Skymer Jr.
This is my brother, and a newspaper article on his scientific trip with Dr. Horace Richards of the Academy of Natural Sciences. There is a web site on Dr. Richards and a book that was written on this trip that mentions my brother. My brother had a extensive collections of rocks and minerals of museum quality.
Jo Ann Skymer Hirsch
Thanks to Jo Ann Skymer Hirsch for her help in creating this page, and for providing images seen here.
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