202 South 5th Street
Southeast Corner of South 5th and Mickle Streets

The bar at 202 South 5th Street had a long and interesting history. The bar was operated from 1920 through at least 1938 by Ludwig Buch, according to the 1920 Federal Census and the 1931 Camden City Directory. 

Ludwig Buch was born in Germany around 1864. At the time of the 1920 census he was a widower. His sons Louis, Carl, and Harry were at home, as well as an adult daughter, Mary McAdams and her husband Harry. he remarried in 1920, after the census was taken. His wife Margaret Buch, was well known in the neighborhood for her fine German cooking. She passed away in January of 1938. Ludwig Buch was still operating the bar at that time.

The 1940 Camden City Directory indicates that Elmer W. Orcutt was the proprietor. After World War II, the first published City Directory, that of 1947, shows the bar as Creato's Cafe, run by James and Caroline Creato of Collingswood NJ.

The New Jersey Bell Telephone Directories for 1956 and 1959 list the bar as Ray's Tavern. The bar appears to have changed hands again shortly afterward, as an advertisement in the 1959 banquet program for Veteran's Boxing Association Ring No. 6 states that "Ray and Frances" were then at My Friend's Bar on Mount Ephraim Avenue.

The bar is not listed in the 1966 New Jersey Bell Telephone Yellow Pages. In February of 1967 the bar was badly damaged by fire. When the liquor license was up for renewal in June of that year, a corporation called Cambar Inc. was the applicant. The principals in Cambar Inc. at that time were Rose Swersky of Atlantic City NJ, Ronald Goldstein of Cherry Hill NJ, and Horst Stein of Philadelphia PA.

A 1977 entry shows Roy's Cafe, and in 1982 the bar was known as the Traveler's Home Port. Another management change around 1991 resulted in the bar being renamed the C'est La Vie Lounge. A series of incidents which attracted the attention of the police and Alcoholic Beverage Commission authorities resulted in the bar being closed in the early 1990s.

202 South 5th Street was razed in the late 1990s. 

April 20, 1959 Banquet Program Advertisement

Veteran's Boxing Association Ring No. 6

Camden Courier-Post - February 1967

4 Trapped in Blaze Saved by Firemen
Courier-Post Staff

City firemen fought smoke, flames; snow and a biting cold during the night and early morning hours as a rash of fires 6everely damaged four buildings and destroyed a tavern.

According to Public Safety Director Keith Kauffman, at one point only two engine companies were not actively fighting the blazes as seven engine companies, three ladder companies, the rescue squad and three battalion chiefs were at the fire scenes.

At the site of the worst fire, 5th and Mickle Streets, police and firemen braved dense smoke and fierce flames to rescue four elderly persons trapped in first, second and third floor apartments.

Started In Tavern Lounge

The blaze, which broke out in the lounge of Ray's Tavern, was discovered by Patrolmen Augustus Balzano and Anthony Saponare at 3:58  a.m. after they were alerted of smoke by highway employees battling the second snowstorm of the week.

The two policemen, after radioing the alarm, kicked in the door of the tavern and raced through the smoke and flames to rescue Mrs. Agnes Lockhart, 58, from her upstairs apartment.

The patrolmen took Mrs. Lockhart to Cooper Hospital where she was admitted with a cut head and smoke inhalation and smoke inhalation.

Minutes later firemen, headed by Battalion Chief Biaggio Ardire, arrived. Ardire said the tavern was engulfed in smoke and flames. He said the flames leaped from the tavern roof to a luncheonette and apartment building next door.

Ardire said firemen raised a ladder to the third floor of the second building where Mrs. Mabel Seward, 64, was hanging from a window ledge. However, fireman were hampered in the rescue attempt by the narrow space of the alley and could only hold the screaming woman until other firefighters could make their way to the third floor window from inside the building.

The rescuers, wearing face masks, wrapped Mrs. Seward in blankets and carried here through the flames to safety.

Two Carried Out

At the same time, more fire fighters entered the burning building and carried out Mrs. Viola Lagerprantz, 65, who lived in a rear apartment on the first floor and John J. smith, 86, from a second-floor apartment.

All the victims were taken to Cooper Hospital for smoke inhalation treatment and released an hour later.

Kauffman ordered the victims, still wrapped in blankets, taken to fire headquarters at 3rd and Arch Streets and notified city welfare authorities. The Welfare Department obtained temporary housing for the three victims at Volunteers of America headquarters,  828 Market Street. Each victim lost all possessions in the blaze. 

Additional Alarms

Ardire, at, 4:27 a.m. called for additional fire crews and an hour later requested more aid. Battalion Chief Daniel Jiannetto's unit answered the first distress call while Acting Battalion Chief Arthur Batten's men arrived on the second plea.

 Batten's unit had been fighting two North Camden blazes since 10:53 last night.

Ardire said that when firemen attempted to get into the buildings, the fire was raging forward, backward, and straight up the stairwells out of control.

The owner of the luncheonette, Dominic Padulla; arrived at the scene about 5:30 a.m. Padulla and his brother, Frank. who also had been out, live on the first floor.

Canteen Truck on Scene

Volunteers of America Canteen truck with Colonel William Gwynne also was at the scene and served firemen coffee and donuts.

Fire Chief Edward Michalak said he has ordered a complete investigation of the fire.

Kauffman said 5th Street south of Mickle  and Mickle Street east of 5th has been closed to traffic indefinitely.

In the two other fires in North Camden, a grocery store was damaged at 442 N. 9th Street, and two vacant buildings at 623-625 North Front Street were damaged. 

Grocery Store Blaze

Batten said a defective chimney apparently caused the grocery store blaze which raged through joists and partitions. The store is operated by Benjamin Lamberte while the building is owned by Mrs. Sarah Schecter of Baird Boulevard according to the battalion chief.

Batten's crew were forced to make two trips to the vacant buildings as wind whipped flames. He said the fire probably was caused by vagrants seeking shelter from the snowstorm.             

Before the firefighters could take off their fire apparel, they were dispatched to the 5th and Mickle Street blaze.

Camden Courier-Post

February 1967

FIREMEN climb ladder to the roof and second floor of the blaze which raged out of control at Ray's Tavern, 5th and Mickle Streets, early today. Other firefighters braved dense smoke and flames inside building.

New Jersey
Bell Telephone
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Drink Up!
The Bars, Taverns, and Clubs of Camden