Streets
of
Camden, NJ

Grant Street


GRANT STREET was named after Civil War hero and 18th President of the United States, Ulysses S. Grant. 

Do you have a Grant Street memory or picture. Let me know by e-mail so it can be included here.

 Phil Cohen


 Gene Edwards (left)
 & Jim Bessing
June 23, 1939

"....I read about Cassady School block party and decided to send this picture of me and my little cousin. The block party stands can be seen just over my left shoulder. The look on my face was caused by my mother forbidding me to go to it. The year, 1939. I'm 10 yrs. old." 

Jim Bessing, March 2004

"That picture of Gene and I was taken in front of my grandfather's sister's house, 203 Grant. Her name was Ella Crossley, the widow of George Crossley. She had two daughters. My grandfather lived with her in 1940 and died there in 1947."

Jim Bessing, October 2004


200 block of Grant Street
Click on Imags to Enlarge

The 200 Block of Grant Street
mid 1930s

as seen from the south

Roofs of houses on Grant Street at bottom. Large building is the Cassady School is in foreground. State, Vine, and Main Streets are above. 3rd Street at left, 2nd Street at right.

203
Grant Street

1930s -  late 1940s
Mrs. Ella Crossley
1940-1947
James S. Edwards

  205
Grant Street
  207
Grant Street
  209
Grant Street
  211
Grant Street
  213
Grant Street
215 Grant Street

1905 Eugene Mercier

Philadelphia Inquirer
April 26, 1905

Melanchton Sterner
 O. Glen Stackhouse

215
Grant Street

1914
Dan McConnell

  217
Grant Street
  219
Grant Street
  221
Grant Street

300 block of Grant Street
Click on Imags to Enlarge
  312 Grant Street

 

  314 Grant Street

 

  315 Grant Street

 

  316 Grant Street

 

  317 Grant Street

 

HOSPITAL CASES
WEST JERSEY

James Foster, 2, 757 Division St., laceration of head.
Ralph Williams, 28, 413 North 29th St., laceration of knee.
Lillian Smith. 17, 1093 Trent road, abrasion of eye.
Elwood Brisco, 31, 1133 South 2nd St., laceration of leg

COOPER

Dorothy Gorman, 2, 507 Division St., contusion and sprain of shoulder.
Richard Clark, 17, 327 Vine street, dog bite of leg
James Kenney, 3, 718 Carman St., laceration of scalp,
Frank Caratole, 12, 210 Senate St., splinter in finger.
James Moy, 14, 641 Line St., fractured wrist abrasion of knee and hand.
Ernest Vincent, 14, 534 South 2nd St., puncture wound of knee.
Ralph Springer, 7, 509 Ferry Ave., laceration of scalp
Clement Jones, 4, 1013 Lawrence St., laceration of chin
Thomas Wright, 7, 319 Grant St., fractured shoulder.
Hilda Fitzgerald. 28, 311 North 3rd St., laceration of hand.
John Schulz, 52, 228 North 7th St., chest injuries.

319 Grant Street

1938 Thomas Wright

Camden Courier-Post
February 16, 1938

  319 Grant Street

 

321 Grant Street

 

323 Grant Street

Photograph Taken March 13, 2012

 

  325 Grant Street

2011 Gone

 

  327 Grant Street

2011 Gone

329 Grant Street

1918
Samuel L. Magill

Philadelphia Inquirer
October 13, 1918

329 Grant Street

1920s-1947
Harry Kyler
Camden Police Department

Photograph Taken March 13, 2012

 

329-331 Grant Street

Photo from about 1928

 

329-331 Grant Street

Photo taken March 13, 2012

 

330 Grant Street

1955
Edward J. Fox & Sons

1955 New Jersey Bell Telephone
Yellow Pages Ad

331 Grant Street

Undated Photo

1947

2012 Vacant

 

331 Grant Street

1947

2023 Vacant

Photograph Taken March 13, 2012

  333 Grant Street

1947

2012

 

  335 Grant Street

1947


400 block of Grant Street
Click on Imags to Enlarge
  400 Grant Street

1947

  402 Grant Street
  404 Grant Street

 

  406 Grant Street
  408 Grant Street
  410 Grant Street

1950-1951 PFC Paul Creitz
C Company
180th Infantry Regiment

  411 Grant Street
  412 Grant Street
  413 Grant Street
  414 Grant Street
  415 Grant Street
  416 Grant Street

416 Grant is the house below with orange curtains that escaped fire damage on December 1, 2007

  417 Grant Street
418 Grant Street

1914-1924
Thomas Burrows & Family
Thomas & Emily Gamble Burrows
Ralph Burrows
(drowned June 1919)
Dora Burrows
sister-in-law Sarah Gamble

Philadelphia Inquirer
June 19, 1919

J.R. McDonald - Christopher Moll
Dr. WIlliam H. Pratt
Byron Street - York Street 

Thomas Burrows and family had moved to Haddonfield by 1927

   
418 Grant Street

On December 1, 2007 at 6:40 AM, a fire was reported at 418 Grant Street. Tower Ladder 1 arrived with fire showing 1st and 2nd floor. Battalion 2 transmitted the 2nd alarm for fire extending to the exposures, all searches were negative. No injuries reported.

Photo shows 416, 418, 420, & 422 Grant Street.

Photo courtesy of Bob Bartosz

  419 Grant Street
420 Grant Street

1921-1947
James Hughes & Family
James & Meva Hughes
Lillian Hughes

1952-1962 Anita Coryell

December 1, 2007 

Photo courtesy of Bob Bartosz

  421 Grant Street
  422 Grant Street
  423 Grant Street
  424 Grant Street

1940
William C.Watkin

  425 Grant Street
  426 Grant Street
  427 Grant Street
  428 Grant Street
  429 Grant Street
  430 Grant Street

1924
Harry Curtis

  432 Grant Street
  434 Grant Street
  436 Grant Street
  438 Grant Street
440 Grant Street

Otto Braun

  442 Grant Street

500 block of Grant Street
Click on Imags to Enlarge
  516 Grant Street
  517 Grant Street

1912
Thomas Burrows & Family
Thomas & Emily Gamble Burrows
Ralph Burrows
Dora Burrows
sister-in-law Sarah Gamble 

Moved to 418 Grant Street by 1914

  517 Grant Street

 

  518 Grant Street
  519 Grant Street
520 Grant Street

1930
William Hopkins

 

  520 Grant Street
  521 Grant Street
  522 Grant Street
RUNAWAY ACCIDENT FATAL TO MILKMAN

Fatally injured in a runaway accident yesterday, Samuel Saunders, 37, of 523 Grant Street, died at 5.15 p. m. in Cooper Hospital of a fractured skull and. concussion of the brain.

Saunders was a milkman and was driving his team on Eighth Street when the horse became frightened, bolted and ran away. The animal raced from Elm to Pearl Streets, where he swerved into the latter street, Saunders losing his balance as the horse swung around the corner.

The milkman was thrown from his seat, landing on his head and shoulders, The unconscious man was rushed to the hospital, where he remained in a coma until he died.

Police could find no witness to the accident.

Saunders is survived by his widow, Nettie; two sons, Samuel and Joseph; a sister, Mrs. Edna Hettie, of Wilmington, Delaware, and a brother, Howard G., of Merchantville.

The funeral will be held at 11 a. m. Monday at the funeral home of Joseph H. Murray and Son, 408 Cooper Street, with services in charge of Rev. E. A. Chambers, pastor of State Street M. E. Church.

523 Grant Street

Samuel Saunders

Camden Courier-Post
February 3, 1938

SAMUEL SAUNDERS

The funeral of Samuel Saunders, 37, of 523 Grant Street, who was killed in a runaway accident on Wednesday, will be held at 11 a. m., Monday at the funeral home of Joseph H. Murray and Son, 408 Cooper Street. Mr. Saunders, a milk wagon driver for Supplee Wills Jones Milk Company, is survived by his widow, Nettie; two sons, Samuel and Joseph; his father, William E. F. Saunders, of 648 State Street; a sister, Mrs. Edna Hettie, of Wilmington, Delaware, and a brother, Howard G., of Merchantville.

523 Grant Street

Samuel Saunders

Camden Courier-Post
February 4, 1938

  523 Grant Street
  524 Grant Street
  525 Grant Street

19010s-1920s
John Wagner & Family
John & Catherine Wagner
Harry M. Leigh
Catherine Wagner Leigh

  526 Grant Street
  527 Grant Street
  528 Grant Street
  529 Grant Street
  530 Grant Street

531 Grant Street

1941
Daniel N. McLeod & Family
Daniel N. & Florence M. McLeod
Daniel McLeod
Ohrum Farlow McLeod

Camden Courier-Post
July 23, 1941

  532 Grant Street
  533 Grant Street
  534 Grant Street
  535 Grant Street
  536 Grant Street
  537 Grant Street
  538 Grant Street
  539 Grant Street
540 Grant Street

1930
Michael Clancy & Family

Michael & Mary K. Clancy
Joseph Clancy
Daniel Clancy

Mary K. CLANCY, wife of Michael CLANCY, mother of Joseph & Daniel CLANCY. The Family lived at 114 Birch Street in 1910 and 1920. In 1930 they lived at 540 Grant Street.

The family owned and operated Clancy's Cafe at 808 Fern Street from the mid-1930s into at least the late 1940s and possibly into the early 1950s.

Photo courtesy of
Cynthia Ackley Nunn

  541 Grant Street
  542 Grant Street
  543 Grant Street
  544 Grant Street
  545 Grant Street
546 Grant Street

1895 Marshall Updike

Philadelphia Inquirer
June 29, 1895

  547 Grant Street
  548 Grant Street
  549 Grant Street
  551 Grant Street
  553 Grant Street
   

Intersection of North 6th Street & Grant Street
609 Grant Street

Philadelphia Inquirer
June 29, 1895

Right Click on Image to Download PDF File
of Complete "Over In Camden" Article


600 block of Grant Street
Click on Imags to Enlarge
 
609 Grant Street

1933-1947 Charles Flippen

  610 Grant Street
  611 Grant Street
  612 Grant Street
  613 Grant Street
  614 Grant Street
615 Grant Street
.

Camden Evening Courier - January 7, 1928

PARENTS ANNOUNCE GIRL’S ENGAGEMENT

Mr. And Mrs. Harry Fenner, 615 Grant Street, have announced the engagement of their daughter, Miss Rose M. Fenner, to John A. Harrison, 812 North Fifth Street. No date has been announced for the wedding.
      Miss Fenner is employed by the Travelers Fire Insurance Company with offices in the Wilson Building.

  616 Grant Street
  617 Grant Street
  618 Grant Street
  619 Grant Street
  620 Grant Street
621 Grant Street

1900
Charles H. Beck & Family
Charles H. & Nettie Hartman Beck

Philadelphia Inquirer
January 19, 1900

621 Grant Street

1957-1958 Joseph Packer

Camden Courier-Post
December 15, 1957

John Hoey
Joseph Packer
Russell Young
Linden Street
South 3rd Street
North 4th Street
Arch Street
Kaighn Avenue
West Jersey Hospital

  622 Grant Street
  623 Grant Street
  624 Grant Street
  625 Grant Street
  626 Grant Street
  627 Grant Street
  628 Grant Street
  629 Grant Street
  630 Grant Street
  631 Grant Street

1910-1915
William S. Chalfant & Family
nurseryman
William S. & Anna Heacock M. Chalfant
Wilmer A. Chalfant
oilcloth worker
Martha "Mattie" Chalfant
stenographer
Mrs. Sarah Heacock (mother-in-law)

  632 Grant Street
  633 Grant Street
  634 Grant Street
  635 Grant Street
  636 Grant Street
  637 Grant Street
  638 Grant Street
  639 Grant Street

1910
Fred J. Needham & Family
Fred & Emma Needham
James Needham
Howell S. Needham

  639 Grant Street
  640 Grant Street
641 Grant Street

George Zeitz

  642 Grant Street
  643 Grant Street

1914
James Chalmers & Family
manager
James & Florence Chalmers

1947 Joseph Lynski

  644 Grant Street

1947
Alvah J. Cox & Family
sprayer
Alvah J. & Gertrude Cox

  645 Grant Street
  646 Grant Street
  647 Grant Street
  648 Grant Street
  649 Grant Street
  650 Grant Street
  651 Grant Street
  652 Grant Street
  653 Grant Street
  654 Grant Street
  655 Grant Street
  656 Grant Street
  657 Grant Street
  658 Grant Street
  659 Grant Street
  660 Grant Street
  661 Grant Street

1947 Salvatore DiGenova
grocery

   

609 Grant Street
Camden Courier-Post - February 7, 1933

WIFE TIED IN CHAIR, PERILED WITH KNIFE
Charges Husband Trapped on Pretense of Returning Child

Accused by his wife of binding her to a chair and threatening her life with a knife and with gas, Charles Flippen, 26, of 609 Grant street, was held without bail for the grand jury by Police Judge Garfield Pancoast yesterday.

Flippen's wife, Lillian, 24, lives at 1626 Wingohocking street, Philadelphia. She said the threats took place Saturday afternoon in the third floor front room of a rooming house in Penn street near Sixth. Patrolmen William Thorn, Walter Patton and Raymond Stark said they found adhesive tape and towel strippings in the room, and took two knives from Flippen.

Kidnapping Charged

Mrs. Flippen said her husband went to California last September, leaving her and their four-and-a-half year old daughter at his mother's home in Grant street. She heard nothing from him, she said, and in December she moved with the baby to Philadelphia. Last month, she charged, he returned and kidnapped the child in the street near her home.

On Saturday, she said, she received a telegram from Flippen, telling her he would give her the baby if she would meet him. She met him in Philadelphia and he took her to the Penn street house, where, he said, his brother was to bring the baby.

They went to a room ostensibly to wait for the brother to bring the baby, she said, and he told her he was going to ki11 her and himself.

He bound her arms and legs to a chair with adhesive tape and strips from a towel, she said. Then he waved a knife about her head and turned on the illuminating gas, Mrs. Flippen charged.  

She pleaded with him and finally induced him to take her to a restaurant, where she whispered to a waitress to call the police, the wife testified in Police Court. The waitress did so, and the police arrived shortly afterward.

Flippen pleaded not guilty to a charge of threatening to kill. He did not testify. 


645 Grant Street

Philadelphia Inquirer
June 14, 1914

...continued...
William Beiderbach - Charles Beiderbach

Intersection of
Grant Street & North 7th Street
Looking South from over Pyne Point
July 7, 1965

Grant Street is the first cross street, with the white house at lower left

Click on Image to Enlarge

 

700 block of Grant Street
Click on Imags to Enlarge
  710 Grant Street

1947 Robert G. Bozarth
1991 Vacant
Destroyed by Fire July 30, 1991

Blaze damages 6 homes
Camden fire called suspicious

By MAURICE TAMMAN 

CAMDEN - At least 12 people were forced from their homes after a three-alarm fire damaged six row houses in the 700 block of Grant Street Tuesday.

Battalion No. 1 Fire Chief Joseph Gfrorer said the fire began in a vacant rowhome at 710 Grant Street at 2:30 p.m. It quickly spread to another vacant house at 712 Grant Street and to two occupied homes at 714 and 716, he said. The fire also leaped across the narrow street, damaging occupied homes at 711 and 713 Grant Street, fire officials said.

The fire was under control by 3:06 p.m. and no one was reported injured, Gfrorer said.

He said the cause of the blaze was being investigated. But, he said, the fire started in a vacant home and "they don't start by themselves. "

Neighbors said the blaze was set. One, who would not give his name, said he saw two young men carrying red and yellow gasoline containers around the building before the fire erupted.

The brick rowhome where the fire started was destroyed. Its roof was gone and a only few charred beams of the second floor hung from the brick shell.

Julia Lebron's home· at 716 Grant Street had some fire damage on the second floor, the windows were broken and many of, her family's possessions were destroyed. She said she and her four children will be staying with relatives on the 400 block of Grant Street.

"I saw the smoke and went inside," Lebron said. "By the time 1 came out it (the vacant home at 710 Grant Street) was totally in flames. It was really quick."

"I am really lucky," she added. One door closer to the vacant houses, at 714 Grant Street, the home was a shambles.

The family refused to talk. Their furniture and possessions lay under a layer of soggy white ash. There were gaping holes in the roof.

As the neighbors swept the street clean, a Camden County Red Cross worker talked with the residents of each home to ensure the families had a place to stay.

Across the street, the second story windows of two homes were smashed and there was some water damage inside. The outside wood trim along the front porches and the window frames were charred.

Mabel Mendez, 29, of 711 Grant Street, said she and her three children will stay in a hotel until she finds another place to live.

Out on the street, Carmen Alicea, 30, swept the ash into piles along the curb near her home at 715 Grant Street. A neighbor, who did not want to be identified, picked up the piles with a snow shovel and threw the debris on the sidewalk outside the two burned vacant houses.

Alicea, whose home was spared any serious damage, said she was cleaning up the street for her neighbors. She said the neighborhood was a close-knit group.

"It was the only place that was safe," she said.

Now, after this fire, she doesn't feel so secure.

"Probably I'll move now," she said, "I'm scared."

710-716 Grant Street
711-713 Grant Street

Camden Courier-Post
July 31, 1991

Click on Images to Enlarge

Firefighters train their hoses on a three- alarm fire in the 700 block of Grant Street. The blaze started in a vacant house and spread to five other homes

Nervous moments: Camden firefighters (above) douse flames as neighbors gather in the 700 block of Grant Street. Carmen Alicea (below) holds her dog Queeny as she watches the fire from across the street. Her house was not seriously damaged.

Click on Images to Enlarge

  711 Grant Street

1947 Alfred Santora
1991 Mabel Mendez

  712 Grant Street

1947 Joseph Amato
1991 Vacent
Destroyed by Fire July 30, 1991

  713 Grant Street

1938 Allen Filer
1938 William Filer
1947 Gladys Filer

  714 Grant Street

1947 C.W. Skeets

  715 Grant Street

1947 Lester T. Darnell
1991 Carmen Alicea

716 Grant Street

1947 Carl R. Taylor
1952-1963 Leonard J. Boris & Family
Leonard & Lorraine Boris
Linda Boris
Chris Boris
Cindy Boris

Left: Linda Boris (in stroller) and Chris Boris in front of of 716 Grant Street, April, 1956

1991 Julia Lebron

  717 Grant Street

1947 Albert Phillips

  718 Grant Street

1947 Thomas F. Thompson

  719 Grant Street

1947 William Owens

  720 Grant Street

1947 James H. Sloan

  721 Grant Street

1947 Mrs. Edna M. Young

  722 Grant Street

1910
Thomas Earnest Mitchell & Family
Thomas Earnest & Florence Mitchell
Gladys Mitchell


1947 Harry B. Greene

  723 Grant Street

1947 Fred Laub

  724 Grant Street

1947 Max Koeden

  725 Grant Street

1947 Walter L. Phillips

  726 Grant Street

1947 Evelyn Ellis

  727 Grant Street

1947 Ernest F. Harter

  728 Grant Street

1947 Gabriel L. Biagini 

729 Grant Street

1913
Mrs. Harriett Reynolds

Philadelphia Inquirer
July 18, 1913

John Harris
John Painter
O. Glen Stackhouse

  729 Grant Street

1947 William T. Steel

   

800 block of Grant Street
Click on Imags to Enlarge
  809 Grant Street
  810 Grant Street

1943
Joseph A. Alcorn & Family
Joseph & Mary Ann Alcorn
William Alcorn
Joseph Alcorn
Ruth Alcorn

  811 Grant Street
  812 Grant Street
  813 Grant Street
  814 Grant Street
  815 Grant Street
  816 Grant Street
  817 Grant Street
  818 Grant Street
819 Grant Street

1930s-1940
William Hopkins

 

  819 Grant Street
  820 Grant Street
  821 Grant Street
  822 Grant Street
  823 Grant Street
  824 Grant Street
  825 Grant Street
  826 Grant Street
  827 Grant Street
  828 Grant Street

1917
John McKay & Family
John & Rachel D. McKay
John E. McKay

  828 Grant Street

1934
Mrs. Mary Alcorn & Family
Mrs. Mary Alcorn
James Alcorn
William Alcorn
 
Rose Alcorn
Marie Frances Alcorn
Thomas J. Alcorn
Genevieve Alcorn
Rita Alcorn
Joseph A. Alcorn

  829 Grant Street
  830 Grant Street

1929-1930s
Mrs. Mary Alcorn & Family
Mrs. Mary Alcorn
James Alcorn
William Alcorn
 
Rose Alcorn
Marie Frances Alcorn
Thomas J. Alcorn
Genevieve Alcorn
Rita Alcorn
Joseph A. Alcorn

830 Grant Street

1955-1956
William J. Hopkins
Camden Fire Department

  831 Grant Street
  832 Grant Street
  833 Grant Street
  834 Grant Street
  835 Grant Street
  836 Grant Street
  837 Grant Street
  838 Grant Street
  839 Grant Street
  840 Grant Street
  841 Grant Street

1935
Nestor Aalto & Family
Nestor & Elsa Aalto
Irma Aalto
Martha Aalto
  Elma Aalta

  842 Grant Street
  843 Grant Street

1910s-1920s
William H. Kirk Sr. & Family
William H. & Nellie A. Kirk
William H. Kirk Jr.
Thomas Kirk
Harriet Kirk
Adelbert J. "Duke" Kirk
Archibald Kirk

SENTENCED IN SINK THEFT

Arrested at Second and Main streets with a sink in their possession, two youths were given suspended six-month sentences yesterday by Police Judge Mariano. The youths, Owen Norris, 19, of 422 Cedar Street, and Richard St. John, 19, of 843 Grant Street, told Detectives William Casler and Harry Tyler they found the sink on a dump.

843 Grant Street

1938
Cyril J. St. John & Family
Cyril & Bridget St. John
Richard St. John - Vincent St. John
Patrick St. John - Regina St. John
Leonard St. John - Helen St. John

Camden Courier-Post
February 12, 1938

3 YOUTHS JAILED

Three youths charged with the larceny of 60 pounds of copper from a building at the Highland Worsted Company, Ninth and State streets, were given suspended six-month sentences yesterday by Police Judge Mariano. They are Vincent St. John, 18, of 843 Grant street; Charles Schwartz, 16, of
638 York street, and Edward Sweitanski, 16, of 911 Vine street.

843 Grant Street

1938
Cyril J. St. John & Family
Cyril & Bridget St. John
Richard St. John - Vincent St. John
Patrick St. John - Regina St. John
Leonard St. John - Helen St. John

Camden Courier-Post
February 12, 1938

  844 Grant Street
845 Grant Street

April 15, 1950
Daniel Foote & Family
Miss Doris Foote

  846 Grant Street

1914
Mrs. Enoch Champion & Family
widow of Enoch Champion

Enoch S. Champion & Family
salesman
Enoch S. & Rose Champion


846 Grant Street

Michael Walsh
1920s-1930s

Camden Courier-Post
April 3, 1928

Charles A. Wolverton

  847 Grant Street
  849 Grant Street


800 block of Grant Street
Camden Courier-Post - February 17, 1936

5 Bitten by Mad Dog in North Camden Treated for Rabies
STATE TEST SHOWS ANIMAL INFECTED, DR. HELM INFORMED
Drive to Capture All Strays Pushed by Police Chief Colsey
LICENSES NECESSARY
 

The dog which ran amok and bit five persons in North Camden Saturday night was suffering from rabies.

That was announced yesterday by Dr. David B. Helm, Jr., city sanitary inspector, after receipt of a telegram from the state board of health in Trenton. Examination of the head of the dog revealed the animal had rabies.

The five victims of the dog who received Pasteur treatment at Cooper Hospital pending examination of the dog, will continue to be treated, Doctor Helm said.

The victims were: William Wagner, 65, of 1554 Forty-eighth Street, Pennsauken township, bitten on leg. Miss Florence Smith, 19, of 833 Grant Street, bitten on wrist and leg. William Luers, 3, adopted child of Mrs. Frank Smith, 833 Grant Street. William Winstanley, 11, of 835 Grant Street, bitten on hands. Thomas Owens, 12, of 631 North Ninth Street, bitten on right forearm and left hand.

At the same time Doctor Helm announced he and Police Chief Arthur Colsey were co-operating to capture and destroy all unlicensed and stray dogs and cats found on city streets.


A Child's Life on Grant Street: Memories of Camden
by Linda Boris

It all begins in a little row house (they call them “townhouses” now) on Grant Street in Camden NJ. I remember my mother telling me once that she and my father paid $3,000 for that house somewhere around 1952, when they married.

I slept in the same bed with my older sister Chris, who was only 18 months older than me, and later, my 5-year younger sister Cindy joined us in a crib added to our bedroom. There were only two bedrooms in the house: One, the front bedroom, where our parents slept, and ours, in the back.

My sister and I liked to look out our bedroom window, which faced the back of our house and from which we could see across the river into Philadelphia. We used to watch the PSFS sign flashing its red neon through the night. (Although my mother claims that building was seen not from our bedroom window but from the bedroom window in my grandmother’s house; such are the imperfections of childhood memory) I remember liking that. It was a little haunting—out there all by itself on top of that tall building standing among all those other tall buildings all lit up after the workers had long gone home from Center City. But, at the same time, it was comforting, because we were safe and snug in our cozy bed in our cozy room and our parents were right in the room next door, or just downstairs watching television. I mostly felt safe. I’m not so sure about my older sister, though. Just before going to sleep, she used instruct me to wake her up if I “heard anything” in the night, right before she’d stick her head under her pillow. Now there were always sounds in the night in Camden: a wailing cat, a fire truck or police car siren, and the seemingly continuous sound, like a clattering or clacking noise, coming from the Hunt Pen factory. I don’t know how my sister breathed under that pillow or how she could sleep at all comfortably that way. I don’t recall how I must have felt about having to be the watchdog, but I don’t remember being bothered by it much. Maybe I felt good knowing that I was probably at least a little braver than my sister.

Play on the neighborhood street often involved sneaking down the alley which ran down the side of the strip of row houses and across the back of the houses allowing access to the tiny concrete backyards. I always liked the sound of our footsteps and voices in the side alley. Because large tall buildings enclosed it on either side, narrowly, an echo would be created by any noise made in that alley. It was kind of like a spooky tunnel without a roof. The alley running behind the houses was not like this, but it was full of interesting things to see. People’s wash hung out on clotheslines, other kids toys abandoned in their yards, interesting curtain pulls. A man we always called “Uncle Charley” who lived next door had these cute little copper teapots for shade pulls. We always liked to look at those. The scariest thing was going down the alley as far as the house where it was rumored an old witch lived. Okay, we made up the rumor, but it took on a life of its own. I remember one of those big multi-room birdhouses (like a big birdie condo complex) in the yard of one of the houses, and I recall it belonging to the “witch” but I wouldn’t swear to it. We would dare each other to go down to the old witch’s house. It wasn’t just a scary dare because of our fear of the necromancy that might be perpetrated on us, but because the house was near the opposite end of the alley and it was a long way back if you had to beat a hasty retreat (which we always imagined we had to do, so we always did.)

We walked to our school (J.S. Read School), which was a few blocks away. When you’re a little kid, it seems longer than it really was. Probably in part because of interesting things that you would find and people you would encounter on your way there and back. I remember one morning there was a dead white cat lying in the gutter. It must have been run over by a car, because one its eyeballs were out and lying in the street next to it. One of the boys along our route to school picked up the cat’s eyeball and chased us girls with it. To this day, although I am a cat-lover, the mere sight of a white cat gives me the creeps.

Because I went to public school and my family was Catholic, in addition to going to mass every Sunday, I had to go to catechism classes in preparation for First Holy Communion. These classes were after school, one or two nights a week, in the Holy Name church schoolrooms. Now it was a slightly unnerving thing for a child of my tender age to walk to catechism alone and into that huge cathedral-like church, up the marble stair along the heavy wooden banister up to that classroom. There would be the nun, back then in full habit with starched white bib and long headdress and wimple. You’ve undoubtedly heard or experienced first hand all the nun stories you can stomach, so I’ll spare you any detail. Besides, I really can’t remember much except the ruler to the back of the hand (only to the bad kids, which I would never be—I wasn’t crazy) and the repetitious recitation, sometimes as a group, sometimes when called on individually, of the memorized answers to the catechism questions. “What is a mortal sin?” “A-- mor--tal –sin-- is –a—dead--ly --sin”. Thanks for clearing that up. More vividly I remember the walk home, alone, especially in winter, because in winter, by the time I got out of catechism, it would be dusk. It seemed as if the street was entirely empty except for my tiny self. My pace was always quicker then and I furtively glanced around me waiting for that stranger to pop out of an alley and kidnap me, or maybe that rocking-chair tiger… who knew? It was always with such a sense of relief to walk into the front door of our house—all warm and smelling of dinner cooking. I had survived another day out in the world alone!

Growing up during the Cold War was strange, only we didn’t know it at the time. It was all we knew. The continual, real threat of an all out, apocalyptic nuclear war with Russia was just something we were born into and had to get used it. My older sister’s habit of burying her head under her pillow at night and asking me to wake her if I “heard anything” was similarly accompanied by her scurrying under our dining room table and putting her fingers in her ears and singing loudly every time a television program we were watching was interrupted by a special report. During the Cuban Missile Crisis, she was 9 and I was 7, so she understood far better than I did what was going on. I think that’s when the “under the dining room table” thing probably started, or at least, reached its peak, with her.

And, of course, there were the civil defense drills. As Billy Joel sang “Cold War kids were hard to kill, under their desks in an air raid drill…” It was sheer lunacy to think that we children might survive the nuclear holocaust if only we got under our desks or out into the hall against our lockers, in time. But there was some feeling of safety and security once the shades were drawn over the windows and we were steadfastly crouched under the metal school desk. I was well trained. Anytime I was outside alone and I heard a siren of any kind, I would press my back tightly against the nearest wall and wait for the wailing of the siren to stop. I started to realize that everyone else around me was just going about his or her business as usual, so I was probably overreacting to a fire siren or something and I stopped doing it. Maybe we all just got complacent.

We were very close to my mother’s parents whom we called Nana and Pop-Pop while growing up. My dad was in the Naval Air Reserve and when he’d go to do his two weeks’ active duty for training in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, we’d all go and stay with my mom in my grandparent’s house which was on Louis Street in Camden where they remained until the city got taken over by the ravages of poverty in the form of crime, drugs, and physical decay. Growing up Polish-American was interesting and a source of great pride today. The neighborhood in which my grandparents lived and the church community of which they were a part was mainly Polish. While we grew up hearing Polish being spoken by our grandparents it was usually when they didn’t want us kids to understand what they were saying. Although food was prevalent in the house of my grandparents, it wasn’t as much polish food as you might think. That was primarily reserved for holidays. There would be the occasional “galumpki” (ground meat wrapped in cabbage and cooked in tomato sauce), fresh kielbasa, and a chicken broth based noodle soup called “kluski and oso”, but generally the Polish dishes were reserved for holidays. On Christmas Eve, when we celebrated the traditional “Viglia” (vigil) where no meat was eaten, the fare was sauerkraut soup, pierogies stuffed with cheese, potatoes, or sauerkraut, and salmon cakes. We would break the bread (“opoetek”) with each other, making a wish as we did so, for the other, such as good health in the new year, or some particular fortune we knew the other was seeking (most of my adult years, my relatives wished for me to find a husband—which should settle once and for all any question as to the effectiveness of that ritual). On Easter, it was hot beet soup into which we put slices of hard boiled egg and fresh kielbasa, beets, and torn up pieces of rye bread. After the soup were ham sandwiches (both red and white i.e., fresh, ham) and an array of deli salads such as coleslaw, potato salad, and macaroni salad. Also at Easter would be the traditional breaking of the opoetek, and the breaking of the hard-boiled eggs with each other (end to end to see whose would crack).

Visits to Nana and Pop-pops often involved a walk down to the corner park (Whitman Park) where we would chase or feed the squirrels despite admonitions of the rabies they carried, and make “daisy chains” from clover flowers. Around the corner on Mt Ephraim Avenue was a bakery where we loved to go and see the Felix the Cat clock on the wall as its eyes and tail switched back and forth from side to side with the ticking of the clock. There we could get cookies, or powdered cream filled donuts that were delicious.

One of the things I remember well from my grandparents’ time living in Camden was the Polish American Citizens Club (PACC). In its hall was held just about every wedding reception I had ever been to as a kid—and probably all the wedding receptions of the members of the local Polish community. If you recall the scene of Michael and Angela’s wedding reception in the movie the Deer Hunter, you have an idea of what those receptions were like. Mostly I enjoyed just going to the PACC with my grandfather on a weekend afternoon and sitting on a bar stool next to him while he had a beer or two and chatted in Polish and English with other bar patrons. I would sip a coke with a cherry in it, or, if I wanted to feel really grown up, a ginger ale, through a straw as I breathed in the aroma of stale beer and played with the pressed cardboard coasters with the Ballantine Beer logo on them.

There are memories that come to me in bits and pieces of the eight plus years of my life in Camden. The music that began the TV show “Sea Hunt” that my father liked to watch. Going with my father to see my grandmother in Ablett Village on Mom’s Bingo nights. “The Late Show” back then didn’t star David Letterman, but rather was a late night movie, that always began with a photo of a clock tower while the music of Percy Faith’s “The Syncopated Clock” played. The red bricked schoolyard ringed by a black wrought-iron fence in which we played tag and dodge ball and other games at recess. Watching fireworks in Pyne Point Park. My sister, Chris, and my cousin Larry and I would lay on our backs in the grass and pretend the sparks from the fireworks were going to fall upon us like tiny arrows of flame. Near Pyne Point park was also the school where we went to line up to get our oral polio vaccine: a sugar cube in a tiny white fluted cup. Visiting Nana and going to Whitman Park and chasing squirrels and making “daisy chains” of clover flowers. The bakery around the corner where the Felix the Cat clock flicked his tail back and forth, back and forth in time to the ticking of the clock as his eyes traveled side to side. The powdered sugar cream donuts were my favorite and the powdered snowflake rolls made delicious sandwiches. Molotsky’s candy store on the corner where my sister one day got a Chunky candy with a tiny white worm in it!

We moved to Cherry Hill in December of 1963 for a better life, more space, and to be closer to my father’s job at the Hussmann refrigerator plant. But I will always remember and treasure my memories of Camden and the little house at 716 Grant Street. streets.


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