212 Mechanic Street

In the days before electric refrigerators and heat fueled by fuel oil or natural gas, the coal and ice dealers fulfilled the needs of Camden's residences and business.

Israel Boudov was another of the Jewish merchants who went into business along Kaighn Avenue. He acquired the coal business, locate at 212 Mechanic Street, of P.D. Strang and Son from William Strang at some point after 1920. During the 1930s Israel Boudov advertised regularly in the Camden Courier-Post, and was still active in business into the 1950s. The advent of oil- and gas-fired heating systems, not to mention refrigerators, foretold the eventual fate of the business and those like it. The Boudov Coal and Ice Company remained in business into 1957, but was no longer advertising by 1958, and had closed up completely by 1959.

Long a resident of Parkside, Israel Boudov and his wife Rose lived at 1516 Wildwood Avenue from 1922 into June of 1932. By 1936 the Boudovs were making their home at 1232 Magnolia Avenue, and by 1947 at 1222 Empire Avenue. He was still at that address as late as 1959.

Heating Your House With Coal 

Do you remember the center grate or grille usually between the living and dining room. This was the only heat grille in the house, upstairs depended on gravity with the hot air rising for heat. Needless to say it didn't work very well. We burned coal till I was almost a teen.

Hot water was a summer-winter hookup from the furnace. Cold weather didn't always get you hot water- you got steam, and you had to be careful. In the summer there was no hot water from this system. We had a little "buck a day" separate hot water heater, which used a bucket of coal a day to make hot water in the summer. With coal costing $20 or more a ton there was only hot water on wash day and maybe Saturday. Don't believe what they tell you, cold baths do not build character. Showers were something you saw in movies.

Ashes were the biggest pain in burning coal. They would get tracked all over the house in winter.

-John Ciafrani, January 2004

That center grate was also a good place to sneak a peek after you went to bed to see who was gathering in the dining room. I remember getting up in the morning and coming down to open the damper and shake down the ashes and stand there in your wool robe turning around 360 degrees to warm up as the coals got hotter and I also remember going to bed with a hot brick or iron wrapped in a towel to warm your feet. Every time I went to visit my Grandmother I would take the ashes out to the curb and sift through them for any unburned coals. 

Jim Bessing, July 2004

I can still remember my parents saying at night when we lived in Ablett Village " It's time to bank the heater " which meant adding enough coal to hold the fire over until the next morning. I remember the coal trucks and the coal bins and if a family was running out of coal they used to borrow some from the neighbors until they received their delivery. Jim Bessing has mentioned about sifting the ashes for un-burnt coal. I used to do that as a chore as my father made a square box with wire mesh on the top and we used to dump the ashes on the form and moved them around. It was amazing how much good coal was found. Talking about finding coal, we used to walk the railroad tracks and pickup coal that fell off the rail cars. We also saved the ashes or cinders for the ice and snow for traction. Coal heat wasn't the best heat and there were many nights my mother, my dad, myself and my sister would be in the vicinity of the grate, grill, or as we called it the register.

Earl Crim, August 1, 2004 

 One thing I think I forgot about burning coal, was that everyone kept old orange crates or scrap wood around. The wood was used as kindling but it had to be dry.

You would put some scrap paper and kindling in the firebox. Kindling went on top or under the coal as your preference. You light the paper, the paper lights the kindling, the kindling lights the coal. So much for auto ignition. Coal was a poor way to heat especially with gravity hot air. Steam and  hot water was better. 

It was sign of pride that when ashes were shifted that only a few pieces of coal weren't burnt. The ashes were a pain. In the winter everyone used them on icy sidewalks and to give cars traction. Guys would keep ashes in trunk all winter, for snowy weather. Of coarse when you came indoors during winter you tracked the ashes everywhere. There was also a separate collection day for ashes separate from the garbage. collection As a kid I had a little route taking out ashes for some older neighbors. They would give you ten or 15 cents, which was movie money.

Banking the fire didn't do much good on a day when temperature got unseasonably warm. You could tell people who burned coal on a day like that because they would have front door or windows open.

-John Ciafrani, January 2004

Camden Courier-Post

September 1, 1934

Camden Courier-Post

 October 5, 1936