A collection of remembrances by Catherine Casselman Greenhart, Camden High School Class of 1942.

In June of 2009 Catherine Casselman Grenhart, Camden High School Class of 1942 and a member of a family that played a major role ion Camden for many, many years first contacted me by e-mail. Her recollections of Camden from the days of her youth form the basis of this web-page.

Phil Cohen
July 12, 2010

Dear Mr. Cohen,

I grew up in Camden at 301 North Second Street. Your history was sent to me by one of my former students whose parents, under 400 Line Street, the Gentiles, also are part of Camden's history. I lived at 301 North Second Street where my Father, Arthur J. Casselman, M.D., Director of Public Health and Director of Laboratories at Lakeland General, Cooper Hospital and West Jersey Hospital, had his offices and a laboratory as well. It was called Public Hygiene Laboratory.

My Father was born and raised at 317 Penn Street. His Father was William S. Casselman founder of the West Jersey Title and Guaranty Company. His bank was located, as I remember, across from the Masonic Temple and was torn down in the 30's I think. I remember going to visit Grandad at the bank. They always had a Christmas party for the children of the bank employees. This is all documented at the Camden County Historical Society.

My Father was born 3/18/1888 during the famous blizzard of '88. He had three brothers, Mark, Paul and William S. Jr. Grandad is buried in Harleigh Cemetery. The monument is facing Haddon Avenue in the front across from the Chocolate Factory. [The building referred to was the former A.N. Stollwerck chocolate factory which stood at 1651 Haddon Avenue. It has been gone for many years.- PMC]

 William S., Jr. worked in the bank, Mark became a lawyer and had his offices on Market Street. Paul was an engineer and worked at the Franklin Institute. The ejection seat for pilots in Army planes was his idea, although I don't think he ever took (got) the credit.

 My Father met my Mother in Rochester, Minnesota where she was head operation supervisor for the famous Dr, John Stokes (brother of the famous Philadelphia pediatrician Dr. Joseph Stokes). She came East and married him in 1924. My Mother, Zula Boyd Casselman, was president of many organizations in Camden...the Camden Woman's Club, the YWCA, the American Cancer Society, the TB Society and others whose names I have forgotten.. She and Miriam Lee Early Lippincott founded the Woman's Field Army for the Detection of Cancer, later the American Cancer Society of New Jersey)  She was the second recipient of South Jersey Woman of the Year sponsored by the Best Market, adjacent to the old Sears Building on Admiral Wilson Boulevard.

  They had two children...Arthur, who never married, and Catherine who married Robert F. Grenhart, attorney, son of Dr. George Grenhart of Haddon Avenue, Camden.

 I, Catherine, graduated from Camden High School, as did my (deceased) husband, Robert, in June of 1942. 

Catherine Grenhart
June 19, 2009

Dear Phil, 

You have a picture of the H. Genet Taylor residence on Cooper Street. I was friendly with both "Tottie"and Harry III and we were in and out of each other's houses. My house was 301 North Second Street which would be the northeast corner, now a parking or or part of Rutgers. I have a picture I will send you over my daughter's scanner.

Across the street on the northwest corner were the Sabra Apartments. I have a picture of them and one of the old Hotel Camden on the southwest corner and the southeast corner which was the entrance to the park.

RCA used to decorate the pillars in front of the Library with red and white stripes and one year they had a Santa's Sleigh and REAL LIVE REiINDEER. They had Christmas Music over a loud speaker system and people came from miles around to see the Christmas Display. We got an echo, being behind the library, which could get very annoying if you went to bed before midnight when the music and lights were turned off.

You have "Gus" Whitney on Penn Street. His father was Reverend Augustus Whitney and he had 5 sons lived on Linden Street between Fourth and Fifth. Reverend Whitney performed my wedding ceremony. Gus was killed in World War II. The other boys went to Woodrow Wilson when the city divided up the system. Prior to that Camden High had been college prep and Woodrow Wilson secretarial, etc. 

In the 30' and 40's Linden Street from Fourth up had Reverend and Mrs. Wyatt and daughter Gene and son(?) lived in the first house. Next to them was Mrs, Sophie Piontkowski and her daughters Wanda and Jeryll. Wanda was my maiden of honor. She died 20 years ago of multiple myeloma.

Then came the Womans Club of Camden of which my Mother was president... two times, if I remember correctly. I sang at one at which Helen Keller (and her teacher Anne Sullivan) spoke. I was the entertainment (singing) 
and Helen Keller said she felt the vibrations of my voice and knew what I looked like by feeling my face.

We also had Amelia Earhart speak at the Walt Whitman Hotel... the Soroptimist Club's meeting there. I also remember hearing Hu Shi (ambassador under Chaing Kai Shek) speak at the Hotel. I don't remember what group sponsored him. I guess it was Chinese War Relief. We also 
had "Bundles for Britain" where I learned to knit socks. It was in a building I think on the corner of Fifth and Market in the basement.

I have a picture taken of my Mother and Dad when she won Woman of the Year...mother was much more beautiful than the picture you have of her.

Our house, which faced North Second Street, ran a long distance down Penn Street going East, and we also had a 2 car garage. Next to it lived Clarence Deacon (whose family later owned Deacon Luggage in Cherry Hill) and his mother. Then came the Gramleys, Gladys and her deaf mute sister whose name I have forgotten [Mary - PMC]. Chester had a speech impediment and earned his living cutting out wooden puzzles. He made a cradle for me when Mother and Dad moved into the house on Penn Street.

All the houses on Penn from Front to Third on the North side were row houses with white stone fronts. Did you know that Lord Camden and Lord Baltimore were cousins and laid the two cities out similarly? You can still 
see remnants of these row houses in Baltimore today on the old route which no one drives on today because 95 was built..

On the corner of Fifth and Linden [508 Linden Street] lived Jud Coxey. He, my father and Mr. Hurley all went to school together. Jud Coxey had a meat packing company on Friend's Avenue (an alley that ran between Penn and Linden Street).

Dear Phil,

Wanda Piontkowski (Linden Street) and Doris Mulford (East Camden) and I went to the Stanley Theater one Sunday afternoon to see Sammy Kaye..."so you want to lead a band". We persuaded Wanda to go up and SHE WON. We were too young to go to Ciro's in Philadelphia...a night club. My Uncle Will Casselman, a Lieutenant Commander in the United States Navy's Armed Guard (they escorted Merchant Marine troop and supply ships from the US to Europe and Asia in WW2) was home and he agreed to escort us. I don't think she won any further, but it was fun.

Dr. Ruttenburg (Cooper Street) had three children who all went to Camden High. Ruth was in my class, Serina a few years later and Bert, a few years before. He became a psychiatrist and moved to Philly. His grandson was killed when the helicopter collided with Senator Heinz's plane and the debris dropped onto the school yard.

I attended Camden High for a few years and most of our teachers lived in North Camden. Miss Stuessey on North Second Street...I think on the corner of Linden and Second...or maybe Elm. Her brother [Roland- PMC] (also was  unmarried) was a teller at the bank at Cooper and Broadway [First Camden National Bank & Trust Co.- PMC]. 

The Misses Ruth and Grace Norris were on Cooper Street near the Taylors and later moved to Haddon Heights. Also near the Taylors were the Chew sisters. One taught history at Camden High and the other in Grant School. We children used to visit them...that's right visit them. Can you imagine that today?

In South Camden there was a pizza and spaghetti restaurant on every other corner. You went in for a dinner and ate your pizza there. My kids were 20 before they new that there was any other topping than anchovy. That was the best pizza ever. 

The Kenneys had a restaurant in Camden before one of the brothers opened one, on Admiral Wilson Blvd I think it was...the best turtle soup you ever tasted. Second was the Old Bookbinder's on 15th Street in Philadelphia, the one in Old Town was quite different.

Nick LaMaina had a restaurant in South Camden that was the spot for all the lawyers to go to for lunch. He later moved (after World War II) out on Marlton Pike, but it was a night club and just not the same.

The hang out for the Camden High students was at Haddon Avenue and Kaighn Avenue, a drug store run by Naomi Huskey's family. Yes, the drug stores all served cokes and most had soda cream sodas...and the boys who worked were called "soda Jerks"

Herman and Frieda Block bought the grocery store at Penn Street and Friends Avenue from the original owners. They had a son, Ruben, who became a doctor and Selma who was my close friend. Both went to Camden High, Ruby before '42 and Selma in the '43 class. I cannot remember the exact numerical street addresses, but here is some more info on Penn and Cooper Streets. The grocery store on the southwest corner of Friends Avenue and Penn Streets [214 Penn Street- PMC] was originally owned by the Rosenkrantz's. When Mary Rosenkrantz's baby died of SIDS, they sold to Frieda and Ruben Block who owned it during the forties {as the Penn Market- PMC]. Selma was a close friend of mine. Her brother, Reuben. When he, graduated from Medical School He applied to Cooper Hospital for an internship. My Dad, Dr. A.J. Casselman, was on the board and as such, had one vote.Reuben never forgot this and when Dad died, he closed his office on Haddon Avenue, across from Harliegh Cemetery, put on his yarmulka and attended the graveside service. I think Reuben was the first Jewish resident at Cooper.

Also on the South side of Penn Street was a laundry. The laundry [The Plaza laundry at 216 Penn Street- PMC] by the Blocks was owned by the Burcats (I don't think I ever knew their first names [Joseph & Frances- PMC]). The two sons were David and Velvel (William). They went to Woodrow Wilson with my brother. 

Cooper Street was known as "pill alley" because of the number of doctor's offices. Penn Street had, besides my Father, the Doctors Lesher. I don't remember his first name [Charles Byron Lesher - PMC], but hers was Mabel. They were both missionaries to China and were staunch members of the North Baptist Church. They were on the North side of Penn close to 3rd Street.

On the southwest corner of 9th and Cooper the first two houses were owned by Dr. Thom and Mrs. Louise McConaghy My husband and I lived on the third floor of the house next door, which we rented from them.

On the northwest corner of Second and Cooper lived Dr. Hughes and his two sons, Thomas and Joseph who both became Physicians. Dr. Joe married the daughter of the owner of the apartments on the southeast corner of Fourth and Cooper of which you have a picture on your web site...her name was Peggy.

Dr. James Raban, an opthamologist, had his offices at Sixth and Penn as did Dr. Olivo a dermatologist.

On Penn Street. was the estate of Mrs. Fry...heiress to the F. Wayland Ayer fortune (Curtis Publishing Building in Old Towne Philly). The old carriage house was used by the North Baptist Church as a youth center. In the fifties it was taken over by Rutgers. and became the Law School where my husband, 
Danny Toll (yes, part of that family) and a young man who became State Senator and lived on
North Second Street...will let you know when I remember his name...there are two more... all passed the bar, my husband the only one 
who passed it the first time...the rest had several tries. 

Mrs. Fry was a pillar in the North Baptist Church. I have always wondered what happened to the pipe organ. At that time, no one wanted it. I'll bet there are a lot of organizations that wish they had bought or saved it.

At Ninth and Cooper (the block that burned down with Hollinsghead [July 1940- PMC]) was a Doctor Martin Collier. His son and I were poster children for the T.B. Society Christmas Stamp Fund Raiser. I have no copies of that. My Mother was not a "saver". Too bad, because the Woman's War Hospital that Dad was recruited for, was Mrs. Herbert Hoover's idea (she was evidently a Brit) and we used to get Christmas Cards from them and always had a hand written message.

George Savitsky married Jerome Hurley's daughter, [Doris] "Pud", as I think I already told you. Our Mother's both called us both "Pud", short for Pudding. Chubby babies were popular then. And we had round faces as well.

When George was in High School [Camden High School - PMC], he threw a javelin which accidentally hit Leonard Sonnenberg. Miss Lord's English class took turns visiting and reading to him while he was in the hospital. George became a dentist and moved to Ocean City....all this after a stint playing for the Eagles and as a professional wrestler. When he and "Pud" were first married, they lived across the street from us in Tavistock did George and Honey (Thomas) Ludlam. George also became a dentist in Haddonfield. On the same cul de sac around the corner lived Wilbur Hait and his wife, Phyllis...we are still email buddies.

You mentioned Dick Urban and Clara Pierzynski. They moved to the Baltimore area and had triplets...girls, I think. I enjoyed reading the Dick Urban articles AGAIN as I saw each of these in the Courier Post the first time. 

Wanda Piontkowski and Doris Mulford both served as SPARS, the United States Coast Guard Womens Reserve.

Dear Mr. Cohen,

I read the link you sent me Memories of Old Cooper Street by Will Paul. This man lived 50 years before I was born, but I recognized many of the names... some of whom had descendants I knew.

The author mentioned some people in my family. Thomas E. French, of French, Richards, and Bradley Law Offices lived on York Street. He was my Great-Grandmother's THIRD husband. The first was James Wood, my Grandmother's father, and the second Colonel Bassett. Both were from Philadelphia, although my Mother was under the impression that he was from Virginia as my grandmother had a southern accent. I was told Colonel Wood was killed in the Civil War fighting for the South and that Colonel Bassett was on the northern side. I always thought of Cecelia Carr Wood Bassett French as being Scarlett O'Hara. Her daughter, Anne Wood married William S. Casselman, and I am their descendant.

Dr. Paul Mecray was at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester. Minnesota, when my Mother was with Dr. John Stokes. If it is the same person, he married an heiress to the Anheuser-Busch fortune. Mrs. Mecray, whose first name I do not remember [Jane- PMC], was, along with my Mother, Mrs. Lippincott and numerous others, was a President of the Camden County Women's Medical Association. I still have her past president's pins. 

Clarence Moulette, mentioned as living on North Second Street was something to do with what we used to call "relief". I remember going to his office in the basement of the old court house when Mother had some person who needed to be on relief. I thought he was very handsome and was fascinated by his wooden leg. I was a very small child. I recognized him from the picture, but he would not be my idea of handsome now or when I became a young lady.