CAMDEN, NEW JERSEY

NORTH CAMDEN


This page is a work in progress about a neighborhood that one could easily say has been abandoned by business and government. Once a thriving neighborhood with businesses and factories, North Camden was for all intents and purposes cut off from the rest of the city after the Delaware River Bridge was built and the the Admiral Wilson Boulevard became a multi-lane expressway through town. When the factories and shipyards that were located in North Camden left, the neighborhood went into a long, slow decline. 

This page will include articles and pictures about the past and present of North Camden. 

As with most everything else on this web-site, it's a work in progress, and I welcome your participation-
                       Phil Cohen
                       Camden NJ

Don't forget to check out THE STREETS OF CAMDEN, NJ for a block by block walk down many North Camden streets, filled with buildings, people, and events.

Thanks to Joe Clawges, Earl Crim, Jim Bessing, Floyd Miller and Ray Becoskie for photos of North Camden, and to John Ciafrani & Maryanne Mingle for remembering just about everything!. 


   LEFT: This 1914 map of North Camden shows the neighborhood in the days before the Ben Franklin Bridge was built and the highways put in that cut the neighborhood off from the rest of Camden. 

Diamond Cottage Park is now a part of the Rutgers Campus

Note that Pyne Point Park and the park at 2nd and Cooper Streets are not shown.

Above: NORTH CAMDEN Map, published in 1914
Right: NORTH CAMDEN MAP, 2003
Click on Images to Enlarge

Philadelphia Inquirer - July 12, 1896

President William McKinley, senators and other officials
in front of Albert Ebener's hotel
The Victorian House at Camden Gardens
Point and Erie Streets - Circa 1900

Philadelphia Inquirer - January 24, 1900
Highland Woolen Mills

Second Street, South of Linden - About 1900
300 Block - Millwood Truscott's home at 310 N. 2nd Street is behind trees on left


Linden Street 

Photograph published in 1914, it was probably taken a few years earlier.

This upper middle-class neighborhood was razed to make room for the Bridge Plaza 

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Looking Northwest at North 9th and Pearl Streets 1895 and May 3, 2003
Click in Images to Enlarge

The Relic

     Robert Linthicum operated his delicatessen and grocery at 546 North 8th Street, the corner of 8th and Birch Streets, at the time of the 1920 census. The address was still a grocery as late as 1947.

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The Linthicums of North Camden
The Story of a North Camden Family 


555 York Street
1911

Jack and Grace O'Connor
in front of their home

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A Pair of North Camden Churches
Linden Baptist Church
Northeast Corner of 9th & Linden Streets
(opened October 3, 1909)

Click on the hyperlink for much more about
Linden Baptist Church

Designed by Arthur Truscott 

North Baptist Church
316 Linden Street
Click on Images to Enlarge

Pictures from the  Cyclone of 1912
 Tornados struck Camden in 1885 and 1912.
The term "cyclone" was commonly used top refer to tornados in those times.

Building North Camden
From About 1910
The Real Estate Advertising Brochure
An Historic Spot in Camden Interesting to You
York Street Houses
in process of construction

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Sixth Street Houses
adjoining Park

929 to 939 North 6th Street

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Sixth Street Houses
facing the Park

1001 to 1011 North 6th Street

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1925
Delaware River Bridge Construction
&
North Camden

The circled area is the Harrison Avenue garbage dump. In 1925 the site was considered as a location for an airport to serve Camden and Philadelphia. The site has remained undeveloped and in need of environmental cleanup. In the fall of 2003 plans were announced for a cleanup and conversion of the site for use as a golf course.


NORTH CAMDEN - 2008
Click on Image to Enlarge

Schools in North Camden

 


Address North Camden Bars

245 Erie

1936  Brady's 1947 International Fur & Leather Workers Union Local 206 CIO

800 Fern

1908 John McGovern 1918-1921 Catherine McGovern 1926-1936 Hugh P. Reilly 
1939-1949 Clancy's Cafe 1956 New Mill Bar & Grille 1959 Stew's Bar & Grill 
1963-1968 Fern Grille 2004 Gone

800 Linden

1906-1947 Daly's Cafe 1952-59 Linden Grill GONE

125 Main

1900-1913 Dan McConnell's Oyster Saloon

127 Main

1935-1936 Harry Wieland

505 Main 

1883-1884 Joseph Zanner
1906 William Oberman Sr. 1918-1928 Mrs. Tekla Oberman 1931-1943 William Oberman Jr.
1947 Walter E Gross Main Cafe 1956 Main Street Cafe 1959-1964 Ann's Tavern Gone by 1966

900 N 2nd 

1931 James O'Donnell 1936-1943 William E. Morgan Morgan's Cafe 
1947-1949 Caesar Campana Sr. 1956 Tony's Supper Club 1959 Happy Landing Bar
1964-1966 Tuggie & Squeal's Bar 2003 Gone

940 N 2nd

1918-1921 James McAninley 1947 Vacant 2003 Gone

609 N 3rd 

1940 Mancine's Bar 1956-1970 Mancine's Bali Club 1977-2004 Mancine's Liquors

901 N 3rd

1915-1920 Harry Rodenbeck No bar by 1922 1931-1947 A&P Grocery 

938 N 3rd

1908-1966 Lynch's Cafe 1990s R&R Bar

939 N 3rd

1918-1931 Brady's 1935 Clem Bridgeman A grocery Store since the 1940s

636 N 5th 1918-1919 William Eckenhoff 1947 Max Greenberg's Grocery Store

519-521
N 7th

1897 John & Kate Daly -1905 George Gmeiner 
1920-1980 Nittinger's Tavern 1920-1921 Irvin Nittinger 1926-1931 Louise Nittinger

423 N. Front 1918-1921 John T. Whelan 1926 Joseph L Manderfield
524 N. Front 1918-1921 Mrs. Mary Kenney 

601 N Front

1918-26 Charles E. Snyder 1927-1947 Clara C. Snyder 1954 Cooper Tavern
1959 Sally's Cafe 1964-1966 Sam's Cafe

641-643
N Front

1908-1949 Joseph Dowling 1959-1970 Dowling Inc. 1977 Gone 

952 N Front 

1918-1947 Eugene Widman 1949 George Engel 1956-1959 Erie Cafe aka Frontier Playhouse, closed in mid-1960s 

5 Northgate Plaza

1964-1978 Lamplighter Room 1980-1982 Pegasus 

100 Pearl

1936-1943 William F. Gannon Gannon's Bridge Cafe
1947-1970 Reese W. Gannon Gannon's Tavern 1977 Gone

601 Pearl

1918-1921 Matthew Geoghegan 1926-1928 Edward A. Welsh 1939-1964 Big Ed's Place 2003 Gone

623 Pearl

1931 George Murray 

941 Pearl

1939-1947 Harry G. Wells Harry's Tap Room 1949-1977 Ford's Cafe

600 Point

1936-1943 Caesar Campana Sr. Caesar's Sandwich Shop 1946-1970 Johnny Moore's

901 Point

1888-1889 Charles Moore 1890-1891 Albert E. Kayser 1918-1919 John Lewis Dungan 
Not a  Bar after Prohibition enacted in 1919

943 Point

1880-1891 Albert Ebener 1918-1919 Jacob Blankenhorn 
1928 Anchen Szurlej 1929-1931 John Davish

69 State St

1910 Conrad Ahrens 1918-1940 William Pfeiffer 1947 Frederick Weldon
1959-1970 Kelly's Cafe 1977 Gone

226 State 

1939-1943 Charles F. Miller 1947 Lee & George's Bar, Mrs. Theresa Doris 
1954-2004 State Bar

304 State

1939 Capt. H.G. Sparrow Ship No. 1269 VFW

201 Vine

1908-1939 Daly's Bar 1939 Daly's Cafe 1943-early 1970s Daly's Tavern 

600 Vine

 1966-1980 Ann's Tavern Closed by 1982 

45 York 

1918-1921 Frank Ziemski 1926-1931 Mrs. Annie Ziemski 1936 Baker's Bar & Grill
  1939-1969 Joe's Joe. Zawitkowski


Pyne Poynt Athletic Association July 4, 1926

Camden Courier-Post - October 13, 1931

DELCO DEFEATS CIVIC TO REMAIN UNBEATEN

Delco A. A. continued to hold sway with local minor teams when they kept their unscored on record intact yesterday afternoon when they defeated the strong Civic A. A. at Tenth and State Street, to the tune of 19 to 0.

The feature of the game was when Ed Fish of the winners intercepted a forward pass and ran thirty yards for a touchdown.

Coach Jack Fitzgerald wishes all the Delco squad to report at the club Wednesday at 7:00 p. m.


Camden Courier-Post
March 21, 1932


Camden Courier-Post - February 8, 1933

HOLY NAME CARD PARTY ARRANGED FOR FRIDAY

A card party and social will be held at the Holy Name auditorium, Fifth and Vine Streets, 'Friday night by the parish amusement committee. Tables will be arranged for the various card games, which will start at 8:30 PM, and attractive prizes will be awarded high scorers. The committee comprises Mrs. Anna  Higgins, Mrs. Miriam Wilkins, Mrs. Agnes McCracken, Mrs. Edward Moran, Mrs. Charles Henle, Jr., Mrs. Catherine Hambach, Miss Marie McDonough and Mrs. Teresa Hale.


Camden Courier-Post - June 4, 1933

Head of Pyne Poynt Garden Group Says Relief Job Needs "More Heart"

Demand that Dr. Arthur L. Stone be retained as Camden city director of emergency relief was made by Walter S. Agin, president of the Pyne Poynt Garden Club, at a meeting of the Cox Garden Club at Twenty-first Street and Harrison Avenue.

"The city gardeners ask John Colt, state director of relief, to refuse to accept the resignation of Dr. Stone," Agin said. "They feel that a great heart like that of Abraham Lincoln in 1861 is the thing most needed today. The city of Camden and the unemployed as well as the relief administration have use for a man with a heart and a head. After all, it is not what we do for ourselves that make us great, but what we do for the other fellow. We believe there is something more than the excuse that 'he let his heart rule his head' for the demand of County Director Wayland P. Cramer for Dr. Stone's resignation and for that reason we ask that Dr. Stone be retained on the job."

More than 20,000 tomato, pepper and cabbage plants were given to the city gardeners by Daniel Deacon, Twenty-seventh street and Pierce Avenue and more tomato plants will arrive today from the Campbell Soup Company firms at Mt. Holly for distribution to the various gardens throughout the city. The Kaighn Avenue Plumbing Supply Company donated 300 feet of water pipe to the Pyne Poynt Club, while 2 tons of fertilizer were given the gardeners by the Walters Company, of Philadelphia.

John Emery, president, of the Cox Club, announced his organization has 137 gardens underway on the old Cox farm on Harrison Avenue. 


Camden Courier-Post - June 4, 1933

11 Families Cook in Yards; 35 Children Suffer Until Paper Guarantees Gas Bills
Returned to civilized living, this group of 23 children is happy once again. They are members of 11 families under Emergency Relief at 106, 108 and 110 State Street who were forced to cook their meals on rude makeshift stoves in the back yards after gas and electricity had been turned off for non-payment of bills.

Mothers Forced to Use Make-Shift Means When Public Service Cuts Fuel Supply Pending Assurance of Payment by Emergency Relief Officials

Uncivilized hardship forced on eleven poor North Camden families has been alleviated.

From early Friday morning until 3.20 p. m. Saturday these families, supposedly under the protecting care of the emergency relief, were forced to revert to pioneer methods to cook the food and heat milk. There are 35 children in the families.

Gas and electricity which had been turned off by Public Service for non-payment of bills by owners of the properties in which the families are living finally was turned on again after the Courier-Post newspapers guar­anteed to Public Service the payment of future bills.

When the Courier-Post learned that these families at 106-108-110 State Street had been forced to cook their meals and heat their milk over makeshift stoves in the yard, an effort was made at once to reach Emergency Relief officials Saturday afternoon. When that failed, these newspapers notified Public Service they would stand responsible for the bills incurred until the emergency relief would have an opportunity to act today.

A few minutes later, however, a Public Service employee stated that a representative of the emergency relief organization also had called and agreed to guarantee payment of the bills.

Diligent efforts to verify this statement were unsuccessful last night. Wayland P. Cramer, Camden county relief director, said he had heard nothing of the case and that it would be one to be handled by Dr. Arthur L. Stone, Camden city relief director who is serving until his resignation is accepted by the state relief organization.

Dr. Stone said that while he had guaranteed payment of gas and electric bills in a similar case about a month ago, he had no knowledge of Saturday's case.             -

"I assume the, situation was handled by Charles Edgar, of the rental division of the emergency relief," Dr. Stone said. Edgar could not be reached last night.

Dr. Stone said it was the usual policy of the Emergency Relief to arrange with Public Service to guarantee payment of gas and electricity of companies when rent properties to the relief administration. If the bills are not paid by the renting companies, the money is taken from the amounts due these, companies from the relief administration. Dr. Stone said he had no knowledge that such was the policy followed in this case.

A pathetic picture was presented in the back yards of 106, 108 and 110 State Street Saturday until the gas, and electric service was resumed. 

Huddled about little open stoves, with the sun beating down on them, the housewives worked as best they could to cook food and heat the milk for their children.

In these families are 35 children between the ages of one and ten years. All 11 families have been on relief for some time. Three other families in the apartments not on relief, also suffered from the lack of gas and electricity until payment of the bills was guaranteed.

Meanwhile John Colt, state director of emergency relief, has received but has not accepted Dr. Stone's resignation. Colt admitted the possibility it might be necessary for him to visit Camden in his investigation surrounding Dr. Stone's resignation.

"I have received Dr. Stone's letter of resignation' said Colt, 'but have not accepted it. You can say for me that I have this whole matter under advisement. I shall visit Camden if necessary.

"I do not want to give this matter any more publicity than is necessary. After all, my job is to conduct relief affairs to the satisfaction of localities throughout the state, and disturbances of this nature take my time from relief work. I shall try to compose this matter to the best interests of all concerned." 


Camden Courier-Post - June 9, 1933

CAMDEN'S GARDENS ARE PROSPERING INSPECTION SHOWS
Improvised Water Supply Used on Majority of Plots 
POLICE TO MEET MONDAY

The 20 groups of Camden City Gardens are making excellent progress, with several groups enjoying improvised water supplies, an inspection showed yesterday. 

The two-hour inspection trip was made by Arthur M. Taylor, of the Emergency Relief Administration; Capt. Charles F. Hettinger, supervisor of city gardens; Walter S. Agin, publicity chairman; Isaac Kyler, secretary of Pyne Poynt Garden Club, and Joseph Corden, vice-president of the latter club.

The Pyne Poynt Garden Club has installed 1200 feet of water pipe, with 12 outlets, from which water is sprinkled on the gardens in dry weather. At the Marine Terminal Gardens, near Clinton Street, the gardeners have dug eight wells, 12' feet deep, with 24-inch pipe, for their water supply. The Fairview Gardens are furnished with water by 1500 feet of old fire hose donated for the purpose. Hundreds of hills of potatoes are growing there, from potatoes salvaged from city dumps. 

At the Taylor Gardens, on Taylor Avenue, the name of the gardens has been worked out in string beans planted on the Taylor Avenue side of the plot. The garden police will meet Monday night in the court house with Chief Roy Adams. City Garden club chairmen and their committees will meet next Wednesday evening. The South Camden section will meet next Friday night in the Wilson school, Ninth street and Woodland Avenue. 

The East Camden section will meet June 20 in Woodrow Wilson Junior High School.

Taylor announce that the Campbell Soup Company during the past week has contributed 1150,000 tomato plants to the City garden movement. 


Camden Courier-Post - June 20, 1933

FATAL COLLAPSE OF 2 HOUSES LAID TO VANDALISM
Mrs. Pfeil Tells North Camden Civic Group Boys Must be Punished
UTILITY BOARD RAPPED

Declaring that vandalism may have been responsible for the collapse of two house fronts which cost the life of a man on Carman Street, near Seventh, yesterday, Mrs. Stephen Pfeil 
last night asserted the North Camden Civic Association would request police for an intensive campaign against vandals. 

The association, which met at 939 North Fifth Street, recently charged that vandals have caused damage of $500,000 to vacant properties in the city.

"We are going to organize public opinion as to the seriousness of the vandalism problem," Mrs. Pfeil said. "Aside from the loss caused owners, vacant properties have been so destroyed 
by mischievous boys and young men that each is fast becoming a serious menace to life and limb. The collapse of two house fronts today, which cost the life of a colored man, undoubtedly can be traced to vandalism in the beginning. The problem has implications.

Demands Punishment 

"We are going to ask that police apprehend these boys in an intensive campaign,. and we will insist that those found guilty be punished and their parents made responsible for the damage. Parents must be made responsible to break up this wanton destruction of property. We are aware that political interference may be encountered in such arrests, but we will vigorously insist that there be neither fish nor flesh in these arrests, but all punished commensurately with their deeds."

Mrs. Pfeil is treasurer of the organization. Mrs. Elsie A. Stein and William Coghlan, members of a committee appointed with Mrs. Pfeil to negotiate with police, cited various instances of 
vandalism.

Frank J. Hartmann, Jr., secretary, announced the Congress of Civic Associations was preparing a resolution to be sent to the public utility commission censuring that board for its action in allegedly "boosting electric voltages, keeping bus doors closed, approving underground high speed bridge rails in Camden, approving railroad consolidation and for "calling Public Service electric rates fair and just." 

Bridge Loan Rapped 

Julius Kretz reported that a committee of the association was considering the sending of a questionnaire to all residents of Camden inquiring into their electric and gas charges and the 
service derived. 

Thomas B. Hall announced himself as opposed to the $10,000,000 R. F. C. loan sought by the Delaware River Joint Commission for bridge rails.

"I doubt it the corporation would lend that money for the laying of two miles of rails which come to a dead end. I am opposed to an additional $10,000,000 capital investment in the bridge, which would serve to place still farther away lower bridge tolls. The service proposed is not convenient to any class of commuter, and I regard the whole scheme as one of tremendous waste and bereft of proper planning. I do not think the commission can lease rails without proper facilities to the traveling public, and this association will us every effort with federal authorities to present the inadequacy of this rail plan." . 


Camden Courier-Post - June 23, 1933

Cops, Nab 14 Nudists After Criticism for Vandalism, Bathing
Citizens Complain to City Commission and Give 'Hot 'Tips' 
$500,000 DAMAGE TO HOMES CHARGED 
Police Act Quickly on Objection to 'Buck' Swimming

The Camden police were criticized yesterday at a meeting of the City Commission for relaxing their vigilance in halting damage by vandals in vacant properties which have caused total losses of $500,000 in the city. 

A committee representing the North Camden Civic Association appeared before the City Commission and urged an intensive campaign to halt destruction of unoccupied buildings. Among the committee's recommendations for the drive were greater activity by the police, co-operation by citizens with the police in reporting vandalism, appointment of special officers to watch the buildings and a general educational campaign in the city schools. 

Given Hot Clue 

Mayor Roy R. Stewart estimated that $500,000 damage had been done to vacant properties, and agreed to give full support to the drive to halt vandalism. 

With characteristic suddenness, Frank J. Hartmann, secretary of the civic association, arose in the meeting and told the mayor that if policemen were sent immediately to Tenth and State Streets they would find young men engaged in tearing down an unoccupied factory. 

As another evidence of "police negligence," he said, young men and boys could be found bathing nude at that moment in Cooper River in that vicinity. Acting immediately, Mayor Stewart instructed Capt. John W. Golden, acting police chief, to send policemen to the neighborhood. 

14 Nude Bathers Nabbed 

A few minutes later, 14 boys and young men, ranging, in age from 12 to 26, were arrested for bathing without clothes. 

All bathers over 14 were held in cash security of $10 and those under 14 were released in custody of their parents on charges of disorderly conduct. They are: Leslie Bayne, 26, of 503 Royden street; Harvey Howell, 16, of 529 Washington Street; John Grady; 19, of 578 Benson Street; Roscoe Davis, 15, of 253 North Eleventh Street; James Evans, 15, of 601 North Second Street; William Dempsey, 12, of 1030 Lawrence Street; Robert Farland, 13, of 1112 Federal Street; Roland Garber, 15, of 537 Birch street; Edgar Grundlock, 15, of' 318 North Tenth Street; Frank Garwood; 13; of 717 Bailey Street; Eugene Dodelin, 13, of 309 Cole Street; Ralph Skill, 13, of 512 North Seventh Street; Robert Rudd, 15, of 642 Lynwood Street, and Richard Evans, 14 of 601 North Second Street

Miss Elsie Stein, a member of the committee, handed the mayor a letter from a woman who complained about young men bathing in Cooper River. The letter was turned over to Acting Chief Golden. 

"If the police performed the duties they are paid to perform, this vandalism could be stopped," Miss Stein said. 

Mrs. Stephen Pfeil, another committee member, told the mayor she realized the depleted condition of the police force and offered to aid in the educational campaign by talking against vandalism to children in the schools. 

Hartmann urged that politicians and public officeholders refrain from using their influence to obtain leniency for children guilty of damaging vacant houses. William Coghlan said he had complained to the police about the practice but had seen no results. 

Weed Cleanup Ordered 

Other members, of the committee presenting the protest were Vincent Martinelli and Leon Wojtkowiak, representing the South Camden Civic Association.

The city commission adopted on final reading an ordinance requiring property owners to remove from the front of their properties and sidewalks weds and debris. A fine may be imposed as penalty for violation of the ordinance.

A resolution was passed protesting an increase in power authorized by the federal government to Station WORC and WEPS, of Worcester, Mass. An increase to 1280 kilocycles and to 500 watts causes interference in broadcasting, from WCAM, the resolution pointed out. 

Assessors Reappointed 

Wilbur B. Ellis, Edward F. Peard and Thomas C. Wright were reappointed to the city board of assessors as of July 1. George H. Simpson, of 2725 Concord Avenue, was reappointed constable for three years in the Eleventh Ward. 

Another resolution was adopted by the commission clarifying to the federal government its position relative to responsibility as· to operation of WCAM. It was pointed out in the resolution that the mayor and city clerk had entered a supplemental agreement with the Broadcast Advertising Company, which leases the station from Camden. The government desired to establish that nothing be construed in the agreement which would relieve Camden from responsibility in operation of the station. 

Another measure adopted adjourns the city commission until July 13 for a hearing in proposed condemnation proceedings against properties at 332 and 334 Benson street, designated as fire hazards. 


Camden Courier-Post - June 23, 1933

PYNE POYNT PLANS JULY 4 PROGRAM 
All-Day Schedule Arranged With Parades, Music Dancing, Prizes

Plans for the thirty-third Fourth of July celebration sponsored, by the Pyne Poynt Athletic Association were announced last night at a meeting of the association. 

The program will open at 6 a.m. with a salute and flag raising. A parade will start at 9.30 a. m., with bands, music wagon and fife and drum corps providing the music. Prizes of from $5 to $1 will be awarded for the best decorated float, bicycle, baby coach or express wagon in line. A memorial service will start at 11. a. m., with singing by school children. 

There will be a band concert in the afternoon as well as more than 20 athletic contests from 2.30 to 5 p.m. A singles tennis match for the North Camden championship will be started at 4.30 p.m. under direction of William Hutton. Prizes donated by Camden businessmen will be awarded for each event. Children from the city orphanages and the detention home will be the association's guests throughout the afternoon. 

Dancing will be provided from 8.30 to midnight and motion pictures from 9 to midnight. Prizes ranging from $6 to $1 will be awarded for the dancing. 

Cash prizes will be awarded for the best decorated homes of subscribers in the Tenth Ward. The awards will be $10, $5 and $2.50. 

Collections to cover cost of the celebration will be made today in a house-to-house canvass beginning at 7 p.m. Donors of 25 cents or more will be eligible for prizes awarded by merchants. Frank J. Hartmann is president of the association.  


Camden Courier-Post - June 25, 1933
ROUTE ANNOUNCED FOR FOURTH PARADE
Hundreds of Children Will Join Organizations in Pyne Poynt Program

Route of the annual Fourth of July parade of the Pyne Poynt Athletic Association was announced last night. The event, one of the out standing Independence Day programs in South Jersey, promises to surpass any previous undertaking of the association.

Hundreds of school children and organizations are planning to march. The line will form on Erie Street, west of Seventh, turn south on Seventh street to York, east on Eighth, south to State, east to Ninth, south to Vine, west to Eighth, south to Elm, west to Sixth, north to State, west to Fifth, north to Grant, west to Fourth, north to York, east to Fifth, north to Bailey, east to Sixth, north to Byron street and then enter Pyne Poynt Park.

Named as parade marshal is Isaac Kyler, while John R. Schultz again will have charge of school children. William Hughes and George Zeitz will serve as assistant marshals. The Pyne Poynt Garden Club is planning to march and compete for a share of the 250 prizes to be awarded. Among the awards will be a token for the best decorated home in the Tenth Ward. A meeting of the committee in charge is to be held at 7.30 p. m. tonight at 939 North Fifth Street,to discuss plans for raising funds in the First Ward.


Fourth of July in North Camden in the 1930s and 1940s

......about the penny scramble that took place at Lynch's Bar at 3rd and Erie St on the 4th of July.

I can remember going in the bar with my Dad as a young boy and the patrons would throw their extra change....  which wasn't a lot..... on top of the shelf unit behind the bar, that all the bottles would be on. It was a large fancy unit that ran along the wall behind the bar. The unit went up all but about a foot or so to the ceiling.

On the 4th of July all the money that was up there was put in a big flag and a person named Russ the Ice Man would throw all the money out of the second floor window on to Erie Street to all the kids in the neighborhood. The 4th of July was a great day in the neighborhood with BIG parade parties all over, the penny scramble for the kids, then fire works at night at Pine Point Park. Great time and fine memories.

Bill Stefanko, December 4, 2004 

Photo courtesy of Jack Sizemore


Camden Courier-Post - June 25, 1933
2 OPPONENTS SLASHED IN NORTH CAMDEN FIGHT

Two colored men were under arrest last night following a cutting affray in North Camden. Each charges the other with atrocious assault and battery.

They are Herman Langston, of 332 Summit Street, near whose home the brawl occurred, and Emory B. Ball, 30, of 1028 Admiral Wilson Boulevard. Langston was treated at Cooper Hospital for cuts on the head and back. Ball was cut on the hand.


Summer on Segal Street - August 8, 1935
Click in Images to Enlarge

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.


Camden Courier-Post - February 19, 1936

P. T. A. Applauds Brunner's Beautification Project

To the Editor:

Sir-Hats off to you, Mr. Brunner! 

We congratulate you on your courage to really do something for the benefit city dwellers who must stay near home.

By careful and wise planning of your park beautification project, you can at the same time give the children as well as the grown folks places for safe and healthful recreation which, if thoughtfully and carefully supervised, will not only do much toward taking the children out of our traffic-ridden streets, but will give them their birthright, the opportunity of becoming healthy, happy and law-respecting future citizens.

This should save the taxpayers of Camden a considerable amount of money by the large reduction of costs for detention homes, juvenile courts, prisons, etc., not mentioning what it will do by preventing much anguish and heartaches. We have definite plans for Pyne Poynt Park and vacant lots in North Camden which we and other organizations are going to submit to you to within a week and hope that you will consider them before you pass out your plans for starting work. . 

NORTH EAST-SEWELL P. T. A.
Mrs. Elsie P. Robertson

Chairman Child Study Group and Safety Committee


Camden Courier-Post - February 24, 1936

ANNIVERSARY HELD BY PYNE POYNT A.A.
Number of Out-of-town Members Among 60 at 25th Banquet Session

More than 60 members of the Pyne Poynt Athletic Club joined celebrating the club's twenty-fifth anniversary at a banquet and entertainment Saturday night at the organization's headquarters 939 North Fifth street. Commissioner Frank J. Hartmann, Jr., one of the club's former presidents was among the speakers. Chester Vissel, board of education member also attended. 

The group was entertained by John Devlin, "Irish Ambassador," and engaged in a Monte Carlo contest under direction of George Townsend of Collingswood. Three of the members now living at Washington, D. C., journeyed back to the club from the national capital. They are William Brandt, R. George Rheinbold and William Begg.

Among other out-of-town members attending were Arthur Messler, Westwood; Harry Edginton, Milford, Del.; William Cann and Howard Hurlock, both of Wilmington, Del., and AIfred Heap, Haddonfield, one of the organizers.

Harry F. Walton, first president, was toastmaster. Albert Ross, Jr., house director was in charge of banquet preparations. Officers of the club are Edward H. Winters, president; Alexander Kahnweiler, vice president; Hamilton H. Batten, recording secretary; Frank Kelley, financial secretary; Harry F. Walton, treasurer, and George E. Ash, director-at-large.


Camden Courier-Post - February 24, 1936

HOME RECEPTION HELD BY NORTH CAMDEN A. A.

The North Camden Athletic Association yesterday held a reception at its new home, 325 State Street.

The club was organized January 12 with 36 First Ward boys as members by William Fridell and Joseph Gorman, Democratic county committeeman.

The officers are Edward Young, president; Roy Wood, vice president; John Garrity, treasurer, and Elmer C. Leibfried, secretary.

Young said the club will sponsor baseball, basketball, swimming and  amateur boxing. Garrity is a son of Willie Davis, also known in fistic circles years ago as San Diego. 


PYNE POINT PARK


 


Camden Courier-Post
August 5, 1936

Camden Courier-Post - February 5, 1938

Heads Banquet

PYNE POYNT CLUB ARRANGES BANQUET
Annual Get-Together of 27 Year-Old Organization
Set for February 26

Twenty-seven year's ago a group of North Camden young men banded together to promote sports.

Since that time an enviable record or achievements has been set up as the result of that meeting in the home of Albert R. Heap, 544 Bailey Street, in the latter part of January, 1911.

There, it was that the young men formed themselves into the Pyne Poynt Social Club. They met there for about three weeks, then moved to the Southwest corner of Fifth and Erie Streets; which has been the headquarters since.

The original group and those who joined in the years which immediately followed the organization meeting have scattered, many of them have moved out of the city, but each year they get together at a banquet.

Annual Banquet February 26

The time now is approaching when the annual banquet will be held. It is scheduled for Saturday night, February 26, in the headquarters of the organization.

It is the gala occasion to which the older members look forward through the year- the opportunity to 

FRANK KELLEY

Chairman of the committee which is arranging the twenty-
seventh annual banquet of the Pyne Poynt Social Club, which is to be held Saturday night, February 26.

reminisce on the days that have gone and to recount the things they have done to promote sports. And, while the years have piled up for them, individually, there's not one of the group of about 60 members, who will attend the banquet, who is not just as peppy as ever in his interest for the original undertaking of the club.

"It will be the twenty-seventh annual banquet," said Frank Kelley, chairman of the banquet committee, "and the boys will be coming home for the get-together. They'll come from Washington, from Illinois, Delaware, several sections of New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Old friendships will be renewed, old times and the affairs of the Pyne Poynt Social Club of bygone years will be discussed. It will be a night that will' be enjoyed by everybody:"

Gordon Mackay To Speak

It seems fitting, members pointed out, that the principal speaker should be a man well versed in sports, from the marble games of boyhood, through baseball, football, championship fights- everything in sports. The speaker will be Gordon Mackay, member of the editorial staff of the Courier-Post Newspapers.

Mackay, through his 40 years in newspaper work, will recount his experiences in sports- and Mackay knows sports and those who have made history in its various phases.

In addition to Kelley, the banquet committee is composed of Hamilton Batten, George Ash, Alfred J. Ross, Jr., Jacob Dreher, Ellery Caskey, Nick Adezio, Edward H. Winters, Alex Kahnweiler and Harry F. Walton. As chairman of the entertainment committee, Ross will be assisted by: Robert Johnson, William Huber and Caskey.


Camden Courier-Post - February 11, 1938

BANQUET ARRANGED BY PYNE POYNT CLUB
27th Annual Event Expected to Break Record on Night of Feb. 26

The twenty-seventh annual banquet of the Pyne Poynt Social Club promises to be the most successful and best attended in the history of this North Camden sports and social group.

From different parts of the country acknowledgments are coming in to Frank Kelley, chairman of the banquet committee, from members that they will be present at the dinner to be held Saturday night, Feb. 26, at the club's headquarters, corner of Fifth and Erie streets.

"We are striving to make this affair the best in the history of the club," said President Ed H. Winters, "and we believe it will far out measure our fondest expectations in the matter of attendance and the good time that everyone there will have.

"The club, in the years that it has been in existence, has occupied a prominent place in the sporting and social affairs of North Camden. It has been the means of making and holding friendships, and the 
friendships so established are cemented further each year by the annual banquet. The members look forward to it."

This year the principal speaker will be Gordon Mackay, member of the editorial staff of the Courier-Post newspapers. Mackay, who has been associated with newspapers for the last 40 years, will talk of sports, on which he is an acknowledged authority.

Among those who already have said they will attend are William Brandt, of Washington; George A. E. Rheinhold, also of Washington; William N. Cann, of Wilmington; Howard Hurlock and Louis Schwaiger, of Philadelphia; Robert Johnson, R. K. Dawrinson, Victor J. Paxson, Walter Adams, Harry McKinney, Fred Schwaiger, Ralph T. Githens, William Oberst, Clarence Rudolph and Arthur Messier, of Westwood; Herbert Schaeffer, of Bloomfield; Harry Edginton, of Milton, Del.; Thomas Kerr, of Bogota; Ren Plum, of Mt. Ephraim; J. Russell Taylor and Ed D. Crosley, of Buffalo, and Arthur Truitt, of Bridgeport, Conn.

Since the organization of the club, in the latter part of January, 1911, the following have been presidents: Harry F. Walton, 1911 and 1912; Cecil Battle. 1913 and 1914; George Townsend, 1915 and 1916; Frank Boyer, 1917; John Begg, 1918; Frank Haines, 1919, 1920 and 1931; John R. Taylor, 1921; Alex Kahnweiler, 1922; Ed. H. Winters, 1923, 1924, 1925, 1926, 1927, 1928, 1929, 1930, 1935, 1936 and 1937; Richard Barry, 1932 and 1933; and Frank J. Hartmann, Jr.., now city commissioner, in 1934.

Vice presidents have been: Willard Fox, 1911; Battle. 1912; Barry, 1913 and 1931: Begg, 1914, 1915 and 1916 Arthur Messier, 1917, 1923, 1925, 1926, 1927, 1928 and 1929; Haines, 1918; Winters, 1919; Schaeffer, 1921; William Benecke, 1922; W. E. Baird 1930; Barry, 1931; Otto H. Braun 1932, and Kahnweiler, 1933, 1934, 1935 1936 and 1937.


Camden Courier-Post
June 29, 1939

Click on Image to Enlarge

Camden Courier-Post

June 23, 1939

What often is overlooked when the glory days of Camden's past is that a lot of what made Camden great was its PEOPLE!

Neighborhood, social, religious, and fraternal organizations contributed to the social fabric of the city.
  

Looking East on 
York Street
from
2nd Street

Early 1950s

"Dianna & Marilyn Luggi,
& Jim Bessing Jr."

courtesy of Jim Bessing Sr., May 2004

 Looking East from 2nd Street on 
Grant Street

Gene Edwards (at left)
&
Jim Bessing Sr.
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 

Seven
Years
Later

Looking East on
York
Street
from
Howard Street

Gene Edwards & Jim Bessing Sr.

Jim Bessing Sr.

Maxie's Candy Store at North 2nd and York is visible in the background, just beyond the parked car.

John B. Moullette grew up on North 2nd Street. He wrote about growing up in during the 1930s and early 1940s in North Camden in June of 2007

NOMS de PLUME

NOM de PLUME ONE:
SPAGHETTEE MOULLETTEE

THE TITLE of this section might well have been: "Growing Up In Camden, New Jersey." North Camden -- my section of that industrial city of 200,000 -- was just across the Delaware River from Philadelphia. Sometimes, we referred to it as "East Philly." North Camden was a residential section of mostly three-story brick houses not more than 12 feet wide and 30 feet deep. They housed the workers of the shipyards that lined the river or who worked at Campbell Soup, RCA, and the Pennsylvania Railroad.

The Delaware River Bridge connected "East Philly" with Philadelphia. Between my house and "the bridge" was "Little Italy" -- a nice neighborhood of hard-working Catholics, daisy wine, and good-looking, dark-complexioned girls. Spaghetti and tomato pies were common there long before Pizza Hut. It was from this influence that I got my first nom de plume -- Spaghettee:

"Johnnie Moullettee ate a spaghettee and that's how he got the name Moullettee." The boys in that neighborhood were tough and it was from them that I learned how to street brawl: Stand and fight or suffer the consequence of being called "coward." The best fight I ever had was in Little Italy. I was whipped but I stood; and my self-respect rose and I felt good about me. That battle was to pay dividends in the years to come.

The river -- like all rivers -- was an attraction. It started somewhere in New York State and emptied into the Atlantic Ocean between Cape May, New Jersey, and Lewes, Delaware. In it, we learned to swim and to fish (not too successfully). By it, we dreamed of far­off places signaled by the national flags of the ships that delivered wares to the Ports of Camden and Philadelphia. And, we dreamed of being sailors -- some of us even realized that dream.

THREE LANDMARKS stand out in my memory of North Camden: The railroad marshalling yards, the mansion or cow-lot [this was the Augustus Reeve mansion - PMC], and Pyne Point Park.

It was at the marshalling yards that the greatest excitement took place. For here, almost every day of the Great Depression, came the hoboes -- those wandering, homeless and unemployed men of the '30s who were seeking a new life just over the horizon. They camped there, slept in the box cars or in tarpaper shacks, cooked in cans over open fires, shaved by looking into broken mirrors (seven years bad luck) and cleaned their clothes in the river or by holding them over a fire to kill the lice, or by scraping packed dirt with a knife.

They were kind and friendly and, mostly, they were interesting. They always had a story for those of us who were brave enough to approach them. We ran errands for them, watched out for the yard dicks, brought them meager rations of food from home and listened to their stories -- stories of the American West, the Plains, the mountains, the lakes, the endless fields of grain and cotton, and -- of course -- the big cities: New York, Chicago, St. Louis, Kansas City, Denver, San Francisco, Birmingham and New Orleans. My first determination to travel came from these men -- never did I believe that I would see each and every one of those cities as well as the major cities of Europe and the Orient.

And some of the men had stories of the Great War. Some showed us their wounds and their medals. From them, we had first-hand accounts of trench warfare, hand-to-
hand combat with the Boche, gas attacks, and that wonderful "Mademoiselle from Armentieres."

Compared to those stories, school in North Camden was terrible. Not the schools but the tedium of the subjects taught. For some of us whose homes were unheated, lighted by kerosene lamps, or without adequate plumbing, the schools -- Cassady and Cooper -- were warm, cheerful and cozy. This was especially so in winter and on rainy days. We looked forward to the rainy days as we usually were dismissed for the afternoon.

I loved my first grade teacher, my second grade teacher, my fourth grade teacher and the "roving" art teacher, who later became a lieutenant in the Women Marines (the BAMS). In common, these teachers were interesting, imaginative, enthusiastic, and understanding. They were also "young," not like "old lady so-and-so."

My favorite subjects were geography, history, reading and spelling. Math I dreaded, and to this day I carry the burden of not being able to tackle any job that requires arithmetic beyond adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing. Much later in life, I passed-- just -- statistics in my doctoral program; by perseverance mostly. Plane and solid geometry held some promise for me. As I was later to learn, the establishment of a hypothesis and the step-by-­step solution to proving the hypothesis suited my linear way of thinking.

THE MANSION or "cow-lot" between Point and Front Streets and York and State Streets and adjacent to the river and marshalling yards was our "fields of Eton.” Here we played pick-up football (tackle without gear), softball (not slow-pitch) and hard-ball baseball. If you didn't have a mitt you caught the balls bare-handed. If you had a ball, you automatically were the pitcher and, if you had a bat, no one could keep you out of the game.

The lot had been a 19th Century Mansion and pasture that become a derelict - it was abandoned, razed and leveled. At night, we used it to build fires to roast potatoes, cook marshmallows, and to set around -- watch the flames -- and tell stories. After the Christmas holidays, we used it to build massive bonfires with abandoned Christmas trees. During World War II the mansion lot became a parking yard for defense workers' cars.

PYNE POINT PARK was a lovely community park with hundreds of deciduous trees, a water fountain, concrete walkways, a gazebo, a bandstand (Um-pah! Um-pah!), a wading pool, a swimming pool, and baseball diamonds. We gathered there for most sports and events- mostly to meet girls as we became teenagers. Fourth of July was the major event at the park:

Parades, games, contests, band music, plenty of free ice cream and cotton candy. And, later at night when it was plenty dark, fireworks (Ah! Oh! Beautiful! Clap-clap!).

Later (during the war) the Army came to Pyne Point Park and they brought their anti-aircraft guns. They took over the pool, camped on the diamonds, and wired off the open spaces where they placed their guns, listening devices, search lights, and ammo bunkers. That was the end of the park as I knew it and I never returned there after the war.

SOMEWHERE around the age of 12. I began to pal around with a gang. That's when I became known as "Spaghettee." We joined the Scouts, camped out at Palmyra hills and Woodcrest woods. We hopped trains, tried to sneak into the movies, skipped school, fought the Bubsi Besoe gang on Fourth Street, hid in the comer sewers, experimented with sex in junior high school, smoked a few cigarettes and drank a little beer. The beer made me dizzy and the cigarettes made me throw up. I never smoked a cigarette after my first one.

AT AGE 11 OR 12 I had a job in a comer grocery -- stacking shelves, getting raw sauerkraut (good stuff) from the cellar. and delivering orders. The tips were good -- about two dollars per week -- not bad during the Depression and just enough to take a girl to a movie, buy her a sundae at the comer drug store and keep some for spending. Life was simpler then.

I huckstered -- sold fruit and vegetables from a horse-drawn wagon ("Yo, tomatoes, fresh ripe Jersey tomatoes! Yo, peaches, fresh ripe Alberta peaches! Watermelon? Cantaloupe?") Huckstering required me to get up at 4 a.m. during the summer to try and wake the owner (impossible), feed and water the horse (Sylvester), hook up the wagon, and lead it to Henry's house. After waking him (barely), we plodded on to Cooper's Point Ferry, crossed the river by ferry to Philadelphia, rode up to Dock Street, shopped for and purchased our commodities for the day's sales, ate a hot dog (a Frank), drank a hot cup of coffee from a Dock Street vendor, and returned the way we came to Camden and to our homes for a breakfast that would last us all day. After breakfast, a long day of selling commenced and didn't end until we were nearly sold out. At the end of the day my reward was 10 cents and a basket of mixed vegetables and some fruit (both getting ripe). I kept the dime and my mother welcomed the vegetables and the fruits -- after all, those were Depression days.

THE MEMORIES of those days are all good ones. We didn't expect much in those days and we relied very little on our parents for anything beyond home and hearth. We made our own entertainment (radio shows notwithstanding), earned our own money in order to attend a Saturday matinee, bought our own Scout uniforms and our meager sporting equipment, and -- in most cases -- our own clothes (how proud we were to buy that first pair of trousers).

To get money I shined shoes (walking from one bar to another -- standing on the comer didn't work), sold magazines ("Liberty" and "Saturday Evening Post"), ran errands, and cleaned cellars and yards. Eventually I worked as a stock boy. a curb service attendant. and as a bus boy in a restaurant and lounge (where I fell in love with my first woman -- a torch singer-­"My Sweet Little Alice Blue Gown"). But my big job in the shipyard was yet to come -- just before I joined the Marines.

MY DAD WORKED as a switch tender -- very difficult with one leg off and half of one hand gone. He became active in politics -- the Socialist Party then the Democratic Party -- and eventually he became a Deputy Mayor of Camden. My mom worked as a waitress in a Philadelphia chain restaurant (Linton's) during the Depression. During the war she did volunteer work -- Red Cross -- and was always available to help the down-and-out during the Depression.

We kids had a code: Ruffians we might have been, but there was a code and the code prevails:

-- Don't embarrass the family or bring dishonor to the family name.

-- Obey your mother and make her proud.

-- Stand up to your father; let him know you are a man, too, but do it with respect.

-- Respect another's sister.

-- Respect all grownups -- even the teachers you dislike.

-- Call a man a "son-of-a-bitch" only if you are prepared to fight to the death.
-- Never allude to incest by a son with the son's mother.

-- Be loyal to your country and be prepared to defend it without question and without hesitation.

WAR CAME to North Camden as it did to all America. Some of our neighbors' and friends' brothers were killed at Pearl Harbor or captured or killed at Wake Island, Guam and in the Philippines. Others were to die later around the world -- in the Pacific Islands, the jungles of Burma, in the deserts of North Africa, on the plains of Europe, at sea, and some in the air over Berlin and Tokyo.

Many -- those who served in the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) and the Federalized National Guard -- became the nucleus of the wartime Army. Enlistments in both 1939 and 1940 brought the promise of twenty dollars a month and food. This money was needed at home to help mom and dad raise the brothers and sisters. The "kids" gladly gave most of their monthly earnings to help the other "kids."

Those were the good old days -- the days of semi-classical but popular music (Glen Miller's "String of Pearls"), heartwarming movies ("Casablanca"), tragedy (the kidnapping of the Lindbergh baby), excitement and pride (Joe Louis defeats Max Schmeling with a knock-out blow in the first round), and the end of an era (the Japs bombed Pearl Harbor).

ON TO HIGH SCHOOL I went, but I hated it! I would rather have worked and I did -- until my dad caught up with me:

-- He said, "You have a decision to make -- school or work."

-- "Work." I said.

-- "Leave home, tonight." he said.

-- "Now, without dinner?" I asked.

-- "Yes" he replied.

And, so I did. I walked out with my gym bag in my hand (surely he's kidding and he'll ask me back -- not so!) and with the delicious smell of my mother's homemade beef stew in my nostrils (how can they do this to me?) and by the witness of my favorite uncle (how we laughed about this episode in my life -- years later).

I spent that first night at the "Y" [The YMCA on Federal Street- PMC] and many nights thereafter (a dollar a night, five dollars a week with clean sheets every week and a communal toilet). The next day I went to work at the shipyard as a cleaner -- sweeping up after the welders, carpenters, pipe fitters and electricians. It was hard and dirty work, but it was exciting to watch a ship being built from the keel up, be launched, make her trial run down the river, be outfitted, and sailed away to deliver supplies to our fighting men around the world.

IN NOVEMBER 1943 the Marines hit Tarawa -- a small island in the Pacific.

The casualties on the coral reef surrounding the island were high and terrible; the fighting on the island was bitter. It was too much to stand by and watch -- I had to go. So I "doctored" my birth certificate to read 1926 instead of 1927and marched off to the recruiting station in the Custom House at Second and Chestnut Streets in Philadelphia. There I presented my birth certificate to a Gunnery Sergeant: "You're not 17, you son-of-a-bitch, but if you want to go, you're going." I went! I was on my way to the biggest adventure of my life -- an adventure I would never forget and one I would never regret.

And, I would lose naiveté and the first of my noms de plume -- Spaghettee -- and pick up a new one: Chick. That's another story.


A part of city life that is all but forgotten in 2003 was the social, athletic, and fraternal organizations that were common in days gone by. While the fraternal organizations such as the Masons, the Elks, and the Moose were and are national (and international), there were many clubs that were simply local groups. North Camden had its share, prominent among those the Pyne Point Athletic Association and the North Camden Bachelors Social Club.

Camden Courier-Post - January 25, 1950

12 Members Mark 38th Anniversary
Of North Camden Bachelors Social Club
1
2


Camden Courier-Post - July 8, 1950
Boy Sees Accident, Asks Traffic Light
by WILBUR MORSE JR.

Petitions for highway safety measures or improvements usually come from adult individuals or organizations.

But there Is an 11-yearold North Camden boy whose horror at seeing a car drag a 4-yearold neighbor 40 feet. near an unlighted intersection, today spurred a one-man safety campaign that carried a bigger wallop than the table thumping of many of his elders.

Into the Courier-Post editorial rooms came William McQuade, 11, of 47 York Street; his dark brow furrowed with a serious frown.

"I want to see the editor of the Mail Bag" said William with the assurance that a sincere crusade brings.

'Tragic Scene'

When queried as to the aim of his visit, William pulled out of the pocket of his denim trousers a wrinkled and many times folded piece of ruled paper.

In pencil he had written:

'The tragic scene I saw July 6. makes me believe that some traffic improvements should be made on Front and State Street and Front and York Street, so that many people or kids will not be in danger from cars."

"At 4:00 PM when work is out, cars speed up to Front and State Streets. I personally think that some zones and traffic lights should be put up there on State and York Street. Would you find room for this letter, please?"

William McQuade wasn't speaking just for himself, he explained, after an editor had read his letter and praised his purposefulness.

"There are a lot of us kids who are in danger from the cars that speed along Front street, as work lets out at the two shipyards and the leather plant in the neighborhood."

"They all seem to be trying to get home first."

"I'll never forget the sight of that accident Thursday when the cars were streaming from the yards."

Young McQuade, a seventh grader at the Cooper school was referring to the misfortune that befell his neighbor, Dennis Taggart, 4, of 935 Point Street, who was struck by a car while playing near the Intersection of Front and State.

Could Be Avoided

"If there had been a light to slow the cars down at that corner, that accident never would have happened," William insisted.

Dennis, his skull fractured, is still in a critical condition at Cooper Hospital.

With his nephew Marvin McQuade, 8, of 707 North Sixth Street. son of his older half-brother, William brought his plea for safety measures to the Courier, because, he said: "Your paper always is trying to help people".

William, Marvin and another playmate, pretty, blonde Catherine Wilczynski, 10, of 929 Point Street, who also had seen Dennis injured, later stood at the corner of Front and State and pointed to the corners where they believed stop signs or traffic lights should be erected.

"It wouldn't cost much to put up a light here, where it's so badly needed," urged William.

"Why. I bet it wouldn't cost as much as the hospital bills and doctor bills for Dennis Taggart. And he's just one boy who's been hurt. There have been others."

"We kids rate a break."


Camden Evening Courier - July 28, 1951

Workman Injured Seriously in Cave in At Camden Plant

One workman was trapped and seriously injured, while two others scrambled to safety when a seven-foot pipeline trench collapsed Thursday in thee yard of the Kind & Knox Gelatine Co,, Fifth and Erie Streets. 

Lewis Edwards, 45, of 834 North 2nd Street, was buried up to his armpits tons of earth when the cave in occurred at 3:00 PM. Doctors at Cooper Hospital said he suffered several cracked ribs, shock, and possible internal injuries. 

The Fire Department Rescue Squad from Fifth and Arch aided company employees in digging Edwards out after more than ten minutes of partial entombment 

Dr, Thomas B. Downey, vice president of the company, said the accident occurred while a new pipeline in the plant was being laid on the Fifth Street side. 

“The side walls undoubtedly were caused to collapse by vibrations set up by several heavy trucks which were using the street at the time,” Dr, Downey aid. 

The two other workmen in the trench with Edwards were not immediately identified, but both scrambled to safety before the crumbling earth caught them.


Camden Courier-Post - March 23, 1953

Edward H. Wicker - Easter Parade - 210 Youth Association

 

Mr. and Mrs. Easter Bunny (rear), portrayed by Mary Topolewski and Edward Wicker, look on as Jersey Joe Walcott presents a prize to Sylvia Riley, 8, of National Park, for an egg hunt which climaxed the third annual North Camden Easter parade


Albert Bass on a Shetland Pony
State Street - 1950s

Oscar M. & Dorothy Bass lived in North Camden, at 715 North 10th Street in the late 1940s and at 615 North 6th Street by the fall of 1956. Young Albert on the pony was later known as Big Al. The other children were Clara, Dottie, Junior (Oscar Jr.), Gus, and Roy.  

Picture and notes courtesy of Earl & Janet Crim


NORTH CAMDEN FACTORIES

Surrounded on three sides by water, North Camden was destined to become an industrial neighborhood at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. By 1920 North Camden was fully built up, and between factories, residences, shops, and public buildings, just about the only piece of open ground was Pyne Point Park!

Below is a short list of some of North Camden's major employers. Click on the links to got to web-pages about these businesses.

C. Howard Hunt Pen Co

Knox Gelatine 
Protein Products Company

Highland Worsted Mills

Haddon Bindery

RTC Shipyard

U.S. Cocoa
R.M. Hollingshead Corporation

John R. Evans & Company
 Leather Factory

U.S. Gasket Company
aka Garlock Industries
American Dredging Company
(Weeks Marine Dredging)
John H. Mathis Company
Shipyard
Flexitallic Gasket Company

I grew up in Camden, and when I am at our Camden campus, the memories of a childhood in the city come streaming back. 

I loved those Campbell Soup tomato trucks - the smells, the sounds, the sights, even the taste, when some baskets "fell" off the trucks. We carried salt shakers for just such occasions. Every city block was exciting. We had the truck from New York delivering exotic vegetables to the Chinese family who ran the dry cleaners, and the savory smell of salmon cooking in Mr. Molotsky's grocery store. 

When I was very young, I would wait for my grandfather after he left work at the Hollingshead factory, and we would go to Nittenger's Tavern. His drink of choice was Camden Beer, and for me, they made great sandwiches. 

There were wonderful hot summer nights with families telling stories and kids hearing what we weren't supposed to, like what Mr. Unruh did in the barbershop where my uncle took my cousins. The cousins were supposed to have been there that day - "might've been killed," we heard. 

I could leisurely ride my bike around the bridge plaza, and wait for my mom to come home from work at the Walt Whitman Hotel. I loved that hotel. For my 10th birthday, she arranged for me to be a guest. The elevator operator called me "Sir." I had my own room key. There was a TV and they delivered my lunch. 

My formal education began at all-boys Sewell School, which was across the street from all-girls Northeast. Having us separated gave me a reason to look forward to attending the new coed Pyne Point Junior High. When I got there, besides girls, we had a new school that looked just like one on TV, and movie-like "rumbles" combining south and north Camden turf. 

Pyne Point Park also had a factory that made gelatin out of bones, which was creepy and mysterious. Close by was Petty's Island with rumored hidden pirate treasure. 

Downtown we had elegant J.C. Penney's and the less chic Woolworth's, where my aunt sold candy, with the best counter lunch. For fun, I could run to the top of the "milk bottle building" (City Hall), ride the Lit Bros. store escalators, or run across the bridge toll plaza. We had the Savar or Stanley movie theaters for wide-screen popcorn spectaculars and the Midway for all the horror we could handle. 

There were pep rallies for the vaunted Wilson High/Camden High Thanksgiving football rivalry. If I rode my bike to East Camden, I found a TV world of white- steepled churches, lawns with roses surrounded by glistening white conch shells, and plastic lawn decorations. 

My Camden was magical, and I loved it. I am proud I was born there. It captivated me in my youth and it is those memories that have pulled me back. 

Why is Camden invincible? Because each new generation redefines it and creates its own memories. Working now at the college, where the Walt Whitman Hotel once stood, I am excited to again be part of the city that gave so many so much and now is poised to give great memories to another generation.

William C. Thompson is a vice president at Camden County College

LIFE IN NORTH CAMDEN
The Raymond & Mary Becoskie Family, Relatives, and Neighbors

Click on Images to Enlarge

 

Christmas, 1960

Ray & Mary Becoskie at Christmas.

 

Mary Becoskie with children
Raymond, Michael J. and Linda C.
Raymond & Michael Becoskie
With
The Great Garloo,
Christmas Toy

Commercial for The Great Garloo

Video of The Great Garloo

Michael Becoskie with Christmas air rifle in dining room. Check out the remote controlled TV, rabbit ears antenna, and no UHF antenna. UHF television would not be introduced for a few more years.

Raymond Becoskie
next to Christmas Tree
from
Litwin Brothers market.

Linda Becoskie in front of our new washing machine. No more walks to the coin operated laundry on 8th & Linden Streets.

Michael Becoskie
in the heart of the house.
Michael Becoskie
with his ALPHA-BITS
Raymond Becoskie in living room.
Ray Becoskie and son Michael.

Ray & Mary Becoskie at Christmas, 1959
 Michael & Raymond H. Becoskie
From Left:
Linda, Michael, Mary, and Raymond Becoskie
In
backyard of 510 North 7th Street 
 Raymond H, Michael, & Linda Becoskie.
In the background,
the George C. Ellis box factory.
Mary, and Raymond Becoskie
In
backyard of 510 North 7th Street
with
Easter chicks.

 


 First new car for the Becoskie family, on North 7th Street near the corner of Birch Street

Becoskies' 1948 Oldsmobile in front of house

Michael Becoskie with City Hall in the background. Woodlynne Bus Stop and Fire Alarm Boxox at Lower Right.


Michael Becoskie in the backyard of 510 North 7th Street. At Southwest, the rear of Buckley’s barbershop.

Ray Becoskie
with new daughter Linda

Michael Becoskie. To the Northeast, back of Birch Street houses.


LLinda & Michael Becoskie on Christmas Bicycles. 1961

Mary and Michael Becoskie, 1950s. Picture is looking north on North 7th Street, from in front of 510. Nittinger's Tavern is in background.


Michael Becoskie. Looking South, Buckley’s/Sampona’s Barber Shop and House


Theresa Burns & Mary Becoskie, Good friends, in front of the Burns house at 526 North 7th Street, next to Benny's grocery

Michael Larson, Michael Becoskie & Tommy McCullan. 
Looking North on 7th Street, the traffic light is at intersection of 7th & Elm Street.

Left to right, rear: Mrs. Mc Cullan and her blonde children, Raymond Becoskie and John Burns 
Left to right, front: Theresa Burns,  _____. _____. ____
This was taken on North 7th STtrret, A few houses north of Benny's market.


Sharon _____, Michael Becoskie, Michael Larson & Tommy McCullan
1st Grade at side of Holy Name School, Vine Street.


Kitchen of 625 Elm Street, 1947. Raymond H. Becoskie being bathed in basin by 
Grandmother Catherine Kennedy and his mother Mary Becoskie, while preparing apple pie.


625 Elm Street, 1947
Eating sliced apples in Grandmother Catherine Kennedy’s kitchen


625 Elm Street
Mary Becoskie & Raymond H. Becoskie
on front porch.

Raymond H. Becoskie
on 600 block of Elm Street.


Elm Street Backyard. Grandfather Hugh Kennedy early 1950’s.


625 Elm Street Backyard, early 1950s. Grandfather Hugh Kennedy,  his dog ”Skippy”, Raymond H. Becoskie. To the north,.back of the Cedar Street houses.

625 Elm Street porch steps
 Mary Becoskie with son Michael 1953

627 Elm Street steps
Mary Becoskie with son Michael 1953
Raymond Becoskie
in his First Communion suit


625 Elm Street Backyard, 1953.
Ray Becoskie with son Michael 

Elm Street, 1950s
Raymond Becoskie facing Southwest


"Picture of my best friend, Jackie Brooks, of 619 Elm Street. We found an abandoned camera thrown in the weeds with other articles at the Admiral Wilson Blvd. and Forrest Hills overpass. It had two pictures left on it. I took them of Jack while he searched for more items. Mom had the film developed and gave me these two pictures. 1959-1960." 

Raymond H. Becoskie
May 2010

 

HOUSES FOR SALE - November 30, 1965
As advertised in local newspapers that day!

LITWIN BROTHERS MARKET
North 8th & Elm Streets

Isadore & Reba Litwin appear in the 1930 Census in Philadelphia PA, then residing at 2510 South 9th Street with their three children. Edward, Philip, and Sylvia. Isadore Litwin had emigrated from Russia prior to World War I. By the time the census was taken he already owned his own grocery store. By 1941 the Litwin family had relocated to North Camden, and Isadore Litiwin had opened a grocery. Philip Litwin was driving a truck for the family business in 1941. He enlisted in the Army Air Force after Pearl Harbor, reporting for duty on January 4, 1942. After the war, the two Litwin sons married and lived nearby in North Camden. The 1947 Camden City Directory reveals that Edward Litwin having established a wholesale produce business. 

By 1959 the Litwins had moved there homes from North Camden. Isadore Litwin then lived in Parkside on Belleview Avenue, Phil Litwin moved to 3000 Stevens Street in East Camden, and Ed Litwin had moved to Pennsauken. It appears that at this time the brothers had both returned to their fathers business. Times became hard in North Camden, and by the middle 1970s there were only two groceries of any size in North Camden, the Chek-In Market at 548 State Street, and the Litwin Brothers. When the Chek-In closed its doors in the early 1980s, only Litwin's remained. 

In 2004 the Litwin Market still is in business at 8th and Elm Street, and the Litwin Brothers Check Cashing business also serves North Camden, providing a service not available in that neighborhood, as no commercial bank has done business in North Camden in over 50 years.     

Philip Litwin - 1941

STORE PHOTOS - 1970-1971
Phil Litwin
Ed Litwin
&
Robert Pratt
Phil Litwin
 &
Robert Pratt
Dave Litwin
&
Earl Crim
Earl Crim
Click on Images to Enlarge
Photos courtesy of Earl Crim

".......late 1970 or early 71 I remember that Ed Litwin made a deal at Cherry Hill Dodge on three 1970 Dodge Swingers.... I got one, Dave Litwin got one, and Eddie bought one for his daughter Eileen." - Earl Crim, 2004


Looking North on Segal Street - Summer of 1971
Floyd Miller Jr., Vennie Miller, Bobby Reed, & Frank Houser Jr.
John R. Evans factory at rear
Photo Courtesy of Floyd L. Miller Jr.

Poets Row


Camden Courier-Post * February 4, 1933

Bridge Board to Take 27 Properties
as Safety Zone for Rail Underpass

FOURTH STREET HOUSES BETWEEN MAIN AND LINDEN CONSIDERED
Valuation Last Year Set at $133,875, But May Go to $110,000 for 1933
LANDMARKS INCLUDED

Twenty-seven properties, some of which are landmarks of generations past, are to be acquired by the Delaware River Joint Commission to make way for the proposed North Fourth Street underpass beneath tracks of the Camden bridge rapid transit line.

The properties extend along both sides of Fourth Street, from Linden to Main. Their 1932 valuation totaled $133.875 but recent general reductions in assessment for 1933 may cut this figure to $110,000. 

Curtis' Old Home

In explaining the condemnation proceedings to be taken, Joseph K. Costello, secretary to the joint commission, said that a commission, composed of Camden real estate men, will be appointed to value each parcel of property involved. The owners will be reimbursed at whatever figures the commission sets. The properties are occupied mostly two and three-story houses.

The most valuable piece of property affected is the Linden Apartments at Fourth and Linden streets, assessed at $10,525. Although the building, which once was the home of Cyrus H. K. Curtis, Philadelphia publisher, faces Linden street, it is listed as 401 North Fourth Street

Largest of the parcels is the 25 by 95-foot property of Genevieve A. Toram, at 417 North Fourth Street assessed at $7750. The others range from $3225 to $6000. Two other properties in the neighborhood may be acquired at Fifth and Linden Streets, where the high-speed line subway will swing south on Fifth Street. Engineers have not however, decided whether they will be needed.

The properties in question are 430 and 432 Linden street, assessed respectively, at $5975 and $7800. 432, because it is on the southwest corner, is more likely to be taken, according to Costello. It is owned by Harry L. Warren. George W. and Lillie H. Tasch and C. Rolf and Eleanor T. Stanley own in equal shares the building at 439 Linden street.

According to plans of Ralph Modjeski, bridge engineer, the Fourth Street underpass will begin at Linden street and end at Main. A similar tube will be constructed in Philadelphia on Fifth street, from Cherry street to Callowhill at a total cost of $1,112,300. The Camden underpass would cost only $275,000, Modjeski estimates, including a separate tunnel for pedestrians.

The Camden underpass is necessary because under Modjeski's plans the high-speed line will reach street level at the West side of Fourth street and cross to enter the ground in a curve toward Fifth street. 

Underpass Seen Necessary

Unless the underpass is constructed, it would be necessary to block all traffic on Fourth Street. Fifth street already is shut off because of the bridge and eliminating Fourth street would seriously interfere with vehicular travel between North Camden and the central section of the city.

Fourth Street will remain a two-way thoroughfare and because of the necessity of building four-foot walls topped with large railings to protect pedestrians and motorists against the danger of falling into the ramp, the Fourth Street properties will have to be tom down, it was explained by Costello.

This added width, Costello said, will permit the free flow of traffic to Pearl street. Fourth Street, from curb to curb, will measure 76 feet, with the underpass in the center measuring 28 feet from the insides of the walls and 36 feet overall. There will be 8 10-foot sidewalk on each side which will make the distance from building line to building line 96 feet.

The surface traffic lanes, northbound on the east side of the underpass and southbound on the west side, each will measure 20 feet.

These measurements will mean the destruction of 18 feet of the properties required.

Owners of other properties and their assessed valuations, are listed in the city tax office as follows:

401 Linden street- South Camden Trust Company, assessed at $6000 (property occupies all of east side of Fourth Street, running north to property owned by joint commission on Pearl street; all other addresses listed are on North Fourth Street).

Fourth Street Properties

403-Joseph B. and Mary S. Lane, $4575.

405-Frank Dumbleton, Jr., $5325.

407-Harry B. and Esther J. Dodamead, $5325.

409-Margaret E. Senderling, $5325.

411-Harry H. Titelman, $4950.

413-Joseph C. and Evelyn Lee, $4950.

415-Charles M., and Louisa Clinger, $5800.

507-George B. Lagokos, $5200.

509-Maurice B. and Bernice Shaw. $3925.

51l-Emerson P. and Ella Ogborn, $3625.

513-Atlie M. Ward, $4450.

515-G. Frank and Helen N. Bacon, $3925.

517-Walter L. and Alice Smith, $4300.

519-Lizzie J. Smith, $4300.

521-Michael Matthews estate, $4575.

523-Harry W. (deceased) and Pauline H. Roselle, $3625

525-George Aleck, $5125.

504-Morris Viner (two-thirds) and Rubin L. and Augusta Cutler (one-third), $5250.

506-Lewis M. Nelson estate, $4900.

508-City of Camden, $4500.

510-John B. Longshore, $3600.

514-Mary C. Schermerhorn, $3225.

516-William H. Dobbins, $4550.

520-Adolph, Pauline and Adolph Dippner, Jr., $4925.


UNDER THE BRIDGE - JULY 5, 2004

While you can drive a car under the Ben Franklin Bridge at street level from North 3rd Street east, at 4th Street there is a tunnel, closed in the early 1980s, that provided amusement for generations of local kids on bicycles, and aggravation for most adults responsible for public safety. At 5th Street there is a pedestrian tunnel, which is still in use.

2 views of the 4th Street tunnel, looking South. Note the cobblestone paving, and the stairway leading up to the pedestrian walkway on the bridge.

Boys and girls from North Camden would take advantage of the ramps to roller skate and bicycle in days gone by. Imagine THAT in 2004! Thanks to Earl Crim, Jim Bessing, and John Ciafrani for talling me about the tunnel.

Click on Images to Enlarge

"You had to cross the railroad tracks on Main street to go or come from tunnel. There were no rail crossing gates, just a railroad crossing with blinking lights and a bell. A lot of guys would hop those boxcars for a short ride. That was a fun trip, but dangerous."

John Ciafrani, October 2004

2 views of the 5th Street pedestrian tunnel, looking South. Note Rutgers University Building in background.

Click on Images to Enlarge

Under the Bridge

Inside the 5th Street tunnel, looking South. Note Rutgers University Building in the background.

Click on Images to Enlarge

Under the Bridge

Inside the 5th Street tunnel, looking North. Note Northgate townhouses in the background.

Click on Images to Enlarge

The 5th Street pedestrian tunnel, looking North.

Click on Images to Enlarge


100 Block of Linden Street
Intersection of
Front & Linden Streets
circa 1950

Houses visible at rear of phot are 101, 103, 105, & 107 Linden Street. 100 Linden Street is the restaurant at the right. Fire truck belonged to Engine Company 6.

101-119 Linden Street

2004

Photo by Craig Campbell


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.


A FEW NORTH CAMDEN PEOPLE

Dr. Howard F. Palm

Winfield S. Price

John F. 'Pop' Daly

Ellen D. Ryan Frank J. Hartmann Jr. Elsa Olah
Charles A. Wolverton Charles S. Wolverton Walter P. Wolverton
Samuel T.J. French Sr. Samuel T.J. French Jr. Nelson G. French
John F. Rittenhouse Francis H. Rittenhouse Edwin Figueroa
Dr. Walter Bray Thomas Winstanley Jacob A. Canning

A NORTH CAMDEN DILEMMA

Can someone explain how the corner of 5th and Pearl can be on BOTH north and south sides of the Ben Franklin Bridge? 

Click on Image to Enlarge

South of Bridge North of Bridge

Camden Courier-Post
April 1965

Mrs. Stella Cimino
J.S. Read School
Pyne Poynt Better Neighborhood Council


Camden
Courier-Post

August 4, 2004

State Trooper Helps Camden Children Fight Back
National Night Out program spotlights his achievements

By ALAN GUENTHER

A few moments before a Tuesday evening rally to take back a North Camden neighborhood from criminals and vagrants for a night, Sgt. Pedro Fontanez winced as he watched 8-year-old Jahaira Miranda expertly steer her bare feet through pebbles and glittering shards of broken glass. She wanted to show her favorite place to hide. She didn't choose the five abandoned houses near her apartment off Cedar Street. She walked past spare tires piled high against a fence. She ignored the mound of black earth Fontanez said had been illegally dumped on the land next to her home. Finally, she smiled. She showed a dented silver Plymouth Breeze parked on the grass.

"That's my favorite," she said. She plays there when it's not too dark or dangerous to go outside.

As he watched Jahaira, Fontanez squinted into the setting sun. "It breaks your heart, doesn't it?" he said.

With community activist Lillian Santiago, Fontanez helped fit about 20 neighborhood children with sparkling earrings - tiny lights provided as part of a National Night Out celebration. During the National Night Out, neighbors try to send a message to criminals that they're fighting back. 

An estimated 10,000 communities were expected to participate in 50 states on Tuesday, according to the National Association of Town Watch in Wynnewood, Pa. Sixteen South Jersey communities were scheduled to celebrate. 

Because of the recent rash of crime in Camden, Santiago said the National Night Out celebration was especially important. Thirty-four people have been murdered so far in Camden this year. The record was set in 1995 when 58 people were killed.

Santiago calls her community group the North Camden Stars. She tries to get as many children as possible involved to show them that "the drug life is no good for them," she said. Fontanez plays an important role with the children in North Camden, she said.

"He's good with the kids," she said. "He knows how to talk to them."

He reads to local children in the schools, he said. He's working with children to rebuild bicycles and distribute them for Christmas this year. He's working with the local high school and elementary schools, trying to build a program where the older children tutor and act as mentors to the younger kids. City school officials will meet to discuss the proposed mentoring program today, he said.

Fontanez said he tries to restore goodwill toward state troopers in a city where they have not always been welcomed. 

A high school dropout at age 17, Fontanez later became a pilot, a licensed practical nurse and a state trooper. He returned from military service in Iraq last year.

"I guess I'm an overachiever," he said. He wants children - and adults - to know that "if given the opportunity, every child has the chance to succeed."

As they walked through their North Camden streets, the children carried a "National Night Out" banner. From behind, they were small silhouettes in the setting sun, surrounded by graffiti, potholes and boarded up homes.


I was familiar with most of the streets of N. Camden as I was a paperboy for the Philadelphia Bulletin. My daily and Sunday route spanned from East/West  5th Street to 10th Street and North/South from Pearl Street all the way down to the only house next to the river in Pyne Point Park, I think it was a dredge owners house. I used to pick up my papers at the store on 7th & Vine across the street from the Sewell School. As I remember it was owned by two sisters at the time.      

At times when we were playing on 10th Street, we would cross the State Street Bridge when it used to rotate to let the tug boats through. Sometimes the bridge operator would allow us to stand on it's walkway while he rotated it, if we promised to behave and stand still.      

Seeing the caretakers house at Pyne Point brought back memories also. Smith...Smitty as we used to call him would frequently chase us out of the park, we were usually mischievous and I guess we deserved it.        

The Ben Franklin Bridge was one of our favorite playgrounds, walking or riding our bikes across. Loading up our pockets with stones to throw them in the river from the middle of the bridge. My Grandfather would walk that bridge to Snellenberg's in Philly where he worked as a window washer (he didn't want to spend the dimes for carfare.) My mother told me that he also walked that bridge on it's grand opening in 1927.      

One last memory for now is the City Hall. From our front steps my mother taught me how to tell time from the glowing hands of the clock.  

Ray Becoskie 
April 30, 2010

In the Pony picture there is a bag of laundry on the porch (on Elm Street - PMC). All Laundry was sent out or done by hand on Mondays, if I remember correctly. That's the day the "Clothes Prop Man" would walk the alleyways of Camden carrying homemade clothes props, clothes pins & clothes lines on his shoulder's singing out "CLOTHSSSEEE PRROOPPS" very loudly.  (Everyone in Camden was enterprising!) More stories later about the "Knife Sharpening Man", Window Washer Man, vendors etc.

Their was one more article by a lady, I forget the street. But she talked of buried treasure on Petty's Island. We were all "River Rats, Bridge Brats, and Alley Cats!" On more than one occasion we would lash crates, skids, pallets together to paddle our way over there, or to the ran-aground barge from Pyne Point. It must have been the Huckle- berry Finn, Tom Sawyer Stories. I'm now glad we always flipped over in shallow water, or I wouldn't be typing this today!

Ray Becoskie
May 4, 2010


My name is Warren Ash Jr. I now live in Tacoma, Washington. I used to live at 718 N. 8th Street in Camden. My father, Warren Ash, bought the house in the 50's from a Mr. Welch. I was born in 1955. My mother's name was Georgia Ash and I have one younger sister, Diana. We lived there until 1967, I believe.

I have seen pictures of 718 on the web and it isn't pretty. I can see through the old bathroom window and see light, which means the walls between the bathroom, the back bedroom and the outside wall are open or missing. Looks like a fire may have burned out the place. I was by there in the seventies and someone was still living there.

I remember Mr. Austermuhl of 740 State Street and Mr. Dalton of Dalton's Pharmacy on the northwest corner of 8th and State. The store on the northeast corner of 8th and State used to be a milk store.

On the southwest corner of 8th and Vine Street was another drugstore, complete with soda fountain. It was the old typical green metal exterior with the big Coca-Cola circle emblems. I used to get my candy there.

I went to school at both schools a little further up Vine Street. The older school was called Sewell School. The school on the southwest corner of 7th and Vine was called Northeast School. My father attended Sewell school also. Northeast used to be an all girl school when he was a kid. Of course, the old building has been replaced by a newer structure. I was in class in the second grade at Northeast School when President Kennedy was assassinated. 

Another childhood memory was watching the Mummers parade marching from State Street, down North 8th Street. I can also remember watching a large fire in an abandoned factory located on the northeast corner of North 9th Street. It lasted most of the day and was something a kid will always remember watching. If you travel south on North 8th Street and turn left on Vine Street, you will come to Willard Street on the right. That is where most of the gang members of my youth used to live.

I also remember that bridge on State Street being stuck in the open position because it was so hot outside when they opened it, it expanded and wouldn't shut. The fire department had to hose it down for awhile so it would close. Anyway, just before that bridge, on the North side of the street, there used to be businesses and stores. My Mom saw a doctor for her thyroid there and there used to be a pizzeria and deli and another drugstore where I got my first Cherry Coke, handmade at the soda fountain. 

My dad would also take me to the bridge over the rail yard on East State Street. We were both train nuts. As a matter of fact, got my first train ride down in that yard. We were walking around and an engine crew wanted to know if we wanted a ride.

My Grandfather, Warren S. Ash, bought and owned the Matlack & Sons hardware store at 701 North 8th Street. 703 North 8th Street was also a part of the hardware store. Downstairs at 703 was the business office and my Grandfather lived upstairs of both 701 and 703. 

My Grandfather moved the hardware business further downtown to an old Packard dealership. He stopped selling to the public and dealt with schools and businesses. .This was before the riots in 68. I forget the town he moved his home to and my family moved to Collingswood. We didn't stay there long. My dad worked for IBM and we started to move fairly regularly after 1969. Never lived in New Jersey again after that. He was a IBM customer engineer for all of South Jersey, fixing those giant computers that now fit in a laptop.

 Hope the information was useful.!

Warren Ash Jr.
March 2014


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