CAMDEN, NEW JERSEY
The Polish American Citizens Club was first organized in 1914, to provide a social and educational resources for the rapidly growing Polish-American community centered around St. Joseph's Church in the Whitman Park section of Camden NJ. It could trace its roots back to Polish social clubs that had organized in the late 1890s.
The Polish American Citizens Club's first president was Josef Zbieratsky. Journalist Peter Liwoch was for many years the recording secretary, served on the board of directors, and founded the club's library, whose books numbered in the thousands. By the 1920s the club was meeting at 1559 Mount Ephraim Avenue. This building was purchased in January of 1928. After Prohibition was repealed in 1933, a bar was opened for members. In the late 1940s, Stephen Stemborski was the steward.
The Polish American Citizens Club also sponsored sports teams and leagues to keep the boys and girls of the community out of trouble. At least one PACC baseball player, Sig Jakucki, went to the major leagues.
On March 18, 1950, the Polish-American Citizens Club dedicated the fine hall that they had built at the corner of Warsaw and Lowell Streets. The building served the Polish-American community and the entire neighborhood for many years. Activities included furnishing classes to Polish immigrants so they could become naturalized American citizens. It is interesting to note that in this effort the PACC partnered with the Camden County organizations of the YMCA and the Patriotic Order Sons of America to provide these services.
The Polish-American Citizens Club remained open in Camden into the early 1990s. The building was subsequently sold to the Board of Education of the City of Camden. The club is still quite active, however in 2009, hosting a number of social events each year, participating in the annual Pulaski Day Parade in Philadelphia, and of course supporting St. Joseph's Church at South 10th and Mechanic Streets in the old Camden neighborhood.
|Philadelphia Inquirer - April 8, 1897|
|Mechanic Street - Thaddeus Kosciuszko Independence Club|
|Philadelphia Inquirer - May 6, 1911|
Avenue - Arthur
Stanley - Rudolph Climes -
Alexander Jasienski - Joseph Wojtkowiak - St. Joseph's Society
Camden Courier-Post January 11, 1928
POLISH CITIZENS CLUB TO CHANGE NAME
were taken to change the name of the Polish Citizens Club to the Polish
American Citizens Club at the installation of the newly elected officers
of the organization in the clubhouse, 1559 Mt. Ephraim Avenue, last
following officers were installed: Stanley
Ciechanowski, president; F.
Multanski, vice president; J. Witik, financial secretary; J. Mroz,
recording secretary; Edward Praiss, corresponding secretary, and F.
Benclawski, treasurer. The installation was conducted by J. Zbieratzki,
President Ciechanowski, in his address to the members, spoke of the necessity of enlarging the club’s headquarters, and of plans for a membership drive. He also spoke of having a large number of Polish citizens represented in the next naturalization class here.
Camden Courier-Post * June 30, 1928
Mount Ephraim Avenue
Polish American Citizens Club
Camden Colored Elks
Clay W. Reesman League
West Jersey Hospital
Woodmen of the World
St Joseph's Church
South 10th Street
Camden Polish Republican Club
Camden Courier-Post * October 15, 1931
CAMDEN AMATEUR LOOP IN CONFAB TOMORROW
Managers of teams which were represented in the Camden Amateur League during the past baseball season are requested to attend a meeting of the circuit tomorrow night at the Polish American Citizens' Club, Mt. Ephraim Avenue and Morton Streets.
The confab, which is scheduled to start promptly at 8 o'clock, is to be held so that plans can be made for the coming basketball season. Any other club desiring to enter the circuit for the court campaign may make its application tomorrow evening.
|Camden Courier-Post * October 23, 1931|
A. Harry Moore, Democratic candidate for governor, is scheduled to speak at the meeting of Gloucester Democrats in the city hall there next. Wednesday night. The meeting will be in charge of Mayor J. Emerson Jackson and the county Democratic committee.
Gloucester Republicans tonight will hold a. rally at the headquarters of the city committee, 104 North King Street.
The Polish-American Women's Citizens Club, in its recent resolution pledging support to David Baird, endorsed a candidate for the first time in the club's six-year history, according to Mrs. Priscilla Ciechanowski, secretary. The club is two to one for Baird, she said. Other officers are Mrs. A. Bec, president; Mrs. H. Stojak, vice-president, and Mrs. A. Skierska, treasurer.
A huge new sign, in vivid lettering, has appeared on the east side or Admiral Wilson Boulevard, south of Baird Boulevard, urging a vote for Baird November 3. It is one of the largest campaign signs in Camden County.
Congressman Charles A. Wolverton is appearing almost everywhere with Baird. The congressman is one of the gubernatorial nominee's ablest campaign advisers. He was with the candidate at the Trenton convention of the New Jersey Taxpayers' Association Wednesday.
David Tattersdill, Broadway merchant, is among the latest members of the Speakers' Bureau at Republican headquarters, Broadway and Stevens Street. He is one of the organizers of the Forty-second Street Baird Boosters' Club.
Seventy-two hundred applications for challengers were received Tuesday afternoon, the deadline, by the Camden County Board of Elections. Of the total, 4000 were for challengers for Republican candidates and the remainder for Democratic candidates, including those seeking office as governor, freeholder, justice of the peace and various borough and township offices. No Socialist or prohibition applications for challengers were filed here.
Camden Courier-Post * January 20, 1928
Buy Polish Citizens Clubhouse
Here is the building committee of the Polish American Citizens Club, which has just completed negotiations for purchase of the club house, 1559 Mount Ephraim Avenue. In the front row, from left to right, are Joseph. Mroz, recording secretary; Frank Multanski, vice president; Stanley Ciechanowski, president; Joseph Witek, financial secretary; and Frank Benclawski, treasurer. In the back row are shown, from left to right, Edward Praiss, Stephen Srzechowski, Joseph Zbieratzki, Aloysius Wilk and Walter Supernack. The club has occupied the headquarters on Mount Ephraim Avenue for some years and now has purchased it at a reported price of $18,000.
|Camden Courier-Post - February 9, 1933|
A.C.C. CLIMBS IN S.J. POOL LEAGUE
gaining the extra-point for high total
score, the Polish American Citizens Club's cue artists defeated the WestvilIe team last night at the
latter's tables in the South Jersey Pocket Billiard League.
a result of its triumph, the Polish American Club climbed into undisputed
possession of third place, only
three points in the rear of the pace-setting Maple Shade outfit which nosed out Thirteenth Ward for the sunberth last
all eight clubs will again swing into action with the "Shaders"
defending their lead against Haddonfield, while Thirteenth Ward.
entertains Pitman and Polish is to Westville with Paulsboro traveling to
Petris, who has been the most consistent
winner for the Polish A.C.C,
continued his victorious stride for the Whitman Park aggregation last night, while
Stan Kaminski also chalked up a victory: Lenardo and Fox
won for WestvilIe, the latter beating
out Steve Gromacki in a keenly contested duel by the score of 75 to 71.
|Camden Courier-Post - August 10, 1933|
"Pusey", the firstbaseman for the P.A.C.C., was Camden police officer Leon Puszcykowski
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|Camden Courier-Post - February 17, 1936|
SOCIETIES WANT CURFEW
passage of a curfew law and the appointment of a commission to study
juvenile delinquency were advocated last night at a meeting of the United
Polish organizations at the Polish-American Citizens Club, 1559
Mt. Ephraim avenue.
A. Sikorski, president, said 32 Polish organizations were represented at
the meeting and approved a proposed curfew law, which would take children
under 16 years from the streets at 9.30 p. m. during the Winter and 10 p.
m. in Summer.
propose two plans," Sikorski said. "The policeman finding a
child on the street after hours would take him home and the
parents would be handed a summons
to court, where a nominal
fine would be imposed. Or, the
child could be taken to a police station and the parents summoned to take
the youngster home. A large factory whistle could be blown as a curfew in
North, South and East Camden.
know Mrs. Mary W. Kobus, director of public safety, is in favor of
correcting juvenile delinquency, and we will ask her to name a committee
to study correcting this evil."
Sikorski said the proposals will be sent to the city commission in the form of resolutions. He spoke before the commission on previous versions on the curfew law .
Courier-Post - January 22, 1938
Polish-American group in Whitman Park was the
Courier-Post * February 4, 1938
Also active in Whitman Park
at that time was
JOE'S POLISH HOLDS ANNUAL SPORT BANQUET
Heading the list of prominent figures will be Maurice "Clipper" Smith, coach of Villanova's undefeated football team, who will also bring along several of the Wildcats' star gridmen and basketball players. Alexander Wojciehowich, All-American center at Fordham last season, will also attend and address the gathering along with Walter Budniak and Stanley Ciechanowski.
The banquet is being tendered to the football, baseball and basketball squads representing St. Joe's.
|Camden Courier-Post * February 5, 1938|
JOE’S ATHLETES BANQUETED TONIGHT
'Clipper' Smith Principal Speaker at Fete; Wysocki Wojciehowicz to Attend
A star-studded array of sport8 notables will be grouped around' the speakers' table at the first annual Sports Dinner of the St. Joseph's Polish Athletic Association tonight it the parish hall, Tenth and Liberty Streets.
The affair; which is expected to be one of the most colorful held in this vicinity recently, is in honor of the baseball, basketball and football players who represented the local club during the past and present seasons.
Heading the array of speakers will be Maurice "Clipper" Smith, who coached the Villanova College gridsters to an unbeaten 1937 campaign. Smith will bring along several of the Wildcats' outstanding gridster and basketball stars.
A few who Smith will have in tow and who are down as speakers are John Wysocki, mentioned on several All-America teams at an end post; John Mellus, another who gained prominent mention on All-America elevens at tackle, and Walt Nowak, a member of the local association and who sparkled at end for the 'Cats in his sophomore year last season.
The Villanova basketball squad will be represented by "Duke" Duzminski, crack forward who is being touted as one of the outstanding courtmen in the East, while "Doc" Jacobs, coach of the Wildcat baseball team, will also attend.
Wysocki and Mellus, however, are not the only All-Americans who will be on hand. Alex Wojciehowicz, who gained mention as an All-America center at Fordham last year, will also be a guest.
Ted Nitka, coach of the St. Joe's grid team, was a former teammate of Wojciehowicz at Fordham, the former graduating two years ago after starring at an end post.
Toastmaster for the occasion will be Joseph Scechowski, former president of the association, while other speakers will be Henry Ciechanowski, president; Stanley Ciechanowski, and Walter Budniak. The banquet committee is composed of Edward Ziemnicki, chairman; Edward Rydzewski, Edward Snitowski and Henry Ciechanowski.
|Camden Courier-Post * February 8, 1938|
C. C. POSTPONE BOXING SHOW
The bi-monthly amateur boxing shows sponsored by the Polish-American Citizens Club of this city, held at the Bonsall School gymnasium and listed for tomorrow night, have been postponed according to officials of the club.
The next show will be held on Wednesday, February 23 at the above site.
|Camden Courier-Post * February 19, 1938|
|Ray Cathrall Orchestra - Mendell Brothers|
|Camden Courier-Post * February 22, 1938|
|POLISH CLUB HOLDS
Simon-Pures to Compete in Nine Bouts at Bonsall School Tomorrow
After a lapse of several weeks, the Polish American Citizens Club will again sponsor amateur boxing shows with nine bouts carded on tomorrow night's program at the Bonsall school auditorium, Mt. Ephraim Avenue and Jackson Street.
Four scrappers of the home club will see action with the feature bout between Henry Lighthiser, of the P. A. C. C., who has showed splendid form in his recent battles, and Pat Mattiuco, of Daggert.
The other three Polish-American boxers on the card are Romo Kocinski, Lou Bonsey and Vincent Ricco Laurio.
Kocinski is slated to go in the semi-windup against Al Imes, of the Wharton A. C., while Bonsey will take on Mike Dia Dato, of Daggert, and Laurio will battle Tom Giamanco, of Daggert.
In the other five bouts Tom Bergen, West End, meets Donald Barber, Wharton; Oscar Richards, West End, faces Warren Corbin, Wharton; Matt Jackson, Wharton, opposes William Hutt, Daggert; Carl Moss, Wharton, tackles William Lefferts, Daggert, and William Smith, West End, takes on William Floyd, Wharton.
All are five round bouts with the first scrap scheduled to start at 8.30 o'clock.
Camden Courier-Post * June 1, 1939
Soup Wins Slugfest from 12th Ward, 12 to 8
Outslugging Twelfth Ward, Campbell’s Soup went into a tie for first place in the American Division of the Kobus Twilight League when it defeated the "Warders" 12 to 8 at Dudley Grange Park in one of four games played last night.
a pair of National Division tussles, the Walker Robins gained a firmer
grip on second place when it whipped Sacred Heart at the Fairview Ball
Park, 13 to 1 and Lincoln took the measure of St. Joan of Arc at Seventh
and Jefferson by the score of 5 to 1.
in the Campbell's-Twelfth Ward fracas took a beating with the "Soupmen"
collecting 13 blows off Mike Huggard and Martin, while the
"Warders" slapped Norm Young for 11 safeties.
lost no time in putting the game away, tallying seven runs in the first
inning and then added one in the third and two in the fourth to clinch the
verdict. The "Warders" tried hard to overcome the lead and in
the sixth session put on a rally which netted five runs.
was the hitting star for Campell’s, rapping a pair of singles and a home
run, while Herb Dunn sparkled at the plate for the Warders with three for
Polish-Americans were no match for
Joe's Polish, Jim Stubbs setting
down the former outfit without much trouble, giving up but six hits. St.
Joe's on the other hand rapped T. Martin and Huston for 19 wallops with
Stubbs and Gray pacing the offense, each getting four hits. Walt Nowak
also hit hard, getting three for four. Galecki was the only Polish-American who could solve Stubb's offerings, smacking three singles.
The Walker Robins also had little difficulty with Sacred Heart, scoring in each of the six innings with the exception of the fourth. Carpenter worked on the hill for the Robins and set down his foe with only two hits, while his mates clubbed Phillips, Rudolph and Savich for 11 bingles. Warren, Jones and Carpenter led the attack with two hits apiece. Sacred Heart's lone run came on a homer by Cianfrani in the second inning.
runs in the first and three in the eighth spelled victory for
Joseph High School Varsity Football - 1961
Camden sports legend Al Litwa in first row, wearing a P.A.C.C. jacket
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COUNTY RECORD- July 10, 1969
Click on Image to Enlarge
Second half Whitman Park Youth Organization Little League Champions Predpelski are from left (front row) Marc Plocharski, Vince Verderami, Reggie Jakimak, Robert Locantore. Second row - Marc Watson Harry Settimi, Alan Kozuchowski, Dominic Sardo, Mike Verderami. Back row - Manager Joe Mathern, Gary Meloni, Joe Correa, Serafino Tobia, Mike Verna, Joe Gooch, Coach Bob Jacobs.
Led by the timely and steady hitting of Joe Correa, with a .395 batting average that included 3 circuit blasts, Predpelski's other top sluggers were Mike Verderami, .303 i Gary Meloni, .295, and Reggie Jakimak, .297. Verderami and Jakimak also starred on the mound with 8 and 6 wins, respectively. Defense played an important role in the championship victories throughout.the season with all of the players, and in particular Vince Verderami, coming through with excellent fielding plays.
|Camden County Record - December 31, 1970|
PACC Sold Out for New Year's Eve Party
All tickets have been sold for the Polish American Citizens' Club New Year's Eve party. A capacity limit of 300 guests will ring out the old and greet the New Year with merriment in the upper floor ballroom.
Chairman Leonard Drozd said an early sellout last week left many persons disappointed when they called for tickets. In all cases, he said, a referral was made to the St. Joseph's parish party in the parish hall where some tickets were still available at the time.
Several years ago, before a limit was placed on the number of guests who were entertained at the club's New Year's Eve parties, more than 800 persons crowded in the two-story building in South Camden. The bulky gatherings became difficult to handle and subsequent affairs developed into the present system of one floor with plenty of elbow room while catering to an easier to handle crowd.
Ray Dombrowski and his Musical Notes will spark the music for the merry celebrating from 9:30 p.m. until the early morning hours. A buffet style service will provide food for the guests for three hours, starting at 10 p.m.
|Camden County Record - November 25, 1976|
2 PACC MEMBERS IN CONTEST FOR PRESIDENT POSITION
A spirited election for the presidency of the Polish American Citizens' Club looms as a definite possibility for the first time in 10 years.
The contest between Victor Anyzek, Jr., and Leonard Drozd as head of the South Jersey fraternal and civic organization for a one-year term will most assuredly bring out the vote.
The last time the membership had to make a top choice was back in 1967 when Bruno Paprzycki dueled with Stanley Mojta for the club's leadership.
Predictions on who will win this election remains unsteady with the oddsmakers jockeying for more inside information as the candidates and their partisans chafe at the starting gate.
A mini poll conducted at the outset runs right down the middle. At a time like this, one pollster deduced, it's like Howard Cossel trying to squirm out of a tight situation. Invariably he would say, "Indubitably and unequivocally, may the best contestant emerge victorious."
All other positions for office are unopposed which precludes slate making by the presidential candidates. This is going to be a one on one race from start to finish.
Nominated without opposition for the other five table positions are Bruno Paprzycki, a former president, as first vice president; Charles Wisniewski, second vice president; Joseph Jablonski, financial secretary; Anthony Urbanowicz, treasurer, and Walter Piatek, recording secretary.
Thirteen nominees for the directorship may produce some lively campaigning for individuals since the top eight vote getters will be the winning electees. The director board has 16 members consisting of an equal number elected and appointed by the incoming or incumbent president.
The' candidates for director named by the Nominating Committee are George Plocharski, Steve Duda, Joe Sacilowski, Richard Kozieja, Chester (Pat) Jablonski, John Tureck, Henry (Icy) Olszewski, and John Filipek.
Nominated from the floor were Eddie Czech, Stanley K. Kaminski, Henry Biegalski, Big Ed Bukowski and Bart Paradise.
The election day will be Dec. 14,. the second Tuesday of the month.
COUNTY RECORD- NOVEMBER 25, 1976
group active in Whitman Park and Fairview,
STILL AVAILABLE FOR POLISH CONCERT
A limited number of admission tickets will be available for Monday's presentation, "A Night With Polish Composers” at the Haddon Fortnightly, Haddonfield, N. J.
Chairman Piotr Banasik made the announcement earlier this week after receiving a number of calls from former Whitman Park residents, now living elsewhere in the South Jersey area, and who have found it inconvenient to pick up the tickets in advance.
The seating capacity in the auditorium is limited to 400 persons. More than half of this number, Banasik said, have been sold at $2.00 each. Until capacity is reached tickets will be sold at the door.
The cultural entertainment is under the sponsorship of the Polish American Congress, South Jersey Division. President Stanley Mojta said it is the first of its kind presented by his group. If the lovers of classical music support this event others of a similar nature will be considered for the future.
Grant Wilinski, a youthful Whitman Park organist, will direct the musical program starting at 7:30 p.m. The works of distinguished Polish composers will be featured by the Westmont Philharmonic Accordion Orchestra, with selections of Polish music classics rendered by instruments as well as vocally.
Assisting Wilinski in formula ting the program and arrangements are Banasik, Mrs. Frank Kitchmire, co-chairman; Mojta, Mrs. Joseph Olejniczak, Miss Adele Usciak and Daniel Ciechanowski, any of whom may be contacted for tickets.
The Haddon Fortnightly is located at Grove Street. and Kings Highway East in Haddonfield, two blocks east of Haddon Avenue.
Shown reviewing the musical program for A Night With Polish Composers are, left to right, Grant W. Wilinski, music director; Mrs. Frank Kitchmire, ticket chairlady; and Peter Banasik, chairman. The event will be held Monday, Nov. 29, -at 7:30 p.m. at the Haddon Fortnightly, Grove St. and Kings Highway, Haddonfield.
Click on Image to Enlarge
CAMDEN COUNTY RECORD - NOVEMBER 25, 1976
|CAMDEN COUNTY RECORD- NOVEMBER 2, 1978|
COUNTY RECORD- SEPTEMBER 19, 1985
group active in Whitman Park and Fairview,
Social For St. Joseph's Sunday, Nov. 10
A benefit social for the benefit of St. Joseph's Church in South Camden will be held Sunday, Nov, 10, under the sponsorship of the Polish American Congress, South Jersey Division.
President Chester Przywara announced last week that all funds derived from the affair will be donated to Fr. Edward H. Bucia, pastor, in response for financial aid needed to help defray the cost of many major repairs requiring attention.
The event will be staged at the Polish American Citizens' Club with additional details following future developments. The church benefit, Przywara explained, will replace the annual Man and Woman of the Year testimonial usually held around this time of the year.
Along with the announcement, Przywara said the South Camden club is donating its facility toward the success of the fundraiser, and as such, an invitation of support is extended to all church groups and fraternal organizations to aid a worthy cause.
PAC vice president Joseph Shilinski has been appointed general chairman, and will direct ticket sales priced at a $10.00 donation including food.
The general committee will meet soon with Fr. Bucia to discuss all matters related for the successful conclusion of the charitable fund-raising endeavor.
In other unrelated matters acted upon at the last meeting, the delegates extended wishes for a speedy recovery to Joseph Powell, a past vice president of the PAC, following his recent surgery. Congratulations were also extended to Mr. and Mrs. Roman Hunzak on'the appoinment of their son, John, to the U.S. Naval Academy.
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.
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.
Camden Courier-Post - August 22, 2004
Polish American Group
By LUIS PUGA
Charlie Korostynski, the president of the Polish American Club of Camden County, can't walk around the club's fifth annual picnic for long before someone yells out his name.
Korostynski is one of 300 Polish Americans who attended his club's picnic Saturday on Soupy Island. For many it was a chance to catch up with members who have spread across southern New Jersey.
"It's a reunion for people who have not seen each other in years," said Korostynski, who said members were once centered in Whitman Park in Camden. "They get to meet and enjoy themselves."
Now, club members are spread out and the club rents space in the VFW hall in Oaklyn. It's a situation they hope to change with younger members who they hope will sustain the club. And, they hope to inspire them with a new and permanent club location.
The club opened its doors in 1914, a year after St. Joseph's Roman Catholic Church, a Polish parish, did.
But as the city and neighborhood deteriorated, members of the club and parishioners moved out.
"People became afraid to even come out for even socials events or the weddings," said Ed Zbikowski, the club's treasurer from Washington Township.
What they left was a unified community that held Polish/English classes for recent immigrants, raised funds to bring new immigrants over to the United States, and neighbors who had a strong sense of community.
"In my day, one key fit all the houses," said Henry Baldyga, 86. "In fact, people seldom locked their doors (in Whitman Park)."
Older members said the 3,000 club members held meetings in Polish, with an opening rendition of "God Bless America" and the Polish national anthem sung at the end of the meeting. Now, there are 180 members.
Baldyga bought tickets to Saturday's picnic for as many members of his family as he could. But, he holds no illusions that the unity the community had in Whitman Park.
"It's pretty tough," he said. "It's not what it used to be. Polish was Polish."
His daughter, 57-year-old Brenda Baldyga of Delran, said she's sad that recipes and traditions have been lost over generations. What keeps her tied to her roots is her faith and the fact that she attends a Polish Catholic Parish outside of Camden.
"That means a lot to me as a Polish person," she said.
But, even she noted that each new generation speaks less and less Polish.
"It's not a bad thing," she said. "We still try to instill our children with what the heritage was," she said.
Father Edward Lipinski, pastor of the St. Joseph's, has been on the job for two months. But, 30 years ago, he was an associate pastor in the church's heyday. He was raised in Whitman Park and took all his sacraments at the parish he now leads.
"It's the church that brings people together," he said, noting that weekend Mass and major holidays bring people back to the city.
Recently, the church received a $908,000 matching grant for rehabilitation from the state Historic Preservation Office.
"(The church) belongs in Camden and I believe the people will come back to it," he said.
Club members said if they can find a permanent location they can offer younger people something tangible, a place to meet and socialize and simply be Polish.
"It's just so beautiful," said Walter Piatek, 75, of Berlin. "To me, when I here things Polish, when I hear Polish singing, I choke up."
He would hope the language survives in younger generations, but has his doubts.
"It's a melting pot and we are certainly melting," he said.
WHERE TO CALL
If you want to help the Polish American Citizens Club find a permanent location, you can call (609) 405-0099.If you want more information on St. Joseph's Catholic Church's effort to raise funds to match its state grant, you can call (856) 963-1285.
If you like this page, check out the links below to other pages relating to Camden's Polish community. You may also enjoy The St. Joseph High School Memorial Free Range Salt Lick, a wonderful page maintained by Michael P. McDowell, Class of '72.
|Another St. Joseph's Church web-page|
|More Polish Community in Camden Links|
POLISH-AMERICAN CITIZENS CLUB
|St. Joseph's Polish Athletic Association|
|CAMDEN COUNTY POLISH AMERICAN REPUBLICAN CLUB|
|A Camden Story: Reflections and memories of Rich Brodowicz|
|A Polish Camden Kitchen|
HEROES WAR MEMORIAL
at COOPER RIVER PARK
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