WILLIAM STANLEY ABLETT VILLAGE

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Welcome to the un-official Ablett Village Web page. Here you will find a web-page dedicated to the history of Ablett Village, the times in which it was first built, and images and text covering life at Ablett since the decision was made concerning its construction prior to World War II. 

Ablett Village was named after William Stanley Ablett, a soldier from Camden who was killed in action in France during World War I.

At the time Ablett Village was built, public housing was segregated in Camden. You will find on this page actual documents from the times. The English language constantly evolves, please remember that some of the documents were written using standard vocabulary and grammar in use in the 1940s.

If you have any stories or images you would like to share about life at Ablett Village over the last 60+ years, please e-mail me.

Phil Cohen


The story of Ablett Village goes back the 1930s. When sites were being considered for Camden's first public housing project, an area in North Camden east of Second Street, near Pyne Point Park, was considered. Reluctance on the part of homeowners here and in other parts of Camden contributed to the decision to build the first site, Westfield Acres, on a mostly vacant site on Westfield Avenue in East Camden. 

With the successful completion of Westfield Acres and the subsequent organization of the Housing Authority of the City of Camden in 1938, the decision was made to construct further housing projects. The next first project constructed was the Clement T. Branch Village project in South Camden, specifically for African-American residents of the city, many of whom lived in the Centerville neighborhood in which it was built. In December of 1939, the Housing Authority received word that it would be allocated funds to build a third project, to be located at River Road and State Street in the Cramer Hill section of Camden. 

This area was known as the Moro Phillips tract. Moro Phillips was a Polish immigrant who amassed a huge fortune as a chemical manufacturer and real estate investor in the 19th century. He also operated a chromite mine in Chester County PA. When he passed in April of 1886, his estate was valued at over $10,000,000.00, a huge amount in that time. In the early 1920s, the tract became the site of Camden's first airport, which was known as Moro Phillips Field. This site turned out to be less than satisfactory do the numerous factory smokestacks in the area, and the field was abandoned as flight operations were shifted to Central Airport in Pennsauken in 1929.

WILLIAM STANLEY ABLETT VILLAGE

From the Booklet
"HOUSING IN CAMDEN
Published March 31, 1942
by the
Housing Authority of the City of Camden
Compiled and written by
The Writers Program of the Works Projects Administration in New Jersey
Robert W Allen, State Administrator

The Third Project

 A low-rent housing and slum clearance project in North Camden, known as N.J. 10-2, was made possible when Nathan Straus, Administrator of the United States Housing Authority, announced by letter to the Camden Housing Authority on December 27, 1939 that $1,409,000 had been allocated for the proposed development. The application, began August 15, had been filed November 7. on January 2, 1940 the CHA authorized a loan contract with the USHA for $1,722,000 for the project, which will contain 300 dwelling units at a cost of not more than $4,000 each, or $1,0000 per room. The CHA was to issue $173,000 in bonds to be sold to private investors, to be retired in 15 years and to bear interest at 3.25 percent. On August 8 the first requisition for advance funds in the amount of $35,000 was approved to the local Authority and forwarded to the USHA at Washington DC.

The CHA on August 22 adopted resolutions specifying that the person for whom the project was to be named must have been a native of Camden and must have served in the army, navy, or marine corps and have been killed in action. His name must be one which and not received any public recognition other than on a city memorial tablet. All veterans' organizations in Camden were invited to submit names from which a committee of five citizens, to be appointed by the Authority, would select the official designation of the new project.

 


Before There Was an Ablett Village - 1941 Aerial Photos

Three Aerial Views of the Moro Phillips Tract, the land bounded by the Cooper River, East State Street, and River Road. River Road bisects the pictures horizontally, East State Street vertically. Federal Street is visible in lower left hand corners. The Warren Webster Company plant, DuBell Lumber (Dimedio Lime) and other buildings are evident on Federal Street. The Harrison Avenue Dump, slated for conversion into a golf course, is visible north of East State Street at the mouth of the Cooper, and parts of North Camden including Pyne Point Park can be seen in the lower left aerial photo. 

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Camden Courier-Post - January 17, 1942
...continued...
   
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Camden Courier-Post - April 25, 1942
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Camden Courier-Post - April 25, 1942
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Camden
Courier-Post

June 19, 1942

The Dedication
of
William Stanley Ablett Village

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Camden Courier-Post - April 25, 1942


     As construction was finishing up, James H. O'Brien, who was serving as the Chief Air Raid Warden in Camden, was named to be the first manager. He filled this post until his sudden passing in March of 1944. Although residents and local veterans groups campaigned so that Allan T. Kline would be named manager, James J. Scarduzio, who operated a real estate business at 1809 Broadway in South Camden, was given the job.


VILLAGE CRIER - October 1946
This came courtesy of Kayann Dunn Pfeiffer,
who was the little girl who was imentioned as being injured on page 2.

Click on Image for the complete 12 page newspaper in PDF file format

William S. Gettz
Mr. & Mrs. John Baker - Jack Clark - Kayann Dunn - Mr. & Mrs. James Dunn - Lester Blair
George Hill - Dr.Garrison - Elmer Pilarchik - Mr. & Mrs. Henry Shanor - William Shanor
Louis Koslowski - Mattie Fimiano - Mr. & Mrs. Rocco Fimiano 
Theodore Kosowski - Mr. & Mrs. Edward Kosowski - Carol Ann Kosowski 
Mr. & Mrs. Michael DiCicco - Louis DiCicco - Marie DiCicco
L. Wayne McCormick - Leon T. Elwell - Dorothy Howe - Gustav Roedel
Diamond's Tailoring  - Nathan Diamond - Irving Diamond - Joseph Diamond 
Albert Smith - Katherine Mayors - William Gettz - William Fisher - MArie Strang
Wolf's Foods
Ben's Cafe - Ben Niewinski
Bill Longfellow - Norm "Peanuts" Longfellow - Frank Wagner - Joe Papaycik
Mr. & Mrs. Don Hughes - Dalton's Pharmacy
 
Allen T. Kline - Tom Baker
Mr. & Mrs. James O'Brien - Ilene Marie O'Brien - Jimmy O'Brien - Don E. Hughes
Mr. & Mrs. William Dawson - Linda Ruth Dawson  - Doranna Parker
Mr. & Mrs. Hubert Johnson - Linda Jeanne Johnson - Judith Johnson
Mr. & Mrs. Walter Meck - Joseph Walter Meck
 Mr. & Mrs. Edmund Young - Barbara Ann Young
 Dick Billett - Richard Dettry Jack Abbott - Howard Brooks
Richard August - Henry Shaner - William Caubre
 Posnakck;s Hardware - Dr. Leonard T. Rosen - E. Calvin Weaver - Weaver Coal

ABLETT VILLAGE - 1947
from the 1947 Camden City Directory

1 Joseph N. Borger

2 Salvatore Pepe

3 Joseph J. Vitt

4 Joseph R. Galloway

5 Benjamin Joie

6 Marr Frank J. Marr

7 Patrick Moriarty

8 Albert G. Smith

9 John Suarks

10 John E. McDevitt

11 John J. Ford

12 Thomas B. Townsend

13 Nelson E. Lamar Jr.

14 John R. Cornwell

15 Theo A. Gezelbach

17 Clifton Hyatt

18 James W. Brownlee

19 Frank DiFante

20 James W. McGowen

21 Carl Banski

22 Louis A. Hohenstein

23 William R. Anderson

24 Daniel Williamson

25 Dominick J. Inferrera

26 Edmond P. Trykowski

27 Fred C. Henzler

28 Clair V. Frederick

29 Harry C. Slattery

30 Earl W. Lloyd

31 Benjamin Didino

32 Joseph Hahn

33 Melvin R. Shindle

34 Bayer Mathis

35 William C. Burbage

36 Edward Cullen

37 Robert Whitehead

38 Frank P. Wahl

39 Thomas R. Bray

40 Norman Wright

41 Frank A. Dwyer

42 Mrs. Pauline Maiciniak

43 Anthony F. Silich

44 Margaret M. Hewitt

45 Raymond J. Swissler

46 John Caffaro

47 Richard W. Wolfe

48 Mrs. Theresa Minich

49 Harry B. Schlam

50 Mrs. Bessie Duckett

51 Leo Solomon

52 Charles J Littleford Jr.

53 William P. Miller

54 Hubert W. Johnson

55 Edward E. Charlton

56 Thomas I. Russell

57 William C. Ward

58 Clarence Santi

59 Joseph P. LaFrance

60 Charles T. Donnelly

61 Daniel J. O'Brien

62 Willis O. Dawson

63 Albert E. Super

64 Jesse C. Glaze

65 Milton E. Randolph

66 James J. Lawliss

67 No Listing

68 No Listing

69 Sidney J. Strause

70 Frank A. Terilla

71 Harrington McGroffs

72 Benjamin F. Read

73 John E. Cunningham

74 Joseph P. Casey

75 Michael Gilman

76 Edward Wallace

77 Robert S. Arble

78 Norman Smalzel

79 James F. O'Brien

80 Charles Sheman

81 Joseph A. Lang

82 Mrs. Ada Longfellow 

83 Rocco A. Abbott

84 Edward S. Hall

85 Charles Louie

86 James F. Dellowery

87 Thomas C. Murray

88 Laurence Golder

89 Elmer E. Gundy

90 Frank Laszlo

91 Raymond G. Polomski

92 Albert A. Buss

93 Henry H. Shaner

94 Robert B. Slade

95 Edward Prusinski

96 Martin Flaster

97 Mrs. Augusta Boehmer

98 Chester A. Urmson

99 Alice M Osinski

100 Edmond J. Young

101 Harry E. Edginton

102 Bruno N. Leporati

103 Lawrence M. Sviben Jr.

104 Hopkins John A. Hopkins

105 Charles Lincoln

106 James D. Casey

107 John D. McWilliams

108 Howard Babcock

109 Ernest F. Bishop

110 Elmer King

111 Joseph J. Seneski

112 Mrs. Laura Sterling

113 Arthur R. Broome

114 Edward Linehan

115 William R. Trout

116 Edward H. Huckel

117 Mrs. Elizabeth Moncrief.

118 Eli Weiner

119 Edward J. Schultz

120 William J. Klein

121 Robert C. Grow

122 Mrs. Anna Watts

123 Harold I. Stuart

124 John A. Kercher

125 Franklin L. Kegg

126 James O. Powell

127 Joseph Blair

128 Kenneth B. Sharopshire

129 Robert M. Richards

130 John E. Kimley

131 Raymond G. Simpkins

132 James J. Dunn

133 Frederick W. Frick

134 Andrew J. August

135 Arthur H. Corwin

136 Paul W.Barlow

137 Daniel I. Geary

138 Mrs. Caroline Boston

139 Joseph Kenny

140 Richard H. Ludwig

141 Felix J. Hanaka

142 Anthony S. Rogers

143 Francis J. King

144 Joseph E. Soboleski

145 James H. Adams

146 John H. Van Note

147 Cleo W. Hudnall

148 Joseph F. Queeney

149 Franklin P. Guzman

150 Raymond Gerber

151 Victor J. Alaburda

152 Lloyd W. Gladney

153 Raymond L. Louis

154 Mrs. Frances Gamble

155 Anthony Losito

156 Rocco Finiano

157 Mrs. Mary G. Gillies

158 Edward Winston 

159 Vacant

160 Walter Sheppard

161 Vincent J. Nicolo

162 George McKinney

163 Samuel S. Rittersbach

164 E. Ralph Lewis

165 Felix F. Hoffman

166 Irving J. Fox

167 Mrs. Julia Mortier

168 Francis T. Dougherty

169 Raymond McDermott

170 Franklin Burk

171 Louis J. Molessa

172 Francis J. McVeigh

173 John A. Ferraro

174.David Schneider

175 Mrs. Pauline H. Kent

176 Frank C. Sczurek

177 Hyman C. Ruby

178 John A. Sullivan, painter

179 John A. Serad

180 Don Cecilio

181 William J. James

182 Samuel J. Goodwin

183 William F. White

184 Hyman Jaffe

185 Nathan Mayers

186 Edward J. McGann

187 Mrs. Pearl Buchanan

188 Francis J. Hufner

189 Frank Siole

190 William H. Brothers

191 LeRoy Walliser

192 Harry James

193 Robert Schwartz

194 Ernest P. Camp

195 Frank J. Kovalevich

196 Charles J. MacNeil

197 Charles E. Hodge

198 Richard J. Conley

199 Charles C. Gunther

200 George F. Lee

201 Forrest J. McClure

202 Raymond W. Burger

203 Jack C. Abbott

204 James McKione

205 Milton D. Abbott

206 Horace Baker

207 Raymond Blackburn

208 Thomas F. Jackett

209 William H. Smith

210 Anthony C. Lang

21l John E. Dorofy

212 Edward  Krause

213 William E. Ulrich

214 Michael DeCicco

216 Joseph E. Suffern

217 John J. Monahan.

218 Mrs. Anna Moffet

219 George W. McGayha

220 James Pacific

221 Raymond J. Stafford

222 Lester L. Blair 

223 Samuel J. Yackel

224 John T. Strong

225 Elmer M. Pilarchik

226 Carleton P. Bamford

227 Mrs. Veronica Scheulah

228 Charles D. Ivory

229 George F. Hill

230 Thomas A. Warrren

231 Joseph P. Gerber

232 Joseph E. Mizack

233 Paul E. Rider

234 Patrick J. McDonnell

235 Frederick R. Avellino

236 Romaine A. Endt

237 Joseph F. McIntyre 

238 Salvatore Lapesti

239 William F. Young

240 Christina Connell

241 No return

242 James E. Strockbine

243 Getz William S. Getz

244 Maurice H. Webb

245 Stephen Osinski

246 William E. Caubre

247 Joseph Lipko

248 George F. Bonawitz

249 May Altimore

250 William H. Filer

251 Edward M. Kushi

252 George W. Seward

253 William G. Kates

254 Joseph Steel

255 Ernest T. Burger

256 Anthony T. Saluto

257 Harry Knopman, carpenter

258 Joseph A. DeAngelis

259 Frank E. O’Donnell

260 Richard E. Billet

261 Emma Dallman

262 Edward V. Corbett

263 Andrew V. Kowalcczyk

264 Chester Melesinski

265 Cyrus J. Wand

266 Mrs. Aline McCann

267 Preston Baun

268 Joseph Juliano

269 Joseph W. Meck

270 Paul R. Buckley

271 Orval C. Parker

272 Harold McCardell

273 Charles M. Galasso

274 Theo Colandimo

275 Grant S. Dettrey

276 M. Friedman (1943-1949)

277 Joseph Winokur

278 Peter F. Dooley

279 LeRoy R. Knight

280 William M. Wesley

281 Walter Endero

282 Harry J. Muth

283 Francis J. Lyons

284 William Fisher

285 John S. Brancato

286 Anthony A. Loter

287 James L. Leap

288 John V. Corbett

289 Philip N. Ruttenberg

290 Samuel A. Jordan

291 John A. Deveney

292 Einer T. Lanholm

293 William J. Frohlick

294 Joseph K. Stevenson

295 Joseph T. Adams

296 Donald E. Hughes

297 Lester Wayne

298 Thomas J. Finlin

299 James H. Dronsfield

300 Robert Isackman

301 Charles R. Cameron

302 Edmond T. Leporati

303 Christopher Joie

304 Jean V. LeBude

305 Charles E. Graver

306 Easel G. Seiler

 


My Uncle Roy and Aunt Hazel Walliser and my cousin Carol lived in Ablett Village. Carol is 3 years younger than me.  Here are a couple of shots of Carol and Ablett Village.

 Bernie Rieck

To See More of Bernie's Photos Be Sure To Visit Railroad Days in Camden and Childhood Memories of East Camden.


My friend Bobby Dorton who lived in Ablett Village with his grandmother came over to my house one night around 10 p.m. and knocked on the door and my mother answered and Bobby was begging her to let me out. He told her that there was music coming out of the recording studio which was across the street from the village. Well, she finally let me out and we went over there. 

We climbed up and over fence to the windows to watch and hear Fats Domino play and sing Red Sails In The Sunset and on the piano was a bottle of Piel's Beer. A bus was parked there with the name Fat's and Dominos were painted on it. 

Take notice to the two windows in front of the street sign these are the windows that we watched thorough.

Earl Crim

Recorded Publications Laboratories

Click here for about Fats Domino in Camden


59 Ablett Village. I lived there when they had coal bins. The bin was located to the left of the steps in the rear of the dwelling. Take notice to the area that has been blocked and cemented over. This was an access hole to the outside coal bin.  
                                                        Earl Crim 
                                                    August 2004 


The Fritschie Family

The Fritschie family lived at 264 Ablett Village in the 1960s and 1970s.

 

Mary Fritschie
with her brother
William "Bill" Fritschie

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Mary Fritschie
with her brother
Robert "Bob" Fritschie

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Mary Fritschie

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Mary Fritschie and friends

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Robert Fritschie

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William Fritschie
September 7, 1967

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William Fritschie
October 22, 1972

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William Fritschie
William Fritschie
August 1971

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Unknown

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William Fritschie's
bicycle registration
April 23, 1969

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Back of bicycle registration

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Ablett Village Memories
as told by those who have lived and worked there

      My name is Kevin Hackett. My father was Charles and mother Bertha. I lived there when I was 4 years old to 6 years old, that was about 1960. I remember they did away with the coal bins that where on each apartment at that time. I lived in #274. I also remember that we had electric meters in the kitchens that operated on quarters. There was also a rec center. The bigger kids would throw me up on the roof to retrieve balls.

Kevin Hackett
December 2005

I played baseball as a 16 yr old for the Ablett Village AA. [circa 1950 - PMC] I still have my uniform. 

Richard A. Sullivan
March 2004

My name is Henry S. Pease III (Ted). We lived there at 195 in late 50's to 60's when our house burned down in North Camden. Living there was good until my parents got on their feet and bought a house in Cramer Hill.

   Ted Pease
March 2005

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

Earl Crim
August 2004

I grew up in Cramer Hill in Ablett Village and Arthur Avenue. I hung out with Gary Wilson, Bob Willis, Charlie Hans, Frannie Cline, Joe Becker, Bill Smith (Smitty) just to mention a few. When I was underage, the bums on 26th and River Road would go to the bar and get us beer. We would drink it on the corner of 26th & River Road across from the Pavonia House bar, there was an old hose there, sometimes the cops would come, break all of our bottles and tell us to get lost. We would go swimming in the Delaware River near the old dump on State Street. Also we would play chicken on the trains between 27th Street and the State Street Bridge. Man was that dangerous. There was a store on the other side of the State Street Bridge right before Federal Street that sold penny candy, won't see that again. I wonder sometimes whatever happened to all the good people that I used to know, I am 52 now and moved out of The Hill when I was 20, 1972. Well maybe some of the old-timers will find this site.

Jim supercruncher@aol.com.
September 2005

I remember the Mister Softee trucks coming thru Ablett Village and the Good Humor truck too. We would have one or two of us go up in a tree, then we would wait for the truck, right under the tree. The people in the tree would get on the roof and ride around for awhile. Sometimes the driver would get pissed and chase us with a baseball bat. We would go to the dump on State Street and find all kind of stuff. Mostly we would scrap the copper wire that RCA would dump and make some good money. The Delaware River was one of our playgrounds too, we would build rafts and swim a lot. I am 53 now, I left the Hill when I was 25. I went to Vets, does anyone remember Mr. Goldberg? He was the Vice Principal there, and man were we a bunch of class clowns. Frannie Cline, me, and Joe Becker were always shootin' spit balls in class, one day I hit Mrs. Bilson right in the eye, got suspended for two weeks. Also we would go to Mikes Sub Shop to eat lunch or Berries. There was a Deli on the corner of 21st & River Road across from Frank the barber, can't remember the name though. Frank the Barber was out to cut all of our hair, but we would have nothing of it. Long hair, bell bottom jeans and square tip boots were the style. My friends were Bobby Budd, Frannie Cline, Tommy Hawk, and a lot more. Anyway I live in Seattle, far from there now and hope to get back that way someday.

Jim  supercruncher@aol.com
October 2005

My first recollection of a neighborhood was Ablett Village near RCA. I have some pictures from that time. Next, the family moved to Hayes Avenue and I lived there until I went into the service around '68. I remember the "yum yum" man and the clothes prop guy. I also remember the waffle guy that used to come to Ablett Village with his horse drawn "waffle cart". My brothers our friends had a great time growing up in Cramer Hill. We were in the Boy's Club and did all the sports activities that were offered.

Tom Sviben
February 2002

My name is Charles Moy, and I am now 62 years old, but way back in the mid 50's and again in 60 and 61, I lived in the Cramer Hill section of Camden. Perhaps we have met long, long ago. I have sort of have an unusual nickname,,. Skeeter. Now in Cramer Hill there was another fellow, a tall thin red haired guy called Skeeter, that's not me. I am short- 5'2" tall and used to be thin LOL, and looked a lot younger than I was. In Cramer Hill, I lived at 28th and Polk ( 50's) and Ablett Village (60 and 61). I joined The Army in 61. In East Camden, I lived on Rosedale Avenue (next to Dudley Grange Park), 29th and Westfield, and East State Street. 

Also in the 50's I attended the following schools in those areas: Washington, Dudley, Sharp, H.H. Davis, Cramer Junior High School. I would have went to Woodrow Wilson, but had to quit school in '59 to go to work. 

People who I knew or hung out with in those days... Cramer Hill- Al Marioni, Peanut Colsey, Dorothy Seidleman, Richard, Tommy, Helen Harris, Bobbi Rodgers. Went to the dances at Davis School and the Youth Center, upstairs where Federal and Westfield meet, between 26th and 27th Streets. In East Camden.. Fred and Leonard Kalt, Nancy and Rita Shisler,. Bill McKnight, Charlie and Jean Holliday, Bruce Marks, Jesse Wilbourne, John Porter, Joe McCool, Phil Batchelor. Played little league baseball with the East Camden Marauders, behind the Acres. Coach was a fireman named Phil Stinger. Also in the '50s, I lived in North Camden at 5th and Penn, and between 2nd & 3rd on Main Street. Remember in the summer, all those trucks filled with tomatoes lined up on Main Street overnight waiting to deliver to Campbell Soup the next morning? I used to go to the following luncheonettes- Spot, Grapevine, Sugar Bowl, M&H, Mars, and others. Just thought I would post to see if any of this jogs your memory. Feel free to reply if any of this sound familiar Take care, 

Charlie Moy...SKEETER
moy3rd@yahoo.com
December 2003

My dad, Charlie McIntyre-Woodrow Wilson class of '54- is from Cramer Hill. He grew up in Ablett Village

Victoria Kline
March 2004

I also have fond memories of the neighborhood around and leading up to Pyne Poynt. What about those Donuts or Cinnamon Buns from the State Street Bakery. How about Wolfe's Market on State Street across from Ablett Village. Riding to school on either the 12-80 or the #9 or #15 bus- this was a rare treat and only came about when you had the pocket change to do so if not you walked.

If there is anyone out there that can add a few lines to this please do so. Friends like Joyce Dill, Bev Hartz, Annie Martin, Susan French, Millie Kurth, Joann Kavalich, just to name a few of the opposite sex.

Earl Crim
September 2004

I spent my first 5 years (1045-1950) in Ablett Village. I remember playing with Johnny Hopkins as well as my cousins Raymond, Jimmy and Carole Leporati who also lived there as did my sister Andrea.

Bob Leporati
August 2006

My name was Kayann Dunn when we lived in Ablett Village. My dad worked at Warren Webster’s when he started work there. We moved up from Ocean City- that was 1942, I was seven years old. I went to Washington school then Northeast school, the all girl school and across the street was the all boy school then I went to Vets and Wilson High. They were the good old days. I remember wolfs store when he started out in a trailer. I remember the clothes-prop man and the Fuller Brush horse and buggy. The waffle guy all those things back then, plus a lot more when I was eleven we had a five cent movie in the village and my arm went through the window. A boy scout saved my life- my arm was hanging off, so they wired my arm back up and said I would never use it but I do, thanks to Doctor Cooper. When I think back in time it really makes me sad, things are so different today. My dad name is on the address you have on here James J. Dunn address 132.

Kayann
August 2007

WOW! What a walk down memory lane! My sister Judy, and I lived in 276 Ablett village from 1943 until 1949. My god-parents, Joe and Esta Winokur, and their children Anise and Gary lived next door in 277 (Anise and I are close to this day). My parents, Max and Rose Friedman, along with the Winokurs, migrated from the Bronx to Camden when WWII broke out and worked at the New York Shipyard. My best friends were Ray Leparati, Joey DiAngeles, George "Buddy" Seward, Charlie "Scotty" McIntyre, Leroy "Sonny" Knight, Jack Devenny, and Jackie Billett. The Assistant Scout Master of Troop 26 mentioned in the 1947 Village Voice, Dick Dettrey, (unit 275) was in the Navy during the War....an Ensign, I think. He brought me several souvenirs from the Pacific, took me swimming at the public pool near Camden High, and even taught me to drive. I think he went on to become a church pastor. Nick Malessa also helped with the Scouts. I remember one week-long camping trip when all our food spoiled. A bunch of our parents showed up unexpectedly, discovered our food shortage, promptly went shopping, and we had one scruptious hot dog dinner that night. I also remember the horse-drawn milk wagon from Supplee-Sealtest, an old man who came through pulling a little red wagon and selling big, fat, soft pretzels with mustard which he dipped out of a big jar with a (probably not too clean) stick, and Phil Plasky, a huckster, who sold produce from the back of his truck. During the war we had an Ablett village volunteer police force; many of our Dads were on it. I remember one summer day when a bunch of us were cooling off under the hose when our Dads came home from the shipyard. We turned the hose on them and they didn't say a word, but, a few minutes later, all of them came out in their bathing suits and we had a real father and son water fight. What a blast!

Even though Ablett Village was built as a low-rent housing project, you couldn't ask to live among nicer people. I have very fond memories of living there. It seemed like all the people around us were always pitching in on one community project or another. Or just making a neighborhood waffle lunch for all us kids. It saddened me to read about the drug gang problems there now, but even that stark revelation can't take away my memories.

Allan Friedman
October 2009

My name is Howard Conover.  My family and I lived in Ablett Village in the mid to late 1960's. Our address was 245 Ablett Village and I remember going to Sunday School just up the street at the Center that was there.

We moved from there to 21 South 42nd Street which was on the other side of Rte 130 on the border of Pennsauken. 

My wife and I presently now live in Delaware but when I go to visit my sister in Fairview. I sometimes go past the houses I use to live in Collingswood and on 42nd Street in Camden. 

I have wanted to sometime drive past the address I use to live at in Ablett Village but some people have told me that it is not even safe to drive there and take a look at where I use to live.

I can remember us burning leaves under the blue-green slates on the back of our place at night. 

Howard J. Conover 
November 2009


Camden Courier-Post - May 5, 2008

Ablett Village on the edge

By LEO STRUPCZEWSKI
Courier-Post Staff

As law enforcement officials and city leaders stood inside Ablett Village's community center discussing residents' concerns recently, two suspected drug dealers walked in.

Neither said anything, officials said, but their appearance proved a point residents are echoing -- drug dealers are the real bosses of this public housing complex. They use homes as stash houses, hold court out in the open and peddle cocaine to those in need of a fix.

If there was a silver lining, it is that business has historically been conducted with little violence.

That is changing.

Since July 2007, three people have been gunned down inside the public housing complex. Police have said each of the homicides was drug related and at least two of the victims were known gang members. No arrests have been made.

"It's worse than it's ever been," said Royal Dixon, a 24-year-old resident who has lived in the complex his entire life. "And it's not getting any better."

On Tuesday, City Council President Angel Fuentes expects to introduce to council a resolution that would allow police to charge nonresidents hanging out in Ablett Village with trespassing, if it is determined they are not housing authority employees or invited guests.

The resolution could go into effect "immediately," if approved during a May 13 public vote by the council, Fuentes said.

For now, the police department has increased its presence inside the complex and the housing authority is vowing to get tough with its "one strike and you're out" policy.

Police motorcycles are patrolling the area during the day, foot and bike patrols are covering the area at night and radar guns are being used outside the complex to catch speeders.

Ablett Village has its share of issues, said Camden Police Capt. Harry Leon. "It's been on our radar for quite some time."

Ask residents to talk publicly about their neighborhood and most balk at the idea. Tracy Powell, the Ablett Village tenants' association president, originally agreed to an interview, but never showed.

"My fiance doesn't want me to do it," she said when reached, opting to send Dixon, her son, instead.

Others agreed -- but only on the condition of anonymity -- and some refused outright.

There seems to be a reason for that.

Opened in 1943 as a housing project for war-industry workers, Ablett Village became a low-rent, publicly funded housing project the following year. According to Courier-Post archives, residents began complaining about conditions inside the complex by the 1950s and, in 1990, described the area as a place for "big time" drug dealing.

By 1993, federals agents said, powder and crack cocaine were flowing into the housing complex via Raymond Morales, a kingpin who distributed hundreds of kilograms of cocaine to the city's drug trafficking organizations and has admitted to issuing six murder contracts to protect his business.

When federal agents raided an Ablett Village home used by a Morales' associate there in 2006, they found three pounds of crack cocaine, several semiautomatic handguns, a weapon equipped with a rocket launcher and another with a bayonet, officials said.

The man who ran the home, Mark Davis, had $98,000 on him when he was arrested.

It is that type of money -- and the knowledge that there is power which comes with it -- that keeps many of the 306 families in this low-income community from speaking out, Dixon said.

"Some of them are scared of what might happen if they say anything, some are related (to the drug dealers)," he said. "It's almost a lose-lose situation."

Whichever the reason, the mechanism which has caught so many residents here continues to grind.

Last month, for example, police arrested 24 people during two fugitive sweeps in the housing complex. Dixon has been twice convicted of crimes -- receiving stolen property in 2003 and possession of drugs with the intent to distribute in 2005. And Kevin Williams, a 26-year-old resident who is planning to hold an anti-crime concert later this month, has served two separate state prison terms.

"I grew up out here, I used to get in trouble out here," Williams said in a tone that suggested his experience was the norm. "I did time. No big deal."

Now, though, both men vow the lifestyle is behind him.

Dixon, who has lived in his own home in the complex since March 2007 and passed a background check despite his criminal history, said he mentors youth in the complex and encourages them to stay off the streets. Some, he said, have joined him in efforts to make R&B and rap music. And on a recent Friday, Williams sat on the curb in front of Ablett Village's community center, watching his son participate in a "Sidewalk Sunday School" run by Metro Philadelphia, a nonprofit, faith-based organization.

Nicholas Gambetta, one of the men running the program, talked to the children about making the right decisions and not cutting corners.

At the end of a segment, Gambetta asked the children a simple question.

"So, if you could take the water," he began, "And the water will save you -- or the money . . ."

The chorus from the crowd started before he could finish.

Those shouting "Water!" were drowned out. Most, they said, would take the money.


Camden Courier-Post * May 5, 2008

Royal Dixon, a long time resident of the Ablett Village Public Housing Complex in Camden talks to the Courier-Post on the problems he has faced during his life at the complex.


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