Historic Places in South Jersey

Historic Places in South Jersey

A discussion of historic sites, and events, with the purpose of sharing, encouraging participation, and networking.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The Stories that Stick

Okay, I apologize, I was supposed to have posted some Eastern State Penitentiary photos by Sunday, but I've been busy hiking at Pakim Pond on the Cranberry Trail both Saturday and Sunday and today, at Parvin State Park to celebrate EARTH DAY!

My pals Barb Spector and Trixie and I enjoyed a picnic lunch alongside Thundergust Lake in this deliriously delightful spring weather then did the 3 mile hike.  

While the days have passed since the trip to Eastern, though, I had time to let the information settle and I'm always interested in what stories stick after time has sifted.  For one thing, I am a docent at a historic site, as many of you know, James and Ann Whitall House, Red Bank Battlefield, National Park, so I like to know what aspects of a historic site experience stay with people.  As always, it is the individual stories.  I was most interested in the story of the Jewish group that provided a synagog so Jewish prisoners could attend an appropriate religious service, and then the Jewish prisoner I read about who was a poison expert and poisoned 30 people in scams engineered with spouses to kill and collect insurance.

Also interesting to me was the coincidence that the only woman prisoner I could find info on was also a poisoner who killed her husband.  So these were the stories that stuck.  Also, that they kept prisoners in solitary confinement so that they could be penitent and think about their crimes but they learned that was inhumane so they put prisoners together and that begat sexual exploitation that plagues the weaker prisoners in prisons up to this very day.

Hope you had a happy Earth Day and spent it in the woods or gardening or in some way communing with nature!
Jo Ann

Friday, April 18, 2014

Eastern State Penitentiary

Today, Good Friday, two friends and I toured Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia.  It was a fascinating experience that raised many questions in my mind.  First, I wondered about the women who had been imprisoned there for almost a hundred years, until 1923, then I wondered what were the most commonly committed crimes.  Last, I wondered what had happened to Riverfront Prison on the Camden City waterfront?  That prison was only built in the mid 1980's, so why was it closed, demolished and disappeared in such a short time?

When I looked up New Jersey State prisons, I discovered that there were 13, and in addition, county prisons are also still being used.  I didn't find out much about women at Eastern except for the name and story of one woman who was the last one incarcerated at Eastern.  Her crime was murder.  She poisoned her husband and was given 20 years.  They moved her to Muncy. 

Naturally I took a lot of photos, but it is late and I'm tired so I'll be posting the photos on Sunday because tomorrow I'll be hiking in the Pine Barrens with friends while the beautiful weather is here.

I recommend you visit Eastern, though it is a depressing place, full of the residue of shame, regret, and wasted lives.  

As for what happened at Riverfront in Camden, the closes I can come to an answer was that it was cheaper  to move the inmates into other crowded prisons and close this one, saving several million dollars a year in operating costs, and opening the possibility of selling the site for residential property development which was a deeply hoped for outcome on the part of Camden residents.  I didn't figure out how much they spent building that prison but it was only 20 years old - what a waste!  That is an economic crime in and of itself.

Something I like to do in museums is pick my favorite one item, or lace or fact.  All of us chose the tiny, doll size set of eating utensils in the "Pop-Up Museum" as our favorite item.  It was carved from bones found in the carver/inmate's soup.  We also found the synagog interestin.  It was created by the benevolence of Philadelphia for Jewish businessmen for Jewish inmates so that should they desire a spiritual retreat, they wouldn't be forced to attend a Christian service.  Naturally I wondered how many Jewish inmates there were - not many!  But one, Morris "the Rabbi" Bolber, was head of a  poison ring that was accused of killing at least 30 people in a scheme to get spouses to conspire in the murders to collect insurance money.  

In my opinion, it is NOT the appropriate place to hold a party, which I understand is a fund raising strategy there.  To party in a place still redolent of despair, hopelessness, depravity and human damage, seems improper.  I'm glad I visited during the day and in the spring.  On a dark day or during their scary Halloween tours, this could be a deeply disturbing historic site visit.  Nonetheless it stirs many other interests such as the history of society's methods for dealing with crime, and the architecture of separating criminals from the public and either punishing or rehabilitating them.  

Another opinion:  We could save a LOT of money if we let the pot-smokers out of jail.  Also, sentence them to community service where they can be of use to the public instead of a drain on our over burdened tax payers.
Happy Trails, Stay out of Jails!
Jo Ann

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Riverton Writers & Friends

I have been a member of Riverton Writers for about 15 years.  My guess would be that the group has been in existence for about 30 or more years.  There are four of us left from the eight who were regular attenders when I began.  At present, we meet at Dorothy Stanaitis' house each month.  We are all writers.  Dorothy has published well over 100 essays, Ed has published at least three books, most recently "Lost Philadelphia" and Carol was a long time New Jersey Journalist who still writes articles and memoir pieces.  Tom, is our poet, though, like Emily Dickenson, he shies away from the glare of publication.  Dorothy and I also have in common history performances.  She is a Philadelphia Tour Guide and a New Jersey Storyteller for all ages with stories for children and historic tales for adults.
As for yours truly, Jo Ann Wright, I have published two novels independently, and have three collections of short stories and two collections of poems.  Over the years, I have also written and performed several historical pieces, most recently, the Civilian Conservation Corps in South Jersey.  I have kept diaries for 40 years.
Also, there is this blog.  I have had 35,187 views, 910 visitors last month, nad average about a dozen a day.  That's plenty for me, just enough pressure to keep at it, and not too much pressure.  I like the Independence of it too.  
I'm off to Riverton Writers today, which is why I decided to post this essay.  Over the years, I have been a member of one or two other groups and I'm always surprised and interested in people who write.  I have a number of other writing frends, two who have published books of poetry, and one who has published three books of South Jersey history, plus numerous acquaintances who have written and published.  
This year, I am working on family history and writing an essay on each of the relatives who "speak to me" and about whom I have something to say, either some biographical information, or a living memory.  That is what I'll be presenting today.  It's a piece about my Grandmother Mabel Wright, who lived in Ocean City, on 6th and Asbury and 11th and Bay,  when I was growing up and with whom I was very close.  I have her diary.  Next, I'll be writing about Joseph Lyons, my grandfather on my mother's side, and I'll be posting more family history on this site as well, since this year is devoted to fitness and family history.
At Bogart's Book Store in Millville, they often entertain local writers such as Marianne Lodz, whose family history memoir I bought and very much enjoyed reading.  I think I blogged about it at the time.  
"There are a million stories in the naked city, this has been one of them."  That is a quote for a memorial if ever I heard one.  Just so you know, it came from a movie called the Naked City, which is a film classic now, and was based on a book by Martin Wald.  That was about a murder mystery, but, I like to think that every one of the 300 million Americans or so of us has a story to tell, we are living stories.  Every family adds hundreds of other interesting stories too.  I hope you are writing yours!
Happy Traiils, Happy Tales!  Jo Ann

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Gone With The Wind

One of my favorite forms of coincidence is when events coincide with my reading.  I mentioned in my last entry reading a funny book called MAN OF WAR about a journalist who does several time periods of Re-enactment.  I was reading his Civil War chapter when Gon With The Wind came on tv last night for the Turner Classic Movie Channel and celebration of their anniversary.  I often thought that if I took a phd, I'd combine history and literature and study Margaret Mitchell and that immortal novel GONE WITH THE WIND.  Each tiem I watch it, I focus on some other facet, this time, I took special note of the African Americans and their portrayal and also the criminal chain gangs working in the saw mill.  The free to cheap labor aspect of the movie was of interest since I watched 12 YEARS A SLAVE this year, the Oscar winner.

Also of interest is the attitudes of men towards women, personified of course, by Ashley Wilkes and Rhett Butler.  The 'classic Southern Gentleman" and the arrogant, selfish, "realist" both of whom are iron-bound to their perceptual framework and unable to see beyond or through it.  For some years, I was taken with the post Civil War women writers such as Ellen Glasgow, who wrote about survival after the war and adapting to the new world as well about agriculture and ecology and the impact from the way the land was used.
We didn't learn enough however, because right after that came The Great Depression and the combined ecological disaster of the Dust Bowl (bad farm practices) and the Stock Market Crash (bad financial practices that cripple us today - The Wall Street fiasco best posinified in THE WOLF OF WALL STREET.

The re-enactment scene is so interesting I've just ordered another book CONFEDERATES IN THE ATTIC, by Horowitz about the modern South and the attachement to this tragic period of history.  I've only attended one Civil War re-enactment myself and it was an encampment not a battle.  It was at the Parker Press Park near Perth Amboy, and since the Revolutionary War is my period, I was as much interested in the Parker Press as the encampment, but I have attended numerous lectures and other events (since this is the commemorative years of teh Civil War) and also visited Gettysburg, once as a child, and recently with my daughter for my birthday.  That most recent visit was especially interesting since it coincided with the realization from family history that I had 3 male ancestors who served in the Union forces, one at Gettysburg.

I have more to say about Gone with the Wind, and the Irish factor, but no time left to continue.  As always my epmail is wrightj45 @yahoo.com and I wish you
Happy Trails and Wagging Tails
Jo Ann

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Atsion Hike & Book Review

Today, on this glorious spring day, April 12, 2014, Saturday, I hiked around Atsion Lake (which is open again) with my friends, Barb Solem, Barb Spector and Trixie.  It couldn't have been prettier and I fancied I could smell the fragrance of newly awakened earth, green growing things and sweet flowers.  

When I returned home, after opening the windows, putting in the screens and making 6 washcloth and soap Easter bunnies (I will gladly tell you how to do it if you let me know you are interested - it is my all time favorite Easter craft - wrightj45@yahoo.com) I finished a book I have been reading and began a new one.

The book I finished was the 2nd of 3 recommended at the Ancestry Day convention in Philadelphia.  It is THE LOST GERMAN SLAVE GIRL, by John Bailey and I strongly recommend it not only for those interested in family history and American history, but also to any interested in the pre-Civil War years or American Law, Indentured Servitude, German immigrants, or issues of Slavery.  The shortest possible description of the text is that it deals with the struggles of a woman alleged to have been a German indentured servant, orphaned and forced into slavery in New Orleans.  You'll have to read it to find out what happened!

The one I just began already shows itself to be highly entertaining in the first chapter.  It is MAN OF WAR, by Charlie Schroeder; one man's adventures in re-enactment.  Needless to say this would appeal to anyone interested in re-enactment, history, or humor.

Now, I am in the process of scanning and printing a dozen precious family photographs loaned to me for one week by my Uncle Joseph Lyons in Philadelphia.  It gives me the greatest pleasure to finally come face to face with the elusive great grandfather I have tracked for a few years, William C. Garwood of Turnersville, who went to Philadelphia to join the Merchant Marines and fell in love with a young woman whose grandfather owned a prosperous hostelry and cartng business on the waterfront, Hiram McQuiston.  The young woman was Mary Lavinia McQuiston, one of a long line of Lavinias coming into the present in my daughter, Lavinia Jones-Wright, and travelling back throough at least two generations behind Mary Lavinia McQuiston (known as Mame).  Her mother was Lavinia Johnston, whose parents came from Ireland, and one of whom was named Lavinia also, though I have not as yet tracked down her maiden name.  To anyone working in family history it is no news to say that family history is a long and detailed process that never ends until you do.

William C. Garwood served on the U.S.S. Yorktowne among other ships.  I have felt all along as though he had reached out to me through time to remember him and bring him into my world.  I believe it is true that you can love family members you have never met.  My mother loved William C. Garwood, her grandfather, very much and talked of him often.

Well, I haven't been traveling to many historic places recently but I'm off to Pottsgrove Manor next week.  However history lives with me every day in a number of ways and I'm always happy to share in my history experiences with those of you who have been showing up in my statistics as daily visitors!   Don't be strangers, write my e-mail sometime and say hello!  I'm always happy to hear from you as well.  I've heard from people in regard to Slimm's Ranch (and by the way, I met a member of the Slimm family yesterday at the Timber Creek Dog Park), and the Whitall House, and other topics.
Happy Trails, wagging tails!  Jo Ann (and Trixie)

Friday, April 4, 2014

Where It Used To Be

Back in the 1970's I used to like a Laurie Anderson song that was witty and funny because she gives directions throughout the song via "Where _____used to be."  As in "down by the railroad where the grain tower used to be."
Well, my entry today is about two new places where stores used to be where I used to shop.  
My latest project is to lose weight.  First I had several appointments and tests with a cardiologist due to excessively high blood pressure (for those who know blood pressure,  mine was 226 over 108).  I had tried to lose the weight I had gained over the past 10 years or so, by the usual methods, counting calories and walking but nothing was happening, so my doctor told me I needed to try something different.  He suggested I try Weight Watchers and sign up at a gym.  He also prescribed a new medication, which worked. 
As it happened, when I looked up Weight Watchers near me, I found one at the little shopping center in Bellmawr off Browning and Bell Roads where I used to shop at SuperFresh before they went out of business some years back.  They had a special deal of 10 weeks for $120 for Senior Citizens and I thought that sounded about right.  There used to be a farm owned by the Bell family on that land.
It also happened that a new gym had opened up at the Brooklawn Circle where the old KMart used to be.    They also had a good deal of $10 a month.  My old gym was $40.  And best of all, I quit my old gym because I became alarmed when some things began to hurt that had never bothered me before, a shoulder and a hip.  I thought repetitive stress might be the culprit.  Planet Fitness has a 30 minute total workout room which fits the amount of time I want to spend at the gym and allays my fears of repetitive stress from the hour on the bike and the hour rowing that I used to do.
So a week has passed.  How have I done?  The goal is to try to lose about 2 pounds a week.  If I take off my stated goal, I can earn a lifetime membership to WW.  The first week, following their Simple Start plan (I don't have the points system down yet and with Simple Start, you don't need it) I have lost 3 pounds.  
I did have to do some shopping for different foods but I can honestly say my fridge looks great (it was empty before) and I'm eating well, and feeling good especially about my progress.  I'll keep you informed and who knows, perhaps I will run into you at WW or Planet Fitness one of these days!
Happy Trails!  Jo Ann 

Friday, March 28, 2014

Interesting web site

As many of you know, I am a volunteer docent at the James and Ann Whitall House, Red Bank Battlefield, National Park, NJ.  One of the other docents has recently created a very interesting and informative web site that I wanted to recommend if you would like more information on this important historic place is South Jersey.  Please visit and offer support for his sterling effort!

ALSO - You may remember that I went 'N' gauge train crazy last December and visited as many train exhibits as I could find.  Looking through  materials I collected from my recent adventures in Millville and Glassboro, I came upon an "Upcoming Events" flyer from the South Jersey Museum of American History and VOILA!  What did I discover but "Vintage HO & N Gauge Model Trains" in July! July 3rd through 27th this summer you can see platforms from the 50's and 60's featuring Plasticville and Revel buildings at the museum.  I'll certainly try to be there and enjoy my favorites the  "N" gauge model train platforms while my own train set hibernates until next Christmas.

Happy Trails!
Jo Ann

Sunday, March 23, 2014

American History Museum, Glassboro

Well, I finally got there!  After cutting out and saving two articles about this museum, I finally got to see it for myself and to speak with the curator and his wife, a charming, warm and informative couple.  The curator of the museum began with his own collection of antique farm implements gathered from three generations of farm families in the Maple Shade area, which accounts for Lippincott Avenue (the other family name was, I think, Sauselein).  As I had spent a portion of my teens in Maple Shade, after my family moved from Philadelphia, Pa. to New Jersey, this was of some interest to me.  Also, I have an interest in pre-machine age farming due to my involvement with the James and Ann Whitall House in National Park, NJ.  The museum is 123 E. High Street in Glassboro and open Thurs., Fri,. Sat. and Sun.
So, I took a photo of a brand new mystery object for you to identify!  My hiking buddy Barb Spector and I couldn't figure out what it was though it was obvious to us once we were told.  I wonder if you can figure it out.
Our visit to the museum followed another perfect day in Milliville where we had a delicious lunch at Wildflowers Cafe in the cluster of charming cottages that house artisans of all kinds, then a hike on the Maurice River bluffs, followed by coffee at Bogart's Book Store.  
I bought a set of earrings and necklace at the OCTOPUS'S GARDEN.  They are repurposed keys!  Small keys made into earrings and a larger key for the necklace.  I LOVE the idea of recycling and re-purposing things.  The prices were very reasonable and the people extremely friendly.  I highly recommend this shop for your gift giving and for yourself!
What a wonderful all around perfect day.  The American Museum was open from 1:00 to 5:00 and that's why we stopped in there on the way home from our day in Millville.
Hope you are tempted to give these places a try, you won't be disappointed!
Happy Trails,
Jo Ann

Friday, March 21, 2014

Heading to Millville with mystery stop

For over a year I have wished to stop at 123 E. High St. to see the American History Museum created from one man's personal collection.  What a great idea!  Well, today,Friday, 3/22, my regulary hiking buddy Barb Spector and I are headed to Millville for one of our favorite adventures, to have lunch at the vegetarian restaurant WILDFLOWERS, then hike the Maurice River Bluffs, then a stop at BOGART'S Book Store for a going home coffee and some new $2 dvds and books.  
This time, however, we are stopping at the little museum in Glassboro and I am very much anticipating it.  I'll let you know tomorrow what I learn there.  ENJOY THE DAY AND I HOPE YOUR DAY IS SPENT OUTDOORS!!
Happy Trails from Jo Ann and Happy Tails from Trixie

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Deserts by Design

I like to let my readers know of good places to eat as well as great historic spots to visit.  Although probably none of us should be hanging out around bakery shops, I felt I had a right to a treat after I completed my Jury Duty in Camden today.  So, I stopped in at Desserts by Design in Audubon.  
Now don't think it is just a place to get yourself something.  It is a wonderful place to buy a gift!  St. Patrick's Day is just around the corner, so drop in for something with a bit of green sprinkle on it.  Although I usually recommend Duffy's for Easter bunnies or that St. Patrick's Day staple, Irish PotatoesValentine's Day may be over for this year, but keep Desserts by Design in mind for next year and for all the holidays!  The Christmas cookie baking friends I used to have no longer bake their specialties because everyone is on a diet or has special dietary requirements, so spoil the  contemporary cookie bereft and buy Christmas cookies at Desserts by Design.  
In case you are wondering, I didn't get anything for free for doing this.  I won't say I can't be bought, but no one has, as yet, tried to buy my good opinion.  It was only that I just finished eating my treat and I wanted to share it with you!  And I can tell myself that I bought the dessert for my blog!
Hooray, Jury Duty is over for another 3 years.  I don't know why it is such a burdensome experience for me but I dread it days in advance.  Once I'm there, I'm fine.  I make friends, I read.  I watch the  movie that reminds us all what a privilege it is to live in a land where we have such rights as a jury of our peersAnd when it is over, I swell with pride that I did my duty and didn't try to get out if it by some selfish chicanery.  Aside from the pride, I then reward myself with a treat.  There is a table and chairs and a coffee machine at Desserts by Design, so if you want to stop in to try something (like on a date for example)  what a fun thing to do.
Contact Information:  Desserts by Design - hours Tues - Sat 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., master and Visa cards honored, 105 West Merchant St., Audubon, NJ 08106  856-310-0044
And if it's Irish Potatoes you're wantin' head over to Gloucester City, NJ to Duffy's on Broadway in the center of town (with the wind at your back and the sun in your face and the road risin' up to meet ya!.
Happy Trails!
Jo Ann

Friday, February 28, 2014

A Great Day in Mount Holly

The Robin's Nest Restaurant is on 2 Washinton Street, Mount Holly.  Drive by and turn the corner and in a block yhou will find a parking lot.  In the parking lot there is an antique store called FINDERS KEEPERS.  It is charming and historic.  It is the "oldest in its original location" in the very old town.  It was built in 1744.  The front door, on the street side, is original.  The back door on the parking lot side is open and you should go in.
My favorite thing there was a double clerk desk! 
My lunch at the Robin's Nest was delicious.  I had a salad, as usual, but it was topped with breaded and pan seared goat cheese.  The soup was heavenly.  It was sweet potato soup and I have never tasted a better soup anywhere.
The decor at the Robin's Nest is delightful and it is a favorite lunch spot for me and all my friends.  Unfortunaetley, I stopped to look at the bakery items as my friend was taking half a dozen cookies home to her father.  So I HAD to have an oatmeal cookie and a chocolate chip cherry cookie - it is unfortunate because I'm trying to 'slim' as the old term goes.  This week they had a St. Patrick's day parade in town, which I missed due to a prior engagement for lunch and a movie.  I also missed the Battle of Iron Works Hill which was in December and it is a favorite historic event for me as a Revolutionary War = gosh I don't know what to call myself - I guess a 'student' as it seems frivolous to say a 'fan' of something as horrible as war, glorious though the result may have been.
Lots of things going on in Historic Mount Holly and a great brochure to all the historic buildings and events available in most shops.
Hope you get a chance to go there and enjoy!
Happy Trails,
Jo Ann
ps.  Tomorrow, I'll post some pics

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Heritage Sundays at the James and Ann Whitall House

As you may know from other posts, if you are a regular visitor, I've been a volunteer on Heritage Sundays at the Whitall House since I retired.  Actually, I took a full year off before I volunteered, so I've been there 7 years.  The new schedule for this year has just been posted, so here is your early bird peek:

Sunday May 18th-Hear a Hessian Soldiers' Story. Find out if you lived to tell the tale of Red Bank!

Sunday June 8--Exhibit opening, "Oh Freedom: African American Soldiers in the Revolutionary War." Featuring a living history demonstration by historian/re-enactor, Joe Becton.

Sunday June 22--Rutgers Master Garden Program Flower Show

Sunday July 20th-The Whitalls and War: Find out how the war impacted this quiet Quaker homestead!

Sunday September 21-Military Encampment: Come out and meet the members of the West Jersey Artillery Company and the First Delaware Regiment who will offer artillery demonstrations, a military encampment and living history demonstrations.

For more information or to volunteer, you can reach -
Jennifer Janofsky, Ph.D.
Curator, Whitall House and Giordano Fellow in Public History, Rowan University

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Giant Jackrabbits and Giant Vegetables

When I was a fifth grader at the D. N. Fels School on Oregon Avenue in Philadelphia, our regular teacher, a mean lady, was absent and we had a substitute, a 'poor soul' as my grandmother used to call them, the hapless peculiar people you run across from time to time.  He was very old, dragged out of retirement for the shortage of teachers due to the baby boom.  He didn't know what he was doing, but he taught us how to write checks so that no one could trick us and change the amount.  We werent' going to have checks for another ten years or so, but when we did.....And he brought us these amazing postcards of cowboys riding giant jackrabbits and huge vegetables on farm wagons and train cars.  I forget most of whatever else I was taught at that time, but I never forgot those postcards. 

Something reminded me of it tonight and I looked up the images.  I would have bought some cards but amazon.com didn't have any to sell.

Two Upcoming Events for March

Hello!  Weather still keeping me close to home.  It's been lunch and movies instead of exploring for the past month, but I have seen every movie up for an Oscar!

Anyhow two events came to my attention today - one from the Sunday Courier:

The German-American Cultural Society of South Jersey will meet Tuesday, March 4, at 7 p.m. in St. Stephen’s Meetingroom, 230 Evergreen Ave., Woodbury. Meeting, program and refreshments. Contact  Debbie at 856-468-9525, or email: gacsofsj@yahoo.com.

The German-American Cultural Society of South Jersey is of particular interest to me because I have German ancestors who came to this country in the early 1800's about 1830.  The two names of those branches, which come down to me via my grandmother and great-grandmother on my father's side are Sandman and Young.  Although I had some trouble finding the Youngs until I realized they had Americanized their name from Jung.  I got some help on that from ancestry.com where I met another distant relative on the Young family side and she shared some research she had commissioned from a professional genealogist who was able to find the citizenship paers for Adam Young from Darmstadt who later married Catherine Sandman and became the father of  Mabel, my very beloved grandmother.

As it happens, through sheer good fortune and coincidence, I have visited every country from which my ancestors came:  Scotland, Ireland, England and Germany.  I lived in Germany for two years in a small town called Heilbronn Am Neckar (which means on the Neckar River) and I think I may have posted on that previously.  Ich Kann ein bissient Deutsch sprechen - though I never could spell having learned from talking rather than from reading or school.

It is my hope and amibtion to renew my family history research this year.

When I was searching the net for the location of the Germany-Am. meeting since I had already let the newspaper go without copying the information, I also ran into this interesting upcoming event:

"The Gloucester County Chapter of The Archaeological Society of New Jersey will meet Wednesday, March 5, at 7 p.m. at West Deptford Public Library, 420 Crown Point Road, Thorofare. The program, “A Different Look at The Native Americans of West Deptford,” will be presented by Archaeologist Jesse Walker of Richard Grubb & Associates Inc. All are welcome to share interest in this educational evening and learn the local prehistory of this area."

By the way, I did hike at Parvin on Saturday and it was dry and beautiful - no snow, no ice, no mush.  We had expected at least to run into mud and water from the melted snow, but it was perfect trails from start to finish.

Auf Wiedersehen!  Jo Ann

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Another blog

Some months back a fellow attendee at the monthly Burlington County Roundtable mentioned a "history girl" blog for New Jersey and told me to check it out, I'd love it.  I did.  And it is very good.  Fortunately for my blog, she is mainly interested in North and Central New Jersey, not South Jersey, though I'd be glad to welcome bloggers who could show me more places to go and things to do.  Anyhow here is her blog just in case you wander up around that way!  Also, I enjoyed seeing how she does her blog.  It is beautiful!


Mullica Hill for Valentines

Well, neither snow nor sleet nor hail could keep me indoors one more day.  With a guilty nod to my dog, I headed out to Mullica Hill with a friend of mine.  We had lunch at the Blue Plate, which I love and which features a number of good vegetarian selections.  My friend, Gail, had quiche with a nice salad, and I jumped the healthy eating ship and went for the pmpkin crumble pancakes.  The weather made me do it.  It is such a cozy and friendly place to eat.
The Red Mill Antique Center
I like to play the favorites game at places like antique stores because I'm trying to avoid buying more stuff.  So whoever I'm with and I pick our favorite stuff, not necessarily to buy.  My favorite stuff was the array of media, radios, record players and such.  But I did buy something anyhow, an adorable, if every so slightly damaged fat cat cookie jar.  First, it looks like a fat cat who lives with me, and second, I just liked the shape of it and even the damage, that showed it was used and loved.  After the years are passed over us, we all have some cracks and dings. 

Just as we left charming Mullica Hill, the sleet and snow were starting up again.  But it was delightful to get out of the house, even though I had to face the disappointed dog when I got home.  In a few minutes I'll be making it up to her by taking her on a hike with my hiking pal, Barb Specto, at a local place where she lives.  I can't give you a location, because it is in the back of a houing development called Hunter's Glen, I think.  It is a bike trail that leads for more than a dozen miles.  The woods are just too slushy and the thick crusted snow with frozen layers make it too hard to walk even for my dog.  So we are opting for this bike trail which I am told is clear.
Happy Trails!

Friday, February 14, 2014

Vegetarian Events for this year 2014

Since I am a member of the Vegetarian Society, I get their e-mai of upcoming events.  If you are interested and would like to get to know them, here are some events you may like to attend:
Vegetarian Society of South Jersey

Feb 13 at 12:44 PM
MEMBER POTLUCK* & GAME NIGHT, Sat Feb 22, 4pm (Snowdate: Sun Feb 23, 4pm), Lorraine & Steve's house, Pemberton Borough NJ 08068. VSSJ members only; no fee for this potluck. The hosts are respectfully requesting that children under 12 not be included in this event. Space is limited, so RSVP by Feb 20: thevssj@gmail.com or 609-848-VEG1(8341). After the 20th, call to see if space is available.
VSSJ /VEGETARIAN NEIGHBORS POTLUCK* DINNER, Sun March 2, 4-6pm, This potluck is at Linda Shimmel’s home, Vineland NJ. RSVP/info: Gayle at 413-522-8258 or gemd4100@yahoo.com.
VSSJ POTLUCK* DINNER & VEGAN BAKE SALE, Sat March 15, 6:30pm, Prince of Peace Lutheran Church, 61 East Rt 70, Marlton NJ 08053. Vegan bake sale benefits Animal Friends Furever (http://aff.petfinder.com). Contributions for bake sale welcome! Please bring a non-dessert contribution for potluck. VSSJ members: $2; $4 family; Non-members: $5; $10 family (to cover hall rental). Attendees park in front of building; enter at steeple. VOLUNTEERS NEEDED: setup, cleanup, & baking. To Volunteer, RSVP, or for more Info: thevssj@gmail.com or 609-848-VEG1(8341).
Doors open: 6:30pm, Drawings: 8pm, Washington Twp High School, Hurffville-Crosskeys Rd, Sewell NJ in 9-10 Cafeteria. Admission $10. LOTS of terrific prizes, vegetarian/vegan refreshments. ALL proceeds benefit local animals. For more info: mkoplow@comcast.net or 856-853-1847. VSSJ NEEDS VOLUNTEERS to bake for Vegan Bake Sale at this event: thevssj@gmail.com or 609-848-VEG1(8341).
VSSJ FREE LECTURE SERIES, Wed April 2, 7pm, Woodbury Public Library, 33 Delaware St, Woodbury, NJ 08096, 856-845-2611. “Spring Into Health - Easy Ways to Increase Your Energy with Diet, Activity, and Lifestyle Changes” by Jim Ronga, DC. Healthy snacks & vegetarian starter kits! To Volunteer, RSVP, or for more Info: thevssj@gmail.com or 609-848-VEG1(8341).
VSSJ ANNUAL SPRING POTLUCK*, Sun April 13, 2pm, Moorestown Community House, 16 East Main St, Moorestown NJ 08057. Raffle and/or 50/50. VSSJ members: $2; $4 family; Non-members: $5; $10 family (to cover hall rental). VOLUNTEERS NEEDED: setup, cleanup, and baking. To Volunteer, RSVP, or for more Info: thevssj@gmail.com or 609-848-VEG1(8341).
FULL MOON BANQUET DINNER, Mon April 14 & Tues April 15, 6:30pm, Careme’s at the Academy of Culinary Arts, Atlantic Cape Community College, 5100 Black Horse Pk (Rt 322), Mays Landing NJ 08330 (in Bldg M). RSVP/Info: American Vegan Society, 856-694-2887, www.americanvegan.org.
VSSJ FREE LECTURE SERIES, Thurs April 24, 7pm, Cherry Hill Public Library, Conference Ctr, 1100 Kings Highway North, Cherry Hill, NJ 08034, 856-667-0300. Dr. Janet Erickson, President of VSSJ, celebrates her 30th year being vegetarian with her talk “Benefits of a Plant-Based Diet 101”. Vegetarian starter kits & food samples will be available. To Volunteer, RSVP, or for more Info: thevssj@gmail.com or 609-848-VEG1(8341).
VSSJ TABLING at Cherry Hill Earth Festival, Sat. April 26, 10am-2pm (rain or shine), Croft Farm, 100 Bortons Mill Rd, Cherry Hill, NJ 08034. VOLUNTEERS NEEDED: setup of VSSJ's table, distributing literature, cleanup. Volunteer/Info: thevssj@gmail.com or 609-848-VEG1(8341).
VSSJ/CJVG DINNER* at KAYA'S KITCHEN, Date TBD (May), 1000 Main St, Belmar NJ 07719, kayaskitchenbelmar.com. Join VSSJ and Central Jersey Vegetarian Group (CJVG) for trip to an all-veg restaurant. RSVP by TBD to VSSJ: thevssj@gmail.com or 609-848-VEG1(8341) or to CJVG: 908-281-6388.
VSSJ POTLUCK* DINNER, Sat May 17, 6:30pm, Prince of Peace Lutheran Church, 61 East Rt 70, Marlton NJ 08053. VSSJ members: $2; $4 family; Non-members: $5; $10 family (to cover hall rental). Attendees park in front of building and enter at steeple. VOLUNTEERS NEEDED: setup & cleanup. To Volunteer, RSVP, or for more Info: thevssj@gmail.com or 609-848-VEG1(8341).
AMERICAN VEGAN GARDEN PARTY, Sun May 25, Noon: Lunch • 2-6pm: Program, 56 & 72 Dinshah Lane, Malaga NJ. Speakers: Fran Costigan and John Pierre, Live Music, and Book Room. RSVP by May 20 to American Vegan Society, 856-694-2887, www.americanvegan.org. Visit website for further details.
VSSJ POTLUCK* PICNIC, Sun June 8, 1 pm (rain or shine in covered pavilion), Smithville Park, 803 Smithville Rd, Eastampton, NJ 08060. Park has many miles of hiking trails plus historic buildings. VSSJ members: FREE; Non-members: $2, $5 family (to cover pavilion reservation fee) To Volunteer, RSVP, or for more Info: thevssj@gmail.com or 609-848-VEG1(8341).
For all VSSJ EVENTS: Everyone is welcome! VSSJ events are open to the public, except when noted as “members-only”.
Please check your email on day of event for possibility of cancellation. If you're not on our Yahoo email list, please visit www.vssj.com and click on "Mailing List" link on left to add your name. Please contact VSSJ at thevssj@gmail.com or 609-848-VEG1 to RSVP, for additional info, directions, or to volunteer.
*For all VSSJ POTLUCKS: Each individual in your party (with exception of children under 12) brings vegetarian* dish to share that will feed at least 6 people (vegan** dishes preferred so all types of vegetarians may enjoy food), with recipe or list of ingredients. Please bring at least as much as your family is going to eat.
VSSJ provides beverages, so please provide a food contribution. To promote recycling, VSSJ encourages you to bring your own plate, cup, & utensils if possible. Due to safety issues, children under 12 must be under parental
supervision at all times. Check in at door when you arrive.
Vegetarian = No Meat, Fish, or Gelatin.
Vegan = No Meat, Fish, Dairy, Eggs, Gelatin, or Honey.
Not sure what to bring? Easy options include: garden salad, fruit salad, hummus with chips or crudités. For a list of recipe sites, visit http://recipes.njveg.com.
For all VSSJ RESTAURANT TRIPS: Reservations must be placed with VSSJ at least 24 hours before the event. Out of fairness to the restaurant, cancellations are requested at least 24 hours in advance. Please plan to pay in cash. When we dine at non-vegetarian restaurants, only vegetarian dishes may be ordered.

March Event

Just received this ntoice from my Whitall Hosue e-mail group.  It looks interesting to me -

The Gloucester County Chapter of The Archaeological Society of New Jersey will meet, March 5th, Wednesday 7:00 P.M. at The West Deptford Public Library, 420 Crown Point Road,
Thorofare, New Jersey. 
        Our program title , "A  Different Look at The Native Americans of West Deptford", will be presented
by Archaeologist Jesse Walker of Richard Grubb & Associates Inc. All are welcome to share interest in this educational evening and learn the local prehistory of this area.

Soon, soon, the world will be coming out from being buried in the white blanket and we will all be finding fun things to do on the backroads and hidden history pockets of South Jersey, Meanwhile

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Snow, Feb. 13, 2014

Well, I was lucky today, I had mentioned to one of my best friends that if anyone came around to shovel, please give them my address and she did.
As you may know from my bio, I was a teacher in Gloucester City for 32 years, that's a lot of kids.  One of them was doing Dorothy's shoveling and when she mentioned me, he said I had been his Art teacher.  Turned out he was one of the good ones.  So those fellows came over and dug me out, just in time for the next storm, I guess.
If you need shoveling or any kind of home repair:
856-281-4335 Will Tool Construction
So many of my friends are at an age now where shoveling is back for the back, or the heart, or the hands or wrist or any of a number of other parts, not to forget knees that it is a good thing to have a list of number to call.  Their business card says they are certified and insured.  They were very reasonable for my job.  For the steps, drive, sidewalk and car clean off, it was $60 (but that may have been the 'friends and family discount' and 'my old teacher' discount, too. 

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

My Last presentation - on the CCC in SJ

Last night, Tuesday 2/11/14, I gave my final presentation on the Civilian Conservation Corps, in South Jersey at the Friends Village in Woodstown for the Salem County Genealogy Society.  A nicer group of people couldn't be found which is why, although I am retired from public speaking now, I decided to give one more lecture.  I wanted to do something nice for this group of kind and dedicated people and especially their young president, Bonnie Beth Elwell, a charming and devoted historian and genealogist.
It gave me such a warm feeling to look out and see all the courteous and smiling support in that audience.  The people were helpful, interested, interactive - all you might wish of an audience.  It was a great venue for a 'swan song.'
There are numerous reasons why I can't do public speaking any longer, most having to do with a plethora of minor but contributing health concerns.  For many many years, I hauled around heavy boxes and bags of materials across snowy parking lots, up long staircases in public schools and auditoreums, after long drives, and fought the eternal battle of the electronics.  I presented for Crayola Binney & Smith and innumerable other organizations over my 32 year career span in education.  Then after I retired, I did it all again for Camden County Historical Society, in the suitcase history program for the schools, and with various other organizations on Colonial Living and the Underground Railroad.  When I left each of these jobs, I left a good person in my place to take up the baton. 
Dorothy Stanaitis at 856-456-2485, is a professional storyteller and she took the Camden County Historical Society job when I left.  She also took the Philadelphia tour guide job, and she has developed  wonderful programs for Colonial Living, Underground Railroad and Philadelphia history, along with her continuing Storytelling business.  I gave her phone number because she is currently active in her own business and can perform for your group, should you wish to hire her.
We had developed a couple of good programs that I will be sorry to see reitred - RED, WHITE AND BLUEBERRIES was my favorite, on Clara Barton and the Red Cross and Elizabeth White and the blueberry.  Well, to use a metaphor appropriate to the Olympic games.  There comes a time when you have to hang up your skates.
To carry the flame for the Civilian Conservation Corps, there is Wes Hughes.  He is an organizer for the Batsto volunteers group and he is contracted to write a book on the Civilian Conservation Corps in South Jersey.  He and I will be in touch and I will pass on some resources to him.  He attended the lecture last night.
Last night I was most fortunate in having a friend who was willing to pick me up and drive me to the Friends Village, and help me carry the bags, AND man the table to sell my novel:  White Horse, Black Horse.  Harry Schaeffer, is a dedicated volunteer at the James and Ann Whitall House in Red Bank Battlefield.  He introduced me to the Salem group, which I have since joined.  People in the historical community seem to be more gracious than the people of many other kinds of groups that I have met.
It appears a respect for local history, family history, and history in general, may perhaps be related to respect for all things and people. 
I am retired from public speaking but hope to return to the Gloucester County Historical Society Library in Woodbury in the spring and I will continue at the James and Ann Whitall House as a docent.  AND, when this weather finally progresses into spring, I hope to resume my wandering over the backroads, woods and beaches of South Jersey.
Meanwhile, I am still walking my dog Trixie at the Timber Creek Dog Park, most days, and I can report that as long as you have TRAX, a good walking stick, and dress in warm clothes, you'll be okay.  My vet said it isn't wise to walk a dog when the temperature drops below 20 (depending on the breed I assume), so we have missed a couple of days each week this month, but we were there yesterday and we'll see what tomorrow brings.  The report threatens 6 more inches of snow, so I may be in all day reading a great history book.
Currently I'm reading the history of the folk music revival of the 1960's - (just now I'm reading Woody Guthrie's life story) more on that tomorrow!
Happy Trails!
Jo Ann

Thursday, February 6, 2014

East Point LightHouse

Sorry, this isn't a brand new photo on my opening blog page.  The frozen hiking paths have kept me and my dog Trixie, in for the past few days.  Nonetheless, I don't want to look at Christmas Trains in February!  So, I changed the photo for an old one that I liked but I couldn't figure out how to make it smaller.  My daughter will help when she comes home again. 
I have been to the East Point Lighthouse many times and it is a beauty.  I may even have a post on it somewhere in the archive. 
I am a big Olympics fan and I look forward to the start tonight although for some reason the Opening Ceremony won't be until tomorrow night.
Happy Trails!  Jo Ann

Sunday, February 2, 2014

A Perfect Day in Cape May

South Cape May Meadows - Cape May Migratory Bird Refuge

Yesterday a friend, Gail,  and I drove to visit my cousin who lives in the Villas.  Gail and my cousin Patty, lived near each other in our early childhood in South Philadelphia.  I always take my dog when we go to Cape May, and we always plan to have a walk when we get there before we go to lunch.  You may have read the post on Cox's Creek before, from another such trip. 
This time, my cousin directed us to the South Cape May Meadows, another of the New Jersey Conservancy sites, located off Sunset Blvd.  look for the sign to the trail.  It was PERFCECT!  After the long days of below '20 degree weather, we had a balmy 40 and the trail was a raised sandy pebbled surface free of most of the snow and perhaps a 1/4 of a mile long (maybe even 1/2 mile).  I love the seashore in the winter - when it is free of crowds and not blazing hot.  Not a fan of high temperatures, this was perfect hiking weather for me and my dog.  The view over the grassy dunes was lovely with the blue sky overhead and then, the view of the beach and the water! 
If you make this a day trip, I recommend the Bella Vida Cafe for lunch.  They have many vegan and vegetarian selections.  I had a veggie burger on focaccia bread, toasted, cole slaw and a cup of quinoa and vegetable soup - delicious!  My friend and cousin had the veggie reuben, which I plan to get next time.
The Bella Vida is open all year and is located at 406 N. Broadway in West Cape May.
Happy Trails!  Jo Ann

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Jo Ann Wright, brief biography

Hello, not much to write about lately so I thought I'd do a brief biography so you'd know something about the woman writing this blog.  Also, I googled my name at a friend's suggestion and found lots of Jo Ann Wrights - none of them me and none of them directing to this blog, so here we go:

Like many another New Jersey resident, I was born in Philadelphia.  We lived there until I was about 12, then moved to Maple Shade, New Jersey.  That turned out to be a lucky move because at the time, Maple Shade students went to Merchantville High School, a very fine educational institution which probably changed my life.  

Books have always been at the center of my life and it was the same in my early childhood in Philadelphia.  My grandmother Lyons had several bookcases in the basement that I was permitted to borrow from and there I met Edgar Rice Burroughs, Guy de-Maupassant, Dickens and Twain, among many others.  All the books weren't for adults, I also borrowed and LOVED Outdoor Girls on a Hike, a series of books from the 1920's about plucky hiking and canoeing girls who also solved mysteries. 

After graduating from Merchantville High School, I worked at W. B. Saunders Publishing Company until I married and moved overseas.  My boyfriend had been drafted and when he found out he was being sent to Germany, he asked me to marry him.  We traveled for a year after his discharge, another wonderful adventure that shaped my life.

Back in the states, I went to college while I worked at a series of ordinary clerical jobs to pay the tuition.  First I took a degree from Glassboro in English, then another in Art at Rutgers and finally, I graduated from the University of the Arts in Phila. with a masters in Art Education.

During all of that, I raised my wonderful daughter, Lavinia, who is a filmmaker and journalist in New York.  

For thirty two years, I taught different grade levels in two schools in Gloucester City and as an adjunct professor at the Univ. of Arts in Philly.  When I retired 7 years ago, I pursued my interest in history and the outdoors as a volunteer, hiker, and blogger.  So there you have it!  (added detail - I wrote two books after I retired and self-published them both, though I prefer the modern term 'independent publishing.'  One is a historical fiction account of WPA workers in New Jersey, a photographer and a writer who is working on the State Guides.)

Latest outings:  A hike at Parvin State Park (where I go on a nearly weekly basis) and a hike around Pakim Pond at Brendan Byrne forest a few days ago before the temperatures dropped again.  So that's it for the past couple of weeks.  I was hiking every day at Timber Creek but my vet, Dr. Sheehen in FAirview (whom I most warmly and strongly recommend.  He is a great Vet and a true animal lover) suggested that anything under 20 degrees was too cold to walk a dog.  So we've been housebound ever since.  Hopefully it will warm up in the next few days. 
Happy Trails!  Hope you are staying warm!  Jo Ann  

Saturday, January 18, 2014

A Perfect Day in Millville

On Thursday, January 16th two friends and I went to Millville and had a perfect day!  We had lunch at Wildflowers, a vegan, vegetarian restaurant (all three of us are vegetarians bordering on veganism).  Then we hiked the Maurice River Bluffs.  We did the blue trail up over the bluffs, up and down to the floating dock, beneath the towering pines and over the little bridge, beyond the mysterious ruins.  Then, when we got back to the car, my dog, Trixie, wanted to stay, so we did the orange trail which gives a nice view over the estuary part of the river.  There was a huge flock of some kind of bird we couldn't correctly identify, chattering away in the tree tops.  Nice to hear birds singing in January.  My two friends are 'birders' and one has an app for bird identification, but as we had no binoculars, we couldn't see the birds very well.  She thought they might be grackles.

After our walk, we headed back to town, to enjoy a coffee at Bogart's Book Store and pick up some books.  One of my friends is a frequent visitor and had dropped off a couple of boxes of books, so she had a book credit due which paid for her brother's birthday gift.  He likes true crime thrillers.  Bogart's will accept books and dvd's and credit you for them.  Barb Spector (the book credit holder) and I also took them up on their excellent prices for used dvd's and I bought a biography of Agatha Christie and another movie called "The Reading Room."  We enjoyed a hot 'cuppa' mine was hazlenut decaf, my friends had tea, and we enjoyed conversing with some of the locals.  A fellow in a red shirt was sitting at the counter when I was waiting for my coffee and he reminded me that the Maurice River is prnounced "Morris" not with the French pronunciation I use when I forget where I am and call it "Maur eeece" and he told me it was named for Prince Mauritz, a Dutch name.  He also showed me the window cabinet of local history books that they have at Bogarts, many of which are also in my collection from my time as a volunteer at Bivalve.  I've written about Margaret Mintz, local historian from Salem County, now deceased.  

By then, it was late afternoon and we headed home.  What a perfect day!  I picked up a bunch of brochures and a local paper while I was there and the paper had a cover story about Marianne Lods, who you might remember, wrote a book about her parents experience in Europe during World War II.  More on the brochures and the novel later.  The title was "It's Been a Long, Long Time.  And I had bought it and read it some time ago.  A very good read.
Happy Trails!  Jo Ann
I'm off to the movies and lunch with friends amidst the snow flurries this morning, Saturday, January 18. 

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Big Timber Creek Dog Park in January (2014)

This morning I was standing on a hill overlooking Timber Creek which is thawing out after the freeze.  My dog was quietly exploring the ridge above where I was standing.  A bird began to sing and the church bells began to ring (I don't know why as today is Saturday) But the whole effect was so beautiful and comforting.

Walking my dog who is 4 years old today, according to her chart when I adopted her, is one of the most pleasurable things in my life.  She goes exploring alongside the trail and today I noticed her coat is exactly the same color as the dampened tree trunks in winter.  She is a mixed Labrador Retriever and Weimaraner (a German retriever breed).  She came from Animal Orphanage on Cooper Rd in, I think, Voorhees.  If you are a walker, as I am, and a woods person, there is no better friend than a dog.

The dog park area, fenced it - was all mud and giant puddles, so we kept to the bridle trails (left over from the Slimm's Horse Back Riding Ranch days) in the woods.  We didn't run into any other hikers today.  

Sorry I haven't visited any other interesting places recently or have any other 'history' news at present, but I thought it might be nice to talk about Timber Creek Park which is so important to my daily life.
Happy Trails,
Jo Ann

Sunday, January 5, 2014

"Oh the humanity" the Hindenburg

Lounging around the house due to the weather day before yesterday,  I happened to catch the classic movie, The Hindenburg (1975) starring George C. Scott.  The TCM commentator mentioned that although it was nominated for several awards and seemed to be popular, it did not reach popular aclaim as a film.  I thought it was excellent and also very modern.  It strikes me that succeeded documentaries pretty much discount the bomb theory and go with the torn skin flap explanation of the crash and burn.  The movie seemed to lean heavily on the bomb theory.

It reminded me of driving out to the pines, in my teens, to see the wreckage when I was a teen in the 1960's.  I wasn't sure if it was a true memory or a made-up one (which I can get from time to time) so I asked my sister and she told me she, too, had been out to see the wreckage when she was a child with our father and mother!  She is only 49, so I guess it WAS still there.

Even on a day at home, if you are in New Jersey, there is history all around you.  I also saw the film American Hustle, which was set in New Jersey and built around the Abscam scandal which many of us remember, if not in detail, certainly in the names of the participants, in particular, Mayor Ericchetti.  It is an excellent film and I recommend it, although the amoral nature of the characters made me feel as though I had an oily film over my soul from contact with them.  

Happy Trails!  
ps.  I did get out to the woods today, to Big Timber Creek Dog Park which was nearly deserted, but I met another dog person and we had a great conversation and 4 laps around the park.  If you have a dog and want the dog to be happy and healthy, you've got to get those walks whenever you can, and before teh weather turns on you.  It was very pleasant in the park, I even had to take off my hat, mittens and scarf, it was so warm.
pss.  Does anyone remember The 2nd Fret?  wrightj45@yahoo.com

Friday, January 3, 2014

Another good blog to visit

Someone at the last Burlington County Historians Roundtable recommended this blog to me.  It looks good!  You may wish to check it out.  We are all in this together and I'm glad to be sharing news and information with as many people as possible to keep history alive for us all!  She has some information on things this month.
Happy Trails!  Jo Ann

Post-New Year's Day Freeze

You may be hardy travelers and perhaps you are visiting some interesting place today, but I am home, hibernating in this newest snow storm and not even attempting Timber Creek Dog Park (my daily walk) with my dog, Trixie.  I would, perhaps, have gone on the walk because my dog gets into mischief if she doesn't have her walk, but among the chores I'm trying to do today is the laundry with my long underwear in it.  Without the long underwear, I can't imagine hazarding that walk, so, tomorrow I'll give it a go.
For today, I am doing the aforementioned laundry, and taking down the Christmas decorations.  Each one is wrapped in memory.  There is the green stone star from my trip to Ireland with my daughter two decades ago, my ornaments from Germany 1969 to 1971, the Nuremburg Christmas Faire, ornaments made by friends from the Gloucester City Library the year my daughter was born, and ornaments she made for me when she was growing up.  One is a plastic 'stained glass' chapel that my sister, Maryann who resides in West Virginia,  painted for me one year when she was a child.  She bought the paint stained glass kits for her granddaughters this year to make tree ornaments.  Naturally it makes me kind of sad to look at them and think of the years gone by and the people who have passed out of my life.
I will hate to take down the lights because, as was intended, they do help to keep away the dark of the 'deep mid-winter drear.'  Nonetheless, it is best to start the new year off fresh and with the old holiday tucked safely away for the future, when, because it was away, it will be special all over again. 
Because I have been both busy with Christmas and family visits and gifts, and stuck indoors for weather, I haven't got any news for you about places to go or things to do, however, there is one lecture at the Lyceum in Burlington County that I'll be attending January 15th, on the payroll robbery and shooting at Atsion Mansion in the heyday of the ironworks.  I don't have any further info on that but you could look it up under Burlcohistorian.com or some variation on that.  I'm sure that link is in another posting of mine from the burlington County Roundtable, but the ornaments beckon and I must get back to work.
Happy New Year again!  Jo Ann

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy New Year! 2014!

To all my friends and fellow fans of South Jersey history and Places to Go and Things To Do - Thanks for visiting with me this year.  I hope I'll have even more interesting places to share with you next year!  I wish all of you an safe, healthy, and happy New Year! 
Happy Trails, Jo Ann

Monday, December 30, 2013

Shop Locally Movement

Just this past couple of weeks, I had the opportunity to shop locally five times.  I live in a place rich with small and local shopping venues and I wanted to mention some of them.

First of all, anyone who loves history, is no doubt, also hopeful and supportive of keeping our small towns alive.  We have all seen the strangulation of small town shops by shopping malls and super cheap places like Wal-Mart and I'm not saying that we should not shop in malls or at Wal-Mart, certainly there are good reasons for going to all those places and I do.  I shop at Boscovs and Target and many other big stores,  
However, that said, there are opportunities to support small family owned businesses as well, and keeping our minds and eyes open to that is a good way to support keeping our small towns viable.
My favorite immediate go-to hardware store is and always has been 1.Carr's Hardware on Broadway in Gloucester City.  They not only have everything I'm looking for in my, admittedly amateur repair efforts, they also have advice and they will order what you need if they don't have it.  In addition, they will recommend workmen who can do those things beyond my ability.  They are a very nice family and it is a pleasure to shop there and visit with them.

Once, a year ago, I had something wrong with my car.  It stalled in the middle of driving, at red lights, under an assortment of situations that made it dangerous and mind-boggling.  I took it to my former mechanic, to the Ford Dealer, and finally, my daughter was so worried she got in touch with a mechanic friend with whom she had gone to high school.  He was partner in what was then a new shop.  I took it to them and they resolved the situation immediately and at half the cost of one garage, and one third the cost of my fruitless visit to the Ford dealer.  2.Innovative Automotive on the corner of Market Street and Kings Highway, is a reliable and honest repair shop.  I have been to them a few times since for various problems and I wanted to recommend them to everyone I know who has a car.  (by the way, it was a crack in the black rubber intake L pipe.)
I had already spent over $2000 by the time I took it to them and was considering getting a new car.  They fixed it for under $400.

As recently as  last summer, I would drive almost an hour to South Jersey farm stands to buy my local honey which, as all honey users know, is the most healthful honey to buy.  You want local bees and not adulterated or processed honey.  After all that driving (which I did enjoy in terms of lovely landscape) I discovered that all the honey I bought at the farm markets down there, was also carried by 3.Vercchio's on the Brooklawn Circle (Route 130 in Brooklawn).  That produce market is the picture of American BOUNTY!  I love to go there and see all the brightly colored fruits and vegetables and find new and mysterious fruits to try (like persimmons).  And they have local honey in a variety of flavors - Cranberry, Blueberry, Wild Flower to name my favorites.  They are also famous for their prices.  This year I was also able to buy Claxton's fruit cake, which may be a joke to the wider public, but it is a life-long favorite holiday treat to me.

Finally, after walking the dog at Big Timber Creek a couple of days ago, while my daughter was home visiting me from New York, we were headed to Collingswood to go to lunch and we drove along Atlantic Avenue in Audubon.  We passed a charming corner cafe' called 4.Simply Soup and decided to eat there instead.  We had the 1/2 sandwich and soup special lunch offer at $7.95.  We had a delicious white bean and escarole soup, homemade, and white albacore tuna salad sandwich on rye.  One of my chief small grumbles at eating out is TOO MUCH FOOD.  I'm trying to watch my weight and, too often, I'm watching it go up!  The half sandwich and cup of soup was perfect - just enough to leave you full and satisfied but not so much that you had to bag it or stuff yourself.  I highly recommend this little cafe, and I may add it was very popular with the locals, as I saw both times that I went there.  I liked it so much when I went with my daughter, that I returned with friends.  They also have take-out and platters and desserts and an atm machine.  You can call 856-546-3939 for more information or to order in quantity.  Simply Soups, 301 E. Atlantic Ave., Audubon, NJ

Hope you had a happy Holiday so far, and I look forward to  sharing tips for places to go and things to do in South Jersey in the New Year!!  If you have a place you want to add, e-mail me at wrightj45@yahoo.com and I'll gladly pass along your recommendation.

In fact, a writer friend of mine recently had her book of poems printed and bound at 5.Belia's Copy Center in Woodbury on Broadway and she wanted it known that they did a wonderful job and were very helpful and patient with her in the process.  I have had a great deal of work done there myself and also recommend them.  They are, also, a family run local business.
Happy Trails, and SHOP LOCALLY!! Jo Ann

Monday, December 23, 2013


I'm admittedly remiss in responding to comments in a timely matter, so if you wish to reach me for discussion of posts or events, best to use my e-mail    wrightj45@yahoo.com   THANKS and Merry Christmas!

Jam-Packed December 2013

So sorry, I let my readers down on things to do the first 3 weeks of this month.  That's because I was so busy putting up lights, decorating the tree, cleaning the house for guests, buying the gifts, then wrapping the gifts, then cleaning again, that I didn't get to do any of my usual candlelight tours (or my cards!).  And as always, every day I am Big Timber Creek Dog Park walking my pal, Trixie.  Actually, though, I volunteered at one candlelight event - as usual, I did an evening as a docent at the James and Ann Whitall House for their candlelight weekend, themed, 'A Soldier's Life' and enjoyed very much listening to our re-enactor soldier in Ann's Parlor.  Wonderful Event!
Therefore, I apologise because I missed the Battle of Iron Works Hill, among many other things I enjoy.  BUT there are still some places to go and things to see this month:
Smithville still has Victorian Christmas Candlelight Tours on December 27th and 29th.  My daughter will be here with me for a week and maybe she and I will be able to go to that.  
Historic Smithville Park, 803 Smithville Rd., Eastampton
and for tea dates call (856) 767-3159

One of the things I missed telling you about closer to the day that I actually attended was the Burlington County Historians' Roundtable which is a 'don't miss' event for those interested in South Jersey History.  Run by Burlington County Historian, Joe Laufer, (with ehelp from Paul Schopp) it is a supreme model of what counties should do to promote their resources.  This month the meeting was held at the Lyceum of History and Natural Science (formerly Mt. Holly Library) at 307 High St., Mount Holly, NJ. (Call for info.609-265-5858)
They have some things coming up worth notingAs you know my interests overlap in nature and history
At the Lyceum, lecture series Jan. 8 and 9 Migratory Waterfowl
Sat.,Jan 11, 9:30 a.m. Smithville Park - hike and tour Winter Ecology              Happy Trails, Rails and Tails!  Jo Ann

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Book Review - It's Been a Long, Long Time, Marianne Lods

On one of my many enjoyable trips to Millville, I stopped, with a friend, in Bogart's Book Store and bought a book by a local author.  The cover was appealing because it featured old black and white family photographs and I am a great fan of family history. 
Today I finished the book and I can tell you I couldn't put the book down once I began to read it.  Here is my review:
Just finished this book which I bought at Bogart's Book Store in Millville.  The cover caught my eye as I, too, love family history and the images were intriguing.  While reading this book, I found myself crying and hoping for the best for these people through all the adversity they had to face.  My father served in the navy in WWII and it brought back memories of my parents' lives and memories of that period.  I've promised to lend the book to a freind with realtives in the South Jersey area of the poultry farms of the Jewish families who left NYC for better opportunities.  What a great story.  We rarely hear about the ordinary people in the places where the big events of the War took place.  I really wanted to know what happened when the family came to New Jersey!

As it turns out, after doing research, I found out that the author is a director of the administering board of the Glasstown Arts District.  Here is information about that -http://www.glasstownartsdistrict.com/index.php

One of the best aspects to this reading adventure is to find out the story behind a family in an area I have explored so often and learned about from other sources.  In aprticulary, I have read in Utopia, New Jersey, by Perdita Buchan, about the beginning of the poultry business for Jewish families in South Jersey in the towns such as Norma, Brotmanville,  and Alliance.  In fact, I attended a fascinating lecture by Ms. Buchan one summer at the Samuel Assiz Museum in a small synagog there. 

Happy Trails, Happy Rails, and Happy Tales - Jo Ann

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Presentation on the Civilian Conservation Corps in SJ cancelled tonight

As you may remember, I posted some time back that I would be doing a presentation on teh CCC in South Jersey for the Salem County Genealogical Society tonight at Friends' Village in Woodstown.  It has been cancelled due to dangerous conditions later in the evening.  Although the snow has stopped, forecasters are calling for low temperatures and frozen roads after dark, so President Bonnie Beth Elswell decided to postpone the presentation until February or March. 
Be careful, be safe, and if you don't have to travel, stay home and do those Christmas Cards (or put up the train platform)!
Safe Travels - Jo Ann

Albert Horner Phography Exhibit

Albert Horner's photographs of the New Jersey Pinelands are on display right now:

Pinelands Exhibit

Reception: 12/7/2013 2PM to 4PM
Location: Burlington County Library
5 Pioneer Blvd
Westhampton NJ 08060
I am an artist and I worked at the University of the Arts for 22 years.  All my life I have visited galleries and viewed painting, ceramic, sculpture and photography exhibits.  These photographs by Albert Horner are the  most beautiful I have ever seen.  If you can possibly get ther to see them, you should.  They are large, gorgeous, subtle and profoundly evocative of the soul of the pines.  

Monday, December 9, 2013

The Old City Hall, Bordentown, NJ

Sorry for such a delay between postings, so many places to go, so many things to see - especially this time of year with the Historic House Tours and luncheons and dinners for us volunteers.
Today, I was supposed to go to a luncheon at the Gloucester County Historical Society Library, but my car on the fritz and, fortunately, the dinner for volunteers at the James and Ann Whitall House, Red Bank Battlefield, National Park, was postponed, or I would have had to cancel out of that as well.
The list of things I want to mention today are:
The Whitall House Candlelight Tour
Bordentown Model Railroad Show and the Old City Hall Restoration Project
The Burlington County Historians Roundetble at the Lyceum in Mount Holly
The First Snow - Timber Creek Dog Park

On Friday, December 6, I was a docent in the room usually known as Ann's Parlor.  Our new director, Jennifer Janovsky has not only opened two upstairs rooms this year, but she has launched a number of interesting new events and themes.  This year for the Candlelight tour, our theme was A Soldier's Life
and I was fortunate enough to share the room, not only with Patty Kehler, DAR member and docent, but with a guest, Tracy Fallon, a Re-enactor, not only for the Revolution, but also WWII.  He was so knowledgeable and he and Patty offered historical details on the house, the War for Independence, George Washington, and numerous other interesting subjects.  The hours flew by.

This must be the year of the model railroad, because displays have been held all over the place.  So far I visited the Burlinton City Railroad Days display and the Bordentown exhibition at the Old City Hall, a wonderful building to visit in its own right.  There were two floors of wonderful exhibitions of model railroad platforms.  One woman model engineer reminded me to mention the John Bull in my blog.  I think that platform was hers.  
The John Bull was a British-built steam locamotive operated for the first time on September 15, 1831.  It became the oldest operable steam locomotive in the world when the Smithsonian operated it in 1981.  The John Bull was initially purchased by and operated for the The Camden and Amboy Railroad the first railroad in New Jersey where it was used  extensively from 1833 until 1866.  

My father, when he was a younger Ironworker, was part of the team that moved a locomotive to its site in the Smithsonian and we often visited it there and he talked about that historic job.  I wonder now if it was the John Bull.  

Anyhow, there was also a display called "Remembering Seaside" which is noteworthy for its unuusual display of ferris wheel, other rides and sandy platform.  Everyone there was friendly, informative and the whole experience was enchanting.

In a side room where sweatshirts, tea shirts and train whistles (I wish I had bought one) were being sold, I met two volunteers in the Restoration Project for the building which is located at 11 Crosswicks Street in Bordentown.  How I admire volunteers in the history community.  Where would we be without their selfless devotion to rescuing and maintaining our cultural history.  The Old City Hall boasts a Seth Thomas clock tower also in need of financial assistance.  The clock is neighbor to a bell which has tolled continuously on the hour since the 1880's.   There is a marvelous brochure on the Old City Hall available if you visit the model train exhibition, which I heartily recommend that you do!

This entry is long enough, so I'll save the rest for tomorrow!
Happy Trails!  Happy Rails!  Jo Ann