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, July 12, 2016

Pokemon Go Mania at National Park

I went to Red Bank Battlefield at National Park for my sunset walk as I do everynight but on this night there were no parking spots!  I never saw so many people.  I asked the first person I saw what was going on and he said there were a couple of parties. BUT, when I got to the river walk, there were scores of young people all completely engrossed in their phones.

Now like any other adult in this modern world, I am used to seeing young people walking around, or sitting somewhere eyes glued to their pones as though they were caught in some science fiction tractor beam, but this was even beyond all that.  Some groups seemed gathered around a tree here and there, all quiet and all staring down at their phones.  So I asked another person, and this one said it was Pokemon!

He explained it to me but I must confess I didn't get it.  Something about a ball and gathering gems and doing battle.  Later, I asked google on my tablet and it explained the new game got people up and out and chasing little Pokemon figures at historic places.  I am glad they are getting out and exploring their surroundings, I just wish they saw them too.  The sunsets were gorgeous the last two nights, but I'm not sure anyone but me actually saw them, or the other odd couples my age who were not staring at their cell phones.

Anyway I am glad they came to visit this historic and noteworthy spot and I wish we had some costumed guides around to tell them what it was famous for, especially so close to 4th of July!

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Small Towns and Small Town Newspapers - The Retrospect

Today, I met some friends, fellow retired teachers, for lunch in Collingswood, NJ at Sabrina's where the air conditioner was broken and theyoung mother next to us had two tots with the most high pitched mind shattering shrieks I've ever heard and at Sabrina's I've heard plenty of loud children.  Anyhow the roar was deafening and the heat was oppressive, so after we ate, we beat a hasty retreat to REVOLUTION coffee shop a few blocks up Haddon Avenue towards Westmont and around the corner.  It was a quiet haven of coolness and coffee fragrance and I recommend it.  The food at Sabrina's is still excellent but I won't be going back because I can't stand the noise level - they need baffles.  But, if you go after lunch, the moms and toddlers are gone and the with them the shrieking.  I'm not against kids, I had one, but I must say, my daughter NEVER screamed in a restaurant and we ate out from the time she was a baby.  Maybe she was just an unusually well behaved child.  I did, however, talk to her about restaurant manners, and she was cool.

I always stop in the Retrospect when I'm in Collingswood.  I just love small town newspapers.  The news is interesting and it is the news you won't find in the Sunday Courier Post, (such as the controversy over police visiting a school for a possible racial epithet, and controversy over a sidewalk sculpture - a previous issue) plus I like to know what events are coming, and I like to see the house prices.  This issue ran a small column saying you could donate to Almost Home Animal Shelter by dropping off canned food, towels, paper towels, laundry soap, bleach and a few other things, at the Retrospect office, which is right on Haddon Avenue in the center of town.  I hope the War Memorabilia is still in the window.  They did a splendid job.  It was evocative and colorful, especially to someone like me, with every generation of my family having at least one man serving in the armed forces, if not more.  I want them remembered, though we were extraordinarily lucky that all of our men came home alive from the first World War through to Vietnam.  I took a photo of the window, so if you miss it, you may find it here, but right now, I've got to go, it's time for the sunset at Red Bank Battlefield.

Happy Trails!
Jo Ann

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Birthday Cake, Desserts for any Occasion

On Friday, our Riverton Writer's Group met.  The group has been active for more than 35 years.  I have been a member for about 15 of them.  Of the original founders, one had published a World War II memoir, she had been a nurse in the Pacific, one had been a professor at Rugers in the English Department, and of the current members, one had been a newspaper reporter, one had over 100 essays (paid for) published, and probably close to 150 published in all.  She also has a flourishing business as a storyteller in the South Jersey area.  At present, she has been composing a variety of programs based on Colonial happening and people such Benedict Arnold, Hamilton, and Betsy Ross.  One is a renowned local poet, and I have independently published two novels and won a poetry prize and had my some poems published in the Mad Poets Annual Poetry Review.  I don't write poetry anymore but I still appreciate it and our poet, Tom Clapham is celebrating a birthday this month, so we were having a cake to honor him at our writing club meeting on July 1st.  We had another poet, Dan Maguire, who moved to Baltimore, and we have another writer who has published two or three books on Philadelphia, but health and his tour business kept him from our summer meeting.

I went to Desserts by esign, becasue I have bought things there before and they are excellent bakers and I like to support local businesses whenever I can. I bought a smal (feeds 6) carrot cake that was just exquisite and very reasonable.  It had a small bouquet of blue and yellow pansies scrolled inincing on top with the birthday message and the cream cheese icing was encrusted with toasted coconut.  The cake was flavorful, moist and utterly mouthwateringly delicious, so I wanted to let you know about this little bakery in case you are looking for pastry or a birthday cak.  It is located at 105 West Merchant Street, Audubon, NJ 08106, phone number 856-310-0044.  

There are a few summer birthdays I like to celebrate by sending gifts to good animal charities such as Best Friends, PETA, Greenpeace, and especially Alley Cat Allies.  If you have reached the age where you are paring down and de-cluttering the accumulatins of a lifetime, the last thing you need is a half dozen more objects for your birthday, even if they are chosen with affection and thought, but a donation to a charity is a doubly useful gift, it shows you care, and it helps those who need your help the most.

In my Weight Watcher Meeting, a week ago, we talked about de-cluttering, and the current Goodwill expose' and scandal, so I wanted to mention the Seeds of Hope charity in the Brooklawn shopping center.  It is around the corner that houses PetSo. on the far side of the strip mall from Shop Rite.  They furnish homes for the needy and they clothe the homeless and help homeless shelters in Camden.  

Happy 4th of July, and if you are traveling I hope you have safe travels and clear highways!  Happy Trails, Jo Ann

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Sunset at Red Bank Battlefield, National Park, NJ


This summer, I have been going regularly to Red Bank Battlefield, National Park, NJ to see the sunset.  There are many sunset fans who show up there for this celestial extravaganza.  Because it is over the Delaware River, and relatively unobstructed being south of the city, below the navy yard, it is  a spectacle of color. 

So, when I saw an article about this artist, I was intrigued.  For many of my trips to Red Bank, I have declined to take a photograph, though I am a lifelong photographic chronicler of my world.  I just felt there are so many sunset photographs and none of them can capture that enormous radiance, why bother.  Then one day, I found a shot I wanted to take, when the sun was behind a tree and the orb itself blocked so only the radiance emanated from behind the now silhouetted tree branches.  It looked like the biblical burning bush.  Unfortunately, my phone went dead just then, and all I could do was sit on the bench in the breeze that was like the memory of beautiful summers past, and watch the sun create the gold plated path across the river.  This has been a glorious summer like the ones people always remember but in a grieving way as “lost forever” now that it is so hot.  This summer all the days in the lower 80’s have been breezy and dry, not humid.  And I know this because I walk every day after the gym and sometimes in the early evening at Red Bank. 

The historic house at Red Bank belonged to the Whitall family, a well-off Quaker family unwillingly embroiled in the Revolution when their apple orchard was confiscated for Fort Mercer, used to protect the Delaware from British ships.  

Often when I am there, I wonder if Ann Whitall ever noticed and admired the sunset, but she was so bound up in a puritanical religious view she might have found the appreciation of natural beauty to be too pagan.  Her diary reflects no such thoughts for the year of 1762, and this I know because I typed from the old typewriter copy, onto the computer so it would be available to researchers.  Then, I checked as much as I could to see that the typewritten copy was true to the handwritten copy which was Xerox copied and bound and is available for reference at Gloucester County Historical Society in Woodbury.

But to get back to sunsets.  An artist, Penelope Umbrico, cropped sunrise and sunset closeups from the multitude of vacation photos on Flickr, on the internet and created the mural pictured above which tomy  mind shows that there are still things to discover in photography, and it also comes closer to capturing the magnificence of the sun as well as our worship of it and admiration of it through all human time. 

I will try to get that photograph tonight, Thursday, June 30,  and post it tomorrow or the day after, Saturday.

See you at the sunset!  Happy Trails, Jo Ann

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Tall Pines and County Parks

Many years ago, when I taught at a high school, several teachers were selected to be trained for the upcoming new regime of testing.  Well dressed super-teachers led these in-service training workshops in the summer, and we were treated to nice lunches at a place called Ron Jaworski's Eagles Nest.  Which was, apparently, a golf course as well as a restaurant.  Since I don't play golf, I would never have visited it otherwise.  It was a very nice lunch and the setting was beautiful.

Recently, I was searching for good places to hike in the woods that were not so far a drive as my usual favorites and I came across a web site, I think it was South Jersey trails, but I'll have to go check my tablet browsing history.  There were a half dozen parks near me that I had never visited so I wrote down the information and lst week, another hiking buddy and I set off to find them. 

We found two that first day and hiked part of each.  The first one we found was TALL PINES, which is apparently a State Park but administered by the county near Sewell.  It is another one of those golf courses returned to nature.  I hiked one near Cape May called Coxe's Creek.  I like walking on the paved golf cart trails, especially in tick and chigger season.  We were fortunate to meet two other women walking a Lab, and the dogs frolicked togetehr and the women showed us the way back to the parking lot.  You can get lost in that park and there are no trail maps that I have yet been able to find either by calling Camden County Parks or by looking on the internet.  There was a pond and a stream partially hidden behind two mysteriosu mounds of dumped gravel.  The dogs had a nice dip.

The Second park was New Brookly Park on New Brooklyn Road near Winslow Twp.  It has a golf course, a soccer field and a long paved trail paralell to the road, plus a small bridge overlooking the Egg Harbor River watershed, good for bird watching.  There was also a kayak ramp and a small pond.  Not a great place to hike, but good for those other things.  It needed more exploring but finding the parks had taken a LOT of time because neither my hiking buddies nor I can decipher the gps coordinate that I understand I can put in my phone or my gps.  But I have not yet learned how.  So we went for finding the closest road and then looking for an older guy in a pick-up truck.  They are the only people in America who still know where anything is.  Also, old ladies seem to know but they aren't out and about as much as old guys in trucks, so those are the best bet.  Wawa employees don't know where the corner is and gas station attendants don't speak English, so I always look for an old guy in a pick-up truck for accurate information.

There are 21 County Parks and I have visited about 7 of them.  I may go for the whole 21, why not!  I'll let you know later!
Happy Trails!
Jo Ann

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

HaddonHeights, a great one day excursion

Two friends and I were looking for a fun day close by so we wouldn't run into the Memorial Day traffic this weekend, either traffic going, or coming home.  In addition, our goal is always to get in a hike or a walk with lunch.  So we we went to Haddon Heights and had lunch at the Station Avenue Cafe, which has an all new menu with several vegetarian items.  We had veggie burgers with a salad cup on the side instead of freis as we are all health conscious as well as vegetarian.

Next we went for a stroll along the avenue and stopped in a charming refurbished furniture and antiques shop Medford Company Store of Haddon Heights, where a friendly lady was in the midst of antiquing a desk.  She said they offer classes in antiquing and furniture refurbishing.  They also have estate sales, tag sles, buy outs, cottahge furniture, and chalk-mineral paints (I confess that's a new one on me, I don't know what chalk-mineral paints are, but you could take a class and find out).  

We also stopped in at the Market, a charming old grocery store that has been there for a lifetime.  They had a 25 cent book sale outside that benefited the AWA, so we all bought books both to read and to give as gifts to friends with those interests.  

Last, we walked two sections of the Haddon Heights Park.  I think of them as the cannon section, the Dell section, the baseball section, and the Audubon Lake section.  I think the whole thing is between 3 and 4 miles.  We did the cannon section and the Dell section and called it a day.  The Dell section is where they hold the concerts in the summer and the brochure is out, but more on that later.  I've got chores to do now and shopping for groceries.  No excursions for me today!  

Jo Ann (large type because I and some of my friends are beginning to experience vision changes that make reading small print difficult)
By the way, to re-iterate, I do this blog so people looking for something fun and healthful to do for the day can find some ideas.  If you want to contact me and find the comments section difficult to manage, my email is wrightj45@yahoo.com

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Two Upcoming Events in June 2016 and Shirley R. Bailey and the South Jersey Magazine

On June 11, 2016, the June Festival of Antiques will be held at the Fairgrounds from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Rain or Shine.  75 and more Outstanding Exhibitors representing 10 States.  Gloucester County 4 - H Fairgrounds, Rt. 77 Just South of Mullica Hill, NJ $6 Admission, $5 with card you can pick up at the Blue Plate Cafe in Mullica Hill.
for more information www.yellowgarageantiques.com 856-478-0300
The Fiar will Benefit the Harrison Twp. Historical Society

The 33rd Annual WHITESBOG Blueberry Festival will be held June 25th and 26th from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.  From their flyer, "A Great Old-fashioned country Fair with artists, crafters, Musicians, wagon tours, blueberry picking, kids crafts, blueberry baked goods, ice cream, food vendors, historic house ours, local community groups and fun for all!"
for more information (609) 893-4646 or www.whitesbog.org

After readipng SoJourn, I was reminded of my old favorite magazine South Jersey Magazine   published 4 times a year during its life, by Shirley R. Bailey from Millville, NJ.

I LOVED that Magazine and I want to share with you one incident in my relationship with that magazine.  Out hiking one sunny day with a geocaching friend, we drove part way down a flooded sandy road, parked and waded through shallow pools of water that covered the rest of the road to the beach on the bay.  Once we were on the beach, we hiked along and found large concrete building pads, partly sticking out of the sand near one, I found an old milk bottle, which I still have.  It was the kind with the fat lip that had the push in cardboard lid with a tab.  When I was little, I would raid our ice-box on the back porch where the milkman left the milk.  I would peel the cardboard lid and lick the cream, like a cat, and then put the lid down.

Anyhow, some weeks later, rummaging around in my old favorite bookstore, Murphy's Loft in Mullica Hill, I ran across a copy of the South Jersey Magazine that had harrowing accounts of the flood of 1950 at Thompson's Beach and Moore's Beach, resort communities on the Bay.  A ten foot tidal flood had washed houses right off their concrete pads and floated them away.  Many people, caught asleep and unawares of the quiet rising of the water, had to be rescued.  Some clung to the debris floating from their rooftops until they washed up somewhere or were saved by searchers.  Some drowned.

I haven't gone back to Moore's Beach or Thompson's Beach since then, but the memory of that ghostly place and what it signifies is with me still, how even so benign a place as the New Jersey Bay can become a death trap.  And how you must always pay attention to the weather and heed the warnings.  For more on the stories of that dreadful night, check out this geochacher site:

But what I especially wanted to mention here today was a salute to the historians of the past, the ones who collected the stories and kept them alive for us to enjlighten us about the drama behind the ruins and artifcacts we come upon in our hikes around our own backyard, South Jersey.  Thank you Shirley Bailey!

Here is her obituary:

Shirley R. (Robbins) Bailey

The Guest Book is expired.
Shirley R. (Robbins) Bailey

Shirley R. (Robbins) Bailey, age 83, of Millville, died suddenly Sunday morning, Feb. 20, 2011, at her residence after a brief illness.

Born in Absecon, she grew up in Dividing Creek, Bridgeton and was a graduate of Bridgeton High School, class of 1945.

She was the publisher the "South Jersey Magazine" as well as other books relating to Sough Jersey History. Previously she had worked for Airwork Corporation, Millville as the computer department head. She retired in 2003. She will always be known as an authority on local history.

She is survived by her husband Richard N. Bailey; her daughter Destra L. Bailey; and son-in-law Glenn Clark of Millville; her grandson Aaron Clark; and several nieces and nephews.

She was predeceased by her brothers Joseph and Donald Robbins, and her parents, Frank and Mina (Conover) Robbins.

Funeral services was  conducted on Friday, Feb. 25, 2011 at 11 a.m. in the CHRISTY FUNERAL HOME, 11 W. Broad Street, Millville.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Memorial Day 2016 - Pine Barrens Store & SoJourn

My experience of Memorial Day took a few routes.  To Commemorate the sacrifice of veterans such as my father, who was a sailor in World War II, or my brother, a marine in Vietnam, or even, through family history, my Civil War Great-Grandfathers, I watched war movies and thought of them and offered silent thanks.  My favorite was Battle of the Bulge, a Cinemascope, technicolor epic on Turner Classic Movie channel.  My father and I watched that movie many times together before he died.  He loved history also, in particular World War II and the history of all wars of American history, to one degree or another.  

He was a wonderful father and a heroic man in many ways.  I will miss him every day until I die.  I should mention my mother, a loving, generous, kind and civic minded woman who worked at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard while my father served in the navy.  After their years of service, my parents both participated in the local chapters of the American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars.  My brother, after his service in Vietnam and up till very recently also participated in VFW events and blew his bugle at honor guard burial ceremonies to honor the veterans who had served their country's call.

Today, Sunday, May 29th, I drove out to Shamong and met up with a hiking friend, Barbara Solem, for a walk around Pakim Pond with my dog Trixie.  Barbara is the author of three books on the Pine Barrens, 1.The Forks, 2.Ghosttowns and Other Quirky Places in the Pine Barrens, and most recently 3.Batsto Village, Jewel of the Pine Barrens, first printing 2014 by Plexus Publishing.  We have been hiking together for a good many years.  We met early on after publication of her first book The Forks.  It was on a hike led by an S. J. Outdoor Club hiking icon Joe Trujillo, now deceased.  There is a man worthy of a blog essay all on his own.  Some other time, perhaps.  Anyhow, we have been fast friends ever since.

Barb has had a long relationship with Manny's Shamong Diner where many book launches have been hosted as well as author events.  Most recently one was held at the May 28th Grand Opening of the Pine Barrens Store, nine authors were present to discuss their books, on sale in the store.  The store is at 7A Willow Grove Rd. (on Route 206) Shamong, NJ right behind (or beside, depending on how you look at it) the Shamong Diner.  Phone 609-257-1427 hours 7:30 a.m. to 9:pm daily, according to the full page color ad in the Shamong Sun, a local newspaper.

At the store, I bought a copy of SoJourn, A Journal devoted to the history, culture, and geography of South Jersey, a publication of the South Jersey Culture & History Center at Stockton University.  Supervising chief editor is Tom Kinsella.  It was a fascinating read and I decided to go back some time in the future for more copies to give as Christmas gifts this winter.  The next issue will be in the fall of 2016, and submissions will be accepted up to September 1st.  To give you an idea of the contents there are essays on Nash's Cabin, the Bicycle Railway of Smithville, Mary Elizabeth Tillotson (an early proponent of rational clothing for women) among others.  I enjoyed it very much and recommend it highly to South Jersey history fans.  Get it at the store, or contact the SJCHC at Stockton College.

Pakim Pond was cool and beautiful as always and I was  happy to see young people and families breaking free from the grip of the seashore migration and enjoying the uncrowded and lovely pine woods instead.  

Does anyone remember South Jersey History Magazine?  It went out of print about 1985.  I used to buy old copies at Murphy's Book Loft, Mullica Hill.  Murphy's is sadly also gone now and I can't find my stash of magazines.  Anyhow, I am glad someone is taking up the flag and keeping the history flowing into the future!  

Remember all those who sacrificed to keep our country free for all of its citizens tomorrow on Memorial Day!  
Happy Trails, Jo Ann

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Info on Genetics and Genealogy Lecture

As mentioned in a previous blog, I was fortunate in having attended a lecture by Judy G. Russell, JD., CG, CGL at Burlington County Historical Society.

For my birthday a couple of years ago, I had my dna tested through a special sale offered at the Ancestry.com convention in Philadelphia.  They offered a reduced rate of either $69 or $89, I can't remember which, but it was usually $100, so I stood in the long long line and bought it.

the Ancestry test required a cheek swab.  Some require deposit of saliva into a tube.  All of these are noninvasive.  My results were puzzling to me as I had done quite a bit of work on my own by then and I KNEW for a fact that my mother was half Irish - the McQuiston family (Scots Irish to be precise) and English (Garwood).  My father was half German (the Sandman family andd the Jung family) and half English (presumably - Wright).  I had traced the Wrights back to 1810 on the Indiana border with the Ohio River, and I had traced the German contingent back to 1820.  The McQuiston's appeared in Pennsylvania in the late 1700's.  I was astonished when my results gave me 17% Scandinavian and 27% Eastern European.  My final conclusion was the one of the German greats had come from Jutland, the peninsula that connects Germany with Denmark.  It had changed hands many times, and I had found a Danish Great great grandmother. 

Friends who had taken the test also had surprising percentages and we were all wondering what this was about.

Ms. Russell clearly explained to us the difference between the 3 main types of dna tests used for genealogy, Ydna, MitochondrialDna and autosomal.  Amazon does autosomal.  I can convey to you all she taught us, it was a 2 hour workshop.  But I can tell you that amazon.com does autosomal and they link you with family trees and other people who have taken the test and match with you.  Family Tree DNA, which she recommended because they promise to hold your dna test for 25 years, is the other most well known representative in this field, and the third has just come back after a tussel with the federal government over releasing medical information to customers.  That one is 23 and Me.  They cost the most.  

For more information you can go to Beginners Guide to Gnetic Gneealogy https://goo.gl/LjOsmx or www.legalgenealogist.com.  Or call the Burlington County Historical Society in Burlington City.  

The families I have been researching in New Jersey are Cheesman and Garwood in the Turnersville/Blackwood area.  The Cheesman family, in particular are interesting because they had several mills along the Big Timber Creek and there was even a small hamlet challed Cheesmanville at one time.  William C. Garwood, who married Rachel Cheesman, only daughter of renowned Major Peter T. Cheesman, was postmaster and schoolteacher at Turnersville.  During his school teaching years he boarded with the Cheesman family and met Rachel.  She died young, and her son, William C. Garwood, was raised by his grandfather, of the same name until he went to Philadelphia and joined the Merchant Marines to see the world. I discovered a year or so ago, that the C. stands for Collins, apparently a surname from the female ancestry.

Happy Trails!
Jo Ann

Volunteers for Animals

Today, Saturday, May 20, 2016, my daughter sent me a text photo with her new dog, Louisa Mae from Texas.  Louisa is a "parti-poodle" which means that she had multicolored fur.  Poodle breeders prefer solid white or solid black.  We don't know how poor little Louisa Mae came to be in a kill shelter in Texas but we know how she came to her forever home in Brooklyn, New York.

My daughter who is my electronics mentor, found her little furry soul mate on the internet where rescuers post dogs being ferried (no pun intended) from kill-shelters, mainly down South, to new homes or no-kill shelters in the North.  Louisa Mae's rescuers had her treated for a minor skin ailment and then sent her on her way through a network of truck volunteers.

What brought tears to my eyes (literally) was when my daughter told me that rescuers meet the trucks at truck stops and take the dogs for a walk before they resume their long journey.  God bless this good souls.  These messages from the world of kindness and soulful humanity help to keep hope afloat. 

I was going to do a blog post all about big antique festivals coming up, but I had to send out a thank you to the universe for bringing me this good news about truly heroic people who speak out and act out for those most vulnerable among us, dogs and cats. 

Tomorrow is a big Antiques Fair in Burlington at the Antiques Emporium.  Yesterday I visited the Red Mill Antiques after an excellent lunch at the Blue Plate Cafe in Mullica Hill. I bought an original 1950's Disney Golden Book on Cinderella as I had just read a coffee table book on the Disney artists who were the first illustrators of the new Golden Books, that featured Disney characters.  Later, of course, we all became familiar with Tom and Jerry's Christmas and the many delightful tales told in vivid and charming illustrations in Golden Books very widely available and still enchanting. 

Today, I attended an excellent program on Genetics and Genealogy at the Burlington County Historical Society Library/Museum.  The presenter made a complex and confusing subject ssimple and clear.  She had an excellent speaking voice as well.  It was a day well spent.  I might add I have more often encountered truly excellent speakers at Burlington County H.L. than in almost any other venue.  They are always engaging, anc wonderfully prepared.  More on that on another post.  Have to feed my cats and my dog now.

Happy Tails!
Jo Ann

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Mothers' Day in the Pines and an Upcoming Event

My daughter and I went to Whites Bogs to hike on Monday after a delightful Mothers' Day together.  W had lunch at Maritza's in Maple Shade which, I believe, I have reviewed before.  The food is always excellent and the wait staff very polite and helpful, and the prices are suurprisingly reasonable.  Coming from Brooklyn, New York, my daughter was astonished at how much lower things were in New Jersey.  We walked around Knight's Park with Trixie, then went to the movies to see The Meddler, with Susan Sarandon.  If you are a mom of a certain age, dealing with a lot of losses, you would find much to identify with in this movie.  

Next day, we went to Whitesbog, and as I always say "I wish I could stop at the Evergreen Dairy Bar, when I pass it on Rt. 70, this time, we did stop.  We never do because everyone I know is watching her weight, but this being a celebratory weekend, we decided to throw caution to the winds and have milkshakes.  I had a Coffee flavored one and she had a Black and White.  They were DELICIOUS!  The Everygreen has been in operation since 1949 and I am so happy they still are!  The food was very good.

We had also stopped in a the Burlington City Antiques Emporeum where my daughter bought some charming vintage clothing items and I bought a bakelite box brownie camera like one I owned as a child, by mine was metal and newere.  I bought this because it fits with my 1940's kit for Women Journalists of World War Ii, not that I will ever be doing any more presentations, but you never know.  

We had a wonderful time!
At the Antiques Emporium, we were given a flyer and I payss the info on to YOU:

2016 HISTORIC BURLINGTON ANTIQUE GARDEN AND ART SHOW SUNDAY MAY 22 FROM 11a.m. to 5 p.m. 424 High Street, over 85 Dealers indoors and out!
* Evaluations up to 3 items ($5 donation)
*Re-claimed functional art pieces for home and garden
*Flowers and plants
*Complimentary Refreshments
{home 609-747-8333 www.antiquesnj.com

Friday, April 29, 2016

Arbor Day - Noteworthy Trees of New Jersey

First off, if I asked you if you had a favorite tree, would you answer yes?  Then, I would ask what made it your favorite.  My favorite of recent years is the one around the corner from me on Northmont Avenue which is huge and has a twisted spiral trunk.  It is an impressive personage altogether. 

However, I have met other famous and noteworthy trees too and on Arbor Day, they deserve a mention.

First, of course is the Salem Oak, in the Friends Burial Ground in Salem, NJ.  It has been designated the Millennium Landmark Tree of the State of New Jersey.  It is said to be (according to Brittanica online) 500 years old and was planted about the time that John Fenwick estqablished his colony in the Salem area.  I have visited the Salem Oak many times over the years, but, sadly I have not visited recently.  So here is my notice from the universe that it is time to go and say hello.

The second tree I'd like to note today is the Pygmy Pine, a dwarf variety of Pitch Pine that is found in the New Jersey Pine Barrens.  It is said that the wildfires that rage periodically through the Pine Barrens have caused the stunted growth of the Pygmy Pines.  You can find them down off Route 72, which you may recall is the way to my favorite spot on earth, Pakim Pond, in Brendan Byrne forest, formerly known as Lebanon State Forest.  I go down 295 North to Rt. 70, then follow 70 straight through 2 circles.  At the 2nd circle, you will find route 72. 

I haven't been there for a long time, but I think 72 was also the route I took to Albert Music Hall.  Which reminds me of a song, "In the Pines, in the pines, where the sun never shines."  My favorite version of that song was sung by Kurt Cobain, unplugged in New York and available on You Tube.  It is chilling.  Another favorite is "On the Trail of the Lonesome Pine."  That song was written aroun d1913 and was popular during World War I, but, even before that, it was a novel written around 1908, written by John Fox.

I love trees and have always felt that they are like people in another atomic and molecular arrangement.  The ones in my yard are like neighbors to me and I thrill each year when their leaves unfurl.

A WONDERFUL book about these botanical miracles such as the leafing of trees is Lab Girl by Hope Jahren.  I read a review of it and have been delighted by the book for the past few days while I was laid up sick with a terrible head and chest cold. 

One of my fond memories of childhood was moving from the Charles Dickens like brick factory/prison-like school I attended in Philadelphia a true asphalt jungle, to New Jersey,to a school with a grassy playground and a corner where a boy showed me a shrub that produced roots that smelled like rootbeer.  He said it was sassafrass.  One day, after our kind and gracious teacher, Miss Heal, had rehearsed us for several days, we opened the windows of the school and sang the Joyce Kilmer Poem "I think that I shall never see a poem as lovely as a tree."  While they planted a tree beside the sidewalk in front of the school.  They did this for several years and the trees still thrive there. 

Today I had lunch with thirty old classmates, all of us went to Maple Shade grade schools, then Merchantville High School.  Several of whom remembered Miss Heal and Arbor Day at our school.  We also practiced another archaic and charming holiday traidition, the May Pole Dance.  My mother sewed me a blue skirt, and along with a number of other girls in blue skirts and white blouses, I took my place holding a long strand of fabric tied to the top of a May Pole, and several boys and we girls, danced around the Maypole in a configuration that caused our long strands of white and blue fabric to weave together. 

So that is my entry for Arbor Day and for May Day.  Hope you go to visit the Pygmy Pines and I hope you have had  a favorite tree in your life!  Happy Trails!  Jo Ann

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Main Street Art, Maritza's and More Places To Go and Things To Do Spring 2016

Yesterday, two friends and I enjoyed a lovely afternoon in Maple Shade, NJ.  We went to Maritza's for lunch, which has the most consistently delicious food of any of the many places I have gone for lunch with friends, and by far, the most reasonable prices.  I don't mind spending a little more for a lunch but I hate it when I spend more and order what I have had before and it isn't good anymore.  For example (I won't name places, but I have had wonderful broccolli quiche and then gone to the same place and it is leftover and heated in the microwave, which isn't a good idea with broccolli.  Also, I have had great veggie burgers that on subsequent trips were mushy and unpalatable, at the same place.)  At Maritza's, it is ALWAYS good and I particulraly like the eggplant parmesan sandwich.

We walked in the cool spring breeze and delightful newly arrived spring weather, to Main Street Art which is run by an old college classmate of mine.  What a great idea!  Her flyer offers Fun With Family and Friends, Painting Parties, Art Lessons, Bring Your Own Beer, Wine and Snacks, and many other opportunities to be creative, incoluding jewelry making.  Also, it is a great place to shop for Birthday gifts!  The Occasions run for $30 per person and a 6 person minimum.  

Next stop on our trip down Main Street was the very old and quaint Dairy Queen which I have photographed many times and where I have bought chocolate dips since I was 13 years of age.  We crossed the street to visit the One Room Schoolhouse, a perfect example of its kind and dating from 1811.

By the Way, I neglected to put in some dates froma  brochure I picked up at Whitesbog, so let me put that in here:

April 23, Moonlight Walk at 7 pm
May 1, Outdoor Painting Competition from 9 to 1 - Outdoor painting on the historic and picturesque Whitesbog village grounds with a show, judged and a prize at the end of the day.  $20 fee, whitesboggallery@gmail.com
May 7, Whitesbog Workday and Village Tour 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. tour at 1
May 14 - Don't Forget NEW JERSEY STATE HISTORY FAIL  from 11 - 5 at the Monmouth Battlefield State Park, (609)-777-0238
Back to Whitesbog in May, 21st Spring Celebration garden ttours, bird walks, container planting and terrarium workshops www.whitesbog.org for more details

May 21 Moonlight Walk 7 p.m.

I wanted to visit Cowtown today but it is raining, Saturday April 23, so we are postponing and will do something indoors like Red Mill Antiques or Antiques Emporium in Burlington and a dog walk.

Speaking of Dogs, I want to again recommend Dr. Sheehen, at Sheehen Veterinary in Fairview, Camden.  He is compassionate, knowledgeable and I have been going to him for decades and with dozens of pets.  Also, The Dog House in Audubon is super for grooming.  Just call them and make an appt.  They took excellent care of my sister's Cairn Terrier after he was rescued from the fire.  He had melted mystery blobs stuck in his fur and on his skin.  He came back from them, calm, peaceful, clean and well cared for.  My sister was worried because he had been traumatized and she wanted gentle treatment, which we believe he received.  They are located on Atlantic Avenue in Audubon.  I pay $45 and a tip of $10.

Happy Trails!  Thanks for dropping by and I hope some of the information proves helpful to you.  Jo Ann

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Whitesbog, More

Two times in the last two weeks, I have hiked at Whitesbog with a friend, Barb Spector and my dog, Trixie.  It is a glorious time to hike at the bogs because it is cool and the bogs are a hot and sunny place as summer comes on.

Fortunately the last time I hiked at the bogs, the store was open and I was able to buy birthday gifts for a friend of mine.  I bought her soda, handmade soap, blueberry jam and, I must admit, I bought her chocolate covered cranberries which I ate.  I'll have to go back for me.

There were many many other items to buy at the store and lots of fun gift ideas.  For those of you who may not be familiar with the history of Whitesbog, Elizabeth White developted the high bush berry into the cultivated and famous New Jersey blueberry!  Also, she was a a world renowned expert on the holly and the cranberry.

The Whites plantation was a hub of agricultural activity, especially in autumn cranberry harvesting season when buses loaded with workers from Philadelphia would pull into the village. 

Elizabeth White was a horticultural devotee, and worked with the government and with the state university on agricultural projects. 

The store is open weekends from February to December from 10:00 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Get on over there now while it is cool and enjoy the blue sky reflected in the water filled bogs, framed by the white sand access roads.  Gorgeous!

Next stop - Cowtown!  I haven't been there in 50 years and I'm going on Saturday with a friend.  I am against the use of animals for entertainment, especially when the 'entertainment' includes cruelty to the animals but I want to visit the stores and see what it is like there now. 

I found a great deqal of interesting information on Sally Starr's old log cabins on a site called South Jersey Trails - It was known as Ole's Ranch and here is the  link if you want to check it out.  I feel an exploration coming on.....Happy Trails!  Jo Ann

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Cuntry Western New Jersey

Some years back, I used to go country western dancing on Route 38 at Prospector's.  It was so much fun, but eventually my eyesight precluded long distance night driving and my knees were less than happy about all night line dancing.  Nonetheless, from early childhood and my Sally Starr television days, I have been a fan of Country Western music, clothes, movies and lore. 

A few years ago, before she passed away, I the the chance to see Sally Starr in person through a Paulsdale Institute program.  She was still pretty, still wearing her boots and hat and gorgeous cowgirl outfit and still lucid and interesting. 

Last week, I went to see the new film about Hank Williams, I Saw the Light.  To me it was disappointing.  It seemed flat and missing the magic that I remembered from my early days when my parents had all those singing stars on 45 rpm records.  When they got the big stereo, I was allowed to play the 45's on my little portable.  I wish I had them now. 

Although the movie was disappointing, the book upon which it was based as been very informative and being such a great fan of my state, New Jersey, I wasn't too surprised to find there was a connection between Hank and Jersey  MGM paid 3.5 million dollars to convert a munitions plant in Bloomfield, NJ, into a record pressing plant "Capable of churning out 40 million records a year."  (pg. 66)

Hank's first records were pressed here and distributed in March 1947 (the 'launch date') One of the first hits the label achieved was Hank Williams song "Honky Tonkin"  Although I searched out the origins of the term honky tonk, I was unable to find a definitive answer.

All my life I have craved a cowgirl outfit.  Last year I tried to buy one on-line for my birthday, but I couldn't find the kind I wanted.  I wanted a Sally Starr, Dale Evans outfit.  All I could find however, were sexy aloon girls and wierd midi length fake suede get-ups or mini skirted outfit that looked like something some poor waiter would be forced wear ina  Western dive bar (a la Hooters).  What I did find, though, were two Country Wetern outfitters in the Woodstown area off highway 40 one of them in Cowdtown.  I will let you know when I go there, what I find.  Also, in Woodstown, in the summer, there is an excellent Bluegrass festival I have enjoyed in years past, but missed the last two years due to the night driving problem.

My eyesight problem is genetic and it is called Fuch's Dystrophy.  It is a deterioration of the cornea over time.  I can see well enough to drive in daylight but I don't feel confident at night, but I do drive when I need to and high beams and my glasses help enormously.  There is no cure or treatment for Fuch's but only when my corneas are shot, to get a transplant.  I hope to die before I need to do that, by which I mean that I hope it progresses so slowly I am in my nineties when I die with my own cornea still in my eyes.

Anyhow, Happy Trails!  Go see the movie and let me know what YOU think of it!
Jo Ann

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Burned Down House

My sister lived in a beautiful, old (125 years) house in Mickleton, NJ, that she loved like a member of her own family.  At one time it had been owned by the Heritage family of Dairy fame.  

On March 12, 2015, when she was at work (she works in the Hospitality Industry and was working at a catered event in Cherry Hill) the house burned down.  She called me on the phone around 9:30 p.m. and told me her son had phoned her to tell her the house was on fire. He had been up in his room and heard his father calling out.  He ran down to find his father, bathrobe smoldering and the sofa on fire.  They ran out in time but despite the dedicated efforts of the firemen, the house was completely burned out.  We all lost a lot.

My sister lost everything she had ever owned, including for example, our deceased mother's life long collection of cranberry glass service for ten for our family Thanksgiving.  Irreplaceable.  Lost also were ten large scale landscapes of mine, framed and hanging in the hall, four still life paintings in the kitchen, and two animal portraits recently completed for her birthday.  The list could go on for pages of the irreplaceable and heartbreaking losses.

At the same time, she and her partner separated.  They'd been somewhat estranged but had stayed together for their son, and their shared home.  He left that night.  We stayed until 6:30 in the morning hoping that the one dog not yet rescued would be found.  They brought out his body and those of the two cats at daybreak.  

The last three weeks have been an endless blur of phone calls, errands, arrangements.  Needless to say, my sister and her son came to stay with me till she could find a new place, along with her rescued dog and cat.  Each week brought small steps of progress.  First, she was finally able to get her truck out of the rubble strewn drive and on the road.  Friends set up funding and other friends collected furnishings.  This week, she found a place to rent.  Also, this week, I returned to some normal version of my life, and made two hikes.  

My hiking pals and I have gone to Pakim Pond, and Atsion, where I could find air, peace and the healing powers of nature.  Needless to say, I haven't visited any historic places or made any interesting expeditions.  I even missed Lines On the Pines.  However, there is plenty here from easier times for anyone looking for places to go or things to do!  

Happy Trails!
Jo Ann

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Heart Beet - Great Place to eat!

Yesterday, two friends and I were on our way for lunch and a walk.  We stopped at Sabrina's in Collingswood but it was jam packed and very noisy, so we moved on to another place we had heard about but not tried yet - Heat Beet, 29 Haddon Ave., Westmont, NJ.  609-214-2419, owner Ashley Coyne.

Two of us had the bean burger which was the best bean burner I have ever had and I've tried them everywhere I have found them on the menu including Applebees, Wildflowers, Sabrinias, Under the Moon, just off the top of my head.  It was delicious! 

Today, on my way home from hiking Pakim Pond, I phoned in an order for the BLT, which is also vegan, but so tasty!  What a perfect day, a nice hike around Pakim Pond while the sunshine lasted and a super delicious sandwich when I got home with my take-out from Heart Beet.  I strongly recommend you give it a try and I'm getting ready now to invite a friend who has a birthday coming up.  You don't have to be a vegan or a vegetarian to enjoy a food adventure in that world.  Also, it was a ver quiet and serene atmosphere;  I like a small restaurant/cafe' experience.

Happy Trails!

Oh yes, before I forget, a quareter of the trail around Pakim Pond is flooded, snow melt and rain run-off, so wear waterproof if you are hiking there.  My new hiking sticks helped me balance for hopping and tightrope walking on roots.  It has een flooded all week, which would never hold me back from my favorite spot and also my dog's favorite spot, but you should be warned to wear your wellies or take the Cranberry Trail!

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Flat Trails for Hiking

It occurred to me the other day, when I was hiking the Maurice River path in Millville, that I should mention both that trail and the Canal Path in Bordentown as excellent places to hike if you are avoiding ups and downs and tick season.  

I have knee trouble which waxes and wanes along with treatment and exercise, so I appreciate a nice flat paved trail.  In the center of the city of Millville, is the River walk, cross the river to the south side and the trail goes on for a good 3 or so miles.  I've never walked to the end of it by friends have.  I am generally limited to about 2 miles these days.
Oh, bor the days when I was in the 1000 mile club of the Outdoor Club.  It would have been nothing for me to walk 7 miles in a day, but those days are over and 3 miles is a good workout for me.

The Bordentown Canal path is straight through town on Farnsworth, down to the lower level when the road divides.  You go through a walled section of road, turn right and park, then you can see the bridge and the trail.  I don't know how long this trail is either but it is clear and although not paved, well trod and free of brush.  

Today, I enjoyed a visit with my favorite place on  earth, Pakim Pond.  The waters were gurgling cheerfully and from all directions, filling the pond back up after its freeze up of winter.  The rangers dismantled the beaver dam and the water hurries through like a chatting stream of commuters.  The glassy watershed is draining off and refreshing Pakim Pond, and the carnivorous plants are back.  The colonies had dried up during the autumn drought, but they are popping up through the earth now.

Happy Trails!  
Jo Ann

ps.  A truly excellent acoustic concert was enjoyed by the denizens of Bogart's Book Store in Millville.  The Musician was John, the Medicine Man, a beautiful voice, wonderful guitar playing and a stellar repertoire of covers of songs by artists such as Neil Young,and Linda Rondstat.  Bogarts will be moving, but only up the street a few stores, so if you stop in for a coffee after your hike, and find them gone, just ask around or wander up the street half a block and you should find them re-installed in their new digs.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Things To Do - Main Street Art

On the day I attended HEAR MY VOICE, the Alice Paul presentation at the Moorestown Community Center, I had stopped for lunch at Maritza's in Maple Shade, a place I strongly recommend for very good food at very reasonable prices!  It is a popular place, too, always a good sign.  Since I was early to meet my old junior high school friend, Chris, I strolled along Main Street and visited the shop of an old college pal.  Diane Paul Hackett and I had attended Rutgers, the State University, graduating in1981.  I was older because it was my second college degree.  We studied Art and for some time afterwards visited and shared our new projects, then, as often happens, we moved, got married or, as in my case, divorced, and lost touch. 

Diane opened Main Street Art, 18 East Main Street Maple Shade, NJ. and there you can explore and discover a number of different forms of art, jewelry, sculpture, and of course painting.  She hosts Art parties for young and old, larger and smaller groups, and it is also a great place for your children to develop their interests in art.    You can reach her at 856-979-5356, and www.mainstreetartnj.com.  It is also an excellent place to find that unique gift for someone with a special occasion!

As I have often mentioned, I began this blog back some years, around 2007, I think, when I was promplted by my many retired friends who were looking for places to go and things to do.  At that time, I was very invested in several volunteer efforts, Bayshore Discovery, in Bivalve, Whitall House at National Park, and Paulsdale, in Mount Laurel.  I was also working for Camden County Historical Society.  Since then, I have retired from those and other volunteer experiences and spend my time reading, exploring, hiking, making art and visiting with my many friends.  I hope these blog posts have given any of you searching for fun things to do and places to visit, both inspiration as well as destination!

Happy Trails!
Jo Ann 

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Over the Moon about Under the Moon - Great Lunch in Bordentown

On Friday, February 19, two friends and I had decided to make a day of it in Bordentown, one of my favorite towns to visit.  We had looked on the internet for places to eat, but decided to just go there and see what we might find.  As we strolled along Farnsworth, the main street, we saw a pair of charming windows decorated in vintage furnishings.  We checked the posted menu and the variety and novelty of th choices made up our minds for us.  

It is fortunate when we find a restaurant that has both vegetarian and non vegetarian options.  On this day, my two friends were not vegetarian, but I am.  I was surprised and pleased to find an item I had always wondered about but never had the opportunity to try before, tapas.

Our food was delicious.  The one thing all three of us ordered was cream of kale soup.  Delicious!  Nancy had fish tacos and Gail had a burger.  I had patata brava tapas and I found them delicious.  I would strongly recommend Under the Moon if you are heading to Bordentown.  
210 Farnsorth Avenue, Bordentown, NJ 609-291-8301   underthemooncafe.com

Wonderful decor, very charming, great staff and an interesting array of options.  
Cafe Hours are Mon. - Thurs. 11am-9pm,
Fri., & Sat. 11 am to 10 pm.  Sunday 10 - 8 and  prices are very reasonable.


One of the places I like to visit in Bordentown is the Clara Barton School.  As many history buffs are aware, most education in the 1700-s and into the 1800's was conducted in the home by mothers and sometimes by hired tutors.

Children of families with more modest means often were illiterate and received no education.  Into the 1800's, people often pooled their money and hired tutors for a group of children, usually from the more prosperous class of citizens.  In Bordentown, Miss Barton was hired to teach these children, but she eventually convinced the citizens to put more money into it and allow all the children to learn.

After she had established schooling for 500 children, the administrators decided to hire a man to put in a position of authority over Miss Burton, passing her over for this post of Superintendent.  She was so disappointed and insulted that she left, to work as a volunteer in the Civil War, in the hospitals and then later, gathering names and addresses to contact families of wounded and deceased soldiers.  Of course, she went on to found the Red Cross.

In my next post, I will talk about the wonderful presentation I attended at the Moorestown Community Center on Alice Paul, Mount Laurel native, and the struggle for women to win the right to vote.  It is a very appropriate topic both for March and for the period we are in when politics and the run for the Presidency of the United States are on all our minds!

Happy Trails
Jo Ann

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Lines On The Pines, March 13, 2016

Lines on the Pines 2016
...an annual gathering of artists, authors and artisans whose passion is the Pines! Held in March, Lines on the Pines has become the harbinger of spring for many like-minded NJ Pine Barrens enthusiasts!

Location:  Historic Renault Winery!  for more information, go to their website, 

Happy Trails!  Jo Ann

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Same Day, Another topic - Preserving the Pine Barrens

I wanted so much to express my sorrow over the 2016 scheduling of the demolition of the Huggs/Harrison/Glover House, but I also wanted to share my joy in the irreplaceable treaure we share in our Pinlands Reserve.  Today I hiked with two friends at Goshen Pond.  How beautiful to be in the woods again; the sand roads had absorbed all the water from the recent rains and the melted snow and gave us a fine, hard, clean surface to hike upon.

Last Sunday in the Courier Post, page 20A, Section VOICES, there was a cemmentary by Albert Horner, well known and highly respected photographer, who has recently had a book published by Plexus, of Pinelands photographs.  His Commentary entitled, "Public Land Must Be Protected From Off-Road Vehicles' Misuse"  brings public attention to another kind of destruction by those same kind of ignorant people who destroy our landmark buildings.  Thrill seeking out-of-state motor clubs destroy our roads, streams and the tranquility and beauty of our lands, crushing and destroying the rare plants and animal habitat in their path.  I believe Albert Horner has a web site and/or blog on this topic which you should visit for more information.  I am deeply grateful to him and other warriors for our shared natural heritage, who continue to fight the good battle against the ignorance and destructiveness of the thoughtless invaders who seek only to destroy.

Pinelands Preservation Alliance also works tirelessly to acquaint people with our national treasure, and to conserve it.  Also, I would like to thank all of the volunteers and good people who give their valuable time as volunteers at hsitoric places in the Pine Barrens, such as Atsion, and Batsto.  These are wonderful places to visit and bring your family members for picnics and to share the beauty.

Happy Trails!
Jo Ann


House on the Hill, Tears in the Rain

Yesterday I drove over to the New St. Mary's Cemetary, Browning Rd., Bellmawr,  to say goodbye to the Huggs//Harrison//Glover House, built in Pre-Revolutionary New Jersey.  It is slated to be demolished this year, 2016. For more and accurate information please visit Jerseyman's blog History Then and Now.

The reason New England seems to beat us in representing itself as a place to visit to enjoy a look at our glorious past, is that they seem more able to recognize and protect cultural landmarks.

In 2002, the Harrison House in Mount Ephraim was demolished for no other reason than that the property purchaser had the idea the property might sell faster without that 'old house' on it.  The house was owned by the Harrison family and put up for a loan to finance a militia that fought alongside the Marquis d'Lafayette in the Battle of Gloucester City during the Revolutionary War.  The lot remains empty and overgrown, a mute and sad witness to, and testimony to the ignorance the allows people to destroy our irreplaceable cultural landmarks.  

Both houses were neither derelict, nor crumbling.  Historians such as the author of the excellent blog History Then and Now, Jerseyman, fought to save the house on the hill at the New St. Mary's Cemetary, but they were defeated, and so are we all.  

In truth, tears ran down my cheeks, and joined the rain, when I looked at that house and pondered all it had survived, weather, war, economic ups and downs, the change of the area from farming to suburbs, all of that swept by and left the house standing until the giant snake of highways wrapped around it and squeezed the life from it.  How sad.  

I cannot understand the blind and ignorant thing in the heart that allows people to destroy what is irreplaceable, a beautiful old tree that has witnessed many human lifetimes go by, a beautiful old house that can tell a story about our history.  All my years as a teacher, I did my best, although I was, in fact not a history teacher, I tried to incorporate history into everything I taught whether Language Arts or Art.  Also, I tried to instill in my students a respect for each other and for material culture and our history.  Apparently the forces in charge of this particular challenge had not such experiences, and therefore were not moved by any such love of the material culture of our historic past.  Thank goodness other people in other places have been able to withstand such blind destructive ignorance and save those treasures that teach us so much about our ancestors and how they lived, such as Elfreth's Alley and Betsy Ross House, to name just two, because they were the buildings of the common people.  

My hat is off to and my salute goes out to those who work still, to save those fewer and fewer treasures of our New Jersey Colonial history that still stand, Whitall House, in National Park, Burrough Dover House, in Pennsauken, the old Mills converted into Antique Emporeums, old schools converted into community centers and Taverns such as The Indian King in Haddonfield.  If only our administrators had the foresight that the people of Haddonfield had in saving that historic treasure.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Sabrina's Cafe and re-purposed buildings

A place I have grown tolove for lunch is Sabrina's Cafe in Collingswood, on Haddon Avenue in the old Woolworth's Building.  The food has been, in the dozen times I've eaten there since just before Christmas, fresh and delicious.  I had lunch there twice this week, enjoying the cup of soup and half sandwich offer, which is exactly the right amount of food.  The soup was Apple/Pumpkin - scrumptious!  And I had tuna salad, open face on 7 grain bread with fruit cup instead of sweet potato fries.  I love the fries, but still struggling with my tooth problem.  By the way, Sabrina's offers Vegan, Vegetarian as well as Omnivore food choices which is great for those of you who go to lunch with people like me!

Anyhow it can be a bit noisy there when there are crowds of people who aren't respectful of public places, as in one day last week lots of people who are enchannted with the high pitched squeals of their offspring, and were actually applauded when their kids skreeched, and egging them on.  I love kids, but I like polite ones and polite parents.  Anyhow the acoustics can be daunting the but the fresh, well prepared, reasonably priced food makes it all worthwhile.  That's why it is crowded.  Yesterday, it was just as crowded but no loud people or noisy kids, and the noise level wasn't a problem at all.

Snow piling up around here but no power problems.  It is beautiful!  It gives me a great excuse to make a hige pot of vegetable soup, and snuggle up with great books and purring kittens.  It is the first time my kittens saw snow!  My dog, Trixie, being a lab, was leaping like a deer through the drifts in the yard.  She loves it.  Tomorrow I may slide into my snow boots and check out the neighborhood, maybe see if there are any kids with shovels looking for work and money.  They get scarcer every year.

Re-Purposed buildings.  I wanted to mention that the cafe' in the old Woolworth building was the second re-purposed building I've seen recently.  The other was the train exhibit in the old Phillips School in Cinnaminson.  I used to give art classes in the Police Athletic League housed in the re-purposed little Brown Street School.  I love it when good buildings are used and now demolished!

Happy Winter Everyone.  By the way, a great winter sock is WigWam, which I order through amazon.  the best hiking socks for winter I ever wore!

Happy Trails!

Monday, January 18, 2016

Winston Churchill and Mercy Street

During the second World War, Winston Churchill visited Montgomery in North Africa.  He offered Monty a cigar.  Monty scolded him, "I neither drink nor smoke and I am 100% fit!"  Churchill retorted, "I both smoke and drink and I'm 200% fit!"  
I love that reminder in this day of the worship of fitness and the demonizing of weight in general, that the free world was saved from destruction by a man in a wheelchair with a weak heart and an obese drinker and smoker!  What they had was courage and intelligence and will.  January 24 is the anniversary of Winston Churchill's day of death.  By he way, he went on to live 20 years past the end of the war despite a heart attack during his visit to America to speak with Roosevelt.  He died in 1965.

Have any of you seen Mercy Street, the pbs production set in the Civil War in a Virginia hotel turned into a hospital?  I watched the first episode last night.  I'm withholding judgement until I give it a chance to get going.  However, it did make me think that if Hollywood is running out of Superhero and Soldier ideas, they have a gold mine in finally searching the lost archives of Women's History.  Speaking of indomitable wills (as in the above on Winston Churchill), Dorothy Dix was a force to contend with and exactly the person you would hope was watching over things if you were a soldier and wounded in those dreadful times of medical butchery.  


Sunday, January 17, 2016

Model Railroad Disp;lay, Footlighters Playhouse, 908 Pomona Rd., Cinnaminson, NJ

Today, just after noon, I set off in pale, cloudy, damp weather for Cinnaminson, 908 Pomona Rd,, The Footlighter’s Playhouse, to be exact.  As I have no doubt mentioned before, ever since I was a small child growing up in South Philadelphia, I have been enchanted by model railroad platforms.  My father had built increasingly complex platform set-ups over the years 1948 until we moved, around 1957 to New Jersey.

Who can say what attracts people to this miniature worlds.  Although I loved the powerful trains with their smell of fuel and their smoke and whistle, it was the snowy villages that most captured my heart.  We had the mirror pond and the lead saking figures, the people wrapped in winter coats waiting at the station, the sparkling cardboard houses and church, made, oddly enough in Japan, and later, Occupied Japan!

A year or two ago, a brother and sister bought me an “N” gauge Bachman trail and I set it up with my little wooden German villages, purchased in 1969 in Nuremburg at the Weinachts Fest.  I even created a tunnel, because watching the train come through the tunnel is somehow part of the magic.  So, although I was toying with envy and a sense of inferiority by going to model train exhibits, which ar always infinitely more elaborate than anything I ever owned or would own, nonetheless, every year at Christmas, I was find the model railroad displays to visit. 

Side note:  I bought my daughter age appropriate trains thoughout her childhood, but when, a few summers ago, I sold her last set, I apologized to her and said I hoped she wasn’t sad or disappointed.  She said she didn’t even remember ever having any.  I’m sorry I sold the set but in over twenty years, I had never put it up and the scale was far too large for my life these days.  The little “N” gauge is perfect both for the space I can give it and for my German village.  Somehow being smaller makes it even more magical to me.

In other years, I have visited the model railroad display at Jim Thorpe, Pa., Bordentown Railroad Days, and Bellmawr.  Today, the exhibit I visited was put together by the Burlington County Model Railroad Club.  It was spectacular.  Needless to say I took photos but there are somethings that lose their magic in photographs and must be seen in person.  This display had the forest mountains, tunnels, Industrial Parks, Train lots, Amusement Parks, Cityscapes, Suburbs, the whole panoply of scenarios. 

Coincidentally, just yesterday, I was telling the handyman, who was here doing a plumbing job, about the exhibit.  He mentioned he had been to the biggest one of all in Flemington, NJ.  Just as he got into his car, our local train went by and, as usual, I could hear the whistle blow as it passed Northmont, then Kings Hwy.

It reminded me of a Paul Simon song:
She was beautiful as Southern skies
The night he met her
She was married to someone
He was doggedly determined that he would get her
He was old, he was young
From time to time he'd tip his heart
But each time she withdrew
Everybody loves the sound of a train in the distance
Everybody thinks it's true
Well eventually the boy and the girl get married
Sure enough they have a son
And though they both were occupied
With the child she carried
Disagreements had begun
And in a while they fell apart
It wasn't hard to do
Everybody loves the sound of a train in the distance
Everybody thinks it's true
Two disappointed believers
Two people playing the game
Negotiations and love songs
Are often mistaken for one and the same
Now the man and the woman
Remain in contact
Let us say it's for the child
With disagreements about the meaning
Of a marriage contract
Conversations hard and wild
But from time to time
He makes her laugh
She cooks a meal or two
Everybody loves the sound of a train in the distance
Everybody thinks it's true
Everybody loves the sound of a train in the distance
Everybody thinks it's true
What is the point of this story
What information pertains
The thought that life could be better
Is woven indelibly
Into our hearts
And our brains

Now that is not what the sound of the train means to me, and it never did.  To me it is a beckoning call like the howl of a wolf, to come away, seek adventure, see other places. 

On the way home, it began to snow.  First it was light flurries, as I passed the house where I lived when I first was married in 1967.  Then it got thicker and I passed my old high school, and the funeral home where the service was held for my brother’s best friend, another Vietnam Vet, who was killed on the job by a collapsed crane.  Soon however, I was in a fog of snow so thick it enveloped the world in a gauzy indistinctness.  It was the first snow of this season, late, this year, coming in January.  

Exhibit open each weekend throughout February from noon to 5, free with donation accepted 
Happy Rails, Jo Ann

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Rancocas Woods Village Shops Alive and Well!

A couple of days ago two friends and I went to Rancocas Woods, a place I hadn't visited for about twenty years.  I used to go there every time it snowed because I LOVE log cabins.  And I would take my daughter there to see the log cabins and we would get lunch somewhere nearby, I thought it was in the village of shops, but I wasn't sure. 

Anyhow, I had recently read a column in the Sunday Courier Post about the Village Shops struggling to stay alive.  They mentioned the Crafts Co-op and Antique Emporium, a kind of store of which I am extremely fond.  So off we went, thought we had no snow!

The Antique Emporeium was even more charming than I expected.  The delightful mix of unique and inventive crafts with beautiful and evocative antiques was a delight to me.  I bought a few small gifts.  Most of my friends and I are working on clearing out rather than gathering in so I limit myself to gifts, objects I can enjoy until they are mailed or given to the true owner.  I did, however, buy one item for myself, a cozy pair of irresistable mittens.  My feet and hands get so cold they nearly went on strike until I bought those mittens.  When I paid for them, the counter clerk told me they were made from recycled sweaters - a fact I found both charming and gratifying as I love recycle.  We waste so much in this country, and I do say WE, so I'm not pointing fingers at anyone or throwing stones at other glass houses. 

Those mittens are a luxury experience and they were only $10!  I may go back to get another pair for my daughter who also favors recycle.

We visited all the other shops and I bought gorgeous greeting cards for Valentine's Day and St. Patrick's Day.  I am one of those people who still like to remember my dear by far away friends and relatives with a pretty card for the holiday, whichever it may be, and these were on SALE!  They were far less than you might pay at a pharmacy or card shopt and infinitely prettier.  They were on sale for 2 for $5 and anyone who buys cards individually knows they are up to about $4 a card these days. 

We had lunch at Carlucci's Waterfront because it advertised "waterfront views" and it provided them.  The view over the Rancocas Creek was beautiful and brought back so many memories of old friends I canoed with on the creek and intriguing spots we explored on the banks, as well as treasures we found.  Once I found a window fram, beautifully weathered with a shed snake skin entwined in a pane.  I used it in an Art Display in the University City Science Center where I had been an invited artist in the Color Xerox Project.  At the time, I was a printmaking major at Rutgers in Camden.

Visiting Rancocas Woods will not disappoint you neither will lunch at Carlucci's Waterfront.  You can look them up on the internet for phone # or addresses, sorry, I'm on my way out the door to a dental appt. and have a very painful infected nerve, so I'm leaving that part of the work to you!  ENJOY!

Happy Trails!  Jo Ann

Monday, January 4, 2016

Hike Your State Parks Day! 2016

A Great Way to Start the New Year!  With my two best human hiking buddies and my #1 best canine hiking buddy, I hit the State Parks Trail on January 1st, 2016.  It was my favorite way to start the year - Hike Your State Park Day.  We tried a new State Park (for us), the Rancocas.  We started at the Nature Center, but they had quite a crowd gathering for a guided hike, so we left and hiked on our own at the Rancocas State Park, just a little further back on the same road.  By the way, for you bird watchers, the Barbaras spotted a red headed woodpecker.  Without my binoculars, I can't see anything in a tree.

The day before the 1st, we hiked Pakim Pond, and the day after, we hiked Atsion, down Quaker Bridge Road.  Today, we hiked Parvin at the little one mile pond trail and were accompanied by three gorgeous gliding swans.  I'm always astonished at how large they are!

Tomorrow, we are having lunch at Illiano's, off Tuckerton Road in Shamong, which I heartily recommend, and then another hike but I don't know which woods as yet. 

Recently, I watched a wonderful if shocking HBO Documentary, called the Weight of America.  Naturally, one of the best things we can do is make use of the glorious woodlands, and easier and ubiquitous local parks.  What a great time to make a resolution to Get Out, Get Going, and Get Fit!

Happy New Year and Happy Trails!
Jo Ann

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Forsythe Information

Sorry, I should have put this in my last post:  Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge is located at 800 Great Creek Rd., Oceanville, NJ telephone 609-652-1665, and web site

There is the tram tour (which we took) that givew you a good idea of the scope and history of the place as well as what birds are there to be seen.  It is donation only and run by volunteers but you should call to reserve a seat, the tram holds about 10 people.

There are hiking trails from one mile (the songbird trail) to five miles, maps available at the ranger/visitor building.  There are also sandy roads for driving through the marsh meadows and the birders are generally friendly and helpful if you ask them what they are viewing.  So, if you don't want to do a lot of walking, try the tram.  I believe it runs all year, but phone ahead to make sure and make your reservation!

Happy Trails!

Rare Bird Sightings at Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge

Yesterday, Saturday, November 28th, my two most devoted hiking buddies gave me an adventure for my birthday (Nov. 13).  They had booked us for a tram tour of Forsythe.  First we had lunch at Smithville, at the Lantern Inn, tomato bisque soup and vegetarian egg rolls, a good hearty warming lunch for a cloudy but warm day.

Smithville was decorated for the upcoming Christmas holiday season and filled with happy families strolling and we all enjoyed sightings and photos with Santa Claus!

My two frinds, Barbara Solem and Brbara Spector are birders and they visit Forsythe regularly.  I have been there hiking before, but not for birding.  There were few birds there on Saturday, most, I suppose, have finished their migrations, but we were surprised and delighted to have the experience of sighting two rare birds.  First, Barbara Solem sighted an "odd duck" amidst the white geese.  She looked him up, conferred with our tour guide and other passengers and finally the consensus was that he was indeed a rare Greenland Barnacle Duck, a bird not averse to inserting himself into groups of other types of ducks and geese.  It was a thing to inspire a great deal of thinking as well a wonder.  He was alone of his kind, but had sought the companionship of others, different from him, but accepting of him into their midst.  We couldn't imagine why he was there, what set of circumstances caused him to be separate from his own kind and in a place where he would not normally be seen.  The coast of North America is not a usual place for that duck.

Next we saw a line of cars parked along the side of the sandy track, and we asked the the birders watching through their binoculars and taking photos with their big lensed cameras, what they were watching.   A kindly young man told us it was a Scissortail flycatcher, another rare bird.  In exchange for his generous sharing of info we told him about the Greenland barnacle duck we had seen.  He and his family packed up and went back to the spot where we had seen the duck.  To my surprise and delight, I was not only able to see the scissortail with my binoculars but with my naked eyes!  My eyesight has been failing slowly due to Fuch's Dystrophy, which is why I wouldn't have taken up birding as a hobby.  But this time, I spotted the bird right off and was able to point him out to others in the group.  True, I couldn't really see his distinguishing characterics like the others could, but I saw his body.  Others said he had been there since 7:00 a.m. which I presume indicates they had also!  That's dedication!

I've been indoors a good bit lately with just a few hikes in the Pines to keep Trixie and myself somewhat active.  Trixie has an ear infection and my oldest cat, Dexter has been sick and I've been caught up in feeding times and medications as well as trips to the vet and the animal hospital.  Tomorrow, to my deep sorrow, Dexter will have to make his last trip to our family vet, Dr. Ed. Sheehen, in Fairview.  His intractable bladder obstructions and failing kidneys and liver, as well as his weak heart, make any additional intervention unnecessary cruelty.  He has been my friend for 18 years.  It is a sorrowful time at our house.  However, I adopted three little kittens a month ago, and they do their best to entertain us and cheer us up (me, Trixie, Little Yock and Lucky).  It is the cycle of life and I am certainly glad I gave in to the impulse to adopt them as a family group.  They had already been separated from their mother at too early an age, nursed to healthy by the dedicated staff at Dr. Sheehen's Veterinary Center, so I wanted to let them stay together, a brother and two sisters.  Later, I will post some photos here.

Happy Trails!
Jo Ann

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Thompson Street, Bordentown, NJ for a Halloween Treat

Lunch at the Robin's Nest in Mt. Holly followed by a short drive over to Bordentown to see the specteacular Thompson Street, a winner in the Best Decorated Street Contest, most deservedly!  You'll be charmed.  It is a TREAT!  Don't miss it.  I won't tell you the theme this year.  Last year it was Wizard of Oz, but I will say this year, a clue is T E A.
Happy Trails! 
Also, catch the peak of the season, if it isn't already to late, by driving route 70 to the 72 circle and hiking around Pakim Pond, O R, hike at Atsion, where I was a couple of days ago - just as pretty!  I've got 52 of my 70 miles.  Gotta get moving, only 3 weeks left!

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

The New Pitman - What a Surprise!!

There is a NEW Pitman full of charm and interest.

I always liked Pitman even in its shabby old days.  Once I even put in a bid on a house in the GROVE!!  My father looked at it and said "NO!"  He told me it was a summer house with no insulation and very old windows and plumbing and so on.  I really wanted that house until I talked to a neighbor.  When I told her I had a little girl, she told me not to move there.  She was moving out.  At the time, she told me the Grove was full of drugs and crime.  Now it is full of decorations and charm! 

We used to go to the old Pitman Theater in the Summer Enrichment Program in the school where I taught.  Wow, next year will be 12 years since I retired.  At the time, the theater was musty but, to a history buff like me, a mysterious and wonderful old place.

I had hints that things had changed.  Friends of mine go regularly to the new Pitman theater for musicals and they enjoy them very much.  One of those friends was here on Saturday and we decided to take a ride over to Pitman so I could see all the new goings-on. 

First we hiked around the Grove which was delightful.  The home-owners had decorated charmingly and the Grove is a very appealing place on its own.  The houses were all lovingly restored and it almost felt like a movie set for an old movie.

We had lunch at Sweet Lula's (reservations 856-589-2400) and bought dessert at Just Cookies, 30 S. Broadway, Pitman (856-256-2441).  They  have 70 varieties of cookies.  We stopped in a thrift store, and I think there were more than 40 of them.  I bought a cloth pumpkin - Chic but Cheap Thrift Store 17 S. Broadway (856-341-0431) and enjoyed browsling at Larkspur Interiors which had numerous beautiful hand-crafted decorations for the season among the furniture items. 

So my advice to you is _ GO TO PITMAN!  Check out the stores, enjoy the treats and try those cream puffs (I wanted to buy some at the cream puff store but I'm on a perpetual diet and I had already eaten two cookies).  ENJOY!!


PAWS & CLAWS Burlington SPCA Thursday, October 22, 6 - 8 p.m. - hors d-oevres, dinner and drinks at the Robin's Nest, all tips benefit the urlinton County SPCA Police to help in the prevention of cruielto in Burlington County.  There will be a Silent Auction, 50/50 and a Meet and Greet with White House Chefs Michael Raber and Guy Mitchell!
By the Way, October 16 was Feral Cat Day and in honor of it and the memory of my two recently departed family members, I'll be adopting Thursday evening from my local Vet, Dr. Sheehen, in Fairview, who is the most compassionate and talentented veterinarian imaginable.  I'm so fortunate to have met him!  I took my dog to see him for an ear infection and met three kittens who were dropped off in a box.  It is my new volunteer work to give them a home.  The rewards they give me in love and affection and funny antics are more than worth the money and upkeep it takes to keep them.  We'll just have to wait and see how the older fellows adapt to this new infusion of kitten mayhem.

Happy Halloween! 
By the Way, I have 50 of my 70 miles for my birthday in November.  The weather has been very helpful and even though my hiking has reduced from 5 or 6 miles to 2 or 3, I'm making miles steadily.

Happy Trails, Jo Ann