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.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Movie Review: The Lost City of Z

Just saw The Lost City of Z, to whch I had looked forward with great anticipation.  Having read The Lost City of the Monkey God, I had great hopes for The Lost City of Z.  It was a good movie in a kind of slow and dreamy way, but I enjoyed it though I wouldn't say it was great.  It was a teensy bit stuffy.

We had lunch at Bankok City, Eagle Plaza, Voorhees (across from the movie theater lot) which is never disappointing, the serene atmosphere and the fresh and delicious food is consistent and so is the courteous and non-intrusive service of the wait staff.  They are friendly and quick and attentive but do not try to engage in long conversations as happens in some places.  The atmosphere is very calming.  The lunch special is an appetizer, soup or salad, and the main dish for $9.  The spring rolls are the best I've had since I moved from Philadelphia.  I used to go to a restaurant there, Saigon City, on Washington Street (below South) and their spring rolls are the best ever, but Bankok is almost as good.)

I couldn't help comparing the fight of the American Indians whose land is being encroached on by the pipeline in the Dakotas with the enslavement and land grabs inflicted on the indigenous people of South America.  

Having World War I thrust into the movie also increased my feeling that life itself is often a struggle for resources.  Creatures including humans always guarding territory or invading territory, even plants, when it comes down to it.  Look at kudzu or even the ubiquitous English Ivy.  Nonetheless, amidst all the struggle there is always beauty, and shafts of sunlight through the leaves, and the occasional acts of kindness.

I highly recommend The Lost City of the Monkey God - also a true story, and a current event.

Happy Trails!
Jo Ann

New Post - The means of production return to the people - Independent publishing.

Yesterday I read in a news magazine, This Week, that in 2015, 300,00 books were published by corporate publishing companies, but 700,00 were independently published!!!  It struck me that the new way that individual were taking back the means of production from the Big Business, through independent enterprise are all around us.  My daughter has an air-b&b room in Brooklyn and hipsters from Europe who want to live amongst the bohemians of 2017, come there to stay rather than an overpriced hotel.  

And when a friend went with me to the train station to pick up my daughter recently, we were laughing and admiring a guy who looked like Charlie Chaplin who was lovingly polishing every inch of his BMW Uber taxi.  So there is Uber, Lyft, Air-B&B an my independently published memoir surfing the new wave.

If you remember Future Shock, and Mega Trends, I always was interested in the books that talked about the waves of the future, and now I am seeing the ones I have read about in my own life.  Even this blog is part of the trend towards individual power.  I didn't need to get hired by a newspaper or a magazine to speak on things of interest.  Blogspot empowered me to find and fill my own niche.  

Happy Trails!  whether in the woods, the park, or thought trails!

Monday, April 24, 2017

Went to Genealogy Lecture at Camden County Historical Center yesterday, 4/23/17

I with I had been able to her the lecture some years ago when I was wandering around web sites and buying books and magazines as a beginner in family history.  It was very comprehensive on a middle level and helpful.

There were from 25 to 30 people present and I ran into an old pal from my volunteer days at the Whitall House, Red Bank Battlefield, Harry Schaeffer, who is also a Sons of American Liberty Member at Red Bank.  He is also doing the 10,000 steps app so we headed over to Knight Park, in Collingwood and got in another 5,000 steps.  I still only made it to 7,800.

Going to the lecture made me think of Joe Laufer and how he enriched so many lives in the Local History world.  He passed away a couple of years ago after holding many positions in the Burlington County History world.  The event that he hosted that I liked so much was the Burlington County Historians' Roundtable.

All the people from different historical sites met once a month at a different site in Burlington and at the start of each meeting these unofficial or official representatives would tell the group what was going on in their area.  It opened so many doors for me.  I visited places I would never have known about like the Red Dragon Canoe Club, and the Chesterfield Meeting House.  

Now I find I miss a lot of things I would have liked to attend because I don't know about them.  For example, Harry told me he had been to Gabriel DAveis Tavern the day before where they held an Black Powder encampment.  I missed that because I didn't know about it.  Heaven knows I try to keep up but there is no central posting like the Roundtable where you can find a listing of everything that's going on.  Next time I see Harry, I'll have to ask how he found out about the Daveis Tavern event.  

Good Walking weather so I hope you were outside in Nature on Earth Day!  I celebrated it with my best walking buddy, Trixie, at Knight Park where we go every day to visit the trees and the ponds, the birds and the beauty

Happy Trails!
Jo Ann

Friday, April 21, 2017

Genealogy at Camden County Historical Society - FREE!

If, like me, you are an on again, off again, Family History researcher, you may find yourself getting a good kick-start at Camden County Historical Society this Sunday, April 23 at 2:00.
Address:1900 Park Boulevard, Camden, NJ (I go straight down Haddon Avenue, through Collingwood, over Rt. 130, past Haleigh Cemetery, make a right at the corner light at Haleigh, go straight to the end and turn left - then there it is, Pomona Hall and CCHS. It is right behind Lady of Lourdes Hospital and a small neighborhood.)

For weeks, and months, I will work feverishly on genealogy, then the field goes fallow for a year or so.  Often what sparks my renewed interest is a lecture.  Once, it was the Ancestry.com convention in Philadelphia.  I got so fired up, I bought the dan kit and that started a whole flurry of family  history interest in my friends, a few of whom also bought the kit and did the test.

By the way, I love ancestry.com.  All the features are fabulous and really speed up your search and when you record all your findings, your work is saved even if you take a break from membership, because holding onto the data is a bonus resource for continuing members.  And whenever you return, you find hints! Ancestry.com has found things that may or may not be connections for you.  

Another thing that always got me back into the family history work was when I attended the Genealogical Society of Salem County lectures at Friends Village near Woodstown. I used to be a regular but my deteriorating vision due to Fuch's dystrophy (a cornea condition) made night driving too hazardous.  But now that the president of the GSSC is head librarian at Camden County Historical Society, I am hoping that her boundless enthusiasm will bring a re-birth to the programming there.  Since it is close and daytime, I will be attending this Sunday, for sure.

Advice from a tree:

Stand straight and tall,
drink lots of water
Always remember your roots!

Happy Trails, whether in the woods or in the research library!
Jo Ann 

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Lunch at the Blue Plate and visit to Red Mill Antiques

Mulch Hill is always a delightful place to spend a day.  My friend Gail, and I went to the Blue Plate for lunch, right on the Main street through Mullica Hill.  She had a very good grilled cheese with peppers and onions on pumpernickel bread, and I had a very interesting, and to my taste, delicious quiche.  It was green!  I forget all the things it had in it but peas were in it.  It was very spring-like in appearance and taste, and the side was a caesar salad - PERFECT!

Next we meandered over to the Red Mill Antiques and had a friendly conversation with a nice young man who showed us the strangest sewing machine I have ever seen.  Originally, he bought it for the base, to make a table, but he was so intrigued by the sewing machine itself, that he left it intact.  Instead of the wasp waist body that most of the machines I have ever seen had, this one had a half circle bridge like shape.  I suggested that perhaps it was a specialist machine for something that had a wide side.  I had never thought of that before, but I am sure there were sewing machines made specifically for particular tasks and material.  Something new to learn and look into.  

We noticed there were fewer shops than there used to be, and we had heard that antiques and country style were out of fashion.  The young man at the Red Mill, said there had been a drop and the market hit bottom, but they it was making a slow and gradual rise.

When I got home, I looked it up and The Wall Street Journal, New York Times, and several other economy oriented web sites said that indeed, antiques were out of fashion and they cited two reasons for it.  One, boomers (of which I am one) are downsizing and often moving into condominiums and don't want too much stuff or big furniture.  And younger people are living in apartments and are more fond of "Mad Men" style 1950's modern furniture for its simplicity and light weight.  

I like 1950's furniture too, and when I was very young, I was in love with Scandinavian Modern, my parents bought me a beautiful bedroom set in that style, and I still have the cedar chest that they bought for my graduation from high school, that matched it.  They were so kind to me and so generous and what a contrast to their own hard childhoods, both of them born in the 1920's and growing up in the depression.

When my father was a boy, he swept and cleaned up for the local butcher shop in south Philadelphia, where both sides of my parents families had their long roots.  One Christmas the butcher bought him a pair of skates.  He was telling me because he said it was the best gift he ever remembered..  They were so poor, they picked coal from the railroad tracks on Front Street, where the trains would rumble along the waterfront and coal fell off the coal cars.  

As long as I knew my parents, from 1945 to their deaths, my mother in 2000 and my father in 2011, they were prosperous and comfortable, due to my father's strong work ethic and my mother's homemaking gifts.  Bounteous is the word I would use to describe their lifestyle, not ostentatious or showy, but bountiful and generous.  

I hope the taste for antiques picks up again but those old objects tell us so much about the past and the lives of the people before us.  I am working on a scrapbook that combines photos of my ancestors with the objects that I have that are left from them, Great-grandmother Catherine Sandman's sewing machine with which she supported her family in her widowhood.  Grandfather Young's deck chair from his years in the Merchant Marines, and so many other not money valuable objects, but things that were touched by hands long gone.

One of my favorites i my own old Easter basket, the reeds are coming apart at the top and the handle is broken but I love it and keep it and it reminds me of the bounty of the Easter Bunny from 1945 to the present and the joys of spring.

Happy Easter and Happy Spring!
Jo Ann

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Time to visit Duffy's for Easter Bunnies

Well, it is time to visit Duffy's Chocolates in Gloucester City, on Broadway, near Hudson Street.

For 30 years I have bought chocolate bunnies and eggs with my siblings and daughters, nephews and nieces names on them there. In fact, today, I will be stopping at Duffy's and then Verccio's on the Brooklawn circle for porch flowers and hanging plants.  

Duffy's is an institution in these parts.  You could get drunk on the smell of the chocolate, all items made on the premises in this old traditional family store.  The closer to Easter, though, the better the chance you'll wait in a line - it is a very popular shop.

I hope you stop in, it will take you back in time.

Whenever I go to Verccio's I am struck by the overwhelming bounty of our land, especially New Jersey, which though the new crop seems to be housing developments, is still a garden state.  They have the BEST prices on produce, if you can buy in quantity, which I can't being unable to use the amounts in the units they sell, and the best prices on plants in season.  For several years I have bought the most exuberant ferns imaginable there for $10, for my porch.  I am very fond of ferns.

Happy Easter!
Here comes Peter Cottontail, Hopping down the Bunny TRAIL!
Jo Ann

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Bricks and EAL

When I came home today after a delightful walk amongst the yellow flowers that border the old mill run at Haddon Heights Park, after dropping off two books at the Free Little Library and taking one away, I found the newest issue of Early American Life Magazine in my mailbox!

I love this magazine for so many reasons.  Today was a special issue because it held an article with a photo of a house I adore, the Abel Nicholson House, in Salem County, NJ.  I have been out there many times to visit the house which is very very hard to find.  It is off Fort Elfsborg Road and I only know it by a patch of dirt on the side of a small unmarked dirt road.  You can find a HABS photo of it at the Library Congress, American Memory site.

At times when I have visited the house, I have waded through puddles on the flooded road to the house that were as deep as my knees!  I had to take off my shoes and socks and roll up my pants and wade through hoping not to encounter snakes, or broken glass.  

The article in which the photos of the house appear was about brick making in the Colonial period, a subject with which I was once obsessed.  When I worked as a volunteer at Gloucester County Historical Society, I researched around and found a tiny beautiful little book on brick-making in New Jersey.  There are no words to express the deep warmth, respect, and gratitude that floods my heart when I come across the work of these often forgotten and obscure historians who have researched and written about these topics which are, in fact, vitally important to understanding the world we live in.  

Having been born the daughter of a craftsman of many talents, my father, Joseph Wright, who was a hobby stained glass artist, a carpenter of much skill, who made beautiful pieces of furniture and who re-built a burned out historic home, and when he retired, built his own house on a hill in West Virginia.  I have always had sincere appreciation for the man-made or woman-made object, whether a house, a quilt, a carving, a painting, or a brick!

The June 2017 issue of Early American Life has a fabulous essay on the art of brick-making along with the aforementioned photo of the Abel Nicholson House in Salem.  It is well worth buying and reading.  I have a subscription and I have enjoyed it for many years, whether for Christmas ideas, or gardening, recipes or building, and I  very much enjoy the essays on the restoration work that people have done on early houses.

There is also a great essay on canals.  Anyone who has ever hiked along the many canals accessible to those of us who live in the middle of New Jersey, will find this article of interest.  Somewhere back in my 400 odd entries there is a blog post on the headquarters and museum of the D&R Canal, which a friend and I explored and found one summer day trip.  

A long long time ago, another friend and I ice skated on the Delaware Canal up near Belle Meade, which is not far from Princeton.  She was an art school friend of mine, a gifted painter who now lives in California.  We used to get together in the summers from time to time to make paper.  She had a nice stone patio overlooking the meadow, and a very sturdy press.  She gave me a book made of hand-made paper once for a birthday gift, which I treasure.  Paper is another of those old-time basics that were once man and woman-made.  And I will close with a little rhyme on that subject:

rag make paper
paper makes money
money makes bankers
bankers make paupers
paupers make rags

Happy Trails!
Jo Ann

ps.  The old myth that houses were made of bricks carried in ships from England as ballast is untrue.  Only expensive and valuable goods were worth carrying across the Atlantic, and most brick houses were made right on the property being built, because as you know, New Jersey is made of clay and sand.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Colonial Re-enactment at Gabreil Daveis Tavern Apr. 22 & 23

Attended the opening of the World War I exhibit at Camden County Historical Society today and enjoyed a lively conversation with their curator of objects, Josh, as well as the always lovely and charming Bonny Beth Elwell.  She is a remarkable young woman, so warm and friendly to everyone and so knowledgeable as well as dedicated to the history and genealogy world.  I am delighted that she is at Camden County Historical Society now and I may even do a bit of volunteering there again.

Their new booklet is out, the Volume 1, Issue 2 all on military with a great deal of material supplied by the very many historical societies in Camden County.  It was more than I ever knew existed. And the information is fascinating, though often sad.  I read the memorials to each of the young men from my own town who had given their lives and it made me cry to think of them, so young, smiling in their photographs, and dead before they had a chance to live.  Also, to think of the pain their families experienced.

We have been so lucky in my family.  Men in each generation served and all the men survived.  My brother survived Vietnam, my father survived World War II and so did his brother, Clyde.  My Grandfather Lyons survived World War I, and my Civil War ancestor, William C. Garwood survived, as did Hiram McQuiston, who was at Gettysburg, though not in the battle.  We even had Cheesman ancestors in the Revolutionary War and they all lived through it.  Lucky Lucky us.

One of the people I met is Robert Fishr Hughes who is head of both the Griffith Morgan House and the Burrough Dover House, in Pennsauken.  They have recently merged.  Both Houses are amazing and well worth a visit, check them out on Facebook for more information including directions and phone number.

I picked up a flyer for the COLONIAL RE-ENACTMENT at Gabreil Daveis Tavern and Spring Open House, Revolutionary Weekend April 22 & 23 from 9 to 5 on Saturday and 9 to 3 on Sunday, Rain or Shine!  Admission is free!
They have advertised:
Tavern Tours, American Legion Flag Ceremony and 21 gun salute, Artillery Demo, Archery, Tomahawk throwing, Campfire cooking, Blacksmithing, Weaving, Colonial Crafter, to name a few.
www.facebook.com/glotwphistory or 856-228-4000 X3249
The address is 4th Ave. and Floodgate Rd. Gender, Nj
(and I can tell you that if you drive East on the Black Horse Pike - I know it is South(?), anyhow towards the shore, keep your eyes open and on the left, beneath the number name street sign there is a slim sign naming the Gabreil Daveis Tavern.  I love that house!  Nice garden walk, and checkout the beautiful painting restored by the society that takes care of the house.  

Happy Trails,
Jo Ann

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Little Free Library Movement

On my way to Haddon Lake Park today, I passed a "Free Little Library" on, I think, Sylvan Drive.  

For about 12 years I have been aware of the free book movement and back in 2006, when I still worked at the University of the Arts, I participated by putting free books in the Atrium of the old hall, of the building that used to be PCA (Philadelphia College of Art) and also on benches such as the one in the park nearby.  

At that time,you registered the free book online, and borrowers went online to post that they had borrowed it.  I don't think people bother with that anymore, but I have seen photos of the free little libraries before.  I never saw one in person however  

Now that I know it is there, I plan to go back and leave some books!  I would like to put one outside my house too, but I am afraid of vandalism.  Maybe I will be optimistic and give it a try!  What a wonderful idea!

Happy Trails!
Jo Ann

Friday, April 7, 2017

E-Mail on Mexico and WWI and more

This morning I sent my daughter, Lavinia,  an e-mail about our family and World War I.  Here is a copy of it:
Good morning Lavinia!  I wanted to share a little family history that merges with world history and I didn't feel like trying to fit it into a text.  Unlike Donald Trump, I am not as succinct as a tweet - I am more like Marcel Proust!  

Anyhow, I have a copy of a photo of your Grandmom Wright's adoptive father, whom I called Grandpop Lyons.  He wa a sweet, mild mannered man, kind to children and animals and he and I spent meaningful time in the side garden at the Lyons house on 10th Street when I was a child growing  up in Philadelphia.  He would go out there to smoke his home-rolled,  and I would keep him company as did the Irish setter, King

In the photo he is in uniform before a tent in a desert and it is 1917.  America has just entered World War I.  This month is the centennial of our entry in World War I.  Grandpop Lyons is on the border of Mexico, and I never understood what Mexico had to do with World War I.  After all, it was in Europe, right?  

But a year ago I took a 6 week night course in World War I, all these brilliant young men from prestigious colleges, had been invited to give lectures, each did an hour on some aspect of the war that they were experts on.  

In April of 1917, Great Britain had broken the the German code for messages between Germany and its ally Japan.  They broke the code on the Zimmerman telegram to Mexico in which the German foreign minister, Zimmerman, offered Mexico a deal  If Mexico joined Germany and Japan, they would give Mexico several border states, which I think included Texas, Arizona, New Mexico and Nevada. (not sure about the states on offer.)

So the U.S., outraged, mobilized and sent troops to the Mexican border, and one of them was my Grandfather Lyons, and your Great Grandfather.  Just imagine, a young skinny Irish postman in the desert on the Mexican border waiting for the War.  But Mexico wisely declined the offer.  

Love you, Mom
To blog post readers:
I also wanted to add a note about April 6th, yesterday.  Merle Haggard, one of country music's greats, was born on April 6 and died on April 6!  I was thinking about him yesterday because I had incorrectly attributed "King of the Road" to him.  It was actually written by Roger Miller.  

Merle was most famous for "Okie from Muskogee" - and the reason I was thinking of "King of the Road" was that I had met an elderly man in the parking lot at my gym yesterday, who was living in a camper van and traveling around.  I didn't stay out to talk long as it was drizzling and I had a gym work-out to get to, and he was getting back into the driver's seat of his van, but we talked a little about living on the road.  He told me he had outfitted the van for camping himself.  I told him I had lived in a van for a year in 1969.    

Another note:  Some time back, a few years, there was an Atlantic article about retired people choosing, in some cases, being forced, in some cases, to live on the road in campers, and living in RV parks or free camps around the country, sometimes doing seasonal work, for example before Christmas for amazon.com.  I wish I had talked to the King of the Road a little longer and gotten his story.  

My dad had bought a camper and wanted to travel around but by the time they got their new house built, they had entered a period of declining healthy, especially my mother, and weren't up to the rigors of it.  I think they made, tops half a dozen trips in the camper, and it sat in the yard and rotted until my father died and the family gave it away to whoever would come up on the hill and haul it off.  

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Courier Post, Wed., Apr.5, 2017 Glover's Mill, & Camden County Historical Society Exhibit

Fortunately, today, a hiking buddy told me that there was a great article about Glover's Fulling Mill on the front page of the Courier. I don't get the daily, only the Sunday edition, so I would have missed it.

We had walked around Knight Park, but still felt like enjoying the most splendid spring weather that we had today, so we headed over to Haddon Lake Park and walked from the cannon on Station Ave.(?) to the Dell and back.  

The friend who had read the article in the Courier wanted to see the new signage about the mill, but I was perplexed, because the utility lot that had been where the mill used to be was gone, replaced by a new housing development.  

After the walk, on a hunch, we drove down the main street of the housing development and at the end of the street we found the signage and the location of the fenced site where the mill once stood.

The Courier article was very good, and in the same issue there was an excellent article on World War I, because of the anniversary of our entry into that war, so this is a good time to remind you that Camden County Historical Society will open its new exhibit on Camden County in World War I on April 9, Sunday from 1 to 3.  There is a $5 charge if you are not a member.  This will include a tour of Pomona Hall and the rest of the museum.  What an enlightening day!

If you are looking for things to do, have lunch at Local Links or Station House Cafe, then take a hike around Haddon Lake Park!  Check out the gorgeous carpet of yellow flowers while they are still blooming!  Then, on Sunday, drive on over to 1900 Park Boulevard in Camden and see the exhibit.  I drive down Haddon Ave., after Haleigh Cemetery, turn right to the end, then left and there it is - Pomona Hall and Camden County Historical Society  There are always interesting things to do around here!
Happy Trails!
Jo Ann

Monday, April 3, 2017

Walking the Local Parks in Spring

I am getting into a 21 day fitness strategy!  I am reading a Steve Siebold Fitness book and both he and an article I read recently in a periodical advise that it takes 21 to 30 days to replace an old bad habit with a new good one.  Steve Siebold is a motivational writer who puts the focus on your thinking rather than on diet or exercise. He works with your will.

"Life is not wasted on me," is something I like to say in gratitude for the life that has been given to me.  And because I enjoy life so much, I would like to live as long as I can as well as I can.  My father lived to 89, on his own, with help from my sister MaryAnn in West Virginia.  It is true the air quality is better there and the life is slower.

His mother, my grandmother Mabel, also lived to 89, but she too lived in a more healthful environment, Ocean City, NJ.  Here I am in Camden County beneath the smoke stack of the trash to steam plant, and bordered by 42, 130, and 168 with all that exhaust poisoning the air, so I am at a disadvantage.

However, my mother's mother lived to be 89, and she lived in Philadelphia, but not in good health.  Both grandmothers ended up in nursing homes for the last 2 years of their lives, not a welcome option no matter how nice the place may appear.  

On the down side, my mother had her first heart attack at my age, and was dead 5 years later from a stroke, so depending on much a part genetics will play in my cardiovascular system, it's a crap shoot.

Nonetheless, I do what I can as long as I can.  Frequently, I fall off the good lifestyle I have tried to keep for most of my adult life.  I have smoked under stressful situations, but am not smoking now and have had long long periods with no smoking - my daughter's entire 18 years at home (to be a good example).  For most of 45 years I have been predominantly a vegetarian.  For a period while I was raising my daughter I ate chicken and tuna, being afraid to keep a diet when she was growing up, that was too far off the one I grew up with.  And I walk every day and have for most of my adult life.  My daughter is a vegetarian now too.

For most of the past 40 years, I have walked in the parks in Collingwood, and Audubon, and Haddon Heights.  A part of my 21 day plan now, to correct for so many lost walking days due to weather excused laziness, I am doing two or three walks a day.  Today I walked in Knight Park, where I walk everyday.  And I added two loops at Haddon Heights Park, where the most gorgeous ground cover of butter yellow flowers was in bloom.  It was a carpet of sunny cheer and optimism!  I parked at the lot just across from the Dell, and walked the Dell loop, and the loop that ends with the cannons.  

If you can at all get there while those yellow flowers are in bloom, you should.  All of us walking there today, with our dogs or our earphones and fitness apps, were enchanted!

In case you are interested, I am also eating a banana a day, staying off coffee completely (for my heart) and eating a salad every day for one meal.  And I am back at the gym, Planet Fitness in Brooklawn Shopping Center.  It is very inexpensive and has all you could ask for (unless you want to swim, in which case you must go to Barrington Royal Courts which has a great salt water pool.)

Spring is a good time to get busy at getting fit! And the parks are a good option during tick season (right now).
Happy Trails!
Jo Ann

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Interview with Wes Hughes, March 29, 2017

Wes Hughes works as a volunteer for Batsto Citizens Committee and Batsto Mansion Volunteer Organization.  It is through these groups and our mutual friend, author Barbara Solem, that Wes and I became acquainted.  We have discussed, over the years, our mutual interest in the Civilian Conservation Corps, and in particular their work in South Jersey.  

Nearly ten years ago Wes realized the cabins he slept in at Brendan Byrne were built by the CCC.  That inspired an interest that grew.
He began to do research about the Civilian Conservation Corps and the W.P.A.  Then he got really interested.  He could relate to the young men and he was intrigued by the concept, help people who need help and help the country  

So many people like Wes (and me)  had no idea how the men and boys changed their lives by doing this work.  
Wes said, "The interest grew and I began to dig around for things to read.  At some point, Barbara Solem had invited a group of people to her house and I met another writer who was working on a book about the W.P.A., Jo Ann Wright."

There was a point that Wes was so impassioned about the program that he fantasized quitting his job and going full time into promoting the idea of a new CCC.  He wrote to the President Obama, "I felt so strongly about it.  But I didn't get a response." He said.

Wes continued, "I'm not sure when, but I attended a presentation at Friends Village sponsored by Bonnie Beth Elwell's organization, the Salem County Genealogy Society.  Jo Ann was presenting on her book BLACK HORSE WHITE HORSE, and she announced she was retiring and I, Wes, was going to carry the torch.

Around that time, a few months later, John Morsa, historian at Batsto, was putting together a speaker series at Batsto, I volunteered to fill in if need and he called me.  That was the first presentation I made.  I did it because they needed to fill a spot.  Then someone else approached me to do another presentation.  I will be doing a presentation at Medford Historical Society, on June 8th.

I thought of all these things at the same time, the military style of how they lived, how hard they worked, what they accomplished and how it changed their lives.

So far most of the presentation have been to elder groups and the people know what the CCC is.  I love sharing the story with them.  They understand it and it is too good a thing not to share with them.

I have a desire before I leave the planet to write this story.  Arcadia was one option I considered but after some research, I ran into a problem getting photos I was counting on so I put that on a back burner for the time being.  

Every place we see in South Jersey, that is park or woods has the hand of the CCC in it.  

In my presentation I have a short film piece from the PBS production on the Civilian Conservation Corps."  



Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Places that are gone - Ocean City Magic of long ago

From my earliest childhood, I have been passionately attached to various places.  When I was very young in the 1950's, my father drove our family to Ocean City almost every weekend to visit his mother who lived  on Asbury Avenue (for decades, then Bay Ave.) During her years in the second floor apartment of the house near 6th on Asbury, I visited the building a few doors down, Scott Storage.  
In front, standing sentinel was a cigar store Indian.  Near him an elderly man sitting on a chair by the wide garage style open door of the warehouse.  Inside I could see glittering mirrors, carved and painted ship's figureheads, and the abandoned relics of the Victorian age in furniture, huge, ornately carved, knobbed and doored and mirrored bureaux, chiffarobes, dining table sets with buffet cabinets.  As the old people died, I suppose, their descendants cleared out the heavy old stuff from the seashore houses and replaced it with light-weight, white and pastel painted modern furnishings.  I don't blame them.  Our society had become increasingly portable and moveable and that old furniture was heavy!  

My grandmother's apartment was not furnished with that sort of thing.  She had moved a bit, too, and her chairs were small, old, rounded maple rockers, and upholstered by her in cheery floral fabrics.  All her furniture was small to match her tiny rooms.  She made everything, the curtains, the quilts that covered the beds, the upholstery.  She had been a seamstress for most of her life.

A few days ago, I was overcome with nostalgia for Scott Storage.  I searched until I found a photo in my many shelves of dozens of albums.  Naturally I tried the internet first, but there was nothing there of old Ocean City.  All I could turn up were contemporary rental properties.

Sadly, the venerable Senior Photography Studio is also gone and with it the vast archive of photographs of Old Ocean City.  Hopefully it found its way into the Historical Society archives.

Also, on Saturday, I had driven to Ocean City with a friend for the day.  Some several day trips previously, I had discovered my grandmother's apartment building had been razed.  I found photographs of her house too, on my search for pictures of Scott Storage.  

On this Saturday, March 25, we found, on the boardwalk, that workmen were removing parts of what used to be the Strand Theater.  A clerk in a nearby store told me a maxi-mart was coming.  I wasn't a big theater goer at the seashore, but I loved the look of the Strand on the boardwalk, those bold letters with the reference to the old and forgotten word for beach, strand!  The colors of it, the smell of mildew and popcorn that would come out of the dark when the audience departed from the most recent show, the marquee announcing the popular movies of the summer, the movie posters.  GONE forever.  Except for photographs.

I think I had done a post some time ago about disappearing theaters, the Century, the Harwan, near me, and at Ocean City, the Village, The Surf, the Moorlyn and the Strand.  The Surf may still be operating.  How I miss these places.  There is an ache in my heart when I drive or walk by where they used to be.  It like a friend who has passed away and you know you'll never visit together again, but there are the photographs, at least

I want to consider how to post more photographs in a better way on this blog.  At least here, we can visit places that no longer exist in the three dimensional world.  

Happy Trails!
Jo Ann



Sunday, March 26, 2017

Upcoming Things to do Places to go 2017

Just found these flyers which I assume I just have picked up at the Lines On The Pines Event.  Anyhow, phone numbers will be listed with all events and it is ALWAYS recommended that anyone wishing to visit any historic place call and confirm.  The flyers go till Winter, but I will confine myself to posting Spring Events.

Flyer #1 is from the Batsto Citizens' Committee, Events at Historic Batsto Village:

April 8 Vintage double header baseball game 
May 21 Spring Antique, Glass and Bottle and Car show (My advice to you, go EARLY - the parking lot fills up - I have had to go home because there was no place to park and it was too crowded)
Call 609-561-0024

Flyer #2 Wharton State Forest Bulletin
April 1, Atsion Recreationa Area Opens for first day and Atsion Mansion open for tours, call ahead 

Atsion Mansion Tours May through September 744 Route 206, among, NJ Saturdays and Sundays  609-268-0444

April 15 Pinelands Flower Hike - 2 to 4 miles from Batsto Visitors Center

April 22 Earth Day Celebration with Wetlands Presentation at Batsto 12:00 to 4:00, also, 1:00 - 2:00 Ice Age Influence on Pinelands Soggy Ground, Mark Demitroff $2 admission
Star Watch 7:30 to 10:00
April 23 - Earth Day Clean Up Challenge 12:00 - 3:30 bring water and lunch

May 6 Spring Bike Trail Ride, 10 miles helmet required, bring your own bike, lunch and water 11:00 to 2:30 Batsto Village Call (609)567-1559

Sunday May 7 - Outdoor Flea Market, Atsion Recreational Area

May 29 Lady Slipper and Laurel Pinelands Hike, Batsto Village Visitor Center 10:30 - 2 to 4 miles, naturalist guided, bring water and smack free


Info is given for the Indian King Tavern, which, though it is located in Haddonfield, NJ is administered by Wharton State Forest
Call 856-429-6792 for event sheet 

Both flyers list many more events through the summer and fall and you should pick up a copy when you attend one of the above listed events.  

Happy Trails!
Jo Ann






Friday, March 24, 2017

The Museum of the Ordinary Person, Part 2, short blog fiction (a four part series)

Part 2

On an overcast day in early spring, a stout, ordinary man in a plaid flannel shirt, a tractor logo cap, large black sneakers, and a younger version of himself, came barreling through the front door hauling a wooden slatted World War II footlocker.  

The older of the two men, perhaps in his 60's came up to the counter, took off his hat, and as though ordering a beer, he called me over and said, "You the person who takes unwanted stuff from people's houses?"

"Well, yes," I replied, "depending on what it is.  We specialize in personal history, photo albums, diaries, collections, stuff like that.  We don't take furniture or anything like that, unless it is an antique of some kind, like an old record player with a collection of vinyl, for example."

"We're hired to clear out places and this trunk looks like what you are talking about.  The guy was obviously a veteran and I couldn't just throw away his personal stuff.  The piles of crap, okay, no problem hauling that off, but his footlocker, I had to try to do something with it and some guy in the business told me about you."

"Would you be so kind as to help carry that footlocker into the back reception area?"  I asked.

"Sure, no problem.  Jacky, grab hold of that footlocker and let's help the lady out."

On the way to the back examination and distribution, acquisitions area, the man added, "There ain't anything of value in there.  I checked.  Just a couple of books, his military uniform, no gun or anything like that, couple of photographs, a discharge paper."

The two men put the foot locker on the big table where my assistant  Carol, with the further assistance of Ed, our World War II expert would make an assessment of what to do with our new acquisition.

I thanked the men and they opted to depart out the back door and walk around to their truck.  

"It's a good idea, what you have here, saving the memories of ordinary people.  I'll have to come back some time and have a look around.  You have exhibits?"

"Yes, in fact, in a few months we will have our exhibit on women getting the right to vote.  It will be the 100th anniversary, being August, 2020.

"Is that right.  Got any plans for a World War Ii exhibit.  I might come back for something like that!  My old man was a veteran of World War II."

"A year after our suffrage exhibit we will host our 80th anniversary of World War II exhibit.  Got e-mail?  I can put you on our notification list?  No?  Well, leave your address and I'll send you a mail out invitation for being a volunteer and for donating to the museum."

The man wrote his name and address on an index card and tipped his hat and left.

Carol and Ed already had the foot locker open and the uniform out on the table.  They said it appeared to be in good shape, and they handed me a green marbled copybook that apparently was the owner's diary from some years later.  There was also a manuscript of some kind.  I took them up front with me, intending, if the next hour or so were peaceful, to have a look and decided if they should be returned to the footlocker and uniform and discharge paper which would all be kept together in the World War II room.

Up front, at my seat at the counter, I started to page through the manuscript.

The Stranger In The Woods, Michael Finkel - Book Review

As any of you who have visited this blog before are aware, I love the woods.  It is no longer as surprising to me as it used to be to know there are people who don't like the woods.  I know too many of them and they are detailed and specific about why they don't like the woods.  Most of it is fear.  They fear the insects, the unknown.  They are afraid of the woods.  I love the woods and feel at home there and I have from the first time I hiked in the woods as a young teen.

Personally, I think the other thing they fear is the solitude.  It is one of the things that draws me.  I, too, can be specific about what I love about the woods, and most of it is sensory:  I love the smell, specifically, the smell of un on pine needles, the clean water smell of air washed by rain and purified by the breath of trees.  I love the quiet, the dance of the shadows of leaves and branches just slightly sent swaying by a breeze, the sighing of the trees.  I love the very thing that frightens others, the solitude, the quiet.  

After reading The Stranger in the Woods, I have come to believe that this difference is 'hard-wired.'  Even as a child, I loved quiet and solitude and felt an affinity for animals.  Animals are quiet.  The curl up beside you or near you and that's good enough = no chatter or argument or row.

All the things I love are quiet, animals, books, the woods - so I really understood the main character in the true story, The Stranger in The Woods.

As a young man in his twenties, he left his good job, his family, his new car, and walked into the woods, and never came out until he was arrested.  He lived by burglarizing vacation cabins, only for food stuff such as canned goods, and for winter clothes like parkas and necessities such as mattresses.  He also stole batteries and propane tanks for his cooker and his radio.  He lived like that for 27 years and this book is his true story.  

I am not giving anything away when I tell you he was arrested because that is how the author, Michael Finkel, himself an outdoorsman, starts the story, in the first chapter.  He goes on from there to talk about solitude, other mystics and monks, woods craft, and many other things as well as Christopher's life and family and interviews with him in prison.

It is a fascinating story  in so many ways.  I love psychology and science as well as the woods, so there was much to capture my interest.  I strongly recommend this book to you for all of those reasons.  I am only a few pages from the end but I must stop now because my brother, who also lives a solitary life on a hill in West Virginia, is up for a visit and we are going out for breakfast.  

Being so close to the end of the book, I doubt I will have anything to add to my review except to say that it is written in a very compelling way and other reviews by other readers mentioned that when they started, they read right through to the end because they couldn't put it down.  

Sometimes the trail leads into the woods, sometimes the trail is one of thought, sometimes the trail is a set of lines on a page - whichever the trail is in your world, I wish you:
Happy Trails!
Jo Ann

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Main Street Art Wants to Inspire YOU!: Paint and Sip Parties & More!

Stopped in at Main Street Art today and bought myself a great fun pendant made with a vintage stamp.  You know I love all things postal, so it was a fun present for myself.

I am up to Chapter 11 of The Artist's Way, by Julia Cameron, which is a book about how to re-stoke your creative furnace.  My latest artist projects have been family heirloom scrapbooking, and as you know cards and postcards made with old family photos:  part of my "What to do with your family history" efforts.  How can we interest others in what we find fascinating, the lives of those who came before us.

Anyhow, Diane has Paint & Sip Parties:  Birthday parties, Girl's Night Out, Bachelorette Parties, Baby Showers, Team Building, You name the Occasion = $30 per painter.  There are kids parties too, for $20 per painter.  Only 6 people needed for a party, so if you have always wanted to give it a try, here's the place, and this is the time!  Go for it!  Diane Paul also offers Art Lessons and Workshops for adults or kids.  For more information call 856-979-5356 or go to
www.mainstreetartnj.com

Diane and I know one another from our student days at Rutgers The State University, in Camden, where we were printmaking majors.  

Coming Soon ENJOY FREE COFFEE while shopping and creating: cards, jewelry, pottery, photography, candles - Walk in Art Projects include create puzzle for $5 each!  

You Know how I enjoy local journals, newspapers, and such.  I picked up a copy of The Maple Shade Messenger, and Diane was featured on the front page:  Main Street Art Wants to Inspire You!  Main Street Art, 18 East Main Street, Maple Shade, NJ 08052 also diane@mainstreetartnj.com

Diane also had a great variety of wonderful gifts for that upcoming birthday, housewarming, anniversary or any important occasion.  There is jewelry, sculpture, ceramics, clothing, crochet work, art objects of a great many kinds, and paintings by  many artists at reasonable prices.  I have bought jewelry, gifts, and small paintings from Diane's shop for myself and for my friends' birthdays.  Drop in and visit and look around.  You won't be disappointed!

By the way, there is parking in a municipal lot in the back of the shops on Main Street.  And a flyer that I picked up remind us that the classes and offerings change often so check in at the web site for updated information, hours and changes!




Sunday, March 19, 2017

New Winter 2016/17 Sojourn EXCELLENT!! Whites bog Lecture On Eliz White EXCELLENT too!

What a wonderful day!  It began with a drive to Whitesbog to hear the lecture on Elizabeth White and her contribution to the early development Four Mile Colony, later Lebanon Residential Center for Disabled Adults.  

I am sorry I didn't catch Albertine's last name but she was introduced, I think, as Whitesbog's Archivist.  Anyway, her power point supported lecture on Elizabeth White's involvement with several reform efforts, and the context provided by Albertine in regard to efforts to assist needy children in that time (late 1800's and early 1900's) was most informative.  

I went with one of my hiking buddies, who was especially interested as she worked as a special ed teacher early in her career, later, as a school counselor.  She had begun to read, and then abandoned, a non-fiction book by a former inmate at the Lebanon Colony;  it was too hard to read because of the cruelty the author had to endure while a child there.

The Whitesbog Preservation Trust newsletter , 4th quarter 2011 has a cover story on this topic.  

The ten person audience was an intelligent and informed one, and the lecture was given in Suningive, Elizabeth White's former home and office.  

After the lecture, we took my Lab, Trixie on a nice hike around the always glorious bogs under a china blue sky and in sparkling fresh air.

Then, when I got home my new issue of SoJourn had arrived.  I hadn't expected it till Monday.  What a treat!  And What an ISSUE!  This one is all I had hoped it would be - really timely and interesting essays and a great variety.  I immediately read the very well written essay on Margaret Meade and Hammonton.  This issue is a real keeper and I plan to buy more as gifts to friends who also love the history, geography and culture of South Jersey.  Well Done!  I recommend that any of you reading this blog, buy this journal.  As I said, I got it from amazon.com.  The cover is gorgeous.  

Hope your day was as good as mine!
Happy Trails,
Jo Ann

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Curator at the Museum of the Ordinary Person - A Short Fiction - Part 1

Foreword:  I have often had a fantasy of coming into a large sum of money.  Of course since I don't buy lottery tickets, it is highly unlikely, but that's why it is a fantasy.  For the past few day, a short story has been writing itself in my head:  The Curator at the Museum of the Ordinary Life.  In fact, the American Museum in Glamssboro is somewhat like that, the assortment of personal collections and the array of objects from farm implements to model trains that they have there, but I would go even further and add diaries and family photos and such.  So here is the story.


Gloria placed her mug of steaming tea carefully on a coaster on an under shelf of the counter near the door of the museum, then went to the front door to unlock it.  The doors were massive the building having belonged to a bank before it was bought by a philanthropist who turned it into an archive and museum of ordinary people's lives.

Already, coming up the path dragging a bag, she saw a woman in a nurse's scrubs dragging a large trash bag up the steps.  Gloria held the door open for the woman and they greeted one another.

"Well, well, what have you got there?"  Gloria asked.

"You wouldn't believe it, I saw two women, an older woman and a younger one putting these bags out on the curb and some were open and family photographs and other precious items were spilling out.  I stopped and they said they they were cleaning out their grandmother's house and they didn't want any of that old junk.  The nurse opened the bag and took out a handful of items and put them on the large work table in the center of the room.  There was a slim white box, just turning a pale yellow from age, with a silver stripe diagonally across the top.

Gloria opened the box and carefully wrapped in smooth white tissue were a lovely pair of opera gloves.  As she took them out, she noticed that beneath the gloves there was tucked an identity card, that showed a picture of a lovely young woman in a ball gown, who was a ballroom dancer employed by a nightclub.  Her name as it was printed on the card was Gina Spano.

There was a passport, and a leaf pile of old photographs taken in what looked like the tenements of New York of women working in a tiny back yard garden with vines on a trellis and wearing print cotton dresses and large white aprons.  The photos looked like they were from the 1920's or 1930's.

There was a passport and there were postcards from Naples, Italy.  There were photos of half a dozen people sitting around a small picnic table in the same small yard with a clothes line overhead and clothes drying on it.

Once again, though she had seen this sort of thing dozens of times, Gloria wondered at the lack of feeling that could allow family members to discard precious and treasured memories after 80 or 90 or a 100 years of safekeeping.  To put them on the curb for the trash.

"Were there other bags?"  Gloria asked.

"Sadly, yes, but I am already late for work and I really couldn't take any more time and after all, it's their family not mine.  I did the best I could."  The nurse brushed her hands together to rid them of the dust, and prepared to leave.  "I am so glad you people do this.  Somebody should care about the old people's treasures."

"Thanks for taking the time to gather them and bring them in. I hope you don't get in trouble at work. Have a good day."  Gloria shook hands with the nurse, who bustled off out the front door again, got into her car and drove off.

While Gloria stood at the door watching the car drive away, a van pulled up and another woman got out.  She opened the back of the van and yanked on something heavy.

Gloria went out the door to see what she had and if she needed help.  It was a large metal trunk, wrapped in wooden support  straps.

Over her shoulder, the woman said, "Do you take big stuff like this?"

Gloria replied, "Does it have any history?"

"The woman, in jeans and a sweatshirt answered, "Yes, it has some stuff in a foreign language in it, baby shoes, cards  I think it was a bridal trunk from some other country.  Like a bride coming to America bringing her stuff, or a wife  I don't know"

The woman took one strap on the end, and Gloria took the other and together they carried the trunk up the steps and into the main room, placing it beside the table with the  materials from the previous visitor.  The young woman asked, "Can I get a receipt as a donation, for tax purposes?"

Gloria went to the counter and asked, "How much is the trunk worth?  Did you buy it?  What did you play for it."

"No, it was in the attic of a house we bought.  But I saw a trunk at an attack store recently that was  $100."

Gloria made out the form for donations for $100. and gave it to the young woman, who immediately left.  "Thanks for having a place for this stuff.  It would be a shame to throw it away and antiques are so out of style, nobody wants big heavy stuff like this hanging around anymore.  I had to clear out the attic to put up insulation and drywall and turn it into a work-out room."

Gloria walked her to the door, watched the van drive away, and then returned to the trunk.

Even after the several months that she had been working at the Museum, something like this trunk still held suspense and mystery for her.  She lifted the lid.  The leather hinges were brittle and fragile, so she put a stool behind the lid to support it.  Inside were just a few items, a pretty wedding card.  Gloria, though she didn't have much foreign language background, thought the words looked like Greek even though they were in the English alphabet.  There were baby shoes and a disintegrating lace Christening dress, wrapped in tissue.  There was a kind of official form taped to the inside of the trunk in a foreign alphabet, the tape brown and peeling off.  Gloria had a part-time assistant who was an expert in these objects.  He would e in later and would take of the trunk.

Gloria had been hired for reception only.  Her task was to greet people, accept donated items, explain the mission of the museum and take people on a tour of the displays if that was what they had come for.  She went to the storage room in back and brought some acid free boxes to hold the photographs from the first visitor, with the gloves and the passport  It was great to have identifying materials.  She wrote up an acquisitions form to describe all she had gathered of the depositor's location and any identifying information.

Back at the counter, Gloria's tea had already gone cold.  She couldn't help but reflect on her own personal items and family heirlooms and what would become of them.  Would her son or daughter want them?  Probably not.  Perhaps she should make provision to have them brought here now.  Next time the kids came home, she would broach the subject.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Cape May County Herald on St. Patrick's Day 2017

Today after having a delightful lunch with my cousin Patty at Mel's Waffle House on Bayshore in the Villa's, I picked up a free copy of the Cape May Herald.  I love these small town newspapers which ALWAYS contain some golden nugget of news for me:

Three bits of interesting information:
1.  Do you remember the Peace Pilgrim of Egg Harbor?  She walked for Peace across America nearly her whole adult life.  There is a sculpture and memorial to her in Egg Harbor.  
Well, South Jersey has spawned two such advocates for peace, apparently.  In the Herald there was an item about John Frances, Phd. aged 71, who has walked an astonishing 36,000 miles for the Environment.  He began after witnessing the devastation from an oil spill in California.  Mr. Francis currently lives in West Cape May but was originally from my own hometown, Philadelphia.  Mr. Francis has walked all over the world to raise awareness of environmental issues and has worked with educational groups as well, as for instance as first education fellow at the National Geographic Society.  He has developed curricula and walking programs all over the country.

2.  Kate Wyatt of the Cape May Historical Society was seeking municipal help to celebrate the centennial of America's entry into World War I in 1917.  There is a memorial and Wyatt simply wanted help to plant a red white and blue garden and to ensure a speaker on Veteran's Day.  We should always honor those who made the greatest sacrifice for our nation, especially on the days designated to do that.  I wish her luck.  Don't forget row opening of the new exhibit on WWI at the Camden Co. Historical Society detailed in a previous blog post.

3.  Finally, I have ALWAYS wanted a fern garden.  First of all my yard is filled with trees and very shady.  Secondly, I love ferns - their old and venerable lineage, their beauty and the way I run into them in odd corners of the forests where I like to hike.  So, over the years I have tried to grow ferns in my yard, so far with no success; perhaps  the information in this article will be the secret ingredient to a new try and a better success rate.  hay scented fern and Christmas fern for my dry and shady yard.  this tip came from Cape Shore Garden's horticulturist, Lauren Popper, a graduate of Temple, but perhaps I can find these ferns closer to home at Platt's Farm in Mickleton, a place worthy of a blog post of its own one of these days.

My advice to you - pick up one of those little local newspapers when you see them, often they are even free.  You may be pleasantly surprised by all the useful information you find inside!

Happy Trails!
Jo Ann

Basil Payne, Poet - Remembered and honored for St. Patrick's Day

When I was a student back in the early 1970's at Glamssboro State College, I was fortunate to have Basil Payne for my poetry teacher.  He was a poet in residence from Ireland.  His famous book was Another Kind of Optimism.  He was a brilliant, inspiring and compassionate man.  He died in February 2012 and I think of him often even after all these years for what I learned from him of kindness, warmth and a comradely humility not shown by many college teachers at that time.  He also inspired in me a love of poetry.  I would offer you a poem or a quote but I can't find my copy of his book.  I've ordered it again from amazon.com, and I couldn't find any of his poems on-line.

Happy St. Patrick's Day to all the Irish and those who have benefited from the Irish in America and abroad.  Jo Ann (Irish ancestry:  McQuiston family from Northern Ireland, Scots Irish)

Thursday, March 16, 2017

blogs or print media on NJ History that you like

Lat me know if there are blogs or magazines you like about NJ history, in particular South Jersey.  Here is one recommended to me by several other people:  www.thehistorygirl.com

https://vimeo.com/208408408/1de27b26e5?ct=t(The_Pine_Barrens_film7_15_2016)&mc_cid=71fac37866&mc_eid=7bc5900498&ct=t(The_Pine_Barrens_film7_15_2016)&mc_cid=71fac37866&mc_eid=7bc5900498

I don't know if the above link works but David Kessler has posted a video with a storyteller telling the story of The White Stag at a campfire.

Happy Trails!
Jo Ann

Oh yes, you can reach me at     wrightj45@yahoo.com

SoJourn, a journal devoted to the history and culture of South Jersey Available at amazon

Barb Solem called to ask if I had picked up the winter 2017 edition of Sojourn, the new journal published out of Stockton State College.  I had gotten the Summer issue but had been greatly disappointed.  Once again, the old beat up topics were dragged out of their moldy and dusty boxes for yet another annotated, footnoted flogging - the East West Jersey Line and whether Ogden Nash ever lived at Nash's cabin.....Who the hell cares!  No one even remembers who Ogden Nash is.

As for the East West Line, a more interesting article may have been to interview Bill Bolger who, in his 60's, hiked the line from end to end.  Even better, a little reportage on the Hugg Harrison Glover House which was built in the late 1600's, added onto in the 1700's and was home to a Revolutionary War patriot who fought alongside General LaFayette in the battle of Gloucester on the Delaware.  The house, as you no doubt read, was demolished in secret by the DOT while various groups were working on funding and strategies to save it.  

South Jersey isn't dead and writing about our history doesn't need to be either.  I have read other good publications with charming, and fascinating information and many blogs exist that reflect people actually going places and researching their history in New Jersey.  Also, there are fascinating people who work in history who would be worthy of interviewing such as Bonnie Beth Elwell of Camden County Historical Society, who is also president of the Salem Genealogical Society and who published an Arcadia book on Pittsgrove, Upper Pittsgrove and Elmer.  How about an article on Arcadia and how it is saving our local history one town at a time!

On March 29, I am going to interview Wes Hughes, who is head of the volunteers at Batsto and also is on the Batsto Citizen's Committee.  He had done some research on the CCC in New Jersey but so many publication roadblocks were set in his path he had to abandon it, so I want to capture his story on this blog.  I love print media and don't want to see internet media push it out, but I have to say, Print Media - Get With It!  Recently I replaced Time Magazine with a subscription to This Week Magazine, because it is more timely, broader, covers the whole world and an assortment of subjects.  It is fun as well as enlightening.  They are not mutually exclusive!

Happy Trails - Oh yes, you can get the new winter edition of Sojourn at amazon.com.  I heard that it is much much better and has several excellent articles including one on Margaret Mead and her mother's research on Italian immigrant farm communities in South Jersey.  Can't wait to get it and I will review it when it comes.  I had some trouble getting the title accepted at amazon.com but finally it found it and I should have it in a few days.  
Jo Ann

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Snowed In March 14 and 15, 2017!

When I awoke yesterday morning, it was to the sound of something like cannon balls being shot at my house, hitting the roof and rolling off.  I was reminded of the story of Ann Whittle spinning when the cannonball came into her house and rolled macro the floor during the Battle of Red Bank, October, 1775.

In my case, it was giant limbs from my 60 year old trees snapping under the weight of ice and wind.  When I looked out my bedroom window, the view was entirely obliterated by a fairy tale jungle of tree branches, like a sleeping princess whose castle gets fenced in by brambles.  The limb lay across the roof, the rain gutters and stretched down to the ground like a monstrous broom, leaning on the house.  

Up in the attic, I checked to see if it had come through the roof itself, and once again, I was fortunate.  I found a stress fracture in the drywall seam, but no hole in the roof.  Once before like Thor's thunderbolt, a limb had punctured the two layers of roofing shingles and the layer of wood and came down into the attic about half a foot.  My neighbor, Pete was still alive then, and he patched the roof (always for reasonable sums) and his son plastered the hole in the attic and we went on with our lives.

AS I have gotten older, I have felt a kind of diminishment of courage, or perhaps I always had it and forgot, but I do seem to feel shakier faced with such problems and I can fall into worry about the future, but a phone call to my daughter and a PLAN resolved all that.  She said:  Take a photo of the ceiling, call the insurance company, get some estimates, at least three, and see if the estimates are more or less than your deductible.  Get someone to check the roof and then you can make a decision.

Once I have a plan, like a map in the desert, or a flashlight in the dark and moonless forest, I feel I can carry on.  So I did everything but the estimates.  I am waiting for the storm to subside and the snow to melt, then I can work on the estimates, but I did get a call from a friend who has a good tree guy.  It's like that old song by the Beatles "Baybe you can drive my car.....I don't have a car,  but I found a driver and that's a start."

I LOVE my house the way a turtle loves its shell.  The walls are dressed in my art work, the shelves are filled with my books, my pets nap in the funny spots on the piano and the desk, and my treasure sit before me in the glass cabinet made by Van Sciver's in Camden in 1947 (it is signed under the drawers).  My house was built in 1947!  And I was born in 1945.  We have spent our lives together through the last half of the twentieth century and we celebrated the beginning of the 21st together.  My house has held me in its arms through many tragedies, disasters and we have shared many beauties like the sight of the trees all hung with crystals from the frozen rain, lit by the rising sun, and the flocks of black birds migrating who stop in the grove that is my yard and set everything crackling with their busy chatter, the owl that hoots every November, and the daffodils planted by someone who lived here before I moved in back in August of 1985.  

This house was my wish come true.  I have photos of my daughter and my father making a snowman in the front yard, and family barbecues in the backyard, back when I still had a family.  But even though the family is gone, the trees are still here, the quiet guests who stayed.

I hope you are warm and safe and have a good book to read while snowed in - I do!  And if you are really lucky, you have a snoozing dog on the carpet and a purring cat on your lap.

Happy Trails!
Jo Ann

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Lines On The Pines

Today, Sunday, March 12, 2017, I was fortunate to have a couple of friends invite me to join them for Lines On The Pines being held this year at the Renault Winery in Egg Harbor.  

I love this event, because I love these people.  These are the people who make things and take care of things.  They make music and the instruments to play them, they sculpt, paint, make fragrant soap, and write books about the pines.  Because I too love the pines, we have a lot in common.

As we entered the first of the many rooms of tables, I saw a dark wooden bowl, very thin and graceful and a matching wooden goblet, and I wanted them, but having just arrived, I was trying to be prudent and wait.  Also, I didn't want to carry it around all day.  Next, I admired the pine snake curled around his human handler's arm.  It is an endangered snake.  

Once, while hiking in the Dolly Sods of West Virginia, I had an experience with a rattle snake.  I was stopping on a shelf overhang to do some yoga stretches, and when I leaned forward to rise, I saw on a jutting piece of the shale cliff surface, a curled up rattler.  He simply and peaceably looked at me and I looked at him, then I slowly rose and backed away.  When a peace loving and respectful person such as myself meets a wild creature such as that snake, on his own home turf, it is an altogether different interaction than a typical violent conflict that some more aggressive or fearful people might experience.  I have always had a strangely solemn and soulful feeling in the presence of snakes since that meeting.

Someone was playing a dulcimer.  I feel sorry for musicians under these circumstances, the sensory overload, the chaos and and the crowding make it impossible to give the music the attention it deserves.  

We meandered from room to room, through the wine glass museum, which reminded me of the lovely wine glasses my former husband and I had bought in Germany when he was stationed there. 
We met up with our writer friend, Barbara Solem, who had just completed, the day before, two programs (or more) in the Short Course in the Pines.  Another friend, Janet Romano, volunteers for the Unexpected Animal Sanctuary, and not too far away was Barry Casselli's table being manned by his father, who had printed the immensely useful Visitor' Guide to vendors and performers.  I had enjoyed Barry Casselli's on-line Ghosttowns digest for many years, but his father said it is gone now.   I thought I had lost it when I changed e-mail address.  Apparently it is a victim to Facebook.

I bumped into a favorite historian acquaintance of mine, Paul Schopp, looking very spiffy in his top hat.  But I didn't see a friend I was looking for, Bonnie Beth Elwell, now Chief Librarian at Camden County Historical Society Library and President of the Genealogical Society  of Salem County (which is how I met her.) She was there, others I met had seen her, but sadly I missed running into her.

I did speak with two volunteers, whom I cannot praise enough.  My heroes are the volunteers who give their time generously to our cultural heritage.  Wes Hughes of Batsto Mansion and also of Batsto Citizens' Committee is a prince!  His enthusiasm is contagious and he has warmth and charm galore.

A volunteer for the Vineland Historical Society and I chatted briefly as I purchased the Vineland Historical Magazine.  Then my friends and I headed out to get lunch.  We had superb brunch at a hotel across the street from the Renault Winery which is now located on Bremen Ave., Egg Harbor City.  A wonderfully mello saxophonist played in the quiet and restful restaurant while we ate.

You may remember a former postw where I described the history of Egg Harbor City.  A group of charitable German businessmen from Philadelphia, pooled money to buy property to move German immigrants out of the cities where they were being harassed and beaten and their shops and homes firebombed by native-born Americans in anti-immigrant programs.  They set the people up in small plots in town on streets named after cities in Germany in shops featuring tailoring and dressmaking.  Outside of town they were offered small farms.  

It is worth remembering that before the turn of the century - the late 1800's into the 1900's, almost all clothes were made by people at home not machine in factories.  My own German great-grandmother, Catherine Sandman was a dressmaker in Philadelphia in 1900.  It was a trade that employed thousands, both tailors for men's wear and dressmakers for women.  The farms and shops of Egg Harbor flourished, but as time moved on, so did the Germans and new people moved in and only the street names remain to remind us of the origins of Egg Harbor.  

After lunch we returned for a final stroll through the festival and I went to buy the dark wooden bowl only to find it had been sold.  I had hesitated and I had lost. But I bought another bowl and half a dozen wooden eggs to put in it for my daughter's Easter gift this year.  She is a vegan/vegetarian and so both chocolate and eggs are out.  Last year I bought fragrant soaps for her basket.  I like these wooden eggs in the pretty little bowl so much, however, that in the intervening month (Easter is in early April this year) I may find something else and keep the wooden eggs and bowl.  Moms have a right to indulge in a little selfishness after a life of sacrifice, I think.

The first half of my day was just wonderful and I felt really happy.  So now we get to the sad part.  I couldn't believe that the Hugg Harrison House had in fact been destroyed, so I drove to the site to see for myself.  Foolishly I hoped I would see it there and find out reports of its destruction had been in error.  I drove away, after viewing the desolation, with tears in my eyes.  If only I had money, I thought, I could have bought it and moved it and saved it.  But it is gone forever now.

However, I refuse to be pulled down by those things which cannot be helped and by the inevitable losses that break the heart of anyone with a heart, so I drove on home and sat down to write this blog.

I do hope you made it to Lines On the Pines today and I hope to see you at Whitesbog next Sunday!  It is the lecture on Elizabeth White and her contributions to Three Mile Colony.  I plan to pack a lunch and enjoy a nice hike around the always gorgeous cranberry bogs.  Maybe we will run into one another there!

Happy Trails,
Jo Ann