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.

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

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Lavinia Jones Wright at the Mutter Museum - a Halloween TREAT!

On Monday 5th, I drove to Philadelphia to hear Lavinia's presentation on DEATH BALLADS at the Mutter Museum, which is at 19 S. 22nd Street.  There are plenty of parking garages nearby.  I think I paid $12, one block away.  It was a multi-day event, but I only went for the one lecture, DEATH BALLADS. Lavinia's power point presentation was informative without being dry, and very witty!  In case you are wondering wat Death Ballads are, people of my generation would be most familiar with Stacker Lee, also know as Stagger Lee (You know Stagger Lee shot Billy). 

She talked about how they evolved from their ancestor, broadsheets, sung by traveling troubedors when people were mostly illerate and there were not newspapers available to village people.  They were brought here from Europe with the immigrants, and then evolved, incorporating our own stories of murder, betrayal, deceit, hauntings and wrongful capital punishment.  Along with the lecture, she had a band, Vandavere.  They sange 4 more ballads to a thrilled and appreciative audience.

After lectures on everything including medical books covered with the skin of used up cadavers, thi was a bright and cheering departure.

This gave me an opportunity to tour the museum, which I have always wanted to do but never got around to.  My favorite thing in the museum was the wall of glass cases housing God-only-knows how many skulls, a whole wall of skulls, all the same until you look closely and see the subtle differences in shapes and sizes and facial arrangement. 

Also interesting to me was the comparison of a normal woman's skeleton with that of a woman deformed by corset.  A long time opponent of high heeled shoes, once again, I was astonished that so many women are willing to deform themselves to fit some foolish notion of 'sexy' or beautiful.  Nature is best!

It was a wonderful evening, informative and entertaining and I advise you to go on over the bridge and visit the Mutter Museum and see medicine in the 1800's, you won't complain about medicine in the 21st century after you see this!

Happy Trails and Happy Halloween!
Jo Ann

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Finnish Log Construction - The Art by F. W. Eld

On Sunday, September 27, 2015, a friend and I drove down to Greenwich for the Artisan's Fair.  I love this fair because they are really artisans and not crafters or souvenir vendors.  These people blow glass, smith iron, throw pottery, and weave, and we get to see and buy their products. 

As with every year, they also have music and this year it was a country western band with a singer who sounded a lot like Willie Nelson.  They were terrific.

Also, this year, there were re-enactors and a particulary erudite and charming one told us a great deal about the Revolution in New Jersey.  Some of it I knew from my extensive reading when I was a volunteer at the Whitall House at Red Bank Battlefield, but almost all of it was new to my pal and he made it so vivid.  I had his card to share with you and now it is lost but it will turn up.

Another man who was very interesting was Joseph Matthews, Archivist.  He told us a great deal about the Swedish Granary in the yard of the Gibbon House Museum, and the site of the Fair.  As good luck would have it, a WONDERFUL book had been for sale at the Cumberland County Historical Society, where I always like to drop in and see the exhibits and say hello to the unfailingly polite an welcoming volunteers there.  The book is
Finnish Log Constructio - The Art, Anniversary Edition, author, Frank W. Eld.  He had been speaking at the CCHS the ay before. 

When I got home, I got cozy on the sofa and read the book from cover to cover.  I was filled with gratitude and admiration for Mr. Eld and all the others who make it their life's vocation to save our cultural material heritage.  The past speaks to me through many voices, re-enactors, books, and most particularlu buildings.  I tell you truly, I have fallen in love with buildings.  It is why I went tow work as a volunteer at Whitall Hosue those many years ago, and why I visit Greenwich regularly, and why I used to wade through the flood waters of swampy For Elfsborg to visit the solitary and, I feel, lonely, Abel Nichilson House. 

As I grew up in Philadelphia, and attended Gloria Dei, Old Swedes Church, I believe I aborbed the spirit of old places and found my first love, Old Swedes. 

Un beknownst to me, until I did my dna test through ancestry.com, I always believed myself to be German, English and Irish.  I never knew I wa 17% Scandinavian!  Most likely it was the blending of Germans and Danes along the Holstein/Schleswig border which is the peninsula of Jutland, nonetheless, I now feel a vested interest in the Scandinavian Colonial history of the NJ/Pa.Delaware River region.  Buy the book.  It is fascinating - then visit the log houses we have, one, the VanLeer Schorn cabin at Trinity Church in Swedesboro, one at Salem, just as you enter the city, and the Nothnagle Cabin near Mickleton. 

Happy Trails! 
By the way, did you play with Lincoln Logs when you were a child? 
Jo Ann

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Saddlertown, Civil War Weekend, Mullica Hill, NJ

Sadly, sometimes I'm writing to you about something that already happened in which case you can't go see it, but you can tuck it away for next year! 
Today, the people of Saddlertown celebrated almost 175 years of history.  The town was founded by a man who escaped freedom and came to work for a Quaker in New Jersey named Evans.  Evans helped Saddler raise enough money to buy his own place and the small hamlet of Saddlertown began.  The next event that helped make a village out of a farm was the construction of the Rhoads Temple Church, built in 1882 with the help of Charles and Beulah Rhoads, another Quaker family.  As with so many of the inspiring stories of New Jersey's prouder moments in history, the Quakers were central motivators. 

When Joshua Saddler passed away, he left a provision in his will to protect a patch of old growth forest forever.  Over the many years, his family and now, the Saddler's Woods Conservation Association have fought tirelessly to protect these woods from many selfish interests that would have destroyed the forest for their own purposes in defiance of the purpose and spirit of Saddler's will. 

I've hiked the Saddler's Woods path many times and often red in the papers when volunteers come together to go through the woods and pick up debris left by the careless.

Today was Saddlertown Day, and there was an open house in the Rhoads Temple Church and there were tables with volunteers ready to talk about the history of this remarkable treasure tucked away in the middle of suburban sprawl.  I wouldn't have known about it if my Cousin Patty hadn't saved a newspaper (Phila. Inquirer Thurs. Sept. 10) article for me.  When I visited her Friday she gave it to me, but I already had plans for early today and couldn't get to Saddlertown Day until afternoon, when it was ending.

In the article they mention a site where you can reearch the history further, should you wish to do so:  haddontwphistoricalsociety.org

While having lunch at the Blue Plate Cafe in Mullica Hill today, I picked up a postcard announcing Civil War Living History Weekend Fall Open House and Pumpkin Festival.  This takes plae on Oct. 10th and 11th.  So here, at least is something coming up for you to enjoy!

For more info www.mullicahill.com or call (856) 223-5440

Happy Trails!

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Thank You Tom Wolfe at Pakim Pond

Yesterday when I hiked at Pakim Pond with my dog, Trixie, I had stopped to take a photo of two frolicking deer, and apparently that's where I dropped my expensive prescription glasses.  My eyesight has grown progressively worse over the past few years and I needed prescription glasses to drive.  Last night, I decided I would drive back this morning and see if I could find my lost glasses.  The eyesight problem, by the way, is why I put the text in a larger size.  

This morning I stopped at the Ranger Office on my way to the pond to drop off a card with my name in case anyone might turn in the glasses and THERE THEY WERE!  I said I wished I could thank the ranger who had found them and turned them in.  The lady at the counter said his name was Tom Wolfe.

When I got to the pond some fellows were clearing brush from the fences.  I asked one if his name was Tom Wolfe and it was so I got to thank him in person.  He said he had found them where the fence meets the sand road, and that was where I had stopped to take a picture of the deer.  He said the deer were around there a lot.  I asked if hunting was allowed there and he said it was not.  What a relief.

He said the three deer had been there since they were orphaned little fawns.  

When Trixie and I got back from hiking around the pond, I wanted to give Tom Wolfe a copy of my book, White Horse Black Horse, but he had already gone, so I gave it to another fellow along with a copy for himself.  

It is so encouraging in this world to find people who are thoughtful and kind and go the extra step to help someone out.  From now on, I will be more careful with my glasses and tomorrow I will post a photo of Tom Wolf patting Trixie. 

Friday, September 11, 2015

Outdoor Club of South Jersey

Having seen the movie A WALK IN THE WOODS, from the book by Bill Bryson, I became interested in teh Batona Trail, and that reminded me of the Oudoor Club of South Jersey, which group is one of the supporters of the Batona Trail.

More than 8 years ago, I was a member of the OCSJ, for a few years and enjoyed many wonderful hikes and kayak trips, not to mention bus trips to Washington DC and picnics and parties.  Finally, I left when my declining physical abilities made it too difficult for me to do hikes of 6 miles or to get in and out of a kayak.  When I was a member, however, I thought someone should try to collect the history. 

To my complete surprise when I tried to contact the founder, Bert Nixdorf, he was alive andbiking in New England though in his 80's.  He has since passed away but I feel honored to have made his acquaintance.  I left the club before I had a chance to make any progress on the history but I wanted to preserve the small introduction that I had begun, so I thought this would be a good place for it.  I was a newbie and only starting down the trail so this is no 'history' only an introduction to a possible future history, but perhaps it might be of some help to anyone else in the future taking up this task.

by the way, it was also my great good fortune to find Bert Nixdorf's book on bike trails at Murphy's Book Loft before that venerable book barn closed.  That book is a treasure to anyone with an interest i the OCSJ, and almost impossible to find these days.

So here, cut and pasted, is that rough draft of a start on a search for the history of the OCSJ.  Please forgive any errors or misunderstandings you might find within it. 
Happy Trails!  Jo Ann

The History of the Outdoor Club of South Jersey
through interviews with Joe Trujillo and Christine Denneler
revised March 9, 2008

            The Outdoor Club of South Jersey started in Mount Holly in 1967.  Two couples, Bert Nixdorf, his wife, along with Dale and Kay Knapschaefer really initiated the club.  Bert Nixdorf was a school principal.  These couples liked the outdoors and started walking around Mount Holly together.  The group grew to about six people walking around the Smithville area, in the woods up near Rancocas.  Their earliest organized hikes were out of Lake Oswego.  Everybody pretty much knew their way around out there.  There was a Civilian Conservation Corps camp in that area and that’s where they began to run hikes. 
In 1970, Norah Hayes, a botanist who originally came from England, designed an “Edible Plants” walk around Oswego Lake.  Nixdorf was a bike rider too.  He did D rides of about 25 miles.  Another couple who were early members would lead rides around the Chatsworth area.  Sometimes Bert would lead a bike ride on one day of the weekend and a hike the next day. 
When they decided to make it a more officially organized club, Bert wrote it up and advertised it in the Shoppers’ Guide.  He affiliated his group with the A. Y. H., the American Youth Hostels.  They were the umbrella group.  They supplied a logo and Bert added a cartoon character to it, a little hiking guy somewhat like a Charles Schultz’s Peanuts character.
In 1980, Bert Nixdorf wrote the following note about the start of the club:  “The club was formalized with a constitution and by-laws in 1967, at the home of Dale and Kay Knapschaefer.  The club was quite informal in the beginning with only two or three activities per month.  When the Knapschaefers left the area, Bert Nixdorf, then vice-resident, took the helm by default.  Past presidents (of those early years) were:  1967-68, Dale Knapschaefer; 1968-70, Bert Nixdorf; 1970-71, Walter Hayes,; 1971-72, Joe Sigona; 1972-1981, Bert Nixdorf.
In 1970, the club affiliated with American Youth Hostels.  Membership in 1970 was less than 50 persons.  Slowly the club increased its membership as well as its activity program.  By 1973, the program ran year round with the addition of water course explorations and moonlight hikes.  Membership was between 450-500.  By 1975, bicycle rides and a Wilderness Survival Course, had been added to on-going activities.  Membership had risen to around 750.
Eventually, Nixdorf began to combine camping trips with the hiking and biking.  The A. Y. H. ran a lot of camping trips and travel hostel trips and the early OCSJ began to put them in their schedule. 
Nixdorf would lead hikes and bike trips on woods roads and he liked to get in the water, too.  Pretty soon he added tubing trips to the schedule.  Advertising in the Shoppers Guide brought about 60 regulars into the group.  Evan’s Bridge was a popular spot for the tubing trips.  We would hike up to Godfrey bridge carrying inner tubes and wearing bathing suits, then we’d float back down to where the cars were parked. 
Once or twice a month, Bert held moonlight hikes.  There was nothing comparable in the South Jersey area. 
In the early 1970’s, Nixdorf got a column in the Burlington County Times, a weekly column.  He wrote about nature and the hiking, biking, camping and tubing trips they were having.  After Knapschaeffer left, the club became more official and Bert Nixdorf served as the second president.  He served two terms, not consecutively, and he incorporated the group with an official hierarchy consisting of a president, vice president, treasurer, and recording secretary.  The club was run out of Bert’s house.  At first, he mimeographed a newsletter from his home.  Then he got hold of a good printing company to do the newsletter. 
The current president, Kathleen Pearce is the historian and holds the archives where there are copies of the original newsletter and scrapbooks that show the kinds of things we did.  Dave S. kept the scrapbooks up to date for us. 
During the 1970’s, Bert developed short hikes of about 6 miles, boating that he titled “Water Course Explorations” which were mostly out of Atsion, Evans Bridge and Oswego Lakes, and bike rides out of Mount Holley.  During this early period, Bert also wrote two books.  One was called “Hikes and Bikes” and there was another book that was only bike rides.  Bert had a long tenure, from the 1970’s up to 1981.  He developed and built the club during that decade.  He did most of the leading and only had one or two other leaders for each of the other areas of activities.  During that time we also branched out into back packing, sometime in the middle 1970’s.
Participation in activities was one of Bert Nixdorf’s great joys, the more members attended an activity, the more he enjoyed it.  Some highlights of his most popular activities were:  “Swan Migration trip to West Meadows in 1972, 30 attended.  The record turnout for the swan hike was in 1978 when 157 hiked to view the swans.  Based on turnout, moonlight hikes were most popular.  The first one was held in 1970, a six miler out of Vincentown.  On average moonlight hikes attracted 50 – 100 persons in those days.  The famous Halloween Hike in 1977, brought out an overwhelming 280 for something special, donuts and cider.  We bought for an anticipated 1800.  We ended up slicing doughnuts into 1 inch slices, and giving everyone a sip of cider.  The line in the dark was a half a mile long.  Several members are still in the club who recall the famous incident.
In her own words, here is Christine Denneler’s memory of that event:
I joined the OCSJ in 1976. The first hike I went on was the Halloween hike
of that year.  I went along with my mother, Betty Carroll, and my aunt Annamarie
Seifried  who is still a member and has been co-leader of the Harper's Ferry ATC
volunteer trip  for more than 20 years. We arrived at the hike along with 200 other participants! It was a beautiful moonlit night.  All I could see was the dust from 200 pairs of feet. When we stopped for a break  my mother sat down on a piece of broken beer bottle and punctured her butt ( not a serious cut, Mom was tough!!) But she never went hiking with the OCSJ again. In spite of it all Annamarie and I were hooked. Within a year or so we were leading hikes and serving on the board of trustees.  Annamarie is one of the signers of our incorporation papers. I was hiking chair for almost 20 years.”

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Batona Trail and More

Worry I missed the Bluegrass Fest at Woodstown this past weekend. I was supposed to go but plans changed and I ended up having lunch at Curtin's Wharf in Burlington, and it was the last day.  They are closed for the season now.

Today I hiked just a little bit on the Batona Trail, maybe half a mile, but all the way around Pakim Pond.  It was just so hot!  It is part of my 70 miles in 70 days project.  I ran into a Batona Trail through hiker, but I didn't want to make him stop to chat, I only asked if he was doing the Batona and he said he was and that so far, so good.  It was awfully hot today, even in the woods.  The temperature was 95.

On September 13th from 3:00 to 5:00, check out the Art Exhibit of phtograps by Al Horner and paintings by Terry Schmidt at Medford Memorial Center, 21 S. Main St., Medford, NJ.  Both artists focus on the beauty of the Pinelands and you may have seen their work or even met them at LINES ON THE PINES, the annual event that celebrates culture, arts and artists of the Pinelands.  

Camden County Fair will be held at Camden County College, Blackwood, NJ, September 19th nd 20.  I've never gone, so I can't give an opinion, but they advertise music, magic, and all sorts of food and fun.  If you are looking for something to do that wekend, you may want to try it out.  

Next time I have the time and energy, I'd lke to talk a little about the history of the Batona Trail, the Batona Trail Club, and the Outdoor Club of South Jersey.  Those two organizations created and maintain the trail and I know the Outdoor Club hikes the trail on a regular basis.  There are a dozen places to get on and off and perhaps in my next post, I can go into that a bit more.   I've4 seen the trail at Batsto, Pakim Pond, Bass River, and a few other places but I've never hiked any significant distance on it, no more than a couple miles at a time.  It is 53 miles long and runs from Bass River State Park through Brendan Byrne and Wharton.  There is a great deal of information at  the Brendan Byrne Ranger Office.  I picked up 5 brochures and trail maps.  
Happy Trails (And don't forget to go see A Walk in the Woods, the REdform movie based on the book by Bill Bryson)
Jo Ann 

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Jim Thorpe, Pa.

I know, this is called historic places South Jersey, but, sometimes, I just have to go to Jim Thorpe, Pa.  It is one of my favorite places in the world.  Fortunately, this time, a good friend of mine, Nancy, who lives in Westampton, a half hour from me and a half hour closer to Jim Thorpe, Pa., was willing to drive us there to spend the day.

Since it was the last weekend of August and the last weekend people had kids home from school, the traffic going to Pa., was meager, everyone was going to the shore.  Since I'm on that subject, Jim Thorpe is a great alternative to the seashore.  Think outside the box, folks!

It was glorious in Jim Thorpe and to my joy, it was filled with healthy families doing athletic and healthy things together, kayaking, Tubing on the Lehigh River, biking along the canal path, or hiking up Glen Onoko Falls.  We didn't do any of those things this trip, I'm not in that physical form these days, though I have hiked the falls in the winter and the summer and biked the path all 25 miles in my time.  I never boated on the river, though.

This time, we were lucky enough to be there on a day the trains were running, so we booked our tickets for the one hour and a half ride, then went to get lunch.  We ate at a historic house turned restaurant, the Albright Mansion, built circa 1860.  Albright is interesting in aany ways.  He was the prosecuting attorney agains the Molly Maguires, nine of whom were hanged.  To me, they are Labor heroes, to thers they were anarchists and criminals.  An interesting point is that after he died, Albright's house fell into the hands of the Molly Maguires defense attorney.  I think the prison is a Labor shrine and it makes me sad whenever I see it.  I've never been there on a day when it was open for tours, and this time, I forgot to look.

We enjoyed delicious locally grown tomatoes in a grilled sandwich called The Bloody Mary, with shoestring fries and coffee.  We walked around the charming streets, stopped in a few shops then headed to our train ride.  I'm like a child all over again when I ride the train! 

A final enjoyable experience was an art show in the Anita Shapolsky Gallery, formerly a Presbyterian Church.  Never having been a big fan of Abstract Art, I enjoyed the stained glass windows more than the art.  The windows were simply breathtaking.  They were among the most beautiful I have ever seen. 

It is well worth your time to take the drive and visit Jim Thorpe and this is a great time of the year for it!

Happy Trails,
Jo Ann

Monday, August 24, 2015

Gibbon House Museum, Greenwich & More

Today, Monday, August 24, I spent a delightful day at Pakim Pond in Brendan Byrne Forest, hiking around the pond and admiring the cabins.  However, what I wanted to write about today is my trip yesterday to the Gibbon House Museum in Greenwich.

To be honest, I never set out to go to Greenwich, in fact, I was headed to Aldine to photograph a log cabin I passed there once a long time ago.  First I stopped for Moods Blueberry Pancakes at the Blue Plate Cafe in Mullica Hill, Yummmmmm!

I was traveling with a pal, Gail K.  and I mentioned Greenwich and she had never been there so we set the gps (though I know the route by heart) and set off.  What a glorious day for a drive in the country, though it was distressing to see how dry the corn fields were.  Along with the cool mornings, the browning of the corn has been another signal that autumn, my favorite season, isn't far off.  Through the fields and past the fine old farms we drove on the peaceful and mainly untraveled route 77 to Bridgeton, ver the little bridge, past the old church and cemetery, left turn, right turn and the long road to Greenwich.

We came in the back way which gave me a chance to take yet another photo of the Hicksite Quaker Meeting House, the Stone one room school, and the building that my have been the original school for African American children near Othello.  We made an honoring nod to Ambury Hill and the Civil War veterans buried there, then on down Ye Greate Street to the Gibbon House.

Our tour guide, Andrew, a historian, member of the Cumberland County Historical Society and student at Rutger's Camden, my own 2nd alma mater, gave us a superb tour.  He had the gift for the unusual fact, the interesting tidbit and avoiding the periol of the knowledgeable which is to tell more than the visitor may wish to hear.  He had exactly the right amount of information and a warm and friendly delivery.  I would say he was an OUTSTANDING tour guide.

All the upstairs rooms were open for this tour, so we saw the room devoted to the Ware Chair manufacture, the clothes from the Fithian ancestors, the toy room, the magnificent quilt collection, the Civil War Room and many things I haven't seen since my first museum tour many years ago.  Often during the Open House tours, the upstairs is closed.

Tomorrow, I will add photos to this entry but now, I must rest as my long drive and hike have tuckered me out!  I understand the museum is open Tuesday thrugh Sunday now, so you shoul go while you can.  And ask about new findings in regard to my FAVORITE of all log cabins!
Happy Trails,
Jo Ann

Friday, August 14, 2015

Two Great Days of fun Things To Do - end of summer

Yesterday, Thursday, I drove to Ocean City and was delighted to find the Ocean City Historical Society Museum, located in the Library complex at 17th and Stimpson open for a visit.  I LOVE this museum.  There are period rooms and period clothes, maps and all kinds of interesting memorabilia.  We had a warm and charming volunteer guide named Dorothy White who was perfect, in that she provided information in a very unobtrusive and delicate way so that you enjoyed her companionship.  My favorite things from the past have always been the Sindia china and the stained glass window, but there were such beautiful dresses this time that I stood mesmerized thinking of the handiwork of the long ago seamstresses who made them.


Today, Friday, August, 14, I met two friends for lunch at Curtin's Wharf, a perfect day for it because it was balmy and breezy and not a batteringly, blisteringly hot day such as we have had recently.  Today was 82 with no humidity and the outdoor ambience of the Wharf was delightful.   We drove over to Burlington City afterwards to visit the Antique Emporium  http://www.antiquesnj.com/

What I most wanted, I could not have but I SHOULD have taken a photo and I did not.
Image result for antique tin toy ferris wheelBut here is an image from the internet.  I had, since childhood thought of these tin toys as water wheels, but I realized they are ferris wheels!  I have always loved them but t the antique emporium, they were $450 and $350!  Way out of my spending bracket.  So I just look at admire!  What I did uy, however was a homemade one room school house.  It was actually part of a village and I would have loved to have provided a home for this clever and painstakingly carefully made balsa wood project, but I have no space and my cats knock over everything, so I stopped at the schoolhouse because it will be my decorating motif for September, apples and one room schoolhouses.  Also I bought two wooden apples, very handsome.  The house was only $10 and the apples were $5 each. 

Before I left Burlington, I stopped to take a photo of the James Fennimore Cooper birthplace and the Captain Lawrence of  "Don't Give Up the Ship" fame.  I checked on the internet to see if James Fennimore Cooper was related to the Cooper family founders of Camden and ancestors of Ann Whitall of Red Bank Battlefield and he is indeed a descendant of this trunk of Coopers.  I am reading a handsome hard-bound early library edition of the three novels:  The Pioneers, Deerslayer, The Prairie, from which The Last of the Mohicans was adapted.  I saw the Danield Day Lewis recent version of the movie a week or two ago and it has been on my mind ever since.
Happy Trails!
Jo Ann

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

History on Your Hometown Corner and a movie sparks a memory: Log Houses

1.  Today, I went to my bank, Bank of America, on the corner of Monmouth and Broadway in Gloucester City, NJ.  I have gone to a bank on this corner for decades, and for a decade or two before that, on the other corner of the intersection.  The names of the banks of changed several times over the years.  I went there because I taught school in Gloucester City, and back in the old days, we had paper checks that we cashed at the bank and deposited to our accounts.  Now, don't misunderstand me, I have no regret over direct deposit.  I LOVE IT!  And I adore ATM.  I cannot tell you how many times I was somewhere away from home and out of cash after bank hours, like at the seashore.  These improvements have vastly improved my banking experience.

Anyhow, today, while I was transacting business with the accounts manager, he mentioned that there had been an old school on the corner before the bank was built.  I remembered the old neighborhood schools, the Broadway School, the Highland Park School and my personal favorite, the Brown Street School, but the Monmouth Street School burned down before I graduated from high school.  It burned in 1960.  The accounts manager was kind enough to find a photo of the old school for me.  The photos he gave me had originally been part of a "Then and Now" Series in the Courier Post.

2.  Last night I was watching an old favorite movie of mine, The Last of the Mohicans, which has made me cry for about 50 years or more.  The author of the book, James Fennimore Cooper, lived at 457 High St. in Burlington City, NJ, and I have visited his home which is a museum many times over the years.  It is also adjacent to the Capt. James Lawrence House.  To visit either of these houses or the fascinating Burlington City Historical Museum housed in the Corson Poley Library behind the houses, go to this website:

or call
All my life, possibly as a result of loving Lincoln Logs, I have had a passion for log houses and have written several blog entries
A number of films have been based on the lengthy book, making various cuts, compressions, and changes. The American adaptations include:
on that subject.  I have written about the one in Swedesboro, NJ, the one at Greenwich, NJ and I believe I wrote about Daniel Boone's homestead which had a very primitive and interesting water driven log mill.  I know I wrote about the oldest Finnish log cabin in the world which is owned by the Rank family off Swedesboro Rd, near Mickleton, NJ.  

What I may not have mentioned is that I was fortunate enough to find a fascinating study of log house in America called THE LOG CABIN IN AMERICA. from Pioneer Days to the Present by C. A. Weslager.  It almost made me miss the end of the movie because I got so caught up in reading the chapter on Southern NJ log cabins.  The Rank Log Cabin used to be called he oldest Swedish log cabin in America until it was discovered that the type of notching for the connection of the logs was a Finnish tradition, not a Swedish style.  The settlement of the Finns is a  long forgotten fact of South Jersey history.  Since Finns have a tradition of burning old cabins when they build new ones, there are few really old cabins of Finnish construction left in the world. 

For more on that topic, check out this site on the Nothnagle Log Cabin:
 Nothnagle Cabin

Today I dried my tears over the death of the two youngest characters in The Last of the Mohicans and threw off my sorrow by hiking around Pakim Pond twice, so beautiful and visiting the cabins.  I thought I might like to rent one for my birthday, but no dogs allowed, so NO.
Happy Trails!
Jo Ann

ps.  Here is movie info on the Last of the Mohcans
A number of films have been based on the lengthy book, making various cuts, compressions, and changes. The American adaptations include:

Saturday, August 1, 2015

PlacesToGoThingsToDo: Pakim Pond

Today, around 11:00 a.m., I was on my way to visit a friend in Sewell, when I drover over an overpass over Rt. 42, the highway to the shore.  It was a log-jam, not moving, and cars were spilling off onto the exits all around my town which is bordered by Black Horse Pike to the North, 42 to the South, Rt. 130 to the West and 295 to the East.  I decided to call my friend and cancel and go to Pakim Pond instead.  I'm happy to report that Rt. 70 (which can also become blocked) was not crowded, and the drive to the circle where you pick up Rt. 72 which fast, sane, and peaceful.  My dog and I listened to NPR enroute.  

There was a great gardening show, "You Bet Your Garden" and they talked about a subject dear to my heart.  So many conventional thinkers are slaves to the green grass lawn, when there are many attractive and more natural and more appropriate alternatives.  A caller was trying to rid his shady, sandy, yard of wild violets.  He had poisoned everything, the dandelions, the buttercups, but he wasn't able to kill the wild violets.  The gardener subjected that since his shady, sandy yard was in no way appropriate for a green grass lawn, he should embrace what grew there and was both beautiful and edible instead!  I didn't know the wild violet was edible but I wanted some for my shady and sandy backyard which is a natural woodlands landscape style, as is my front.  I have things that survival well without human intervention in the kind of environent natural to my property, sandy, shady, and dry (I don't waste water).  I have holly shrubs, rose of sharon, day lillies, Chinese money plant, lily of the valley and  many other fragrant and beautiful plants.  Which brings me to my "places to go" segment:

On Friday, two friends and I were trying to think of a fun place to go that was not the seashore, due to traffic conditions, and we decided to go to Peddler's Village in Pa.  I had never been there before.  Now I am not a big shopper, though I do like to browse craft stores and get ideas for things to make.  After about 6 stores, I sad on benches under shady trees and enjoyed the marvelous landscaping, and I mean GORGEOUS!  The flowers were in full abundant glory, and the arrangements around special and beautiful trees were simply magnificent.  Peddler's Village itself is much like Smithville, near the seashore, but the landscaping alone is well worth a visit.  Sit in the white gazebo and let the flowers entertain you!

On the subject of beauty, the stained glass windows at the Train Depot Cafe in Woodbury have long enchanted me.  My father did stained glass work and I have always admired it though it is too hard for my hand strength or my interest and too dependent on machinery for my personal preference.  That's why I love painting - just a brush, paints and the canvas.  Anyhow, I finally asked the folks at the cafe where the stained glass came from, and it was The Iron Buttterfly, which I browsed on-line.  Simply stunning art-work in glass.

Today, my dog Trixie and I enjoyed two walks around Pakim Pond in Brendan Byrne State Forest.  It was COOL and peaceful and always utterly magical in beauty.  I met some people there who offered my dog water and me a sandwich which I didn't take because I had already eaten lunch, but their generosity and hospitality was warming and inspiring.  I praised them for their good sense in coming to the woods instead of trying to wade through the mass of cars on the way to the shore.  They told me they were from the shore and escaping the crowds!

On another subject, have you seen the tv show ALONE?  My sister called me and I binge watched all 7 episodes last night.  Ten men are stranded on the shores of a wilderness area of Alaska and challenged to remain as long as they could, till the last man, with their choice of ten items to help them survive.  They seam to have chosen, ax, saw, knife, tarp, rope, pots, fishing nets, and were also burdened with camera recording equipment.  If they remain, they win $500,000.  By the episode where I fell asleep, only two men were left.  What would be on your list of must have items to survive in the wilderness of the Pacific Northwest?  I chose ax, rain suit, first aid kit, sack of oatmeal with dried berries, scout cook-kit, rope, tarp, knife, mospito net, firestarter flint, book of edible plants and mushrooms, That's eleven, I know.  I couldn't decide which one to jettison.  Anyhow, it reminded me of the first settlers and what they were up against, and an abiding interest of mine, log cabins.  One, Lucas, was in the process of building a log cabin, when he stopped and built a canoe instead.  I was so disappointed.  If I were in the North and it was late fall, I'd get a log cabin ready asap.  It reminded me of the very early Swedish  cabins, outside of Swedesboro, near Salem, and down in Greenwich.  They are short but sturdy and built to withstand snow and time.  
Happy Trails!
Jo Ann
ps.  I'll add photos tomorrow

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Batsto and Atsion, Sister villages of the Iron industry

On Saturday, July 11, 2015, Barbara Solem, author of Batsto:  Jewel of the Pines, Ghosttowns and other Quirky Places in the NJ Pinebarrens, and The Forks, gives a lecture on Atsion and its relatioship to Batsto.

Atsion Mansion was only recently opened for tours on Saturday and now on Sunday as well, thanks to the efforts of Barbara Solem in cooperation with the Batsto Citizens Committee and the State parks administrators.  Barbara has been gathering a group of loyal tour guides to help her, although in the beginning, she did it every Saturday on her own!

With the help of volunteers and photographer Albert Horner, she created a handsome brochure which describes an Atsion walking tour with three or four interesting sites, in addition to the Atsion Mansion, and the Company Store (now a park office).  Along Quaker Bridge Road which was once the Tuckerton Stage Road which ran from Cooper's Landing in Camden, to the coastal port of Tuckerton, the third largest port in New Jersey from the Atlantic to Philadelphia, you can see the church, built in 1828 and still in use as a church, the old school built in 1872 by Maurice Raleigh, and the cottage, oldest building in the village, near the ruins of the cotton mill built in 1852. 

Not far is the abandoned railroad and the site where the train depot once stood.  Ation functioned as an iron forge, and later, as a cotton mill, turning raw cotton into yarn.  The firplaces in Carpenter's Hall in Philadelphia were cast at Atsion. 

It is a great place to tour, hike, and if you get there early or during the week, to swim in the lake.   There are also cabins to rent for camping.  Recently Pinelands preservation acquired a canoe rental property near the lake and cabins for Pinelands Adventures, to help acquaint people with the beauty of our state heritage.  For information call 609-561-0024 or 609-268-0444

Friday, July 3, 2015

Places to Go Things To Do

Yeaars and hundreds of posts ago, I started this blog for friends who were retiring after long long career and wondered what to do with all their new free time.  There seemed to me to be an endless number of interesting places to visit and thing to do in wonderful South Jersey, that I decided to let them know about the ones I found.

I'm not driving around to far off locations as I did when I first began, but I find wonderful places and things to do close at hand too.  A place I like to eat lunch is Maritza's in Maple Shade, NJ, on Main Street.  It i a simple old fashioned and homey luncheonette.  When my family moved to New Jersey from Philadelphia when I was 12, we lived in Maple Shade.

On Thursday, a hiking buddy and I headed over to Maritza's for lunch but they were closed for a week summer vacation, so we stopped in at MAIN STREET ART.  Which is a n Art studio run by an old college buddy of mine.  She offers, not only Art Classes for all ages, but summer Art Camp for the kids and a variety of "break out and try something new" art experiences for adults including jewelry making.  My buddy Barb and I each bought unique bracelets there and I may contact her for small studio experience events for myself in the future.  I paint and have an Art degree, but sometimes it's hard to get yourself inspired and group work helps.  Also, I have a very rooted in realism style and always wanted to expand and try a looser, more impressionistic style.  Maybe she can help with that.

In any event, head on over and check it out.  She also offers hand-made soaps and many other interesting objects you might want to buy for home or for gifts.
Stop in, the Studio is at 18 Mains Street, next door to Canal's Liquor Store.  Call 856-979-5356 for information, proprietor, Ms. Diane Paul, graduate of Rutgers, the State University.  Stop in and see her beautiful paintings too!
Learn something new - expand your possibilities, enhance your brain!

Happy Trails,
Jo Ann

Places to go, things to do

Main Street Art, 18 Main Street in Maple Shade, NJ not only offers art classes for adults or children, but Art Summer Camps as well.  You can also buy unique jewelry, hand made soaps and other art objects for your home or for gifts, or you can simply enjoy the beautiful paintings on display both by the proprietor, Ms. Paul, or by her student.  The paintings are also for sale. 

They say learning something new is good for the brain!  If you've always wanted to learn here is the chance, close and reasonable, or if you know how and just want some group support and a nudge to expand your vision, try Main Street Art!

856-979-5356 Diane Paul, Proprietor (a classmate of mine from Rutgers the State University.)

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Tornado Hit Mickleton June 24, 2015

On Thursday, June 25, I went to Mickleton, New Jersey, to bring my sister two coolers, two bags of ice, and my Brooklyn Lantern because they'd had a BAD storm and she had no power which meant no lights, no fridge, no freezer.  
I was shocked at the level of devastation to every town from Woodbury to Swedesboro!  I could barely get down the roads for ripped up trees and hanging power lines and downed phone poles.  I couldn't call her and she couldn't call out because the cell phone towers were all down too.  And my sister is without a car, so she was really stuck.
The first sign of something really awful and strange was the WAWA off 295 at Mickleton, which had lines out to the highway waiting for gas.  A lot of the food shelves were empty, and there were enormous lines for food.  I left without gas or food and got on my way up Harmony Road, which as luck would have it was the only road open between Clarksboro and Swedesboro.
When I got to Kings Hwy, however there was a police road block.  I explained that I was taking supplies to my sister who was only a quarter of a mile further up Kings and he let me through.  That was when I was driving under trees with soaked branches that made it like driving through the car wash.  When I got to her house, I saw the trees down, and fortunately only one hit a building.  It was on her garage.  Some of her friends had their cars all smashed.  We checked on an elderly neighbor who had just come home from the hospital after heart surgery and who had a disabled wife.  Fortunately by then, his grandson was at his home.  He had a 150 year old oak fallen on his 130 year old house, crushing the third floor.
By Friday, my brothers had come, one from West Virginia, one from Philadelphia, to help my sister cut down some branches, but after one days work, it was clear that weeks would be needed.  The maple canopy was enormous and a dozen truck loads of sawn branches barely made a dent.  By Saturday morning, my sister had power again, but my brothers had to put off branch cutting due to rain.  
Not much in the Courier Post about all this.  I would have made it a cover story.  I never saw anything like it.  I think no news vans could get through, so they put the focus on other stories, but in my opinion, this was the BIG one!

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Upcoming Events AND Vegetarian Society of South Jersey Free lecture Series

Monday June 22 at 6:30 at Collingswood Public Library, 771 Haddon Ave., Collingswood, NJ 856-858-0649:  Topic Fiar Trade Food

Tabling at 32nd Annnual Whitesbog Blueberry Festival Saturday June 27, 10:00 A.m. to 4 p.m. 120 Whitesbog Rd. Browns Mills NJ 08015

Monday July 27, 6:30 Collingswood Library again, Finding Sanctuary

Get healthy, get aware!  Animal Agricultural is a leading cause of global warming and can be a major cause of your health problems in later life such as diabetes and heart disease.  Learn more!  Get involved!

Happy Trails!

Earth Fest at Smithville and Education at Cold Springs Village

Two other field trips I've enjoyed in the past week or two were a trip to Historic Smithville in Burlington County (not to be confused with Smitheville near the seashore which I also like but in a different way).  My favorite thing was the percussion grove experience for children.  Some musicians had hung a clothes line with refrigerator doors and trays and other kinds of metal lids and containers and the kids were banging them with drum sticks which made a sound like a wild and stormy wind chime.  I loved it!  But I also liked the tables on vegetarian eating, and on ecological sound practices for yards.  In this day of water shortage and dying bea colonies, it is nice to think of sharing our space in a just and thoughtful way with our animal neighbors.  I was so sad when a new neighbor cut down 7 healthy trees after moving in.  Over the years, I've watched older neighbors cut their trees down so they didn't have to deal with leaves, but then the sun beats down on their houses making them hotter and the water isn't well absorbed by tree roots when we get torrential rain which causes flooding.  My trees and shrubs have completely stopped the flooding and mud I used to have in the yard.  

Also, I have a 'natural yard' by which I mean I don't have a traidition carpet style lawn.  Grass grows and I have a wide variety of Jersey friendly shrubs such as hollies.  One area at the back of my yard I have allowed to stay natural with wild roses and honeysuckle and it provides a safe place for various small animals which I delight in watching.  When I pull into my gravel drive, I love to see my family of rabbits run across the grass to the fenceline with the border of harboring shrubs. 

I also have a birdbath which is recommended in the pamphlet I found at the Earth Fest and I fill it when I water my flowering plants.  I learned my less early on about invasive species such as English Ivy.  I spent %6000 to have it rmeoved one summer from my back yard and it is always creeping back!

At Cold Springs, I attended a meeting with Batsto Citizens Committee volunteers who are working to expand the outreach possibilities for young people, to acquaint them with our colorful history in South Jersey and to help them learn to appreciate our resources to protect them for the future.  I'm grateful to my Father for all the family trips he took us on when my brother, Joe, and I were growing up.  Every Sunday we drove somewhere, often free places, and had a family picnic - thanks Mom.  Sometimes we took longer trips to Gettysburg, Valley Forge and Niagara Falls.  It is sad waste when people substitute amusement parks for cultural treasures that could engage children in a love of history.  Another favorite trip was to Washington DC which I think is a far superior school trip for children than to amusement parks.

My point?  Visit Cold Springs - Open Tues., Thurs., Fri., Sat. and Sun. now, and Sat. and Sun. at the edges of the summer season.  AND visit Batsto, and historiSmithville!  And ALWAYS take the boat ride with Capt. Dave on the Maurice River in Millville!  Hope to see you there!
Happy Trails!

ps.  I put the text in larger type because I'm having eye sight difficulties and you may be also!

Third Friday Night in Millville June 2015

Last night, two friends and I drove to Millville for Third Friday.  It was so much fun.  My favorite thing ALWAYS is the free music.  Don Shaw was playing at the Clay Studio, and Bob White was next door to Bogart's Book Store,   At Bogart's was a very talented young man but I didn't get his name.  He did Bob Dylan songs with really wonderful harmonica and guitar playing.  There were half a dozen other musical groups along the main street that we stopped to hear as we browsed our favorite shops.  If the weather hadn't been somewhat threatening, we'd have made our way down to the river for the delightful river walk, but we were lucky.  We got back to the car on on the road before the sprinkles began.  

We had just been in Millville a week ago with another friend to take Captain Dave's boat ride down the Maurice River after lunch at Wildflowers.  

Sorry I didn't get this to you in advance, but it was a last minute spontaneous thing, however, this gets you ready for 3rd Friday in July!  Give it a try, and if you get there by 4:00, and reserve your place in advance, you can take Captain Dave's sunset boat ride before your stroll the boulevard.

Friday, June 5, 2015

AnotherUpcoming Event

Just received this from Genealogical Society of Salem County, of which I am a member.  They have excellent speakers at their monthly meetings on Tuesday night.  Due to vision problems, I haven't been out to night events for the past year or so.  I had previously attended with a friend but his work schedule has precluded us venturing down there but here is a day event and I LOVE lighthouses!

" On Sunday, June 14, 2015 at 1:30pm, the Salem County Historical Society quarterly meeting will be held at Friends Village in Woodstown. The speaker will be Peter Harp, speaking on New Jersey Lighthouses. Hope you all can make it!"

Here is their web site for more information:

Happy Trails!  Lately I've been more close to home than usual hence, no adventure reports.  I've been going to the gym, hiking at Timber Creek with my dog Trixie and my friends, with a couple of hikes at Atsion Lake and yesterday I made a cactus garden!
Hope you are enjoying the cool hiking weather!
Happy Trails!  Jo Ann

Sunday, May 31, 2015


Lots of good things happening down our way this upcoming week.  First of all there is the music festival in Woodstown at the Salem County Fairgrounds June 4, 5 and 6. 

Second, a friend told me there is an event at Red Bank Battlefield, National Park, NJ this Saturday.  I wasn't able ti find it listed in a cursory exploration of web sites but then most web sites seem not to be update.  I couldn't find any information on the lecture series at the Corson Poley Center in Burlington, or the Burlington County Historian's Roundtable either.  After Joe Laufer died, it seems updates stopped on the website.  But if you want to call and see what's going on, here's the contact information:  It is Sunday as I type so I can't do it.



Third, the largest World War II Re-enactment in the world takes place at Reading, Pa. and if I could go I would, but I don't like to make a drive like that by  myself these days with my eye-sight problems and my old car and none of my friends are WWII followers as I am, so I can't go this year.  I hope you can though!!  Fortunately their link is updated and you can find all you need to know if you want to go: 


Friday, May 29, 2015

My "Fan Club" took me to lunch today

How thrilling it is to have people acknowledge your efforts and proclaim their pleasure in your book!  That's what happened today when Wes and Roger took me to lunch at Connie Mac's Irish Pub to talk to me about my book Black Horse White Horse.  For those of you who don't know about it, I wrote that book in 2006.  It is a historical fiction account of two WPA workers, a writer and a photographer, traveling the back roads of South Jersey during the summer of 1937.  The places they visit are real and many of the events they witness did occur, but the characters are entirely made-up.

For a year or so after I independently published the book, I gave presentations on the Civilian Conservation Corps in South Jersey.  The last presentation I gave was a year or so ago at the Genealogical Society of Salem County monthly meeting at Friends Village in Woodstown.  They were a great audience, very interested and with their own memories of the CCC in their area.

Anyhow, Wes enjoyed my book so much he bought several copies and gave them to his friends.  I asked them today what a member of a writing club that I attend asked me yesterday.  "What did they like about it?"  

Both men said one of the things they liked so much about it was that it was a Road Trip,  And since both men are history buffs, too, they liked the hsitory of South Jersey that is contained in the book.  

What a delight it was to meet people who really enjoyed my book and wanted to talk about it.  Thank you Wes!!!  Thank you Roger.  Wes will be giving a talk on the CCC at the Batsto Speaker's Series in August, I think he said it was on the 8th.  I'll be there!.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Magic in Burlington for Memorial Day Weekend!

AS you know I'm always on the lookout for great day trips for you and for me.  Today, I visited one of my favorite spots, Burlington, and I was on the hunt for a new place to eat since the Cafe Galleria closed down.  At the Antique Center in downtown Burlington, the ladies at the counter suggested Curtins Wharf.  I'd passed it before, the marina, and seen the boats, and I thought today was a perfect day to try it out.

First, however, we decided to hunt for treasure, and visit with the past, at the Burlington Antique Center.  We like to pic our favorite objects.  Mine has always been the hand-made canoes hanging on the wall, but today it was a very large train on a shelf.  Gail's was a beautifully painted bureau and vanity set.

The best was yet to come.  At Curtin's there was enough crowd to make it festive but not so much as to make it too busy and the B E S T jazz ensemble imaginable.  It was the Bob Pollitt's Jazz Band and they were wonderful.  (check them out on YouTube - they perform in Collingswood in the Jazz series at the Community Center too)  The music, the sun, the delightful breeze blowing over the mighty but peaceful Delaware River, all blended into perfection.  There were a great number of healthful and vegetarian menu items as well.  I strongly recommend that you visit Curtin's Wharf for a delightful eating and listening experience.  I'll be a regular from now on.  It is one of my new 'favorites.'

On the way home, we drove through all the river towns and I stopped at some of my favorite spots, such as the old marina in Riverton, and Zena's (under new management and new name, but the same home-made pastry and delicious coffee).

What a picture perfect way to spend the delightful holiday Saturday with no highway jam ups or noisy crowded beaches to contend with.  So, if you haven't already made plans, go on over to Burlington and have lunch at Curtin's Wharf and visit the Antique Center and buy someone a nice present.  I'm going back for a black wrought iron plant stand I liked.

Remember someone who served to make sure we all remained free and to help keep the rest of the world free on this Memorial Day.  My father, brother, grandfather and uncles will be in my heart and on my mind and I'll be thinking of them with gratitude for their service in three wars!

Jo Ann
ps.  I almost forgot, the Antique Emporium itself is a favorite building of mine, enormous and spacious and a former automobile establishment of historic interest in and of itself.  Check out the photos to the left as you enter.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Off the Leash Dog Walking and MORE

This time of year, my most frequent hiking buddy, Barb Spector, and I are looking for places to hike that won't put us in danger of Lymes Disease, which she has had, as have so many of my woodland hiking buddies, but I have so far avoided.  Anyhow, the other consideration that I have is places I can walk m dog off the leash.  First of all, she stops a LOT to sniff, and after all, it is her walk, too, so why shouldn't se?  Secondly, when she wantes to go fast, she is too fast for m, so why should I be strangling her and she pulling on the leash, when I can find places to walk her off the leash where (1) there are few other dogs (2) there are few bikes (3) we are not likely to get into trouble with park guards.  Well, a few days ago, our destination for all these considerations was the trail beside the lake at Batsto - perfect in every regard, but not paved and tick free.
Today, we found all of the above at Milville.  There is a wonderful biking hiking trail beside the Maurice branch that flows through Millville.  It is paved, it is scenic, it is not busy and there are lots of places for a dog who likes to cool off by wading in the water to take a short dunk. 

As always when we visit Millville, we have lunch at WILDFLOWERS, which is ALWAYS delicious.  While there, I picked up some brochures and so here are some places to go and things to do in that area:

1.  GlassWeekend 2015 runs from June 12 - 14Glass Arts at Wheaton and Studio events, for more information visit glassweekend.com

2.  I have not yet been to the Levoy Theater but they have a fabulous line-up of shows including RENT, and many wonderful concerts ined up including Suzanne Vega, Leon Russell, and others.  go to www.Levoy.net for more info or call 856-327-6400

Meanwhile, on your visit to Millville be sure to visit the Art Gallery, directly across the street from Wildflowers and look at the stunning paintings of Bobbie Berg. As you know if you've been reading my blog, I am an artist, so I rarely buy other paintings as my walls are full of my onwn, but if I did, I'd buy Bobbie's paintings. 

I missed Mayfest at Smithville, 1 North Ne York Rd, Smithville, Nj today because I was hiking at Millville, but if you made it there, I hope you had a great time.

Happy Trails!  Jo Ann
ps.  Family History note:  I've been working on a variety of family history projects and tomorrow, I'll be having lunch with two cousins, one I haven't seen in over 40 years!  They are both Wright cousins.  I'm working on a family history scrapbook at present.