Historic Places in South Jersey

Historic Places in South Jersey - Places to Go and Things to Do

A discussion of things to do and places to go, with the purpose
of sharing, and encouraging exploration of South Jersey.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Southern Ukes

The Southern Ukes will be performing at Vogelson Branch of Camden County Library System at 1:00 this Saturday, Dec. 22.  As you may recall if you have visited my blog before, I took ukulele lessons at the Collingswood Music Shop for a year some time back.  I loved it but really couldn't afford to keep taking the lessons and I wasn't progressing well enough on my own to improve independently.  I did due diligence but didn't just pick it up and play for the fun of it as I should have if I were going to get anywhere.  I had always wanted to learn to play an instrument but perhaps Art and Writing are all the hobbies in store for me.

Anyhow, I am working on getting over to the library for this event.  Hope to get there and to see you there!  Uses are not expensive to buy and a lot of fun to play.

From Rt. 30/White Horse Pike: Follow Rt. 30 to Somerdale Rd. There is a Taco Bell and a Shell station at this intersection. If traveling from the Camden area, turn left onto Somerdale Rd. If traveling from the Berlin area, turn right onto Somerdale Rd. Follow Somerdale Rd. to the 2nd traffic light and turn right onto Burnt Mill Rd. Follow Burnt Mill Rd. to the 1st traffic light and make a left onto Laurel Rd. The Voorhees Town Center will be on your left and the Camden County Library will be on your right just past the high rise office building. Turn left at the 1st traffic light and park in the Voorhees Town Center parking lot directly across the street from the library.

Friday, December 14, 2018

Red Mill Antiques, Mullica Hill, NJ 12/14/18

People who collect things understand obsession.  Every once in awhile I experience that kind of object obsession, but it is small and it passes in time, so I am not an avid collector, merely a customer.  

Because I was invited to a holiday party where each guest was to bring their earliest memory, I delved back again into Christmas past.  I don't need and invitation to do that.  Every holiday is in a layer of holidays and the older I get the more appeal and call my childhood seems to have.  

I wrote a blog post on that topic already so I don't need to detail that 1945 to 1955 Christmas.  In preparing for the party, however, I searched out an old photo of my brother and me at Christmas, him in an Indian headdress with a drum and me with a dollar carrier opened to display that Christmas' new doll. 

My godfather, Neal Schmidt gave me those beautiful and expensive dolls every year, and I believe I did a post on the one who lives with me to this day.  My brunette was apparently given to me a year before or a year after the one in the photograph who is a blonde.  My 65 year long friend is an Effanbee walking doll.  When she is put to bed, her eyes close and when she is standing, she walks and her head moves side to side.  She still works perfectly though her shoulder joints need a new elastic. I replaced it once but no longer have a crochet hook which I needed to pull the elastic from one side to the other.

My Effanbee doll is sitting on the piano as I type this, in her new outfit, purchased from the Little House on the Prairie website.  It was the perfect size to fit my doll, who is about 14 inches tall, and for once I was able to get shoes to fit her as well, prairie boots.  She looks very nice.  Over the years she had lost her hair but decades ago I was able to get her a decent wig which looks perfect.  

To get back to the subject, the Red Mill Antiques, my purpose in going there today was to find the cardboard platform houses and some lead skating/skiing figures.  I just HAD to have them, and though I unpacked and re-packed my 12 tubs of Christmas stuff diligently, I could NOT find my cardboard houses.  

At the Red Mill I found one perfect skiing figure with ski poles intact (rare) which cost $12 because it was perfect - a great feat for someone about 60 years old.  I found one acceptable though not ideal house for #4, very reasonable house.  The one I had envisioned had cellophane windows and sparkle snow but this one is sans snow and cellophane windows and looks a bit more modern than the ones I remember, nonetheless, it is a bright blue and fits perfectly with the ski girl who is dressed in a jaunty red outfit.  It makes a nice little alpine scene.

Mulch Hill, which is where the Red Mill Antiques is located, 1 South Main Street, Mullica Hill, to be exact, was decorated nicely and is a quaint and charming town to visit.  I often go there for lunch at the Blue Plate.  And you could spend an entire day at the Red Mill Antiques - two stories jammed from floor to ceiling with collectables and collections of every imaginable kind.  The Christmas displays up and ready to tempt you to buy are like visiting the most adorable museum.  I could get lost in that place and the memories it inspires.  And the people there are so chatty and friendly it is delightful to visit.  

If you haven't finished your Christmas shopping yet, let me make some suggestions.  For people who are paring down, comestibles are always useful:  cookies, tea and honey and a nice mug, or, a really good coffee.  A gift that was a favorite according to the recipients in the past, was a gift bag with a movie (vcr for some years, then dvd) and Movie pop corn.  That is no longer a viable gift since no one plays videos or dads anymore, so stick with the food stuff.  And if you know someone had a favorite toy or doll or collection, you can always drop in at the Red Mill and find it, or an item to add to their collection.  For example, I had a friend who collected and displayed Santa Clauses - She had well over a hundred, and you could find that rare Santa at the Red Mill.  Another friend collected those little cardboard houses, a little harder to find these days, but the Emporium at Burlington had them last year.  A fun gift I saw at the Red Mill were antique New Year's Eve noisemakers!  I bought half a dozen last year for my daughter.  The ones at the Red Mill were a bit older and a bit more expensive - $5 each, but if you bought 2, what a delightful and unusual gift!

Happy Trails, Happy Tales, and Happy Shopping!
Jo Ann

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Dr. Garry Stone spoke on Battle of Gloucester in Mt. Ephraim

Last night, another history buff and I enjoyed a lively and enthusiastic talk on the Battle of Gloucester Towne, a Revolutionary event in our own backyard!!

I met Dr. Garry Stone when he was doing his work at the Indian King Tavern in Haddonfield, where I was volunteering at that time. His home work site, at Monmouth State Park, was being renovated.  He was working on a map of Revolutionary sites in New Jersey, a much needed addition to our information base.  We had some lively talks about local history because at the time, I was also volunteering at the James and Ann Whittle House at National Park.

On Tuesday evening, at 7:00, a dozen very interested local history enthusiasts listened as Dr. Stone clearly and concisely described the skirmish that took place in Gloucester Towne in 1776.  

AS anyone who has visited or volunteered at any of our many historic sites would know, we had a very active part in the Revolution here in New Jersey, known a the "Crossroads of the Revolution."  We had the tea burning in Greenwich, the River Battle on the Delaware between the two forts, on either side of the Delaware, Mercer on our side at National Park, and the meetings held at Indian King Tavern in Haddonfield including the adoption of our state seal.  

Whenever I can I like to attend lectures on our local history.  It deeply enhances your appreciation of the place where you live to know the history, just as you understand your family better and more deeply when you do family history, another interest of mine.
And often, the two merge, a they did in my case when family history research showed me that I was related to Major Peter Cheesman through the marriage of his daughter Rachel to my ancestor William C. Garwood, a teacher in the Turner School, Turnersville.  Through that branch of the family, I also discovered several Revolutionary War veterans in the Chessman family, and a Civil War survivor of Andersonville Prison in the connected Jaggard branch of that family, another marital connection.

Dr. Stone is a well informed history researcher and has written a book, FATAL SUNDAY about Washington at Monmouth.  If you ever have a chance to hear one of his lectures, you should take the opportunity, he is a most respected and well informed historian!  And a very kind and warm person.  

Monday, December 10, 2018

49th Annual Christmas in Greenwich Historic House Tour

Yesterday, Sunday 9th of December, I was invited to join three friends on a historic house tour in Greenwich.  As I have mentioned my car is too old for such long drives, about an hour from my house to Greenwich (the one on the Cohansey River, not Greenwich Twp.) so it was a pure delight to be invited to once again visit my person favorite New Jersey Historic town.  

Every historic town that I love in New Jersey has its own special attributes from Bordertown to Smithville, to Rancocas Woods and Woodstown, but Greenwich has The Great Street, with undoubtedly the oldest original and historic street this side of the Delaware River.  My favorite house on the29 site tour was the 1690 Dennis house.  But having been a lifelong log structure fan, I always love to visit the Granary!

Maybe it was the Lincoln Logs I had as a child, maybe it was the Swedish church I attended (Gloria Dei, Old Swedes Church), maybe it was Little House on the Prairie, but all my life I have been enamored of log houses and buildings.  So I like to get to visit the ones not too far from me as often as possible, the Swedish cabin on the grounds of the Swedish Church in Swedesboro, the cabin at the entrance to Salem, the Rink family preserved Finnish Cabin near Gibbstown (the oldest log structure in the WORLD because in Finland, they burn down the old cabins when they built new ones) called the Nothnagle Cabin.  Whatever the spark that ignited this flame, I have been in love with log structures for as long as I remember.

Added attractions in the Greenwich tour were the fire hall, the old school where basket makers and spinners ply their ancient arts, the Prehistory Museum with the awe-inspiring collection of projectile points and reconstructed Native American pottery and the Genealogy and History Library.  At many locations cider and cookies and tea and cookies were generously provided and it was all around a delightful day and the highlight of my winter holiday season to date.  All the tour people are both warm and informed and very generous in sharing their time and their knowledge with us visitors.  Also it is notably kind of the home owners to go to the trouble to decorate and open their homes to us.  

Lastly, the drive to and from Greenwich is beautiful.  Although my own personal preference is for the early evening summer drive, the winter drive is a close competitor, and as is so often the case, the way we take going somehow diverges from the way we take coming home again so we get to see more charming back roads of South Jersey.  When my car was young, I used to like to get lost on the back roads and discover new places, which is how I originally found Greenwich.  At that time, I was tracking the Underground Railroad and searching for Ambury Civil War cemetery for African American Soldiers near Othello.  I had come across a tiny roadside set of grave stones and a sign for Othello and followed that trail.  That was my favorite thing to do and perhaps next spring when I get a new car, I will again enjoy following the winding trails of hidden treasures of history in South Jersey.

Friday, December 7, 2018

Holiday Shopping

Not finished your holiday shopping yet?  Looking for that special something - a little different, unique for that special friend?  Well, Rancocas Woods is having the holiday market on Saturday, December 8th from 10 to 5 AND Eiland Arts is having a special 8th year Holiday Market at The Station - the train station on Centre and Railroad in Merchantville, NJ tonight, Friday from 6 to 9 (I think) and tomorrow with a special Hot Chocolate Bar!  So, have fun and finish your shopping.

I won't be able to join you for either of these because I will be touring historic homes in Greenwich with a couple of friends tomorrow and I am so looking forward to it because I love Greenwich (this is the one - pronounced Green witch! -  at the very bottom of New Jersey on the Cohansey River and  near the Maurice River, not to be confused with Greenwich township - pronounced Grinch).  Greenwich on the Cohansey was the site of a tea burning curing the Revolutionary War and also hosts a wonderful fall festival with crafts and music and a parade which I very much enjoyed visiting in past years when my car was in better shape.  Until I get a new car, sometime next year, I have to stay closer to home.  Greenwich on the Cohansey is a good hours drive from where I live, but you pass through lovely farmland and some very interesting Southern New Jersey towns.

Hope your weekend is delightful and that these tips give you some good ideas of fun places to go for the holiday spirit!

Happy Holidays!
Jo Ann

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Model train time again - December 2018

1. Holiday Train Show
Fridays, Saturdays & Sundays through January 6 | 4 PM – 8 PM
Old City Hall, Downtown Bordentown
The Old City Hall Restoration Committee presents the Holiday Train Display! Visit every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday in December 2018 and on January 4th, 5th, and 6th to see this exciting show! Admission is free.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Collingswood day fun

On Monday, December 3rd, after I wished my daughter a Happy Birthday, walked the dog and did my minimal workout at Planet Fitness, I met an old friend for lunch in Collingswood.  She is a vegan and we like SaladWorks which can provide for ALL eating preferences excluding the hamburger crowd.  They do have sandwiches, panini's, and my favorite lunch choice is the 'pick two' which this time included Butternut squash soup (delicious beyond all other soups and places that make soup) and a small side salad of baby spinach, cranberries, feta cheese, black olives, sunflower seeds, and grated carrot.  

After lunch we strolled the Haddon Avenue shops, all decorated most beautifully and festively.  A few blocks down the avenue, we dropped in at the Collingswood Library to browse the dollar book corner.  I bought 4 books:  1.  A Rita Mae Brown, Sneaky Pie mystery - Santa Clawed  2. A John Grisham - The missing Christmas  3.  A Martha Stewart - Handmade Christmas  4. A vintage (circa 1989) Martha Stewart Christmas.  The #4 Martha Stewart I bought for a friend.  She loves Martha and I thought it would be fun to put in her mailbox for a cold wintry morning page turner with a cup of coffee.  If I had a bigger house, I would put out a Christmas book display each year, but sadly my bungalow is tiny and all surfaces are already claimed.

Our lunch over and our shopping done, we headed home.  I had to walk my dog for her 2nd walk of the day.  My dog and I have come to an agreement.  She won't beg and bark and harass me for a walk if i keep to our minimum of two walks a day, one mile each.  It is a fair deal and it is good for me anyhow.

Today, our walks were in, first, a light dusting snow shower, and then, in a flurry with about an inch on the ground and my new snow boots which gave me a blister on the inside ankle.  You just never know with snow boots.  They can look so innocent and comfortable but give them a mile walk try-out and you find all their hidden flaws.  

Now I am having my afternoon cuppa with some Walker's shortbread cookies and the NYT Book Review.

I have decided to put the questions to you that the NYT BKRev. includes in every issue in an interview with a celebrity:

1.  What books are on your nightstand?
(On mine are "Old in Art School" and a biography of Emily Dickinson
2.  What's the last GREAT book you read?  
(I would have to wonder what they mean by 'great' but if they mean literary, then I guess the last novel by Mario Vargas Llosa, which I didn't realize would have so profound an influence on me later as time went by - too much to explain here)
3.What's the last book that made you laugh?
(Cathy Pelletier's "Winter.....?"  I forget the whole title.  I bought her book in a dollar sale and it was so good I bought more!)
4.  The last book that made you cry?
(At some point every book makes me cry)
5.  What moves you most when you read?
(evocation of place really engages me)
6.  What character from literature would you most like to play?
(One of the "Outdoor Girls on a Hike."
7.  What kind of stories are you drawn to?  Steer clear of?
(I am drawn to character driven novels with great evocation of location.  I HATE horror stories and never read them.)
8.  Disappointing, Overrated, Just Not Good, What books did you think you were supposed to like and didn't?
(Bel Canto)
9.  Do you Remember the Last Book you put down without finishing?
(Yes, "Old in Art School"  I liked it but wasn't compelled and other books elbowed in.  I will pick it up again and finish it - it is on my nightstand)
10  You are organizing a literary dinner party which three authors would you invite?
(Germaine Greer, Gloria Steinem, Betty Friedan - their works changed my life and they are all living and we would have no end of conversation.)

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Christmas as we knew it.

I was born in 1945, the year the second World War ended.  My parents and their generation were ebullient with the joy of having survived this catastrophe, and all the prosperity offered by the post war period.  They were full of energy and hope and optimism after  a depression, a World War, and the personal tragedies of their own lives.  My mother had lost her parents and my father's father had died leaving his mother with three boys to raise and her own mother in a coma after a stroke. 

They married, I was born, my brother was born and the Christmas extravaganza was born!  My father, being in construction, built a sturdy platform that filled the living room.  Furniture was moved out to make way for the double set of tracks, the tunnels, the bridges, terminals, railway depot and the big trains of the heyday of Lionel.  I can almost smell the motor oil and had the whistle.  

The platform was curtained by brick printed paper, and clothed in sparkling snow paper.  There were villages of sparkling "Occupied Japan" made cardboard bungalows with cellophane windows, a mirror lake with skating lead figures, hills with lead sleds and lead people in brightly colored clothes sitting on benches at the train station and in the park.  There were 'to scale' platform trees, fences, animals, and actually lighting street lights.  In the back corner of the platform stood the live tree purchased from "Down The Neck" which was the historic place where once reclaimed land held farms that now is the Philadelphia airport and shipyard.  

The tree was festooned with many colored large bulb lights, glass Christmas balls, and aluminum tinsel.  Much later many people went for spun glass 'angel hair' but we never did.   

The whole thing was a grand spectacle, all the wires and controls hidden under the platform which stood about a foot and a half high.

Sometimes my father let me drive the trains, quite an honor.  You had to be careful to keep up with the track switching so you didn't make a collision.  

That magical and Herculean effort of a platform is the thing I remember best and the thing that no one does anymore.  Even the  model train store that was on the Black Horse Pike until a couple of years ago is now gone.  The proprietor, "Mac" may have passed on.    

My grandmother Lyons, we all lived within a block or two of each other in South Philadelphia, always made a big steaming cauldron of sauerkraut and pork, with hot dogs in it, and a heap of rolls and a pt of mashed potatoes - a warming meal for the cold cold winter.  

Few people bother with live trees, almost no one puts up a platform, and I think after my generation, all that will be a memory.  The other thing that I think will die with my generation, and for most of the people I know, has already stopped, is the tradition of Christmas greeting cards.  I still write out about 50 but I only have one or two friends, older than I am, who still do that.  

People make new traditions, I suppose, I don't know many young families, so I don't know what they do beyond the heaps of gifts which seem to have taken the place of the shared display of the platform.  

Well whatever people do, getting together, and bringing light and celebration to the dark days of winter will probably always be with and so, I hope, will the grace of generosity.  The gift giving isn't about 'commercialization' an excuse some people use for not bothering, it is about giving and sharing in the bounty that we are so fortunate to enjoy - AND - it is about GRATITUDE!

Merry Christmas!
Jo Ann

ps.  Yesterday I enjoyed the most wonderful party that a couple I know give every year where we eat drink and read A Child's Christmas in Wales around the fireplace.  
Today, a friend from college has a photograph show opening at Rutgers in Camden in the Student Center - Sharon Harris' 'pin-hole camera' photographs!
Next Sunday, Dec. 9,  I am off to Greenwich for the Historic House tour and Saint Lucia festival.  I hope you have wonderful plans for the upcoming holiday weeks too!
Also, I hope you, like me, have your lights up, your tree up and all your work done so you can enjoy!