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.

Friday, April 2, 2021

Happy Easter 2021 - Old Photographs

Well, it has been a long and interesting and challenging year from March of 2020 to April of 2021. I won't get into the politics of it, because that isn't what this blog is about, and we have all had more than enough of the Pandemic, although I will take a moment to say that this past Wednesday, I closed out the month of March by getting my second inoculation of the Pfizer vaccine at the Mooestown Mall Mega Site. It was not quite as eerie as going for the first shot when I entered the process and the old abandoned Lord and Taylor Store for the first time. This time, I knew the ropes and I didn't have the fresh eye of the first timer. What was new, however was the enormous relief I felt when I left. I had no idea of the burden I had been carrying for a year until after my second shot and the burden of fear fell off my shoulders.

Again, I was fortunate and had no bad reaction to the inoculation. Many people I have heard about and have talked to have not been so lucky and have reported sore arms and muscle and joint pain. Some said they were wiped out for a day or two. I was perfectly fine - or at least as fine as I was before the shot.

But what I wanted to talk about today, was old photographs which I love with a romantic passion. Before my Grandmother Mabel died, she gave me a wooden box with old family photographs of hers in it, two of them date back to the early days of photography in the 1800's; they are her parents, Catherine Sandman and William Adam Young and Ipresume it must be wedding photographs or sometime around then 1884. I have old photographs from my mother's side of the family too, her parents and the early days of my own parent'ss marriage. My parents photographs ae from the second World War when my father was in the navy and stationed in Florida. They are so beautiful and carefree and young that it breaks my heart, but I am consoled when I think of what long and happy lives they had after the war when so many others lost their lives. My parents got to buy successively larger houses, move to the suburbs, plant a vegetable garden, grill on my father's elaborite brick backyard grill, swim in pools, have children and watch them all grow up, and they got to celebrate their lives in many ways. I have photographs of many of those ways, but surprisingly few from our many road trip vacations.

I was given a camera very early on and I took photographs from the start and regularly for the rest of my own long an lucky life. More than a decade ago, I began to do family history, and to share it with my siblings and their children, I also began to use the old family photograps. For example, I had a somewhat amusing photograph of my cousin Patty and I, around 1955, dressed up and posed in our Easter outfits outside a row home in South Philadelphia which may have been my family's first home. I made copies of it and mounted it on pretty floral scrapbooking paper, framed it, and glued button sized magnets on the back so it would stick to the refrigerator. I sent one to my cousin and put one on my fridge. For Halloween, I copied and hung a dozen old photographs from the 1940's and 50's on black screening and used it for a decoration with some fabric leaves glued on - very attractive. My biggest project was to have postcards made for several holidays from those old photographs - couples for Valentine's day with a red Valentine border, Navy and Marine portraits of my father and brother for Veterans' Day and Memorial Day with a red, white and blue border, and Christmas postcards of my brother and myself with anta around 1950. It wasn't at all expensive - it only cost around $40 for 50 postcards.

This year I came up with another use for some old photographs for Easter. My sister's house burned down 5 years ago in March and she lost most of her family mementos and photographs. From time to time, for the holidays, I make copies of the ones I have and give them to her in albums. For Easter this year, I framed si of them and put them in an Easter Basket protected in the green grass. She can't eat candy and she lives on a farm, so she doesn't need more flowers, so I thought a basket of memories was a good solution. ,p/> One year for Christmas, I gave all my siblings (there are 5 of us) a 2.3 foot framed family tree collage of family photographs which I had scanned and had copied and printed at Belia Copy Center in Woodbury, where I also had my postcards made. NEXT I am thinking of a way to use two dozen small black and white glossy photographs of toddlers who may be my father and his brothers from around 1920 which were mailed to my Cousin Patty by another relative. She had no use for them, but I found them enchanting, especially since those babies became men, had full lives and died, but here they are, forever at the beginning with their bright baby eyes and beautiful baby faces. Whatever Art Project I decide to use them in, I want to title it 100 YEAR OLD BABIES. I am thinking of trying the Mod Podge process of photo transfer onto fabric, maybe a white apron which I happen to have, or a baby blanket - time will give me the answer.

Well I hope this blog entry gives someone an idea of something to do with their old family photographs and as always if you want to converse more with me on this subject you can reach me at wrightjr5@yahoo.com. In the mean time, HAVE A HAPPY EASTER!

Jo Ann

Sunday, March 28, 2021

"WW II I absolutely love this museum. I visited twice this year; once I visited for the Christmas trains exhibit, and again to introduce my sister to the museum. If you are looking for something to do, go on over and visit for the new exhibit.

Exhibit" "The Museum of American History at Deptford, NJ " " " " April 1st through June 5th, 2021 The Museum of American History at Deptford, NJ Address: 138 Andaloro Way Deptford, NJ 08093 Phone: 856-812-1121 E-mail: sjmuseum@aol.com Website: www.southjerseymuseum.org "


You could say this book suggestion bridges both February: African American History Month, and March: Women's History Month.

In an essay I read recently, it was suggested that one of the things we could do to improve our understanding of RACE in America, was to READ READ READ. Well, that is always a welcome suggestion to e, and I ad taken the suggestion up with CASTE, by Isabel Wilkerson. Throughout the book, the comparisons with the situations in which women have found themselves were apparent to me. Recently, in the spate of articals about current attempts by the Republican Party to pass laws that in effect suppress voting rights, I had to think of the two hundred years that women had no voting rights in America and few if any legal rights.

Thos that we have at present were hard won. An excellent documentary by the poet of American history in documentary, Ken Burns, is NOT FOR OURSELVES ALONE, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony. Along with their struggle for voting rights, the documentary gives a warm portrait of their life long friendship.

The book I just ordered is DOUGLAS'S WOMEN, By Parker-Rhodes. Frederick Douglas married a free Black Woman named Anna who not only bought his ticket to freedom but supported him as he made his early career in Abolition, and raised their five children and kept his house. When others claimed that becase she ws 'illiterate' she was not his equal as his wife, he (allegedly) defended her. Nonetheless, he brought another woan into their home to be his mistress and his comrade in the struggle, a German immigrant and the daughter of German intellectuals, Ottilie Assing. She supported his efforts both financially and as his personal secretary. However, when she returned to Germany to secure her family inheritance, Frederick Douglas married a much younger woman, another personal secretary, the daughter of his neighbors who were Abolitionists and apparently, approved of their daughter's work as a clerk for Douglas but not their marriage. Her family disowned her. Ottilie, nonetheless, after securing her inheritance, set up a trust for Douglas to support him and then she committed suicide. It wasn't only her despair of hearing of Douglas's marriage, she had also been diagnosed with breast cancer. She took cyanide.

Throughout history, the sacrifices of women like Anna, Ottilie, and so many others, bot financial support and home-making, child raising, secretarial and emotional, have been neglected or underestimated. Without Anna, Douglas may never have succeeded in escaping slavery or beginning his career in Aboliton. Without the help of Ottilie and his third wife, he may never have had the time to complete his books,essays, speeches or articles.

Wednesday, March 10, 2021


Today, I was fortuate enough to receive my first vaccination against covid 19 with Pfizer's two shot vaccine. When I say fortunate, I mean it. If it hadn't been for a friend of mine, Nancy, who is particularly competent and who had found a way to schedule hers through something called MyChart, I wouldn't be vaccinated right now. I had signed up with the conty registration, the state registration, I had telephoned ShopRite, Walgreens, CVS, Urgent Care, and any place anyone or any e-mail alert said you could get innoculated. None of it panned out until Nancy sent me the MyChart link. It turns out that because I was in the hospital at Virtua in November for diverticulitis, I have a MyChart patient rgistration, so I was able to schedule my appointmet for today at what is termed "Mega Site" at the Moorestown Mall.

My forementioned friend, Nancy, also sent me a photo of what the entrance looked like an directions to the part of the Moorestown Mall where the innoculations were being given. It was the former Lord & Taylor Department Store. I left at 1:00 for m 2:15 appointment because I didn't want to be late and now my old car and I go slow. My plan was to go down Main Street to Lenola Road and cross route 38, but I got anxious about the time and took route 38 dirctly to the mall. Parking lot was full. The two friends who had previously gotten their shots had said it was remarkably empty but that was not the case when I got there. Groups of about 24 to 30 people were moving along through the maze of cordoned off corrals from station to station.

I had received and printed out and brought with me my e-mail confirmation of the appointment, a scanning symbol also e-mailed to me and designated as my identification, my driver's license with photo on it, and my medicare card. As it turned out, I was asked over and over for a 'white card' which I didn't have, but I kept handing over the stuff I had brought with me. The clumps of 20 to 30 people moved from station to station, all of which were manned by National Guard troops in camoflage uniforms, fatigues, I think they are called. They were all uniformly polite, businesslike, patient and helpful.

At each station there were several tables and soldiers, so there was basically no wait at all, and we moved along efficiently from question station to station until we got to the stations where we got the shots. It didn't hurt at all. After the shot, we were given a white sticker with a time written on it and taken to a large area, actually the whole place was monumentally large, where about a hundred folding chairs were placed about 5 feet apart. We were waiting there to make sure we had no adverse reactions to the inoculation. After 15 minutes, a guard came and told me I could leave. I had been talking to a lady 4 feet in front of me. We were talking about people not taking the coronavirus seriously, and I mentioned that my mother's mother had died in the Spanish influenza epidemic of 1919, though actually she died a couple years after it in the epidemic of pneumonia that followed. The lady told me her own mother had died last April in a nursing home of corona virus. I said what a shame that was and how sorry i was for her loss. She said in some ways it wss a blessing because her mother was in the home because she suffered for some years from dementia. We all know there is no getting better from that, only getting out

When I left, I took a wrong turn somehow, although I was sure I was going the right way, and got lost on route 73. So I had to pull over into a parking lot and use the gps to get me to route 70, so I could find my way home. For some reason I had a raging thirst, so I stopped at McDonald's in Collingswood and bought a Shamrock Shake and fries and drove across the road into the park where I sat and ate the fries and drank the shake in a little silent celebration.

The whole experience reminded me of refugee centers and immigration detention camps. Also it had a kind of sci-fi feel to it, the abandoned luxury goods department store, the empty glass counters where perfumes and jewelry once sparkled, the roped off maze of corrals and the stations with the questions asked by the soldiers. It was as if afer our inoculation wait, we would all be herded onto a space ship sent to colonize Mars.

Fortunately we had glorious spring weather today which made the whole trip so much easier. It was warm and sunny, 60 degrees! In my morning dog walk I had stopped to chat with a couple of neighbors out in their yard enjoying the weather. They were also ove 70 and had not yet been able to struggle through the underground cavern of twists and turns that is the scheduling system. I told them to try MyChart, which by the merest coincidence I had because of my emergency visit last autumn when my duaghter found Virtua while looking for closest and best hospitals to take me to. She saved me then, and inadvertently saved me again!

There is an old quote, which sadly I cannot attribute that says "May you live in interesting Times" is a kind of curse. Well I believe all the times I have lived haved been interesting, and from this side of the innoculation divide, i feel hopeful about enjoying even more interesting times.

Happy T

Monday, March 8, 2021

Foreign Soldiers

Lately, as I mentioned in my previous posts, I have been watching TIME TEAM, an archaeology program set in England. Many of their digs involve Roman Forts from the Roman conquest which took plae at the turn of the around 100 AD and the occupation lasted until 400 AD when the Roman Empire disintegratedd and the Anglo Saxons invaded Britain, followed by the Danes. They were, in turn, invaded by the Normans (who were North Men, or Vikings, who had stayed in France long enough to become Normans) and they were in turn defeated by Britons (the earliest invaders and inhabitants for whom Britain was named) and a cooalition of Anglo Saxons and Danes who had settled there so long they had become something new, a cohesive British force, under King Alfred, who united Britain. Everybody settled down and the United Kingdom went on about its business which was taking Scotland from the Picts and Ireland from the Irish.

Anyhow, Amongst the rubble left by the Romans, are the bits and pieces, Roman coins, some burial headstones, broken pottery and the ghosts of all those soldiers stationed there, not to mention their offspring since many of them claimed wives while they were settled in their fronteir forts.

Today when I finally had the time to read the Sunday New York Times and the Book Review section, there was a review of a book about the lives of the Roman soldiers. Apparently, according to the review, a lot of the Roman soldiers were surprising literate because the army demanded detailed records of everything (kind of reminds me of the Germans in WWII). According to gravestones mentioned in the review, the soldiers in Britain came from what is now Spain, Bulgaria and Hungary as well as Italy. Watching another tv series about the Roman occupation of what is now Germany (but was then Gaul and Barbarian Northern Europe), up to the Rhine, I learned for the first time that not only did the occupying Roman army demand tribute money, they also demanded slaves and young men to serve in the military. I wondered how many of those men from Spain, Hungary or Bulgaria, had also been captives forced into the military. The book is called GLADUS.

That reminded me, as history tends to stretch from one topic and period to another, of the Hessian forces forced to fight in the British colony of America during the Revolution. When I volunteered at Whitall House in Red Bank Battlefield, National Park, NJ, I was very curious about those poor young men, conscripted by their ruling aristocratic princes into armies which were then sent to fight all over the place and even rented out! A very large proportion of the fighting forces arrayed against us colonists in the Revolution were Hessians (from that same area of southern Germany once occupied by the Romans, along the Rhine). I always wondered what happened to the ones left behind after the battles, the wounded the deserters, the imprisoned. There are a couple of diaries of soldiers, officers, which I have read, but it is the everyman, the Joseph Plum Martin of the Hessian army who I would like to hear from.

If you are looking for places to visit, and if you haven't already been there, don't miss National Park, Red Bank Battlefield. It offers a splendid view over the Delaware, a beautiful colonial Quaker farm entirely intact despite the battle that took place in the apple orchard, and a fascinating story. The house may be closed still due to the pandemic, but the battlefield is a lovely place to walk and have a picnic lunch, and there is a great playground if you bring the kids. There are restrooms and informative signage to help you get an idea of the place.

Today is International Women's Day, so let me mention Ann Whitall, the Quaker farm wife who endured the battle in the apple orchard and is said via oral history to have helped care for the wounded soldiers after the battle (of whom there were about 400.) The same oral history says that the pile of amputated limbs rose to the level of the window in the room taken over as a surgery in thei Whitall's house. The family had taken refuge with other family members in Woodbury during the battle. Ann Whitall left a diary from 1762, unfortunately not from the time of the Revolution, but I transcribed it at the Gloucester County Historyical Society so it could be accessed on the computer. Mainly she deals with her religious experience. Ann Whitall was an old time Quaker in the sense that she believed in hellfire and damnation and she strove passionately to work on her soul and the souls of those around her. She was an avid attendant at Quaker Meeting a few times each week. Needless to say, a diary is only a very narrow window on a full life, and Ann, being no doubt, certin that God was watching over her shoulder, rarely dealt with the mundane details of her ordinary life, which is too bad, because I wanted to know what she cooked how she got along with the indentured servants who worked for she and her husband, and what she did during the day. The house has been loaned her actual desk by the Daughters of the American Revolution, the DAR, the same desk where presumable she wrote her diary.

Since today is Int'l Woman's Day, and I mentioned the Roman invasion of Britain, let me also mention Queen Boudicca, who also attempted to pull together the fractious tribes of Britain to fight off the Romans, and was briefly successful before being ultimately defeated. England is notable for the heritage of warror queens such as the first Queen Elizabeth who fought off the invasion of Spain via the armada and who sent out the explorers who invaded and settled in the New World. And speeaking of explorers, it was Queen Isabella who sent out Columbus to invade in the Carribean. The tv is replete with series dealing with British royalty at present, such as the eries, THE CROWN, and for a bit of Anglo Saxon archaeology in England there is a good movie called THE DIG.

HAPPY TRAILS - if you want to contact me to continue the conversation, use my e-mail the blogspot comments function is awful. wrightj45@yahoo.com


Friday, March 5, 2021


Once while hiking with a geocacher, we stumbled upon the ruins of a Civilian Conservation Corps camp. What was left was the concrete base of some buildings, and most interesting to me, some mosaic tiles. I had read and studied quite a bit about the CCC and how in the training camps they taught the men basic trades such as carpentry, laying tile, and so on.

While watching season 4, episode 5 of the Time Team, they were searching for the remains of a mosaic floor left by the Romans in a now time erased villa and it reminded me of the CCC Camp discovery we made in the woods and how enchanted we were by the engagement with our own history though 2930 is barely hisory by British standards. Still my point is that these interactions with our history are so meaningful and they are everywhere. The initial camp we found may have been at Bass River where they have a lot of information on the CCC. There is also a good deal of information on the CCC at Parvin State Park and a bridge that was built in the park by the CCC. The CCC men cleared out the waterway at Parvin and built the bridge you cross if you follow the trail.


A Lesson in how to interest people in HISTORY - TIME TEAM

Okay, I will admit it, I am an anglophile. Several years ago I discovered I am 50% British dna, so that may explain my affection for British Mystery Books, and British Archaeology. Also, I LOVE British tv shows. Currently I am watching TIME TEAM, which has been hugely successful in Britian and is now on amazon prime. The measure of the success is in the number of seasons - 20! The only show I watch that has beat that many seasons is a mystery, Midsummer Murders.

Strangely enough the Time Team don't ever seem to find very much but what they find, they can deduct whole worlds of information from. They dig trenches and come up with bits of pottery no bigger than a couple of inches and they can tell when and where the pottery was made. They dig up bits of metal, or even slag, and they can tell what ore, and what period, and even why it was there. The Time Team responds to letters from members of the British public who have parts of stone walls in their gardens, or who have heard myths about their pastures housing Roman forts, or they have nearby churches or chapels with mysterious gravestones, or they have, themselves found mysterious items when plowing or fishing, or metal dectecting.

The Time Team, presented by the ever spry and game Tony Robinson is composed of an archivist, an artist (my favorite - this artist can do the most descriptive and evocative renderings from the bits of information given by the time time, so that you can see the Anglo Saxon village or the Roman villa as it would have looked. I am an artist too, so I am wonder struck by this talent.

The Time Team has a geophysics expert who scans the fields looking for places to dig, an archivist, who finds all the pertinent historic records, blueprints, historic accounts, letters and so on to help the story emerge. There is a osteoarchaeologist, a bone expert, who has branched out with her own program called DIGGING BRITAIN and I have watched it as well. And there are diggers, like Phil, and other archaeology experts in various fields of expertise. In many episodes, Phil or one of the others, will engage in an activity relating to the dig such as smelting or brewing, or even stone blade knapping.

Inevitably, kids and other townsfolk will gather to watch the goings on, often joining in and helping. Sometimes there is a party afterwards and all the community join the fest. Even though they have rarely, as long as I have been watching, come up with more than bits and pieces and a terrific story, people are captivated, even people like me who don't live in a land with two thousand years of history in the garden. It is inspirational and I always end up wishing I had gone into archaeology!

You may have noticed that I have learned enough html to create paragraphs now that blogspot has quit opensource and given us this new format where apparently a lot of the programming must be learned and done by us. Fortunately, many many years ago in the early days of free websites, I had learned a little html by creating sites with angelfire and geocities - remember them? Happy Trails! (underground, overground, or on the tv screen)

Jo Ann

ps. I will learn more so I can enlarge the text and add images, I promise! If you want to contact me, use my email, thanks, the comments feature is robo-hacked and is awful sorry I don't know how to make my e-mail address a link yet, but I will learn - I bought a book.


Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Off the theme: Book Reviews for the month

Book Reviews by monthly theme A fun way to read would be by the holiday of the month. Since I am working off the cuff and not researching carefully, I will simply recommend fun books that I can think of "off the cuff":

DECEMBER- a series of books by various authors feature cats in the title One I bought for a $1 at a 2nd hand shop is CAT DECK THE HALLS, by Shirley Rousseau Murphy, a Joe Grey Mystery

JANUARY - CAT OF THE CENTURY, RITA MAE BROWN (Cats in the title and a calendar/date reference)

FEBRUARY - A fun series from years ago and romantic for VALENTINE'S DAY: GRIFFIN AND SABINE, a recent popular novel - A Fall of Marigolds is also a LOVE story A Serious Read for BLACK HISTORY MONTH: non-fiction - CASTE, b Isabelle Wilkerson

MARCH - WOMEN'S HISTORY MONTH so so many to recommend but my latest is a non-fiction biography PELOSI by Molly Ball Excellent Read and timely

APRIL - A book I enjoyed many years ago that is good for EASTER is THE DEAD SEA SCROLLS, a different take on Easter - The Easter Rebellion in Ireland has many good books

FOR EARTH DAY - I RECOMMEND: DIET FOR A SMALL PLANET BY Frances Moore Lappe - another oldie but goody

MAY - MOTHER'S DAY - Any book about the mothers of the WOMEN'S REVOLUTION: a new biography of Gloria Steinem

JUNE - ANY BOOK ABOUT THE FRENCH REVOLUTION, BUT IF YOU HAVE NEVER READ IT TRY A TALE OF TWO CITIES "TT was the worst of times, it was the best of times, it was a time very much like the present."!

JULY - THE BRITISH ARE COMING in time for 4th of July 4th

AUGUST - NATIONAL MOUNTAIN CLIMBING DAY - I recommend an author John Krakauer who wrote Into The WILD, and Cheryl Strayed who wrote WILD about her hike of the Pacific Coast Trail

SEPTEMBER - Napoleon's entrance into Moscow: If you have never read it WAR AND PEACE!

OCTOBER - HALLOWEEN: If you have never read it try: FRANKENSTEIN by MARY SHELLEY (and you can always read a biography of her famous mother, Mary Wollstonecraft, for Mother's Day! in May)

NOVEMBER: I recommend reading any books of current history about Native Americans and I loved SMOKE SIGNALS, BY SHERMAN ALEXEI and also LOUISE ERDRICH

And we are back to Christmas - every year read A CHILD'S CHRISTMAS IN WALES by Dylan Thomas! It is lovely

Happy Holidays book lovers! wrightj45@yahoo.com


Sunday, February 14, 2021

Snake Stories for Valentine's Day

This morning, Sunday, February 14th, 20212 when I awoke, I was thinking of food storage to last through the long frozen winters of the northern lands, not that we arent' experiencing a frozen winter ourselves at this time. But I was thinking of the past. Lately I have watched a series called The Last Kingdom, about the English hero, King Alred, who stopped the Danish Viking invasion of what would become England. It is a mostly historically correct film version of a series of books by Bernard Cornwall about the Anglo Saxons. It made me think of food storage to last through the frozen months: nuts, grains, dried berries, root vegetables like potatoes and carrots, apples. And that made me think of the little spoilers, mice and rats! Not only our competitors for food but, as we know now, the carriers of the lethal fleas that brought pestilence. That made me think of snakes and a winter's evening when I sat with some fellow folunteers in the kitchen of historic Whitall House at Red Bank Battlefield enjoying the dinner prepared by the hearth cooks, Terry and Eleanor. From uner the wood pile came a huge black snake. When I brought it to the attention of the others, our Head Historian and curator, Meghan Giordano said, "Oh don't worry about her, she lives here!." She told us the name she had given to the snake but I have forgotten it now. It was a black "Rat Snake" a non poisonous hunter of mice and rats, and, I would presume a helpful household guest to those with a dirt storage cellar in Colonial Days as the snake would eat the mice and rats but not the grain or vegetables. I have three snake stories. One day my mother was driving her old white Dodge Mirada downtown in Petersburg, West Virginia where my parents had moved after retirement. She saw a snake coue out from under the dashboard. She went to the local gas station and told the mechanic, but his search revealed nothing, so my mother went on her way. This happened several times, always when my mother was alone in the car. Soon people began to doubt her. My mother and father drove up and down the 7 hour ride from West Virginia to New Jersey half a dozen times a year and my father never saw the snake. Then one day when the family was gathered from New Jersey and five or six of us were squeezed into the car to go grocery shopping. My father put the groceries in the trunk and when we got home, we all got out of the car and my father liften the trunk lid and there was a huge black snake slithering around the bags! "Get into the house!" My father hollered and we all ran to the guest room where there was a window overlooking the car in the drive. We watched as my father carefully lifted the snake up with a grden rake and lofted it into the trees next to the house. We came back out to get the groceries an my father lifted the floor board of the trunk and underneath was a vast graveyard of mouse bones from the years the snake had made its home in the underworld of the Dodge Mirada! My own snake story is also set in West Virginia. On a hike in the Dolly Sods, a Tundra region of the mountains not too far from where my parents lived, I decided to sit on a rocky outcropping over a spectacular view so I could do some yoga and stretch from the difficult uphill hiking. My companion at the time, went off to roam around the nearby area. After about 15 minutes of yoga stretches, I did a sitting meditation, then reached over the edge of the outcropping to pull myself up. Right beneath me, by a couple of feet was another rocky shelf and on it sat a huge rattlesnake, calmly gazing at me. I could count the rattles on its tail, there were nine, but it wasn't shaking it in warning, just sitting there sunning itself and perhaps doing its own meditation. I slowly and quietly got up, took a photo of the snake, then left in peace and wonderment. These snake stories are about peace and friendship among species, the kind of hope and trust we all rely on that if we are peaceful, so will be those whom we encounter. It isn't always true, of course, but here are three stories of a kind of love where we were all peaceful and friendly. Happy Valentine's Day. Jo Ann Wright wrightj45@yahoo.com

Tuesday, February 9, 2021

Tenth Anniversary on BLOGGER

Today, January 17, 2021, just before I shut down my laptop for the night, I decided to scroll back through all my blogs. I realized, that I had been posting for over 10 years as of November. There are 915 blog posts and a quarter of a million views though only 17 followers and not very many comments - a great many spam comments however. When I began in 2010, I had been retired for 4 years and had begun volunteering at many historic sites as a docent or in other capacities. Also, my car and my eyesight being younger and in better shape, I had been doing a great deal of driving and exploring. Since those early days, a lot has changed both in my life and in the world. Sadly, in many ways, age has caught up to me and fenced me in. A torn meniscus (cartilage in the knee) started the curtailment of my active outdoor life. Osteo-arthritis struck and my back also became a problem. Eventually my car began to age out of the long drives to places such as the Bayshore Discovery Project down at Port Norris on the Maurice River, or Greenwich village on the Cohansey. Eventually between the arthritis in my knees and my back, I couldn't really manage historic house tours anymore and had to give up most volunteer work. Those avenues closed, however, I became more active with painting. For the past several years, I have participated in every show to which I received a "call for artists" e-mail from the Eiland Arts Center, as well as the first Atsion Arts Fair last summer. Then, of course, in 2020 came the Pandemic and my activities became even more curtailed. That put an end to the many Camden County Historical Society events I had enjoyed, including their history day events when all the local historical sites were open for visits. Probably the Berlin Train Station was my last historic site visit, although, it may actually have been the old Quaker Store on the Black Horse Pike! Eiland Arts Center, by the way is located in a re-purposed train station. My last piece was a group portrait of the greatest back-up singers of the old Rock and Roll period, singers like Darlene Love. My next painting will be of a building in Ocean City which was demolished in 2020, the building where my grandmother used to live on Asbury Avenue. Possibly the theme of that last few paragraphs might be that when one door closes, another opens. So I can't hike the Maurice River Bluffs anymore, but last week, I did the half hour trail of Saddler's Woods, a lovely little historic site off Cuthbert Blvd., in Haddon Township. And along with painting, I am reading a LOT: most notably at present I am reading CASTE, by Isabelle Wilkerson, a Sunday New York Times 10 Best Non-Fiction Books of 2020 selection. It deals with the racial caste system in America and the effects in our modern society, which we saw recently acted out in the unprecedented raid on the Capitol Building in Washington D.C. by Trump domestic terrorists, intent on stopping the certification of the electoral votes of the US for incoming President Joe Biden. Apparently they also intended to kidnap and possibly assassinate current Vice President Pence, if quotes and photographs (of the noose and scaffold) and videos (of them chanting Get Pence) they posted are to be believed. A large number of the groups represented White Supremacy organizations. What a start to the new year 2021. My last historic site visit post was from the visit to the train dispay at the Aerican History Museum on Andaloro Way in West Deptford. What a great little museum. I have been visiting annually since it was located in Glassboro some yeears back. I hope you can go there and visit someday soon! Happy New Year! And to anyone who sees this post, Thanks for visiting in my eleventh year on this blog!

Easy Things to Do During the Pandemic

For over 50 years, I have been a dedicated keeper of JOURNALS. Actually I began long before I started college, but during college my journal keeping really began to blossom. The most notable pre-college journal was one I inherited from my then-husband Michael as we drove around Europe for a year living in a VW Van. He began by listing what we spent money on and how many miles we had traveled. He didn't want to do it anymore, so I took it over with one line and two line descriptions of where we were - not very creative or interesting. At that time, I wasn't really a 'writer' and what I mean by that term is not someone who writes to be published, but someone who writes. After we returned home from Europe, I began to write, modestly in little address books, and pocket calendars and then in little pocket sized looseleaf notebooks, composition books and so on. In college, when I was in my late 20's I moved on to spiral bound sketch books which were mostly art based but also had lots of writing of ideas and quottions, thoughts and reviews of art shows, notes from class. Years later, the journals evolved into introspective thought writing, memories, rants and then, in an exercise to branch out, items from the outside world - news. The evolution took place because of a class I had taken where we read a history of Journal keeping. Actually I have lost and re-purchased that book many times because it had such a profound influence on me. After that, I began to buy and read other people's journals especially those of people who had lived through monumental events (think The Diary of Ann Frank). Eventually, I also began to collage from newspapers and magazines into my journals. I am sad to admit that for a certain time when I was seriously busy with too many jobs, a child to raise and a house to take care of all on my own, my journals descended into lists of chores to do and celebrations of chores done. Lately, having been retired for a long long time, my journals have become more - a respository for book reviews, ideas, recipe's, evens in my life and in the world, and PRACTICE of new things I want to try such as cartoons and simple line drawings in the style of graphic novels. I am not good at it at all which is why the privacy of a journal is so freeing, you can do something you aren't good at and enjoy it without judgement. In these times of the pandemic and social isolation, my journal has been a great source of comfort and company to me. Also, I print out pictures from my phone and my laptop and glue them in there too, sometimes for ideas for other projects, sometimes just because I like them. MY SUGGESTION TO YOU IS START A JOURNAL If you feel speechless or tongue tied, let me give you some hints: Jot down some memories, as in if you are near a holiday, remember one from the past. A memory I just added was about a childhood friend who recently died and I wrote about how we used to iceskate in the little shallow pools that formed alongside the Pennsauken Creek where we lived in a new housing development. This friend, Joe McGuigan was the best ice skater I had ever seen. He could do backward flips, jump over barrels (large trash cans) and skate like a neibhborhood Olympian. He had other telents as well, all of them athletic, and he had charisma. We all wanted to be with him and bask in the spirit of fun and adventure that he alway seemed to be enveloped in. He never left our small town and I knew nothing of his life after childhood because I moved far away and never came back, although, of course I visited. So, you see how a memory begins to evolve. You can note dreams, and if it helps you get going, note chores and things you want to get done - this doesn't have to be creative, it can evolve. Cut things out of newspapers and magazines and glue them in. Here is a good spot for a supply list: Spiral bound sketch books can usually be found at craft stores for around $5, or from amazon.com Buy three packs of glue sticks, or just one glue stick to start. Good to have on hand a packet of inexpensive smooth gliding ball point pens For greater creativity you may wish to have a pack of colored pencils. Markers bleed through the pages so if I use them, I usually glue pictures on the other side of those pages. Colored pencils are better and you can get them even at ShopRite. Most likely you already have scissors handy, keep these things on a coffee or end table near you and always at hand for easy access to get yourself into the habit. You may be surprised at how more fluent your writing comes when you enjoy the freedome of your journal. Today I want to do a Covid 19 Update. We live in momentous times, it is easy enough to find things to write about these days, including the weather! This morning I did a series of poorly drawn but, for me, fun cartoons depicting what I titled: THE RISE AND FALL OF THE SNOWMAN EMPIRE! (pronouce Snowman to rhyme with Roman) I had taken some photos of snowmen that appeared after our recent snowstorm, then a giant one I saw that was a full story tall! and then a day or two later when the snow came out, they all began to melt by losing their heads. Things to cut out - recipes, book reviews so you can decide to what to buy to read, tv reviews - shows you are watching or may want to watch, and I even stoop to cutting out outfits I like from clothes catalogues that come in the mail. I used to get home goods catalogues and got lots of ideas from them. The more you do, the most you will think of to do, and your journal will become a scrapbook of your mind and your times! Happy trails, indoors and outdoors! Jo Ann wrightj45@yahoo.com Ps. A great way to start your journal is to do FIVE GRATITUDES! Think each day of 5 things you have to be grateful for - it changes your brain. It makes me think of the old toy VIEWMASTER. If you remember this toy, it was a binocular shaped viewer and you could put in a disk with images and click a side button to move from one picture to the next. Doing five gratitudes puts the grateful to be alive slide disk in place of the complaints one. There is plenty to complain about in this year of the pandemic and Trump, but there is always plenty to be grateful for as well and it is good to remind yourself each day. I tried to put some images from my journals on here but ran into problems with the import function. Still having trouble with this new format. But if you scroll back far enough through my old posts you can see an open page in Ann Whitall's diary from 1762 and the cover of my grndmother's diary from 1950's.

Monday, February 1, 2021

Reclaimed Golf Courses - hiking trails

Happy Snow Day! It is the first day of February and we are having a big snow! Maybe it is my ethnic origin, or maybe something simply individual, but I have always LOVED SNOW. When I was a teacher, I had to keep that sentiment to myself because the prevailing attitude was hate for snow. Many of my colleagues came from distant towns and were forced to use the major highways which were subject to traffic jams under the best conditions but under bad weather conditions they were hellacious! As I mentioned, I was a teacher for my whole adult life so I tend to think in terms of courses and programs. I like structure. A few years ago when I did much longer hikes than I am able to do now, a friend and I did two long programs of hiking. One was the State Guide called Passport which listed all the state parks and had a place for a sticker on each page and a place to put your notes below. That was so much fun and we discovered dozens of new parks to hike. Another one was Rails to Trails. The same hiking buddy and I did about a dozen rails to trails hikes and I am still finding them. In fact, the gallery where I have paintings on display on a regular basis, Eiland Arts in the old Merchantville Train Station building has a rails to trails right in front which I have walked many times. So here is my new Idea RECLAIMED GOLF COURSES! So far I have only found two to share with you - my favorite Cox's Creek near Cape May, NJ which I have hiked a half dozen times and which I love because the old golf cart paths making walking so easy. One of my best friends who is still able to be an avid hiker has found another Tall Pines. It was known as Maple Ridge Golf Course, and my one and only experience of it was many years ago when several colleagues and I attnded a week of in-service training there with lunch at The Eagles Nest which you might remember in connection with Ron Jaworski. I walked those paths a little on our breaks and on lunch break but I have not been back there since it has become a wildlife refuge and conservation area. The friend who was there last week wasn't terribly impressed with it, but I am eager to get there and see it for myself. So if you are looking for a hiking idea, please help yourself to mine and let me know if you find other Reclaied Golf courses. Please ue my email wrightj45@yahoo.com rather than the comments section which has become seriously polluted with robot and spam crap. Gosh how I miss the old blogspot. Oh well, if any of my old readers are still out there - Happy Valentine's Day to you! Happy Trails, Jo Ann

Sunday, January 17, 2021

Tenth Anniversary

Today, January 17, 2021, just before I shut down my laptop for the night, I decided to scroll back through all my blogs. I realized, that I had been posting for over 10 years as of November. There are 915 blog posts and a quarter of a million views though only 17 followers and not very many comments - a great many spam comments however. When I began in 2010, I had been retired for 4 years and had begun volunteering at many historic sites as a docent or in other capacities. Also, my car and my eyesight being younger and in better shape, I had been doing a great deal of driving and exploring. Since those early days, a lot has changed both in my life and in the world. Sadly, in many ways, age has caught up to me and fenced me in. A torn meniscus (cartilage in the knee) started the curtailment of my active outdoor life. Osteo-arthritis struck and my back also became a problem. Eventually my car began to age out of the long drives to places such as the Bayshore Discovery Project down at Port Norris on the Maurice River, or Greenwich village on the Cohansey. Eventually between the arthritis in my knees and my back, I couldn't really manage historic house tours anymore and had to give up most volunteer work. Those avenues closed, however, I became more active with painting. For the past several years, I have participated in every show to which I received a "call for artists" e-mail from the Eiland Arts Center, as well as the first Atsion Arts Fair last summer. Then, of course, in 2020 came the Pandemic and my activities became even more curtailed. That put an end to the many Camden County Historical Society events I had enjoyed, including their history day events when all the local historical sites were open for visits. Probably the Berlin Train Station was my last historic site visit, although, it may actually have been the old Quaker Store on the Black Horse Pike! Eiland Arts Center, by the way is located in a re-purposed train station. My last piece was a group portrait of the greatest back-up singers of the old Rock and Roll period, singers like Darlene Love. My next painting will be of a building in Ocean City which was demolished in 2020, the building where my grandmother used to live on Asbury Avenue. Possibly the theme of that last few paragraphs might be that when one door closes, another opens. So I can't hike the Maurice River Bluffs anymore, but last week, I did the half hour trail of Saddler's Woods, a lovely little historic site off Cuthbert Blvd., in Haddon Township. And along with painting, I am reading a LOT: most notably at present I am reading CASTE, by Isabelle Wilkerson, a Sunday New York Times 10 Best Non-Fiction Books of 2020 selection. It deals with the racial caste system in America and the effects in our modern society, which we saw recently acted out in the unprecedented raid on the Capitol Building in Washington D.C. by Trump domestic terrorists, intent on stopping the certification of the electoral votes of the US for incoming President Joe Biden. Apparently they also intended to kidnap and possibly assassinate current Vice President Pence, if quotes and photographs (of the noose and scaffold) and videos (of them chanting Get Pence) they posted are to be believed. A large number of the groups represented White Supremacy organizations. What a start to the new year 2021. My last historic site visit post was from the visit to the train dispay at the Aerican History Museum on Andaloro Way in West Deptford. What a great little museum. I have been visiting annually since it was located in Glassboro some yeears back. I hope you can go there and visit someday soon! Happy New Year! And to anyone who sees this post, Thanks for visiting in my eleventh year on this blog!

Saturday, January 9, 2021

Model Train Time! January 2021

January JAN 16 - 17 20212nd ANNUAL MODEL TRAIN , HOBBY & COLLECTIBLE SHOW - Blackwood Our Lady of Hope Second Annual Model Train, Hobby & Collectible Show 701 Little Gloucester Road Blackwood NJ 08012 January 26th 10am - 4pm Januar ... As anyone who has visited my blog before will know, I am a big model train fan. I LOVE them. My N gauge trains are put away due to cat situation. They look too much like mice! But someday they will come out again and so will my 50 year old wooden German villages purchased at the Nuremberg Christmas Fair in 1969! Meanwhile, I just bisit other train shows and enjoy the comraderie! This year I missed Railroad Days in Bordentown due to car trouble as well as the pandemic situation. I am not even sure if they held the model trin exhibits throughout the town the way they have in other years. Happy New Year and may 2021 be better than 2020! Jo Ann ps. Sorry about the minimal nature of my blog these days. Since they changed the software I have had a lot of trouble with enlarging the type, and posting images, so I have kind of lost enthusiasm, but I still want to keep you posted on fun things to do in our neck of the woods!

Friday, January 1, 2021

American Revolutiona Round Table of South Jersey presents Feeding the Forces!

American Revolution Round Table of South Jersey Food Historian and Master of Open Hearth Cooking Alicia McShulkis Will Present: “Feeding the Forces: Soldiers’ Rations and Foraging Durin Zoom Meeting Tuesday, Jan. 12 @ 7 pm Visit arrtosj.org for registration and tickets $5 Donation Requested As part of their enlistment soldiers were promised rations. Foraging was a way to supplement the rations but that came at the expense of civilians. What were the troops supposed to get and how did it change as the war wore on? Were the rations the same for the British and Hessians? What might have been made using the assigned rations? These questions and others will be discussed through slides and demonstrations. arrtosj.org


COUNT YOUR BLESSINGS! Almost everyone I passed as I walked my dog this morning wished me a Happy New Year and then added that they hoped the next year will be better than the last. It is true! We all lost so much in the past year - people lost loved ones to a dreaded disease, people lost jobs, homes, and declined into financial disaster. Personally, I was luckier. I have been lucky most of my life and when I wasn't lucky, I was lucky enough to be resourceful and dig myself out. This year, good things happened toom and it is a superb habit to build to look for them. In my life, I survived an illness so severe my daughter had to take me to the hospital (not covid) and I won a first prize Art Award in a group show, and had more work exhibited in a gallery I really like. My beautiful and brilliant daughter married a sweet and gentle man and they bought a condo in Brooklyn! Her sister from another mother, got engaged! So lots of progress was achieved there. My godson got into the Electrical Workers Union, found a career had steady work as an essential worker! All my sibligs are still alive and well, and for all these many and signifcant blessings I am grateful! It was a good year for animal adoptions! Now that people are spending more time at home, more animals found homes, and I must say, my dog has improved my life dramatically. She taught me to make time and put out the effort to give her two good walks each day, a mile and a half each, to a total of 3 miles, and that has made us both healthier and made her more well behaved! I lost some friends but I made a new friend. I lost friends due to political and values chasms that were too deep to vercome. It was that kind of divisive year. My new friend is a former neighbor who rents her childhood home to my back neighbors and we got to talking via texting and found we had a lot in common! So that is my message for the New Year - Look for the Blessings in your life - they are there! and again HAPPY NEW YEAR 2021! My next post will be about an event for history lovers sponsored by the American Revolution Round Table on Feeding Soldiers during the Revolution. Enjoy!

Saturday, December 19, 2020

On the Porch or Over the Fence

Today, December 19, Saturday, I was texting with a neighbor who has moved away. She mentioned how she used to like to sit on the porch with her mother and watch people go by. In the summer, I do that as well, although because I have a woodland style yard, not a lawn, I can't really see anyone and they can't see me. Nonetheless, it reminded me of days when I sat on my Grandmother's porch in Philadelphia. She lived on a moderately busy street, 10th Streer, and there was a trolley line, so when she and I sat on the porch we had the fun of passers=by as well as the rollicking bell ringing trolley car to watch. My mother used to talk over the fence back in the days when there were housewives who took a break from hanging out the laundry, or cooking up big pots of family style food, to chat over the chain link fence, a baby on one hip, another in a stroller, and maybe a couple in the yard. The fence days were on Roland Ave, Maple Shade, NJ and we lived in a new development, in a circular cul de sac, so the housewives, who were the ones home all day in those 1950's days, were in a sense, cut off from the rest of the world. Very few had a driver's license or a car. My mother had both! She also was one of the few who had a 'charge card.' Thinking of those more languid childhood days made me think of those big pots of food that were always cooking because women were economy minded, it being just after the war and the depression, and there being large families to feed. My mother's big pot meals were: sauer kraut with pork in the pot, served with mashed potatoes, beef stew, lentil soup with carrots, potatoes and hot dogs diced into it, many varieties of bean dishes including bean soup, to name a few. There are quickie versions for so many soups. My last blog entry mentioned the qickie version for beet soup that used canned beets instead of fresh beets. I have a quickie lentil soup, and a quicki corn chowder recipe too. I call them my disaster dishes because they are soups made from canned goods, so in a time of disaster, say a winter without electricity or when you can't get to a store for fresh produce, you can make a few soups with canned goods: 2 cans of creamed corn, a can of regular corn, one to two cans drained of sliced white potatoes. Just combine them in a pot with a bit of vegetarian bouillion to a desired thickness or thinness, and you can thicken or cream it up with plain, unflavoried Siggi's yoghurt. The lentil soup is likewise super easy, 2 cans of lentils (I found them in the ethni food aisle, bottom shelf) a can of drained sliced carrots, and a an of drained sliced potatoes. Easy and fast. There is a good recipe for entirely canned chili ingredients too: a can of red beans, a can of black beans, a can of white beans, a can of corn, a jar of salsa, a spoon of chili powder. Voila! Presto! I serve this over rushed up lime flavored tortilla chips with grated cheese on top. It is also good with brown rice. So these are all things you can keep in your cupboard and when it snows and you don't want to pull out of the driveway, you can make a quick and easy meal with canned goods. Needless to say, all of these soups probably taste much better with fresh potatoes and fresh carrots than canned, and given a choice, I go for the real fresh vegetables over the canned, although I am definitely through forever with the pressure cooker to cook beans. Dr. Oz says the canned ones are just as nutritious! I think I will go into the kitchen right now and make some potato and corn chowder, but I will use the bisque recipe and fresh potatoes and frozen corn. All of these are infinitely better tasting and more healthful that canned soups, though, so get out your soup pot and try one! Then, next time you are chatting over the fence with a neighbor, pass on a simple recipe!

Thursday, December 17, 2020

Tools of the trade

This morning, after I gave up trying to take the dog for a walk because it was too dangerous (owing to the snow folowed by freezing rain wh'd had overnight) I decided to make my weekly soup. Someone had kindly cleared the snow off the sidewalks all the way down the street but the freezing rain had made them like a skating rink and even with TRAX on my boots, my Husky/Lab dog was so excited she was pulling and a red light went off in my head - broken leg, broken hip - DANGER! Turns out it was a great day for cooking, however. Every since I was sick over the summer, I have made it a part of my new lifestyle to not only walk the dog 3 miles a day, but make a big pot of soup and eat soup for my big midday meal every day. Last week it was minnestrone. This week it was to be BEET soup also known as borscht to those with experience with Polish, Russian or Jewish foods. My former mother-in-law was Polish and made many hoemade and elicious Polish dishes such as golumpki (stuffed peppers or cabbage) and Latke (potoato pancakes) and both beet soup, and cherry soup. I took out some bowls I haven't used for 30 years that I bought in West Virginia at a place called The Honeymooner's Souvenir Shop. It was 3/5 of the way to my parents house and when my daughter was little I would stop there and buy her Cherokee made moccasins, and coal bears, and cedar boxes. One year, I bought a set of nesting bowls that reminded me of my Grandmother Mabel's bowls. Grandmom Mabel's bowls were thick pottery, and a pale creamy beige almost the color of skin. There was a 1 inch border around the top with a stipe, sometimes maroon, sometimes a pale turquoise blue. I loved those bowls and I can remember her dicing potatoes into the bowl for potato salad, whcih my mother also made but with different bowls. Grandmom's bowls were from the 1930's. My bowls are what was known as 'stoneware, als a creamy off white with a royal blue stripe. Since I was making beet soup today, I got out my sharpest knives (not very sharp actually since I don't cook much). Beets are tough. They are like little bleeding wooden golf balls. I was reminded of my other Grandmoder Lavinia Lyons' paring knife. That was a super sharp, razor sharp little knife. The blade had been worn down over the many years into a crescent shape from paring round things like beets and potatoes. Grandmom Lyons always warned me not to touch the paring knife because it was so sharp. She kept a dark gray sharpening stone in th drawer to sharpen that paring knife, just what you need to cut something like beets or turnips! Cooking can do that, bring back memories of your grandmothers and mothers. I always remember making potato salad with my mother. We girls would be set to dicing the celery and the onions while the potatoes boiled and the bacon sizzled. She sliced the potatoes thinly into the big mixing bowl, that in another bowl, she mixed the mayonaise, vinegar, celery seed, onions and celery, which she then poured into the potatoes and lightly mixed along with the sliced hardboiled eggs. When it was all lightly tossed and mixed, she added the bacon, broken into crispy small pieces (what was left after we children all stole strips of it from the draining towel to eat. Here is the recipe for the beet soup I made today: sautee a diced onion and one chopped clove of garlic in olive oil in a large pot, dice a potatoe and add it. You can either used two cans of sliced beets here or two cups of fresh beets. I used 3 fresh beet (about 1 cup) and on can of beets. Cook for 15 or 20 minutes, adding vegetable broth as needed, it will be two cups total. Simmer another 14 or 20, up to 30 minutes. Use an immersion blender to puree. When I serve it, I add a heaping tablespoon of unflavored plain yoghurt. Some prefer sour cream (the original folk recipe). Today I made a dozen corn muffins which I liven up with cranberries and walnuts, and had a nice meal of soup and cranberry/nut muffins for a cold snowy day! ENJOY and when you do, take the opportunity to visit with the memories of the cooks you fed your childhood, the grandmothers and mothers, and sometimes fathers (my father was the Sunday pancake chef complete with a double electric fryer that he opened at the head of our huge family dining table. On one side he cooked bacon and sausage, on the other pancakes, and eggs.) It was a special Sunday ritual of my childhood. I would like to find some of those beautiful old bowls in an antique shop like the Red Mill, perhaps or the place I used to visit in Burlington, Antique JUnction? Meawhile, I will enjoy visiting with my West Virginia neting bowls from the Honeymooner's Souvenir Shop which has sadly been repaced by the Honeymooner's Gun Shop, not a very optimistic souvenir for a newlwed couple!

Saturday, December 12, 2020

Visit to the Museum of American History in Deptford, NJ on Dec. 12. 2020

December `12, 2020 The most fun thing I have done this month is to visit THE MUSEUM OF AMERICAN HISTORY, in Deptford, NJ. with my sister, yesterday. On the brochure offered by the founder, Jeffrey Norcross, archaeologist his mission statement is: “Our museum is not a building filled with artifacts; it is a building filled with history told with artifacts.” Although my purpose in visiting on this trip was to look at the model train displays, from the 1940’s and 1950’s, my favorite items in his collection have always been and always will be the little metal figures molded from melted down artillery shells and bullet casings. What I learned this time, was that in a lower shelf in a nearby case, was the photograph of the grandmother who collected them in Germany after the second World War. It is a marvel to me that something so fanciful as skating and sledding figures would have been made from the debris of unimaginable destruction and violence. Thinking about his grandmother, I realized that he must have been the little boy in the family that was interested in history and so she passed her collection on to him, as did the other relatives, who gave him their fishing reels and favorite lures, and the old farm equipment from their farms in the Maple Shade and Pennsauken areas. So many of the items resonated with me in odd ways. He has a collection of hand carpentry tools and I also had two planers which I have carried with me over many decades for heaven only knows what reason. One of the planers had a wooden handle/holder obviously roughly hand carved from a block of wood another, a Stanley 45 planer, was actually the subject of a series of drawings that I did back in the 1970’s. These tools spoke to me of the hands that had held them, the things they had made, a time before electric tools when a carpenter needed strong hands and muscles to shape the wood for furniture or for buildings. Near the reels and lures, their is a group photo of four men and their catch. Maybe these were Jeffrey’s uncles or grandfather. The addition of the family photographs makes all the things so much more eloquent, to me. I have some things like that, my great-grandmother’s treadle sewing machine in its wooden case, which she used in her trade as a dressmaker when she was still a young girl of 16, according to the federal census I found doing family history. I have her heavy solid metal iron too. One year I made a booklet for each sibling of the family heirlooms so that when I die, they won’t simply end up in Goodwill, but someone will rescue them and hold onto them the way Jeffrey N. held onto his family’s possessions. I don’t know who that descendent will be because contemporary people don’t seem to have much sentiment for old family things. I don’t blame them. Why should young people have to go forward burdened by the left over possessions of the relatives who came before them. You have to care about those people and those things, the way I did about my grandmother’s things, her quilts, her photographs, her diary and her mother’s sewing machine and iron. Anyhow, I really enjoyed that day and wish more people could visit and enjoy that museum and take their children with them so that some of the magic might rub off on them! The Museum of American History 138 Andaloro Way (used to be Andaloro Farm) Deptford, NJ 08093 856-812-1121 www.southjerseymuseum.org (also on facebook) hours Thurs. thru Sun. 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Sunday, December 6, 2020

18th Annual Antique Toy Train Show at the Museum of American History, West Deptford

The 18th Annual Antique Toy Train Show Nov. 27th, 2020 thru Jan. 31st, 2021 Featuring O and O-27 gauge toy trains, from the 1930’s, 1940’s and 1950’s. Lionel, Marx and American Flyer engines, with adjoining cars, will race on two diverse platforms. Vintage Plasticville buildings from the 1950’s will further augment the display. Vegetation and auxiliary structures will give the platforms a traditional holiday appearance. Museum of American History 138 Andaloro Way, West Deptford, Nj

Thursday, November 26, 2020

The Holidays to Me

It is Thanksgiving 2020 and I am Home ALone! But I don't mind. Long long ago, in early childhod, I perfected the creation of personal happiness with minimal material rosources. So I am watching tv, drinking coffee, eating pmpkin bread that Holly made as a birthday gift for me. Thanksgiving, to me, was always about paricipating in a family gathering, but when my parents died, getting together lost a lot of its immediacy. We gathered together to visit our parents, my siblings and myself. Once the parents were gone, we became the parents, and our offspring had far far less motivation to visit with us, and so many of us had only one child, the draw of the siblings was also absent. Needless to say, the PANDEMIC has changed all of that anyway. It is a communal duty to STAY HOME this year and to NOT participate in the spread of this deadly disease. Some years, I visited with friends when I was alientated from y sister who lives closest to me. The trip my brother in West Virginia made to New Jersey was a big motivation for reconnectin with that sister because she would have us to her house and I would visit with my brother. But he is adamant about wanting to protect himself from this vius and has stated unequivocally that he will not be coming up for Thanksgiving or for Christmas. I often think about the hours at the kitchen table that we girls would spend chopping and peeling, dicing and chatting while my mother pulled it all together into the meal that took hours to cook and minutes to consume! I miss my mother more than any other part of it. What I don't miss is the hour in front of the sink scouring the baked on gravy out of pots and pans and the piles of dishes and cups and saucesrs after the dinner was over, when the males all retreated to the living room to watch football and the cooks and cleaners settled into phase three of the process, but at least we had one another to talk to during all of that. Christmas has NEVER been a consumer event for me mostly because I never had any money. I have always celebrated Christmas but it irritates me to hear so many of my non-celebrating friends deride it as "too commercial." I feel like saying that it is what we make of it. If you don't make it commercial then it won't be, but just as they don't want to rake leaves, they also don't want to put up trees or lights. They don't want to bother with all of that. Personally, it makes me happy though I have reiced me decorating to a fraction of my pre-old-age level. And I have help. Without the help, it would have to be reduced even further. What I love about it is the light in the time of darkness, the many stories about reemption from gloom and pessimism and selfihness into communal warmth and connection, even as my communal warth and conenction is more with other species than my own these days. My family, still around the number 7 or 8, as it was when it was human, is now multi-species: canine and feline. And they are good companions too! My dog and I just had our morning wawlk and I admired the Christmas decorations newly strung up in my neighborhood where the houses are almost entirely small, quaint bungalows that look remarkably like the little houses on our Christmas tree platform of my childhood. I was born in 1945, and my childhood is almost entirely portrayed in A Cjristmas Story, the wonderful movie based on the work of storyteller Jean Shepherd. He so perfectly encapsulated essential aspects of my childhood and youth in his stories. It is those memories also that I celebrate along with the cultural inheritance that i Christmas. My Great Northern Barbarian ancestors carried these lighted trees and symbols for hundreds of years and there is wisdom in them. I can feel it, and I commune with them each year when i also, light the tree and the the darknss for myself and my little fraction of the world. Happy Thanksgiving and Merry Christmas!!

Saturday, November 14, 2020

Model Train Show - Perfect for Christmas

The 18th Annual Antique Toy Train Show Nov. 27th, 2020 thru Jan. 31st, 2021 Featuring O and O-27 gauge toy trains, from the 1930’s, 1940’s and 1950’s. Lionel, Marx and American Flyer engines, with adjoining cars, will race on two diverse platforms. Vintage Plasticville buildings from the 1950’s will further augment the display. Vegetation and auxiliary structures will give the platforms a traditional holiday appearance. Address: 138 Andaloro Way, Deptford, Nj 08093-1627 Admission $4 adults, less for children and members of roups Hours Thur., Friday, Sat., 12 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Friday, November 13, 2020

Whitesbog for my 75th Birthday

Today, November 13, 2020 was my 75th birthday. Due to the pandemic, I didn't have a party as I most certainly would have done in other years for such a mementous birthday - after all, a wuarter of a century!! And My mother die at my age as did the mothers of a few of my friends, which i a reminder that although today 75 doesn't seem all that old, it is in fact, pretty old. So since so many places were closed, my daughter and her husband came down from New York to spend the day with me. They brought me my favorite soup, which Lavinia's husband, Justin, had prpared, Butternut squash soup, and we bought take-out sandwiches and ate here, at my house. I had decorated early for Christmas so I could enjoy the decorations and lights for my birthday as well, so it was cheery and festive. Then, for dessert, we went to Eiland Arts Center in the old re-purposed Merchantville train depot, and bought coffees and treats in lieu of birthday cake since I have just recovered from a bad case of diverticulitis and none of us thought a cake sitting around the house was a good idea. We drove to Whitesbog next, and although the harvest has been over since October, it is still a hauntingly beautiful place, especially in the late afternoon on a day like this where dark bottomed clouds, reluctant to leave the battlefield where they had so recently triumphed, sat layered across a determined blue sky and a radiant sun threw light beams against the iridescent green lichen growing on the dark trunked trees and lit up the orange and red leaves of the late autumn shrubs along the wood that borders the white sand roads around the bogs. While my daughter was here, she showec me how to switch my browser from Safari to Chrome so that I could blog again, the brower turned out to be the reason I couldn't use my old blog anymore, so I am BACK!

Saturday, August 22, 2020

Retirement Aug.22,2020

Retirement post date August 22, 2020 As is so often the case, blogger has improved upon something that was working perfectly well so now I can’t use it properly anymore! I am resorting to writing my blog on a word processing program and transferring it over. I can’t make the type larger anymore on blogger. In Sept., I may no longer be able to blog since blogger only let us borrow the ‘old’ version until Sept. 1st, when the new model is imposed and I can’t blog on it at all. Last week, I met a couple of friends in the park who are not yet retired. I retired 13 years ago, as soon as I could. My health had begun to deteriorate and I wanted to spend the next few years as a free woman exploring my options and my world. My first year, I took off entirely. Some days I would get up and get in the car, pick a road from my New Jersey Road Atlas, and just drive to see where it would take me. In this way, I discovered so many wonderful new places such as Bivalve and the Bayshore Discovery Center there. After my year of total freedom, I settled in to volunteering for the next half dozen years. I volunteered at several local historic sites such as Red Bank Battlefield, Alice Paul Foundation, Gloucester County Historical Society, Camden County Historical Society where I also worked part-time for a couple of years as a suitcase history storyteller in schools. These were such fruitful years because History was a bit outside my former fields I taught English and Art in my education career. I loved it! Learning about the history gave me additional places to seek and discover. For instance working at Red Bank Battlefield opened the whole world of Revolutionary War History to me and we, the volunteers formed a club and took many field trips for instance to the homestead of William Penn. On my own, I explored South Jersey sites such as the site of the Battle of Chestnut Hill and Trenton Barracks, Battle of Princeton site, and Monmouth Battlefield. Now I had the opportunity to join the Outdoor Club and explore hiking and kayaking. So many new places were opened up to me such as Jim Thorpe, in Pennsylvania where I hiked up a waterfall in summer and when it was frozen in winter. My knees and back began to give me trouble so I was no longer able to manage stairs, or long hours of tours. I took up painting again and got re-acquainted with some old Rutger’s College fellow artists from the print-making program. We formed an Art Club. Soon I had a lot of paintings and I began to look around for local, group show notices. I showed work at the first annual Atsion Arts and Crafts Fair, Fortnightly Annual Scholarship Art Show, Haddonfield, and at, my favorite, Eiland Arts Center, located in the old historic Merchantville train station where, this Spring I won first place in the BRAVE 100 Art Show celebrating the Centennial of the Women’s Suffrage Amendment. I began to write again and participated in Poetry readings, a couple of writing groups, Riverton Writers, for a decade, and Owl Grove for two or three years. After putting an entry in The Mad Poets Society Annual Poetry Contest, I was thrilled to win first prize and get published in their Journal with my poem RAIN. Sounds like a lot, doesn’t it? But that’s not all. I also now had time to try my hand at writing books and I wrote three which I independently published: a historical novel called White Horse Black Horse, a relationship novel called 181 Days, and a memoir called 1969 On The Road. When I worked all the time I had neither the energy or the time for any additional hobbies or even a social life. At that time, also, I was raising a child and by the time I retired, she had grown up and launched herself on her own creative and independent life. I was free from responsibility and had only the usual household chores to hold me down. As they say in advertising - WAIT!! There’s more! I had so much free time that I tried some new hobbies in arts and crafts. I made a scrapbook for my sister for her 50th birthday, and my daughter for her 30th, then one for myself for my 70th! And I began a long and, of course by its very nature, endless foray into family history. It is amazing what you can do when you are free! So if you contemplate retirement and don’t know what you will do, perhaps this will help you just a little to explore a few ideas I have posted. Some of the things my retired friends do, now that I have time for friends too, are: volunteering at Animal Shelters, Wildlife Rescue, Political Campaigning, gym memberships and fitness, a few have written books, some have developed new careers that are offshoots of the old careers they had, and many do art and writing. A few have taken cooking courses and one or two like to travel. One gardens and one has done various projects related to her church. Many friends are history volunteers, which is where I met them, and the ones I met in the Outdoor Club still hike and kayak. Happy Trails! Jo Ann wrightj45@yahoo.com

Saturday, August 15, 2020

A Memorial to Rob Sweetgall - a Life Well Lived

Back in 1981, when I still lived in New Jersey near the Cooper River I had the opportunity to see the Edward Payson Weston 6 Day Race. It was held on a little running track on the Pennsauken side of Cooper River. For 6 days, ultra marathon runners ran/walked/jogged as many miles as they could stay upright to finish. I was a lap counter volunteer and I counted laps for Rob Sweetgall. Shortly thereafter, Rob and I began to date and I did a few small things to help him start his biggest accomplishments his dream and his goal for his life, to run around the perimeter of the United States. It was to kick off his new business in Creative Walking for Fitness. He had been a chemical engineer for Dupont but his family history of heart disease propelled him into life changing career in promoting fitness by walking. Hw wrote about a dozen books on the subject and reached countless thousands with his lecture tours to promote walking fitness in corporations and schools across America. While he was on his year long odyssey, our paths diverged. He went on to complete not only his 10,000 lie perimeter walk/run program, but to walk in all 50 states and yet another 11,000 mile walk run. Eventually Rob married an herbal healing expert named Darcy Williamson and by all I found doing research on them, they lived a healthful and happy life in MCCall, Idaho. Rob died in 2017. I didn't know he had died until I looked him up the other day on google and found his obituary. He was a kind and sensitive man and I am glad he had the opportunity to live his creative and fulfilling life to promote wellness and fitness. Rob loved the outdoors and I am happy that he lived the rest of his life in McCall, Idaho, which by the photos on Maven's Haven (his wife's herbal medicine studio) looks like a beautiful place of mountains and forests. And I am happy that he had a wife who shared his passion for the natural world and for healthful living. Both of them wrote many books which are available on amazon. Darcy Williamson has written many books on herbal medicine and edible wild plants as well as some history of her homeland of Idaho. Rob has a dozen books on walking for fitness as well as one he and Darcy wrote on fast and healthful meals to go with an time-economical fitness program for people with busy lives. In honor of Rob, I plan to plant a couple of trees in my yard in September, and I will buy one bookworm each author. Rob had a powerful impact on the lives of all who met him and he was an inspiration to us all. To my sorry, I found that at least 4 of the original Payson 6 Day Race marathoners have since passed away, Harry Berkowitz, Wes Emmons, and Sabin Snow, as well as Rob. Wes was the oldest and died at 83. Rob was only 69. He died of cancer. Their stories are living examples of how people can live the life of their dreams and how you can step out of a life that doesn't fit and make a success of another lifestyle, outside the conventional path you may have found yourself on. I hope this blog post inspires any readers to look up Rob Sweetgall, Darcy Williamson and Edward Payson Weston, all heroes for health and for the environment. Happy Trails, wherever your life may lead you! Jo Ann wrightj45@yahoo.com

Saturday, August 8, 2020

So sorry - it didn't work. The old blogspot format just deleted all my paragraphs and my attempt to enlarge the font.

Pandemia Journal - My Blogger book club - The Janes 8/5/2020

Don't know if there will be another blog post after this one. There is a "new and improved" format for blogspot that no longer allows me to post so this may be the last one. I can only do this one because there was an allowance to use the old format one more time, however the old format was not the one I used and it doesn't allow me to make the text larger - sorry! So, I can barely see this type as it is. Maybe I can type it on 'pages' and past it in - I will try! Blog Post - My blog book club and my invisible friend. Recently, after spending a few evenings watching El Chapo as part of my Latin American experience, i watched one episode of Immigrants, a series on illegal immigration and the ICE debacle. I got so depressed by the brutality and heartlessness in both of these series, that I needed to take a break and visit a gentler, simpler, imaginary place - AVONLEA, Prince Edward Island. When I was a confused, terrified, misfit child, I found Anne of Green Gables in my Grandmother Lyons’ basement bookcase. As I have said before about this bookcase, I have no idea why it was in the abasement and no one but me had any interest in the books at all. I don’t know whose they were originally, although my Uncle Joe Lyons told me the Tarzan book was his father’s, my grandfather, Joseph Lyons, Sr. Anyhow, there, I found a girl like me, a dreamer, a book lover, a storyteller, who was humiliated at school, and traumatized in a number of ways in ordinary life. Anne showed me you could survive and thrive despite it all, and I did! Watching the series again, with new fresh eyes, I realized what a profound impact the book had on my life. My lifelong interest in one-room schools, my 35 year career as a teacher, my love of writing, and so much more (my love of trees and my feeling of empathy and comradeship with animals.) This time, I noticed how as my life moved on, so I became other characters in the story - during my motherhood/teacher years, I became a kind of Marilla, and now in my old age, I have softened into kind of Mathew. It came to me that the delicious details, the deepening profundity of the simplest dialogue, the momentousness of ordinary little things, came from a world where a woman was so confined by culture, community and law, that she was forced to ponder and use for her resources, the long littleness of life. Then I thought, how much L. M. Montgomery, Charlotte Bronte, and Jane Austen had in common. Their focus on the psychology of the intimate life, the customs, the hypocricy, the conventions in constant jousting with human nature, was created by their very confinement within the Victorian cage of their times. If I had a book club this would be what I would like to discuss. But being a freewheeling, follow my own trail kind of reader, I don't join book clubs. Last month would have been the start of a long period of Latin American authors. Well, I hope something gets improved so I can continue to talk to you, my invisible, imaginary friend. You are like the imaginary friend in the china cabinet that Anne Shirley spoke with in her years of solitude -Katie in the clock! Happy Trails, Jo Ann

Monday, August 3, 2020

Pandemia Journal - Mexican politics in the El Chapo era

Perhaps you, too, are watching the Netflix series on EL CHAPO.  Probably, I wouldn't have been watching this if it weren't for my recently re-discovered interest in our southern neighbors.  In fact, at the time when El Chapo was in the headlines, I was already disturbed by a kind of 'Robin Hood' 'Pirates of the Caribbean' mythology that was growing up around him.

After we all saw the bodies hanging from the overpass in Juarez, we began to become aware of the murderous pathology that had infected the politics and economics of Latin America.

It was a sad eye-opener to watch the three season series, which was about 30 episodes and very detailed.  It was all far far too complicated for me to try to summarize, by the way the corruption spread upwards like a kind of social gangrene, was interesting to see in a map kind of way.  

Needless to say there were many profound thought inspiring aspects to this film series as well as to the political and social world the series portrayed.  It is a work of art, not a documentary, but sometimes they are the very things which touch on the ineffable, the hard to see, hard to comprehend things.

One repetitive aspect that was occurring to me was the answers to the question:  What is the best way to live to be happy?
To the drug lords, it seemed to reside in willful domination over others, power through emotional manipulation and intimidation as well as bribery, expensive accessories such as Rolex watches, sports cars, the acquisition of as many 'prize women' as possible, into a kind of harem with beautiful models and celebrities at the top of the list.  The material goals were far more than these, and so were the desperately clever strategies to capitalize on an opportunity to achieve the means to get those goals.  A big one was the goal to be "The Boss."  Kind of like a one god only model.

I couldn't help by contrast that philosphy with more Eastern ones like Buddhism, where the main goal is to recognize your mind, comprehend your thought patterns and de-throne them so that you can achieve peace through inner power rather than outward materialism.

And then, the other contingent weighs in, the reformers who devoted their lives to worthy causes to support and assist their fellow human beings. 

The same argument falls into the history of the Quaker religion, when the individual spirit, direct communication to god from within, revelation oriented Quakers came to debate with the orthodox Quakers who wanted a kind of imposed conformity and a profession of spirituality through action rather than say, meditation.

I don't claim to know the answer or to even think there is one, but I have tried most of these approaches at some point in my life and I have become what I am, a simple, solitary, somewhat materialistic human (as in I have a house and a car and pets), and I do manage to fall into periods of meditative state periodically throughout my day.  I have felt spiritual yearning from time to time in my life, but conventional denominations and church groups were unappealing to me and I have serious and well-thought out opinions on such things as 'holy books' or 'spiritual leaders,' or even the 'one god' concept.  I can appreciate it as a unifying force in society but utterly irrelevant and superstitious seeming to me.

What would I think is a good life at this moment?  Well, I try to think of the things I have done that I feel were good - my long career in education, raising my daughter, managing to independently buy a small, humble, but utterly comfortable house, I got educated and I still educate myself,  I seek to understand other people and the world around me and I have values I hold to be high oral ones that eventuate in good for the most people, abstract concepts that reveal themselves in law such as justice, equal opportunity, fair play, honor in making agreements, and so on.  Also I believe that right behavior begins at home in kindness and compassion towards the animal companions who come into your life, understand an support for family and friends. 

Well, I didn't want this to get too long, so that's a good enough start.  By the way, we don't have the old standard "Crime Doesn't Pay" for no reason.  Depending how things evolve over time, I believe that crime doesn't pay in the real things like peace,, happiness and a sense of self worth.  I am sorry for those who are denied by circumstance the opportunity to have a long relationship with the joy of those things.

Happy Trails,
Jo Ann

Sunday, August 2, 2020

Pandemia Journal - Taking a Lessons from Home-schoolers: Education in the Pandemic

History teaches us so many things, not least of which is the long evolution of education.  A perfect and local example  is the Clara Barton one-room school in Bordertown.  In the Colonial period, children were taught at home by both their at-home parent (usually a mother) and hired tutors.  

In 1852, an ambitious and high motivated young teacher came to Bordertown, New Jersey, from Massachusetts.  Her name was Clara Barton.  The community gave her a ramshackle little one room building to begin the first public school.  On the first day six children showed up and they all pitched in to clean up and ready the school for more.  Clara Barton's efforts eventuated in 500 students.  She was so successful, that she was put under the supervision of a male administrator which outraged her, as it should, so she left to found first the registry of wounded and dead during the Civil War, and finally the Red Cross.

My point with this blog entry, however, is that there were models available to us to use as temporary solutions during the pandemic.  
My idea is that a group of PTA type parents and retired educators could form a cooperative.  If there were, say four teachers, on hourly tutoring wages, and a set of perhaps ten parents, A teacher could meet at the backyard of the Brown family on Monday and tutor in (if it were me) English, Art, and History.  On Tuesday the small group of 5 to ten students could meet at the Green family backyard for Math and Phys Ed.  Whys Ed could be croquet, while ball, bad minton, and if there is a pool, swimming and pool safety.  
On Wednesday, a parent volunteer and chauffeur could help the tutor take the children on field trips to, for example, Red Bank Battlefield for a history lesson, Bivalve for a science lesson, Funny Farm for a lesson in science, the planetarium (I think there is one at Glamssboro) for astronomy, There are literally hundreds of small museums and historical societies and nature centers like the Palmyra Nature Center, that could be used as learning destinations. 

I think this could actually be done with three tutors!  Possibly even with two!  I know I, personally, could do History, Art, Literature and Language Arts, and probably lower level Science.  A Science tutor could perhaps handle pays ed.  

The Home Schooling folks could teach everyone a lesson in how to do education on your own.  Don't get me wrong, I think children are better off in school and that home-schooled children miss a o, including exposure to diverse cultures and personalities, however, in times of pandemic, home-schooling could offer us a way out of children not having any education.

And by the way, home tutoring was the only education until the 1800's.  One room schools came next.  

Some of the advantages of the home-tutor idea aside from safety from the danger of large groups confined in building which we know makes a perfect way to spread corona virus, would be children would have more one to one attention, and tutors with small groups would be better able to get them to wear masks!  Taking temperatures could even be a way to teach health and science!

Heaven knows there are plenty of talented teachers who have retired who may be willing, on a temporary basis and hourly tutoring wage, to do such a thing.  Detrimentals would be the fear of litigious and fault finding parents.  There would have to be some legal involvement to begin with because there is always a parent who would become aggrieved over something or other who would see an opportunity to go to court like going to the bank.  

The parent group would have to be carefully selected, as would the tutors.  There would have to be some protection for the home-owners as well for the same reason.  And there remains the bathroom issue.  My suggestion would be a team of parent chaperones who could help with bathroom issues and lunch (although a brown bag from home would be best for this, especially in view of nut allergies and so on).  

In the Sunday New York Times today there was an article on POD SCHOOLS which sparked my idea of home-schooling models.  If the tutors were paid even a generous hourly wage, it could be supported by a contribution arrangement, so for example, a $50 an hour, could be covered by - well, I can't teach math and trying to figure out that cost per 10 families, for example, is already making my head tired.  We would need a treasurer/accountant.  If you had a truly cooperative group, probably most supplies could be individually supplied by the parents for each child and some plan for students who have low income families like a scholarship.

Needless to say there would be some risk for the tutors even with such small groups and if a teacher is retired, she or he probably is old enough to have some of the health concerns related with aging, high blood pressure and such.  Lots of legal releases would need to be drawn up and signed.

Just an idea that creative and energetic parents and teachers might like to consider!  I have always loved the one-room school model in education history, and I have done a bit of tutoring for enrichment, privately, as well as the full range of home-tutoring when I was still employed  I did English as a Second Language, home-bound tutoring for students absent for medical reasons, and many community ed night classes as well as Lab School experience.  One of my favorite courses at Glamssboro State College for my first Bachelor's degree was in ALTERNATIVES IN EDUCATION!  Back in the 1970's this creative approach was very popular and many models for learning came from it.

Happy Trails!
Jo Ann
wright45@yahoo.com   (my e-mail)

Saturday, August 1, 2020

Best Day in 6 months - BIVALVE, NJ

A TRUE FRIEND - If you are like me and fall in love with PLACES, you will understand how happy I was today when a true friend volunteer to take me to visit a place I loved from the first moment I laid eyes on it:  BAYSHORE DISCOVERY CENTER, in Bivalve, New Jersey.

At one time, Bivalve was a busy, wealthy, thriving community of oyster fishermen, and rich people's summer vacation homes.  Hundreds of box cars rolled in and out of Bivalve each day carrying oysters to Philadelphia and New York.  It was a golden harvest until the mid 1950's when a bacteria was brought in via bilge water in ships and infested the oysters and killed them.  Almost overnight the devastation destroyed the oysters, the communities that built up around the harvest of them.

My dear friend and fellow history buff, Barbara Solem volunteered to drive me down to Bivalve to see the new exhibit, a temporary exhibit of relics brought up from shipwrecks along the coast.  Some of the most interesting items pointed out to us by the tour guide were round bottom bottles designed to keep the corks wet by not standing upright on flat bottoms, and a ships telephone in almost pristine condition, giant lobster claws as large as baseball its, some beautiful china, cutlery and many other items of interest.

I didn't think I would ever get back to Bivalve because it is an hour and a half from my house and not many would be willing to go there.  In the past, when I drove, I could persuade people to go with me but now that I can't drive that far (old car - 14 years old and 200,00 miles on her) it isn't possible for me to go to many of the far away places I once loved.

I was a tour guide at Bivalve for a couple of years till my car began to suffer from its old age and I didn't feel safe driving so far anymore.  

BIVALVE is a kind of ghost town with a boardwalk and a series of old shops for sails, ships engines, a post office, a shucking shed and an oyster cafe among others.  That's on the land side, on the water slide there are decks and we were able to sit at a table out there and eat the lunch we bought at a Wawa we passed when we hit the bottom of Route 55.  It was so cool on the docks, a brisk breeze came in off the water and we sat beside the remains of the old masted schooner CASHIER which has been slowly and sadly sinking into the mud and disintegrating.  The wheelhouse of the old Cashier was rescued, but sadly there was never enough money to dryadic the Cashier itself and make the necessary repairs which became or of a millions of dollars project of replacement than repair.

Fortunately, this being as Saturday, we did not run into shore traffic.  The tour guide told us the traffic is mainly bad on Friday nights and Sunday nights.  We hit one or two slow spots due to a flat tire repair in one lane, and a bottle neck where 55 forks and the left side becomes 322 to Denisville.  The way home was entirely traffic free.

Something about the lonely, even ghostly quality of the place spoke into my heart and I became infatuated with that place.  I read everything I could get my hands on about it.  Many of my old entries are about books I read abut this most southerly part of New Jersey, the old SOUTH JERSEY magian the history one, not the new travel one, and many books like MAN, THE SEA AND INDUSTRY, andTHE MAURICE RIVER.  I was captivated by the story of the old man who all his life wove the baskets they used by the thousands in the oyster industry.  I saw a photo of him from the WPA days, sitting in front of his little one room house, weaving the baskets.  For some years I tried to find one of those baskets to buy but no luck.  When I found them on-line, they were too expensive.

As much love and happiness as I experienced there was also a feeling of sadness for the day when I was a volunteer there and got to go every week and spend time there.  It made me aware of how trapped I have been during the pandemic, and even before, by my failing eyesight, bad knees, and old car.  My roaming and adventurous days have come to an end and I miss them.  

When I went there in the old days, I took all kinds of turns and side streets to explore the area, I roamed freely with hours of free time since I was retired and had no reason to hurry home, no dog waiting for dinner, no schedule to keep, such freedom,  It was one of those times you think will never end but they do.

Much thanks to the generosity and friendly love that brought my friend Barbara Solem to volunteer to take me there and share the day with me.  As we ate lunch on the dock, the cooly elegant Meerwald schooner came slowly gliding along like a swan.  I took photos and after I rest up, I will post some here.

If you haven't been there, you should really go - you won't be sorry, and there are no crowds!  But you must wear a mask!  Entrance fee is $5 for seniors and $7 for general public.  If you aren't vegan or vegetarian, you might want to have lunch on the docks with something from the oyster Cafe' which is what the family we saw visiting that day were doing.  Other than that family lunching on the docks it was quiet there as I always remember it being, and peaceful.  What a lovely day and a great friend to spend it with.

Barbara Solem is the author of three books on the history of the PineBarrens so we share a love of old places and history.  Other places I miss dreadfully are Pakim Pond, and the Maurice River Bluffs where I used to hike and take Captain Dave's boat ride. "Those were the days, my friend I thought they'd never end..."

Happy Trails!
Jo Ann