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Sunday, December 28, 2008

The Blog's 2008 Holiday Home Decorating Award

As you drive around New Gretna during the holiday season, it seems that more and more homes are being decorated each year. The competition is almost reaching a fever pitch as houses are festooned with intricate arrays of lights and yards are crammed with a variety of displays often reaching towering heights. Each year the madness grows as preparations often begin before Thanksgiving. As night approaches you can hear the increased humming of the electric meters spinning faster and faster to keep up with the bright lights and the air blowers straining to keep multicolored nylon figures erect. Oh yes, the Griswalds would be proud!

The Township has sponsored a holiday decorating contest with a ballot box placed in the Post Office for residents to cast their vote for their favorite display. It's the democratic process at work. I haven't heard if a winner has been announced yet, so I decided to have a "Bass River History Blog Holiday Decorating Contest" and crown our own winner. And that winner is  .   .   .

.   .   .   the South Maple Avenue home of Tiny and Betty Jean Keufer.

(December 23, 2008 photo by Pete Stemmer.)

I don't have a complete history of the house. I do know that Helen Sears Carty's grandparents, Chalkley C. Sears, Jr. and Ellen Cramer, lived in the house, probably from the late 1880's through the mid 1930's. They were married in July 3, 1887. Chalkley met his Maker in 1935, followed by Ellen in 1938. Both are buried in Miller Cemetery in New Gretna.

Chalkley and Ellen Sears on the front porch and their son, Eugene, on the front lawn of the Sears families South Maple Avenue home. Eugene Sears is Helen Sears Carty's father. The street at that time was known as Eel Street. (Photo courtesy of Helen Sears Carty.)

After Ellen's death the house ended up in the ownership of her brother, John Franklin Cramer, Jr., affectionalely known simply as Captain John. He was captain of the New Jersey State Fish and Game boat.

Captain John, standing center with outstretched arms in the front yard of the Sears-Cramer house. (Photo courtesy of William and Betty Jean Mathis Keufer.)

I am uncertain about the ownership of the house from the death of Captain John on February 25, 1930 until the present owners, Tiny and Betty Jean Keufer. Perhaps someone out there in cyberspace can fill in some of the missing details?

Pete S.


  1. I am very happy to learn about the continuing of the historical events to current age. This decoration is just awesome and wonderful. I must appreciate the award.