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Thursday, January 8, 2009

Eat Here and Get Gas

While thinking about Doug Lambert's story on Al Capone passing through New Gretna in his touring car on the way from New York to Atlantic City, I got to thinking how travel has changed over the decades.

There weren't the many fast food restaurants and diners that we now find along most major roads. Back in the old days you would be hard pressed to find a place to stop for a bite while traveling. You either packed your lunch or stopped at a local gas station that also supplemented their income by offering home made cooking. They were often mom and pop operations.

That put me in mind of that famous sign that always gets a few laughs   .    .    .

I think of that sign every time I look at the old photo of Frank Cramer's Service Station and Lunch Room (See post card below) that occupied the north-east corner of Route 9 and Maple Avenue. I wonder who did the cooking for Frank?

Is Frank holding up a pitcher of motor oil or pancake syrup? I'd be careful ordering a short stack here! For all you Don Maxwell fans out there, the house on the right is Don's boyhood home. (Post card courtesy of Winnie Allen.)

Kruse's Little German Kitchen and Service Station was located on Route 4 (Also called the Shore Boulevard and the New York - Atlantic City Boulevard, now Route 9), diagonally across from the present day Off Shore Manor development, is another case in point .   .   .  Treat yourself to coffee and a sandwich on home made bread as your tank is being filled. Sort of an early incarnation of today's Super WaWa.

Kruse's Little German Kitchen calendar courtesy of Bobby Quinn whose family lived across the street from the Kruse service station-eatery.

Kruse's Little German Kitchen was known ealier as the Kruse Inn, pun intended! For a time they distributed advertising coupon cards with the reverse side offering the customer the opportunity of collecting "Genuine Roger's Silverplated Ware". Of course, it necessitated patronizing the Kruse Inn in order to complete your set. It was similar to the movie houses of that time giving away a piece of china with the purchase of a movie ticket to get customers coming back, but that's a story for another time.

Kruse Inn coupon card courtesy of Bobby Quinn.

When I moved to New Gretna in the early 1970's, Ernie's TV occupied the building which housed the Kruse Service Station-Luncheonette. It had been empty since 1994 when Ernie Drews passed away. Sadly, it still sits abondoned, today.

Ernie's TV in 2003. It has been closed since Ernie's death in 1994. (4/20/03 photo by Pete Stemmer.)

1966 repair receipt courtesy of Bobby Quinn.

There were other establishments in New Gretna where you could eat and get gas. If anyone out there can remember any, perhaps you could share a story or two here at the blog. Meanwhile, next time you stop for gas in New Gretna, bon appetit!

Pete S


  1. Pete, In the picture with Frank Cramer, the man that is pouring water is Bob's Uncle Norman Mathis.
    Elaine Mathis

  2. Pete,

    just looking at picture of frank cramer's restaurant next to my old homestead. i guess you know that the man holding the large bucket with the sprout isn't frank cramer but norman mathis who worked for him atr the time. frank is standing in the background. norman was walter mathis,s brother and bobby and elvin mathis,s uncle. the sign says cramer and cramer, job cramer and frank cramer. job was frank,s father in law, an old new gretna family, while frank was a native of atlantic city and married rejessica cramer, thus inheriting the property thru his wife rejessica. the job cramer family owned from f.a. gray,s property to the corner up no maple avenue to the cemetary lane and along the lane to the cemetary. my father bought his property to build his house from job cramer.

    don maxwell