How to add a posting below . . .

To add a new posting, send an email to me at with a comment, question, story, photo, observation, etc. It will be posted below, shortly after the email is received. To comment on an existing posting, click on the "comments" command below the posting and type your comment. Your comment will show up immediately.   Pete Stemmer

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

New Year's Babies

Every New Years most newspapers print a photo or article about the first baby born in their community. Thinking that the Tuckerton Beacon was probably no exception, I reached back into my archives collection to see if I could find a photo or news item about a New Gretna "New Years Baby".

Sure enough, I found what I was looking for when I got to the 1947 Beacon articles. Unfortunately there was no photo, but the brief news item presented an early January baby born to a New Gretna family. Coincidentally, I happen to have breakfast with that 1947 New Year's baby every other Friday at our New Gretna Men's Breakfast Club.

The New Gretna New Year's Baby Award goes to Ricky Steele, born Richard Budd Steele on January 2, 1947 to his proud parents, Clarence "Budd" and Almira Cramer Steele. 

Clarence "Budd" and Almira Cramer Steele.
(Photo courtesy of Almira Cramer Steele.)

Ricky's cousin, Jim McAnney, also goes to our Men's Breakfast and is probably laughing right now thinking about kidding Ricky about this Blog post, as he usually does when I mention Ricky in the Blog. Well Jim, the laugh may also be on you. It seems that Jim was born just a few months after Ricky. I don't have his birth announcement, but I was able to find a January 30, 1947 Beacon news item about a Baby Shower that was held for his mom, Peg McAnney. You guessed it! That baby shower was for little Jim who was born April 4th. Those of you out in the Blog-O-Sphere with New Gretna roots will probably recognize the names of many who attended the shower.

Jim's parents, Ruby and Peg McAnney.
(Photo courtesy of Peg McAnney)

Cousins Ricky Steele (l) and Jim McAnney a few years
after their 1947 entrance into this world.
(Photo courtesy of Peg McAnney)

I want to wish all of you out in the Blog-O-Sphere a Happy New Year, especially my Men's Breakfast buddies, Ricky and Jim.

Pete S

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas


Let us all remember the reason
for the season.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Don Maxwell Remembers Frank Cramer

I got the following email from Don Maxwell related to last Thursday's Blog posting about Frank Cramer's Santa beard catching fire. It pins down the year that it happened.


A young Don Maxwell didn't miss
much that went on in New Gretna,

and he remembers it all.
Maybe I can shed a little light on the Frank Cramer episode of the beard burning. Unfortunely, I cannot pin down the exact date, but I believe Clif is pretty close. Frank and Rejessica sold the Rustic early in the 1940's, I believe around 1942. They were getting ready to sell in the late 1930's, as they were always talking about moving to Long Beach Island. They bought a lot very near the beach. As I remember, you could see the ocean when it became rough.

Frank and my father were friendly as was my mother and Rejessica. Frank contracted my father to build him a nice two story home on his new lot which was in Beach Haven. He started about the time the war started, in mid 1941, and finished it that same year. Frank, being a bricklayer by trade, finished off the outside with brick.

Speaking of his beard catching fire he had a much more dangerous one. It was just after Christmas, maybe a week or so. Their Christmas tree caught fire upstairs in their living quarters. Rejessica screamed for help, and frank ran upstairs, followed by Norman Mathis, Bob Mathis' uncle, and they grabbed the tree and got it somehow out the back door over the railing and down. it caused some damage like burnt curtains, etc. but not so severe they couldn't continue living there.

I do remember they lived on the beach during the 1944 hurricane as, after the storm, my dad took the whole family over to see them and to see if they had suffered any damage. They hadn,t much damage but Frank said Jessica and daughter Joan were hysterical during the storm.

Yes, Joan married Bill Kapler. It was the second marriage for both as they had both lost mates due to death. I have no idea where they live now. I do know that Joan became a Special Education teacher. Growing up she was one nice girl. My father said she was the nicest kid he ever saw. She was over at our house an awful lot and took a lot of meals with us.
Don Maxwell

Don comes to the rescue, again! I'll never know how he remembers so many details from so long ago. He's got to be the ninth wonder of the world!

Since Don remembered that Frank and Rejessica Cramer moved from New Gretna to Long Beach Island early in the 1940s, Frank's Santa beard had to have caught fire on December 24, 1938. Mystery solved!

Pete S

PS- After I received and read Don's email, I found a December 25, 1941 Gramer's Grille ad in my files. Although it was still called Cramer's Grille, the proprietor was George Yike. Frank Cramer no longer owned the establishment. This confirms the time frames in Don's email.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Santa and Murphy's Law

Christmas is just around the corner. Tis the season to be jolly! At least that's the way it is suppose to be. Unfortunately, things don't always go as planned over the holiday season. Just ask Frank Cramer, the proprietor of Cramer's Luncheonette, whose efforts to bring Santa to the children of New Greta went awry as chronicled in the following Tuckerton Beacon article. Unfortunately, the news clipping is undated, but the incident probably occurred sometime in the 1940s. It shows that Murphy's law, "Whatever can go wrong, will go wrong!", also applies to Santa.

Pete S

Frank Cramer

Frank Cramer was the proprietor of Cramer's Grille on the north-east
corner of present day Rt. 9 and North Maple Avenue.
(Postcard courtesy of Charles Richmond, Jr.)

PS- I'm wondering if Don Maxwell or Clif Brown recall the incident.

Monday, December 19, 2011

New Years Eve Plans

2012 is coming to a close in a few weeks, and Jackie and I are starting to make plans for the New Year's celebration. Since we don't like to travel on New Year's Eve, we are planning to stay in town. The New Grena Minstrels are planning a New Years Eve gala and that seems to be just the ticket. Front row reserve seats are only 50 cents! If your budget is tight in this economy, general admission tickets are only 25 cents. What a bargain! Perhaps, you would like to join us.

Does anyone out in the Blog-O-Sphere have ancestors who are listed in the program? Also, do you know the first names of H.Z.; J.S.; and C.G. Mathis? If so, let's hear from you!

I picked up our tickets the other day at Howard Mathis' store on New York Road, now Rt. 9, so that we would have them well in advance of the New Year celebration. 

Howard Mathis' store

If you want a good seat you had better see Howard soon, as the tickets are going fast. As the minstrel's interlocutor, he can also answer any questions you may have regarding the upcoming performance.

Howard Mathis

I'm not sure if the following New Gretna Minstrels photos are of the performers in the advertised New Year's show, but I suspect that many of them are. Perhaps, someone out in the Blog-O-Sphere can match the names from the above program with the performers in the photo.

New Gretna minstrels

The New Gretna Minstrels perform at Tuckerton High School.

I'm looking forward to seeing you all on New Years Eve! Now, if I can just find the Knights of Pythias Hall.

Pete S

Monday, December 12, 2011

Christmas Shopping - New Gretna Style

Well, here we go again! Christmas is quickly approaching, and I still haven't started my Christmas shopping. Some things never seem to change.

I guess I'm not the only one who procrastinates during the yuletide season. Rita Allen who owned Allen's Variety Store on Allentown Road, now North Maple Avenue, in New Gretna placed a 1921 Christmas ad in the Tuckerton Beacon, especially for people like me who tend to wait to the last minute to do our Christmas shopping. Rita encouraged shoppers to "Avoid the inconvenience of last minute shopping" by stopping by her New Gretna establishment. It was good business and great advise.

Rita Allen, the owner of Allen's Variety Store.

I wish I could heed Rita's advise as her Variety Store was just down the street from my house, but it has been long closed. It would sure have made my Christmas shopping easier, as I'm looking for a pair of white shoes for my Men's Breakfast Club buddy, Ricky "White Shoes" Steele, and I bet Rita would have had an appropriate pair for sale. I guess Ricky is out of luck this Christmas.

Does anyone out in the Blog-O-Sphere remember Allen's Variety Store or have you heard stories about it? If so I'd like to hear from you.

Pete S

PS- Ricky's mother, Almira Cramer Steele, told me that she first saw a telephone at "Aunt Rita's" store when she was a little girl. Allen's Variety Store was just down the street from the Cramer home. The phone was an oak box hung on the wall. It had a crank that you would turn to ring the phone. 

Aunt Rita would lift little Almira up onto a box which stood by the phone so that she could reach the phone and turn the handle.

I wonder if Almira had ribbons in her hair?

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Gatling Gun Mystery

The Tuckerton Beacon hosted a column called "Out Of The Past" in the 1930's and 1940s. It was a reprint of news from early Beacons and is a valuable source of information. 

Out Of The Past Mast Head
The Beacon started publication in the late 1880's; however, complete copies of the Beacon are only available from 1916 to the present. It seems that the Beacon Office threw out their copies of the older editions, making the "Out of The Past" columns the only source of pre 1916 area news.

I am in the process of collecting, scanning, and compiling as many "Out Of The Past" columns as I can locate. I have currently collected 411 columns dating from 1890 through 1915. Most are from 1885 through 1909. WhiIe these columns only represent a tiny fraction of the news printed in the original Beacon editions, they are an interesting and valuable resource.  

As I was scanning a June 1, 1898 "Out Of The Past" column, a particular item caught my attention.

Gatling guns were an early form of machine gun. I remember reading that they created great carnage in the Civil War. 

Civil War era Gatling gun

I got to thinking "Why in the world would the Beach Haven Yacht Club place a Gatling gun on catboats out of Beach Haven?" and "Why would it be necessary to defend the harbor which such a deadly weapon?" 

We were involved in the Spanish American War at this time, but what interest would Spain have in the waters around Beach Haven? Were the Gatling guns an overreaction to war time hysteria or is there another explanation? What say you out in the Blog-O-Sphere?

Pete S

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

May all of you out in the Blog-O-Sphere have a Happy and Blessed Thansgiving.

The Old

The New

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

1969 Halloween Parade- Tuckerton Style

Halloween seems to be getting to be a bigger and bigger holiday each year with many towns holding elaborate Halloween parades. 

I was reading an old Tuckerton Chronicle the other day and came across some photos of the prize winners in the 1969 Tuckerton Halloween Parade and thought I would share them with you. You can tell that the costumes were homemade and quite imaginative. No store bought outfits in those days! I was surprised that no one was dressed as a clam, but I suppose that Jim McAnney was a little too old to participate in the parade that year. My favorite is the octopus in the pre-school to 2nd grade division.

The photos were especially interesting to me as I noticed that Connie Sue Briggs, the daughter of Phyllis and Sam Briggs who regularly read and contribute to the Blog, won second prize in the 3rd - 4th grade division. Way to go Briggs family!

Let me know if the photos bring back any found Halloween memories from your childhood.

Pete S

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Rt. 9 Barbershop Info From Clif Brown

Donald Maxwell provided a wealth of information regarding Alice Adams Weber's photo of the old barbershop near the corner of South Maple Avenue which was featured on last Tuesday's Blog. Donald's memory is unbelievable; however, he couldn't recall the name of the couple who lived in the old barbershop building after WWII, only that the husband was a heavy smoker.

The old barbershop on Rt. 9

Well, Clif Brown, who also has a remarkable memory was able to fill in the name of the couple and provided an interesting story that etched the couple's name in Clif's memory some 64 years ago. You could say that it's literally no accident that Clif recalls the couple's names. Read on in Clif's email message below and you will see why.

Pete S

Dear Pete:

Hope I can provide some additional information regarding the New Gretna Barber Shop (NGBS). Without Don Maxwell’s story my mind would have been a complete blank. The Model/year of that Pontiac Joyce is sitting on would have also helped. I had to go into the old shoebox to locate a clipping from which I was able to “ID” s folks who lived there, I think, a little better than remembering his cough. Looking back to that time it proves that New Gretna could not support a bank and two barber shops.

For starters, John and Alice Jarvis were the non-sociable couple who occupied the New Gretna Barber Shop around 1948 plus or minus 3 years. John had that cough, probably caused from working as a wheelwright in a foundry located in Philadelphia. 

I met them by accident, September 18,1948. It was a bright, cloudless moonlit night. The attached Tuckerton Beacon clipping explains it all. Norman Cramer was also a passenger in my vehicle. Neither he nor I or John Jarvis were injured.

Clif Brown (l) and Bob Dawson at the Tuckerton Race Track in  1951.
(Photo courtesy of Clif Brown)

In the late 50’s the old barbershop building was occupied by Bert and Doris who were from Absecon. Doris worked as a bartender in the Rustic Inn when it was operated by Frieda (Loveland) Shedaker. Bert was a brother to Irene Loveland's husband. Doris later worked as a bartender for “Pollock Ann’s” tavern located on the White Horse Pike, Absecon.

Regards – Clif Brown

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Aunt Alice and the Old Barbershop

The other day Steve Eichinger, my history buddy, stopped by to show me a few old Bridgeport and New Gretna photos that he had come across in an old album belonging to his Aunt Alice Adams Weber. Aunt Alice was one of the few old timers who was interested in the history of our area and collected data and old photos which she passed on to Steve.

Alice Adams Weber spent many hours collecting local history and genealogy data which she passed on to her nephew, Steve Eichinger. (Photo courtesy of Steve Eichinger)

Steve Eichinger carries on his Aunt Alice's love of area history and genealogy. (Photo by Pete Stemmer)

I had a good time going through the photos in Alice's old photo album with Steve. He really paid attention to his aunt when he was a child, as he remembered quite a bid about many of the old photos and how they tied in to his family.

One of the photos in Aunt Alice's album caught my attention - the one of the old barbershop on Rt. 9 in the vicinity of the present day New Gretna Munchies deli. I've heard about the old barbershop but had never seen a photo of it.

The photo was taken from the front yard of Curtis Maxwell's house and features Joyce Maxwell, Curtis and Dorothy Maxwell's daughter, and Donald Maxwell's sister.

The focal point of the photo was Joyce Maxwell sitting on the hood of a car parked in front of the Maxwell family house. As luck would have it, the old barbershop can be clearly seen across Rt. 9 in the background. South Maple Avenue, called Eel Street by the locals in the old days, would be to the right of the barbershop.

Joyce Maxwell with the old barbershop building in the background.

I didn't know much about the old barbershop, so I emailed Don Maxwell and ask him about his memories of the old building that has been long torn down. As usual, Don did not disappoint. His reply may be found below.

Memories of the old Route 9 Barber Shop
by Donald Maxwell

The old barber shop started out as a gas station. The property was owned by the Aubor family in Green Bank. They had one daughter, Dolly Aubor, who was a school teacher in the Green Bank school system. She was single all her life, a typical dedicated old maid school teacher. She inherited the property and owned it until the Tuckerton Bank bought it and built a satellite or New Gretna Branch on the property. She was always at the local card parties and hobnobbed with the local school teachers at card parties, PTA meetings etc.

Sometime in the late 40's just before the war, the Aubors had the small building built, and it was a two pump gas station. They leased it to a Robert Steelman from the Linwood-Somers Point area. He ran it for a couple of years until WW2 started and gas got scarse and it closed up.

An Italian barber named Frank Azzorina rented or leased it during the war. He had a barber shop there all during the war. After the war he and his wife gave it up and moved away and it became vacant. They rented Benny and Elaine Allen's home on Adams Avenue, until Benny came home from the war.

Ben and Elaine Allen in front of their Adams Avenue home.
(Photo courtesy of Ben & Elaine Allen)

I remember my brother Jack, as a boy, set some steel traps under the vacant building to catch a fox and instead caught a skunk. He got me to help him to get the skunk out and it sprayed him right in the face and eyes. There was quite a scene when we got home and mom got on us. She finally washed his eyes out with something or other.

Jack Maxwell, a few years before his skunk hunting days.
(Photo courtesy of Donald Maxwell)

After the war a couple of guys rented it for awhile to live there. After that a man and his wife lived there for a number of years. I can't remember their names, as he worked outside of the community and they didn't socialize with the towns people. I remember you could hear him coughing as he was a heavy cigarette smoker. I don't remember anyone else living there, as I moved out and got married and lost touch with the area.

Don Maxwell

Should Donald's account of the old barber shop evoke memories from anyone out in the Blog-O-Sphere, I would appreciate hearing from you.

Pete S

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Tuckerton in 1838 and in the 1930's

Last Saturday I was involved in presenting a program at the Tuckerton Historical Society on the Civil War in New Jersey and the Little Egg Harbor area.  I thought it might be interesting to research what Tuckerton was like just prior to the Civil War, especially the businesses and its prominent citizens. Unfortunately, I was unable to find information for that era.

I did; however, find accounts of life in Tuckerton in 1838 and in the 1930's, some hundred years later, and thought some of you out in the Blog-O-Sphere might be interested in the accounts. I found them interesting - especially the 1838 account that mentions a salt works located on Salt Work Lane, various prominent Tuckerton families including Ebenezer Tucker, the Castor Oil business, and old medical practices.

The 1838 account was found in a 1893 article clipped from the Tuckerton Beacon. Unfortunately, whoever pasted the article in the old scrapbook, which found its way to the Tuckerton Historical Society, did not clip out anything that identified the writer. We do have a hint, in that it was written from Port Republic, so the writer moved from Tuckerton to Port Republic. 

The article, "Growing Up In Tuckerton in the 1930's" was written by Carolyn Cambell who is active in the Ocean County Historical Society in Toms River. She lived in Tuckerton, as a young girl.

Click on the links below to read the articles.

Pete S

PS- If anyone knows where Salt Works Lane was, please drop a note in the Comments Section below. I suspect in may have been South Green Street Street, but that is just a guess.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Don Cramer and the Old Giffordtown Schoolhouse

I volunteer at the Tuckerton Historical Society on most Wednesdays and am generally there from 11:15 AM until 3 PM. Stop by to say hello if you are in the area. We have a lot of interesting stuff from Tuckerton and the surrounding area.

The historical society is housed in the old Giffordtown two room schoolhouse located at the corner of Leitz Blvd. and Wisteria Lane, diagonally across the street from the back of Cumberland Farms.

The old Giffordtown two room schoolhouse is presently the headquarters and museum of the Tuckerton Historical Society. (Photo by Pete Stemmer)

The Giffordtown Schoolhouse was originally located at the site of the present day Lighthouse Church on Route 9, across the street from the Rite Aid pharmacy. 

The Giffordtown School on its original Route 9 site, circa 1950's.
(Photo courtesy of the Tuckerton Historical Society.)

Bob Leitz's built a new car dealership next to the old schoolhouse in the 1940's. Eventually the schoolhouse was moved to its present location in the early 1980's.

Yesterday, at the historical society, we were pleasantly surprised when Don Cramer stopped by to make a few donations to the society. Don is the son of Pratt and Vera Cramer of the New Gretna oyster business family. Don's grandfather, Arnold Cramer, built the oyster house at the end of Amasas Landing Road in New Gretna.

The Cramer Oyster House at the end of Amasas Landing Road in New Gretna, circa 1940's. (Courtesy of Arnold Nathan Cramer)

Don came up north from his home in Florida to attend the October 15th Tuckerton High School Reunion. He had commissioned a painting of the old Giffordtown Schoolhouse and stopped by the schoolhouse museum yesterday to present the painting to the historical society.

Don Cramer and the painting of the old Giffordtown Schoolhouse.
(Photo by Paula Scully)

The Giffordtown Schoolhouse painted by Joan Stein Carroll. Mrs. Parker's old Plymouth is parked at the side of the school. (Photo by Paula Scully)

Some alumni of the Giffordtown Schoolhouse were present to admire the painting and talk about memories long forgotten. 

Giffortown Schoolhouse alumni (l-r): Charlie Richmond, Joan Wagenlehner Exel, and Pat Lynch admire the painting of their alma mater(Photo by Paula Scully)  

Don also donated a dictionary won by his grandmother, Gertrude French Cramer, at age 13, at the Philadelphia College of Business Spelling Bee in 1888; a hand rung school bell used by Gertrude, who taught at the New Gretna Grade School; a 1956 baseball signed by the Tuckerton High School baseball team; an old telephone from an Atlantic City hotel; and an antique wooden fishing reel. The items will be cataloged and added to the museum collection.

Don holding an old wooden fishing reel. (Photo by Paula Scully)

As you can see, there is never a dull moment on Wednesdays at the Tuckerton Historical Society. You never know who is going to drop by with interesting goodies. Yesterday it was Don Cramer. Next Wednesday, who knows? Stop in and see!

Pete S

PS- Anyone out in the Blog-O-Sphere who attended the old Giffordtown Schoolhouse? If so, please share a memory or two with us.