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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

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Happy 90th Birthday Howard Ware

Howard Ware was 90 this past Monday. Such an important event cannot go unheralded here at the Blog. Howard is an old, dear friend! Born in Wading River, Howard built his North Maple Avenue home in New Gretna in the 1950's after his marriage to Sara Allen. He's become a New Gretna fixture ever since.

Howard's North Maple Avenue home.
(February 1, 2009 photo by Pete Stemmer)

There are some events that a community needs to celebrate. Howard's 90th birthday certainly qualifies. A roomful of Howard's friends gathered at the Methodist Church this past Friday evening for a festive Birthday dinner celebration. While Howard wasn't taken by surprize, after all nothing much having to do with New Gretna slips by Howard, he certainly was surprized by the large number of friends who turned out to acknowledge a dear friend. It was evident by the love in the room that Howard touched the lives of a great number of people.

Following are a few photos taken by Sharon Maurer of the celebration.

Howard smiles as everyone shouts "Happy Birthday!"

Howard was joined at the head table by his brother, Nelson (right).

Howard admires his special Birthday cake made by Sharon Maurer.

Howard's cake had a hunting theme.

I stopped by Howard's house the next day to see what he was up to, a day after his party. I figured that he'd be resting from all the excitement of the night before. I should have known better. Those of you who know Howard shouldn't be surprized by what he was doing. I found him in his garden planting beans. I'd hate to guess how many he has planted over the years.

I'm sure that everyone out in the Blog-O-Sphere joins me in wishing Howard many more healthy, productive years. The "Bean Man" deserves no less.

Pete S

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Cramer's Grille

The Tuckerton Historical Society has its general Monthly meeting on the second Monday of each month at 7:30 PM in the Giffordtown School House Museum. All members are welcome and encouraged to attend.

I always look forward to these meetings, as I never know who will show up with an interesting story, photo, or aritfact concerning the history of our area. The May 8th meeting did not disappoint. Chuck Richmond, who collects old postcards from the Tuckerton area, brought two old postcards of Cramer's Grille in New Gretna that he had recently purchased at a post card show. For those of you unfamiliar with that establishment's name, presently it's the dilapidated brick faced building on the north-east corner of Route 9 and North Maple Avenue.

Cramer's Grill, later known as the Rustic Inn, in January, 2009.
(Photo courtesy of Pete Stemmer.)

Built by Frank Cramer sometime in the 1930's, it was a an attractive landmark in the center of New Gretna for many years. Many people remember it as the Rustic Inn sometime after it passed from Frank Cramer's ownership.

I thought I would share Chuck's postcards of Cramer's Grille with you and encourage anyone who has memories of the establishment, as it changed ownership and passed through various incarnations over the years, to share your memories with us here at the Blog.

Pete S

Cramer's Grille with its log and brick facade sometime in the 1930's. (Postcard courtesy of Chuck Richmond)

The inside of Cramer's Grill had a rustic theme. (Postcard courtesy of Chuck Richmond.)

Cramer's Grille had gas pumps in front. Owner, Frank Cramer stands to the left with an employee, Norman E. Mathis.
Cramer's Grill was also known as the Fountain Lunch as evidenced by an old Minstrel Program ad. Date unknown. Probably late 1930's.

The above Christmas season ad shows that Cramer's Grille was owned by George Yike in December, 1941.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Clif Brown Recalls the Hindenburg Over New Gretna

I spoke about my trip with Bob Buchanan to the Lakehurst Naval Air Station for the 74th Anniversary Memorial Ceremony of the Hindenburg disaster in last Wednesday's Blog entry. That awakened a memory in Clif Brown's mind about his spotting the Hindenberg as it passed over New Gretna on that fateful day in 1937. Unfortunately, Clif didn't have a camera handy to take a photo, but his written memories are worth sharing with you.

Pete S

The Hindenburg and etc.

On the evening of May 7, 1937 when riding my bicycle on West Greenbush Road, I sited on the horizon an airship flying just above the tree line and identified it to be the Hindenburg from the swastikas on its tail fins heading north towards Lakehurst about 6:30 PM. It was a majestic site reflecting the setting sun rays. Your friend Burrell, apparently saw it heading South, earlier in the day. I learned later that it was flying around South Jersey to avoid heavy electrical storms in the Lakehurst area. Listening to the radio later in the evening it was a shock to learn of the disaster. The broadcaster who was on site became so emotional describing, the fire, people jumping from the airship and all the confusion his voice was breaking down. Frequently, they replay that broadcast at programs recalling the catastrophe.

Anti German feelings were very high at that time and sabotage was suspected but later investigation placed the blame on static electricity causing a spark when the mooring lines were dropped to the ground crew, resulted in igniting the hydrogen gas. The Germans realized the danger of using hydrogen gas and wanted to use helium but were unable to buy from the United States. The only helium wells at that time were located in Texas. All US airships used helium gas. To avoid possible confusion hydrogen/helium gas was not used as fuel for the engines but being lighter than air lifted the weight of the airship.

The USS Los Angles and the Graf Zeppelin mentioned in the program are the same airship. After World War 1, the US received the Graf Zeppelin as reparation from Germany and renamed it the USS Los Angles. It was the only airship not to crash so when the US Navy ended the airship program it was dismantled and sold as scrap.

I worked at NAS Lakehurst for 10 years and had conversation with older employees who were on site during the Hindenburg disater, so I am not remembering all this from 1937, just in case some one is curious.

Clif Brown

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Remembering The Hindenburg

Last Friday evening was the 74th anniversary of the Hindenburg disaster at Lakehurst Naval Air Base. Although I was born after the incident, I have seen photos and newsreel footage of the disaster and have long been curious as to the reason behind the explosion.

There is phenomenom called the "Statue of Liberty Syndrome". It occurs when a native New Yorker, who was born and grew up within a short distance of the Statue of Liberty, never visits the historic lady. Surprizingly, it's really quite common. The same could be said about me and the Hindenburg Memorial at Lakehurst Naval Air Station. I was born in New Jersey and lived for some time in neighboring Toms River, yet never visited the infamous scene of the Hindenburg disaster. This is particularly strange, as I was a history major in college and taught United States History in my younger days.

I was pleasantly surprized when my friend, Bob Buchanan, telephoned with an invitation to accompany him to the Lakehurst Air Naval Base for the 74th Hindenburg Memorial Service. Bob, as a teenager, was holding a mooring line under the Hindenburg's right rear engine when the airship exploded on May 6, 1937 and was to be an honoree during the ceremony.

I, and my history buddy, John Yates, were honored to accompany Bob to the Memorial Service. It was a solemn, moving event that took place just a stones throw from the gigantic airship hanger that still dominates the Lakehurst landscape. It's amazing how Bob can remember and speak of the incident as though it happened yesterday.

I posted a slide show of photos that I took during the ceremony, the program booklet, and a few UTube videos of the airship disaster on the Tuckerton Historical Society's Web Site and would like to share them with you. Click on the photo of the Hindenburg below to visit that site.

Pete S

PS- I am reminded of the late Burrel Adams who, as a young boy, remembered the Hindenburg sailing over the family's house on Bonnet Island, adjacent to the Rt. 72 bridge to Long Beach Island. It shows the Adams family in front of their house looking up at the passing Hindenburg. Burrel claimed that it was taken during the day of the explosion.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Bottles and Other Treasures from the 1960's- New Gretna Style

I've enjoyed doing the recent Blog posts on two old area bottles that proved to be somewhat of a mystery. One was from West Creek (March 23rd Blog) and the other from Cedar Run (April 17th Blog). I got to thinking that some interesting bottles must have been unearthed in New Gretna over the years. Strange that I haven't heard of any from my own backyard.

Seems that two of our regular Blog readers, Elaine Mathis and Phyllis Briggs, have been holding out on me when it comes to New Gretna bottle hunting. They might try to deny it, but I've got the proof in the following April 26, 1966 Tuckerton Chronicle news clipping written by Phyllis Briggs.

Hopefully, this will jog Elaine and Phyllis' memories of some long forgotten bottles that they dug up over 40 years ago. I would be interested to hear about some of their bottle escapades, where their favorite diggings places were, and if any of their finds were embossed with some of our local town names. How about it girls? Let's hear from you!

John Costas, the local Presbyterian preacher during the New Gretna bottle hunting craze, was another avid bottle collector who also branched out into the sport of metal detecting. His hobby proved lucritive enough to help send his children through college. You can read about his bottle hunting by clicking on the link below. The article was written after Rev. Costas left New Gretna for Blackwood, but the old timers tell me that he did some serious bottle digging when he was in New Gretna.

I'm sure that there are some interesting collections of bottles in attics and cellars throughout New Gretna. If anyone out in the Blog-O-Sphere can tell us about them and their experiences digging for bottles in New Gretna, it would be appreciated.

Pete S