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

Monday, February 28, 2011

More On Dr. Green

I received an email from John Allen up in cold, snowy New Hampshire. John included a death announcement for Dr. John Wynantz Greene from the January 7, 1898 edition of the New York Times obtained from Unfortunately, the quality of the reproduction leaves much to be desired, but it is readable.

New York Times - January 7, 1898

The article sheds a bid more light on the circumstances of Dr. Green's death and the subsequent actions of his wife regarding the disposition of the body in a manner against the wishes expressed in his will (See the February 25, 2011 Blog entry).

It seems that the good doctor had married a second time later in life, after the death of his first wife. This was a winter-spring marriage, with the doctor about sixty years old and his bride but twenty at their wedding which occurred twelve years prior to his death along the Wading River. After about six years of marriage, the young Mrs. Greene, unable to cope with the doctors eccentricities, left him and took their young son to live at her mother's home.

I guess their short relationship wasn't sufficient to produce a bond whereby the young Mrs. Greene felt particularly obligated to follow Dr. Greene's last wishes regarding his burial beside the Wading River. On the other hand, perhaps she genuinely was in love with her husband and felt that his eccentricities grew greater over his last few years resulting in his increasingly bizarre behavior during his last days. I guess we will never know what was in her heart.

I would be pleased to hear from anyone who has other thoughts regarding this unique situation.

Pete S

Sunday, February 27, 2011

You'll Shoot Your Eye Out !

One of my favorite movies is Jean Shephard's "A Christmas Story". I can't help laughing every time I see it. A favorite part of the movie is Ralphie's persistent hinting of wanting a Red Rider Air Rifle to whoever will listen to his ultimate desire- his mother, his teacher, and even Santa himself. The response from all the above is "You'll shoot your eye out!"

Well, memories of these scenes of Ralphie's air rifle episode flashed before my eyes when I received an email from my history buddy, John Yates, regarding an air rifle used by Lewis and Clark in their great expedition across our beautiful country, an interesting piece of historical trivia.

I wonder if Lewis and Clark's mothers warned them that they would "Shoot their eye out" before their epic journey. Probably not, as it might have drastically changed an important part of our nation's past. Small, simple incidents often play a role in the unfolding of history. It's the Ralphie principle.

Pete S

Friday, February 25, 2011

Is There A Doctor In The House?

I got the following January 6, 1898 New York Times article emailed to me by my history buddy, John Yates. I found it interesting in that I have never heard of Dr. J.W. Green in my history and genealogy research. I'm hoping someone out in the Blog-O-Sphere can shed some light on him and where he lived in Wading River, as he sounds like an interesting character. Also, what is tobacco heart? That's a new one on me.

My Men's Breakfast buddy, Jim McAnney, sent me the following New York Times article also dealing with Dr. Green's death. Evidently, the good doctor left his wife to avoid stress and went to the tranquil Wading River area for health reasons. Upon his death, a coffin made by Dr. Green for his own burial, was found in the cellar.

His will stipulated that he was to be buried next to his shanty in a pre dug grave; however, the article states that his wife decided that the body should be shipped to New York for a proper burial. It appears that the couple didn't see eye to eye in life, so it is not surprising that Mrs. Green didn't see eye to eye concerning her husband's burial wishes. Evidently, she believed that Wading River was not fit for her husband's final resting place. I wonder what the Wading River folk thought about that.

Also, perhaps there's a lesson here for you husbands out in the Blog-O-Sphere to treat your wives well. After all, they usually do outlive us. Nuff said!

Pete S

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

A Tribute To Win Allen

The other day I received a comment asking when Allen's Clam Bar was established in New Gretna.

July 24, 2009 photo by Pete Stemmer.

While I am still tracking down that information, I stumbled across a tribute to Win Allen, who had just passed away, published in the March 14, 1996 edition of the Tuckerton Beacon. I thought I would share it with you. It was written by Ed Hitzel, a restaurant critic who ate at Allen's Clam Bar over the years. He developed a warm friendship with Winnie.

Pete S

Winnie Allen receives congratulations after winning the Crisfield Maryland oyster shucking contest.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Tuckerton High School's 2000 Reunion

I volunteer at the Tuckerton Historical Society on most Wednesdays from 11:30 AM to 3:00 PM. It's one of my most enjoyable days of the week, as I am able to discuss a variety of local history topics with the half dozen or so volunteers plus the visitors that show up on most Wednesdays.

Four of these volunteers (Shirley Nugent, MaryLou Mathis, Connie Woolson, and Bonnie Jean Kovar) are currently beginning to plan for a multi class Tuckerton High School reunion to be held sometime near the end of this year.

Their recent planning discussions have led to looking through the Historical Society's files regarding past reunions. This resulted in finding a Tuckerton Beacon newspaper clipping of a multi class reunion held in 2000. I thought I would share the article and accompanying photos, as many of our Blog readers are graduates of Tuckerton High School. I hope some of you out in the Blog-O-Sphere enjoy this little trip down Memory Lane.

Tuckerton Alamnae Recall The Way They Were

[Tuckerton Beacon Thursday. October 19, 2000]

by Linda Redington

TUCKERTON — When parents go by the Tuckerton School. they think of it as the place where their children go to learn and play. But when their grandparents drive by, it's a different story. For years, the brick building on Marine Street was the local high school.

Memories of the old school are so fond in many of its graduates that a recent Class of 1949-60 reunion brought alumnae from far and near to the Captains Inn ln Forked River.

Not everybody made it. There were some from Kansas and California for whom the trip was too much and many who are no longer on this mortal plain. There was at moment of silence for the latter before the evening of fun and sharing memories began.

Walt and Georgina Bartlett, formerly of West Creek and now of New Gretna, were among the many who recalled those innocent days of poodle skirts and bobby sox, of dances at the school every Saturday night and hanging out at the local soda shop. "'The Sugar Bowl." which most recently was One Eye Willie’s and is soon to become Mercurio's Restaurant [Editor's Note: It has since become the China East Buffet.]

So was Fred Kalm, voted the “Must Popular Boy in School" as well as the "Best Looking" in 1949. One of the schools teachers, Milton Showell of Beach Haven, was present. and welcomed enthusiastically by the former pupils, and certificates were given to those traveling the greatest distance, having the most children or grandchildren or the longest marriage.

Bob Hutzley, Class of `49, whose yearbook prediction was that he would still be trying to give his constitutional essay years from now, came all the way from Michigan for the event. "I wouldn't miss it for anything," he said.

Time has marched on since the 2000 reunion. We are saddened by the passing of Jack Shinn, Edward Laird, and Joe Marshall, Berta's husband, since the 2000 reunion.

Hopefully, those Tuckerton alumnae currently out in the Blog-O-Sphere will be able to make the next reunion near the end of this year. Stay tuned for future reunion details.

Pete S

Sunday, February 13, 2011

A Taxing Situation

I read a news report the other day that said that New Jersey was the most heavily taxed state in the nation. I can believe it, as I look at my property tax bills, the 7 % sales tax that apply to most of my purchases, and my New Jersey Income Tax obligation that comes due shortly. Equally high insurance rates exasperate the problem. Just how did we get into such a mess?

It's hard to believe but, at one time, there were no taxes for New Jersey residents for State expenses other than running the local schools. The State was run on taxes paid by the railroads and other corporations.

Where's a time machine when you need one?

Pete S

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Will The Real Minky Allen Please Stand Up?

I got the following email from Don Maxwell, down in the warm Florida Keys for the winter, in response to last Saturday's Blog entry on the Community Theater in Tuckerton. Don has a remarkable memory and a keen sense of humor. I always look forward to hearing from him, and his latest tale about Leon "Minky" Allen at the Community Theater didn't disappoint. It made me chuckle, and I thought I would share it with you.

The Community Theater, in 1964, on Main Street in Tuckerton.
Photo courtesy of the Tuckerton Historical Society.


Just a little tidbit I remember about the old Community Theatre in Tuckerton. They used to have what they called Bank Nite held every Friday night. While the audience was seated, they passed a hat or something, maybe a bowl, thru the isle and every one would write down their name and address on a little slip of paper provided. I think it was immediately after the movie and, when the lights went on, Mr. Loux would go on stage with a bowl full of the slips of paper and would get a volunteer from the audience to come up and draw one out.

I remember this was during the last of the depression just before the war, and the economy was still pretty tough. The prizes were $50 first prize, $25 second etc. on down, so needless to say, the place was packed as these prizes were a lot of money for the times.

So, I'm setting there, and Mr. Loux read a slip of paper and said, “Leon Allen, New Gretna. He repeated it several times and finally said, “Leon Allen, New Gretna” for the last time.

About then, Harold Gerew, who was sitting in back of me, got up and went a couple of aisles down and reached over and tapped a man on the shoulder and said, “Hey Minky! That's you!”

Harold Gerew

Immediately, Minky Allen jumped up and yelled out “Here! I'm here!” and went up and got his prize. The funny part of the story was that Minky didn't recognize his own name, Leon, as everyone called him Minky. He nearly missed his prize, and he undoubtedly needed the money.

Don Maxwell

Unfortunately, we can't gather present day stories about the old Community Theater as it was torn down in 1973. What a pity!

Progressives would say that, while we have lost most of our old community theaters, our modern cable TV with its vast array of "Movies On Demand" is far superior. As for me, I'll take the good old neighborhood movie theater, with its carnival of familiar smells and where we could chat with our friends and neighbors. Pass the pop corn, Minky!

Pete S

Monday, February 7, 2011

Jersey Devil Obituaries Revisited- Harry Leeds

Last Wednesday I posted William Bozarth's 1939 obituary because of its reference to the Jersey Devil. John Yates, a history buddy, sent me the following recent obituary for Harry Leeds, Jr. which also mentions the Jersey Devil. Althought Harry never claimed to have seen the winged beast, it seems his ancestors in the Leeds family had a direct connection to the cloven hoofed creature. Talk about your "Missing Link!"

Harry had a unique take on the Jersey Devil, seeing him as "a decent guy who liked to help people." Interesting! Well, I guess many of us tend to see our ancestors through rose colored glasses, and Harry really had a big pair.

Pete S

Harry W. Leeds, Jr.

GALLOWAY TOWNSHIP - Harry W. Leeds, Jr., an ex-Marine, former Galloway Township mayor and ceaseless promoter of the Jersey Devil, died on Friday. He was 75.

Leeds, a Democrat from one of the area's oldest families, served on the governing body for most of 20 years, leaving office after losing re-election in 2000.

Mayor Tom Bassford said he and other township elected officials received e-mail confirmation earlier this week of his death.

"He was a good man, Harry Leeds was," said Bassford, a Republican. "He was old-time Galloway. He loved Galloway Township. I may have disagreed with his politics sometimes, but he was a good man."

Leeds was piney aristocracy, proud to say he descended from Daniel Leeds, who in 1690 entered from England into the practically virgin wilderness that is now the township.

Harry Leeds was born in 1935, one of seven children in the family, growing up in the township's Oceanville section.

"He was a bad kid," recalled Ken Sooy, a childhood friend and current chairman of the township Planning Board. "He was one of the rough boys. In a small town, you have the kids who are ready to fight if necessary and hold his own. He also grew up in a big family, and as you know, when you have a bunch of brothers and sisters, you're either tough or you're lost."

Leeds enlisted in the Marines in the early '50s, said his son Clyde A. Leeds, 43. After meeting and marrying his wife in 1957, Clyde Leeds said his father worked with members of the U.S. Army's Special Forces in Vietnam.

Clyde Leeds said he was named for Harry Leed's brother Clyde, killed in Vietnam in 1966.

Harry Leeds retired from the military in 1975, returning to the area and buying the Muskett Tavern at 343 W. White Horse Pike in 1981, the same year he won election.

During his life, he saw the construction of the Richard Stockton College of New Jersey and the Pinelands Act, which brought higher education, tens of thousands of new residents and permanent change to the region he held dear.

He described his early days in the rural township to a reporter in 2003, saying "folks lived off the land and ate what they caught in the bay, and everybody had a hog in the back yard," he said. "It was a different place."

Much of the planning for growth came during his time on the governing body, focusing on commercial and medical office development around Chris Gaupp Drive. A new township building, to replace the smaller one that burned down in 1983, went up several years later on a former vineyard on East Jimmie Leeds Road.

While he served at least four one-year terms as mayor, he was unsuccessful in four separate bids for county Freeholder.

He was a generous person, said John W. Mooney, a former Galloway Councilman who is now Atlantic County's Superintendent of Elections.

"Harry will give you the last dollar in his pocket, if you wanted it," Mooney said. "He had a big heart."

Leeds was never shy to claim heritage with the Jersey Devil, the legendary beast of the pines who supposedly was born to Mother Leeds in 1735.

"He was like the local historian on the Jersey Devil," Mooney said.

As the legend held, the devil was her 13th child, cursed by Leeds for the pain it brought her. It then sprouted a forked tail and cloven hooves, fleeing up the chimney and flapping away into the night as fast as its newly grown leathery wings could carry it.

Harry Leeds would show reporters and others the cellar hole off of Moss Mill Road where her home supposedly stood, and his son said he appeared in more than a dozen documentaries about the legend.

"The myth is that he was a bad guy," Leeds told The Press of Atlantic City in 1995. "He was a decent guy who liked to help people."

He blamed sprawl and development on increased sightings.

"I believe the reason he was chased out of this area was because people were coming in and he wanted the area to himself," he told The Press in 1999, adding that the last sighting was around the time of the Vietnam War.

Leeds sold the Muskett in February 2006, buying a home in Lewes, Del., with his wife and ailing mother-in-law. After his mother-in-law died in 2009, Clyde Leeds said his father was making plans to spend more time in this area, but he died of a heart attack on Friday.

Visitation will be held 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Friday, and 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. Saturday at Wimberg Funeral Home, 211 E Great Creek Road, Galloway Township, with a service to follow on Sarurday.

January 25, 2011 Atlantic City Press

Click below to see a video of the Jersey Devil's birthplace, including an interview with Harry Leeds.

If you have trouble viewing the video, you can see the original on UTube by clicking below.

Click here to see the video on UTube

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Grass Skirts and Winter Dreams

I was sitting at home this afternoon looking out over a rainy winter day. While I was glad that it was too warm to snow, the cold, damp day was still disconcerting. My mind started to wander off into thoughts of being on a warm, tropical island, away from this horrible winter season in the northeast.

Suddenly, while looking through some old ads for the Community Theater in Tuckerton, I was momentarily transported back to a pacific paradise with Betty and Victor, grass skirts and all. Now, that's something to warm you up on a nasty winter day.

Won't you join me on the balcony of the Community Theater as we travel back to 1942 for a visit to an Island Paradise and, perhaps, join Betty and Victor in an island song? We can shake off the winter blues and revel in the sunshine. Oh, and don't forget your grass skirt! I may even pay a little more for my ticket to see my Men's Breakfast buddy, Jim McAnney, dressed in one. How about it, Jim? Just be careful that you don't get too near a lawn mower.

Pete S

PS- If anyone out in the Blog-O-Sphere has any memories of going to the old Community Theater in Tuckerton, let's hear from you.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

William Bozarth Meets the Jersey Devil

I've been working with my history and genealogy buddy, Shirley Whealton, on an obituary clipping and scanning project. So far, we have clipped, scanned, and put over 6,000 obituaries, spanning the late 1890's through today, into a computer data base. As Shirley and I clipped and scanned the obituaries, mainly from old editions of the Tuckerton Beacon, we've read some pretty interesting things about the people from our area.

The other day, while scanning William Bozarth's obiituary, I noticed a reference to his being only one of a few people who have seen the Jersey Devil face to face.

Meeting the Jersey Devil "face to face" is a pretty interesting and unexpected comment in an obituary, so I thought I would share William's obituary with you.

Now, before you skeptics ot there in the Blog-O-Sphere poo-poo the idea of the Jersey Devel being real, you should read more about the Jersey Devil by clicking on the links below. Enjoy!

Pete S

PS- Is there anyone reading this who has seen or know anyone was has seen the Jersey Devil and survived? If so, let's hear from you.