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, January 30, 2012

Occupy New Gretna

You've heard the expression, "The more things change, the more they stay the same." Well, it seems as if that applies to a link between New Gretna in the mid 1930's and today's political landscape. Today, we hear about the disparity of wealth in our country and see scenes of various "Occupy" demonstrations in cities throughout the country designed to bring the plight of the 99 per cent to our national conscience.

Occupy Wall Street

New Gretna folks were concerned with the same issues; however, society in old time New Gretna was too civil for such unruly exhibitions. Rather than have "Occupy New Gretna" demonstrations, a proper organization was formed to focus on economic class concerns and to join the political process, in an orderly manner, to strive to rectify the situation. 

Huey Long

I'm proud of our New Gretna ancestors back in the 1930's. Today's politicians should be so civil.

Pete S

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Chicken Thievery in New Gretna

I got the following email from Donald Maxwell about chicken thievery in old time New Gretna and thought I would share it with you. I was glad to hear that he got a chuckle out of last Sunday's Chicken Tattoos Blog entry. "Cackle" would have been a better description!


I couldn't help chuckling while reading about the chicken tattooing. I don't think your readers realize the chicken theivery that went on in the 30's. it wasn't uncommon for someone to report that their chickens had been stolen in the night. I know that we were one of those that had experiences with chicken theives. There were a lot of chicken yards and henhouses around New Gretna about that time. Nearly everyone kept their own chickens.

I know we were victims. One night someone got into our fatteneing pen and took out two big old hens that we were fattening up for Sunday dinner. Another time we heard a lot of chicken commotion in the back where we had the large chicken house. My brother and I slept in the back bedroom facing the chicken house so we could hear it better than the rest. My brother, Jack, loaded up his shotgun which he kept handy and fired a load out there deliberately high so as not to hit anyone. Needless to say, it alerted the whole household out of deep slumber. My dad rushed into the bedroom wanting to know what that shot was all about. We told him what we heard, so he went out with a flash light and discovered the chicken house had been broken into. He found a knife the thief had dropped plus a lot of feathers and some chicken blood.

I remember Les Allen lost his whole flock one night, some 30 some chickens including Rhode Island Reds, Wyondots, and Dominics. They were considered a very good brand. We always kept mostly leghorns with some other brands mixed in. Earl Cramer also lost a good part of his flock one night.

Les Allen
Photo courtesy of Alston and Claie Allen 

Earl Cramer and his wife, Elizabeth
Photo courtesy of Norman & Leila Cramer
A lot of people would call the State Police which mostly was a futile gesture. I remember reading, in the Tuckerton Beacon, about a chicken thief being caught in West Creek, so it wasn't just a New Gretna problem but was pretty well widespread at the time, especially during the war years.

During the war years there was hardly a family that didn't keep and raise their own chickens plus a lot of people had a hog out back of the house for their pork. They had what was known as a hog slaughtering day. We kids would gather around to watch it. It was so gory that most of us left shortly after it started. Some places wouldn't let us kids watch, as it was pretty bad, but that was a way of life then all along the South Jersey shore and inland also.

Don Maxwell

Following are a few old New Gretna chicken photos that you might enjoy. New Gretna-ites out in the Blog-O-Sphere may remember some of the people.

Pauline Berry, Bobby Quinn's mother
Photo courtesy of Bobby Quinn

Clarence Berry, Bobby Quinn's uncle
Photo courtesy of Bobby Quinn

Bucky Lamson
Photo courtesy of Betty Lamson West

(l-r) Debra, Barbara, and Marilyn West in 1962
Photo courtesy of Betty Lamson West

Pete S

PS- I couldn't help showing one of my favorite chicken jokes, courtesy of The Far Side.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Chicken Tattoos

Just when I thought I've read about everything regarding our government rules here in good old New Jersey, I received a surprise when I read the following from the April 20, 1933 Tuckerton Beacon. I wonder if it's still on the books.

I guess I'll have to round up all my chickens. See you down at the chicken Tattoo Parlor!

Pete S

Friday, January 20, 2012

A New Gretna Lunch

Yesterday I had lunch with John Yates and Tom Farner, a couple of history buddies, at SoJos in the Tuckerton Seaport. It was nice to sit and have a leisurely chat about the history of our area and compare notes on some research projects that we are working on.

I wish we were able to meet in a local New Gretna restaurant but, alas, there are none to be found. That was not always the case, as there were always a restaurant or luncheonette or two in old time New Gretna where locals could gather for a bite to eat and chat about the events of the day. 

The last restaurant that I remember in New Gretna was Frank's just off the corner of South Maple Avenue and Route 9, but it has been quite a few years since it closed when Frank passed away. It was the morning meeting place for the older locals.

I've been trying to collect information on past New Gretna eating establishments and recently came across a 1936 Tuckerton Beacon ad for the opening of the Quaker Maid restaurant with home cooking and featuring home made pies and cakes. That would have been just the ticket for me and my history buddies to meet. 

The Quaker Maid Restaurant is somewhat of a puzzlement to me, as I had never heard of it. It is advertised as under the management of Mrs. William Cramer and was located on New York Boulevard, now Route 9. I'm hoping that someone out in the Blog-O-Sphere might recognize the name and provide some background information for me.

Pete S

PS- Oooops! I forgot about Allen's Clam Bar on Rt 9 in downtown New Gretna. I'm not a fish eater, so I tend to overlook it. They have great sea food for all you sea food lovers. If you haven't been there, give it a try.

Allen's Clam Bar in downtown New Gretna.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Happy Birthday Joan Claire Cramer- 1930s Style!

I've been mentioning Frank and Rejessa Cramer, who owned and managed Cramer's Grille on the corner of Route 4 and Allentown Road in New Gretna from the early 1930s through 1940, in various recent blog entries. During this time I had been exchanging emails with Joan Claire Cramer Kapler, Frank and Rejessa's daughter, thanks to getting her email address from our Blog reading buddy, Clif Brown, out in sunny California.

I am in the process of clipping out, along with my genealogy cohort, Shirley Whealton, the New Gretna News from the pile of old Tuckerton Beacons Shirley and I have collected over the years. Yesterday, while clipping from 1937 and 1938 Beacons, I came across the following items involving Joan Claire's 6th and 7th birthday parties and thought I would share them with you. The parties sure sound festive, and the articles mention many familiar New Gretna names.

I notice that Don Maxwell's mother, Mrs. Curtis Maxwell, and his brother, Jackie, were at the 1937 party. Surprisingly, Donald wasn't at either party.

Jackie Maxwell attended both of Joan Cramer's birthday parties.
Photo courtesy of Donald Maxwell.

I was also surprised to see Georgine Mathis (now Bartlett) and Joey Shropshire's names, as I see them from time to time. Georgine lives on North Maple Avenue in New Gretna with her husband, Walt Bartlett, and Joe lives in North Jersey.

Georgine Mathis with her brother, Elvin.
Photo courtesy of Murray & Jean Shropshire Harris.

I wonder if Joan, Georgine, and/or Joe remember the parties. If so, it would be interesting hearing from them.

Also, if anyone out in the Blog-O-Sphere recognizes a name mentioned as a party guest, it would be neat to hear from you, too, along with your relationship with and memories of that person or persons.

Pete S

Monday, January 2, 2012

Who Is Buried In Grants Tomb?

I grew up in the 1950's and can remember when television was introduced into most American homes. Many of the old TV shows still come to mind from time to time. Some of my favorites were Howdy Doody; Junior Frolics, a cartoon show featuring Farmer Gray and mice that seemed to be endlessly running over hills; Captain Video; Kukla, Fran and Ollie; Rootie KazootieThe Honeymooners, I Love Lucy, and You Bet Your Life starring Groucho Marx. I'm sure most of you out in the Blog-O-Sphere remember those shows and have a few other favorites of your own.

You Bet Your Life was a simple little quiz show that ran in the 1950s and early 1960s. It featured Groucho's unique sense of humor and interaction with the contestants rather than big money prizes and fancy sets. Groucho would ask a team of two contestants a series of questions. They could also earn extra money by saying the secret word during the session. A duck would come down from the ceiling when the secret word was uttered.

Today's secret word is CLOCK!

Following is a clip from the show showing Grouch's banter with contestants.

Click the arrow to play the clip.

I particularly enjoyed the interaction between Groucho and his announcer and sidekick, George Fenneman.

Click the arrow to play the clip.

Should the contestants fail to earn any money, Groucho asked them one last obvious question, so that they would not go away empty handed. My favorite farewell question was "Who was buried in Grant's Tomb?" Surprisingly, some contestants, thinking it must be a trick question, would out think themselves and give the wrong answer. I guess they figured that the obvious was not always the correct answer.

If I were hosting a "You Bet Your Life - New Gretna Style" TV show and you were a contestant that didn't do too well at the quiz, I would ask you a farewell question, just as Groucho did. However, I'm cheaper than Groucho, so my question may sound obvious, but would be a bit tricky. Let's give it a try and see if you would answer the question correctly and leave my show with a few extra bucks.

The December 22nd and 24th Blog entries had to do with Frank Cramer, so I thought I would ask you a Frank Cramer themed question as a farewell question. Let's see how you do!

Your farewell questions is "What is Frank Cramer's first name?"

If you answered Frank, you are wrong! Everyone in New Gretna called him Frank, but Frank wasn't his first name. The following March 1, 1934 Tuckerton Beacon article dealing with the issuance of 1934 New Gretna liquor licenses lists Frank Cramer's full name as Abram Frank Cramer. It seems that Frank was really his middle name, a fact not well known in old time New Gretna circles. Abram was his first name!

Should you doubt that this is the same Frank Cramer, the address listed in the news article is the address of his New Gretna establishment. Route 4 is the present day Route 9 and Allentown Road is now called North Maple Avenue.

It seems that things are not always what they appear to be in old time New Gretna. I bet you were not the only one to get my "You Bet Your Life - New Gretna Style" farewell question wrong. As to "Who is buried in Grant's Tomb?", I'll leave that up to others to sort out.

Pete S