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

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Rattle Me This!

The recent release of the latest Batman movie stirred up memories of the 1960's Batman television show where the caped crusader and his loyal sidekick, Robin, fought a series of villains each week to keep Gotham City crime free. The special effects, consisting of comic book action words such as KAPOW!, SPLATT!, and ZOK!, were primitive by today's standards but entertaining and effective in a much simpler era.

The villain of the week provided opportunities for a variety of plots. Each of them had catchy names including the Penguin, the Joker, Mr. Freeze, and Cat Woman. My favorite was the Riddler, played by that ham actor, Frank Gorshen, who should have won an Emmy in the overacting category.

Frank Gorshen as the Riddler

Should you be unfamiliar with the Riddler or doubt my claim that Frank Gorshen tended to overact a bit, click on the short video below.

The Riddler's favorite expression, as he taunted Batman in his attempts to stop the Riddler from carrying out his nefarious escapades, was "Riddle me this!" Batman, of course, always figured out the riddles and thwarted the Riddler's every attempt to exact mayham on Gotham City.

By now, you are probably wondering, "What in blazes does all this have to do with a Bass River History Blog?" Well, I'm getting to that!

Bennie Broome and Russie Adams both lived on North Maple Avenue which was called Allentown Road at the time. 

Ben & Russie's house locations on present day Bing Map
Both have been modernized and enlarged

They had a long standing partnership in running a local saw mill. The other day, I was reading a September 12, 1946 Tuckerton Beacon news item about an encounter that they had with a rattlesnake while riding through the woods with a load of wood for their saw mill. 

As I read the brief new item, the phrase "Rattle me this!" ran through my mind, followed by my Batman memories from the 1960's. I can't explain why. They just did! Sometimes my brain makes weird associations. This was one of those times. 

Ben Broome logging in a local cedar swamp

Russie Adams enjoying his pipe

Well, I hope you found Bennie and Russie's encounter with the rattler family interesting and my memories of Batman and Robin entertaining. Sometimes history makes strange bedfellows!

Pete S

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Robbery In Mathistown

There's an old history joke that George Washington couldn't throw a silver dollar across the Delaware River today because money doesn't go as far as it used to. It's funny, partially because inflation has made it true. I even, occasionally, find myself saying "A million dollars ain't what it used to be!"

A few days ago, I stumbled across an interesting web site that calculates the effect of inflation over the years. You type in a dollar amount and two years and the site calculates the increase in the value of the money over that time period. 

You can view the on line inflation calculator by clicking on the calculator below.

I thought I would give you a practical demonstration of the benefits of the on line inflation calculator to the student of history, by relating it to a 1907 newspaper article regarding a robbery in Mathistown. Mathistown is that section of Bass River Township along Rt. 9 from the Ocean-Burlington County line at Balinger's Creek to Job's Creek.

Tuckerton Mayor J.L. Lane

The robbery of $200 from S.E. Osler doesn't seem like much today; however, if I adjust that $200 from 1907 dollars to today's dollars, the amount becomes $4,620.00. That gives you a more accurate idea of the enormity of the theft. You can truly say that it was grand, not penny, theft!

Not only has the value of money changed over time, but so has our vocabulary. The headline "Footpads Well Prepared" probably doesn't make sense to most of you out in the Blog-O-Sphere. The term "footpads" means "A thief who prays upon pedestrians." Something to tuck in the back of your mind for the next time you do a New York Times crossword puzzle!

Pete S

PS- I also find it interesting that the news item appeared in an Elmira, New York newspaper. It must have been a slow news day in the Elmira area!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Mr. Peabody Meets Miss Margaret

The other day John Yates, a history buddy, and I were talking about cartoon shows we enjoyed while growing up in the 1950's when cartoons were a Saturday morning TV staple. One of John and my favorite cartoons was "Rocky and His Friends". Rocky was a flying squirrel who palled around with a somewhat dimwitted moose named Bullwinkle. They would have an adventure each week and introduce a few friends. 

Two of their friends who were highlighted on the show were a boy named Sherman and his dog, Mr. Peabody. Perhaps, some of you out in the Blog-O-Sphere remember these segments called "Peabody's Improbable History".

Mr. Peabody and Sherman at the WayBack machine.

Mr. Peabody, an unusually smart dog, invented a WayBack machine which he used to bring Sherman back to various times in history, so Sherman could learn history first hand. They would dial up a year and an event and, PRESTO, would find themselves transported back to view and become part of historic events as they unfolded. It's not unusual that both John and I to enjoyed the show, as we both have always been interested in history.

If you are unfamiliar with the show and would like to view an episode or you were a fan as a child and would like to relive some pleasant memories, click below to take a trip with Sherman and Mr. Peabody back to 1492 to witness Columbus' discovery of America.

I got to thinking about what a Mr. Peabody episode would be like if he and Sherman traveled back to New Gretna a few decades ago. I can picture Sherman dialing the WayBack machine to New Gretna in 1941. Let's go back to that time and see who they might encounter. I can't draw a cartoon, so we will have to settle for a Tuckerton Beacon account and some old photos to spark our imaginations.

Our journey in the WayBack machine brings us to Miss Margaret Adams' retirement dinner on a June 18, 1941 evening. It is a significant event in the history of New Gretna. Miss Margaret taught and was a principal at the New Gretna Scool for 42 years. No one devoted more years to educating New Gretna students than Miss Margaret! I'm sure that some of you out in the Blog-O-Sphere have fond memories of her.

Miss Margaret in 1937.

The New Gretna School where Miss Margaret devoted 42 years of her life.

Franklin A. Gray, 1952
Board of Education Clerk

Alice Mathis sang "School Days"

Gene Sears sang "Love's Old Sweet Song"

Bess Mathis and her husband, Zeb - 1946
Bess led the group singing.

Rev. Ernest C. Enslin spoke about Miss Margaret's contributions to the community.

Leola (Mrs. Gerald) Hickman replaced Miss Margaret as principal.

Gerorgia Lutz presented a testimonial to Miss Margaret.

Kathleen Willets Gray was a teacher at the New Gretna School.

Can anyone tell me which of my Men's Breakfast buddies, whose initials are "R.S.", spent quite some time under Mrs Gray's desk due to questionable classroom behavior? I'd sure like to take a trip in the WayBack Machine just to see that! If anyone out in the Blog-O-Sphere served a similar fate as "R.S.", lets hear from you.

Leah Loveland

Helen (Mrs. Clarence) Mathis

A young Lizzie (Mrs. Benjamin) Broome

Mildred (Mrs. Milton) Kauflin

Minnie (Mrs. Henry) Updike

Almira Cramer, later Mrs. Clarence Steele
Mother of Rickie "White Shoes" Steele

Well, that's our little journey back to the New Gretna of 1941 to meet Miss Margaret and the many citizens of New Gretna who honored her at her retirement dinner. Maybe you met some people that you knew or heard about. If so, let's hear from you. 

Pete S