Memories of Camden, NJ

My Dad and his five brothers grew up in Camden - in the Cramer Hill section. When I was a kid, he would sometimes take us into the city to visit his old friends who were still in Cramer Hill or to walk up to Camden High School. And there were many walks across the Delaware River Bridge (now known as the Ben Franklin Bridge.) [Picture of the bridge under construction from my Aunt Ida's photo album.

So many things I remember are gone now. Grant's, Penney's, Lit's, Sears, and Woolworth's. The Food Fair at the Parkade Building. The subway and the ferry. Yes, I remember ferrying across the Delaware between Camden and Philadelphia. [Photo of the ferry used with the permission of the Haddonfield Public Library.]

Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital

Some of my earliest memories of Camden are of the children's ward at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in the 1950's. Actually I was in there twice. The first time was around a holiday - maybe St. Patrick's Day or Valentine's Day. I remember trembling when the nuns in white entered the room. They had the needles! And there was the big debate among the kids in the ward that was never resolved: Were we in Camden or in Camden New Jersey?

During one of my visits we couldn't use the playroom because it had been set up as some kind of emergency nursery. The kids on my side of the ward would look longingly through the windows at that forbidden territory. I will have to find out why all those babies were in there.

Early in the evening we had story time. We would all gather around the nurse - a very nice lady who DIDN'T give us needles - and she would read a Little Golden Book. After the story, she would give the book to one of the lucky kids. And then it was time for our milk - a treat we all anticipated.

Later in the evening, it was bedtime, and all the cribs were pushed into their assigned spots, separated by curtains. As soon as the nurses left, some of us would manage to move those cribs out so that we could see each other when we talked.

Go to South Jersey Memories
Go to Camden, NJ

BJ Swartz

Updated June 16, 2007