Memories of Haddonfield

Haddonfield, NJ has a rich history going back to colonial, even prehistoric, times and is the subject of many a scholarly essay. But there is also the Haddonfield of recent history - the Haddonfield in which many of us grew up. This page is my contribution to recorded history - my own random memories of the people and places of Historic Haddonfield.

For more information on Haddonfield history, visit Hoag Levins' web site.

My Mom's family (the Rollers) moved to Haddonfield in 1929. When she married in the late 1940's, she left town, but moved back with my dad, my brother, and I in November 1955. That was shortly after the big fire that burned down the Methodist Church. We had heard about the fire from Uncle Tom, who was a member of the Haddonfield Fire Company. (Painting of the fire by Judy Wilson, my cousin, after a photo by Robert Roller, Jr., my uncle

Hazel  

My first real memory of Haddonfield was in October 1954, the day of Hurricane Hazel. We were almost hit by a falling tree by Aunt Ida's house on Chestnut Street. (Photo of Kings Highway the day after Hazel used with the permission of the Haddonfield Public Library.)

The Railroad  

When we moved to town, the Pennsylvania Reading Seashore Line still ran through town. We lived - actually still do - along the railroad, which later became the PATCO high speed line. Back in those days there was still a railroad crossing at Lincoln and South Atlantic Avenues. The man who worked there all day had a little "house" and a garden that he tended when there was no train coming. (Photo of the old railroad station by Elwood Swartz, my dad)

Back in the 1960's, when the Speedline was under construction, we had a firsthand view. I can still remember the pile drivers waking us up by 7:00am! And watching a worker in the tree outside my bedroom window! It was an exciting day in the neighborhood when South Atlantic Avenue was finally resurfaced. People actually sat out in lounge chairs to watch the activity, and I had a great view from my bedroom window.

Schools  

My brother and I entered Central School when we moved here. There were four buildings at the Lincoln Avenue site. A red brick building stood on the left as you faced the school complex. Back in my mom's day, it housed K-2 classes. By the mid-'50s it had become, and still is, an administration building.

To its right was Central School, one of three elementary schools in town. It was a "new" building and housed grades K-4. Next was the Brown Building, which held the fifth and sixth grades. It was named after the brown stone from which it was built.

Behind Central School we could play box hockey in an old wooden frame. When my son started at Central in 1984, the frame was still there. I didn't see it, though, when I recently passed by the school.

On the far right, at the corner of Lincoln Avenue and Chestnut Street, was the Junior High School. There we had seventh and eighth grades. The great thing about these last two buildings was that they were connected. From the Junior High, we went through a coat room and into the Brown Building. (Photo of the old Junior High School by Elwood Swartz, my dad)

The Junior High auditorium served many purposes. Movies were shown on Saturday mornings, and it was there that I first saw Dumbo for all of $.25. On rainy days we got to watch films at lunch time. And one day, Chief Halftown made a personal appearance in that auditorium! 

People

Names Behind the HMHS Senior Awards
Remembering Our Veterans

Ida Bauman, 1909-1996
Thomas Caruso, 1916-1997

Thomas G. Patton, 1906(?)-1998

Anthony J. Repici, 1913-1998

Robert Roller, Jr., 1914-1996

Richard Smith, 1948-2002

Teachers

I was one of the large crop of war babies who were born in 1946/47. Each year my class moved along in Central, a third class had to be added. Miss Thurlow moved along with us from the third to the fourth grade. A highlight of the fourth grade was ball-point pens. What a new and wondrous tool!

When we moved into the Brown Building for fifth grade, Mr. Avery was brought in as the teacher for the third class. It was so new and exciting to have a male teacher in the Central School!

Mrs. Reeves, who I remember as a sweet, kindly woman with a soft voice, was my fifth grade teacher. It was in her class that I started writing poetry (though I did begin my great American novel in the fourth grade - maybe I will finish it someday.)

Sixth grade brought me to Miss Varato, one of the best teachers I ever had. She was strict, but if we were good all week, she gave us small boxes of pretzel sticks on Friday. I don't remember a Friday without them. Not too long ago I stumbled on the autobiography I wrote in her class - in peacock blue ink from my wonderful new cartridge fountain pen. If I am really lucky I will find that I still have the report on Queen Hatshepsut.

In the fifth and sixth grades we began to have other teachers in different rooms. And we would continue with them in junior high. Mr. Weyand taught us music - what a thrill it was to learn how to "conduct." And Mr. Kolleck was our art teacher. I was sad that he retired just before my son would have had him in high school.

The principal at Central School and the Junior High was C. Donald Hart. We all admired him, and he spoiled us for any other principals!

Junior high brought on a wealth of new teachers. I never had the good fortune of having a class with Mr. Elliot, but everyone knew and adored him. My son did have him in Middle School, and it turns out that everyone still knew and adored him. It was a great loss when he died.

Mr. Doster, my seventh grade social studies teacher, I remember for being a very nice man who reminded me of Mr. Peepers. (Oops, I am showing my age!) In the eighth grade, Mr. Ramsey had us memorize state and world capitals - a lesson that still comes in handy when I am watching Jeopardy. I don't remember the name of the seventh grade science teacher, but I do remember her making the topic exciting. I still have pictures of my science fair project - a life size bust of a Pithecanthropus erectus, named Hordekiah.

Eighth grade English was taught by the best teacher I ever had - strangely enough, her name was Mrs. Best. Highlights of her class were our career booklets, our punctuation workbooks, and praying for John Glenn as he orbited the earth.

And there was Miss Hines. All the girls had Miss Hines for Home Ec. My mom even had Miss Hines. She had a really deep voice and used to quote little proverbs to us. "A stitch in time saves nine" will always remind me of her. I still have my darning gizmo and could probably darn a sock if I had to.

On to high school. I never had the good fortune to have Mr. Castle for social studies, but I was lucky enough to have Mr. Kennedy for two years, for ancient history my freshman year and U.S. History II senior year. I think he turned us all into Goldwater Republicans - at least for that election year.

Junior year I had Mrs. Zelley for U.S. History I. She was our rebel and taught us to think for ourselves. It was her last year at Haddonfield - she was moving to New England after the school year. The previous year she had been chastized for having her class read Brave New World, but she had us read it anyway. She also told us that if we came under a real nuclear attack, we did not have to stand in the hall facing the walls. We would be permitted to go out and enjoy ourselves. (Yes, we were still having air raid drills in the early 60's.) Her most radical act was to have our class challenge the student council elections and run our own campaign. Our candidate lost, but it was in a fair election.

Math was one of my favorite subjects, and I had two great teachers. Mr. Beer made geometry fun. Besides teaching math, he took a group of students to Europe every summer to bicycle around. I am sorry I never took advantage of that. Every now and then I still see him riding around town on his bicycle.

Mr. Miller was a great math teacher. OK, so he was my uncle and my Godfather, but during the two years I had him, he never displayed any favoritism. In fact, he was one of my toughest teachers. He died suddenly over Thanksgiving in 1969. It was a tribute to him that the church was overflowing with current and former students who came to show their respect. And the high school established a scholarship in his name.

Miss Gist was my junior English teacher and one of my mom's favorite teachers from her high school days (HMHS '40). I was in her classroom not too long ago and could almost feel her presence and see her at the front of the room "spoon-feeding" us the answers to the test on Moby Dick.

I had Mrs. Delett for three years of German. When she left, Frau Turner arrived. As a matter of fact, Herr Gwin, the current German teacher, referred to her as "the legendary Frau Turner." She made Schiller's Wilhelm Tell come to life for us.

 

Football and the Kennedy Assasination

Where was I when Kennedy was shot? In Miss Gist's English class. My most vivid memory of the event is of that Thanksgiving. For the first time in several years our football team won the annual clash with Haddon Heights, but we couldn't have our long-awaited parade because the nation was in mourning! We won again the next year - as a matter of fact we were undefeated - but it just wasn't the same.

 

Downtown

Downtown has certainly changed since 1955! At the corner of Kings Highway and Tanner Street was the old Sun Ray Drug Store. Up by the Episcopal Church, next to Fisher's bike shop, was another drug store. I don't remember its name, but we used to buy candy there on Sundays after Church.

On the Highway, between Tanner Street and Haddon Avenue, was our Woolworth's. My brother and I bought all of our toy cowboy and model railroad accessories there. And on gift-giving occasions, our mom often received a genuine Woolworth's ceramic bird from us. In the spring the Duncan yo-yo man would be stationed in front of the store to demonstrate the marvelous things you could do with his yo-yo's. I could almost "walk-the-dog," but never could master "round-the-world."

Up past Woolworth's was Neumeyer's. If we couldn't find what we needed at Woolworth's, Neumeyer's would surely have it. We all made a pilgrimage there to get posterboard for our school projects.

In the fourth grade, I got my first pair of fashionable pink glasses at Messerall's Optical Shop. My Mom recently picked up her new glasses at the same store! When I was in high school, I used to walk by Carmody's, where there was a pair of swan-shape frames in the window. Now that I need reading glasses, I wish they were still there! I wonder if they keep old stock somewhere.....

Every Christmas season we would visit Santa Claus in front of the A&P, which was located where the Haddonfield mini-mall is now. It was still open when I was in college, and I just finished up a bottle of garlic powder I bought there!

(Photos of the Sun Ray and A&P used with the permission of the Haddonfield Public Library. Downtown illustration by Judy Wilson.)

Celebrations

July 4th has always been an exciting day in Haddonfield - and the day of the biggest parade. We used to look forward to seeing the antique cars, the fire engines, the floats, and the Royaleers. Back in "the good old days" there was even a rodeo out on the high school football field before the fireworks.

The celebration that I miss is Hospital Holiday. The day, with its parade and downtown festival, benefitted at least one of the area hospitals. We still had it in the 1970's when I was living in Virginia, and several of my friends from the DC area looked forward to visiting Haddonfield every year for Hospital Holiday.  

 

The Bicentennial

I was living in Virginia and working at the Smithsonian Institution in 1976. Nevertheless, I made sure to come up to Haddonfield for most of the Bicentennial events, including the planting of the Liberty Tree. But best of all was the cattle drive, commemorating one that took place during the American Revolution to feed the soldiers at Valley Forge. What a sight! Cattle coming down Warwick Road, up Kings Highway, and on to the site of the old Camden County Music Fair. 

Haddonfield's 250th Anniversary

I was in high school when we celebrated the town's 250th anniversary. What a festive time! The highlight for me was the cantata that Thomas Patton, Jr. wrote for the big pageant. A chorus of high school students (if I remember correctly, it may have been the entire high school!) boldly sang out "Hail quiet Haddonfield, all peaceful thou..." I still catch myself singing the parts I remember.  

The Kings Road

It seems to me that it is time for a revival of The Kings Road. What a great musical, chronicalling Haddonfield's role in the American Revolution. I didn't see it on its first time around, but caught a performance during one of my many visits from Virginia during the 1970's. Rousing tunes about the "Friendship Fire Company" and "Washington, Lafayette, and Pulaski" still wander through my mind from time to time. I think it was after seeing the show that I took an interest in General Casimir Pulaski and discovered that we share a birthday. 

Grace Episcopal Church

We attended Grace Episcopal Church, where my mom had spent many happy years - back when Father Schick was the rector. When we moved to town the rector was Father Kell, a large, imposing man who would have been frightening to this eight-year-old if he weren't so funny. And he always looked for an excuse to use the name "Ethelfrieda" - I will never know why. The curate at the time was Father Imler, a quiet, unassuming man. And then there was Father Stocket, an old man who always wore a wide brimmed hat, and if I remember correctly, a robe. I think he must have been a monk. (I don't know who to credit with the photo of Father Kell. This was in one of my photo albums.)

After Father Imler left, and when I was in junior or high School, Father Leather joined us as curate. The teenagers adored him and he got us involved in youth activities. My first trip to New York City was on one of the excursions with him.

Back in "my time" there were three choirs at the church - all led by Mr. Patton, Sr. The boys choir sang at the Sunday 9:30am service and the adult choir sang at the 11:00am. Some time in the '60s we started a girls choir which sang Evensong on Sundays and at the Christmas Eve service.


Mountwell

The Roller clan used to swim in Mountwell pool, and my Mom tells stories of her hair turning green in the summertime from the chlorine. The pool was still open when I was growing up, but has since closed and can hardly be seen through the overgrowth of weeds. (Photo of Mountwell used with the permission of the Haddonfield Public Library.)

Memories from Other Folks

I remember taking the #4 or 5 bus (the 5 went down Maple Avenue then to Grove) down Haddon Avenue with my girl friends to shop at Dewees' or Openheimers...I remember the old ice house where my brother used to buy ice for his "Snow Ball" stand...I also remember getting my feet X-rayed at Rickys shoe store (that was before Mother found out it was harmfull.....) After high school I worked at the "Haddonfield National Bank" and manned the new accounts desk for Mrs. Heath when she went to lunch... I could see the clock out the window from her desk in the front of the lobby..........
Mary Elizabeth Lougheed, Haddonfield
 


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BJ Swartz
twin-prime@hotmail.com

Updated June 16, 2007