South Jersey Memories

Camden   |   Haddonfield   |   Oaklyn

Gone, but not forgotten...

The Latin Casino
It was a challenge to get tickets when Sammy Davis, Jr. appeared at the Latin. My friend Phyliss had her sweet sixteen party there. The headliner was Jack Jones, and the warmup act was an up and coming comedian named Bill Cosby.

The Hawaiian Cottage
Another hot spot, especially on prom night, was the Hawaiian Cottage. Many a prom picture was taken in front of this giant pineapple.

The Garden State Race Track
The race track is gone.  It was rebuilt once after it burnt down in the 1970s. Traffic used to be horrendous at the Race Track Circle when it was in season. I can still remember my grandfather travelling back and forth between Florida and New Jersey - depending whether there was racing at Garden State or Hialeah. [(Photograph by John A. Terrell, courtesy of the Haddonfield Public Library.]

The Ice House
I never went skating there, but this Cherry Hill rink was a landmark at Brace and Berlin Roads. Since it closed there have been several stores in its place at "Fashion Square" - the newest is the Super G.

The Camden County Music Fair
Also just off Brace Road was the Camden County Music Fair. I'm sorry I didn't really discover it until after I was out of college. At this theater in the round I saw John Davidson in Oklahoma and a magnificent performance by Howard Keel in Man of LaMancha. The Music Fair closed in the '70s, not too long after I discovered it.

The Movies
When we lived in Oaklyn, we saw movies at the Ritz. It was always exciting to go by at night when the lights on the marquee moved round and round. After we moved to Haddonfield, the Ritz became an "art theater" for some time. Back in the '80s Puttin' On the Ritz came in and brought professional theater to the area.

From Haddonfield, we usually went to the movies at the Westmont, back in the days when there was a new feature every Sunday and Wednesday and it only cost us a quarter (35 cents when we turned 12) for that Saturday double feature with cartoons and selected short subjects. AND we could actually get candy in small boxes (which made great kazoos.) It was there that we saw all those 1960s Tarzan and Hercules movies. The Westmont closed for awhile, but reopened a few years ago as the home of the Living Arts Repertory Company.

If nothing exciting was playing at the Westmont, we would hike up to the Century (now an empty Eckerds), at Kings Highway and the White Horse Pike in Audubon. And once in awhile our father would take us up to the Crescent. It was here that we saw The Wizard of Oz and West Side Story. This, too, became an "art theater" (OK, that means porno palace), but closed and became a tire store.

Occasionally we went to the Stanley or the Savar in Camden. I think they are both parking lots now. I remember going to an RCA family perfomance at the Stanley in the early '60s. Frank Fontaine (Crazy Guggenheim to those who remember) was the headliner. There was also a tapdancing act on the bill - The Magid Triplets.

For elegant movie viewing, we would sometimes visit that wonderful movie palace, the Collingswood Theater, which was my son's favorite baseball card shop not too long ago. Standing out in my memory of the Collingswood are its red velvet curtains. Against this regal backdrop, the one film I remember seeing there was William Castle's "Homicidal."

Very rarely we would get up to the Mount Ephraim Theater at Kings Highway and the Black Horse Pike. Of all the theaters we visited as kids, this is the only one, now known as the Harwan, was still showing films regularly until only recently.  Its claim to fame was as the home of The Rocky Horror Picture Show every Saturday at midnight.  I hope it reopens!

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BJ Swartz
Updated June 6, 2007