Dearie, Do You Remember When?
Editor’s note: This is the program that Rev. Dave Bailey presented at the Annual Dinner Meeting of The Penns Grove Historical Society, May 17, 2001. His
heart warming sharing of his Penns Grove memories moved the crowd to laughter and to tears. For all those who could not attend that evening, here is a
glimpse of that wonderful evening.
Dearie, do you remember when it was about that time in May, and you couldn’t wait to get out of school? Remember Eest Harmony and Harmony Street,
the Wooden School, Broad Street, Barber Avenue, Lafayette and Pershing and St. James Schools? Remember when you were scared to death of Miss
Hewitt, Miss Hall, Mrs. Strimple, Mrs. Simpkins and a few nuns? Remember A.J. Dohner, he Principal, who had just one arm, and the teachers like Mrs.
Smith, Mrs. Stewart, Miss Weinright and Mrs. Feather? Remember the school nurse, Miss Harbison, who always told the girls, “You wear finger nail polish
just to cover up dirty nails.”
Remember all the great games at recess – Red Rover, Red Rover, I dare you to come over, and Dodge ball. Or go way back and try to remember, The
farmer in the Dell, and the “rat takes the cheese.” Who needed computer games?
Remember fruit rolls for the teacher? Remember bringing fruit in after lunch and rolling it up the aisle and hollering, “Fruit roll”?
Dearie, do you remember learning to read about Alice and Jerry and Dick and Jane? Remember, “Run, Spot, Run!” Remember when you had to learn to
print letters A, B, C… and later penmanship class? Remember all those cards around the blackboard showing you how you should write?
Remember coming home after school of a spring day and playing until dark? After playing, do you remember going home exhausted, dirty and sweaty –
not wanting to do homework – still wanting to play Hide and seek, Tinny Can, Marbles, baseball, Jump Rope, Hopscotch, Roller skating? Finally summer
Remember finding out if you passed or were left back – those two terrible words – LEFT BACK a year? Dearie can you remember when those three
months of summer were magic and you thought summer would never end? (Goodbye writing. Goodbye books. Goodbye teachers’ dirty looks!) HELLO
gravel hole! HELLO Riverview Beach Park! HELLO Delaware River! HELLO Wilson Line! HELLO Drive-in Movies! HELLO Short Shorts! HELLO Atlantic City!
Dearie, can you remember the Steel Pier? Can you remember the Diving Horse and the Diving Bell? How about the great movies and entertainment?
Remember the Block Party on Harmony Street? Remember the bathing beauty contests? Remember Jackie Salberg being crowned “Miss Penns Grove”
and Jean Brown her runner up?
Remember going to the movies – long before black and white TV? There were two beautiful movie houses. Remember Chief Bolden managed the Broad
and the Grove? Remember he smoked a cigar? Remember when they gave free dishes to collect? Remember Tuesday night double features? Western
night? Red Ryder, Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, the Rough Riders and Tom Mix? Remember when it cost 12 cents for a matinee and 17 cents for the evening?
Remember serials and Saturday afternoons with Lash Larue or Flash Gordon? Remember Penns Grove before Bruce willis? We had W.C. Fields’ sister
living on Delaware Avenue and once in a while reports of a W.C. sighting? Remember your first date and meeting her at the show to save money?
Dearie, do you remember when there were all kinds of public transportation in Penns Grove? Remember when you could ride the old blue busses from
Penns Grove to Pennsville for a dime? Remember Rice’s Bus service? Can you remember when taxi companies competed for business? Pelura’s – Brown’
s Cab – Picchi – WOW!
Dearie do you remember life before WaWa or 7-Eleven? Remember our little grocery stores – Tony Traini, with Sonny Foxwell the delivery boy?
Remember Rocco’s on Poplar Street, Johnny Nocon’s on South Shore, Maxwell’s on North Shore, Gambino’s on Griffith street, DeLucia’s on Pitman Street?
The list could go on and on. Remember the smell of provolone cheese and the barrels of olives? Remember penny candy and 5 cent ice cream cones?
Remember when Penns Grove was a “hot” little town with some pretty big fires? Dearie, do you remember the really big one in 1932 when one third of
the town burned down? Then do you remember when one year , the old A & P on Harmony Street burned down and later the ACME was torched? Can you
remember when we lost businesses on Broad Street – Weinberg’s, Hurley’s, and others with the big fire during the 40’s?
Dearie, do you remember life before Kmart or Walmart? Do you remember when a trip to Woolworth’s 5 & 10 was a big event for the week? Remember
they even had a soda fountain and hot dogs? Remember the bargains at Bowen’s Variety Store? Can you visualize all the stuff packed into that little
place? How about the Phillip’s store across from Broad Street School? Remember Mrs. Phillips and all the clothes she wore? How about the place she kept
her money purse? Remember the Chinese Laundry next door and the little penny chewing gum machine out front?
How about the drugstores in Penns Grove? Arete’s Drugstore on West Main? Remember Arete? She lived next door. Remember when Zonies Pharmacy
on Broad Street was renovated and actually had an air-cooled store? And who could ever forget Cheeseman’s right at Broad and Main, the crossroads of
South Jersey? Remember Dog Town Cormner – Cheeseman’s, the forerunner of Eckerd’s, and CVS. Remember all those drugstores made great old-
fashioned milkshakes , banana splits and sundaes – all those healthy foods?
Speaking of that: Dearie, do you remember the great doctors in Penns Grove? Everything from delivering a baby to vaccinations for school and caring
for the many illnesses that struck people in Penns Grove. Dr. Caggiano – Do you remember that he looked a little like Xavier Cugat and his wife like Esther
Williams? How about Dr. Lipken? And Dr. Suter – who almost outlived the town? Dr. Prigger? And do you remember when people’s teeth gave them
trouble, Dr, Siris? Remember “no pain, no gain.” Do you remember seeing Dr. Bartok when you had trouble with your eyes?
Dearie, do you remember when you thought it was a big deal to finally be old enough to go to the Log Cabin Inn – to not only dance, but to be served?
Wow, do you remember Ace’s bar, the Turnpike Inn, Garbini’s bar, Banco’s by the River, Fred renner’s, The Forks? The list is endless – Pabst Blue
Ribbon; no Bud, no Bud Light, no six packs.
Dearie, do you remember slow dancing – wonderful slow dancing to Glen Miller, Tommy Dorsey, Guy Lombardo, the Mills Brothers, Eddie Fisher, Perry
Como, Theresa Brewer, Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, Connie Frances? How about jitterbugging? Do you remember learning to jitterbug? Rememeber
some good jitterbuggers? Can anyone remember Hurkey Aeickers, Tommy Romansky, Bill Sickler or Harry Gehrke? How about Johnny Attix? Could those
guys dance? Remember line dancing – learning new steps from Dick Clark and Band Stand? Remember Re-Hi?