The Good Ole’ Days
Chapter 1: Mr. Quinn’s Apple Tree
by Neil Clement
The first time I ever saw Carneys Point was in the summer of 1937. Bucky Dugan and I walked down from the thriving metropolis of Penns Grove to
see the Carneys Point Royals play the Salem Braves in the YMCA summer baseball league.
He was a great baseball player and wanted me to see guys like Hughy O’Hagen, Harry Agnew, Jimmy Quinn, etc., play ball.
Little did I know that two years later I would be living next door to Hughy, a block away from the Agnew boys and three streets from Jimmy.
My parents had been on the waiting list for a company house in the village since being transferred from the DuPont Carrolville plant in Wisconsin
and it finally came through.
Pretty soon I was chasing foul balls hit over the Y fence for a nickel a game, or cash-on-the-barrel head. Living near the Y was just great!
My finest memory is the time I happened to pick Bill Norman’s ticket in a drawing for a baseball radio after a game. He said, “Come here, kid. Hold
out your hands.” He reached into his pocket and filled my hands with, nickels, dimes and quarters.
Childhood recollections are mighty strong because I have never received a paycheck that thrilled me anywhere near as much as his two-fisted gift!
Memories like these are important, it seems to me, as I grow older and I survey our town, state, and the entire country of America. Some of the
changes I see and experience as a teacher are becoming a deep concern. Many of us are looking back to the “good ole’ days” and asking
ourselves how did we get into some of the pickles our society is in today.
Mr. Quinn’s apple tree could give us some clues.
The Quinn family lived two corners down from us on Bay and “E” Streets. Their house was right on my way to Pershing School; I must have been
in 3rd or 4th grade at the time.
I would gaze fondly at the apples hanging on his tree, not yet ripe, but mouthwatering even though they were green. One day I must have sneaked
up quickly to his tree and climbed up to get two pocketfuls. I say I “must have” because I don’t remember that part; I probably repressed all
memories of such a malicious deed. Anyway, I must have.
As we crossed Shell Road at Walker Avenue (remember when the policeman rolled out the heavy steel stop & go sign that he turned to hold traffic
for us?) Police Chief Tommy Durr kicked me in the rear lightly. At the curb I called back, “What the matter, Chief Durr?”
Tommy said, “You’ve been swiping Mr. Quinn’s apples , Neil.”
I said, “No, Chief, I haven’t been doin’ that.”
The chief repeated his statement, but more sternly.
While I hesitated, to decide if I should confess or try to lie my way out of it, the chief asked, “You don’t want me to have to see Glenn, do you?”
Hearing my dad’s first name helped me make a quick decision and I shouted, “I’ll never take another apple from his tree if you promise not to tell
“I won’t,” the Chief said.
We both kept our promise.
That experience has stayed with me all of my life because it gave me the choice to mature and make the right decisions on my own. What’s neat is
that small town setting where the kid, his dad, and the chief of police all knew each other well, which provided an opportunity for a young boy to
start growing up.
This story isn’t about me, or Mr. Quinn, of course, but rather about how society brings up little kids. It’s about young kids making mistakes and
learning from them because they have parents and teachers and law enforcement officers who know each other, who communicate frequently and
thus provide a nurturing atmosphere.
Maybe the apple tree incident doesn’t happen very often these days; maybe more of us are “minding our own business” or thinking, “Why should I
The involvement this year of so many people in getting the goldfish back in the fountain and lighting the huge Christmas tree proves that beautiful,
downtown Carneys Point still cares about and takes pride in the future of our community.
The good ole’ days, for me, include Penns Grove where I lived for two years and where I met my wife. That was no slip in the first paragraph when I
wrote “thriving metropolis” because it was indeed a busy place. Parking near Dogtown Corner was tough in the old days.
Since we are and always will be twin communities, I hope we continue to work together and bring back the good ole’ days.
Special to “The Sampler”
January 24, 1990