THE WAY WE WERE
"Pride In our Past ... Hope For Our Future"
by Donna Federanko-Stout
You could say I've always loved history. Looking back into the past to see the triumphs, the trails, the moments and the memories. I can still remember
when W.W. Summerill came to speak about the history of Penns Grove at one of my girl scout meetings. I was fascinated. After all, the Summerill family
practically was Penns Grove that is until the influx of immigrants and others who came to find their fortune in the new world.
I recall that Mr. Summerill told about the rich and varied history of our town. The growth of a town which started out with cow paths and a handful of
dreams. The town that harvested a bounty of fish from the clear and flowing Delaware.
Our town that had Philadelphia's high society boasting that they had vacationed there, played there, rested there in the shade along the Delaware.
Where steamboat captains told tall tales of life at sea.
With the building of the DuPont Powder Plant near the beginning of World War I, came the families seeking jobs, homes and hearth. At one time, the town
was so full, that housing was at a premium. The town grew, families grew and lives grew in this new "hometown. "
The years rolled by. Businesses grew where there was once only tree lined streets. Then came the 30's, 40's and 50's. Prosperity was ours. Who would
believe we once played host to a number of men's and Ladies Stories, Children's Stores, Furniture Stores, Car Dealerships, Grocery Stores, Eatery's and
so much more. Dog Town Comer was packed every Friday and Saturday night with cars cruising and neighbors out for a stroll around their town ... our
The Wilson Line docked at the Wharf bringing more and more visitors from all kinds of placed. Bringing more and more people who would make this their
new home. And families grew and livelihoods were made.
Many people still remember those days of plenty. What fun they had! Our town was the place to be!
I myself can vividly remember so much about growing up in this town. Lime Rickey's at Cheeseman's Drug Store on the comer of Broad and Main, buying
10 cent goldfish at the Woolworth's 5 & 10, Saturday matinees for a quarter a the Grove Theater, getting a new pair of Keds at the Factory Outlet Shoe
As I sat listening to Mr. Summerill that day somewhere in the 50's, I kind of think that even he might not have known what that decade would bring to lots
of great little towns like our town. Some blame the bridge for what happened to our businesses, some say it was that Route 295, others don't blame
anything, they just say "well times change."
But what made Penns Grove a great place to be, even when there were just cow paths, and even when the travelers came to our door, and even when
industry brought more than we could want. .. was the people. People who have seen the good times, people who have seen the bad but one thing they
never gave up was their pride. Their pride of growing up in the best little hometown there is, was or ever could be. Rich was history, forever touched by
changing tides and full of hope for what the future may bring.
Generations have raised their children here, made their lives here, buried their loved ones here and gone to their rest leaving a part of themselves in the
foundation of our hometown.
Share your memories of Penns Grove with someone you know. Remember what made growing up here so special.
If you're from Penns Grove, stand up and be proud. Today we have over 100 business and professional people in our ranks. There are many businesses
who have invested time and money into staying in our town. Many businesses have been in the family for generations and they are continuing the
tradition of service to our community. History is being made as we speak since this month is seeing the completion of our first "shopping center" at the IGA.
Take pride in what Penns Grove once was and look forward to what Penns Grove can be in the future.
HOMETOWN NEWS, JUNE, 1993