Oral account told to Ann Franzen & Mary Ann Silvers, March 6, 2013
Robert “Bob” Lees was born in 1937 (died Feb. 28, 2014) in Camden, NJ to Donald and Marceline Lees. Both parents worked at the Pratt Foods Plant in Camden and met in 1933-34. Donald was a printer at the plant. Pratt Foods made feed for horses and chickens.
Bob moved to Tabernacle when he was 4 years old. His father still worked in Camden. They bought and then later built their house in the Medford Farms housing development. Bob has a picture of a Mr. (Frederick) Reynolds who developed the Medford Farms area to be summer homes for people to enjoy Pleasant Lake. After a young black male was found drowned at the lake, the dam was knocked down and the lake was drained. Bob felt that he lived on the “wrong side of the tracks” because he was referred to a living in Shanty Town.
Virginia “Ginny” Bakely Lees was born and raised in Tabernacle in an area called Sandy Ridge. She was one of 11 children born to Stanley (mechanic) and Florence (laundress; office work at the J. Chein Toy Factory in Camden, NJ).
Bob went to school in Tabernacle. He would get a bus to bring him to school. He went to the Mt. Holly High School which he had to get the bus which would take him to Tabernacle School and get another bus to go to Mt. Holly.
Bob worked at his own construction business building his own house in 1969 and outbuildings along with other houses, churches and schools. He started work at the age of 8 pumping gas at a gas station on Rt. 206 where Yates Plaza is now. Bob also set linotype for the Central Record where his mother had a weekly column. Bob gave to the Tabernacle Historical Society a copy of one of his mother’s article entitled, “Memories”. (See below the article.) Bob was appointed, on a yearly basis, to the Tabernacle Police Force in 1955-56. At that time the Chief of Police was Joe Snow. He also joined the Fire Co. Peter Laws or Moss was the first Fire Chief.
The following is a re-typed copy from the original of Bob Lees’ mother’s column for the Central Record, circa 1975:
This week I would like to do a bit of reminiscing with our readers, having come to Tabernacle in 1941 I have seen many changes I’d like to tell you about. Lake Road, where I live, was just that, a narrow dirt surface. The section I live in is known as Medford Farms which is still Tabernacle Township, it is a land development which was developed by Homestead Development Corp., in 1939. Most of us built our own homes since there were the war years we did have many problems getting materials. Electric, telephone and gas services were curtailed at that time, we had to have ice men, I wonder how many remember Garret Giberson (now owner of Gibey’s Bar) and the late Vincent Nixon coming around with their ice trucks we also had, when it was available, 8 party telephone lines, this true, they will pick it up when it rights, we took the first ambulance calls and some fire calls, may during the nite and you could hear the other parties pick up their phones when it rang in several houses. At that time I wrote for the Central Record a column called Medford Farms News which was a bit of a problem with the party line phone, Beatrice Worrell at that time and for many years wrote the Tabernacle News column. I resumed writing 7 years ago. Our school consisted of 4 rooms, 3 teachers and a principal with Eleanor Friday as helping teacher, how many remember principals Dorothy Yeagle, Lawrence Winchell and William A. Shine? They served here in the late 40’s and early 50’s. Also our old friend the late “Skimmer” Pepper, he was our janitor and bus drive(r) combined, never did a child cross the road without Skimmer holding them by the hand to make sure they got across safely. There has been 4 rooms added to the old school and later on another large school was built (on New Road) we now have 29 class rooms in use and by the looks of the population growth we do need more rooms. Our school was used, not only for school business but for all Township affairs, now we have a fine Town Hall with separate office(s) for the various departments of the Township, we also have a court which is in session once each month with our own Bert Dailey as Clerk. I recall our court was the magistrates office, just a stone throws from where I live. Mary Schreiber was the Magistrate, she still lives there, and the late George Schreiber, was Constable.
For fire protection we used nearby Vincent Fire Company, in 1941 a fire company was formed here in Medford Farms. The old building was dedicated in 1942 with Pierson Law as our first President and David Reed our first Fire Chief, we started out with an American La France Truck. New we have a 3 bay fire house which houses a 1954 G.M.C. Pumper, a 1968 G.M.C. Tanker and a 1974 Ford Pumper. Our President is Bill Gaskill and our Fire Chief is Edward Gallagher. We moved in to the new building in 1970, the building contains a large kitchen and dining area which is excellent for catering purposes, Bingo games are held each Wed. eve with folks coming from near and far to spend a pleasant evening. We had no emergency service in Tabernacle in those days but were grateful for the Vincentown First Aid Squad’s help but like Topsy we just grew and had to learn to stand on our own feet. By l953 the newly formed Squad was able to purchase a 1939 La Salle Ambulance which was housed at the garage of the late Mr. and Mrs. Fred Whittemore on Hawkins Road. In 1956 land was purchased and a building started, it was completed and dedicated in 1973. We now have a 1974 Medicruiser, a 1965 Oldsmobile and a l965 Chevrolet Van. We are all proud of our crackerjack Squad and equipment which most of us have had to use including myself and mine.
I have seen many businesses get started, wonder how many remember “Lees’ Print Shop”, which my late husband and myself operated, they were the fun days, I have many happy memories of the shop which I gave up 8 years ago. I still have many of the samples of school programs, dance posters, wedding announcements, farmers tickets etc, we have added a number of restaurants, a medical building, bank, nurseries, garages galore, grocery stores, the Country Workshop which my son Robert operates and many other business establishments. We also have a nice Mobile Home Park, for Senior Citizens.
When we came here we had no police except the local constable in the 40’s the police barracks was in Hammonton now we have a fine building on route 206 to serve our area. Our churches have grown along with the times. The Tabernacle Methodist Church was here long before my time but they did build a fine educational building in 1957. The Church of Christ, I remember had a very small church which had been built in 1916, by 1957 a large church was built and in 1969 an educational building was added. The Medford Farms Baptist Church was started in 1950 in the old fire house, in 1951 a small building was placed on route 206 at the present location by 1953. A chapel was added and used up until 1968 when the present church was dedicated. We also have 2 churches that many of our Black neighbors attend, they are the Temple of God on Tuckerton Rod built in 1950 and the Tabernacle First Baptist Church located on Flyatt Road built in 1951. When we came here we had but 1 mail route, to-day we have 6 routes with a large post office serving us from nearby Vincentown. We also have a C.B. Radio Club which does a great deal of good in the community, they are meeting at the old fire house as is a new Baptist Church which is just getting organized.
How many remember when we use to go to Dick Haines General Store and pay our taxes there? No waiting in line then, Dick was our Tax Collector he is at present Assessor of Medford Lakes. We use to vote at the old school now we have 2 districts one at Town Hall and 1 at the Squad building. Another big change has been the addition of Shawnee High School our youngsters attended Rancocas Valley Regional Hi School then Lenape before Shawnee (was) built.
New homes have been going up daily with many new developments starting up, I wonder what it will be like in another decade, seems as if Tabernacle has a good dose of “Growing Pains” at present time.
Oral History of Robert & Virginia Lees
The following is a conversation with Virginia and Bob Lees at their home on 700 Chatsworth Road on March 6, 2013. The interview was conducted by Ann Franzen and Mary Ann Silvers of THS. This interview has been transcribed from a tape recording by Allyson Burke, Rowan University intern, May, 2013.
THS: Were you born in Tabernacle?
Bob: I came here when I was four, I think.
Virginia: I was born I believe up on Sandy Ridge which is no longer, there’s no houses there anymore.
THS: What were your parents’ names?
Virginia: Florence and Stanley Bakely.
Bob: Donald and Marcileen Lees.
THS: What were their occupations? What was your father’s occupation?
Bob: He was a printer. He used to work for Mount Holly Herald. Then when that closed, he worked for the Central Record; and he worked for them until he died.
THS: And your mother?
Bob: When my mother and father got together they worked for Pratt Foods in Philadelphia on the other side of the Ben Franklin Bridge. She did the paperwork and she wrote little history stories and stuff. Pratt Food did horse feed and chicken feed and all that sort of stuff, and she’d write the little history stories on it. My father was a printer in there and that’s how they met. That was back in 1933 or 1934.
THS: And Virginia how about your parents?
Virginia: My father was a mechanic and my mother, before she went to the J. Chein Toy Company, she took the laundry and washed clothes and that from the local people here, and then worked in the J. Chein Toy Company in Burlington that doesn’t exist anymore. Half of my family worked there.
THS: Where did you go to school?
Bob: Right here (Tabernacle) and Mt. Holly High School.
THS: What building?
Bob: Oh, the old school (Carranza Road, now Sequoia). The others didn’t exist. We had four rooms when I went.
THS: What is now the Sequoia School had four rooms then. And that was the whole school?
Bob: Yeah, that was it.
THS: What years were you there about?
Bob: 1944 or 1945. We didn’t have kindergarten, I started in first grade. I left there in ’49, so maybe in ’43 I started, something like that. It may have been ’43 I went from 2nd to 3rd grade. I jumped a grade.
THS: And then you went to high school in Mt. Holly?
Bob: Yup and stayed there the fours years and that was it. By that time my father had passed, and we were up to here in debt. My father was in the hospital for twenty seven months before he died and there was not any insurance back them. It took me eleven months to pay that off, but they were nice. They didn’t take the house. But we owed more to the hospital than the house would have been worth anyway. But they accepted twenty-five dollars a month, I think, and as time got better we sent more and more until we paid it off.
THS: Can you remember any of the people who were in your class here in Tabernacle?
Bob: Of those that are still alive and have stayed local I’ve kept up with them until now. Carolyn Folks, she was a year behind me.
THS: That’s Carolyn Hershman.
Virginia: Shirley Powell, who was Shirley Gerber.
THS: Can you remember any of the teachers?
Bob: Well, for my first and second grade was a sister-in-law to Clarence Grovatt. Third and fourth grade was Harriet Haines, whose husband was Robert Haines they had….
Virginia: Sonny Long Farm.
Bob: Yeah, Sonny Long Farm. I think fifth and sixth grade we had quite a few changes during the class year. And seventh grade was Ms. Yeagle and eighth grade was Winchall.
Virginia: Lawrence Winchall.
Bob: He’s still alive; lives somewhere down in South Jersey.
THS: There are several topics I would like to ask you about, but why don’t you start telling us about what you want to tell us and show us.
Bob: My mother wrote for the (Mount Holly) Herald and wrote for the Central Record for probably forty years, and here’s one of the copies of one of her updates. This is probably written in maybe the late 70s.
Virginia: That’s all different pages, all one story.
Bob: Yeah, it’s all one story. That’s about some of the stuff that went on in the Medford Farms side. Growing up I lived in Medford Farms or what was commonly called “Shanny (shanty) Town”.
THS: Lake Road?
Bob: Yeah, that was “shanny town”.
THS: I lived on Lakeview.
Bob: That’s changed now. It’s not what it was then.
Virginia: It’s not “shanny town”.
Bob: Even then we where not accepted in Tabernacle. I grew up with all these kids. I could go to school with them and everything else, but when it came dating time and all that you couldn’t take out a girl from Tabernacle. We were on the wrong side of town and that was it. That was the way things ran.
THS: Do you know the date of this article (referring to Marcileen’s article)?
Bob: There may be something in there. I just was thumbing through it a few minutes ago.
Virginia: When did you think it was? 70s?
Bob: I’m thinking it’s the late 70s (1970).
Virginia: Well, she died in ’84 (1984).
Bob: Yeah, and she wasn’t doing any writing at that time. In probably the ‘50s she would work for the editor of the Central Record; and they use to send all the paperwork, all the writings and stuff like that, to mom and she would reread them, rewrite them, and update everything that was in them and then I would take them back up there because I worked at the Central Record after hours. I had a key and I would set up the headlines and all that stuff and I did that for quite a few years.
Bob: I could do some line and type. But that business has completely changed now. I couldn’t make it in the printing business today.
THS: Was your mother the force behind the Memorial Day parade?
Bob: She was involved with it. This article was one of the ones put together when the Historical Society first began. We had a lot of good historic places here that have fallen by the wayside, and burned and been torn down. There is very little history left in Tabernacle. But nobody worried about it when all this development came.
THS: I always understood that the oldest house is out around Buttersworth Bogs.
Bob: It should be in Bozarthtown Road and it should be Little Bells.
THS: It’s a log cabin, but it has been covered with siding.
Bob: That house still exists.
Virginia: Are you sure that was the log cabin?
THS: To my understanding under the siding is a log cabin.
Virginia: You would never know it.
Bob: That’s something else that I don’t know. I talked to the family up there and they say the tenants up there would like to take it down. They say the maintenance is so bad and the house is slowly sinking into the ground.
Virginia: Do you know where it is?
THS: I think so. It’s right up from Fay and Keith; and Betty lives next door. I take the third grade up there for a tour; and really you’re just looking at a house. You can’t see what it was.
THS: Your mother ran the Memorial Day parade until 1983; and I remember her well because I use to participate in that with various groups. It just amazed me that people just showed up. There were no notices.
Virginia: Here you go, I have an original one that’s in glass, but I photocopied one. This is my aunt Lena. She lived right on the corner of Bozarthtown. She’s Lena Horner. It has people on it like Beatrice Worrell, Charlie Cutts, and Mamie Prickett. She owned the old house that Susan Nixon lives in. The big white house.
THS: The one connected to Nixon General Store?
Virginia: No, the one up from the store. The big two story.
Bob: She lived in the old house originally. Then they built that new house where Susan is. That was probably built in 1909 or 1910.
THS: That’s apartments now isn’t it?
Bob: Yeah, the store is apartments.
THS: Isn’t that other house apartments?
Virginia: No, somebody bought that. That’s an interesting picture. I know all of them.
THS: I am going to number them and you can tell me who is who.
Bob: This is one of the early township maps. I think this is one of the first that showed the layout, land development, and some of that stuff.
THS: It says 1974 historic features.
Bob: I should have the original tax map in the office, from 1963 or 1964. I held onto that because I can still look things up when somebody talks about it.
THS: Well, let me ask you this? I see a question here. The friendship school, tell me where that was.
Virginia: That’s funny. It was up beyond Carranza monument on the gravel road that goes to Lee Brothers. When you got to the bogs, you made a left and there was a big old house there. Mingy, a little Spanish guy, lived in that school house and raised chickens there.
THS: Mary Ann and I went to a presentation the other night about a book that was written about the forgotten places in the Pine Barrens, and in it the author had a map of Friendship and showed the school, but there’s two friendships in Tabernacle and you can see here on the map they have it out by Powell Place Road, which was wrong.
Bob: Well, there was a school there too. Where Donny Spath’s father lived. And that’s another historical site that should have never been destroyed and it was torn down. That was a beautiful house in the day. It was probably then originally a two room school.
THS: Well, I wonder what they would have called it. They couldn’t have called them both Friendship School.
Bob: No, it didn’t have that name.
THS: I remember going on a historical tour and Donny Spath did a little presentation over there and now that you bring it up, I remember him saying there was a little school there. There was a marker too where the towns came together.
Bob: The four corners. Also one of the state agencies went down there and wrote what the tree varieties were and the age of the trees; and all that has been pushed down by the Girl Scout Camp.
THS: Now this map I have, we do still use because Tabernacle has such a weird shape. It always ends up being a big long (piece of) paper. Bernie the egg man?
Virginia: That was Bernie Struthoff. You know where he lived? Four houses down. It was all poultry. Where Washington Way is he worked there earlier years. And my first husband who lived by Powell, they had like 4,000 chickens and we used to collect the eggs. And Eschenberg, below the hill by Buttersworth Bogs, that was another one. And Zimmerman’s was all chickens. Back in the 40s and 50s.
Bob: Even into the 60s, they were still existing, but they were going up to New York to do their sales because there was nothing in this area.
Virginia: I would go as a kid with the Eschenberg’s and we would go to Trenton Farmer’s Market. I guess they went like once a week like on a Saturday.
THS: And Zimmerman’s was on Zimmerman Road?
Virginia: Yeah, back on the end, where the farm is.
Bob: And where Sam Haines’s Farm was; that was the other part of Zimmerman’s.
That’s sod grass now.
THS: And where was this Haines property?
Bob: That just sold. There was federal money and funds going into it for open space.
Virginia: But that was Old Indian Mills Road.
Bob: And then that road went all the way down and came out through Carranza Road originally.
Virginia: You know where you pass Conte’s and come out you make a left right down there. It would be on that road, as soon as you go around that bend it would be that field. It would run past where Carolyn Folks lived. Her parents lived back in there, and if you went far enough, it came out the other way. It was Jody Haines in the old house and right out to Trusios Cow Farm out to Carranza Road again.
THS: So there were a lot of chicken farms.
Bob: There were a lot of chicken farms and dairy farms.
THS: The poultry farms, did they have more than chickens? Did they have geese or ducks?
Bob: Most of them were just on the farm site but nothing for retail. It was mostly the egg business.
THS: How about blueberries or cultivated crops?
Bob: We had a lot of blueberries, and even a lot of cranberries back then. In fact there’s a lot of what was cranberry bogs back then is now grown up.
Virginia: Now Elmer Paterson who was the other one that lived in the big white house by Fett’s bar, that had the blueberries years ago (and) the big white house by Conte’s. You take Flyatt.
Bob: Couples, Elliot Couples and Aaron Moore.
Virginia: Because when we were kids we picked. I picked for Anachito way up in the woods.
Bob: That was Charlie Cutts’ originally. They were set up in Ivanhoe, North Carolina.
Virginia: And Fletcher’s Farm they had the big silos right opposite of where the town hall is and the cow barn. The house is still there, but it’s redone.
Bob: That was originally Victor Allen’s (Dairy) when I was a kid. Because where the sports are played on the Tabernacle School now was originally an apple orchard. There used to be signs up around it for us not to steal apples.
THS: We need to get a map of where originally these farm properties were.
Bob: The papers I gave you I think there was a sketch in there. Yeah, it’ll give you a pretty good map of things right there.
THS: Yeah, I think we’re looking for where the old homesteads and farms were. That’s not on here.
Bob: So much of that is gone now.
THS: Tell me about when we had a police force.
Bob: That would have been in 1955-56, when I first went in the firehouse. The townships sort of had a police force for all intent (and) purposes because by law we were required to have one. And the township sort of kept tabs of who we were (the policemen) and if they liked you and you didn’t make problems then we would be appointed yearly. When we had a fire or car accident, we were called; but other than that we didn’t do anything.
Virginia: Was it you and Joe Snow?
Bob: Joe Snow was our Chief.
THS: Now my husband thought Bruce Haines was a police man.
Bob: He came in probably. Bruce was a little younger than I was, and they came in after that. I kept my position I guess until the Township in ’70 (1970) talked about starting a police department and then whichever ones that looked like they were going to be appointed came and wanted my badge and everything else and being a nasty little kid, I wouldn’t give it to them. I gave it to them to put in the new emergency squad. I don’t know if it ever got put in there yet or not, I was told to come back because they were making a showcase and were going to put some of that stuff into there. I had badges and stuff like that which you (you = Virginia) hated to give them up, but I had nothing to do with them anymore.
Bob: (hands picture) Both of these were where Yates’s plazas are now. And a couple of cabins then. That was on the corner where the big pond is across from the Emergency Fire Company, the new fire house. I tore that (showing picture of old house) down in 1955. People lived there, the Russo family, but no relation to the Russo’s that live here now. I want to say it was torn down in ’57. When Dick Haines sold his store and Shultz, Eric Shultz, built a house on the end of Hawkins Road, but they didn’t have enough room for their kids. I tore that house down (showing another picture of a house); took that material (from the teardown house) up there and built the house bigger so they’d have a place (room for all) to live.
THS: And this gas station was there when?
Bob: That was there when I was a little kid, because I worked there when I was maybe 7 years old. I used to pump gas for them and that would be a free three inch bottle of soda. That’s what I’d get paid for doing a day of pumping gas.
THS: So the ‘30s?
Bob: Yeah, I would say the ‘30s (1930s) that was there. And they did major repair work in a building that had a leaky roof beside that place. Teddy (Ken) Yates would know more about this one (showing picture of where Yates Plaza is now). This is where his property is now and so this one would mean more to him.
THS: So the gasoline was 14 cents?
Virginia: You know that gas station by Chairville, the one that’s closed now?
THS: Yes I was thinking it looked a lot like that.
Virginia: Well, I took a picture of it when the gas on their sign was 85 cents a gallon. I have the picture of it somewhere and the house is still there but I don’t know what happened there.
THS: I think the sign is still up.
Virginia: Yeah, but there’s nothing on it.
Bob: (hands picture) This is the lake. It was two feet wide.
THS: There’s streams through there. The lake was long gone, but there’s a story. I didn’t know the lake had a name.
Bob: Yeah, Pleasure Lake. That’s what that was called. We had a little fellow drowned there. I’d have to say that was in the ‘60s (1960s). I was working in the post office then.
THS: But he was not a member of the association?
Bob: He was swimming from the dam end. And the other thing is years ago the blacks and whites were separated so. And he was black so he swam down there, but he never came home that night. And his parents, as a matter of fact, his mother stopped at our house and took a bunch of us and we walked all over the place. We couldn’t find him. And then that night they drained the lake and then we did find him in one of the dams.
THS: Now did they sue? I had heard that the parents sued the association.
Bob: They never actually sued, but everyone was afraid they were going to. After that they brought a loader in and dug out the dam; and when they took the dam that was the end of the lake and that was it.
THS: I had heard that it had broken or something in a storm and they just never repaired it. Now this is where Medford Farms development is?
Ann: Lakeview Drive was where I used to live and Lake Road is on the other side of the dump road. Old Indian Mills Road is what it really is, and this lake, Pleasure Lake, was in between and many acres back there and several times they tried to develop it, but it turns out that even with the lake gone, it’s so much wetlands that they would have had to (add) 15 to 20 acres per house and they just couldn’t do it and its been up for sale several times over the years.
Bob: That use to be a beautiful…
THS: It used to be a beautiful place for summer homes by the lake.
Bob: One of the first kids I went to school with, probably second or third grade, lived right across from the lake. His father worked for Shibe Park.
Virginia: What was the kid’s name? Did he work for the Phillies or the A’s?
Bob: The A’s, now you’re dating yourself because the A’s have been gone for what 50 years. They use to take us there for school. We didn’t have school buses then, but one school teacher if you did exceptionally good maybe they’d take piles of 6 or 8 of us in a car and take us there.
THS: How did you get to school?
Bob: Went down Hawkins Road, down as far as to where Sam Moore lived which would be Worrell Road. That’s where we all walked to get the school bus. They didn’t have any runs to get back to us.
Virginia: We had buses here though.
Bob: Well, they were coming later. We had two buses and that served all of Tabernacle and it took us to another bus which took us to high school.
Virginia: I hated going on that bus because I got sick everyday. I can’t take the stopping and going.
THS: So you had a bus that took you to the Tabernacle School; and then for high school did it take you to the Tabernacle School again and then you got on another bus?
Bob: Sometimes we would do that; and then that was starting to change probably in the early ‘50s (1950s) then we were getting a lot more people.
Virginia: That was Ruth Pattenberg, the bus driver. Right?
Bob: It was Evy Holloway first. She was the first bus driver we had and then she got expecting with Shirley that (who) got killed on a bicycle in an automobile accident.
Virginia: His friend, what was his name?, use to walk to Medford Lakes and get on the bus there because he was from “shanny (shanty) town”, Ray Watt, he wanted to be a movie star.
Bob: He claimed in high school that he went to Medford Lakes and lived there.
Virginia: He was a nice looking guy, but he would walk to Medford Lakes to get the bus because he didn’t want to be known as coming from “shanny town”.
Bob: We had lots of problems with Medford Farms and “shanny town” years ago.
THS: Now what year were you born?
THS: Okay, so you were born where?
Bob: Camden. Yeah, my father when he left Pratt Food in Philadelphia, then he opened a print shop. The last one he had was on 27th (St.) across from Memorial School. The new big high school they built in Camden. I should have some pictures of that. And then after we were living here, we had a cabin that we lived in. And I guess it was 1943 we had a hurricane hit in Atlantic City. We didn’t have power for 15 or 25 days something like that. My father had went in to work in Camden and he couldn’t get back home from Camden. And the day he came home from Camden, which was probably 10 or 12 days later, I remember my mother was like “We’re gonna have a meeting right now”. And took my dad in the house and she told him “Either you’re going to give up the shop in Camden and come out here and find work local or we’re moving to Camden.” She was not going to live by herself with me. And we’d take my bicycle and push it up to Mary Roger’s store to get groceries because we didn’t have anything else (meaning transportation).
Virginia: Did you know that Mary and Harvey Roger’s store?
Virginia: It was right across from Vetco (Rt. 206) on the hill where Jerry Glenn’s daughter lives now. The store was in the front but they put a house in the back; and the old building is falling down (be)side of it.
THS: Now where was this cabin that you were living in?
Bob: It was on Lake Road, second house down on the right side and I’ll show you pictures of that in here and also the house is still there today which was built in 1944, I think.
Virginia: That your dad built?
THS: Were you the only child?
Virginia: He didn’t have anybody to fight with which was different from my house.
THS: And you had how many kids in your family?
Virginia: Eleven. Six boys and five girls. And four boys are gone, Stanley, George, Jimmy, and Vernon.
Bob: (shows picture) This is the house from the ‘40s (1940s). It had one room and a curtain that pulled down through the middle of it. It had a pitcher pump inside and an outhouse in the back.
Virginia: That’s your father in that picture. Isn’t it?
Bob: Yeah. My father was active in the township, active in everything.
THS: (looks at another picture) This is Mr. Reynolds.
Bob: That was the developer that started Medford Farms. That’s his picture there.
THS: What was his first name, do you know?
Bob: Frank, Frederick…I’m going to say Frederick. There’s probably third generation or fourth generation now that still has that house. It’s the Underwoods (family’s last name) or some of them.
THS: So you tore down?
Bob: We tore down the first, the cabin; and built the house in the same location.
Bob: There’s Eddie Gallagher on one of them. That would have been Eddie Gallagher. He knew your husband (meaning Virginia’s first husband) well.
Virginia: He was big in the firehouse.
Bob: Yeah, it had to have been maybe 10 years ago.
Virginia: Has it been that long? I’d say maybe six.
THS: (points at photo) Is this you when you were young? It says “Robert”.
Bob: No, that’s Bobby Buchanan. He’s one that would be interesting to get to talk. He’s older than I am and my father use to take him back and forth when he went to Camden in the morning and he went to school in Camden because he thought he could get a better education. He knows if you get him on a good day.
THS: (looks at house photos) So, you dug a basement?
Bob: Yeah, it was a little partial basement because when that big hurricane came I remember the water came up and we had a coal stove in the basement and that flooded that and had a hot stove in at the time and that split up and we didn’t have any heat.
THS: I guess you don’t know how much it cost, this house?
Virginia: Probably a lot cheaper than it is today.
Bob: Well, this one was $17,000 that included 50 some acres of ground with it. (talking about property at 700 Chatsworth Road, Tabernacle, NJ)
THS: This house that we’re in now?
Bob: Hhmm. In 1960.
THS: 50 acres originally?
Virginia: Well, we owned in the back too.
Bob: I had a lake in the back and I got caught up in bankruptcy in a construction business in 1971 and I sold the ground down there. That was a big mistake, but I bailed myself out.
Virginia: This is the third or fourth owner (of the property that he sold).
Bob: Last time it sold it was a million and a half dollars. And I sold it for $16,000.
Virginia: I think it’s the third owner. The bus company owned it too. Didn’t they?
Bob: Yeah, Meredith (Bus or Transportation Company).
Virginia: It’s a big one level house. I cleaned it one time.
Bob: A forty foot living room or bedroom something like that.
Virginia: Well, the living room has that big open fireplace that looks right through the room.
THS: So there’s a lake back there?
Virginia: Yeah, that he (Bob) put in.
THS: And it’s still there?
Bob: Yeah. It’s not being taken care of right now so it’s growing up (meaning trees and weeds).
THS: What stream is feeding that lake?
Bob: The one that comes across from Sooy Place. It feeds from Friendship originally. Harry’s Causeway Road (now Patty Bowker Road) comes up along the edge of that and comes into us. I cleaned it out years ago. And then it used to be my rule when the kids wanted to use it for fishing and (would have to) take care of it, but then in the spring, always Easter, we would clean it.
THS: So this is your dad’s print shop?
THS: Next door to your house?
Virginia: Is that still there, the building?
Bob: Yeah, it’s been combined with the new home.
Bob: (shows new picture) Well, you remember, (he) was head of the courts tied into (the) Grungos; had the Italian restaurant.
Bob: Yes, Antonelli’s, Do you remember Antenelli’s, the pizza place?
Bob: It closed up.
THS: Was it where the Tabernacle Inn is?
Virginia: No, it was opposite where Frank Grungo lived. Where the (east) Indian (owned) store was. You know where it’s now Dunkin Donuts and all that. Back a little bit was Frank Grungo’s house and across was Just Between Friends Catering and that was Antonelli’s.
Bob: No, that was Ruggiero’s.
Virginia: Okay, I know where it was, by Frank Thodes, where they sell the cars,
J & G. You know where the cars sale is, that was a little coffee shop. Opposite that his aunt Dora Lovett had a bake shop. That was Antonelli’s which was a hoagie shop.
THS: Now this says “Miller”.
Bob: That was the family when I was real little. Those pictures are probably from 1939. We never had a camera back then. People didn’t have all these contraptions, and I think my father probably borrowed a camera to take pictures. And a lot of these I had given away and I wish I hadn’t because I had pictures of everything that was in Medford Farms at one time. This one existed when you were living back there, but it’s on the corner of Hawkins and Lee Drive.
THS: A friend of mine lived there for many years. They put the swimming pool there.
THS: Yeah, Russell Webb. Was this that house?
Bob: Yeah, that was the house originally.
THS: I don’t ever remember this building, was it the garage?
Bob: Yes, that was the garage. The house became bigger than the garage toward the later years.
THS: Well, the house wasn’t very big I’ll tell you; and they were constantly changing it. I’d go and visit her in the morning and if I came back later in the afternoon the walls would shift.
Bob: This was right across what was Shrine on top of the hill.
Virginia: Where’s that at?
Bob: Where Laurie Earls’ mother and father lived.
Virginia: That’s near the lake.
Bob: Yeah, right across from the lake, right on top of the hill.
THS: This was on Lakeview Drive, and this is what a lot of the houses looked like typically.
Bob: This is the other one that was once there.
THS: They were cabins, summer cabins. That’s all they were made for.
Bob: That would have been (a) fellow by the name of Tate. He owned a humongous junk yard in Philadelphia and made a bundle of money during the Second World War. All the scrap he bought here and sent over to Japan to make the planes and all the stuff.
THS: For the Japanese?
Bob: Yeah, I remember that story well.
THS: But that was going all over the country.
Bob: This was Hawkins and Indian Mills Road, right on the corner. If you look at that house it still looks basically the same.
Virginia: Does anyone have pictures of before they built Seneca? Where the house was on that corner when you came out of Hawkins?
THS: I haven’t seen any.
Virginia: I took pictures before they built Seneca.
Bob: I never got a picture of that. I was there when the house burned in 1958 I think maybe ’57. It burned to the ground. That was a four story big old hotel. I guess you would call it originally.
Virginia: Who lived there before?
Bob: Helen O’Neil, that’s who was in it before it burned.
Virginia: And then it was the bungalow and now the bungalow is in Conte’s field because Conte’s son split up with the Fletcher girl and he lives married to a new lady, a younger one, with horses in that field. And they moved that little house from the corner when you come off of Hawkins Road onto Carranza.
Bob: That house was right across the intersection.
THS: The house is now on Flyatt Road, where they repositioned it?
Virginia: Yeah, you’re right it is.
THS: Pete Moss?
Bob: Yeah, that was the first fire chief that Tabernacle had in 1941.
Bob: (shows new picture) That was our house originally. Looks pretty much like it does today except the big addition added on by the new people.
Virginia: This is the one that Frank built. We didn’t see new houses that looked like that.
Bob: No, that they tore that down and put in the new modern contraptions.
THS: (new picture) What’s it say on the back?
Bob: That’s probably the Summers’s house.
Virginia: Yeah, Bonnie and Betty.
THS: Looks like it says Jimmy and Betty.
Bob: All three of them are still alive. We just buried Bonnie’s husband about a month and a half to months ago.
Virginia: Jack Schafer.
THS: Now when you moved out here in your earlier recollections, route 70 didn’t exist yet?
Bob: No, it still did. It was S41. I think it was and we lived on route 39. 206 was 39 and..
THS: They moved parts of that, didn’t they?
Bob: They did a lot of changes there. And where Hawkins Road crossed what would be (Rt.) 206 today that was all painted (large route numbers painted on the street) and it told you the Route numbers and what was North and South. And I remember going there. I must have been four or five years old. That’s when the state decided the (enemy) airplanes were going to find out where we lived and bomb us so they painted over that. Doesn’t exist anymore but that was originally 39 and painted on the road was North, South, East, and West. We had civil defense when I was involved with it during the Vietnam War. Second World War… my dad was involved with it (Civil Defense) during the Second World War and they would make you turn the lights off and all, but very few people in Tabernacle or Medford Farms had lights. We didn’t get electric I think until ’41 when they ran the wires from 206 and went across the dam and if something happened by us there was no electric on the other side of Medford Farms.
THS: And that was coming from Atlantic City?
Bob: Yup, Atlantic City Electric.
THS: Because when we first moved in the early ‘70s, we would use electric all the time.
Bob: Yeah, that was pretty standard.
THS: Because from the way my husband explained it we were at the end of the line for Atlantic City Electric, and then when they built substations around here, then that all changed, we hardly ever lose it (power) now.
Bob: You didn’t have the seven party telephone line then did you?
THS: No, I did as a child, (but not in Tabernacle).
Bob: The first telephone for Tabernacle, for the Fire Department, and all things concerning Tabernacle, was at Jerry’s. (He) had the Speed Shop.
Virginia: Jerry Clarke
Bob: Alec Morrison originally. They owned that and then my father was involved (with) the township and then finally they gave us an extension and that was a seven line number, seven dials and all that stuff. We never had the door closed in the house because that was open to anyone in the township who needed to use the telephone and mom had a little cup sitting there. If you had any change in your pocket, you’d put the change in there.
Virginia: Did Morrison rent those cabins at one point?
Virginia: I keep connecting that with Satler. Satler was where the American Gas was.
Bob: And then there was that one, (points to picture) this one also had cabins.
Virginia: Who was this?
Bob: That was on the corner where Teddy (also know as Ken Yates) is now. That’s where Yates Plaza is now.
THS: So what did you use for lighting then?
Bob: Kerosene lamps.
THS: You didn’t have gas either? You still don’t?
Bob: No. Kerosene lamps and kerosene stoves.
Virginia: We don’t want no gas, because all these people are getting gas and when one house blows they’re all going to blow.
Bob: Dee Collins, her husband when he got out of the war in ’45, they got married and he went to work for Atlantic City Electric. Dee Collins’s husband Jack, and he got my father the first electric stove and then we had to get something done to the electric so there was enough power to make the electric stove work.
THS: Because it would have taken more power.
Bob: Yeah, you had to have three wires, I think we only had two wires to the house then.
THS: What was your stove powered by then?
Bob: At first it was kerosene. Three burner(s) and it had a little pump on the side to pump the kerosene and it would push it up into the stove. Mom would worry to death about that. Then when we got the electric stove, it went down in the cellar and mom did all her canning down there, and we bought very little because she canned. We had a humongous garden then. And everyone else did the same thing, not like today. Then Mayor Rogers didn’t come until, I’m gonna say ’48 (1948).
THS: What did you do for refrigeration?
Bob: We had the ice man. I think that(‘s) one of the papers (meaing: article for the Central Record or Mt Holly Herald) mom wrote. That’ll tell you who the ice man was at the time.
THS: And the heat was wood burned?
Bob: Dad got a coal heater and he put that in the basement. That’s when he dug the hole to put that in and then that big storm came and the water came up high enough it hit the heater which was hot, and of course, (being) hot cast iron blew all apart and that was the end of that.
THS: Where did you get the coal from?
Bob: Vincentown, where the brick came from actually. There’s a lot of history in these rooms. (Pointing to their wood stove) This came from the original Smithville that’s manufactured the door. I made the stove but he made the door. I got that along Rancocas Woods.
THS: Oh you found it?
Bob: Yup, dug it out of the dirt. So that probably dates back to the early 1800s.
Virginia: The stove really puts out some heat when I crank it up and open the wheels. I run that all night, I get up 3 or 4 times a night to keep it going, to save on fuel.
Bob: Allen’s Homestead in the middle of Vincentown where the little dry goods store was, right up from the Vincentown Methodist Church; that house burned and I rebuilt that house and I brought all the brick home and that’s what I built this fireplace with.
THS: Where did you get the mantle?
Bob: I made that one.
Virginia: This was all woods when he got the property.
Bob: These are out of a dairy barn in Vincentown, the four windows. I made cupboards out of them.
THS: And how long have you been in this house?
Bob: I built the house in ’69 and I built the shop in ’60.
THS: Tell me about the Junior Mechanics. You became a member…your father was a member?
Bob: My father was active in it for years and on his death bed he had two requests. He wanted me to go into the Masonic Lodge, but I had to be 21 for that one. And he wanted me to go into the Junior Mechanics which I had to be 16. So when I turned 16 I went in. I couldn’t for the life of me for a long time figure out why he wanted me to go into it, but then I found out how involved it was. It’s really close to going under right now. It’s a pity, because we don’t have any membership.
THS: How many people were in it, do you think, when you joined it?
Bob: I gonna bet 45 at least.
Virginia: They’re all passed.
Bob: Yup, they’re all gone. We’re down to 14 right now.
Virginia: You, Harry Worrell, Wash (Washington) Orme, Richard Tustin.
Bob: I got a new guy from Woodbury. I got one from Williamstown. I just lost two. We had a little feud with Teddy and the organization; and Teddy (Ken Yates) hasn’t been back and we lost a few people with that.
THS: Now, you own the building (meaning: Jr. Mechanics) that is now the Town Hall?
THS: And did you use all that space?
Bob: We had a thing where you slide those things down a long trough. (He’s trying to think what it is called.)
Bob: Yeah, we had dart tournaments, and stuff like that. There was no television, nothing like that, so that’s where people went and that’s what kept membership up. And we had dinners in there. We held weddings in there on the secondary story.
THS: Do you own the cemetery across from that or just the one down (the street on Carranza Road called the Jr. Mechanics Cemetery)?
Bob: The one down.
THS: You still own that?
Bob: Yup. (The organization of the Jr. Mechanics owns the cemetery.)
THS: And there are still plots in that?
Bob: Nothing available.
THS: And when was that cemetery started?
Bob: 1913. That was originally meant for the owners of Tabernacle and members of the organization, and then in the late ‘50s when the courts made all these decisions that everything is public, no matter who they are or what they are you have to open the doors to them.
Virginia: You use to get volunteers to help with it (Jr. Mechanics Cemetery), but you don’t get volunteers anymore.
Bob: The world has changed. It’s about profit. Everyone is like “how much am I getting to do this?” You never paid for anything in the Junior Mechanics. You never paid for anything in the Church. You never paid for anything in the cemetery. You never paid for nothing. It’s a pity right now to see some of the stuff that’s being done at the Pepper House. Everything was done by volunteer(s). You’re putting windows in there and I’ve got material here, but can’t find anyone to climb to the second and third story.
THS: We were hoping to keep the windows original.
Bob: They changed them.
THS: I don’t even know what kind of windows they were. Were they small panes on top?
Bob: They were changed in 1975 maybe. The historic society hired someone to rebuild everything and there was a beautiful front porch there, which now you’re having court agencies tell you can’t build a porch there in the front. I sat on that front porch almost everyday when I rode my bicycle home.
THS: Do you have the windows from the original house?
Bob: No, I don’t. I wasn’t involved when that was done. I still might have some of the windows out of the Methodist Church. A lot of the house is made from the original glass out of that. I took the original panes and made new closets and stuff out of them.
THS: I wish we had pictures of the original Pepper House.
THS: Well, we do have a picture with the porch.
Bob: Have you ever went (gone) up to visit Hope Pepper? If you could get her to sit down with you sometime, there are pictures there you people would not believe.
Virginia: She wouldn’t give them to you, but she might photocopy them for you.
Bob: You got to get her in the mood.
THS: I used to work with Hope so she knows me. I would like to put that porch back on as a long term project. There was like an annex building with a lean-to kitchen and shed or something. That should have stayed because that would have made a nice office.
Bob: That was my last plan, that stove and the pump was suppose to go in the kitchen. I built several of them in some of the other schools in the county.
THS: Hope said her granddaughter or maybe a niece, took the cupboard out.
Bob: A hoosier.
THS: There’s nothing in the kitchen that looks like a kitchen other than the kitchen table.
Virginia: There’s no cabinets or nothing?
THS: No, there’s no cabinets, no sink, no stove.
Virginia: What happened to all that?
Bob: That was all torn out when the township took over. All the carvings on these cabinets, in the kitchen and in here, are original hollows from what was in the township hall.
Virginia: You mean the design?
Bob: I built all (of) them, but, yeah, the design. All these cabinets are built from the trees that they took down when they built the first ball field here. I helped clear that ground. It aggravates me now when I see money being passed around for some of this stuff today. I know you gotta use a contractor once in awhile but everything down there was done by the community.
THS: No one wants to do it or knows how to do it.
Virginia: That’s the problem.
THS: Or they’re getting too old so they can’t do what they could (have done before).
Bob: I wanted to do that work in the Pepper House, and I had then upped the metal and all to finish those windows on the second and third floor; and I had one volunteer who was gonna do the climbing for me and then he had a bout with cancer and that was the end of that and I couldn’t find anyone else.
THS: Well, that’s why we’re trying to get some younger people involved because you can’t have people in their 70s and 80s doing that. And then you gotta worry about insurance and all that.
Bob: Well, insurance and all that didn’t exist back then. Nobody worried about that.
Virginia: What about Skimmer’s Pool Hall, did they ever mention any of that? Skimmer Pepper’s Pool Hall that was right there in the parking lot of the town hall.
Bob: Sam Scott Store and gas station.
Virginia: But that was Skimmer’s pool hall, sat right there in the corner parking lot for the Municipal Building. You weren’t allowed to go there. Your mother wouldn’t let you.
Bob: No, anything that had liquor don’t go near it or wild women.
Virginia: Dick Haines had the store there. Me and my sister worked for Sonny Lawn Farm which is on Carranza Road, Harriet and Bob Haines, she was the school teacher. And me and my sister we lived, you know where Brace Lane goes up Carranza, and you go into the middle of Bozarthtown (Road). There was an old house there that we lived in and I moved up here when the house was boarded up when I was eleven. I was born in Sandy Ridge, and you ever hear of Rossicks? Rossicks is where Charlie Wills and Betty Wills up on that lane…
Bob: That big development now with them million dollar houses Sohn Lane…
Virginia: Well, I was maybe two or three there…then we moved. We lived in Jody’s house in Bozarthtown, but we lived in that old house there. Me and my sister worked for Harriet Haines, and if you go by there, I don’t know who lives there now, but the house is still there and the lawn is still big. Floyd Yates, who lived in the tenant house, he would mow that lawn. Me and my sister would rake that lawn. We were like eight or ten. We would rake it and she would give us fifty cents and lunch. We would take our little fifty cents and go and buy penny candy.
Bob: That was a beautiful house. There was a lot of history there. His father would have been a freeholder. This township was divided for political reasons (really meaning put together) from Westampton, Eastampton, and Southampton so they could get political position. And if you followed the traffic lines and you wondered how the property runs the way it does, it ran by those families.
THS: What churches were here?
Bob: Originally the Church of Christ and the Methodist Church. And there was a black church up where the other cemetery is on Carranza Road.
Virginia: There was a church up there?
Bob: Yeah, there was a church up there. It burned down.
Virginia: What are they gonna do with that cemetery? Is someone gonna buy it?
Bob: There’s a lot of people that want it, so far no one can find who legally owns it.
THS: What cemetery are you talking about, the black cemetery?
THS: And there was a church that turned into that?
THS: And what road is that on?
Bob: Carranza and Yellow Hill (Roads).
Virginia: It’s before where Rita lived, right before Pearl Gerber. Somewhere there, the green house.
Bob: That piece of land goes all the way through and out to Yellow Hill. It’s a big piece of ground, not a wide piece, but a long piece.
THS: Now how far back did the Church of Christ go?
Bob: 1912 or 1913, I think.
THS: See, I always thought until we came across a picture of the old building, I always thought that that whole thing popped up in the ‘70s (1970s)
Bob: When I was little my mother knew most of the women in there and we would go to special services in there. They had no music, nothing else. It was two pews wide and maybe 6 pews or 8 pews deep.
Virginia: It’s a good size now.
Bob: Oh yeah. The first building they tore down. They built the church, the Cutts Brothers did. It was all wood. I helped build the second church for them. That probably would have been the early ‘60s. They use to do everything (by) local people. They wouldn’t hire out anyone else. And then your Baptist Church in Medford Farms, that started, I’m gonna guess, in the early, early ‘50s. That started in the Firehouse and then they bought a little government building that was in sad shape and they moved it and put it on the lot where the new church is. And the church that sits there now, the brick one, they built that in the ‘70s.
THS: That’s right before Newbert’s (Auto Repair)?
THS: That’s actually in Southampton now.
Bob: Yeah, the property line comes across it there somewheres.
Virginia: That’s a Baptist Church there?
Bob: Yeah, and then there was a Baptist Church on Flyatt Road the black’s had. As far as I know that’s empty now.
Virginia: What’s the one on Medford Lakes Road that’s part of Medford? The one that Harry Fine taught at.
THS: Lord of Life?
THS: That’s in Tabernacle.
Virginia: Is it?
THS: That’s fairly new.
Bob: That was some of Amos’s ground. That was originally a big part of the trailer park. And then when Amos died, the son, rather than expand it, because toward the end we were having trouble with the trailer park we even took one trailer out because if we hit 100 we had to provide water testing, and this, that, and the other thing.
THS: When did that start, the trailer park?
Bob: I’m gonna guess 1968. I date things with where I was working or where I was.
THS: Well, we (Ann & Rick Franzen) moved out here in ’72 and it was established then.
Bob: I put the first ten trailers in there.
THS: I think we got quite a bit of information today.
Virginia: Well, I just wanted to tell you a few things if you didn’t have anymore questions. I just wanted to see if they know (looking at Bob). Well they knew Harvey and Mary Rogers and Ruggiero’s, the hoagie place which we told them where that was across from Grungo’s house. Just Between Friends, that’s where it was Ruggiero’s hoagie place. I wanted to tell you about the poor families that I remember. We were one of them with eleven children. Now all of them didn’t have eleven children, but I wanted to tell you about the ones, Maglenos, did you ever hear about them?
Virginia: I believe they had two sons and two daughters. The one boy shot himself, I don’t know about the other, when they were 12 or 13. And the father was very abusive, physically, sexually all of that. The girls killed him, cut him up, and took him to Florida.
Bob: There’s a lot of things that you never hear about.
THS: Where did they live?
Virginia: Up Sooy Place. And then the other family was Simcox.
Bob: Now, they are probably over the township line. They’re where the big fire was last year.
Virginia: Okay, well, they were all alcoholics, and they only had a daughter. Well, I used to work for Yates, pulling sweet potatoes and all and she worked there too and her daughter was a pretty young girl. She hung herself because of the alcoholics. And they lived, it was like a movie in the fog in the swamp, and that poor girl, she was friends with my sister, she hung herself in the basement.
THS: The mother did or the daughter?
Virginia: The daughter to get away.
THS: How old was she?
Virginia: Probably 12, 13, or 14, somewhere around there. Harvery Decant had two kids, Dora was my friend and Danny got killed on Carranza Road. I believe they lived in a trailer where the ball park is.
Bob: That’s how the township got it because no one could pay the taxes that were left on the house after it burnt down.
Virginia: So this airplane you were talking about came to see them and landed in Zimmerman’s field, and when they took off to say goodbye they crashed in the trees and got killed.
Bob: That was in the end of the Second World War because he was an aviation guy and he was coming down because the Decant boy was in the service too during the Second World War.
Virginia: Okay, now, I’m gonna tell you another one. Krantz boys had a store. You know where the Co-Op is? You go up a little farther and I think the house is still green and Closet Doctor had a garage there (near by on Rt. 206). Right there that was a gas station and a store. We use to go there and get our ice cream. That house is still there, I don’t know who lives there. The Wishums, that’s another poor family. You know where Haines lives in that big old house down here, where the deep water…what’s that water?
Bob: Oh Russo’s .
Virginia: Where Russo’s… Is it Natalie Cassano lives opposite of Haines’s?
Virginia: Okay, Cassano lives there and Haines was over here. There was a two story owned by Wishums if you go into the old grave yard. Because one time family from Florida, a daughter of one of the originals, wanted me to go to the graveyard to find the stone. If you go there, somewhere near the front is Wishums.
Bob: Wishum was the biggest politician Tabernacle had before it was Tabernacle and they gave the ground for the original school. The second or third generation that I remember drank alcohol and didn’t work and lost the whole farm and what’s Russo’s now was originally Wishum.
Virginia: The Thackers that was a big family and I have a picture I found in the newspaper. They were so poor. They lived in a little one room.
Bob: And the kids got put in the car bodies to sleep. They would bundle the kid up in front of the stove and then carry him out and put him in there.
Virginia: And the Learners.
Bob: Yeah, they lived in a big tepee and that was maybe six months or a year before Woodland Township started getting rules and regulation. They’re on the property line (meaning: township boundary line).
Virginia: And what about the Slaters? Where did they live? They were around here.
Bob: Medford Farms.
Virginia: Weren’t they the ones with bed bugs all the time?
Bob: Yeah, they use to take the poor kids once a week and pour kerosene on their heads because the bugs were so bad. They were nice people. The state took them over. I think the Children’s Home in Mount Holly. Probably a third of the kids I grew up with ended up there because their parents couldn’t take care of them.
Virginia: Sweet Adeline’s…Do you remember where that was?
THS: No, I don’t know.
Virginia: That was an Italian restaurant.
Bob: Where CVS is now.
Virginia: It was a pizza parlor and my daughter worked there. Then it was Sweet Adeline’s. It was a restaurant and my mother use to take and do people’s laundry and I’d go pick up the clothes. Beulah’s Bar is now the Pub. I use to go in there and get the beer rags and her clothes and all.
THS: Beulah’s Bar?
Virginia: Yeah Beulah’s Bar…It was a hell hole.
THS: Wasn’t it something else before the pub?
Bob: Oh, it has been ten different people in there.
Virginia: Where the guy got hit with the bat what was it then?
THS: I thought, aren’t you talking about the Tabernacle Inn?
Virginia: No, the one across from Nixon’s. That was Beulah’s Bar.
Bob: It’s changed so many times. When we were kids in school, we’d go over there and stand on the fence to watch the activity out over there. They’d have dancing, they’d play music out there and they’d dance in the road, and then they’d have a fight and go back in and drink a little more and then they’d come out and play some more music. We’d go over there and that was entertainment for us kids. That was another rule, don’t ride over there on your bicycle. Soon as I left home, that’s where I went there to watch the show.
Virginia: At Goose Pond we used to skate up there. Spanish Villa that was Fett’s?
Bob: No that was across from it but it burned down. Next to Krantz’s was the Spanish Villa.
THS: Villa D was what the Tabernacle Inn was called.
Virginia: Right. Villa D that was a wild place.
THS: Yes, it was male strippers at one point in the ‘70s. Well, you’ve given us a whole lot of information.
Bob: I wrote down the properties I wanted to talk about. That’s a full list right there. You could find lots of information on that right there.
Virginia: Magleno’s is in our graveyard in the back and Bebe
Bob: Which one? The one that got killed that started the Emergency Squad?
Virginia: No, Fred Bebe’s two little boys that were walking on (Rt.) 206 and one was carrying a gun and killed the other one by accident.
Bob: That was the one who started the Emergency Squad. They had a meeting at our kitchen table after that (accident) because we couldn’t get an emergency squad to come because they were coming out of Vincentown and Mount Holly and boy had died right out on the road.
Virginia: It’s funny, you walk that graveyard and you see so many you knew. It’s like you really don’t want to see that, but they’re all there.
THS: Well, you’ve been here for your lifetime so.
Virginia: Well, it’s funny because I have a big family, but half my family doesn’t have a plot and I don’t know where they’re going. They should have got it early on like we did.
Bob: It’s a shame that we’re not going to be able to expand (Tabernacle Cemetery). This is gonna be the end of it because there’s too many rules and regulations today.
Virginia: The thing is with that graveyard is nobody wants to take it over.
THS: You have to put vaults in now.
Virginia: We use to get volunteers to help us, but we(‘d) go down and get the big dumpster for the Christmas clean-up and most of it we do it ourself because no one wants to volunteer.
Bob: I can’t really even get any cooperation from the township. It’s a shame and it’s not the present bodies to be; it’s some of the people you got running things in there right now.
THS: I guess you need publicity with this. You need to put it in their website and in the papers. Well, your gang knows about it, but our gang maybe not. Well, let’s wrap this up. We appreciate all your time today; and we’ll probably want to come back in another time. We’re also talking about it at the Historical Society meetings. So thank you very much for your time and all these materials we will take good care of them.
Obituary taken from the Courier-Post Newspaper, March 2, 2014
Robert D. Lees
Age 76 * Tabernacle
Robert “Bob” D. Lees, a lifelong resident of Tabernacle, passed away Friday, February 28, 2014 at 2:30pm. He was 76. Son of the late R. Donald and Madeline Lees. Bob was the husband of 42 years of Virginia “Ginny” (nee Bakely). He was the father of Virginia E (Brian) Hildebrandt.
Bob owned the Country Workshop with his wife, Ginny, for 30 years. He was a well-known self-employed building contractor. He worked for the U.S. Postal Service as a rural mail carrier from 1955-1966. Bob was an active member of the Tabernacle United Methodist Church, A current Chaplain of Methodist Men, a Trustee, a member of the Visitation Committee and a Greeter at the Church. He was a member and Past Master of Central Lodge #44m F & AM, Vincentown. He was a member of the Jr. Order of United American Mechanics Council #49, Tabernacle serving as Secretary, Trustee and Chaplain. He was Superintendent of the Jr. Mechanics Cemetery, Tabernacle. Bob was a charter member of Tabernacle Emergency Squad. He was a Past Officer and Member of the Medford Farms Emergency Squad. He was a member of the Tabernacle Historical Society and was well versed in the history of Tabernacle. Bob was an avid country dancer. Bob was always there to help whoever needed it.
Funeral Services will be Friday, March 7 at 11am at Lechner Funeral Home, 24 N. Main St., Medford. A viewing will be held Thursday evening, 6-9pm with a Masonic Service at 8pm and a Jr. Mechanices Service at 9pm, and Friday morning, 10-11am at the Lechner Funeral Home. Burial is in Jr. Mechanics Cemetery, Tabernacle. In lieu of flowers, contributions in Bob’s memory may be made to the Tabernacle UMC Bell Tower Fund, 166 Carranza Rd., Tabernacle, NJ 08088 or American Diabetes Assoc., 1060 Kings Hwy, N., Cherry Hill, NJ 08034.