Sunrise at Ocean City, New Jersey

Sunrise at Ocean City, New Jersey

My earliest memories of vacations involved our annual pilgrimage to South Jersey. Although my father was born in Philadelphia, he grew up in Northfield, New Jersey. Northfield is on the edge of the salt marshes and lies between Pleasantville and Linwood. Linwood, by the way, was once known as Leedsville.

I vaguely remember lying on the floor of our 1943 Chevy and using the hump in the middle as my pillow. I’d watch through the window and try to count the telephone poles as they whizzed past. Either I was very small, or they made cars much wider in those days.

Since getting involved in genealogy about ten years ago, I’ve discovered we had many relatives in the area (hence the town of Leedsville), but the only people we visited were my father’s brother, Lewis B. Leeds, and his sisters-in-law, Josie and Mary Crowley. We also visited one of Dad’s old friends, Lew Lake. I’ve since learned that Mr. Lake was also a cousin. Sometimes I have a feeling I’m related to most of the old families of South Jersey.

We always told people we were vacationing in Atlantic City (back in its original heyday), but, in truth, we only went there once during our typical two week stay. Most of our days were spent fishing and crabbing. For a number of years, Uncle Lewis owned a small cabin cruiser, The Sea Urchin, that he kept docked at the Hackney Boat Yard on Scull’s Bay. That boat become our vacation cottage. We never moved the boat… I doubt if the engine even ran; but we loved being able to crawl out of bed and start fishing and crabbing before we even ate breakfast.

Needless to say, we ate a ton of seafood during our vacation, and what we couldn’t consume was given to our relatives to freeze.

One of the minor things I remember from those trips was the small store at the end of Uncle Lewis’ street. Today it would be called a ‘convenience’ store; back then, it was simply called a corner store. They sold milk and bread and a few other grocery items. They probably earned most of their income from selling tobacco products, newspapers and magazines, and candy.

The first thing I bought when I entered that store every year was a package of Charms. I never saw Charms sold in Pittsburgh. Charms were similar to Life Savers, but the pieces were square instead of round and they had no hole. The flavors were very similar to the original Life Savers. Come to think of it, I don’t recall that corner store selling Life Savers. Perhaps it was a regional thing like scrapple, Birch Beer, and cheesecake pie.

I’ve visited South Jersey twice in the last several years and could not find cheesecake pie. If you know where I might find this delicacy, let me know. I’m sure the mere sight of one would bring back a flood of memories.

On our way back to Pittsburgh, we’d always stop and buy a large basket of freshly picked cantaloupes. They were the best melons I’ve ever eaten.

I just remembered… we have some cantaloupe in the refrigerator. Although it’s not nearly as good as the ones from South Jersey, I think I’ll go have some… right now. See you tomorrow!

Oops! I almost forgot to say that the beautiful picture at the top of this post was taken by my lovely bride while I was still trying to fix myself a cup of coffee.


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