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Russell-Akeley Life

Haddon Heights, the town in which I grew up in southern New Jersey, about 10 miles from Philadelphia, was part of the wave of suburban housing that developed around industrial cities like Camden, N.J., and Philadelphia. The main offices of companies you know, like RCA and Campbell Soup, were in Camden. My Dad worked for RCA; that’s why we were there. Haddon Heights was incorporated about 1900, about 50 years after Pine Grove Township.

Something I remember growing up was the way we obtained products and services we needed in daily life during the late 1940s and 1950s. We had a milk man who drove a local dairy milk route everyday. There was an insulated milk box on our porch; he had a standing order to place milk in the box on designated days. We also had a bread man who delivered Freihofer bread . My Mom would put a card in the porch window when she wanted him to stop. The Jewel Tea Company also had a mobile delivery system. Again, he stopped when his card was put up in the porch window. Jewel Tea handled things like brooms, cleaning supplies and sundry household items.

A little before my time, refrigerators were called iceboxes. Food was kept cold in a large insulated box with a container for a block of ice on top of the ice box. The air around the ice in the box moved downward into the ice box, keeping food cool. Ice and coal were sold by the same dealer located in the town next to ours.

Our house was heated with coal in the early days (that I remember). We had a coal furnace in the basement with a coal bin next to a small window that could be swung open to accept a chute from a coal truck. Coal was shoveled into the chute from a delivery truck in our driveway until the bin was full. Later on, my Dad bought an oil furnace. A large tank in the basement replaced the coal bin and was filled from a truck in the driveway, just as coal had been delivered.

Trash was handled in about the same way it is handled now. Metal trash cans were put at curbside, which were subsequently unloaded into the rear of a trash truck that visited us weekly. Our trash man didn’t take garbage. Garbage could not be mixed with trash, nor could trash be mixed with garbage. Garbage was handled by a garbage man. Beyond the suburban area moving out from the city, southern New Jersey is agricultural. The garbage man was a pig farmer who fed our garbage to his pigs, hence the prohibition for mixing trash with garbage. The garbage man came twice a week, so that his pigs had fresh, well relatively fresh, food.

In the summertime there was a huckster. The huckster had a flatbed truck with open sides and containers of local fruits and vegetables. He would drive slowly up the street and residents would purchase his produce at curbside. The ice cream man also was a summer visitor. He drove a truck with a large insulated box on the back containing all sorts of ice cream and popsicles. You could always hear him coming because he rang bells attached to his truck to let you know he was in the vicinity.

Of course these mobile purveyors of food and other household needs were not the only way of obtaining them. In downtown Haddon Heights we had an A&P and an Acme that carried many of the food and household products that were brought to our door. But, society was less mobile then than now.

When my wife and I moved to Russell in February 1973, there was an insulated milk box on our front porch. However, County Market was just a mile away and we did our food shopping there. As society has become more mobile and stores like Walmart and Lowes, that carry a wide variety of many products we need, the purveyors of single items and little variety have gone by the wayside. The stores that many of us knew in downtown Russell could not compete with super stores that could satisfy all of our needs. In some towns, small specialty shops still prosper. The question of the moment is whether our town will be one of them, or should we be looking for a different outcome for downtown Russell?

ROAR Meeting September 9

Phase 1 of the ROAR sidewalk project in downtown Russell is on hold, waiting for the contractor’s schedule. In the meantime, a Sidewalk Committee was appointed to evaluate additional sidewalk repair/construction in downtown Russell. A second committee was appointed to evaluate the number of downtown Russell utility poles on which American flags could be installed and flown and a third committee was appointed to make revisions to the ROAR Statement of Purpose in support of periodic beneficial changes to the ROAR Strategic Plan.

A “Lantern Walk” in Russell on October 19 at 6 p.m. (rain date October 20 at 6 p.m.) will highlight historic homes in downtown Russell. The walking tour will begin at the Russell United Methodist Church and end at the church with pumpkin and apple desserts. Participants will receive a candle light. The tour fee is $10.

The August fireworks display was well attended and judged to be a “Grrreat” Event. ROAR plans to repeat the event in 2020. Thanks to all of the residents who financially underwrote the event.

Future Events:

ROAR will hold a Community Meeting at Russell United Methodist Church on Monday September 30 to receive suggestions for future projects the ROAR Committee could undertake. The meeting is an important opportunity for residents to have input into the future of the downtown area. The Russell Hometown Christmas is scheduled for November 30. Details of the event will be found on the ROAR website.

The ROAR Committee thanks Jamie at Pine Grove Motors for his help with ROAR projects.

Supervisors Meeting September 11

Efforts to get the township roads in shape have been slowed due the water line replacement project. The waterline work was originally scheduled to begin in June; then the start date was moved to July, and finally started two weeks ago. Before the lines can be replaced the township maintenance crew is required to locate all service lines entering homes that will be affected by the new line. This is no easy task, as there are few blueprints for much of the old piping in the village. It takes time-consuming work to detect the shut-off valves and service lines to homes still on the old water mains. This task has taken the crew away from needed road work. However, they have completed most of this work and are now concentrating on maintenance work on the Gouldtown Road, Egypt Hollow Road and several other areas. We hope the weather holds out, so most of the road work will be done before the weather turns bad. Unfortunately, due to the September 15 deadline for seal coating imposed on use of fuel tax revenue from the state, the township will be unable to complete the remaining road sealing that it had scheduled for the rest of summer. The coatings will be applied first thing next spring.

As noted, the upgrades to the Russell municipal water system have finally begun. The work will likely continue through most of the fall and eliminate very old sections of piping that have been the source of continual leaks over the past several years. Water loss will be greatly reduced and the system will be easier to maintain. The contractor must complete the work by the end of December, although it is expected that it will be completed before then.

The supervisors recently held their quarterly meeting with the president and the chief of the Russell Volunteer Fire Department. The Department remains busy responding to numerous calls for emergency medical services, as well as responding to general alarms. The Department’s emergency medical services continue to meet the response threshold set by the Pennsylvania Department of Health, which is a credit to the dedication of the volunteers serving our community. Plans to increase the size of the Department’s building also were discussed. This addition will provide much-needed space for the growing amount of equipment used by the Department, along with providing space for a crew room.

Other items of interest to township residents are: at their September meeting, supervisors set the date for Pine Grove Halloween Trick or Treating for Thursday, October 31 from 6 to 8 p.m. The supervisors have began attending the monthly County Council of Government (COG) meetings, which helps improve communications among the majority of municipal governments in Warren County.

Several of the additional 24 LED street lights the township requested have been installed, with the remaining lights probably being done shortly. The Board of Supervisors soon will be working on the 2020 budget for the township.

The initial budget planning meeting will be held on October 16 at 10 a.m. at the town hall on East Street. The public is welcome to attend this meeting.

The township is obligated to pay approximately 1.1 million dollars to the North Warren Municipal Authority for its share of recent upgrades to the sewage treatment plant in North Warren. Loan payments will be amortized over a 20-year period.

Finally, bank restoration work on the mouth of Johnny Run in Russell is waiting for the final permits to arrive.

Township residents are reminded that the board of supervisors meets the second Wednesday of each month at 7 p.m. at the Pine Grove Township Hall.

Also, residents can e-mail concerns or questions about township business or issues to pinegrovetwp@verizon.net. The township also has a website at www.pinegrovetownship.org. Once approved, minutes of supervisors’ meetings are posted on the website.

American Pickers

The American Pickers are coming to Warren County in November. More information is available at americanpickers@cineflix.com, or call 855 / OLD-RUST.