Friday, August 12, 2016

The War at Home - 1965

Evan Thomas – From The War at Home

“For a brief period the new military equipment, and especially the introduction of helicopters in large numbers, appeared to be stemming the Vietcong tied.”

“Like everyone else who read newspapers, I was reminded periodically of Vietnam…(But) the war did not really force itself upon me until February 7, 1965, when LBJ ordered the second bombing raid on North Vietnam following a Vietcong attack on American military barracks at Pleiku.”

“Two days earlier I had been inducted into the Army for National Guard training and had been transported to the snowy, windy, flatland of Fort Dix, New Jersey.”

“The lights went out at ten o’clock that night, but we all remained awake in the dark, covered by green army blankets, staring in the dim lights at the ceiling of army barracks, listening to transistor radios report the raids and half-believing (since anything seems possible in the army) that we would be on an early plane to South Vietnam.”

“The army, of course, made maximum use of the heightened situation during our eight weeks of basic training.”

“’This is important,’ Sergeants snapped. ‘What are you going to do if your M-14 jams in Veet-Nam?’”

“Since they jammed only too frequently on the Fort Dix firing ranges, we took this more or less seriously. We lay on the cold ground, looking at devastated areas where every living thing had long since been shot to pieces. The trunks of trees razed even twenty and thirty feet above the ground, the very ground itself literally poisoned by millions of copper jacketed bullets. A sergeant in a wooden tower shouted over a loud speaker system: ‘Ready on the right. Ready on the left. Firers, lock and load one fourteen round magazine and commence firing.’”

“When the stiff olive green silhouettes popped up behind the sand dunes and next to shattered tree stumps, it was not too hard to believe this was leading towards the dark and steaming jungles we imagined in Southeast Asia.”

“I was ‘against’ the war in an abstract way, but its impact on me personally was more confusing, it seemed possible the National Guard might be called up and that I might go. I’m not all together certain if I feared this would happen, or I wanted it to happen.” 

Rep. Norcross on MLK in Camden

Daniel Saunders Historic Preservation Office
Administrator PO Box 420
501 East State Street Trenton, NJ 08625-0420

August 10, 2016

Dear Administrator Saunders,

As a Camden City resident, when I drive through the city I see not only the great potential Camden has but also signs of Camden’s unique and rich history. From the old RCA building to the New York Shipbuilding Company and the Walt Whitman House, Camden City has an amazingly powerful history that grows stronger as new historical sites are found and invested in. That is why I urge you to consider designating the former residence of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at 753 Walnut Street in Camden, a historically valuable landmark worthy of preservation.

 Martin Luther King Jr. lived at 753 Walnut St. while he attended Crozer Theological Seminary, on his path to achieving his Bachelors in Divinity. King’s residence at this house is both well documented and remembered.

In 1950, while King stayed at the house in Camden, King was denied service in a Maple Shade bar called “Mary’s Cafe” and threatened with violence. King filed a police report, which listed the Walnut St. address as his residence but ultimately there were no legal repercussions for the owner. Dr. King’s defeat in this case appears to have been foundational in shaping Dr. King’s approach to civil-rights. Later in his life as the nation’s most prolific civil-rights leader, Dr. King opted to use civil disobedience to combat systemic racism instead of seeking police assistance, quite possibly relying on the lessons learned from this formative failure.

Not only is this site historically significant through its association with this incident in Maple Shade but crucially there is a developed plan for the site should it be protected. The City of Camden has agreed to donate the plot next to the home, and the current land owner of the vacant apartment is also enthused about the project. President of the Camden County NAACP, Colandus Francis would like to see the building used as a museum and office space for his chapter of the NAACP and Rutgers University-Camden’s law school has offered to set up a non-profit for the property pro-bono.

I know that with historical designation and the effort of the community, the home at 753 Walnut Street can be a physical reminder of the profound role that Camden played in the shaping of our nation’s greatest civil rights leader, Martin Luther King Jr. I urge you to give full consideration to designating 753 Walnut Street in Camden as historical site, worthy of preservation.

(Signed)  Donald Norcross
Member of Congress

First District NJ
1631 Longworth Building
Washington D.C. 20515
202-225-6583 Fax

10 Melrose Ave. Suite 210
Cherry Hill, N. J. 08003
(856) 427-7000

(856) 427-4109 Fax 

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

MLK in Camden - The Story Continues

 MLK in Camden - The Story Continues 

            Camden, N. J.  - The history of the civil rights movement in America and biographies of Martin Luther King, Jr.  will have to be rewritten as new details emerge of MLK's time in Camden, N.J.

The two years King spent here while attending Crozer Theological Seminary go largely unrecognized in his biographies, but new evidence is continually being discovered that indicates something very special happened here, an event that radicalized King, sparked a fire in his heart and convinced him to devote his ministry to civil rights.

While King's studies at Crozier, across the Delaware River in Chester, Pa., are well documented, his residency in Camden had escaped general recognition, until recently, as Patrick Duff has discovered the story behind that event, one piece at a time.

In reading back issues of newspapers Duff came across an article "The Bar that Started  A Crusade,"  that related how in 1950 Martin Luther King had filed charges against a Maple Shade, N.J. bar owner for refusing to serve him and three friends.

Researching the issue further Duff found other news articles that indicated that was the first time King had taken such legal action, and the event may have played a more significant role in King's life than previously believed, and his hunch has been born out as more details emerge.

Although the roadside bar called Mary's Place where the incident occurred, was purchased by the N.J. Department of Transportation and had been torn down, Duff went to the Maple Shade city hall and got a copy of the original complaint, signed by King and three companions - fellow Crozer student Walter McCall, social worker Doris Wilson and Pearl Smith, a Philadelphia policewomen.

What jumped out at Duff was the address King gave as his residence - 753 Walnut Street, Camden, the same address as McCall.

The owner of the now boarded up row house recalled King living there when she was a young girl, saying King and McCall rented a back room from her father and they were very congenial guests.

Duff then went to the Maple Shade city council with a proposal to make the clover leaf location of Mary's Place a public park, and place an historic marker on the spot highlighting its significance. He also convinced a Morristown architecture firm to design the park pro-bono.

In Camden the owner of the house agreed to allow it to be preserved as a museum, and Duff obtained strong local allies in Father Michael Doyle, whose parish includes the house, and Rutgers University Camden Law School. Such a museum and center devoted to King and civil rights they agreed, could lead to the redevelopment of the whole neighborhood.

But shortly after a fund was established to restore the house as it was in 1950 when King lived there, the state notified Duff that they did not consider the site of Mary's Cafe or the house in Camden to be historically significant, and to top it off - the owner of the house received a letter from Camden City officials ordering her to demolish the building.

Undeterred, Duff went back to the archives and discovered two articles in the Philadelphia Tribune, the city's venerable black newspaper. They had covered the Maple Shade incident in detail and provided the key details that certify the event as a life changing crossroads for King, and many of the others involved.


In June 1950 Crozer seminary students Walter McCall and Michael King - he had yet to become Martin Luther, were on  summer leave from Crozer and working as associates of Ira Reid, the first tenured black faculty member at Haverford College on the Main Line in Philadelphia. King had known Reid as one of his professors in Georgia, and had previously taken a seminar with Reid, at Haverford on developing interview techniques and oral history as part of a program to document the lives of Baptist preachers.

It was a Sunday afternoon when King and McCall and their dates Smith and Wilson, went for a drive, destination unknown, but later in the day, on the way home, they pulled off the highway that is now known as Route 73 and stopped at a roadside cafe Mary's Place.

While the identity of Mary has yet to be ascertained, the cafe and liquor license were then owned by one Ernest Nickles, a big, imposing German immigrant.

King and his companions entered and sat down at a table or booth, and noticed a few people at the bar, including three Philadelphia college kids and possibly a black guy.

After being ignored for a while, King got up and approached the bar, asking for service.

Nickles refused to serve them and when it appeared that King and company were not leaving until they were served, Nickles went into the back room and emerged with a gun, saying, "I'd kill for less than this," and then opened the door and fired the gun in the air.

That was enough for King and his companions to leave, but they went directly to the police station where they filed charges against Nickles.

The police went to the bar, took the weapon from Nickles, apparently got statements from the customers, and arrested Nickles on two charges.


King and McCall then apparently contacted the head of the Burlington County NAACP, who referred them to Robert Burke Johnson, a lawyer with the NAACP in Camden. The pastor of Zion Baptist church in Camden Lloyd Burros also put them in contact with Dr. Ulysses Wiggins, the head of the local branches of the NAACP. Originally from Georgia, Wiggins was a respected black professional who offered legal assistance. So the NAACP attorney Robert Burke Johnson, an assistant prosecutor, represented King and the other complaintants at the preliminary hearing and trial in Maple Shade Municipal Court before Judge Percy Charlton.

The first Tribune article appears to have been based on statements King and McCall gave to Dr. Wiggins.

According to the second Philadelphia Tribune account, Nickles' attorney W. Thomas McCann, of Morristown, explained to the court that Nickles thought King wanted take-out liquor, which he was unable to sell at that hour on Sunday by law, but as the Tribune article puts it, he was unable to explain Nickles shooting the gun, though Nickles did say that was how he called his dog.

The judge held Nickles on $500 bail.

Nickles later went on to operate “Ernie’s Bar” near Riverside, New Jersey, and his attorney W. Thomas McCann became a very prominent Burlington County lawyer, who later wrote about the incident and it is mentioned in his obituary.

Walter McCall became a popular pastor in North Carolina, while Robert Johnson was appointed to the Camden School Board and insisted that segregation of Camden elementary schools come to an end, and it did, and he did it. There is now a Johnson Elementary school in Camden named after him.

Dr. Wiggins became a very prominent person in Camden, and Wiggins Park on the Camden waterfront is named after him.

Martin Luther King Boulevard that runs through downtown Camden ends at Wiggins Park, not far from Johnson Elementary School, so there is a crossroads in Camden that already reflects the contributions they made to Camden and out society.

MLK’s Camden home is historically significant, despite the opinions of the state of New Jersey bureaucrats and Camden housing officials, and it should be preserved and restored and become the centerpiece of a new, revived neighborhood.

The site of Mary’s Café in Maple Shade should be converted into a public park with some benches and an historic plaque that will reflect the story of what happened there.

And the biographies of Martin Luther King and the story of the civil rights movement in America should be updated to reflect this history, as we are still coming to know it.

William Kelly

Philadelphia Tribune June 1950

City Policewomen Charges N.J. Inn Keeper with Bias

Maple Shade, N.J. - A Philadelphia police women, together with a social worker, and two college students, lodged complaints against a cafe proprietor of this borough early Monday morning for violation of the state's civil rights act when he allegedly refused to serve them and became abusive. The man, Ernest Nickles, proprietor of Mary's Cafe on Rt. S-41 and Main St., was also charged with brandishing a gun and using obscene language.

Mrs. Pearl Smith, the police women, of 735 N. 40th St. Philadelphia, and Miss Doris Wilson, same address, a Philadelphia child care worker, in company of Michael King, Atlanta, Ga., and Walter McCall of South Carolina, students of Crozer Theological Seminary, Chester, Pa., entered the place, they said, and asked to be served, According to statements made to Dr. Ulysses Wiggins, President of the state conference of Branches of the NAACP, they were ordered out by Nickles.

When they did not leave, the man allegedly ran in the back and obtained a gun which he fired in the air out the front door, saying, "I would kill for less than this.”

The group said several white patrons in the place attempted to calm the man and asked that the negroes be served. According to the police woman and her companions, these people volunteered to appear against Nickles should they press charges.

Leaving the establishment complaints were filed at police headquarters. The police were said to have obtained the gun from the man when he was taken to the police station. At a hearing held Monday morning Nickles appeared with his attorney, a Mr. McCall of Morristown who asked for a continuation of the hearing. Thursday evening was set by Municipal Judge Percy Charlton.

Robert Burke Johnson of the legal staff, of the NAACP, was contacted by Boyd Eatmon president of the Burlington County Branch. Not familiar with the legal procedure in New Jersey, the offended visitors, all highly reputable persons, were put in contact with Dr. Wiggins by the Rev. Lloyd A. Burros, pastor of the Zion Baptist Church, Camden.  Rev. Burros was called by the men, both of whom were his schoolmates at Crozer Seminary. King and McCall are in this section to assist Dr. Ira DeA. Reid with summer work at Haverford College.

Philadelphia Tribune June 20, 1950 (Page 1)

N.J. Inn Keeper Held After Four Charged Refusal

Maple Shade, N.J. ,- Municipal Court Magistrate Percy Carlton held Ernest Nichols, in $500 bail, on two counts at a hearing Thursday night, in complaints filed against him by Walter McCall, Crozer Theological Seminary student, and three other Negroes who were allegedly refused service last Sunday night, in Nickle’s cafe on Rt. S-41 and Main here.

The other complainants were Mrs. Pearl Smith, Philadelphia policewomen, Miss Doris Wilson, a Philadelphia social worker, and Michael King, another theological seminary student at Crozer seminary, Chester, Pa.

W. Thomas McCann, Morristown attorney who represented the cafe owner, was unable to convince the magistrate of the innocence of his client, although Nickles stated he served Negroes in his place of business. The attorney urged that the public be given both sides of the story.

He said his client testified in court that the four Negroes wanted to purchase “package liquor to carry out,” which he was not permitted to sell at that late hour. The “misunderstanding” arose over that, the attorney explained. Just why Nickles would fire a gun, as he was alleged to have done, could not be satisfactorily explained to the court.

Three white witnesses, who were patrons in the place at the time of the trouble, volunteered to testify in behalf of the complainants, and appeared at the trial. 

The police-women and her companions contacted the president of the New Jersey Conference of branches of NAACP, and were represented at Thursday night’s hearing by Attorney Robert Burk Johnson, legal aid of the association. Johnson is an assistant prosecutor of the Court of Common Pleas in the county of Camden.

Dr. Ulysses S. Wiggins heads the N.J. NAACP, branches.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

From Camp Dix to JBMDL 1917-2017

Proposal for the utilization of base history to promote, support and revitalize JBMDL as a permanent military installation.

July 16, 1917 - 2017 - A Century of Military Training at Fort Dix - JBMDL

Working Title: From Camp Dix to JBMDL - 100 Years of Military Training

The Idea is to Produce a Glossy Color 1st Edition Hardbound book, with a soft bound edition and digital Internet - DVDs, audio, video and documentary film versions that can tell the base story on various media platforms.

The unique and fascinating history of JBMDL should be used to educate soldiers, officers, legislators and the general public of everlasting value of the base as a public resource dedicated to the security of the country.

Journalist and historian William Kelly, a local area resident, as the author of two similar history books - 300 Years at the Point and Birth of the Birdie - The First 100 Years of Golf at Atlantic City Country Club, is uniquely qualified to research, write and edit a history of the base. As with his other books, such a project not only makes a profit with the public sales, but serves as a convincing prospectus to legislators, defense contractors and potential partners on future missions.

This project will also serve as a comprehensive history of the base for future students and historians and provide a platform for planning and implementing operations into the near and distant future.


The book and media production will be written and presented in chronological order and divided into decades, wars, individual profiles and graphics, with photos composing half of the bulk, with narrative text, sidebars and captions the rest.
History of the area - South Jersey Pine Barrens - Crossroads of the revolution

Assassination of Archduke Ferdinand

Pre -1917 - Ottoman, Reich, Russian empires fall -

1917 - WW I
1920 -
1930 - Spanish Civil War
1940 - WW Ii
1950 - Korea
1960 - Cuba - Berlin - Dominican Rep
1970 - Vietnam
1980 - Grenada - Panama - Libya
1990 - Iraq I
2000 - Iraq II - Afghanistan -
2017 - Centennial
2020 - Ten Years into Future
2030 - Twenty Years into Future

Barbary Wars
Civil War
Spanish - American
WW 1
WW 2
Iraq 1
Iraq 2

Individual Profiles

- General Dix
- McGuire
- Base Commanders
- Fort Dix
- McGuire AFB
- Lakehurst Naval Air Station
-          Morristown Electronic Weapons Engineering Center
- Warren Grove Air Base
-          Wrightstown
-          Cookstown
-          Whitesbog
-          Browns Mills
-          New Egypt
-          Pemberton
-          Mt. Holly
-          Mt. Laurel
-          Columbus
-          Chesterfield
-          Bordentown
Profiles of Famous People Who Have Passed Through
-Elvis Presley
-          Nancy Sinatra
- Jim Croce
- Leroy Brown - Drill Instructor
- Others ?

Notable Events

Hindenburg disaster LZ 129 Explosion – Lakehurst NAS - 1937
BOMARC - 1960
Four Leaves Cuban Missile Crisis

Ghost towns. of JBMDL
- Pointville
- Vietnam village
- Training Sites

From A Pictorial History of the United States Army – In War and Peace, From Colonial Times to Vietnam ( Crown Publishers, NY, 1966, p. 318-340)) By Gene Gurney

Chapter 12 – World War I

“Shortly after the beginning of trouble with Mexico, the long period of peace between the armed camps in Europe suddenly ended and the Continent burst into flame. The spark that set it off was the assassination of the heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne by a fanatical Serbian nationalist in the Balkan City of Sarajevo on 28 June 1914.”

“The United States is Drawn into the war – April 1917. The United States protested the violation of neurtal rights to both belligerents but in stronger terms to Germany since its actions involved the destruction of life….With public opinion aroused, Congress on 6 April 1917 declared war on Germany.”

“Shortly after entering the war the United States sent elements of the American Expeditionary Force under Major General John J. Pershing to France, where they arrived in June 1917. The choice of Peshing proved to be an excellent one; he was professionally competent, a natural leader, a thorough organizer, and a strict disciplinarian. During his career in the Army he had carried out every mission given him with imagination and vigor. After studying Allied needs in men and arms, Pershing advised the War Department to prepare to send 1, 000,000 trained men to Europe within a year and to lay plans for raising a total of 3,000,000 – a figure that was later increased to 4,000,000 by the War Department.”

“The strength of the Army at the time was about 200,000 men, 65,000 of whom were National Guardsmen in federal service. To increase the Army twentyfold and train it was a tremendous task, one that would reuire considerable time even under the most favorable conditions.”

“The Selective Service Act of 1917. It was clear from the start that the time-honored volunteer system could not provide all the men needed by the Army. A form of conscription was required but conscription was not popular, many Americans believing that compulsory service was unbefitting a free people, particularly if administered by military authority.  Newton D. Baker, the Secretary of War, hoped to overcome this opposition by placing the draft machinery in the hands of civilian boards. Based on Baker’s proposal, Congress passed the Selective Service Act on 19 May 1917. This Act established a National Army and required all males between the ages of twenty-one and thirty to register for service. The law permitted volunteering for the Regular Army, National Guard, Marine Corps and Navy. It specifically prohibited the twin evils of the Civil War period, the hiring of substitutes and the payment of bounties to induce enlistments….Under the system 2, 810, 296 men were selected and delivered to the armed forces in less than 18 months.”

“In World War I the Army attempted to select prospective officers on the basis of proved leadership and capacity to command. Only specialists, such as doctors and individuals qualified for duty in supply and technical services, received direct commissions. Officers for other assignments were obtained from qualified enlisted men  of the Regular Army, from the Reserves Officers Training Corps (ROTC) and Student Training Corps in colleges and universities, and from officer training camps. The last produced most of the officers commissioned during the war….Their capacity for leadership far exceeded that of the average officer in any previous war. It was largely these new officers who led the troops that helped defeat Germany in 1918, winning by their deeds the respect of friend and foe alike.”

“Reorganization of the Army….On the recommendation of General Pershing the strength of the infantry division was therefore increased to 27,000 men – later 28,000 – and the division was reorganized into 2 infantry brigades of 2 regiments each, a field artillery brigade, a regiment of combat engineers, 3 machine gun battalions, and supporting service troops. These changes made the American infantry division roughly twice the size of the British, French, and German infantry divisions at the time. The enlarged division, though unwieldly and difficult to control, had tremendous striking power and staying power, the characteristics that experience proved were most needed to crash through enemy defenses on the Western Front.  The war Department organized 62 divisions during World War I. At the close of the war 43 of these had been sent to France and 19 others were in various stages of organization and training.”

“Establishing a New System of Logistics. Probably the most difficult organizational problem that the Army had to deal with in World War I was the establishment of a smooth-functioning logistical system for both the Zone of Interior and the theatre of operations. To support it the resources of the nation were mobilized as never before. Most of 1917 was devoted to retooling and expansion of industrial plants, to the construction of barracks and facilities to house troops, and to estimating requirements and letting contracts. New weapons  were slow in rolling from the factories and many of the first drafted were trained with dummy or obsolete weapons.”

“Pershing Reorganizes the AEF. The size and complexity of the AEF convinced General Pershing that success in battle would be impossible without efficient staff work. This required a large number of trained officers using a common system under uniform methods. After studying British and French staffs, Pershing adopted an organization largely patterned after that of the French. The staff had three main divisions, a general staff, a technical staff, and an administrative staff. The general staff was divided into sections which varied in number depending upon size of the command. For Pershing’s headquarters (GHQ) and army headquarters there were five sections: G-1, Administration; G-2, Intelligence; G-3 Operations; G-4 Coordination (Supply, Replacements); and G-5, Training."

From The United States Army Infantry Training Center – Fort Dix New Jersey – The Home of the Ultimate Weapon – Combat Training

The Past – The post was originally established as Camp Dix on July 16, 1917.

John Adams Dix served in the Union forces during the Civil War. He later became a Senator from New York and thereafter Governor of the state of New York. He eventually served as Secretary of the Treasury and as Minister to France.

During World War I it developed into one of the largest training centers in the nation.

Most of the recruits and draftees arrived aboard The Camp Dix Special train.

After the 1918 Armistice it reduced its garrison and trained Reserve units.

Site of a Civilian Conservation Corps installation in the 1930s

It became, as Fort Dix, a permanent post in 1939.

In 1940 a Reception Center was built to process those inducted under the existing Selective Service Act.
During World War ii ten Infantry Divisions and many smaller units trained for overseas duty.

After the War in 1945, Fort Dix established a Separation Center that turned 1,250,000 soldiers into civilians again.

Fort Dix has continued as a training Center in the post-World War II years, through Korea and Vietnam to the present day.

 The Drill Sergeant teaches the fundamentals of military life. He instills in the trainee a sense of loyalty to his fellow soldiers and to his country. By personal example he inspires respect for his profession.

The Army Instructor imparts to the trainee the military knowledge and special skills that are essential to the men of today’s army.

These professionals are the backbone of the army.

“I am the Infantry – Queen of Battle! For two centuries I have kept our nation safe, purchasing freedom with my blood. To Tyrants, I am the Day of Reckoning; To the Suppressed, the hope of the Future. Where I the fighting is thick, there I am…I am the Infantry! Follow Me!”

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Sycamore Hall - The Storied History of the First Black Friday

Sycamore Hall

The storied history of Sycamore Hall can still be felt as the ghosts of a dead diva, eccentric millionaire, a passion plagued murder, renown doctors, quaint gift shop owner and a failed banker still roam the halls and rooms and are a part of the historic legacy of the big white house on the hill overlooking Mirror Lake in Browns Mills, New Jersey.

Now in a new transition, the building is at a new crossroads, either to be demolished to make room for a strip mall or preserved as an historic inn, restaurant and tavern, the only two choices on the table at the moment.

The new owner has a soft spot in her heart for the historic building to be preserved.

The original building that dates to before 1820 once served as a health spa and clinic for people with TB and other lung diseases and breathing problems that afflicted center city dwellers during the smog infested industrial revolution. The clear air of the pine barons and the cedar water were promoted for their healthful benefits, and Sycamore Hall was one of a number of such similar lodges that joined together nearly 100 years ago to form Deborah Hospital.

The millionaire was Colonel James Fisk, whose passionate affair with diva actress Josephine Mansfield ended when he was murdered by another lover Edward S. Stokes.

In 1868 New York railroad tycoon Colonel James Fisk, Jr. met beautiful Bostonian Helen Josephine Mansfield, a singer and actress who at the age of 16 married Frank Lawler in 1866 and divorced him in 1867.

Although impoverished an unable to pay rent for her one room apartment, she at first rebuked the advances of Fisk, who was known to give $100 bills to attractive women. Eventually she let him pay her overdue rent and he bought her an elegant home in New York City, furnished it and provided her with everything she desired including four servants, $50,000 in cash, a wardrobe of dresses and a case of jewels.

In 1869 Fisk and his partner Jay Gould precipitated what became known as the first "Black Friday" in the world's financial exchanges when they tried to corner the gold market.

“Friday, September 24, 1869 became known as Black Friday on Wall Street. The markets opened in a pandemonium as the price of gold shot up. But then the federal government began to sell gold, and the price collapsed. Many traders who had been drawn into the frenzy were ruined. Jay Gould and Jim Fisk came away unscathed. Sidestepping the disaster they had created, they sold their own gold as the price had risen on Friday morning. Later investigations showed that they had broken no laws then on the books. While they had created panic in the financial markets and hurt many investors, they had gotten richer.”

Fisk spent many vacations secluded at Sycamore Hall, a Browns Mills hotel with his paramour Mansfield, but Fisk’s lifestyle caught up with him. On January 6 1872 Fisk was shot and killed by his business associate Edward S. Stokes, a jealous co-suitor for the attention of the glamorous Mansfield. This, of course, exposed the scandal.

In 1873 Mansfield and Ella Wesner, a male impersonator in Vaudeville moved to Paris and presided over the Café American. The 1891 U.S. silver certificate known as the Courtesan Note depicts the image of a women that is based on a photograph of Josie Mansfield. She died in Paris and is buried in the historic Montparnasse Cemetery.

In 1910 real estate developer James B. Reilly rebuilt Sycamore Hall and in 1920 rebuilt the dam on Mirror Lake and the clubhouse for the Canoe Club.

The doctor was Dr. Marcus W. Newcomb, one of the doctors who formed the Deborah Consumptive Relief Society that evolved into Deborah hospital. Dr. Newcomb and his wife came to town from Burlington when they both were suffering from tuberculosis. Dr. Marcus W. Newcomb is listed among the members of the Transactions of the Sixth International Congress on Tuberculosis, Volume 6 (1908).

Dr. Newcomb opened the first licensed sanatorium in New Jersey in 1913. Later he sold the sanatorium to the Deborah Consumptive Relief Society. Dr. Marcus W. Newcomb Middle School (Closed in 2012) was located at 100 Fort Dix Road, Pemberton, N.J. and served 594 students in grades 5-6.

Most people who grew up in the area in the fifties and sixties remember the building as Kay’s Gift Shop, owned and operated by Caroline M. Kay Stull from 1943 to 1973. She was a former Pemberton Township Clerk during and following prohibition, and lived as a testament to the area’s healthy climate until she passed away in 2007 at the age of 104.

The failed Sun bank went down in the near economic collapse of the banking industry, and the property was bought as an investment by a new owner who also owns another historic building in South Jersey that they also hope to preserve.

Rather than sell the property at a clear profit for development as a strip mall, the new owner hopes to find some re-adaptive uses for the historic building, including using part of the first floor as a fine restaurant and banquet center for meetings and weddings, and remodel the upper floors for professional offices or bed and breakfast inn rooms.

 Image result for Jay Fisk
James Fisk  and Josephine (Josie) Mansfield 

Monday, August 10, 2015

This article first appeared in the May 17, 1965 issue.
San Francisco

Last Labor Day weekend newspapers all over California gave front-page reports of a heinous gang rape in the moonlit sand dunes near the town of Seaside on the Monterey Peninsula. Two girls, aged 14 and 15, were allegedly taken from their dates by a gang of filthy, frenzied, boozed-up motorcycle hoodlums called “Hell’s Angels,” and dragged off to be “repeatedly assaulted.”

A deputy sheriff, summoned by one of the erstwhile dates, said he “arrived at the beach and saw a huge bonfire surrounded by cyclists of both sexes. Then the two sobbing, near-hysterical girls staggered out of the darkness, begging for help. One was completely nude and the other had on only a torn sweater.”

Some 300 Hell’s Angels were gathered in the Seaside-Monterey area at the time, having convened, they said, for the purpose of raising funds among themselves to send the body of a former member, killed in an accident, back to his mother in North Carolina. One of the Angels, hip enough to falsely identify himself as “Frenchy of San Bernardino,” told a reporter who came out to meet the cyclists: “We chose Monterey because we get treated good here; most other places we get thrown out of town.”

But Frenchy spoke too soon. The Angels weren’t on the peninsula twenty-four hours before four of them were in jail for rape, and the rest of the troop was being escorted to the county line by a large police contingent. Several were quoted, somewhat derisively, as saying: “That rape charge against our guys is phony and it won’t stick.”

It turned out to be true, but that was another story and certainly no headliner. The difference between the Hell’s Angels in the paper and the Hell’s Angels for real is enough to make a man wonder what newsprint is for. It also raises a question as to who are the real hell’s angels.

Ever since World War II, California has been strangely plagued by wild men on motorcycles. They usually travel in groups of ten to thirty, booming along the highways and stopping here are there to get drunk and raise hell. In 1947, hundreds of them ran amok in the town of Hollister, an hour’s fast drive south of San Francisco, and got enough press to inspire a film called The Wild One, starring Marlon Brando. The film had a massive effect on thousands of young California motorcycle buffs; in many ways, it was their version of The Sun Also Rises.

The California climate is perfect for motorcycles, as well as surfboards, swimming pools and convertibles. Most of the cyclists are harmless weekend types, members of the American Motorcycle Association, and no more dangerous than skiers or skin divers. But a few belong to what the others call “outlaw clubs,” and these are the ones who–especially on weekends and holidays–are likely to turn up almost anywhere in the state, looking for action. Despite everything the psychiatrists and Freudian casuists have to say about them, they are tough, mean and potentially as dangerous as a pack of wild boar. When push comes to shove, any leather fetishes or inadequacy feelings that may be involved are entirely beside the point, as anyone who has ever tangled with these boys will sadly testify. When you get in an argument with a group of outlaw motorcyclists, you can generally count your chances of emerging unmaimed by the number of heavy-handed allies you can muster in the time it takes to smash a beer bottle. In this league, sportsmanship is for old liberals and young fools. “I smashed his face,” one of them said to me of a man he’d never seen until the swinging started. “He got wise. He called me a punk. He must have been stupid.”

The most notorious of these outlaw groups is the Hell’s Angels, supposedly headquartered in San Bernardino, just east of Los Angeles, and with branches all over the state. As a result of the infamous “Labor Day gang rape,” the Attorney General of California has recently issued an official report on the Hell’s Angels. According to the report, they are easily identified:

The emblem of the Hell’s Angels, termed “colors,” consists of an embroidered patch of a winged skull wearing a motorcycle helmet. Just below the wing of the emblem are the letters “MC.” Over this is a band bearing the words “Hell’s Angels.” Below the emblem is another patch bearing the local chapter name, which is usually an abbreviation for the city or locality. These patches are sewn on the back of a usually sleeveless denim jacket. In addition, members have been observed wearing various types of Luftwaffe insignia and reproductions of German iron crosses.* (*Purely for decorative and shock effect. The Hell’s Angels are apolitical and no more racist than other ignorant young thugs.) Many affect beards and their hair is usually long and unkempt. Some wear a single earring in a pierced ear lobe. Frequently they have been observed to wear metal belts made of a length of polished motorcycle drive chain which can be unhooked and used as a flexible bludgeon… Probably the most universal common denominator in identification of Hell’s Angels is generally their filthy condition. Investigating officers consistently report these people, both club members and their female associates, seem badly in need of a bath. Fingerprints are a very effective means of identification because a high percentage of Hell’s Angels have criminal records.

In addition to the patches on the back of Hell’s Angel’s jackets, the “One Percenters” wear a patch reading “1%-er.” Another badge worn by some members bears the number “13.” It is reported to represent the 13th letter of the alphabet, “M,” which in turn stands for marijuana and indicates the wearer thereof is a user of the drug.

The Attorney General’s report was colorful, interesting, heavily biased and consistently alarming–just the sort of thing, in fact, to make a clanging good article for a national news magazine. Which it did; in both barrels. Newsweek led with a left hook titled “The Wild Ones,” Time crossed right, inevitably titled “The Wilder Ones.” The Hell’s Angels, cursing the implications of this new attack, retreated to the bar of the DePau Hotel near the San Francisco waterfront and planned a weekend beach party. I showed them the articles. Hell’s Angels do not normally read the news magazines. “I’d go nuts if I read that stuff all the time,” said one. “It’s all bullshit.”

Newsweek was relatively circumspect. It offered local color, flashy quotes and “evidence” carefully attributed to the official report but unaccountably said the report accused the Hell’s Angels of homosexuality, whereas the report said just the opposite. Time leaped into the fray with a flurry of blood, booze and semen-flecked wordage that amounted, in the end, to a classic of supercharged hokum: “Drug-induced stupors… no act is too degrading… swap girls, drugs and motorcycles with equal abandon… stealing forays… then ride off again to seek some new nadir in sordid behavior…”

Where does all this leave the Hell’s Angels and the thousands of shuddering Californians (according to Time) who are worried sick about them? Are these outlaws really going to be busted, routed and cooled, as the news magazines implied? Are California highways any safer as a result of this published uproar? Can honest merchants once again walk the streets in peace? The answer is that nothing has changed except that a few people calling themselves the Hell’s Angels have a new sense of identity and importance.

After two weeks of intensive dealings with the Hell’s Angels phenomenon, both in print and in person, I’m convinced the net result of the general howl and publicity has been to obscure and avoid the real issues by invoking a savage conspiracy of bogeymen and conning the public into thinking all will be “business as usual” once this fearsome snake is scotched, as it surely will be by hard and ready minions of the Establishment.

Meanwhile, according to Attorney General Thomas C. Lynch’s own figures, California’s true crime picture makes the Hell’s Angels look like a gang of petty jack rollers. The police count 463 Hell’s Angels: 205 around L.A. and 233 in the San Francisco-Oakland area. I don’t know about L.A. but the real figures for the Bay Area are thirty or so in Oakland and exactly eleven–with one facing expulsion–in San Francisco. This disparity makes it hard to accept other police statistics. The dubious package also shows convictions on 1,023 misdemeanor counts and 151 felonies–primarily vehicle theft, burglary and assault. This is for all years and all alleged members.

California’s overall figures for 1963 list 1,116 homicides, 12,448 aggravated assaults, 6,257 sex offenses, and 24,532 burglaries. In 1962, the state listed 4,121 traffic deaths, up from 3,839 in 1961. Drug arrest figures for 1964 showed a 101 percent increase in juvenile marijuana arrests over 1963, and a recent back-page story in the San Francisco Examiner said, “The venereal disease rate among [the city’s] teen-agers from 15-19 has more than doubled in the past four years.” Even allowing for the annual population jump, juvenile arrests in all categories are rising by 10 per cent or more each year.

Against this background, would it make any difference to the safety and peace of mind of the average Californian if every motorcycle outlaw in the state (all 901, according to the state) were garroted within twenty-four hours? This is not to say that a group like the Hell’s Angels has no meaning. The generally bizarre flavor of their offenses and their insistence on identifying themselves make good copy, but usually overwhelm–in print, at least–the unnerving truth that they represent, in colorful microcosm, what is quietly and anonymously growing all around us every day of the week.

“We’re bastards to the world and they’re bastards to us,” one of the Oakland Angels told a Newsweek reporter. “When you walk into a place where people can see you, you want to look as repulsive and repugnant as possible. We are complete social outcasts–outsiders against society.”

A lot of this is a pose, but anyone who believes that’s all it is has been on thin ice since the death of Jay Gatsby. The vast majority of motorcycle outlaws are uneducated, unskilled men between 20 and 30, and most have no credentials except a police record. So at the root of their sad stance is a lot more than a wistful yearning for acceptance in a world they never made; their real motivation is an instinctive certainty as to what the score really is. They are out of the ball game and they know it–and that is their meaning; for unlike most losers in today’s society, the Hell’s Angels not only know but spitefully proclaim exactly where they stand.

I went to one of their meetings recently, and half-way through the night I thought of Joe Hill on his way to face a Utah firing squad and saying his final words: “Don’t mourn, organize.” It is safe to say that no Hell’s Angel has ever heard of Joe Hill or would know a Wobbly from a Bushmaster, but nevertheless they are somehow related. The I.W.W. had serious plans for running the world, while the Hell’s Angels mean only to defy the world’s machinery. But instead of losing quietly, one by one, they have banded together with a mindless kind of loyalty and moved outside the framework, for good or ill. There is nothing particularly romantic or admirable about it; that’s just the way it is, strength in unity. They don’t mind telling you that running fast and loud on their customized Harley 74s gives them a power and a purpose that nothing else seems to offer.

Beyond that, their position as self-proclaimed outlaws elicits a certain popular appeal, however reluctant. That is especially true in the West and even in California where the outlaw tradition is still honored. The unarticulated link between the Hell’s Angels and the millions of losers and outsiders who don’t wear any colors is the key to their notoriety and the ambivalent reactions they inspire. There are several other keys, having to do with politicians, policemen and journalists, but for this we have to go back to Monterey and the Labor Day “gang rape.”

Politicians, like editors and cops, are very keen on outrage stories, and state Senator Fred S. Farr of Monterey County is no exception. He is a leading light of the Carmel-Pebble Beach set and no friend to hoodlums anywhere, especially gang rapists who invade his constituency. Senator Far demanded an immediate investigation of the Hell’s Angels and others of their ilk–Commancheros, Stray Satans, Iron Horsemen, Rattlers (a Negro club), and Booze Fighters–whose lack of status caused them all to be lumped together as “other disreputables.” In the cut-off world of big bikes, long runs and classy rumbles, this new, state-sanctioned stratification made the Hell’s Angels very big. They were, after all, Number One. Like John Dillinger.

Attorney General Lynch, then new in his job, moved quickly to mount an investigation of sorts. He sent questionnaires to more than 100 sheriffs, district attorneys and police chiefs, asking for more information on the Hell’s Angels and those “other disreputables.” He also asked for suggestions as to how the law might deal with them.

Six months went by before all the replies where condensed into the fifteen-page report that made new outrage headlines when it was released to the press. (The Hell’s Angels also got a copy; one of them stole mine.) As a historical document, it read like a plot synopsis of Mickey Spillane’s worst dreams. But in the matter of solutions it was vague, reminiscent in some ways of Madame Nhu’s proposals for dealing with the Vietcong. The state was going to centralize information on these thugs, urge more vigorous prosecution, put them all under surveillance whenever possible, etc.

A careful reader got the impression that even if the Hell’s Angels had acted out this script–eighteen crimes were specified and dozens of others implied–very little would or could be done about it, and that indeed Mr. Lynch was well aware he’d been put, for political reasons, on a pretty weak scent. There was plenty of mad action, senseless destruction, orgies, brawls, perversions and a strange parade of “innocent victims” that, even on paper and in careful police language, was enough to tax the credulity of the dullest police reporter. Any bundle of information off police blotters is bound to reflect a special viewpoint, and parts of the Attorney General’s report are actually humorous, if only for the language. Here is an excerpt:

On November 4, 1961, a San Francisco resident driving through Rodeo, possibly under the influence of alcohol, struck a motorcycle belonging to a Hell’s Angel parked outside a bar. A group of Angels pursued the vehicle, pulled the driver from the car and attempted to demolish the rather expensive vehicle. The bartender claimed he had seen nothing, but a cocktail waitress in the bar furnished identification to the officers concerning some of those responsible for the assault. The next day it was reported to officers that a member of the Hell’s Angels gang had threatened the life of this waitress as well as another woman waitress. A male witness who definitely identified five participants in the assault including the president of Vallejo Hell’s Angels and the Vallejo “Road Rats” advised officers that because of his fear of retaliation by club members he would refuse to testify to the facts he had previously furnished.

That is a representative item in the section of the report titled “Hoodlum Activities.” First, it occurred in a small town–Rodeo is on San Pablo Bay just north of Oakland–where the Angels had stopped at a bar without causing any trouble until some offense was committed against them. In this case, a driver whom even the police admit was “possibly” drunk hit one of their motorcycles. The same kind of accident happens every day all over the nation, but when it involves outlaw motorcyclists it is something else again. Instead of settling the thing with an exchange of insurance information or, at the very worst, an argument with a few blows, the Hell’s Angels beat the driver and “attempted to demolish the vehicle.” I asked one of them if the police exaggerated this aspect, and he said no, they had done the natural thing: smashed headlights, kicked in doors, broken windows and torn various components off the engine.

Of all their habits and predilections that society finds alarming, this departure from the time-honored concept of “an eye for an eye” is the one that most frightens people. The Hell’s Angels try not to do anything halfway, and anyone who deals in extremes is bound to cause trouble, whether he means to or not. This, along with a belief in total retaliation for any offense or insult, is what makes the Hell’s Angels unmanageable for the police and morbidly fascinating to the general public. Their claim that they “don’t start trouble” is probably true more often than not, but their idea of “provocation” is dangerously broad, and their biggest problem is that nobody else seems to understand it. Even dealing with them personally, on the friendliest terms, you can sense their hair-trigger readiness to retaliate.

This is a public thing, and not at all true among themselves. In a meeting, their conversation is totally frank and open. They speak to and about one another with an honesty that more civilized people couldn’t bear. At the meeting I attended (and before they realized I was a journalist) one Angel was being publicly evaluated; some members wanted him out of the club and others wanted to keep him in. It sounded like a group-therapy clinic in progress–not exactly what I expected to find when just before midnight I walked into the bar of the De Pau in one of the bleakest neighborhoods in San Francisco, near Hunters Point. By the time I parted company with them–at 6:30 the next morning after an all-night drinking bout in my apartment–I had been impressed by a lot of things, but no one thing about them was as consistently obvious as their group loyalty. This is an admirable quality, but it is also one of the things that gets them in trouble: a fellow Angel is always right when dealing with outsiders. And this sort of reasoning makes a group of “offended” Hell’s Angels nearly impossible to deal with. Here is another incident from the Attorney General’s report:

On September 19, 1964, a large group of Hell’s Angels and “Satan’s Slaves” converged on a bar in the South Gate (Los Angeles County), parking their motorcycles and cars in the street in such a fashion as to block one-half of the roadway. They told officers that three members of the club had been recently asked to stay out of the bar and that they had come to tear it down. Upon their approach the bar owner locked the doors and turned off the lights and no entrance was made, but the group did demolish a cement block fence. On arrival of the police, members of the club were lying on the sidewalk and in the street. They were asked to leave the city, which they did reluctantly. As they left, several were heard to say that they would be back and tear down the bar.

Here again is the ethic of total retaliation. If you’re “asked to stay out” of a bar, you don’t just punch the owner–you come back with your army and destroy the whole edifice. Similar incidents–along with a number of vague rape complaints–make up the bulk of the report. Eighteen incidents in four years, and none except the rape charges are more serious than cases of assaults on citizens who, for their own reasons, had become involved with the Hell’s Angels prior to the violence. I could find no cases of unwarranted attacks on wholly innocent victims. There are a few borderline cases, wherein victims of physical attacks seemed innocent, according to police and press reports, but later refused to testify for fear of “retaliation.”

The report asserts very strongly that Hell’s Angels are difficult to prosecute and convict because they make a habit of threatening and intimidating witnesses. That is probably true to a certain extent, but in many cases victims have refused to testify because they were engaged in some legally dubious activity at the time of the attack.

In two of the most widely publicized incidents the prosecution would have fared better if their witnesses and victims had been intimidated into silence. One of these was the Monterey “gang rape,” and the other a “rape” in Clovis, near Fresno in the Central Valley. In the latter, a 36-year-old widow and mother of five children claimed she’d been yanked out of a bar where she was having a quiet beer with another woman, then carried to an abandoned shack behind the bar and raped repeatedly for two and a half hours by fifteen or twenty Hell’s Angels and finally robbed of $150. That’s how the story appeared in the San Francisco newspapers the next day, and it was kept alive for a few more days by the woman’s claims that she was getting phone calls threatening her life if she testified against her assailants.

Then, four days after the crime, the victim was arrested on charges of “sexual perversion.” The true story emerged, said the Clovis chief of police, when the woman was “confronted by witnesses. Our investigation shows she was not raped,” said the chief. “She participated in lewd acts in the tavern with at least three other Hell’s Angels before the owners ordered them out. She encouraged their advances in the tavern, then led them to an abandoned house in the rear… She was not robbed but, according to a woman who accompanied her, had left her house early in the evening with $5 to go bar-hopping.” That incident did not appear in the Attorney General’s report.

But it was impossible not the mention the Monterey “gang rape,” because it was the reason for the whole subject to become official. Page one of the report–which Time‘s editors apparently skipped–says that the Monterey case was dropped because “… further investigation raised questions as to whether forcible rape had been committed or if the identifications made by victims were valid.” Charges were dismissed on September 25, with the concurrence of a grand jury. The deputy District Attorney said “a doctor examined the girls and found no evidence” to support the charges. “Besides that, one girl refused to testify,” he explained, “and the other was given a lie-detector test and found to be wholly unreliable.”

This, in effect, was what the Hell’s Angels had been saying all along. Here is their version of what happened, as told by several who were there:

One girl was white and pregnant, the other was colored, and they were with five colored studs. They hung around our bar–Nick’s Place on Del Monte Avenue–for about three hours Saturday night, drinking and talking with our riders, then they came out to the beach with us–them and their five boyfriends. Everybody was standing around the fire, drinking wine, and some of the guys were talking to them–hustling ’em, naturally–and soon somebody asked the two chicks if they wanted to be turned on–you know, did they want to smoke some pot? They said yeah, and then they walked off with some of the guys to the dunes. The spade went with a few guys and then she wanted to quit, but the pregnant one was really hot to trot; the first four or five guys she was really dragging into her arms, but after that she cooled off, too. By this time, though, one of their boy friends had got scared and gone for the cops–and that’s all it was.

But not quite all. After that there were Senator Farr and Tom Lynch and a hundred cops and dozens of newspaper stories and articles in the national news magazine–and even this article, which is a direct result of the Monterey “gang rape.”

When the much-quoted report was released, the local press–primarily the San Francisco Chronicle, which had earlier done a long and fairly objective series on the Hell’s Angels–made a point of saying that the Monterey charges against the Hell’s Angels had been dropped for lack of evidence. Newsweek was careful not to mention Monterey at all, but the New York Times referred to it as “the alleged gang rape” which, however, left no doubt in a reader’s mind that something savage had occurred. It remained for Time, though, to flatly ignore the fact that the Monterey rape charges had been dismissed. Its article leaned heavily on the hairiest and least factual sections of the report, and ignored the rest. It said, for instance, that the Hell’s Angels initiation rite “demands that any new member bring a woman or girl [called a ‘sheep’] who is willing to submit to sexual intercourse with each member of the club.” That is untrue, although, as one Angel explained, “Now and then you get a woman who likes to cover the crowd, and hell, I’m no prude. People don’t like to think women go for that stuff, but a lot of them do.”

We were talking across a pool table about the rash of publicity and how it had affected the Angel’s activities. I was trying to explain to him that the bulk of the press in this country has such a vested interest in the status quo that it can’t afford to do much honest probing at the roots, for fear of what they might find.
“Oh, I don’t know,” he said. “Of course I don’t like to read all this bullshit because it brings the heat down on us, but since we got famous we’ve had more rich fags and sex-hungry women come looking for us that we ever had before. Hell, these days we have more action than we can handle.”

Hunter S. Thompson In 1965 Hunter Thompson was living in San Francisco. He had recently quit the National Observer and was dead broke. When Carey McWilliams sent him a query, enclosing a report of the California Attorney General's office on motorcycle gangs and an offer of one hundred dollars for an article, Thompson accepted. He later expanded his Nation article into his bestselling book, Hell's Angels. Thompson, the founder of "gonzo" journalism, went on to write, among other books, Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72 and The Great Shark Hunt.