History

Former resident honored

The Nantucket Council on Aging has named Michael Varbalow its 2014 Senior Citizen of the Year for their positive impact on the island’s elderly community and uplifting presence on a yearly basis. Varbalow, 75, grew up in the small town of Merchantville, N.J. and was raised by parents who were heavily involved in the community. He attributes his love for small towns and community service to them.

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First town meeting

On March 4, 1965, Mayor Walter Kurkian, Russell Mutschler, planning board chairman and architect, Oscar Stonorov are pictured at the first town meeting in the 91 year history of the Borough. The meeting was sponsored by the planning board to acquaint residents with how the planning board operates and preliminary development of a Master Plan. The meeting attracted more than 300 residents and was reported in the Courier-Post.

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Philly soccer 100: Opening Day, 1913

There was a great deal of news for Philadelphia soccer fans before the start of league play on Oct. 4, 1913. Belmont Cricket Club, holders of the Mannheim Prize, — the Cricket Club league championship trophy that is still played for today — for four-seasons running and so important to the rejuvenation of the soccer locally through their hosting of the first international friendly in Philadelphia in 1901, moved across the river to Merchantville in New Jersey and would now play under that name after their West Philadelphia grounds had been bought by the city for the recreation center that stands to this day between 49th and 51st streets and Chester and Kingsessing Avenues. http://bit.ly/HbkRe7

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Remembering the Garden State Racetrack

On this, the 40th anniversary of Secretariat’s Triple Crown, I took a ride by the land where Garden State Park once stood, rising majestically with a white wooden grandstand like the Yankee Stadium of horse racing. Now another indistinct shopping center, this sacred soil used for shopping was where Secretariat raced only a few months before becoming thoroughbred majesty in 1973.  Back then, there was a gap in the fence off Third Ave., near the back entrance of the track. The gap was wide enough for a kid’s body, which is where I used to sneak in back the early 1970’s, avoiding the dollar entrance fee. The mile or so walk up Chapel Ave from St. Peter’s School in Merchantville raced by like “Big Red” himself, talking with my older brother, Rich, and usually two of our friends. On half days, we would sprint out of school and go to the race track, ditching our book bags in the lower church as we said a quick prayer for a good day at the track. http://on.cpsj.com/19PtCSN

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Town by Town: Merchantville, a place with staying power

Merchantville is known as South Jersey's Victorian Secret. It is big on tradition but short on houses for sale. Why? People move in but they rarely ever leave. Whether it's the housing stock or the K-8 school district, people stick to Merchantville like glue, the Darlands say. On the street where the Darlands bought their 1907 Sears & Roebuck craftsman bungalow three years ago, there are 11 other houses.

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Wyatt Tee Walker

Civil Rights Pioneer, Aide to Dr. King, Baptist Minister. Born in Brockton, Massachusetts, in 1929, he stated unapologetically that his father was a “race man,” a pastor and his role model.  He reportedly said, “My father reacted to anything that smacked of discrimination or prejudice and I was under that influence.  He was my first hero.”  Walker grew up in New Jersey where he attended primary and secondary schools in Merchantville.

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Jazz legend brings groove to kids

Buster Williams, 70, is a living legend of jazz, a sideman who has jammed with the likes of Miles Davis, Count Basie, Herbie Hancock, Sarah Vaughan, and Nancy Wilson. In 2009, Williams and his wife sold their brownstone in Harlem and moved to an apartment on the first floor of an old Victorian in Merchantville.

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Honeybees removed from attic

Honeybee populations may be shrinking around the world, but that wasn't the case at Victoria Clayton's circa 1866 house, where a bee expert spent much of Thursday removing a huge wax honeycomb and 30,000 of the buzzing creatures from an attic crawl space. Enter Gary G. Schempp, who is so intrigued by honeybees - that he sold his 30-year-old pest-control business five years ago to deal solely with them. http://bit.ly/IILC4n

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Enjoy your dinner with a side of history

Diners get a little something extra with their meals at the Collins House in Merchantville. Call it a side order of history. Not to worry. It doesn't cost extra and won't boggle the mind, as it did to most of us in high school. In fact, it enhances the ambience and helps satisfy those with an appetite for things from the past.

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