Days of Yore
 
as recounted by

Bill Day

 


Al Driscoll
1908 a family named Driscoll moved into Hadddonfield and 326 Warwick road became its residence.  There was a four and a half year old little boy whose naem was Alfred.  The little fellow grew up and in 1921 he wa graduated from the Haddonfield High School.

He enrolled at Williams College up in New England and graduated in 1925.  The  Al entered Harvard Law School and graduated in 1926 and began practicing law in Camden.  During those years in college Al always was home on Thanksgiving Day to play in the backfield of the Alumni football team in the then annual event, the Haddonfield Alumni versus Haddonfield High School football game.  Supporting him in the line were always his buddies, Finney Wood, Cliff Garwood, Ab Super, and Palmer (Polly) Holloway.

In 1930, Al, on of Haddonfield’s most eligible young bachelors, was elected to the Board of Education, and he was a member of that body for eight years.  He married Antoinette Tatem in 1932, a girl from an old Haddonfield family.  (The elementary school on Glover avenue is named after her father J. Fithian Tatem.)  They had three children Patricia, Peter, and Alfred.  From 1937 to 1947, Al was our Borough Commissioner of Finances and Revenue.  The first appointment that he ever made was while he was in the office, when he named Raymond Wheeler to be a clerk in the office of the Borough.

During this time Al was also elected a Camden County Senator for two years, 1939 to 1941.  He was appointed Commissioner of Alcoholic Beverages Control, and he served in this position form 1941 to 1947.  Al once took an additional three days over his vacation one year when he was in the ABC and he sent to the treasurer his personal check of $231 for the days at $77 a day to reimburse the State.  The Newark Evening News promoted his successful nomination for Governor of New Jersey, and Al never defeated in an election, held this office from Jan 1, 1947 till 1954.  During the two terms his residence remained “Birdwood”, the old mansion down by Hopkins pond, which he had purchased form the Hopkins family.

 As Governor, Al accomplished the following: he created and built the New Jersey Turnpike, started the construction of the Garden State Parkway, enacted the new constitution that is a model followed by other states, when “ecology” was only a word in the dictionary, he bought vast tracts of land for future generations, such as the large inland beach, north of Barnegat Light, for a bird sanctuary, and purchased the 110,000 acre Wharton Tract in the Jersey Pineland.  He converted New Jersey into a modern state insead of merely being a connection between Philadelphia and New York City.  His accomplishment make his administration remembered.

When he retired from public office, Al was offered the ambassadorship of New Zealand, but he did not desire to leave the country, so he accepted the presidency of Richard Hudnut and when the Company merged with the Warner Lambert Pharmaceutical Company, he became Chairman of the Board. He lived in “Birdwood” and traveled to New York City.  The company had plants and branches in fifty four nations.  On reaching sixty five years of age in 1967, Al retired but he could not remain idle.  If the price was right he accepted duties, which ws nothing.  He was a permanent trustee of his alma mater, Williams College.  In 1970 he accepted Governor William Cahill’s offer to be Chairman of the Turnpike Authority, and he was chairman of the NJ Historical Society’s Bicentennial Committee.  Retirement wa not for Alfred Eastlack Driscoll until he was deceased in 1975.  Al was always Al, before, during, and after his Governorship.

One day while he was Governor, he took several suits into the Hopkins Dry Cleaning establishment on East Kings Highway.  Piling them on the counter he stared out the door, but the clerk hurrying from the rear of the store called to him for his name and address.  Al turned back and said, “Driscoll”.  When the cleard gulped and said, “I’m sorry, Governor, I didn’t recognize you.” Al smiled and replied, “That’s alright, it’s refreshing to be a strange face once in awhile.”

Al played football at Williams College and often remarked that playing Pennsylvania at Franklin Field was an ordeal as there was such a closed in feeling there.

Al to the story about his telephone calls to his State House office down in Trenton when he would be on vacation with the family in the summer up at the family retreat in Maine.  How he would go down the the general store to the crank operated phone there.  He would have a strong connection at first, but as each one on the party line up there would pick up the receiver to kibitz the voices would get weaker and weaker until they would be shouting at each other.

Antoinette Driscoll and Raymond Wheeler collaborated to make much of this column possible.


DayHikes.info Homepage
Contact Alan Day
Days of Yore Homepage