Days of Yore
.
as recounted by

Bill Day

 


The Friends Avenue Club
In the early 1900's the large colonial mansion of Haddonfield's mayor, John H. Lippincott, Jr., stood on the corner of Friends avenue and east Kings highway.  His land extended down to the line of the Friends Meeting House.

In 1914 the two sons of the mayor secured his permission to build a clubhouse on the field that would be the headquarters for a club that a group of teenaged boys had formed.  In the era youth activity was confined to within the town limits.

The club members were Jack and Mitch Lippincott, Cliff Garwood, George Everett, Buck Evans, Karl Tulle, Harry Atkinson, Charlie Quinn, Dick Jones, Bud Hunt, and Joe Stately.  Joe more or less was the leader of the group.  Cliff, Buck and Joe are now deceased [10/6/1977].

The clubhouse was located down Friends avenue and the boys took the name "The Friends Avenue Club."  To build the house they got wooden boxes mainly from B.F. Fowler's General Store.  Laths were secured from a near by housing project, and newspapers served as insulation material.

Bricks for the chimney were acquired by express wagon from an unsuspecting donor.  A tower was built atop the one room edifice and that addition immediately became sacred territory.

Up the ladder and through the trapdoor into it only active members were allowed.  Guests were entertained in the downstairs room, but not even the mayor was allowed in the tower.

For a charge of 25 cents a month electricity was run from the barn back to the clubhouse which also made possible the unlicensed wireless set that Bud Hunt operated using Morse Code.

Ed Braddock constantly warned the boys about their getting into trouble operating the set, but nothing ever happened.  (Ed was picking the signals up on his set.)  When the mayor thought it was time for the club to close for the night, he would disconnect the electric wire.

He never did know that a second underground wire existed that gave service when it was plugged in after his deadline.  Atop a picket fence surrounding the house was a wire that could be charged with electricity.

Interlopers, usually from the west side of town, especially on Halloween, got the shock of their lives when they attempted to trespass.  The mayor's friend, Bart Lucas of the John Lucas Paint Works down in Gibbsboro, donated a beautiful Franklin open grate stove for the house.  What a treasure that would be to have today.

Club dues were 25 cents a month.  From the first year and annual dinner was held at some member's home on the Saturday after New Year's Day.

The activities of the club lessened when the girls in town became more of an attraction.  However, the annual dinners to this day are still held.

Some of the gang moved from Haddonfield and with unreliable winter weather coupled with advanced age, the dinners are now held on the Saturday after Easter.  They come from Buffalo, Kentucky, Maryland, Reading and various points in New Jersey.

Now, after a Happy Hour and a short meeting held in Harry Atkinson's centrally located Potter street home, the dinner is held in a private dining room in some nearby restaurant.  Wives are invited.

Only in a town like Haddonfield could a Friends Avenue Club be born and still exist over 60 years later.  The roots of the boys are deep and distances pale to insignificant as they travel each year to get back home.


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