Days of Yore
as recounted by

Bill Day


Stretch Funeral Home
Jim Stretch was an institution in Haddonfield for years.  Jim first came to town to visit a boy friend whose father was the town’s undertaker.  He would drive one of the horse and carriages in a funeral procession when assistance was needed.  The undertaker died and the son inherited the business.  Soon after the son died, and Jim Stretch did something he had never dreamed he would do.  Jim was raised on a farm outside Mullica Hill.  As a boy one of his duties was to bury any of the chickens that would die on the farm.  He said he had a forked stick with which he performed his task, and told how he would not be able to eat supper that night as he would have lost his appetite.  Jim’s funeral establishment was the other funeral establishment was the other half of a double dwelling, the other side of which was the Haddonfield National Bank.  This building was then to the rear of where the rear of where the bank clock now stands.  It was a double house then.  Jim knew everyone in town and his business was second to none.  Unknown to most people, many of Haddonfield’s families received assistance from Jim when illness had drained their resources.  He was a confirmed bachelor and an ardent antique collector.  Howard Fisher once said that Jim was one of the few  persons in town who knew an antique when he saw one.  He stood in George Day’s shoemaker’s shop on more that one occasion trying to get George to accept a blank check to secure the little Pennsylvania Dutch settee that stood in his shop.  George would say, “Jim, when you bring something in here that’s yours, when you sit on the bench it’s yours at no price.”  Jim would laugh and say he would never get the settee.  Mr. Herbert Gleeson remembers that at the rear of Ben Fowler’s store, at the exit on Ellis Street, Jim kept horses and four or five wagons which he rented out for a dollar a day on Sunday.  The Catholic families in town would rent them to take the trip to St. Rose’s Church over in Haddon Heights as there was not Catholic Church in Haddonfield back in those days.  During the week the wagons were funeral processions.

When I was eight or nine years old my brother used to be up at Jim Stretch’s taking care of his automobiles, and Jim use to give me a dime and I’d cut the hedge, and he use to tell me these stories about “I never thought I’d be an undertaker”, and I remembered that. Homepage
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