Days of Yore
 
as recounted by

Bill Day

 

 

A Surprise Party

Boys will be boys.  This was true in Haddonfield back at the turn of the century as it is in Haddonfield today.  Boys have always managed to get into a gang, get into trouble, and what follows was to by one gang member.  It happened, but this escapade turned out a bit differently that the usual ending.

Out near what is Tavistock, bordering the E. T. Gill farm was a farm owned by Mr. Walker.  He had a helper on the farm named Mr. Taylor.  One summer day a group of Haddonfield youngsters, bored with trying to fill their day, dreamed up the idea that a watermelon would be refreshing on a hot day.

The gang set out and walked down the railroad tracks along South Atlantic avenue , a rout that would take them to the Walder farm.  Watermelon and cantaloupes were both ripe and the kids gathered enough to have a  feast.  The fly in the ointment, however, was that they were apprehended by Mr. Walker.  They ran from the scene of the crime.

Jake Bissert was a member of the gang but Jake had not been in on the raid.  Mr. Walker contacted him and Jake dutifully went to each set of parents, told what had happened, and instructed them to have the boys out at the Walker farmhouse on a certain evening.

The kids were scared to death and anxiously awaited to see what their punishment was going to be.

When they arrived at the farmhouse on the designated night they found the front lawn had been set up with tables and there were Japanese lanterns strung up and lit from tree to tree.  On the table ware watermelons and cantaloupes.  Mr. Walker told them all to be seated and then all he said was, "Boys, if you ever want a melon or cantaloupe again just come out here and you'll be welcome to any you want.  Just don't steal them.  Now, the party is on, enjoy yourselves."  You can imagine how safe Walker's farm was from raiders from that time on.

This long forgotten but recently remembered incident was told by Mr. Herbert Gleeson who sixty-five or seventy years ago took that walk down those railroad tracks one hot summer day.


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