Days of Yore
as recounted by

Bill Day

 

 

The Mayor – John Dougherty
When the first bridge ws built across the Delaware River connecting Camden to Philadelphia back around 1926, many houses were condemned to make way for the bridge approach.

Haddonfield proved a mecca for many of the families looking for new locations.  Sections of the town grew rapidly, among them the Hickory lane and Jefferson avenue areas.

Len Young, a contractor, dug many of the cellars for the new houses.  His assistant was John Dougherty.  John was an illiterate old codger who spent long hours trudging behind a horse and holding in place the scoop that dug the cellars.  This was before tractors came into use and the work was hard and laborious.

No one knew where John had come from, he had no family in town, and he had been living for years in a row garage at the rear of Mayor Fred T. Holloway’s residence on Centre street.

John’s one interest in life besides work was his daily bag of Natural Leaf Chewing Tobacco, although he later did acquire a battery operated radio.  His bank was his pants pockets.

Well remembered is the time $400 slipped out of his trousers while he was digging a cellar one day, and despite a lot of assistance in looking for the money, it never was found in the piles of dirt.

When building in town slowed down, borough officials gave John a job.  He spent every day up on the dump off Centre street directing the trash trucks where to dump their loads and also to instruct any individuals where to put any refuse that they wanted to dispose of.  John was recognized by everyone as the “Mayor of the Dump:”.

The years passed and eventually John passed away and it was then rumored that he was a distant relative of Cardinal Dougherty of Philadelphia.

Even if untrue, the rumor gave John more stature to add to his Mayorality.


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