Inner cities crying for help; It’s Stephanie Bush-Baskette!; 4 gallons of ice cream for police; DoingMyPart T-shirt; Clean Community Challenge; Big John’s Pizza history

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The column that says 1 out of every 4 children have vision problems, and it that checked at the beginning of every school year as vigorously as backpack giveaways?

By Jack Hummel

Radio: 92.1 FM WVLT Saturdays from noon to 2 p.m.

Email: jhummel9794@gmail.com

Phone: 856-237-6645

U.S. Army: RA13815980

Google all columns at jackhummelblog

Good evening!

Has anybody in Congress checked on the welfare of inner-city kids in major metropolitan areas where school dropouts are occurring at a record rate, poverty is everywhere and crime rules?

Nobody talks about this.

Chicago, Milwaukee, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, take your pick.

Not part of the spin, people.

“Hi, Jack!

“Hope you are keeping cool.

“I think it’s Stephanie(sp?) Bush-Baskette? Former BA of Hillside, N.J.?

“There isn’t much of a search result for Jennifer.

“Regardless, welcome and good luck! Thanks for keeping your non-Facebook friends/followers in the loop, Jack!”

— CBK

Come Back Kid

A rose by any other name will smell as sweet, and what we love about Bush-Baskette is that she is big into kids.

And children is where it’s at.

More on Millville Police officers being given ice cream …

“Just a little back story about the kids taking ice cream to the police station.

“We drove by a police office with a car pulled over and we saw the officer was wearing his bullet proof vest.

“I mentioned to the girls how hot the vests were. This led to big discussion and how they felt so bad that they had to wear the vests and it was too hot.

“End result: 4 gallons of ice cream delivered.”

— Cindi Stanger Cooke

Millville gets an Olympic-like 9.9 for volunteer work.

“The decision to bring a new dog or puppy into your home is a big one and we can help you find the just the right one for your lifestyle.

“There are all sorts of considerations to be taken into account — age, size activity level and grooming needs, just to name a few.

“Whether through owner surrenders or animal strays brought in by animal control officers, we get in just about every type of dog you can imagine and our staff is here to help you find the perfect addition to your family!”

— Cumberland County SPCA

“If you purchased a DoingMyPart T-Shirt, I would love it if you were to do your part by volunteering at Bridgeton’s BACK TO SCHOOL BASH at the Riverfront this Thursday, Aug 18, from 4-8 p.m.

“We need volunteers to interact with our youth, pass out school supplies, and assist program staff with entertainment, games, food, etc.

“It Takes A Village. Please let me know if you’re interested. If you’re interested and you don’t have a DoingMyPart Shirt, please let me know as well.

“Thanks in advance!”

— Bryan Real

Miss Cumberland County Olivia Cruz and Miss Vineland Alyssa Rodriguez were guests on Cruisin’ 92.1 WVLT with Larry Leonelli.

Larry hosts ‘What’s Up’ every 3rd Monday from 8-9 p.m. He invited Olivia and Alyssa to talk about their platforms, scholastic endeavors and upcoming events. Great show, everyone!

Thank you, Larry and Cruisin’ 92.1 WVLT!

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Can you dig the studio we use every Saturday to invite the local world to our show?

“Condolences to the family, friends, former players and coaches who had the pleasure to know the legendary Coach Dick Wacker, formerly of Glassboro State College, now Rowan University.

“An outstanding football coach, who started the program from scratch, but an even better man.

“RIP, Coach, your kindness will live on in any of us who had the good fortune to know you.”

— Tony Surace

“I need help!

“Cats need to go.

“Can any rescues, etc., take any kittens or young cats under a year?”

— Caro0l Hickman,

carolscatz

“#CleanCommunityChallenge.

“There are 168 Hours in a Week.

“That’s over 670 Hours in a Month!

“I Challenge U to take 1hr and Clean Up Your Community! Then Post it and Challenge 3 People to do the same!

“No Water dumping on your head …

“No Awkward Dance to learn …

“Just an Hr Helping Your Community Shine!

“Pick up some Trash, Cut back some Brush, Paint over some Graffiti … Whatever U Do can Only Help! Imagine if Every1 took 1 Hour a Month and did this?!

“You’ve Been Challenged!

“Winner Gets an Improved Quality of Life!”

— Duane Lewis

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“Irvington Township to confidentially pay $10,000 to settle false arrest and malicious prosecution lawsuit.”

“According to a police officer’s June 2, 2014 lawsuit, Palmyra Borough’s (Burlington County) decision to demote him from sergeant to patrolman and suspend him without pay for 200 hours “was against the weight of the evidence” and “excessive.” On May 21, 2015, Palmyra settled with the officer and at its February 8, 2016 meeting the Police and Firemens Retirement System (PFRS) Board granted the patrolman Ordinary Disability retirement benefits after finding that he was “totally and permanently disabled from performing his regular and assigned duties.”

— John Paff

It’s like a settlement every day.

A little Big John’s Pizza history:

“Mr. Bruni was from Vineland.

“The first location was 73 N. Laurel Street. That was on the east side of the street just up from Washington Street.

“They moved to 102 N. Laurel Street in the early ’60s when they built Century Bank on that corner.

“John and Reds worked for Daniel Bruni until they decided to strike out on their own. Their first location was a small shop right across the street from the original Bruni’s location.

“They were only there for a few months before they moved to 42 (?) S. Laurel Street, near the Laurel Theater. By the ’70s, they moved to the current location at 90 E. Commerce Street.”

— Sam Feinstein,

Bridgeton Memory Lane

A little more Big John’s history

Oct. 29, 2011

Everybody loved Big John.
Most didn’t even know his last name.
Early on, his customers thought he was Bruni because that’s who John Suchanoff and Reginald “Reds” Scott worked for in Bridgeton.
Bruni’s Pizza on North Laurel Street.
“He was a jolly man,” said Reds.
One day, when Reds and Alice’s daughter was 5 years old, mom brought her down to the store for a visit.
“Let me take her home,” said Big John.
“But, she doesn’t have any diapers.”
“Don’t worry about it. We’ll make do.”
She stayed all day with Big John, and when she came back, she had a dish towel on for a diaper.
Big John made do at other times.
“The one time that Bridgeton decided to hold the Christmas parade on a Friday night, they closed off the streets,” said Reds. “So we had to close at 7 p.m. We went Route 40 East (the casinos).”
It was the only time they closed early on a Friday night.
When they weren’t throwing pizzas at each often at crunch tine, Reds and John spent hours discussing life.
“When he left here, he just rolled over and went to sleep,” said Reds. “Peaceful as anything.”
Big John was in Underwood Hospital getting toes removed that had been ravaged by diabetes.
Reds, who by this time had been saved, offered to pray with him.
“Ah, you’re nuts!” he said, half out of it. “Karl Marx was right. Man made God.”
The lady visiting the next bed who had been conversing in Italian pulled the curtain back and said in perfect English, “How can you say that?”
Fast forward to Big John in retirement, but still coming around for pizza.
“He came in with a young man and introduced him as the priest at his church,” said Reds. “He was attending the Russian Orthodox church.”
Reds had to grab the counter.
“We would sit across East Commerce Street after we left the Fairfield until 4 o’clock in the morning many a night,” said his partner. “With all those beers in us, we’d talk religion and what should be done.”
Reds told him his daughter went to church every Sunday.
“It’s not grandmom’s place to send her,” Big John said. “You should go with her.”
Whoa!
It wasn’t long after that, Alice Scott dared her husband to go to a revival in the Sears parking lot, in Vineland.
“No.”
“You scared?
“No, I’m not scared.”
They went together.
Dr. Jamison, from Philly, talked about how, in the Bible, it was Peter’s turn to watch in

Big John's 3.jpg
Reginald “Reds” Scott working at Bruni’s, on North Laurel Street, in Bridgeton, before going into business with Big John Suchanoff at Big John’s Pizza.

the boat.
Jesus came to him walking on the water.
Scared to death, Peter said, “If it’s you, bid that I come to you.”
Jesus held out his hands.
Peter also walked on water until he took his eyes off Jesus.
“That preacher looked right at me,” said Reds, and said, ‘Who do you have your eyes on, Mr. businessman?’
“He didn’t know me from Adam.’”
It was 1982.
Alice had been saved the previous Aug. 2, 1981.
Before 1982, Reds had been gung-ho.
“Gung-ho into Resorts International,” he admitted. “I would gamble seven days a week without leaving the county. Diamond Social Club. Moose Club. Wherever there was a card game.”
How upset was Alice?
“If I had some place to go, I would leave right now,” she told him.
Love at first pizza
They first met on a Sunday night when she came into Bridgeton Bruni’s for a pizza.
“I looked at her and I knew she was the one,” said Reds. “It was just one look.”
She hardly noticed him.
Alice had a girlfriend who worked at Captain Bill’s in town.
“I’d be in there having coffee and Reds would drive up in his little, blue Pontiac Tempest and he’d be slumped all down in the seat looking through the window.”
He came into Captain Bill’s one night in a white shirt and white pants. She thought he was a hospital orderly.
“Or worked at Ancora,” she said.
They eloped in January 1969.
Big John’s opened that April.
The bank wouldn’t loan them money.
Insolvent, they said.
The 70-hour weeks followed.
A small pizza was $1.40.
Alice knows the generosity of Big John Suchanoff.
“He helped us buy our first home at 179 East Avenue,” she said.
They had lived everywhere since Bruni threw them out of the apartment above the store when he found out they were opening their own store.
They eventually bought the house owned by the first Lottery millionaire recipient in New Jersey. It was the house the winners were selling after their windfall.
The Scott’s son said he never knew his father until he was 10 years old.
“We have paid our dues in that place that money cannot replace,” said Alice. “Time together lost.
“For years, I looked at him as my provider. A roof over my head. Clothes on my back.
“He’d try to compensate. If he went to the casino and won a lot of money, there would be half of it on the table when I got up the next morning.”
Alice wasn’t immune to gambling.
“We have a roll top desk in our house right now that I bought from winning over $600 on a $6 bet on a horse named Happy Christmas (at Brandywine Raceway), owned by Dr. Boss,” she said. “I never made another bet. I wasn’t giving it back.”
When he was younger, Reds worked two jobs.
For seven months, he’d leave the pizzeria and go to work at Terrigno’s Bakery.
Those days are gone.
“I am so blessed,” Alice said.
“When I surrendered in that Sears parking lot,” said Reds, “the first thing he did was take away my addiction to gambling.”
The card players kept calling him.
“Are you all right?” they’d say. “Bring over two pizzas. We’ve got two games going.”
He didn’t go.
Blackie Polo lived in the senior high-rise, up from Big John’s.
“With his emphysema, he’d walk slowly down to the pizza shop and say to me, ‘Red Bird, let’s go get even.’
“Blackie, Jesus got me even.”
He wound up in the hospital, and Reds would read scripture to him every time he went to see him.
“One day, I went to visit him and said, Blackie, when are you going to ask for forgiveness?
“With tears rolling down his cheek, he said to him, ‘I already have.’
“A priest had given him communion that morning. He had thought that he had lived such a terrible life that God couldn’t forgive him.”
He gave up three packs a day at Rainbow Lake.
“I was going to our Vineland store and I prayed to the Lord to help me give up smoking,” he said. “The next cigarette (Kools) I lit up, it smelled like fresh cow manure.”
The drink of choice was Michelob cans.
“Big John would set his can on the back of the oven because he liked it warm,” he recalled.
Reds has been teaching Sunday School to seniors at his church, including with a 104-year-old man from Rosenhayn who has since passed away.
“He’d be in the front row in a three-piece suit every Sunday,” he marveled.
To Reds, this is more important than all the pizzas he’s made.
“You have to have a balance of the faiths and the works.”
The pizzeria ride has been wild.
“At one time, 22 different outlets in the area sold slices of our pizzas,” he said. “Bars, the Eagles club, the Elks Club, Don & George’s, the Cumberland Bar. The Fairfield would call up and order six pizzas, and we’d take them down and stay for six hours.”
Cowtown sold Big John’s pizza for years.
“We’d cook them seven-eighths of the way and they’d heat them up,” said Reds.
The Vineland store came about through prayer.
The developer came to their house and wanted them as a tenant.
So they laid out a fleece.
If they could get the same 3344 phone number in Vineland, God wanted them to do it.
“Not only did we get 691-3334, but the telephone company said it had never been used,” said Alice.
For the Glassboro store, they bought the number for $500.
It was owned by a family that had fallen on hard times in the construction business and was selling items out of their home to keep afloat.
The store never made a dime.
In 1985, in Bridgeton, Charles Rempfer came in as a partner when Big John retired.
Brian “Beagle” Brown has 23 years in the shop.
“Big John always told me, ‘Let your workers have a piece of the action, so they’ll have something to work for besides a paycheck.”
In the beginning, Big John owned 53 percent and Reds 47.
“Somebody has to be the boss,” he told Reds.
Every time the Scotts travel, they go into pizza shops.
“That’s how you learn new things,” said Reds.
That’s how they came up with the 26-inch box for party trays. They saw it in Pudgie’s. The box listed 22 or 23 locations they had in northern Pennsylvania and lower New York.
He brought the box to Cumberland County.
Other things will never change.
Big John’s doesn’t take credit cards.
They had a cash register so old it doesn’t tell how much change to give back. When it broke down, they couldn’t get parts for it.
So they searched on the Internet until they found one like it in Ohio.
It’s all brass and too heavy for anyone to carry out of the store in case of a robbery.
He was born with an enlarged heart, found out at 22, but the doctor said he can eat pizza.
“Bridgeton has been good to me,” said Reds. “If I said anything negative abourt Bridgeton, I’d be lying.
“Bridgeton is in a valley right now, a time of testing. But I believe the best is yet to come. You just have to hold on.”
How long?
“A couple of years.
“People have a problem with cultures. It used to be the Italians and the hillbillies. Now, it’s the Mexicans.
“We love the Mexicans. They’re very family oriented. They’ll sit at a table — 8 or 10 of them — and eat pizza. They love pizza. And they’ll spend $40 or $50.
“At the end of the week, they’ll do it again.
“They love the pineapple.”
“There are so many ethnic groups in this state,” added Alice. “If you peeled the skin away, all you would be able to tell is if they were male or female.
“It happens to be the skin God gave us.
“Our actions define who we are.”

 —

YOU CAN BOOK IT: We lost more than a businessman when “Reds” Scott passed.

 
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Inner cities crying for help; It’s Stephanie Bush-Baskette!; 4 gallons of ice cream for police; DoingMyPart T-shirt; Clean Community Challenge; Big John’s Pizza history

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