IHOP on right track; Complete Bridgeton as Gotham City story; Linwood Mosley doing his part for kids; Jim Williams coming home again; D. Bailey Miles needs help; Nick Kuhar: A story in courage

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The column that says if you have had any problems at IHOP next to the Ramada Inn in Vineland, they’re solved. Not only is the new manager emphasizing professional service, but the eatery is going to sponsor the Vineland football team, the middle school cheerleaders and he’s waiting for Carl Hemple Sr. to come back from his cruise for the wealthy to buy advertising on 92.1 FM.

By Jack Hummel

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

Email: jhummel9794@gmail.com

Phone: 856-237-6645

U.S. Army: RA13815980

Google all columns at jackhummelblog

Good evening!

What are the raffle tickets for being handed out by Batman characters in Bridgeton all this month?

Win the Batmobile?

A little history.

Born for the spotlight, the wild ride began its life as the Lincoln Futura concept car built by Ford in 1955.

Designed by Bill Schmidt and John Najjar, the car was hand-built in Italy by Carrozzeria Ghia coachbuilders. Its outer-space-inspired aesthetic—with elongated lines and dual-canopy cockpit—proved a hit at auto shows as well as on the big screen, where it went on to feature in the film “It Started with a Kiss with Debbie Reynolds and Glenn Ford.

Despite costing $250,000 to manufacture, the car was sold by the marque to custom-automobile builder George Barris for one dollar. In 1965, Barris was asked to create a vehicle for the Batman’ television series soon to start shooting.

With a deadline of three weeks, Barris looked to the Lincoln and crafted the mean machine we know today with the help of metal-shaper Bill Cushenberry.

Driven by the show’s stars Adam West and Burt Ward (Batman and Robin, respectively), the car featured prominently throughout the series’ three seasons, from 1966 to 1968.

During that period, Barris would go on to build three more replicas for publicity purposes but maintained ownership of the original, which he leased to the companies involved in production.

In 2013, the car was sold at a Barrett-Jackson auction to collector Rick Champagne for over $4.6 million.

batmobile-2.jpg

It also went to auction in 2015.

This would be a steal for new business administrator Stephanie Bush-Baskette.

Talk to Bob Thompson, who once drove that antique yellow car around town.

Meanwhile, the former stone bed and breakfast on West Commerce Street has been declared Wayne Manor.

The gala at Jorje Romero’s abode will happen on Saturday, Oct.15, 5 to 8 p.m.

A little history.

Oct. 31, 2105

The popularity of Batman — the Caped Crusader, Bruce Wayne, protector of Gotham City — has been growing ever since his first appearance in Detective Comics in 1939.

But did you know that there’s a South Jersey connection to the Dark Knight? Don’t tell the Joker, but Gotham City has a secret identity — the city of Bridgeton.

 

Comic fans have long known that Gotham is located right where Bridgeton sits, in Cumberland County. But what if there’s more to this than a hastily drawn map in a comic book? What are Bridgeton’s Gotham bona fides?

We went in search of Batman and his famous city, and we found plenty of entertaining evidence.

 

Origin story

 

Back in the 1930s, Batman’s early writers said Gotham City was located between New York City and Washington, D.C.

It’s easy to assume that Gotham City would be based on a large metropolis such as New York City. But in August 1978, a Sunday installment of DC Comics’ “Superheroes” comic strip put the rumors to rest. It showed Gotham City west of Atlantic City in southern Cumberland County.

At the time, Michael Gold, director of editorial development at DC Comics in the 1970s, told reporters it was a “matter of history” that Bridgeton is the mythical Gotham City.

Once Gotham’s secret identity was revealed, city officials got the idea to use the Gotham City connection as a draw for tourism. Then-Mayor Donald Rainear and other leaders talked about a Batman theme park, a weeklong Batman festival and other ways to attract visitors.

For the first few weeks after Bridgeton’s secret identity was revealed, Rainear said the city received calls — mainly from reporters, but from tourists as well — to see if Batman truly lived and worked in the small South Jersey city.

“I think most people thought it was positive in the sense that it drew some kind of positive attention, having a superhero in your community,” said Rainear, who now lives in the Strathmere section of Upper Township.

Current Mayor Albert Kelly lived in Bridgeton as a boy when the Gotham City connection was first raised.

“I was excited even then,” said Kelly, a self-proclaimed Batman fan. “Anything that sets Bridgeton apart like this is positive.”

 

Where the Batcave ends…

 

If Bridgeton is Gotham, where might we find the entrance to the Batcave?

Fans of the 1960s Adam West TV show know that Batman and Robin slid down the Batpoles, into the Batcave where the Batmobile waited. The Dynamic Duo would drive out of the cave through a tunnel hidden in a wooded area. A sign at the mouth of the tunnel read “Gotham City 14 miles.”

We went in search of Batman and his famous city, and we found plenty of entertaining evidence.

 

Origin story

 

Back in the 1930s, Batman’s early writers said Gotham City was located between New York City and Washington, D.C.

It’s easy to assume that Gotham City would be based on a large metropolis such as New York City. But in August 1978, a Sunday installment of DC Comics’ “Superheroes” comic strip put the rumors to rest. It showed Gotham City west of Atlantic City in southern Cumberland County.

At the time, Michael Gold, director of editorial development at DC Comics in the 1970s, told reporters it was a “matter of history” that Bridgeton is the mythical Gotham City.

Once Gotham’s secret identity was revealed, city officials got the idea to use the Gotham City connection as a draw for tourism. Then-Mayor Donald Rainear and other leaders talked about a Batman theme park, a weeklong Batman festival and other ways to attract visitors.

For the first few weeks after Bridgeton’s secret identity was revealed, Rainear said the city received calls — mainly from reporters, but from tourists as well — to see if Batman truly lived and worked in the small South Jersey city.

“I think most people thought it was positive in the sense that it drew some kind of positive attention, having a superhero in your community,” said Rainear, who now lives in the Strathmere section of Upper Township.

Current Mayor Albert Kelly lived in Bridgeton as a boy when the Gotham City connection was first raised.

“I was excited even then,” said Kelly, a self-proclaimed Batman fan. “Anything that sets Bridgeton apart like this is positive.”

 

Where the Batcave ends…

 

If Bridgeton is Gotham, where might we find the entrance to the Batcave?

Fans of the 1960s Adam West TV show know that Batman and Robin slid down the Batpoles, into the Batcave where the Batmobile waited. The Dynamic Duo would drive out of the cave through a tunnel hidden in a wooded area. A sign at the mouth of the tunnel read “Gotham City 14 miles.”

 Kelly said he remembered the Batmobile always being hidden in a fairly quiet space, far from curious people. He suggested Batman would keep the vehicle somewhere in Bridgeton City Park, off Commerce Street, “not near the baseball fields, but closer to the zoo.”

The park’s amphitheater fits that bill. It is past the Cohanzick Zoo, in a more secluded, wooded area, but close enough to main roads (West Avenue and Park Drive) to quickly answer a call for help.

The stage of the amphitheater might very well open to reveal the tunnel to the Batcave. The park hours are from sunrise to sunset, which makes for even more privacy at night.

And it just so happens that the amphitheater is named for Donald Rainear, the former mayor who promoted the Gotham City connection to his municipality. Coincidence? We think not.

As for the sleek Batpoles that would bring our heroes down to the vehicle, Bridgeton’s director of development and planning, Kevin Rabago, said the city’s firehouse still has the classic firefighters’ pole.

Wayne Manor

Bruce Wayne’s family mansion isn’t always depicted the same way in different media, from the original comics to television and movies to, heck, the Lego version. The 2013 U.S. Census says Bridgeton supports a population of more than 25,000, so there are a lot of homes with the potential to be Wayne Manor.

When Rainear was asked if Batman could truly find a home in Bridgeton, there was no doubt in his mind.

“There are some impressive homes in Bridgeton that Bruce Wayne would probably love to live in,” he said.

We narrowed our search to Commerce Street. Press archives say that’s where Rainear hoped to renovate a large home to create a Wayne Manor for tourists. And, in all it’s incarnations, Wayne Manor is almost always made of stone.

The residential area near the Broad Street Elementary School is full of larger homes — some might even call them mansions. One stone home in particular, at 151 W. Commerce St., looks Wayne Manorish. A plaque on the house identifies it as the Cox House. Kelly said Charles and Christine Cox were local historians.

The current owner of the house, Jorje Romero, said he and his girlfriend have been looking at that Commerce Street home since 2009 and are now working to turn it into a family homestead. The family — which includes Romero’s five children and his girlfriend’s two — plans on moving in by December.

A former police officer in Camden, Romero, now works for a security company in Philadelphia. The 44-year-old said the manor is old, but it has good bones.

The house is large and needs some remodeling, with eight bedrooms, six full bathrooms and two half-baths. Romero said he’s been encouraging his children by saying, “It’s not a spooky house. Just give it a second chance.”

He laughed, “I feel like Bruce Wayne already.”

Romero may not be a superhero, but he does have experience helping people in distress. Before he became a cop, Romero said, he once chased down a man who snatched a necklace from a woman. Romero chased the robber for about 12 blocks before tackling him, tying his hands together and waiting for police to arrive.

Helping others runs in the family. Romero said his father once helped people escape from a burning building, and he other relatives are active in police departments and the military.

When asked about the possible Waye Manor connection, Romero said it’s a fun idea. His main priority, though, is to make the home comfortable for his family, so there may not be room in the budget for a Batcave.

“When I was 16, I drove around Bridgeton and saw all these beautiful homes. That was 28 years ago,” he said. “This is such a beautiful town with so much potential.”

The Penguin’s lair

A large part of the Batman mythology is the gallery of iconic villains. Where do they show up in Bridgeton? Would the Joker hide out in a stand-up comedy venue or joke shop? Would Poison Ivy take up residence in a greenhouse?

The Penguin, a.k.a. Oswald Cobblepot, and his obsession with birds would seem to fit right in at the Cohanzick Zoo, a popular city attraction. (The Penguin has often been portrayed as a businessman who caters to the masses.)

In fact, one staff member at the Cohanzick Zoo thinks it might be perfect for the Penguin.

“As far as my tenure here goes, we’ve had zero escapes from the zoo,” said Alison Bohn, education coordinator and zookeeper who has worked at the Cohanzick Zoo for 15 years. “He would stay here if he was put here.”

However, it might be a while before the zoo has a space with penguin-favorable conditions. Exhibits to keep penguins comfortable need a lot of water and special surface materials. Bohn said bird droppings are very corrosive, so a penguin exhibit – where the Penguin would most likely keep any avian friends – would need a lot of upkeep.

One zookeeper, Bohn said, has been gunning for a penguin exhibit at the Cohanzick Zoo for years.

Bohn, a mother of teenage boys, thinks Batman would be a good addition to the city. “I mean, I don’t want to sound judgey judgey, but we could use someone like him to look out for the crime out here, a steady overseer and protector.”

 — Sara Tracey,
Press of Atlantic City

“Back at it.

“All kids welcome, 7-18.

“Homework must be complete before coming or if the kid needs help, I’ll do what I can to help them. Soon to have and looking for volunteer tutors to help the kids who need help. Also, we will try to do a movie day once a week.

“The kids can play games, do homework, have access to the computer room, or come and talk to me, Monday-Wednesday, 3-5pm!

“Sorry, the rest of the week I have to work. This is volunteer work for me right now. I’m just doing my part to help these kids out the best way I can.

“Still taking donations of any kind to my program. Thank you all and have a good day.”

— Lynwood Mosley,

Joyce’s Whips coach

Amity Heights community room

The new night manager at Bridgeton McDonald’s looog-time employee across the street at Wendy’s, now closed for remodeling.

She’s not all into herself and will take care of you.

Glazed donut sales way down.

“Hey,

“We need a few volunteers to help us mount our scarecrow tomorrow afternoon/evening.

“A step ladder is helpful. Is there anyone who can help? It should only take about 10 minutes.”

— D. Bailey Miles,

Taking Back Millville

putting Millville back together one step at a time

Talented Cumberland County College announcer Jim Williams is coming home again after spending the summer in the hospital, coming home, collapsing and going back to rehab.

Gotta story for you, Jim.

On Christmas Eve a few year’s ago Nick Kuhar was building a new sawmill to go along with his successful tree business.

He fell 37 feet — “in a ball, I think” — and hit concrete.

In rushing out to help him, his wife, Julie, fell and broke her leg.

You’re not supposed to live falling 37 feet onto concrete. The only thing that saved him was his head didn’t hit.

But everything else broke, including a shattered pelvis.

They had to count down the vertebrae to decide where they really belonged.

The only feeling he has below the waist is his two big toes.

“It’s like walking on stilts,” he said.

He not only broke his sterum, but it was pushed way to one side. Both hips went.

He spend nine months in the hospital before the $1 million insurance ran out, and he came home.

Wednesday, he was in the waiting room of Dr. Harry Lebowitz’s eye surgery office in Vineland waiting for his mother-in-law, Ruth Ann Cossaboon, to get out of cataract surgery.

He has the tanned face of a rugged movie star. He walks better than most of us.

Why he didn’t give up, only he knows.

His wife now has the tree business while also working at Genesis because Nick is uninsurable any other way.

But you know he’s a pretty big advisor.

They have a daughter who will be a veterinarian in another 18 months, now in Mississippi after studying in Scotland.

Scotland?

“Top veterinary school in the world,” he said. “And England is second.”

Just thought you’d like to you, Jimmy Williams.

YOU CAN BOOK ITThere is light at the end of the tunnel.

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IHOP on right track; Complete Bridgeton as Gotham City story; Linwood Mosley doing his part for kids; Jim Williams coming home again; D. Bailey Miles needs help; Nick Kuhar: A story in courage

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