The column that says the sports media trying to decide if the Eagles had a decent draft is like the pollsters in the last presidential election, or if the Sixers draft choice who has never played is going to make them a force or if the Phillies pitching staff is going to come around in time for the manager to keep his job — nobody knows, but hope springs eternal.
By Jack Hummel
Radio: 92.1 FM WVLT Saturdays noon to 2 p.m.
U.S. Army: RA13815980
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“Jack, I had the opportunity to listen to your show today and there were some very interesting points. I can remember back in the day the big time corporations that were here, Owens, Hunts, Four Star, Murbeck’s, and and your smaller but successful businesses.
“It seems to me that those individuals that are looking to change the economy need to first look as to why these businesses up and left, causing thousands to loose their jobs.
:You said over and over today that that people need to give a plan, and I agree. However nobody really addressed the problem. Look, nobody is going to want to bring their businesses to Bridgeton as long as the crime rate, and violence is what it is.
“There used to be pride, love , passion, and ownership among those who lived here. Now Bridgeton is just another place to live. So with that being said, I believe a way to start fixing this mess is that those who live here need to take ownership, love your city, find that passion again.
“If this happens, that would be a great start. Change the mindset. Thank you.”
— Sterling Rainier
The pride, love, passion and ownership you speak of seems to be in the townships now.
In Shiloh, they decide who they want on the borough committee before an election.
In Upper Deerfield, they treat Committeeman John Daddario like Santa Claus.
In Hopewell, everybody rallies around Hopewell Crest School.
In Deerfield, it’s the Harvest Festival and trying to keep Deerfield School from being poverty stricken.
But, did you ever notice that the only bad news coming out of those municipalities are accidents, fires, shootings and murders?
As Dick Beecroft used to say, crime stops at the city limits. But that’s not true. You know it. We know it.
But that’s what you get from the media because city officials are generous enough to email police blotters to the newspapers, but state police are not.
Think back to 1970-71 — 47 years ago — and now only people in their 60s can remember, Bridgeton was in crisis.
The mayor at the time said, “(Bleep) ’em!” at a crucial huddling at city hall trying to prevent riots.
At Bridgeton High School, kids on whatever charged out of the school and broke windshields in the parking lot. The husband of the school board president got kicked in the head by a student wearing a letter-winning football jacket given to him by the Quarterback Club, which met every Monday at the Fairfield Inn
A football game had to be canceled, and we had to promise Haddon Heights coach Jim Horner that it would be safe to bring his team to Bridgeton after a week earlier, a Bridgeton fan went on the opposing team’s bus.
Publisher John Schofield bought the old Acme from Bernie Brown — even at an inflated price — to show his allegiance to the town, but there were no windows in the retrofitting.
Owens-Illinois was still here, providing a solid middle class. Hunt’s and Ritter’s provided summer jobs for whoever wanted them, especially teachers.
Professionals packed the Bridgetowne for lunch before the waitresses got off at 3 p.m. and ran uptown to Rovner’s to buy clothes, and the men came down after work to Bacon’s or Frank’s Men & Boys or Bruskin’s to suit up.
Across the street, Woolworth’s and JC Penney flourished.
And then Owens left town, taking their Christmas parties, birthday parties, wedding parties and funeral circling the wagons. And coaches and kids and sponsoring.
And then Cumberland Regional was born and the townships no longer came to school in the city, but, few people know the cultural make-up at Regional was exactly the same as BHS, with Lawrence and Downe townships staying Bulldogs.
And then a law was passed that forced farms to provide decent housing for migrant workers, instead of the shacks on the farms. It was cheaper to arrange rentals for them in Bridgeton.
But the middle class left town with Owens’ departure plus all the industry Sterling mentioned, and you can’t survive that. In Millville, they talk about neighborhoods once leaving their doors unlocked, but, now, they don’t even know their next-door neighbor.
And live in fear.
So what have we become as the poorest city in the poorest county in New Jersey?
We pray a ethanol plant is for real. We listen intently as a group describes restoring the historic Ferracute site with a unique way of growing vegetables on the property.
We curse the direction of no Route 55 spur here until we need to go to Philly or the Deptford Mall. Is it why we can’t attract anything but poverty Band-Aids?
We produce two — not one — excellent documentaries on why companies should flock to this area and target them to specific entities, hoping they call back to professional people manning the phones. That’s Bruce Riley’s dream. That’s Tony Stanzione’s dream.
You don’t really know what you’re missing until you listen to parents who visit their kids who have relocated to good-paying jobs in Holmdel or Jackson Township or Princeton, or even Washington State.
They say the good times will roll again when the next two generations of Latinos turn out tons of professionals and spur the economy.
YOU CAN BOOK IT: Do we have the money here to rebuild commerce? Yes. But we don’t have the confidence.