The column that says the Cohanzick Zoo signs all over Bridgeton look great, and the zoo has never been better, but we want to know if the Cooper building next to the canoe house is left over from the Cumberland Nail & Iron Works that dominated that part of Bridgeton back in 1900, or is the Nail House Museum the only thing left from that era, and if ever there was a partnership possible to advance Bridgeton’s economic cause, it’s the Bridgeton Chamber of Commerce and Rotary, who will meet together Thursday at Piney Point on Sunset Lake, at 12:10 p.m., so if you can’t afford the $15 entry fee, stay tuned.
By Jack Hummel
Radio: 92.1 FM WVLT Saturdays noon to 2 p.m.
U.S. Army: RA13815980
Google all columns at jackhummelblog
Perfect solution for part of Bridgeton’s deficit: The prime feature right now is the zoo, so charge adults $2 and children get in free. It won’t hamper class trips or busloads of kids, or even large families, but will produce some offset to the approximate $600,000 the city provides annually.
Losing money on its most attractive offering? Who does that? Of course it has to make money, if not all from admission, then from donations combined with concession stand profits and the trinkets stand.
Trinkets stand? Novelties to help kids remember their trip to the zoo? Keychains? Fobs? Monogrammed stuffed animals? Cups? Glasses? Dean Dellaquila signed photographs?
Where in the park do we see an advertisement for the South Jersey All Sports Museum and its hours of operation? Where it can be seen while not driving 15 mph, but walking to, from, in the zoo?
Facing the parking lot?
If the Cooper building is that historic, why doesn’t a sign say so? Perhaps a sign made as a class project in high school using Victorian-style letters?
If any building is worth setting there, it’s worth identification.
The Trolley Barn ice cream stand next to that dilapidated, abandoned, rundown, graffiti-faced gas station on Washington Street must be like operating on the edge of the Badlands in Baltimore.
It’s not an eyesore. It’s despicable. A beacon signifying apathy. If it won’t fly in Fairmount Park, it won’t fly here. Thousands of cars coming and leaving the Marino Center see it. Why?
Is their a Historical Commission? All the advertisements say so. Who can defend this ghetto piece? It is tied up in litigation like the Lively Funeral Home torched before matches were invented?
It’s a gas station so there is obviously toxic waste that must be hauled off to Nevada. Has anybody applied for funding?
The obvious answer to the jobless situation in Cumberland, all the way from high school kids in the summer and grownups all the way to age 65 is something we do not need to invent, but, instead, reinvent.
Anybody 50 or over remembers the tomato smell from Bridgeton’s Ritter’s and Hunt’s plants.
But has the agriculture that fueled those plants gone? Has it even increased? The first thing screamed about Bridgeton is “state’s largest historic district” and the first thing said about Cumberland County is “agricultural capital of the Garden State.”
What’s wrong with this picture. Why are we not buying South Jersey vegetables every time we shop at ShopRite, Acme, Aldi’s or Save A Lot during the summer months?
Has our economy outside of the grower and the immigrants who work the fields become limited to roadside stands? Are their any contracts with supermarket chains? And if there were, would everybody be planting crops to be sending to a local clearing house the same way wheat goes to a farmers cooperative?
We know the Jersey tomato died because it couldn’t survive long enough to be marketed. Then Marlboro Market worked on how to preserve it. Where does that stand at $7 million Rutgers Food?
Florida sweet corn tastes like ca ca. Jersey sweet corn has no peer. Why are we not growing Rottkamp’s triple-sweet corn by the mega-bushel when we have the right soil and we can build and supply the buildings to collect and ship it?
We don’t care if we have to bring back the Concorde to distribute it.
Everybody wants industry to return to Cumberland County, but it has been here all along.
We know Florida and California have longer growing seasons. We know that is the reason the supermarket chains contract with those states. Why should they have two contracts?
Because this is the Garden State, and it was named that for a reason.
We have Rutgers Food off Broad Street in Bridgeton and we have food deprivation at Cumberland County College? Are you serious?
Let’s hear it for The Prez …
“This week, we added two new benefactors to our list of those helping us fight food insecurity on campus: Russo Farms and Nardelli Lake View Farms.
“Many thanks to our inaugural and continuing sponsor, F&S Produce/Sam Pipitone. Thank you all for your generosity.”
— CCC Prez Yves Salomon-Fernandez,
who found a positive rating that was really a negative number when she arrived on campus and she told us, “How do you come up with that number?”
Who is running the $500,000 grant program that involves the Cumberland County Jail inmates, and can we get her on radio to further explain the program since only, one story has been written about it, and didn’t include the person who wrote the grant.
“Stop in @ SUNNY SLOPE’S and try a DONUT PEACH!”
— Reva Christian
Sunny Slope can’t make us money in downtown Bridgeton, Bruce Riley?
Can’t make us money in the park?
The icon there — Tony Mazzeo — with his picture on a peach keychain could bring in thousands. Is anybody thinking?
How many out-of-towners visiting the zoo know about Sunny Slope peaches? Except Kay Rudderow Myers.
TONY MAZZEO, 81 AND COUNTING.
The first time he handled a peach at Sunny Slope Farms outside Bridgeton was 60 years ago.
He figures it’s time.
“Every good thing must come to an end,’’ said the face of Sunny Slope this week. “I’m going to retire. At the end of this year, I’m going to retire.’’
They’ve heard it before.
“We hold board meetingshere,’’ said Sheppard.
“He can’t retire,’’ said Sonny Bender, a retired auto body man. “Where will I get my apples?’’
They all tell him he can’t retire because they can’t remember getting peaches from anybody else. But Tony says it has to happen.
“I missed my kids growing up,’’ he said. “I own a place in Fortescue. Know how many times I’ve been there this year? Three times. My daughter, Michelle, was a good swimmer. She swam in Delaware and Maryland, and she went to Florida to compete.
“I missed it all.’’
And he refuses to make that mistake again.
“I want to spend time with my grandson,’’ he smiled. “I don’t want to miss him growing up. I want to take him fishing.
“We have Cambodian help here. This Cambodian worker, she kept telling my son she had the right woman for him in Cambodia.
“So he went to Cambodia and met her.’’
The rest is history, the apple of Mazzeo’s eye.
During the peach harvesting season, you’re either in all the way or you’re out.
“Who knows how many hours?’’ he said. “Maybe 115 hours a week. Seven days.
“My wife, she knew I would be coming home at night, but she didn’t know when. I would tell her, I’ll be home, honey. Sometimes by 6:30. Sometimes by 8:30 or 9.’’
Mazzeo was born in Italy.
His family that was first here lost all their money twice when banks failed.
He speaks with an accent and he talks quickly, but always with a smile.
“I can’t remember when I didn’t work with Tony,’’ said Al Caggiano Jr., 48, who runs the 600-acre operation his father built.
Sunny Slope does 100,000 to 150,000 bushels of peaches a year.
“We work together,’’ said Mazzeo of Al Jr. “We clean all the equipment. We do the dirty jobs together.’’
He doesn’t know how to cut back.
“I’m 48,’’ said Caggiano, “so you know how long I’ve worked with him. I’ve never known him to wear a watch.
“He doesn’t leave until the job is done and he usually drags me into it.’’
The 85-year-old Sheppard isn’t convinced Mazzeo’s retiring.
“He’ll still be here,’’ he said.
“No,’’ corrected Tony. “All good things must come to an end. I want to go to Cambodia. It’s beautiful there.’’
“Tony will be here because his grandson likes to drive the forklift,’’ he smiled.
His grandson is 6. He carries his picture in his vest pocket.
“I’m going to invite my good friend Mario Andretti to my house to eat,’’ said Mazzeo.
He’s known the race car mogul for over 40 years.
“He calls and asks me why I don’t come to the races,’’ said Mazzeo.
Obviously, he doesn’t understand the peach harvesting business.
“Roger Penske used to race at Vineland Speedway,’’ offered Mazzeo. “Today, he has 40,000 people working for him. He owns two racetracks.’’
Penske comes to the New Jersey Motorsports Park when his team races.
Mazzeo has never been able to get away to go see him.
He also knew Andy Granatelli, another racing mogul.
“He liked Serra sausage made in Vineland,’’ said Mazzeo. “He always asked me to bring him pounds of it.’’
More importantly, Tony Mazzeo knows everybody in the Bridgeton area who likes peaches.
“I don’t know when my last day is,’’ he hedged. “I’ve got to get things cleaned up. It might not be done by the end of the year. But, it’s going to happen.’’
It will happen before the next peach season.
Before that, you can bet the pilgrimage will begin to say goodbye to an icon.
YOU CAN BOOK IT: He’s still there.