PYNE POYNT MIDDLE SCHOOL
Pyne Poynt Junior High School
800 Erie Street
William Cooper, the first European settler in Camden, obtained 300 acres in 1680, and named the house he built there "Pyne Poynt", after a dense pine forest that grew on the property, in what today is referred to as North Camden. The City of Camden purchased a tract of this land along the Delaware River below the mouth of the Cooper River in 1913, and established Pyne Poynt Park there. In 1955 a section of the park land at North 8th and Erie Streets was deeded to the Board of Education, and in 1957 Pyne Poynt Junior High School was built.
Pyne Poynt Junior High School was built in 1957 and opened in 1958. It was a great school to attend and the teachers were good teachers.
Just a few off the top of my head- Mr. Moore, Math; Mr. Gould, Metal Shop; Mr. Verdile, Homeroom; Mr. Radell, Science; Mr. Lewis, Electric Shop; Miss Carlin, English; Mr. Turner, Print Shop. I almost forgot Mr. Wheeler, Music... now how could I do that, I will never for as long as I am on this earth forget these teachers. They had a great impact on my life.
I was in Practical Arts and Print Shop was my favorite. While in Print Shop under the direction of Mr. Turner, a Afro-American student by the name of George Huff and I helped design the School Emblem- the P within a P. We cut these out of rubber tile blocks. The P within in a P was chosen for the schools emblem. For the longest time after that the original tile blocks where in a showcase in the main corridor of the school.
Many days I stayed after school not because I was a problem. I did it because I used to help out in the print shop either running the press or setting type. I made a lot of great friends at Pyne Poynt Junior High in the years that I attended there.
I also have fond memories of the neighborhood around and leading up to Pyne Poynt. What about those Donuts or Cinnamon Buns from the State Street Bakery. How about Wolfe's Market on State Street across from Ablett Village. Riding to school on either the 12-80 or the #9 or #15 bus- this was a rare treat and only came about when you had the pocket change to do so if not you walked.
If there is anyone out there that can add a few lines to this please do so. Friends like Joyce Dill, Bev Hartz, Annie Martin, Susan French, Millie Kurth, Joann Kavalich, just to name a few of the opposite sex.
I'll close for now I'll put my thinking cap back on and see what else I can remember.
Crim, September 2004
Around the table (left to right): Eluria Milliken, Victor Levinson, May A. Jones, John J. Horn, Alfred R. Pierce Solicitor, Samuel J. T. French Jr President, Joseph C. Ragone Secretary, Anthony R. Catrambone, Harry R. Janice Vice-President, J. Maxwell Griffin, Eugene E. Wales, John Odorisio
I grew up in Camden, and when I am at our Camden campus, the memories of a childhood in the city come streaming back.
I loved those Campbell Soup tomato trucks - the smells, the sounds, the sights, even the taste, when some baskets "fell" off the trucks. We carried salt shakers for just such occasions. Every city block was exciting. We had the truck from New York delivering exotic vegetables to the Chinese family who ran the dry cleaners, and the savory smell of salmon cooking in Mr. Molotsky's grocery store.
When I was very young, I would wait for my grandfather after he left work at the Hollingshead factory, and we would go to Nittenger's Tavern. His drink of choice was Camden Beer, and for me, they made great sandwiches.
There were wonderful hot summer nights with families telling stories and kids hearing what we weren't supposed to, like what Mr. Unruh did in the barbershop where my uncle took my cousins. The cousins were supposed to have been there that day - "might've been killed," we heard.
I could leisurely ride my bike around the bridge plaza, and wait for my mom to come home from work at the Walt Whitman Hotel. I loved that hotel. For my 10th birthday, she arranged for me to be a guest. The elevator operator called me "Sir." I had my own room key. There was a TV and they delivered my lunch.
My formal education began at all-boys Sewell School, which was across the street from all-girls Northeast. Having us separated gave me a reason to look forward to attending the new coed Pyne Point Junior High. When I got there, besides girls, we had a new school that looked just like one on TV, and movie-like "rumbles" combining south and north Camden turf.
Pyne Point Park also had a factory that made gelatin out of bones, which was creepy and mysterious. Close by was Petty's Island with rumored hidden pirate treasure.
Downtown we had elegant J.C. Penney's and the less chic Woolworth's, where my aunt sold candy, with the best counter lunch. For fun, I could run to the top of the "milk bottle building" (City Hall), ride the Lit Bros. store escalators, or run across the bridge toll plaza. We had the Savar or Stanley movie theaters for wide-screen popcorn spectaculars and the Midway for all the horror we could handle.
There were pep rallies for the vaunted Wilson High/Camden High Thanksgiving football rivalry. If I rode my bike to East Camden, I found a TV world of white- steepled churches, lawns with roses surrounded by glistening white conch shells, and plastic lawn decorations.
My Camden was magical, and I loved it. I am proud I was born there. It captivated me in my youth and it is those memories that have pulled me back.
Why is Camden invincible? Because each new generation redefines it and creates its own memories. Working now at the college, where the Walt Whitman Hotel once stood, I am excited to again be part of the city that gave so many so much and now is poised to give great memories to another generation.
William C. Thompson is a vice president at Camden County College
PYNE POYNT FAMILY SCHOOL NARRATIVE
America’s Choice School
Poynt Middle School has been designated as a renovation project. The
architect selected for the design of this school is Design Resource
Group of Raritan, NJ. The architect’s design includes an additional
5,000 square feet to the existing structure. These designs have been
presented to the Camden Board of Education for approval. The additional
space will provide the needed space for the new media center and
expansion to the existing corridors to improve the circulation of the
Last updated: 6/15/2004
Pyne Poynt Middle School Website
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