From: Irma Stillufsen Long
Date: 01 Jan 1999
My earliest memories of Gerritsen Beach are when I was about 4 years of age. My Uncle, Walter Johnson (aka) Theodore Hauser rented a bungalow at the foot of Keene Court owned by a former prizefighter named Berlinbach. There was a community hall provided by Realty Associates, developers of Gerritsen. The Old Section (below the canal) was the first developed. (Voorhees Map of 1921). My Uncle Teddy took me and my cousin Teddy there on week-ends. I was very jealous of my cousin and when his father showed him how to fly a kite, I put my fist through it when it was brought down. I wanted all the attention!
The community hall was for grownups on Saturday nights. When the President of the organization asked what I was doing there I told him I was the Mascot. When he asked what a Mascot does I said "They bring good luck!" At that time the Volunteer Fire Department was a part of the organization, and when the organization folded they remained to protect the area, as an individual organization.
Because of dissention, the Gerritsen Beach Property Owner's Association disbanded - until the waterfront was endangered and the GBPOA , which had never legally dissolved, was reinstated for $5.00. The meeting was called by Jimmy Graham, one of the original developers. I lived at 5 Post Court, (Irma Stillufsen) and brought a notebook with me. I was appointed temporary secretary. The year was 1951.
My husband Martin owned a party fishing boat which ran from Tamaqua Fishing Station. The Clubhouse for the New Section was right behind Tamaqua on Bijou Avenue. When they held parties on Saturday nights the neighbors complained and the cops would come and tell us to hold it down.
No history would be complete without speaking of Agnes Kennedy (nee Murphy) who was active for many years as a community leader. During the depression she saved many homes that owed back taxes. She would find out at Boro Hall and advise the owners.
Sewers and paved streets were installed in the new section. The city was undecided about the old section and was probably considering condemnation of the area. Meanwhile, Kathleen Whally of Noel Avenue had been busy signing up people for the installation of sewers and paved streets in the old section. When the GBPOA was reorganized she became chairlady of the Sewer Committee and we proceeded to petition for sewers and paved streets. It took about five years before they came in. We had 13 busloads of people go to see John Cashmore, Boro President, to implore him to vote for sewers and streets in our area. Fortunately, Mayor Wagner was familiar with Gerritsen as he had friends there. The City Council approved!
Another story was about the waterfront in the Old Section. The people who lived there had claimed the right of adverse possession for more than six years. It originally was scheduled for the use of all residents. Another session of problems arose regarding this. After much hasseling the GBPOA agreed to permit the waterfront people to purchase the waterfront, with the result that the Kiddy Beach Park was developed for the use of all residents with the proceeds.