Port Norris Legends

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Legends of Port Norris

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John Carney, Jr. "Jack"
October 12, 1921, Port Norris, N. J. –
January 28, 2010, Bradenton, Florida


Recognized as a Legend of Port Norris on November 3, 2018

All Photos Courtesy of the Jack Carney Family, not for use in any media without permission. Conatct us usage rights. pnhs@historicportnorris.org
Presented by Patricia Cavender

John Carney, Jr. "Jack"Legend of Port Norris
1942

Family

Jack Carney was born in Port Norris on October 12, 1921.

Jack's mother Carrie Fogg Wood descended from the Lake and Lore families. Her great grandfather Robert Lake is buried in Dividing Creek Cemetery.

Jack's father Owen John Carney Senior was born in Easton, Pennsylvania. He lived his early life in Phillipsburg, New Jersey, before going Philadelphia. Owen Carney moved to Port Norris in 1907 to run the J. W. Paxon Hay Rope Company.

Jack's older sister, Thelma Carney, was born 1908. She was adopted by Owen Carney and his first wife Catherine. Jack's older brother Paul Weithaase Lore was born 1910. He was the son of Carrie and her first husband Wesley Lore.
Gilbert Francis Carney, Jack's younger brother, was born in 1925 in Port Norris.

 

House

The double house where Jack was born was the second house west of the Port Norris Hotel on the south side of Main Street. Wilber Lambert's house was between the Carney house and the Hotel.

When the Port Norris Hotel burned in 1928, Owen Carney used his hose to keep the Lambert house from catching fire. Carney said "If Lambert's house goes, my house goes." Jack said he slept through the whole fire.

John Carney, Jr. "Jack"Legend of Port Norris

Circa 1924. Jack Carney w/wagon. Ladies not identified. Looking East on Main Street Port Norris, NJ. Port Norris Hotel in background.
Photo Courtesy of the Jack Carney Family

 

Playmates

Jack's playmates included Emily, Wilma and Margaret Lambert who lived next door. The Lambert girls and Jack and his brother Gilbert played in the Hay Rope Company yard which was just south of the back yards of the Lambert and Carney houses.

Bob Barraclough, son of Harry Barraclough the printer who published the Cumberland County Advertiser newspaper, was a lifelong friend.

Jack and Paul Cantoni - later Canton - played along Dickies Ditch which was near the Cantoni house on Main Street. Paul's mother Ada would clean Jack up, sometimes even washing his clothes, before he went home, so he wouldn't get in trouble for getting muddy.

Another place Jack frequented as a small boy was the blacksmith shop. The blacksmith shop was located where Izzy Goldblatt's store was in later years. Jack learned language at the blacksmith shop that was quite inappropriate for a boy aged 4.

John Carney, Jr. "Jack"Legend of Port Norris

Circa July 4, 1928. (L) Bob Barraclough as Uncle Sam and (R) Jack Carney as George Washington. In background on right Port Norris, NJ bank building. Closer building would have been Kelberg's store. Photo taken in front of Advertiser building on no-name street continued south across Main St. from Pearl Street.

John Carney, Jr. "Jack"Legend of Port Norris
Photos Courtesy of the Jack Carney Family


School Days

John Carney, Jr. "Jack"Legend of Port Norris

Port Norris 1926. No labelling on back. 1st Grade. Jack Carney front row center with striped top socks. Robert Barraclough 2nd right from Jack Carney. Photo Courtesy of the Jack Carney Family

John Carney, Jr. "Jack"Legend of Port Norris

Port Norris 1930 5th grade. Top Row L-R: Morton Blackman, _____ __, Orville Phillips, Roger Bradford, Louise Bush, Annabelle Lacy, Elizabeth Moore, Ella Mae Leach, Eva Pusey, Charles Dimsha, James Parvin. Middle Row L-R: Jeanette Lupton, Doris Lore, Clara Trupin, Marg Ellen Peterson, Barbara Bass, _____ Margaret Lee, _____Teacher Althea Harris. Bottom Row L-R: Harry Robbins, Edward Cain, Fred Henderson, Henry Cobb, Burton Robbins, George Gaskill, Jack Carney, Hobart Emmett, Robert Barraclough, William Shropshire.
Photo Courtesy of the Jack Carney Family
Note: Burton Robbins has distinctive hair and it looks like he is sitting on Jack Carney's right side. (to the left in photo) Pat Carney Cavender. 11/2/2018.

John Carney, Jr. "Jack"Legend of Port Norris

Port Norris, 1931 6th grade. Rear center: Teacher ________ . Top Row L-R: Mary Ella Peterson, Doris Lore, ________ Flora Tyler, Amelia Ferguson, Roxanna Lake, Ruth Berry, Elizabeth Moore, Margaret Lee, Jeanette Lupton, Barbara Bass, Gladys Gaskill. Middle Row L-R: Morton Blackman, George Gaskill, Walter Riggin. Bottom Row L-R: Charles Dimsha, Orville Phillips, Harry Robbins, Burton Robbins, Harvey Berry, Fred Henderson, Robert Barraclough, Jack Carney, William Shropshire. Photo Courtesy of the Jack Carney Family

John Carney, Jr. "Jack"Legend of Port Norris

Port Norris High School, 1935. 10th grade. Rear: Nelson Bateman, English/History teacher; Ethel Dunham, chemistry teacher.
Students standing L-R: Jack Reeves (knickers & jacket}, Morton Blackkman, Jack Carney (glasses), Walter Riggin (dark tie), Burton Robbins (distinctive hair}, Francis Garrison, Ruth Berry, Norman Robbins, Amelia Ferguson, Milton Burford, Wilma Petit, Harvey Berry, Harry Robbins, Robert Barraclough, George Gaskill, Charles Dimsha, Lawrence Bailey, Elizabeth Petersen – science + French teacher, Elizabeth Busby-Principal; Mary Williams - Commercial teacher. Seated L-R: Marjorie Hiles, Flora Tyler, Doris Lore, Gladys Gaskill, Janice Hiles, Ruth Lore, Roxanna Lake, Margaret Lee, Ethel Bailey.
Photo Courtesy of the Jack Carney Family


John Carney, Jr. "Jack"Legend of Port Norris

Port Norris High School. Probably 11th grade fall of 1936 or spring of 1937. Teachers -Top Row L-R: Harry "Mike" Dearmott, Hester Fagan, Mary Williams, Elizabeth Busby-Principal, Ethel Dunham, Elizabeth Peterson, Nelson Bateman. Middle Row L-R: Robert Barraclough, Walter Riggin, Jack Reeves, Jack Carney, Burton Robbins, Charles Dimsha, Harry Robbins, Milton Burford. Bottom Row L-R: Ethel Bailey, Margaret Lee, Amelia Ferguson, Flora Tyler, Ruth Berry, Marjorie Hiles, Doris Lore, Roxanna Lake, Gladys Gaskill, Janice Hiles, Ruth Lore.
Photo Courtesy of the Jack Carney Family

John Carney, Jr. "Jack"Legend of Port Norris
Washington DC 1938
Photo Courtesy of the Jack Carney Family

John Carney, Jr. "Jack"Legend of Port Norris

 

Boy Scout Jamboree in Washington DC 1937

As a Boy Scout Jack went to the 1937 National Jamboree in Washington DC. The Cumberland County Advertiser published a letter he wrote from the Jamboree.

Read just the letter Jack wrote

Click Here to See Cumberland County Advertiser, July 1, 1937
Click Here to See Cumberland County Advertiser, July 8, 1937

John Carney, Jr. "Jack"Legend of Port Norris

John Carney, Jr. "Jack"Legend of Port Norris

Port Norris BSA Troop 21 Weymouth Woods 1930s Near Mays Landing, NJ.
Top Row L-R: Walter Riggin, Jack Carney, Harold Pepper, Paul Canton, William Shropshire, George Gaskill, Richard Robbins. Bottom Row L-R: Jesse Gaskill, ___ __, ___ __, Marshall Lore, George Webb.
Photo Courtesy of the Jack Carney Family


Class of 1938 - The Initial Tree

Jack graduated from Port Norris High School in 1938. One of the unusual mementos his class created was the "Initial Tree." The class members all carved their initials on a tree in the woods off Yock Wock Road.

In the late 1950s - maybe 1959 - Jack took one of his daughters to see this tree:
We walked north across a field just east of O'Brien's Market on Yock Wock Road. When we got into the woods, Dad managed to locate the large beech tree that his class had carved their initials into. His were about 12 to 15 feet up the trunk and about 5 to 6 inches high. We were not more than a couple hundred feet into the woods from the field. He was just curious at the time to see if it was still there.

 

Sports

In high school everybody had to be on all the sports teams. There weren't enough boys to field a team otherwise. Jack lettered in track in 1938.

He played baseball with the Port Norris team before and after World War II. There was a baseball field south of the Hay Rope Company along the railroad tracks.

John Carney, Jr. "Jack"Legend of Port Norris

Photos Courtesy of the Jack Carney Family

John Carney, Jr. "Jack"Legend of Port Norris
John Carney, Jr. "Jack"Legend of Port Norris

 

Methodist Church

Jack was a life-long member of the Port Norris Methodist Church. He sang in the choir and taught Sunday school there for many years.

John Carney, Jr. "Jack"Legend of Port Norris

Port Norris Methodist Church Choir. 1948
or thereabouts. Port Norris, Cumberland County, NJ Hester Fagan-left; Rev. Clifford Sinnicksen-right. Back Row: MacFerren Fowler, Olin Hickman, Robert Friant, Adam Massey, Floyd Birmingham, Hammond Ferguson, Jack Carney, Jack Reeves, Warrington Hollinger. Front Row: Mary Leah (Shropshire) Massey, Marian (Hoffman) Michelowski, Betty Hickman, Clara Lore, Emily (Lambert) Robbins, Marion Hoffman Berry, Belle Rowley Friant, Eleanor Robbins Hickman.
Photo Courtesy of the Jack Carney Family

 

Military

Jack joined the Navy October 8, 1942. He had passed the exam for the Air Corp despite never having learned algebra, but failed the eye test. He said he didn't want to get drafted into the Army. He just didn't like camping that much.

Jack was never sent to any kind of Navy basic training. He said they asked him some questions when he signed up and he must have answered them okay. He was immediately assigned to the Liston IX-92 in Philadelphia. The IX designation was for "Small Miscellaneous Types."

The Navy had purchased the oyster boat Eleanor V. Robbins from Wilbert Robbins of Port Norris on October 9, 1942. The boat had been built in Dorchester and launched in 1923.

She was converted for Navy use and renamed Liston. The Liston had a very short career as a Navy vessel. An ensign from Georgia attempted to dock her "by the book" and smashed her stern into a concrete pier.

Jack was next assigned to the USS General John Pope AP-110, a troop carrier. The Pope made an initial voyage across the Atlantic to Scotland and spent the remainder of World War II operating in the Pacific. Jack achieved the rank of Second-Class Gunner's Mate before he was mustered out January 6, 1946.

John Carney, Jr. "Jack"Legend of Port Norris

Circa 1942. Jack Carney
(Owen John Carney, Jr.) in front of his House on Main Street. The grocery store across the street was West of the railroad station. Later (circa 1949) Fairlawn grocery store. 1938 Ford.
Photo Courtesy of the Jack Carney Family


Back in Port Norris after the War

When Jack came home after World War II he got married and settled down in Port Norris to raise a family. Jack worked at Dagastine's Friendly Service Station on the northwest corner of Main and Market Streets to 1949. He worked for Robbins Brothers Shucking House in Shellpile from 1949 to 1955. In 1949 and 1950 he also worked as a rural mail delivery carrier for the post office.

John Carney, Jr. "Jack"Legend of Port Norris
John Carney, Jr. "Jack"Legend of Port Norris

Spring of early 1950s aboard the JAMES O WRIGHT at Greenwich, NJ. Harold Pepper and Jack Carney standing. Mr. & Mrs. Leon Robbins with daughter-in-law Pat. Stephan on his Grandfather's knee. Carolyn Lee seated next to Pat. Seed oysters on deck, dredged for transplanting down the bay.
Photo Courtesy of the Jack Carney Family


Tax Assessor

In 1948 Jack was elected to the part-time position of tax assessor. His father had served as a Democratic County Committee Member and been appointed postmaster in 1933. Jack was following the family tradition of being involved with politics. Jack said he got elected because the previous tax assessor had made an error which upset a lot of people.

He served as assessor of Commercial Township from July 1, 1949 until 1963. While serving as tax assessor Jack did a full reassessment of Commercial Township – a job that is usually given to an outside company because of the amount of work involved.

John Carney, Jr. "Jack"Legend of Port Norris
Photo Courtesy of the Jack Carney Family

In 1953 the Local Property Tax Bureau was created in Trenton. Its purpose was to check the sale price of each property sold in the state and compare it to the assessed value of the property. This created a ratio that determined how school aid would be distributed to each municipality.

In 1954 a test was given to find twelve additional employees. Jack scored 5th in the test and was hired as a field representative. He worked in Cumberland and Salem Counties. Later Cape May County was added to his territory. Starting in 1959 Jack also taught a tax certification course for assessors given by Rutgers University.

About 1963 New Jersey passed a law requiring tax assessors to be appointed and certified. When the position changed from elected to appointed, it was deemed a conflict of interest for Jack to be both a Local Property Tax Bureau field representative and the tax assessor of a municipality. He resigned as tax assessor.

 

John Carney, Jr. "Jack"Legend of Port Norris
Jack Carney (Owen John Carney, Jr.) April 1967
Making hay rope at the Port Norris Hay Rope Company at his home on the SE corner of Maurice Ave. and Brown Street, Port Norris.
Photo Courtesy of the Jack Carney Family


Port Norris Hay Rope Company
See More

The Hay Rope Company was located just south of the Port Norris Hotel. The building had 5 or 6 rope machines and loose salt hay piled to the rafters in the south half. The north half was little used in later years. Railroad tracks along the east side of the building made it easy to load the spools of rope for shipping. It was an easy to walk through the field from the back yard of the Carney house to the Hay Rope Company.

The J. W. Paxon Company of Philadelphia built the building in Port Norris about 1890. Salt hay was a cheap material. It was cheaper if it didn't have to be transported from where it grew. At that time pipe was made by coating hay rope with clay to use as the core when casting pipe. The rope core would burn away and the clay could be emptied out of the pipe.

After a method of casting pipe was invented using a centrifuge process the demand for hay rope fell off. The rope core and clay coating method of casting continued to be used by smaller foundries for some time. But later, hay rope was only needed for casting odd-shaped pieces.

When the Paxon Taggart Company went bankrupt in 1933 Owen J. Carney Senior and Addington B. Campbell bought the Hay Rope Company property and the duplex house on Main Street. Owen Carney owned the east-side half of the house. Ad Campbell owned the west-side half of the house. The Hay Rope Company property was owned jointly.

After Owen Carney's death March 23, 1952, Jack and Gilbert Carney together operated the Hay Rope Company as a part-time venture in 1952, 1953, and 1954.
Gilbert Carney alone operated the Hay Rope Company until his death August 29, 1962. He was hit by steel beams as he worked on the construction of the Millville Library.

After Gilbert's death Jack took over the hay rope business. The Hay Rope Company property was sold and the building was demolished. Using salvaged boards from the original building Jack constructed a small building on his property on the southeast corner of Brown and Maurice Streets. He operated the Port Norris Hay Rope Company as a part-time venture from his home until the early 1990s. See More

 

Newspaper Articles

The Philadelphia Bulletin published an article about Jack and the Port Norris Hay Rope Company on Sunday, March 6, 1966 in their New Jersey News section.

The Press of Atlantic City published articles about Jack Carney and his unusual occupation of making hay rope on two occasions, June 23, 1980 and July 2, 1989.

 

Smithsonian Institute Folk Crafts Festival

In July 1983 the Smithsonian Institute held an exhibition of folk trades and industries from around the country. Jack's hay rope machine, motor, and a supply of hay were packed up and shipped to Washington, D. C. Once there they were set up under a tent on The Mall. For a week, Jack would talk to visitors and periodically start up the machine and demonstrate how salt hay rope was made.

John Carney, Jr. "Jack"Legend of Port Norris
August 1997

Florida
In 1998 Jack and Gladys moved permanently to Bradenton, Florida. He died there in 2010.

More Photos

John Carney, Jr. "Jack"Legend of Port Norris

John Carney, Jr. "Jack"Legend of Port Norris

John Carney, Jr. "Jack"Legend of Port Norris

John Carney, Jr. "Jack"Legend of Port Norris

John Carney, Jr. "Jack"Legend of Port Norris
1928 Wilma Lambert. Port Norris Hay Rope

 

WORLD'S OYSTER CENTER

Statue of oyster culler by Charles "Chili" McConnell used in several parades.
Statue was made using chicken wire with a coating of cement or plaster.

John Carney, Jr. "Jack"Legend of Port Norris

All Photos Courtesy of the Jack Carney Family

 

John Carney, Jr. "Jack"Legend of Port Norris