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  • Writer's pictureThe Hammonton Gazette

There is a story behind every item in The Gazette Archives

Pictured is a replica of a promotional booklet issued by the Hammonton Board of Trade in 1905. It is one of a limited edition of 200 issued by the late J. Garfield DeMarco. (THG/MarySusan Hoffman)

This week, we are proud to bring you the latest “Treasures from The Hammonton Gazette Archives” special supplement, filled with items from our large archive of historic Hammonton memorabilia.

The “Treasures” special supplement series began in 2016, to help us commemorate the town’s sesquicentennial. Since that 150th birthday year for Hammonton, we have continued to produce new “Treasures” special supplements, featuring some of the fascinating objects that conjure up so many memories for our readers when they see them in print.

I feel this week’s special section is one of our best. I selected the assorted items. MarySusan Hoffman, our gifted Lead Graphic Designer, took pictures of the three-dimensional ones, scanned the two-dimensional ones and laid out the pages of the special supplement, which can be found on pages 25 to 36. She always does an amazing job with it, as she does with all her work, but she outdid herself this time and it shows.

I always say there is a story behind every item in The Gazette Archives, and it’s true. Here are just a few of the stories behind some of the items featured in this week’s “Treasures from The Hammonton Gazette Archives” special supplement:

Let’s start with the booklet in the section, a replica of one produced by the Hammonton Board of Trade in 1905. It’s one of a limited edition of 200 issued by the late J. Garfield DeMarco.

We obtained copies of the booklet and several other items after DeMarco died in 2019. Former Gazette columnist Grayce Pitera, who had known DeMarco since their days at Hammonton High School, introduced myself and Gazette Editor-in-Chief Gina Rullo to him. Gina and I became his friends and spent many long lunches at the Maplewood on the White Horse Pike in town discussing the events, politics and popular culture of the current and previous eras.

The framed South Jersey Republican newspaper in the supplement is not a replica. It’s an original from 1878.

I still remember the day my cousin Jimmy Rodio (“Ole JR” from South Jersey radio station WRDR) stopped up at the second-floor offices of The Gazette, which were then located at the corner of Bellevue Avenue and Horton Street.

He had the newspaper in his hands, wrapped in plastic, and when he handed it to me—this would have been about 25 years ago, in 1997, when The Gazette had just started publishing—he told me I should have one of the first newspapers in Hammonton, because I was starting a new newspaper in town.

It’s framed and on the wall of our conference room today. I’ll always remember how gracious Rodio was, taking the time to give away something with such meaning.

MarySusan Hoffman saw the Sonya Deville action figure that appears in the section and had to get it for The Gazette archives. Daria Berenato wrestles under the name Sonya Deville and could be seen on Friday Night Raw as late as this past Friday. Her grandparents on her father, Rick Berenato’s, side were Dorothy and Andy Berenato—who were my godparents.

The book in the supplement was written by Kellyanne Conway, a St. Joseph High School graduate who held a book signing in Hammonton earlier this year. Conway founded and owned her own polling firm, the polling company, and went on to work in the White House after serving as the first woman to run a successful presidential campaign, for former President Donald J. Trump. She served as Counselor to the President of the United States during her White House years.

Gina and I first interviewed Conway in an outside stairwell of the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, during the 2000 Republican Convention. If you read her book, you’ll see the path she took from Atco. (Waterford Twp.) and St. Joseph High School to working in the White House.

Lastly, the metal ring commemorating the 25th anniversary of The Gazette featured in the section was a surprise gift from our friends at Crescent Service on N. Egg Harbor Road. They’ve been advertising with us since the newspaper began 25 years ago, and our families did business with each other for many decades prior to 1997. Chrissie Crescenzo, Paul Hroncich and his son Nico Hroncich stopped by to deliver it personally on behalf of Crescent Service, and we will never forget it.

While it is a new piece of Hammonton—and Hammonton Gazette—memorabilia—it is an instant classic, and so was the way it was given to us. We had to include it in our “Treasures” special supplement because we could not be more honored. Of course, Crescent also gave us a wreath made from “flowers” formed from old Gazette newspapers when we opened our new offices in 2017. We are grateful to have their friendship.

These are just a few of the stories behind the items selected from The Gazette Archives for the special supplement this week. There are hundreds—maybe thousands—more items in the archive, with stories that accompany each of them.

It only makes sense that a town like no other would have a newspaper with an archive like no other as well.

Gabriel J. Donio is the publisher of The Hammonton Gazette.


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