Life Hereabouts by Charlie Humes

Camden Courier-Post – March 19, 1949

Down Memory Lane with that Old Gang of Yours… in a few of the years when Our Town was as good a sport town as any in the land… from the time that Taylor and Gunnis promoted fights through the years to Roxey AllenMickey BlairEddie Chaney… Shamus Maguire… Pee Wee RossJackie HindleWatson Finch… Georgie Abner… Nick Nicholas… Dixie Allen…

The days when Camden was the Mecca for Philly fight fans… with champions like Mike O’Dowd… Benny Leonard… Pete Herman… Jimmy Wilde… Gene Tunney… fighting in the Armory on Haddon avenue… for One, Two and Three… tax included… the days of John Smith… whose son Lee, became one of our great friends… the days when Philly came to Camden to see the best fighters in the Land…

THE TIME they opened the Plaza Hotel Gym and all the fine lads on the program… with the late Mayor Stewart in the audience… and many other dignitaries… and being “dared” into a match with Ray Smith because his opponent failed to show… the same guy who fought Tunney… Mike Brennan… Gibbons… Martin… Dempsey… Loughran… and seeing the Sergeant’s body covered with blood in the second round… our very own blood…

THE YEARS when Gloucester city was the fightenest town in the nation…

Back when “Chick” Hunt fought under the name of Eddie Melson… and later, in professional ranks, the night he fought Joe “Kid” Fisher at the Apollo theatre in Gloucester… Chick is our friend today… but we don’t believe he ever will forgive us for that night when we yelled at Joe to… well, we yelled at Joe…. The days of Harry “Dick” Donohue, trainer and manager of Nick Nichols.

When Johnny Sapio… who only days ago was honored at a banquet at Weber’s Hof Brau by so many people the walls bulged…

HOW MANY will remember when our own Eddie Garrity, now the sedate deputy director of public safety in Our Town, was a boxer… with plenty on the ball?… When George Murphy boxed around here… and the Tighe brothers, Eddie and Jimmy…. Remember Richie Hoehner?… Jimmie Jordan?… Eddie Douglas?… Bobby Graham, then a soldier stationed in Gloucester? … Steve Jackson?… Frankie McLaughlin (whose brother Neil WAS on Retreat with us, Mrs. McLaughlin, and gave us much of this information)?

Recall Johnny “Homo” Bryan?… Duncan Carswell, Jimmy and Jack Dean, referees, all three? … Theo Ellick, the matchmaker…. And who could forget Joe Spearing, afraid of nobody then and now… he fought our boy Fisher three times to our knowledge… once in Atlantic City… another at one of the ball parks here and the third (the windup, no less) in Gloucester… Who won… who cares?

THE DAYS when a Cook was a promoter… and a Politician(?) got the gravy…. The time “Red” Haines fought Roxey Allen over top of the old Standard movies at Second and Vine streets… amateur against a near-champ… and what a battle… when Everett Joslin and Johnny Taylor were on the First district wagon and backed it up to the door leading to the second floor, and all the people gathering around because they thought it was a raid… and all they came to see was a round or two of the fights.

Back when Joey Powell had an iron fist… and Soldier Freedman an iron jaw… When Mayor Victor King was always in the front row at the bouts… when Augie Oswald “worked” the river in his boat for shad and other fish… when a dollar was a dollar and not 27 cents… when the downtown fight gym was operated by Charley Mack… whose brother Battling Mack was a great drawing card and a great fighter… and Charley was no softie either.

THE SUMMER BOUTS in the ball park when you could get a swell bleacher seat for half a buck — and be closer to the bouts than $50 seats at some of the big clubs now… and see better fights, too.

When Camden had growing pains… and its people started moving to the suburbs… when a guy who made 40 slugs a week was a “big executive.”… When copy boys on the papers got $4 a week… and had enough left over from their salary to lend money to reporters who made the tremendous sum of $25 a week… Great days, say you… great days, say us… Nostalgia.

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