Joseph Alcorn Anecdote

My father, Joseph A. Alcorn, had a used car dealership on the corner of 15th and Federal Streets. He started the business with Skip Gardner as his partner in the late 40’s and bought Skip out during that same period. Alcorn Motor Sales was a vibrant business. I recall visiting Art Sharp and Bill Mason as dad bought and sold cars from and for them as well as the automobiles on his lot.

My father was a member of the various parishes in Camden and its suburbs. He was born and raised in North Camden, after WWII, when he was discharged from the Marines, moved to East Camden. He later moved to Pennsauken, and finally to Haddon Township. Dad died in 1958 at 39 years of age, but left a rich legacy for his family, friends, business associates and the many people he helped throughout his lifetime. Dad was very proud of the home he bought at 500 West Drive in Haddon Township. My friend and classmate, Mary Cahill, daughter of future Governor William Cahill, remarked when she first visited in 1957 that it was the most beautiful house she had ever seen! Of course that was before the Cahills moved into the Govenor’s Mansion.

My father was a hard-working, dignified and just man, who took his family from North Camden to Pennsauken, and, as he prospered, finally to West Drive. When he died on July 1st, 1958, Paul Rilatt of Rilatt’s Funeral Home in North Camden had Dad’s viewing at 500 West Drive since he knew how much Dad loved the place. Dad had been active in, and supportive of, several parishes in the area – Holy Name in North Camden, (where, as a child, he played his violin at Midnight Mass each Christmas Eve), St. Joe’s in East Camden, St Peter’s in Merchantville, and Holy Savior in Westmont.

Alcorn Motor Sales was on the Hollingshead property, and was quite a business in its day! Mother’s parents, William and Mary McCollum, had a Mom & Pop store on the corner of 8th and York in North Camden; Mom and Dad met at Holy Name. Dr. James Reilly was Dad’s friend and our pediatrician. When my father died Dr. Reilly asked me to ‘work’ at his office/home on Penn Street for the summer — my jobs were to answer his phone, walk to Horn & Hardart’s each day, to buy lunch for the two of us, and read the dictionary — I was 14 at the time and, in some ways, that was the best job I’ve ever had!

The order of birth: Joseph A. Jr., March, 1940; William F., August, 1941 and me, Ruth Mary, September, 1943 – I believe it was my birth that allowed Dad’s discharge from the Marines…; Oh, and yes, I remember Westfield Acres (and Dudley Grange) where we lived while Dad was in the service, in fact I attended first grade at St. Joe’s East Camden. We moved to 5036 Witherspoon Avenue in time for me to enter second grade in 1949.

Ruth M. Alcorn, May 2011


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