Note: Son of Stephen S. Johnson & Theresa A. Banks. Born at home, Cedar St. Keyport, NJ. Graduated from Keyport Grammar School June of 1927. Graduated from Keyport High June of 1931. Graduated from Coleman Business College, Newark, June 1933. Worked for C.C. Galbraith & Sons, NYC in 1935. Served in US Navy Jan 30, 1941 to Sept. 8, 1945. Saw action aboard the USS Goff, Bullard and P.C. 816. Went in partnership with his brother Ralph in a small grocery store (Johnson Bros.) in Keyport, NJ. In April 1956 went to work for Firestone Tire & Rubber Co. Grocery store would nolonger support two families due to larger food stores opening in the area. Retired from Firestone in May of 1978. Became engaged to Edythe A. Erickson in July of 1942, married in Dec.1942
DECEMBER 1981 by Willard B. Johnson You and I are of the sane blood. I want you to know some- thing about me and our family. My name is Willard Bertram Johnson, I was born May 20,1913 in the town of Keyport, N.J., a small town in Monnouth County along the Raritan Bay. I was the third child of Stephen Seabrook Johnson and Theresa (Banks) Johnson. I was born in a house on Cedar St. This may be hard for you to comprenend; we had no electric, had kerosene lamps for light- ing. No indoor plumbing, a well with a pump which you worked by hand and brought your water by the bucket inside for cooking, drinking and bathing, Oh yes, you took your bath in a large gal- vanize tub. You heated your water on a large kitchen range which was heated by wood or coal. We did have a Pot Belly Stove in the living room and these two stoves was the extent of heating our house. What about a bathroom? No, but we did have a out-house were you took care of your needs. Now the bedrooms were-very cold in the winter, of course you had a nice feather mattress and wool blankets and a quilt over you. So you didn1t have to take that long cold walk in the winter to the out-house you had a chamber (Pot) under the bed. My father, Stephen, in 1920 built our home on Ceaar St., Keyport, N.J. with all the modern convenience. Electric, Central heating, plumbing and indoor bathroom. Let me tell you about my first big impression of this world of ours. I was five years old during World War 1 when the Morgan Explosion took place. That morning as I was having my breakfast, a man cane running down Cedar St., yelling get out of your house as T & T in box cars at the Morgan Munition Depot was about to blow up, Now Keyport is about three miles from Morgan as the crow flies across Baritan Bay. If Morgan munitions of T & T were to go off their would be extensive damage in Keyport and surrounding towns. My Mother and Father, brothers; Ralph and Harold and I left -Keyport and headed for open space in the country. At that time it seemed like a long walk to Van Marter's corner (Florence Ave. and Stone Road) about two miles from Cedar St. There were many people there from Keyport. We all stayed in one of Van Marter's field, We stayed there all day, returned to Keyport in the late -afternoon when a all clear was given by a National Guardsman. The Only damage was a few crack windows. I did lose a tooth, as I was sitting on a fence rail when someone yelled get down a big explosion is coming. I got down alright, head first and out came my front tooth. Growing up as a child on Cedar St., was a great experience. on the same Street we had a large field with many trees. Raritan Bay was ahout 300 ft. from our home. In the Summer we were on the beach and in the water from morning to evening. Another big thing in our young lives was waiting for the ice man, yes, it was a ice wagon drawn by a horse. We would run behind the rig and gather up small pieces of ice. We thought that was quite a treat. Let me tell you more about the ice man. In those days most people had a ice box to keep your food in. When the ice man came around you would get 25 or 50 lbs. of ice, which was placeci in the top or said ice box. As the ice would melt it would run down a tube to the bottom, where there was a pan to ketch the water. This pan had to be emptied at least once a day or you would have water all over the floor. When the winter months were very cold we would go ice skating on the Raritan Bay. When the ice on the Bay would start to brake
up in ice cakes, both big and small we would play a game of ice
jumping, starting from in shore on a larger block of ice, jumping
from one block to another on various sizes, stopping on a large
block of ice that would hold you without submerging. Yes, sometimes
you would fall in, but the water was not too deep as we did this only
at low tide and inshore. It sure was fun.
Let me tell you about some of my jobs I had. When I was in High School I worked for a milk man. In those days most people had their
milk delivered at the door in the early morning hours. I would get
up four o'clock in the morning, walk over to Mr.. Paterson's house.
After loading the rack with milk we would start our route to the
regular customers. Milk at that time cane in glass bottles. It took
us about two hours to serve all the customers. I would then dash
home, wash, dress and eat breakfast and off to school. I received
$5.00 a week for 7 mornings work. Figures out to not quite $.36 a hr.
When I was a Senior in High school I had a part time job on Satur- day with the A.&P. Grocery Co., in Keyport. We had to be at work 8
o'clock in the morning and was lucky if we got out at 10 o'clock in
evening. Oh Yes we received $3.00 .. for the day. Let me tell yousome-
thing about the grocery stores in 1931. The clerks waited on you.
You would tell them what you wanted and they would take it from the
shelf and put it on the counter in front of you. There was no large
grocery bags. So you would take two large sheet of heavy brown paper
and place the groceries on said paper making a package about 12 by ao
by 14 inches high, tied by strong twine and a wooden handle secured
to the twine for easy carring. Butter came in a 55 Ib. tub, and the
clerk would cut a pound or what ever weight you ordered, sugar cam in
100 pound bags. The clerks when not busy waiting on customers would
weigh sugar in paper bags, (One lbs., two Ibs., and five ibs.).
peanut butter and lard also cane in tubs. Rice, pea beans, lime beans
spaghetti and many other dried foods came in bulk and had to beweighed.
Coffee came in beans and was ground to your liking. A few prices I
remember; sugar 5c lb., coffee 19 to 25~ Ib., bread 7c a loaf, tomato
soup 9c a can, milk 17c qt. cigarettas l3c pkg.
I graduated from Keyport Ifigh School June l931. My parents gave me a new l931 Chevrolet Car, costing around Eight Hundred Dollars.
Jst think gasoline for the car was 17.9 cents a gallon. Fifty years
later the average price is $1.35 a gallon (Dec. 1981).
(POINT OF INTEREST...JULY 1996 GAS IS SELLING FOR $1.17 FOR REG.)
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