Sunday, June 27, 2010

Missile Command South Jersey Style

Most of us kids from the 1950's and 1960's are more than familiar with the "Cold War".

We remember fallout shelters and air raid drills as a part of our school days. In my case, the air raid drills had stopped by the time I left elementary school.

I guess they figured by the time we reached middle school we would already know that an atomic bomb blast would obliterate the built at "lowest bid" schools to smithereens.

However, there was a lot more to the Cold War here in South Jersey then we realized.

Once upon a time there was a Nike Missile Command and Control facility at a local Army installation called Camp Pedricktown.

Here's a brief history of the Camp from the U.S. government's Base Realignment and Closure program:

"Installation History and Mission Camp Pedricktown, located in northwestern Oldmans Township, Salem County, New Jersey, is a U.S. Government property selected for partial closure by the BRAC 95 Commission. The site is located about 50 miles southwest of Trenton, New Jersey. Camp Pedricktown consists of approximately 85 acres and 260,000 square feet of facilities. The site is part of the Sievers-Sandberg U.S. Army Reserve Center (USARC). The site and the surrounding lands were locally-owned farms prior to World War I.

In 1918, the Camp Pedricktown site was acquired by the U.S. Army and used to establish the Delaware Ordnance Depot. The depot remained in operation until 1958 as the final assembly and storage point for munitions prior to off-site shipment. The site also served as a back-up storage facility for the Picatinny and Frankford Arsenals and the Aberdeen Proving Grounds.

From 1960 until 1965, Camp Pedricktown served as the headquarters for the 42nd and 43rd Artillery that commanded the Nike missile sites in the 27 December 01 iii Revision 9 Philadelphia area. Between 1965 and 1969, a total of 42 of the installation’s facilities were turned over to the Salem County Technical Institute. The Salem County Technical Institute used the facilities until the school was displaced by the arrival of the 21st Corps, 79th Army Reserve Command (ARCOM) in the late 1960s.

In 1974, the 21st Corps was replaced by the 78th Division of the Army Reserve. An eastern portion of the original installation is currently owned by Salem County Community College and used for recreational purposes. The 1995 BRAC Commission recommended that Camp Pedricktown be closed, except for a Reserve Enclave to serve the Sievers-Sandberg USARC, providing essential facilities, and other areas required for Reserve Component training.

On September 30, 1997 Camp Pedricktown was closed, except for a 39-acre Reserve Enclave. The closure of Camp Pedricktown will save base operation and maintenance funds, and provide reuse opportunities for approximately 46 acres of the 85-acre site. The Camp Pedricktown site was transferred from the Defense Supply Agency to Fort Dix in July 1962.

At this time the BRAC parcel is no longer used for any military related activities. The Reserve enclave is used by medical units to support reserve missions and for training, vehicle storage, and repair. During two weeks of each year, and for two days each month, the Reserve Enclave is heavily populated by military personnel who conduct military exercises in the immediate vicinity."

Since I was in the neighborhood, I decided to drop by the old Camp Pedricktown and see what was what.

It doesn't take long for neglected property to grow over.

Then again, with a little love and care they look almost new. This building is located just up the road a piece from the first photo.

Now standing empty, this building still shows signs of recent use.

As referenced in the BRAC report, this was used as headquarters for a hospital unit and a transportation unit.

Further south on the main road, the commander's office stands empty save for a multitude of wasps.

Some of the "Family Housing" still remains.

When's the last time you saw a pressed sign?

Looking down the row of long vacant homes.

A good view of one of the duplexes.

Interestingly, only one of the duplexes had this brick breezeway.

Looking north down the main road.

Looking south down the main road towards the administration buildings and housing.

Looking west towards the back of the Camp. Some of the old buildings are being reused by tenants. The base has been converted to an industrial park.

Notice the lump in the road. You'll be seeing it again.

The "heart" of the old Camp, the unused and forlorn flagpole.

The faceless marker at the base of the flagpole.

Baseball fields and tennis courts, last used by the local community college, are slowly being reclaimed by weeds.

Because of time limits I had to wrap up my little tour.

I'll be doing some research in the next weeks. I want to see if the old "Missile Command" building is still standing. I also want to see if I can get inside safely to take some photos.

Splitty's going to love that mission.

In the meantime, remember I told you to remember that lump in the road?

Remember kids, always look both ways before you cross the street.

Until the next time, all y'all take care of yourselves.

Air Traffic Mike, ret.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Dogs Vs. String Art

Who knew being tethered could be so much fun?

One of "Rhondo the Wonder Idiot" and Butter's early attempts. Note the classic use of the bird bath.

"Fig Tree With a Gas Grill Twist".

Butter inspects her handiwork.

Rhondo, ever the minimalist, with his "Gas Grill At A 90".

Rhondo exploring minimalism even further came back with "Bird Bath Half Nelson".

Rhondo, showing once again why he's the hottest thing in "Dog Art" since Lassie went through a wheat thresher, brought out "Gas Grill Tourniquet".

New works are on the way even as we speak.

Until the next time, all y'all take care of yourselves.

Air Traffic Mike, ret.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Splitty Goes Sightseeing

One thing is for certain when it comes to Splitty the Maul. He's not shy about getting out and seeing the world.

Last year we passed by the Finns Point Lighthouse while enroute to another South Jersey historical site.

Splitty is a huge fan of lighthouses.

It was blazing hot. Fortunately I have a really cold air conditioning system in the AirTrafficMobile and mauls are generally immune to the effects of heat.

It's a distinct advantage of being forged I suppose.

Heat be damned, we headed out to the lighthouse.

The Finns Point Rear Range Light.

"What's a range light?", you ask?

It is a set of lights that provide visual navigation signals to ships operating in bodies of water. For those readers who are pilots, they are extremely similar to VASI lights. The front light was lower than the back light. Depending on the alignment of the lights, you would know if you were centered in, left, or right of the channel.

Here's a diagram of how they worked:

Like a standard lighthouse, it was equipped with a Fresnel lens. Unlike a standard lighthouse the light did not rotate. The beacon was fixed and projected out a single pane of glass.

See? Only one pane of glass.

Splitty was eager to get inside and climb the stairs.

Sadly, this was as close as Splitty could get.

The lighthouse is currently not open for the public to enter.

The lighthouse was constructed in Buffalo, NY in 1876. It was transported to Pennsville, NJ and began operating in 1877.

Having been restricted from entering the lighthouse, Splitty ran over to the information board to read up on the history of the lighthouse.

Splitty is an avid reader.

He thought it would be a good idea to take pictures of the brochures.

I'm not above taking advice from Splitty.

It was a nice visit. Splitty had a good time despite not being able to get inside the structure.

I had a good time because I used to ride my bicycle past here often as a child.

It was nice to see the lighthouse still in good repair. It was almost lost to history. Fortunately some local residents banded together to save the lighthouse. It was restored in 1983.

I was heading back to the AirTrafficMobile when Splitty got my attention.

He wanted to do a public service announcement.

Who am I to deny a well meaning hand tool the opportunity to do so?

Remember kids, Splitty the Maul says, "Kids, don't smoke next to fuel storage tanks!"

Thanks Splitty.

We'll work on the whole "Kids, don't smoke." thingy at a later time.

Tune in next time, when we hear Rhondo the Wonder Idiot say:

"Mike, do you think I'm going to need these nuts?"

I didn't have the heart to tell him he's going to be "the end of the line".

Until the next time, all y'all take care of yourselves.

Air Traffic Mike, ret.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Next Time, Don't Take The Lowest Bid

The irony is just dripping off this event.

Then again, it could just be all the melting Styrofoam.

Normally I'd hand this topic off to the gang at Air Traffic Mike Heavy Industries, LLC. (the official social think tank of Air Traffic Mike).

Unfortunately, they are all on Summer vacation.

Fortunately, I do have a guest commentator here as a Summer intern:

Rhondo the Wonder Idiot

I've asked Rhondo to give his take on this tragedy.

"Hey Mike, can I bum a smoke?"

Sorry Rhondo, I don't smoke.


Quit your begging and get on with your report Rhondo.

"Maybe they should call the wreckage *Torchdown Jesus*."

Ouch. So what's your take on this Rhondo?

"Well Mike, the way I see it, this whole tragedy could have been avoided."



How do you figure? It got hit by lightning. The accepted terminology is, "Act of God".

"I know. God is partially to blame for this."

He nailed it with a bolt of lightning. How do you come up with "partially"?

"Let's face it, it was a pretty disturbing statue of the old boy."

Okay, I'll spot you that one.

"Even setting that aside, they used fiberglass and styrofoam to make it from."


"So do you think this would even be a topic of discussion if they had made it out of bronze or something non-flammable?"

Probably not.

"Of course not. There would have been a flash of light, a loud boom, maybe a little scorch mark, and maybe a noise that sounded like a big bell just got shot by a howitzer."

So you're saying God zapped it because he was offended by the cheap cost of construction?

"God hates cheap. Just ask all those televangelists driving limos and flying in private jets. It probably isn't the first time God's waxed a bad icon. It was a very disturbing representation."

How so?

"Look at it."

"He's chest deep in water. He looks more like a victim of a shipwreck than the son of God."

Hmmm, never thought of that Rhondo.

"One could even make the argument that he looks more like a tourist at a Mardi Gras parade in New Orleans."

It did have a "Throw me something Mister" quality about it. Any chance we'll see the likes of this again?

"I'm sure the church will rebuild it. I just hope they use more fire resistant materials this time around."

What if they use the same materials?

"I'm prepared offer up my services as a fire supression consultant."

"Fire Supression Consultant"?


What qualifies you as a "Fire Supression Consultant"?

"I'm a specialist in the "Urinary Services" field. I've got a couple of years of experience."

True. By the way, one more "crime against flooring" and you'll be taking your act on the road.

"I'm willing to suffer for my art."

It's all about choices Rhondo. Got anything else for me?

"Mike, can I borrow twenty bucks until payday?"

Rhondo, you're an intern. You get paid in work related experience.

"Need a "Fire Supression Consultant?"


"I wouldn't be so sure."

*door closes*

Until the next time, all y'all take care of yourselves.

Air Traffic Mike, ret.