The Maurice River
"Tinted a reddish-brown, an orange-pekoe brew from the tannins of the timber in the area: scrub oak, pine and cedar..." 1
At about 50 miles long, the Maurice River begins in Still Run and Scotland Run in Pittsgrove Township, Salem County and flows through Cumberland County. Winding through Vineland and Millville, it eventually drains into the Maurice River Cove at the Delaware Bay. 2 Part of the Maurice River ran by the Alliance Colony, where the original settlers built their lives. The tea-colored waters became central to the recreation of the community where swimming and fishing were common along with a growing area along Norma Beach which eventually included concession stands. Fond summer memories of times spent out in the cool water left a lasting impact on the descendants of those original families.
Ruth Weinstein recalled:
“my childhood memories of that place are among the happiest, most significant memories of my life.” 3
Jacob Greenblatt at the Maurice River holding granddaughter, Muriel Braun Spiegel, 1927.
The Norma Beach became a comforting place for the community and a source of many fond childhood memories of idyllic summer fun with friends and family:
“There was a sense of safety at the edge of the water on the man-made beach where kids played within reach of adults. The curve of the river provided a gentle harbor for community and friendship where every kid could go to every mom within circles of family and friends to have their needs fulfilled, a scraped-knee cleaned and a band-aid applied, a sandwich or piece of fruit and a drink provided to a hungry and thirsty child, a layer of Coppertone applied.” 4
Swimming Hole, 1936. Courtesy of Leon M. Bardfeld.
“Building sand castles and digging the deepest hole possible or extracting the greyish-white clay from the bank to form mud pies and clay vessels or to apply as facials…Even in our early childhoods we knew we were part of a unique and special community whether we lived there or came from the city to visit grandparents who were still part of the farming community.” 5
Swimming hole, 1936. Courtesy of Leon M. Bardfeld.
1. Ruth Ann Weinstein, Back to the Land: Alliance Colony to the Ozarks in Four Generations (Galloway: South Jersey Culture and History Center Press, Stockton University, 2020), 149.
2. New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, “Watershed Management Area 17: Maurice, Salem, Cohansey,” accessed May 11, 2022, https://www.nj.gov/dep/watershedrestoration/wma17_info.html.
3. Weinstein, Back to the Land, 150.
4. Weinstein, Back to the Land, 155.
5. Weinstein, Back to the Land, 155.