Chasing the Roaches

Chasing the Roaches

In 1966, we moved to Quinton, NJ where John had landed a job as a teacher. The town was also close to the Salem Hospital where Geri worked, so a place in the town was really ideal. The Hires house (dating back to the 1800s) on Main Street had a brand new apartment on the right side in the back. This made it a three apartment building, with a large apartment on the left side front to back. A smaller apartment in the front on the right side and a small two bedroom apartment on the right in the back which we rented. All the apartments were two story or maybe the front ones had access to the attic, I don't remember now.

In front of us lived the Harmon family whose little girl was in my 7th grade class, I believe that they had 3 kids but time has clouded that part of my memory. On the left side the family name escapes me, but I know the son was named Jeff Beardsley and he was grandson to Hazel Fowser who taught 8th grade. His mother was married to her second husband and I have forgotten their last name.

The driveways were in the back of the house and were entered from Smithfield Street that paralleled Main Street. The other two had detached one car garages as part of their rent, and we used a driveway between the garages. The school was down the lane running parallel to both Main St and Smithfield a walk of about 3 minutes, even faster if it was raining!!

Shortly after we moved in, we started to notice roaches in the kitchen and began to try to control them. Many cans of Raid and boxes of Roach Motels were used. We would spray and bait and have about 2 weeks of relatively roach-less living, but they always came back. If you know Geri, this was not a good situation. She hated them. 

Well, providence intervened! One day at work, Hazel asked me where we were going to move to and I replied "Huh?". It seems that the apartment we were in had been a modification that had separated it from the one in the front, a kitchen added and an upstairs hallway blocked off and a hallway to the front removed and walled over. The plan was a good one, but it had all been done without a permit. Our landlord later had gone to the township committee to ask for a variance and permission to post pay for the permit. He had been refused. It seems everyone in town but us knew what was going on (I think some of it was politically motivated).

That night I went to see the landlord to see what was going on. He told me not to worry, he had another place we could rent. Now, our rent for the two bedroom was $70.00 and the new place would be $80.00. I think he didn't tell us sooner, so that we would be out of options and have to pay the higher rent.

That night I got a call from Hildreth ("Hiney") Hogart who lived on Main St with his sister Jessie who drove one of the school busses. Hildreth asked if I would be interested in the bungalow at the end of the alley we drove in every day, facing Smithfield Street. He had just had it remodeled to add two rooms (a bedroom and a bathroom - believe it or not the original house only had a kitchen and bedroom with an out building for storage and an outhouse!), central heat and running water. His uncle had lived in it at one time and he had inherited it and decided to make it into a habitable house. I told him I was interested and he asked if I thought $60.00 was too much. Too much! We were thrilled and took him up on it.

Moving was pretty easy, everything went out the back door of the apartment, down the lane and into the bungalow's side door or front door depending on where the furniture, etc needed to go. We had a cozy house to ourselves with a small living room, good sized kitchen, large bedroom and a large bathroom, There was only a shower, but plenty of room for a washer, which became a major purchase soon after moving there.

Well, unfortunately, we didn't leave the roaches behind. They had made the conscious decision to move along with us. After attempting to use our old techniques at controlling them, we splurged on an exterminator. That did the trick.

Remember, Hazel's daughter who lived next door, well she was one of the cooks at the school and I mentioned that we needed to hire an exterminator. I then asked if she had a problem with roaches. She said that they had used the same procedure we did and it looked like we kept chasing them to each others apartments. She and her husband were going to demand that the landlord treat the house, now that she knew for certain it was a universal problem and not just in her apartment. Neither she nor Geri had wanted to admit to each other that we had roaches!!

Well, if we had all been working on them, we should have made a dent, so I asked Nelda Harmon, the little girl in my class from the front apartment about roaches. She said oh yeah we have so many they fill our bathtub. I still shudder at the image!!

Davdan @ 2008-2018