By ROBERT LINNEHAN
Three years at the job and I never heard a peep about clay mice inhabiting the roof of the Haddonfield Borough Hall. Within the span of the last two weeks, three separate letters have come into the office of The Haddonfield Sun talking about the little clay pieces of artwork that keep pigeons from nesting at the municipal building.
Interestingly enough, a longtime roof contractor and Haddonfield resident might have been the man responsible for installing the mice at the borough hall, and several other buildings throughout Haddonfield in the 1960s.
Bob Shreve described his late father, Robert, as a “character,” a man who valued workmanship and quality in his career as a roofing contractor. Plus, he was responsible for the installation of rubber mice on at least four buildings in the borough in the 1960s.
“He made a fortune with the mice. He installed them at the borough hall and I believe it was the early 1960s. I used to work with him at the jobs,” Shreve said. “I can’t say specifically if he installed the concrete mice that are still at the borough today, but he might have.”
Mice have been found to scare pigeons away from roofs and eaves on public buildings because the birds are scared that the mice will eat their eggs. Several concrete mice are affixed to the Haddonfield Borough Hall right now and can be seen from across the street on Kings Highway.
Shreve would affix rubber mice to roofs all over the borough. He began with the Haddonfield National Bank on Kings Highway, Shreve said, and it worked quite well. However, the pigeons soon found solace at the roof of the nearby Presbyterian roof, and he was hired to do that building as well.
“Dad used to buy those rubber mice by the gross at the Woolworths 5 and 10,” Shreve said.
He chased the pigeons up and down Kings Highway and each time they would take up a new roost at a new roof, Shreve said. Finally, he was contracted to do the job at the borough hall.
He could have installed the concrete mice at a later date after the rubber ones deteriorated, Shreve said, but he doesn’t know for sure.
What he does know though, is that Robert Shreve was dubbed the “Pied Piper of Haddonfield” by the old Haddonfield Gazette for doing so many of the mice jobs in town.
“It was quite a big deal as I recall,” Shreve said. “The mice worked. It was crazy.”