Letter to the Editor: Susan Hoch

Longtime Haddonfield resident and retired physician offers direct rebuttal to earlier letter questioning racial history of borough.

To The Editor: 

Walter Weidenbacher, in a letter published in the Haddonfield Sun in the Feb. 24 issue, seems to believe in a Hallmark vision of Haddonfield. He states that he has not seen documentation of what he calls “never substantiated” claims of racism. Here is some documentation. 

Perhaps he hasn’t read about the Ku Klux Klan march in Haddonfield or the cross burning in Haddonfield that followed on June 22, 1925. Here is a link to the newspaper clipping (https://www.newspapers.com/clip/26505933/haddonfield-cross-burning/). 

If he wants to know more about racism in Haddonfield in that era, I recommend reading the first chapter of the biography of I.F. Stone by Don David Guttenplan (2009) about his life in Haddonfield. 

Nor is he apparently aware of Bernie Custis, the first black quarterback in the NFL, who encountered racism in Haddonfield. In 1946, Bernie played quarterback for Bartram High in Philadelphia against Haddonfield.  As described in the book “Gridiron Underground” by James R. Wallen, on pages 65-67, published in 2019: “When the baby bottles began to fly on the football field, it took Bernie a minute to realize that he was the intended target. Can you imagine? He knew it was out of the question to rush into the stands and reprimand a crowd of frenzied football parents for poor sportsmanship, so he decided that excellence on the field might be the best form of revenge. He went on and scored six touchdowns on the day ‘with a smile on my face.’ As the teams were leaving the field, bottles were once again launched at Bernie.” 

He should also read Haddonfield Memorial High School graduate (2010) and Olympic (2016) athlete Marielle Hall’s account of her high school experience in the June 2, 2020 issue of Runner’s World:  https://www.runnersworld.com/runners-tories/a32729943/marielle-hall-racing-to-stay-alive

The recent lacrosse incident of 2018 was substantiated by reports from two separate other high schools, which Mr. Weidenbacher could likely obtain by OPRA (Open Public Records Act).

If he really loves Haddonfield, then he should learn about and embrace its entire history, not just the Disney version, but its real gritty fully American history of racism and work to overcome it. 

When you truly love a place or a person, you don’t love the whitewashed version; you accept and acknowledge their brokenness as well. 

Susan Hoch

Haddonfield, N.J.