The Storage Inn investigates South Jersey’s Underground Railroad

South Jersey’s Underground Railroad

Its mid February at The Storage Inn Self Storage here in Egg Harbor Township New Jersey, and we’ve already been through Groundhog Day, Mardi Gras, and Valentine’s Day. February, however, is also a month-long celebration of our nation’s Black History. The Storage Inn is located just outside Atlantic City, New Jersey, a city rich in Black History – Club Harlem, Chicken Bone Beach, and the Boardwalk Empire Prohibition Era come to mind immediately, but what many people don’t know, is that Atlantic and Cape May counties in southern New Jersey were integral in the success of the Underground Railroad in the mid 1800’s.

This was brought to light by one of our storage customers who happens to be the curator for the Black History section of the Atlantic City Heritage Collections at the resort’s public library. Below are the highlights of our conversation regarding the underground railroad in our area.

The Underground Railroad was a network of secret routes and safe houses used in the 19th century by slaves to escape to free states and Canada with the aid of abolitionists and allies who were sympathetic to their cause.



These safe houses were located in small communities, so those seeking freedom could go from town to town without anyone noticing them, For slaves using the Underground Railroad to escape the south, reaching Atlantic and Cape May counties offered hope that the journey to freedom might soon be over.

Communities such as Somers Point and Egg Harbor City in Atlantic County offered those escaping slavery a direct path to Pennsylvania, a state that had already outlawed slavery.

“The goal of slaves on the Underground Railroad was to make it to Pennsylvania, so when they got to Egg Harbor City, NJ they knew that freedom was just days away. I’m sure that many people don’t realize how much of an impact South Jersey had on the Underground Railroad,” said Ava, our curator.

Cape May also played a prominent role in the Underground Railroad. Cape May sits directly across the Bay from Delaware and Maryland. During that time, land crossings were actually more difficult than water crossings, so places that had water access became more popular.



Cape May was known to those seeking freedom, as a place with safe locations that they could count on.


Finding reliable numbers for escaped slaves who traveled through New Jersey, let alone Atlantic County, has proven tricky. The national estimate for those who used the Underground Railroad as a path to freedom is between 30,000 and 40,000 escapees.

You know, they say that you learn something new everyday, and today I learned something that makes me just a bit more proud of the South Jersey area!  Until the next time!

 

A Trip to Beat the Winter Blues!

It’s February here at The Storage Inn in Egg Harbor Township New Jersey, and despite the colder weather, the place is buzzing! Many of our storage rental customers are coming in to rearrange their storage space in anticipation of Spring’s arrival – others, I believe, just have cabin fever. Whatever the reason, they are here, and like most businesses, our customers come in all shapes and sizes. We have senior citizens, young couples just starting out, students, people moving, and families downsizing, just to name a few. Our customers also run the full spectrum of personality types, from shy and retiring, to bold and boisterous! One of our more flamboyant and energetic couples, Marc and Tanya, popped into the rental office today to let me know that they were paying their rent, and that I would not see them for a while because they were going to Mardi Gras! They explained that they had been invited, spur of the moment, by some friends of theirs, and while they were very excited, they knew very little about Mardi Gras. I suggested that we do the red blooded American thing, and Google Mardi Gras. So we did – here is a condensed list of what we learned…

MARDI GRAS IS ALWAYS THE TUESDAY BEFORE ASH WEDNESDAY
Mardi Gras means “Fat Tuesday” in French. With Ash Wednesday marking the beginning of Lent, a 40 day period of fasting before Easter, Mardi Gras is the “last hurrah” of sorts, with participants indulging in their favorite fatty foods and drinks before giving them up.

MARDI GRAS MARKS THE END OF CARNIVAL SEASON
Countries around the world celebrate Mardi Gras as the last day of Carnival season, which starts after Christmas, on January 6th, (known as ‘Twelfth Night’).

MARDI GRAS IS ALSO KNOWN AS “PANCAKE DAY”
In Ireland, England, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada, people celebrate Mardi Gras by eating pancakes and participating in pancake themed activities.

THE OFFICIAL COLORS OF MARDI GRAS ARE PURPLE, GOLD, AND GREEN
Purple signifies justice, gold means power, and green stands for faith.

KING’S CAKE IS EATEN ALL THROUGHOUT CARNIVAL SEASON
King’s cake (or three kings cake), is eaten throughout the world during carnival season. In the US, it is traditionally purple, green, and gold, with a trinket baby Jesus inside. Whoever gets the baby Jesus is said to have good luck all year!

THE FIRST NEW ORLEANS MARDI GRAS PARADE WAS 177 YEARS AGO
New Orleans has been celebrating Fat Tuesday with parades since 1837. The first floats appeared in the parade in 1857.

PARADES ARE PLANNED BY ‘KREWES’
Krewes are the organizations that put on a parade and/or a ball for Mardi Gras/Carnival. They are clubs of a sort, with dues ranging from $20 to thousands of dollars annually. Krewes are also responsible for selecting carnival royalty in New Orleans, such as ‘Rex’, the king of Mardi Gras.

MASKS ARE REQUIRED BY LAW FOR FLOAT RIDERS
Yep, it’s illegal to ride on a float without a mask! The original purpose of the mask was to get rid of social constraints for the day, allowing people to mingle with whomever they chose.

BEADS HAVE BEEN A TRADITION SINCE THE EARLY 1900’s
Beads were first thrown by Santa during a parade in the early 1900’s. People also throw stuffed animals, toys and more.

MARDI GRAS IS A STATE HOLIDAY IN SOME PLACES
Fat Tuesday is an official state holiday in Alabama, (the home of the first Mardi Gras parade and 2nd biggest current celebration), Florida, and parts of Louisiana. Although it’s not a state holiday in Texas, Galveston is home to one of the biggest celebrations in the country!

After completing our research, we all agreed that this sounded like a good time! “See you when you get back” I shouted as Marc and Tanya ran out the door, and across the parking lot to their car. I have to admit, I’m a little bit jealous. I also have a sudden urge to decorate our golf cart and ride around the property wearing a mask and beads while eating pancakes! Happy Mardi Gras everyone!

Let’s Go Birds!

Let’s go Birds!

Here it comes – the first Sunday in February, and that means just one thing to NFL Football fans around the world – Super Bowl!! Here at The Storage Inn in Egg Harbor Township New Jersey, we are a mere 45 minutes outside of Philadelphia Pennsylvania, home of the Philadelphia Eagles, who will be playing in their third Super Bowl ever on Sunday. The Eagles have never won a Super Bowl, so the fans around here are very excited. Just today, one of our storage space customers, who coaches the local high school team, popped into the office store for some boxes . He was covered head to toe in Eagles gear. “Ready for the big game?” he asked in a half yelling voice. “ Sure am!” I answered. Both of us agreed that we would be making the drive to Philly for the parade if they win, and as Jim headed back to his storage unit, I said a little prayer for our Eagles.

Over 100 million people around the world will watch the Super Bowl on Sunday, and whether you’ll be checking out the game, the commercials, the halftime show, or all of the above, some Super Bowl trivia might come in handy – try dropping a few of these stats on your friends!

Hot Wings vs Turkey and Cranberry

Americans consume more food during the Super Bowl than any other day, except Thanksgiving. We eat 12.5 million pizzas, 28,000,000 pounds of chips, 1.25 billion chicken wings, and 8,000,000 pounds of guacamole during the Super Bowl.The fans at the game do their fair share of eating too – For example, during 2009’s Super Bowl XLIII at Tampa’s Raymond James Stadium, 55,200 hot dogs were sold. That’s almost one dog per fan.

This ain’t your Grandpa’s Halftime Show

Today’s Super Bowl halftime shows are filled with current pop and rock music acts, but it wasn’t always like that. The first nine Super Bowls had halftime shows that showcased college marching bands and drill teams occasionally joined by a “celebrity” like Miss Texas in 1973.

Today’s slickly produced halftime shows attract more viewers than the actual game. According to CBS, Katy Perry’s halftime performance drew 118.5 million viewers compared to the game’s 114.4 million.


Saving History!

The first Super Bowl in 1967 was broadcast by both CBS (at the time the sole NFL network) and NBC (the AFL network). Producers later erased the footage to film soap operas. Luckily a fan came forward with a personal recording of the game. Whew!

 

The Super Bowl and Mickey

The first athlete to utter “I’m going to Disney World!” in the wake of a triumphant Super Bowl performance was Phil Simms, reportedly paid $75,000 for the insta-plug in the moments after he was named MVP of the 1987 game.

The Big Prize

The Vince Lombardi Trophy is a sterling silver sculpture of a regulation-size football atop a tee-like structure, designed and manufactured by Tiffany & Co. The award weighs seven pounds and takes nearly 70 hours to forge and assemble. Its estimated value is $50,000.

That’s a lot of footballs!

216 official game balls are custom-produced for each Super Bowl game, imprinted with the team names and game logo. In total, 108 footballs are delivered to the game; the two championship contenders are allowed to do whatever they please with the rest.

OK – now you are equipped with some cool trivia that you can share during the big game! The staff and storage customers here at The Storage Inn, are rooting for the best team to win, as long as that team happens to be named the Philadelphia Eagles – Happy Super Bowl!

Time to roll up your sleeves!

January is National Blood Donor month!  One of our self-storage customers named Jackie, a nurse at our local hospital, reminded us to make sure we participate!Here at The Storage Inn in Egg Harbor Township New Jersey, we are encouraging both our staff, and our storage space customers to get out and donate this month. Blood donations typically drop off during the winter months, making National Blood Donor Month in January a critical time for the American Red Cross. Busy schedules, holiday breaks from school, inclement weather and winter illnesses contribute to fewer donations This poses quite a challenge since the need for blood stays the same, or increases during the winter.

The Red Cross needs to collect more than 13,000 donations every day to keep the blood supply ready and available to meet the needs of about 2,600 hospitals, clinics and cancer centers across the country. They rely on voluntary blood donors, and although an estimated 38 percent of the U.S. population is eligible to donate blood at any given time, less than 10 percent actually do. The Red Cross, which provides about 40 percent of blood in the U.S., is seeking new donors to help meet the needs of patients battling cancer and other conditions or disorders, individuals undergoing surgery and victims of accidents or violent acts such as shootings.

Here are a few facts about blood donation that you might not be aware of…

  • Every two seconds someone in the U.S. needs blood.
  • Approximately 36,000 units of red blood cells are needed every day in the U.S.
  • Nearly 7,000 units of platelets and 10,000 units of plasma are needed daily in the U.S.
  • Nearly 21 million blood components are transfused each year in the U.S.
  • The average red blood cell transfusion is approximately 3 pints.
  • The blood type most often requested by hospitals is type O.
  • The blood used in an emergency is already on the shelves before the event occurs.
  • It is estimated that sickle cell disease affects 90,000 to 100,000 people in the U.S. About 1,000 babies are born with the disease each year. Sickle cell patients can require frequent blood transfusions throughout their lives.
  • According to the American Cancer Society, more than 1.69 million people are expected to be diagnosed with cancer in 2017. Many of them will need blood, sometimes daily, during their chemotherapy treatment.
  • A single car accident victim can require as many as 100 pints of blood.

Here at The Storage Inn in Egg Harbor Township and Ocean City New Jersey, we are encouraging all of our staff members and storage customers to participate in National Blood Donor month by scheduling an appointment using the Red Cross Blood Donor app, by visiting redcrossblood.org or calling 1-800-REDCROSS (1-800-733-2767). Help even more people by inviting your family, friends and colleagues to donate too. So let’s all make an appointment, roll up our sleeves and give the gift of saving a life!

 

The Storage Inn offers extra space for when you’re downsizing your living space!

Downsizing and Self Storage

There are plenty of reasons why people decide it’s time to downsize their lives and move into a smaller living space including wanting less house to manage, retiring to a active adult community, health concerns, or the need for assisted living. Whatever the reason, downsizing can be a daunting task, but the The Storage Inn Self-Storage in Egg Harbor Township, and Ocean City, NJ can be a huge benefit for you in making that transition easier especially if you’re one of the following:

Empty Nesters
The kids have moved out! You can finally turn their bedroom into that office you always wanted, the dream craft room, or a guest bedroom. The possibilities are endless! So, what are you to do with all that extra stuff taking up extra space they left behind – bed, desk, dresser, etc.?
The Storage Inn can solve your extra space issues – with over 45 storage space sizes to choose from, it’s the perfect solution! It can also ease the transition for you and your adult kids when they move out. Place their items into a storage unit and give them access to it. This gets their stuff out of the way at home, but still makes it easy for them to access everything when needed. 

Retirees
Congratulations on your retirement! We all dream of that day when we can sleep in with no alarm and do all those things we’ve dreamt of for years, like traveling the world, or finding new hobbies.

If retirement means moving to a smaller home perhaps in a 55 and over community, the good news is no more shoveling snow or cutting the grass!  The challenge is that you now have less than half of the storage space that you had in your old home!

Where are you going to put the 30 years of stuff you’ve accumulated but can’t bear to get rid of yet?
This is where a self storage space can come to the rescue! The staff at The Storage Inn is always happy to offer tips to help you sort and save the items that may have sentimental value to your family as well as the ones that you made need easy access to throughout the year.

Assisted Living
Transitioning into an assisted living facility, or helping a loved one through this process, is a challenging endeavor. How do you deal with a lifetime of personal belongings that very likely will not fit into your new senior living community? Often, time is of the essence, and the need for storing these items must be met quickly! This is where self-storage comes to the rescue! Many times, the best solution is to rent a large to mid-sized storage space until items can be sorted and consolidated into a smaller storage unit for long term storage.

 

Whether you’re an empty nester, happy new retiree, or relocating to an assisted living community, The Storage Inn can help make the transition a bit easier. Here are some of the features that we offer…

  • Award-winning, Local family owned business.
  • Clean Safe and Secure Storage featuring 24 hour Video Surveillance and a Resident Security Manager.
  • 7 day office hours and access.
  • 45 storage sizes to ensure that you don’t pay for more than you need!
  • Climate Control units.
  • 10 foot ceilings / 20% more space than industry standard
  • Full array of packing supplies available in our office store.
  • Free Wi-Fi, Copy, Print, Shred and Fax
  • Senior Discounts
  • Home of the $1 move-in/ Free Truck Rental

Our Storage Inn professionals will be happy to answer any questions you may have – from unit size and features, to arranging a unit for easier access. Stop by The Storage Inn in Egg harbor Township, or Ocean City, NJ today for more information on how we can help with your transition to a smaller living space and keep your lifetime of items organized along the way!

 

This could be one of the coldest New Year’s Eves in 40 years! Bundle up!

Baby it’s Cold Outside!

The New Year is almost here, and we here at The Storage Inn Self Storage in Egg Harbor Township New Jersey, are experiencing some of the coldest weather in recent memory. Luckily for our storage space customers, we’ve unboxed the long johns and stocked up on lock de-icer to help them through this cold snap! I asked one of our rental customers, who also happens to be a police officer, what he found to be the biggest problem during cold weather like this. Without hesitating, he said “fires caused by people trying to keep warm using space heaters, or other inventive methods. We all want to be warm, but we have to be safe too.”

On that note, here are some tips from our local Police and Fire departments on staying safe and warm during extreme cold!

Layers, Layers, Layers!

It might seem obvious, but piling on a few extra layers is a great way to stay warm, especially if you have to be outside. Keeping your core warm is especially important when temperatures dip below freezing. Air gets trapped between the layers of clothing, and is heated by your body, allowing you to stay warmer than with one heavy garment..

Eat to Keep the Heat

You already know that eating healthy in the winter can help to fend off colds and the flu, but did you know it might help keep you warm, too? Eating extra healthy fats during the winter can help rev up metabolism, which in turn heats the body.

If your New Year’s resolution was to drop a few pounds, don’t worry – you can always skip the extra fat and try eating warmer foods and drinks including soups, spicy foods, hot coffee and teas to fend off the chill!

It May Seem like a Good Idea, but…..

Although alcoholic beverages might make you feel warm, they actually decrease your core temperature and can be dangerous during winter months.

Alcohol actually reverses some reflexes that control body temperature, especially the body’s ability to shiver. Alcohol can also make you sweat, even when it is cold, which can lower core temperatures even more. Save the cocktail until you’re in for the night!

Keep your Fingers and Toes Toasty

Hypothermia is most likely to begin in extremities like your hands and feet, so keeping your fingers and toes warm is important. Whether you’re walking to work or just around the block, make sure to wear sturdy, insulated shoes that will help prevent slips on slick surfaces and keep your feet dry. Also wear insulated gloves or mittens.

Give your Space Heater some Space!

Space heaters are a great way to add extra heat to colder rooms, but always remember to keep flammable items including clothing, rugs, bedding and curtains at least three feet away from the heater at all times. Also remember to place the heater on a hard, non-flammable, stable surface and to turn it off completely before leaving the house. Set a reminder on your phone if you’re afraid you’ll forget.

Don’t Forget our Furry Friends

Always remember to bring pets inside when temperatures begin to drop. You might be jealous of your dog or cat’s fur coat when temperatures drop, but they need to be kept warm too. Limit the length of their walks, particularly on snowy or icy surfaces.

Keep an Eye on the Fire

It’s easy to snooze in front of a roaring fire, but always make sure that fireplace embers are completely out before going to bed for the night.
Wood fireplaces should always have a glass or metal fire screen large enough to catch sparks and rolling logs.

Keep Important Phone Numbers Handy

Heavy snow and ice can settle on power lines and cause power outages. Write down utility numbers and have them handy during a storm in case you need to report an outage or incident.

Check in on Elderly Friends and Neighbors

Here are a few things you can check:
Do they have heat in the home?
Do they have hot water?
Are all their appliances working properly?
Are their pipes, sprinkler system and faucets protected against freezing?
Is their phone operational?
Do they have the phone number of someone they can call for minor emergencies? Yours?
Please don’t wait until something tragic happens. Take a few minutes to help a neighbor. It’s well worth your time.

So, there you are – some great tips to help you deal with the cold weather. From the staff here at The Storage Inn, have a Warm, Safe and Happy New Year! 

 

Crazy Christmas Traditions from Around the World!

‘Tis the Season…for Giant Goats and Roller Skates!

Happy Holidays from The Storage Inn in Egg Harbor Township, and Ocean City, New Jersey! Christmas is almost here, and our self storage staff and rental unit customers are all in the Holiday spirit. We are all looking forward to enjoying our traditional holiday activities including big family gatherings, trimming the tree, opening gifts, turkey dinners, and football games.

Recently one of our storage customers who is originally from South America, told me about a Christmas tradition in her country that I could hardly believe. See if you can pick it out of this list of unusual holiday celebrations around the world!

Giant Lantern Festival, Philippines
Looking for some festive sparkle? The Giant Lantern Festival  in the Philippines is held each year on the Saturday before Christmas Eve in the city of San Fernando. The festival attracts spectators from all over the country and across the globe. Eleven villages take part in trying to build the most elaborate lantern. The original two foot paper lanterns have evolved over the years into twelve foot elaborate kaleidoscope creations.

Caribbean Snow, Cayman Islands

Think it can’t snow in the Caribbean? Well it can – sort of… It’s common during the Christmas season to see Cayman cottages with their front yards covered with sand carried up from the beach, and lined with sea shells, to simulate snow.

Krampus, Austria
There’s an Austrian tradition where St. Nicholas rewards nice little boys and girls, while Krampus, a beast-like demon creature, roams city streets frightening kids and punishing the bad ones! He is said to capture the naughtiest children and whisk them away in his sack. In the first week of December, young men dress up as the Krampus (especially on the eve of St. Nicholas Day) frightening children with clattering chains and bells.

Kentucky Fried Christmas Dinner, Japan
Christmas has never been a big deal in Japan and it remains largely a novelty in the country. However, a new, quirky “tradition” has emerged in recent years – a Christmas Day feast of the Colonel’s very own Kentucky Fried Chicken. The festive menu is advertised on the KFC Japan website and reservations are recommended.

Gävle Goat, Sweden
Since 1966, a 40 foot tall Yule Goat has been built in the center of Gävle’s Castle Square for the Advent, but this Swedish Christmas tradition has unwittingly led to another “tradition” of sorts – people trying to burn it down. Since 1966 the Goat has been successfully burned down 29 times – the most recent destruction was in 2016.

If you want to see how the Goat fares this year when it goes up on December 1st, you can follow its progress on the Visit Gävle website through a live video stream.

The Yule Lads, Iceland
In the 13 days leading up to Christmas, 13 tricky, troll-like characters come out to play in Iceland. The “Yule Lads” visit children across the country over the 13 nights leading up to Christmas. For each night of Yuletide, children place their best shoes by the window and a different Yule Lad visits leaving gifts for nice girls and boys and rotten potatoes for the naughty ones.

Saint Nicholas’ Day, Germany
Nikolaus travels by donkey in the middle of the night on December 6th, and leaves little treats like coins, chocolates, oranges and toys in the shoes of good children all over Germany, but it isn’t always fun and games. St. Nick often brings along Knecht Ruprecht (Farmhand Rupert). A devil-like character dressed in dark clothes covered with bells and a dirty beard, Knecht Ruprecht carries a stick or a small whip in hand to punish any children who misbehave.

Brooms in Norway
Perhaps one of the most unorthodox Christmas Eve traditions can be found in Norway, where people hide their brooms. It’s a tradition that dates back centuries to when people believed that witches and evil spirits came out on Christmas Eve looking for brooms to ride on. To this day, many people still hide their brooms in the safest place in the house to stop them from being stolen.

Rolling into Christmas,  Caracas, Venezuela
Every Christmas Eve, the city’s residents head to church in the early morning, but, for reasons known only to them, they do so on roller skates.
This unique tradition is so popular that roads across the city are closed to cars so that people can skate to church in safety. Afterwards everyone heads home for the less-than-traditional Christmas dinner of ‘tamales’!

So, there you have some of the most unusual holiday traditions from around the world. We here at The Storage Inn, wish everyone a very Happy Holiday Season. I’ve got to go now – I need to oil up my rollerblades and make my Christmas reservations at KFC!

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!

It’s December here at The Storage Inn self storage in Egg Harbor Township, New Jersey, and the winter weather officially arrived over the past week! But despite all the white stuff, our storage customers shuttle to and from their storage units,  retrieving decorations, and hiding gifts for the holidays in their storage units. Here in Southern New Jersey, we are very lucky (or unlucky if you are a snow lover) that we average just a foot or two of snow annually. Watching the snow melt away today made me wonder, who gets the most snow, and where? Here are some of the biggest snow events in history, and snowiest cities in the USA…

Crazy Snow Events!

Most skiers know about the phenomenal snow year of 1998-1999 in Washington State’s Mt. Baker ski area. 1,140 inches (95 feet) of snow fell to the ground over the course of the ski season. That amount of snow would cover the White House by 25 feet.

In Mount Rainier National Park, at the Paradise Ranger station, 1,224.5 inches (102 feet) of snow fell between February 19, 1971 and February 18, 1972. That’s equal to the height of a 10 story building.

At Thompson Pass in Alaska, they enjoyed or suffered through, depending on your opinion, a great or horrific year in the winter of 1952-1953. That’s when 974.1 inches (81 feet) fell from the heavens. In 1963, that same area saw 78 inches fall in one 24 hour period!

Massive snowfalls are not only found in the mountains of the Pacific Northwest. The coastal town of Valdez, Alaska sees an annual average of 320 inches, and that’s at sea level! The winter of 1989-90 is in the record books as Valdez’s snowiest winter ever, with a total of 560.7 inches (46 feet) of snow.

Silver Lake, Colorado saw 76 inches of snow in a 24 hour period. But the storm did not stop after 24 hours. When it all ended 32.5 hours later, 95 inches lay on the ground. That is an average of 2.9 inches an hour.

In 1982, Mother Nature dropped 186.6 inches on Donner Summit, California. In fact Donner Pass, has topped 775 inches of snow on four separate occasions, making it one of the snowiest places in North America.

Top Ten Snowiest Cities in The United States

  1. Syracuse, NY – Annual Snowfall 110 inches
  2. Erie, PA – Annual Snowfall 89 inches
  3. Rochester, NY – Annual Snowfall 88 inches
  4. Buffalo, NY – Annual Snowfall 83 inches
  5. Flagstaff, AZ – Annual Snowfall 82 inches
  6. Utica, NY – Annual Snowfall 78 inches
  7. Grand Rapids, MI – Annual Snowfall 66 inches
  8. Diluth, MN – Annual Snowfall 63 inches
  9. Cleveland, OH – Annual Snowfall 60.5 inches
  10. South Bend, IN – Annual Snowfall 60 inches

Well, as the snow continues to melt here at The Storage Inn – I think I’ll have a nice cup of hot chocolate, and be thankful that we didn’t break any records for snowfall! That would be a lot of shoveling! – Happy Winter!

Time to Deck the Halls!

The holiday season is upon us, and that can mean only one thing here at The Storage Inn in Egg Harbor Township New Jersey – Time to dig out the boxes of holiday decorations and begin turning our self storage rental office into a holiday wonderland!  We do it every year. Whether at home or work – we put up the tree, hang the lights, and pull out the Christmas knick-knacks, along with the tinsel, gingerbread men, reindeer, Christmas bells ,and what seems to be a never-ending assortment of Christmas tree ornaments. We all love them, but what do they mean, and where did they come from? Here is the history behind a few of our favorites…

Christmas Trees:
The green fir tree was originally used in various European countries to celebrate winter. Branches of the fir tree were used to decorate their homes during the winter solstice, as it was said to make them think of spring being around the corner. Romans used fir trees to decorate their temples at the festival of Saturnalia and Christians began using the tree as a sign of everlasting life with God.


Nobody knows when the first Christmas appeared, but the general consensus is that it began about 1000 years ago in Northern Europe, where they were hung upside down from the ceiling using chains (hung from chandeliers or lighting hooks).

In parts of Northern Europe Fir trees would be re-planted into pots in the hope they’d flower at Christmas time. The poor man’s Christmas tree was a pyramid of wood, which was decorated to look like a tree with paper, apples and candles.


Tinsel:
Tinsel originated in Germany in the early 1600s – back then it was shredded silver. Real silver.

Tinsel makers of the day would hammer the silver until it was thin, then cut it into strips. It was so popular that eventually machines began making the stuff to keep up with demand.There was just one problem – the smoke from Christmas candles caused the tinsel to turn black, so they began making it with tin and lead. That version proved to be too heavy for a Christmas tree, so the Brits took over and came up with the light silver sparkly tinsel we enjoy today.

Baubles / Tree Ornaments
Once again the Germans stepped up in the decoration invention department. Baubles were invented by Hans Greiner, a local, who first manufactured them in the late 1840s. The first baubles were fruit and nut shaped glass, eventually turning into a more spherical shape that we know as Christmas balls. Britain’s Queen Victoria was said to be quite taken with the tradition of baubles and brought them from Germany to Europe in the mid to late 1800s.

American retailer F.W. Woolworth made his fortune by importing baubles into the country in 1880. By 1890, he was reportedly selling $25 million worth a year.

At first, baubles were only for wealthy people as they were hand-crafted and made of glass. But it wasn’t long before a plastic version was made, allowing cheaper manufacturing and affordability for everyone.

Fun Fact – In Britain it is bad luck to keep your Christmas decorations up after the 12th day of Christmas, on the 5th of January.

Christmas lights:

In Victorian times, the tree would have been decorated with candles to represent stars. In many parts of Europe, candles are still used, but insurance companies in the U.S. tried to get a law passed so that candles would be banned from use on Christmas trees because of the many fires they’d caused. In 1895, an American man, Ralph Morris, concerned about the fire hazard of candles and Christmas trees, invented the first electric Christmas lights, which are similar to the ones in use today.

Mistletoe

Another popular decoration for the home is branches of holly and mistletoe. Their bright red holly berries, made a sweet contrast to the white mistletoe. The two were woven together to make Holy Boughs, which were blessed by the local priest, before being hung by the front door.

Any visitors would be embraced under the bough as a sign of goodwill. As for the ‘kissing under the mistletoe’ tradition, it originated in Britain where the original custom was that a berry was picked from the sprig of the Mistletoe before the person could be kissed. Then, when all the berries were gone. – No more kissing!

Well, that was fun! Meanwhile, back in the office, I see that quite a few of our customer’s are retrieving holiday decorations from their storage units, I even saw one of our rental tenants with a Santa Suit – Hmmm… Don’t know if he’s the real Santa, but if he is, I have been very good this year, and I’ve always wanted a Corvette. Happy Holidays!

A Brief History of Black Friday

It’s Thanksgiving week here at The Storage Inn in Egg Harbor Township New Jersey, and things are really poppin’. Some folks are placing their warm weather items into their storage units for the winter, while others are taking advantage of our Santa Closets to keep their gifts secret until the big day.

True, Thanksgiving is a beloved American tradition, considering all the food, football, and after dinner naps, but we all know what comes next – Black Friday!

Black Friday is the biggest retail sale day of the year, but where did it actually come from, and what does it mean? Here’s a little background on one of the biggest shopping days of the year….

Black Friday and the Stock Market

The first recorded use of the term “Black Friday” was applied not to holiday shopping, but to a financial crisis: specifically, the crash of the U.S. gold market on September 24, 1869. Two notoriously ruthless Wall Street financiers, Jay Gould and Jim Fisk, worked together to buy up as much as they could of the nation’s gold, hoping to drive the price sky-high and sell it for astonishing profits. On that Friday in September, the conspiracy finally unraveled, sending the stock market into free-fall and bankrupting everyone from Wall Street barons to farmers.

The Retail Version

The Thanksgiving, shopping-related, Black Friday tradition links it to retailers. After an entire year of operating at a loss (“in the red”) stores would supposedly earn a profit (“went into the black”) on the day after Thanksgiving, because holiday shoppers blew so much money on discounted merchandise. Retail companies used to record losses in red and profits in black when doing their accounting, and this version of Black Friday’s origin is the officially sanctioned story behind the tradition.

According to a pre-holiday survey this year by the National Retail Federation, an estimated 135.8 million Americans definitely plan to shop over the Thanksgiving weekend.

So, there you have it – A Brief History of Black Friday. As for me, I will be avoiding the retail centers on Black Friday, and instead celebrating Cyber Monday from the comfort of my home office. Happy Holidays everyone from The Storage Inn!