Philadelphia Reflections

The musings of a physician who has served the community for over six decades

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{Tavistock country club}
Tavistock country club

Right next to Haddonfield is another town called Tavistock. It contains four houses, quite large ones, and a perfectly beautiful country club. This geo-political curiosity came about only partly because Haddonfield is dry, no liquor. The present location was created during national Prohibition (of alcohol) when it didn't matter what the local option said. The really devastating local ordinance was a prohibition of playing golf on Sunday. It is probably correct that abolishing liquor is a good way to keep the town looking pristine, so that Haddonfield's continuing dryness had something to do with maintaining real estate values in addition to maintaining sobriety, in the minds of local property owners. This stance was certainly vindicated when a race track was built a mile or so away, and local residents could easily imagine all sorts of high life that might grow up in the shadow of a race course. Haddonfield learned what it thought was the lesson in this, and continues to prohibit alcohol sales (consumption is of course quite another matter) after the repeal of the Volstead Act. So Sam Fulton and the other founding fathers of Tavistock probably knew what they were doing. The existence of Tavistock is the best evidence of the shrewd thought processes in town because in some minds you can't have a country club without liquor. You also can't have much of a golf course without some hills, and hills like Tavistock are in short supply in southern New Jersey. Sam Fulton wanted the place neat and tidy; as Mayor of the four-house town, he passed an ordinance that the birds were required to fly upside down. The legal and political defenses of this oddment seem well planned and emotionally quite prepared to dismember any politician who seeks to make trouble for something odd which isn't entirely accidental.

In 2010, trouble came to Tavistock. Then-Governor Corzine merged the school district of Tavistock with the school district of Haddonfield. The total of four houses in Tavistock collectively only had one child in school, so the burden on Haddonfield wasn't very bad, but the school taxes on Tavistock appeared to be in for a serious upgrade. Tavistock hadn't been founded as a tax haven, but over the years it became so in a minor way. The four houses in Tavistock were remarkably opulent, and of course, they were only paying school taxes to send one or two children to neighboring schools, so they were effectively taxed much less than the residents of the towns who had the schools. Using the old police maxim of cui bono (who has a motive?), one might suspect someone in Haddonfield of stirring up this little class warfare stunt. However, it turns out there are four school districts in New Jersey who are similarly affected, so it seems likely that someone did some research in Trenton. Whether the Target was someone in Tavistock, or someone in Pine Valley, or someone in the other two places, is presently unknown. Sooner or later someone will talk, of course. And since this is the Soprano State, someone else may end up with concrete overshoes.

Originally published: Friday, June 23, 2006; most-recently modified: Thursday, June 06, 2019