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Sunshine Lakes – Voorhees, NJ
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Just off of Cooper Road in Voorhees is a bunch of condos crowded around Sunshine Lakes. Being a strange kid, I found it awesome that my grandmother remembered going on trips there when she was in her teens and twenties (which would have been in the 1930s). They’d hop in the cars in Philly, and soon enough, would be pulling up to the lake. She even showed me some pictures.

Setting the mood:

We turned right soon after passing a giant Wise potato chip Owl sign and a New Jersey Transit bus stop, and drove down a dirt road which cut through the pine forest on both sides. Down a distance there was the ticket booth, a wooden painted white booth in the middle of the road where my Dad paid for the carload… The lakes in Jersey were brown. The beach had deep sand, very grainy and rough, not at all like the fine sand at the shore. The swimming area was wide and roped off so that you could not swim out to the middle of the lake let alone to the other side. The lake was large, taking up the view, and the swimming area was large enough for the crowd. The horizon was pine trees. Seclusion. There were several diving platforms, wooden planes built on concrete pillars that you could swim around, but the platform was not high enough for a tube to fit under. Teenagers sat on them and younger kids jumped or dived off of them.” ~ Janet Gibson, Pennypack Park: A Collection of Essays (not my grandmother)

Taking the Wayback Machine to 1939 – Sunshine Lakes

Old cars are awesome.

Old cars are awesome.

Like, seriously, awesome.

Like, seriously, awesome.

My Great-Grandmother?



The Gang. My grandma's the one with her eyes covered.

The Gang. My grandma’s the one with her eyes covered.

My grandma's godchild is the little one.

Setting up at the picnic tables.

Setting up at the picnic tables.

Good times at the beach.

Good times at the beach.

My grandmother is on the left.

My grandmother is on the left.

I'm scandalized.

I’m scandalized.

My great grandparents?

I suspect that this is my Great Grandmother and her second husband, or else why would there be multiple pictures of them?

Sunshine Lakes.

Sunshine Lakes.

Oh, and don’t go hiking there, it’s private property.  And not really much of a hike anymore anyway.

I’m not good at staying on track with themes, you should be lucky I lasted this long!

About The Author
southjerseytrails
0 Comments
  • May 19, 2015 at 2:02 am

    I couldn’t resist commenting. Perfectly written!

  • June 20, 2015 at 2:21 pm

    What memories I have of Sunshine Lakes. Growing up living in Philly, Sunshine Lakes was our escape from the cement and hot black top streets in the summer. Our family went to the lake 3 – 4 times a summer in between our shore trips. I have the some awesome memories at Sunshine Lakes, like the summer I learned how to swim. I had 4 brothers and 2 sisters, I was the youngest boy(2 sisters were younger). It was a perfect and inexpensive way to beat the heat.

  • wendy
    October 9, 2015 at 7:16 pm

    I too went to Sunshine Lakes with my family, #4 sisters and #3 brothers (triplets/twins). As a child I was afraid of the toilets and hated using them. You had to pull the seat down and after you were done they would flip up and flush. Thought I would be sucked in. I remember the showers, long chains you would pull, the yellow bubble gum in little linen bags, the wonderful music which played on the PA system, brown cedar lakes and when I was old enough the diving boards where you could could go when you really knew how to swim. I have read many posts re. Sunshine Lakes and comments about the Wise Potato Chip Owl. When you saw her, you knew you were almost at a great vacation spot, Sunshine Lakes. Although my twin and I were too young to remember, when my family visited Sunshine Lakes someone actually drowned. The guest had become caught under the dock. So glad I do not remember that sad moment.

    • wendy
      October 9, 2015 at 7:22 pm

      One of my fav. songs at Sunshine Lakes “When Somebody Loves Somebody Sometime”. They played that a lot. Every time I hear that song… it reminds me of my childhood days with my family at Sunshine Lakes.

  • L. Mitchell
    August 22, 2016 at 11:43 pm

    This brings back such wonderful childhood memories. Sunshine Lake seemed like such a far away magical place when I was growing up. I remember when we first started going there holding on to a timber wall as I made my way around as far as I dared. Eventually I learned to swim and got up enough courage to make it out to the coveted wooden platform. The joy of this accomplishment was quickly tempered by breaking 7 bones on the side of my left foot as I fell trying not to collide with a boy who cut me off on my running start for a dive. I remember how brown the water would be from the cedar trees. If it had recently rained we’d be thickly covered with what looked like brown fur. Forget trying to keep a bathing suit looking bright. I turned 11 the summer the song ‘ Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Yellow Polka Dot Bikini ‘ came out. Wasn ‘t long that summer before you saw that bikini everywhere. Purple People Eater was another popular song.

    I can still recall my mother rising quite early to pack up enough food to satisfy an army. When my husband and I returned from our first camping trip with the eldest of our children I called my mother to say thank you for all the times she packed us up for a trip. I recently had the pleasure of spending a week visiting with my siblings. One of our fondest childhood memories was, hands down, our summer’s spent at Sunshine Lake.

  • Janice Dool
    June 29, 2017 at 4:01 am

    Thanks for writing this essay. I spent many days at sunshine lake – my dad was in the Navy, and mother was home with two young girls. sunshine lake was the perfect form of recreation for us during the 1950s. Good family fun. She will drive us over to the Taconey palmyra Bridge to sunshine lake by herself or she would have her brother and sister and my cousins get together for a good time Saturday and Sunday at the lake.
    I took home many little tadpoles and I kept them for a couple days til we went back to sunshine and let them free (however many of them that lived). The aroma of tadpoles in a jar was just delightful.
    That’s where my dad taught me how to swim. He would stand there and have me swim toward him. At least I thought he was standing. Turns out he was walking backward and I had to swim harder to reach him. my mother finally got fussy with him and told him to make it obtainable for me. We lived in Port Richmond, Philly and during the hot muggy Summerdays in the city, sunshine lake was a welcome relief.
    I am in my 70s and I still remember the fun good family times we had at sunshine lake as if it were yesterday. Hey so nice to read your story and know that you had from there to ….. thanks. Janice

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