PHILADELPHIA (WTXF) - Bill Sprouse and FOX 29's Hank Flynn went by Buzby's General Store in Chatsworth the other day to check on Marilyn Schmidt. She's owned and run Buzby's, the Pine Barrens landmark, for 17 years. For the most part though, the doors have been shut since May. “It'll open periodically,” says Marilyn, from her wheelchair. “Friends of mine are running it for me because I can't walk. And I only last being up for about an hour. But I'm getting stronger -- I was in bed for three and a half months.”
Marilyn's heart failed her this past spring and it's been a tough year. She put Buzby's on the market. She even tried to sell it to me, but I’m no good candidate. If you're in the market for a registered historic Civil War-era general store, however, this is your place. Marilyn saw to it that it was meticulously restored when she bought it back in the 90's, after she'd retired as a pharmacologist. Marilyn seems to have packed several lives into her 87 years. In one, she’s an author of more than sixty pamphlets and books, many about all sorts of fish. And how to cook them. “They're small booklets on each type of fish,” she says. “I lived in Barnegat Light before I lived here -- which is a fishing port.”
When it's open anymore, Buzby's mainly exists as a pinelands historical hub. You can still get local jams, cake mixes and such. Books too, like John McPhee's, where he called Chatsworth the capital of the pines and Busby's the center of all that. And Bill's book, of course, about the Jersey Devil being a distant relative of his grandma Bebop. Marilyn was tired, and Bill and I left her to rest, but we wondered about the uncertain future. “This is a landmark. It’s an institution that had a life before Marilyn and nobody really knows, I think, what's going to happen.
We could get into the history but you're best off finding out for yourself. Buzby's is scheduled to be open from 2 to 5 on Saturday afternoon. Marilyn has a lot of friends, so there should be plenty of people. And if you love pine barrens folklore, the stories should be flowing. We're on twitter @hankfox29 and @fox29philly Maybe we'll see you there.