Al-Jo's: The club that gave the curve its name

A $900 million mega-project that, among other things, will eliminate a notorious/dangerous southbound swoop of I-295 through Mt. Ephraim also will obliterate a nickname that -- memories aside -- is all that remains of a locally legendary nightspot.

Club Al-Jo, the sign for which was visible from what's long been called the Al-Jo curve, closed some 20 years ago. Its West Kings Highway site has been occupied by the John D. West Senior Center, a 74-unit housing complex, since 2004.

But in in the 1960s and into the '80s, Club Al-Jo was a place to hear well-known acts like Billy Harner, of "Sally Sayin' Somethin'" fame.

"It was one of my favorite hangouts," says Bill Cleary, 68, who grew up in adjacent Gloucester City and is publisher emeritus of the Gloucester City News. He also maintains the lively Cleary's Notebook website, where he posted this  reminiscence of growing up in South Jersey.

Al-Jo  "was a nice nightclub, with a nice crowd," Cleary recalls. "Those were great times."

While few if any drivers will miss the curve itself, the name holds a bit of a soft spot in local hearts.

Laura Childers, property manager at the John D. West Center, says residents of over-62 complex sometimes refer to the club. "I'm not a Jersey girl, so I don't know Al-Jo's," Childers says. "But so many people who call for directions say, 'oh -- you mean where Al-Jo's was."