Growing up in a small town in Southern New Jersey

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Yes, we're there yet.

Arrived at Cousin Micki's in good shape on Sunday afternoon. And now we're down in Port Charlotte with Aunt Marion and Uncle Dayton. We had a lovely visit with Micki, and we'll be going back to her place on the way home. Alan left his wallet there.

What a trip. I forget the passports, and we had to go back home from southern Kentucky to get them, and then Alan left his wallet at Micki's. Fortunately, our cash was in a different location, and I have all the credit cards. So, except that he can't drive because his license is in his wallet at Micki's, we're okay.

I'll post more and lots of pictures at another time. Right now, I'm trying to get a handle on over 100 e-mails, and since out tickets have not arrived yet -- they seem to be lost somewhere in the US Postal system -- I have to do some maneuvering to get them from on line.

Well, right now I've got to get off because Alan wants to use the computer. So, I'll post a long writing with pictures later. Just wanted you all to know we're safe, and enjoying the cool -- not warm -- Florida weather.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Are we there yet?

I remember going on trips with our Uncles Joe (two Uncle Joes) and my obnoxious brothers would sing out every two minutes (at least it seemed that often) "Are we there yet?"

Well, I'm writing about "Are we there yet?" because we aren't there yet. That is, we were supposed to be in Florida by today, but we aren't there yet.

Yesterday, we headed out in an ice storm. It took us about an hour to get the van de-iced, but since the roads weren't too bad, we headed out. We got as far as Berea, KY. We stopped for gas for the car. I got out the directions to the first night's hotel, and discovered that I hadn't put the passports in with my other odds and ends for the trip. No passports, no Panama Canal. So, we turned around and went back home.

Figuring the ice storm was over, we went to sleep. Unfortunately, it iced a lot overnight, and we had to go through the de-icing ritual with the van again this morning. We did leave this morning and got as far as McDonough, Georgia (just south of Atlanta). It took us 9 hours to get here. There was a big construction tie-up just north of Atlanta, other wise we had clear sailing.

Tomorrow, Lord willing, we'll be in Florida with Cousin Micki -- that's Martha -- one of Aunt Daisy's daughters. I think I wrote about Micki -- she was the gospel/country singer. She was disappointed we weren't going to make it down today so we could go to church with her tomorrow (Sunday). She's singing a solo. I would dearly have loved to hear it. I told her, when I get to her house, she could sing "Yodeling Cowgirl" for me. She laughed and said, "No thanks."

Does that mean she won't sing for me? We'll see, and I'll let you all know.

Are we there yet?

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Taking a break

The BLOG is going on vacation and taking a break from writing for a while. The BLOG will be back whenever it gets back. Hopefully meeting up with cousins and other family will bring back some memories not yet included in past BLOGs.

I know that withdrawal from your daily does of Runnemede Remembered will be difficult for some of you, but hang in there, RR will be back, Lord willing, in a week or less, depending on where the WiFi connections are.

The house will be occupied while we're gone, and our neighbors will be checking on the outside to make sure we don't have any ice problems, etc.

I don't recall my mom running around like I have been running the past few days just to get us ready to leave and get the house readied for its other occupants. We have three suitcases to go to three different venues. Try packing that way. How many underwear pieces go here, how many go there or there, how many bathing suits do I take total, and which one goes into which suitcase. Did I get that right? Do I have enough clothes for our stay there? Do I need to put toothpaste and shampoo in all three suitcases, or can I get the package out of one, and put it in another as we change venues? Is there enough food in the fridge for the guests? Is all the laundry done? Did I change the bed linens -- don't dare sleep in the bed any more. Arghh!

Looking forward to the end of the road, though. Nice warm, sunshiney Florida, then Panama. God willing Alan will travel well this time. If not, our guests will be evicted sooner than they thought, and we'll be back home in a flash. Well, as quickly as my heavy foot can get us here.

The BLOG will be back. BYYYYYYEEEE!!!!!!

Monday, February 18, 2008

She left without her blankie

My sister Debbie came to visit -- I didn't take a single picture -- and arrived late on Sunday night. She and Jim (her husband) were dog tired when they got to our place, so we didn't really get a chance to talk much.

Debbie always brings her blankie and her small pillow when she comes here. I, too, carry a blankie and a pillow with me whenever I travel. I don't know where this blankie/pillow thing came from. I just know that I've been taking my own pillow with me since shortly after I was married when a pillow at the hotel where we stayed was worthless in the pillow department. So, I started carrying my own. The blankie bit -- I started doing that when we were going back and forth to Arkansas because I just never knew when I was going to have to be sleeping on a sofa in a waiting room.

I have to thank Lynn Jolly for a quillow she made especially for Alan when he first got sick. We took that to waiting rooms all over UAMS (University of Arkansas Medical Sciences Center) and actually wore it out. That quillow became the blankie, and the armrests of the various sofas were the pillows. Not exactly the most comfortable pillow in the world, but you make do with what you have.

Back to Debbie's blankie. Frankly, I didn't even realize she had brought it in from the car. But shortly after she left early this afternoon -- again not much chance for talking -- I got a phone call asking me if she had left her blankie and her pillow. I found it in the bedroom, right where she had put it.

I will box it up and send it off to her so that if she goes somewhere before I see her next month, she'll have her blankie and pillow.

This traveling with a blanket and pillow leads me to reminisce about the "old" days. We Drexlers didn't travel, so we had no need for blankies and pillows. In fact, the only places I had been were camp, camp, or camp, and one week in Ocean City with my cousin Alberta. I personally went to camp Haluwasa for a summer where I was both a camper and a cousellor. Mostly, I was a counsellor, but they had a teen age week, and I was a camper that week.

Before that I went to camp at Sandy Cove in Maryland for a week. I hated that week. I was 9 years old, and I was so very homesick. Also, my parents didn't know they were to give me some money for craft supplies and snacks. And that made my life even more miserable at camp.

And the final "camping" blow came when I was a junior at college and all of us in a teacher program of some sort had to go to Stokes State Forest -- and rough it for a week. I never understood how that experience would help me become a better teacher. I didn't understand the reason I had to do it, but do it I did. And after the deed was done, I really didn't understand why the week of torture was necessary nor how it improved my ability to teach mathematics to high school students. I still don't understand that. I learned nothing at all that week, except how to NOT keep warm in a cabin (well, four poles and roof) with no heat, and foraging for food in the winter. I didn't like it. But I did have a blankie and a pillow for comfort.

Enough rambling for today.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

A Mother's Touch

This is a picture of my mother and me. The back of the picture says it was taken in June 1943, so I would have been 3 months old. I have many pictures of my mother holding me, cuddling me, adoring me, touching me.

My mother and father were married for seven years before I was born. I know my mom loved children. There are many photographs of her holding her nieces and nephews as babies, and then even when they were in the four-to-six-year range, she was there holding their hand.
I don't know why my mother and father didn't conceive any children for six years, because once mom had me, she had children at regular intervals, until she was told that to have another child could endanger her life.

I wish I could remember more clearly those times in the pictures I have of mom holding me.
I do remember, however, times when I, as a young girl, would sit on my mom's lap while she read to me. I remember sitting next to her in church, and she would rub my hand with hers. I remember the feeling of that touch. A mother's touch.

I regret that I didn't touch my children more than I did. I am in awe of the remembrance I have today of my mother's touch.

My 13th summer

I know somewhere around, in my well-organized boxes of pictures, there is a picture of me "posing" with my new tennis racket. I can't find it (the picture, not the tennis racket)!

And, I may have written all this before. But, it's not crossed off my list. So here goes, again, probably.

In the summer of my 13th year a new store opened in Runnemede -- Gilch's Sports Supplies. It was a fascinating shop, and who had ever heard of a sports supply store before. We had lumber supply, magazine supply, food supply, floral supply, but sports supply? No. Unfortunately, or fortunately, depending on your point of view, the shop was located right next door to Hegeman's -- the place where I took my piano/organ/music theory/violin lessons. As you can tell from the number of music lessons I took each week, I was at that store often.

It started with a need for tennis balls. Dad would send me into the shop to get HIM tennis balls. Of course, I was permitted to use the balls, as long as he was my partner on our school-yard tennis "court." And, the cost of a tin of balls (3) was only $1. Those yellow balls were three for a dollar. Can you imagine that?

Now, I know I've mentioned my thirst for my own tennis racket someplace in these tomes, but that summer, after that store opened, the thirst was akin to dehydration. I really wanted my own tennis racket. Dad's "second" racket was heavy and cumbersome, and Spalding had just come out with a new racket called "young star". I coveted that racket something fierce.

So, I asked Mrs. Gilch (who, by the way was a member of our church and owner of the store) how much the racket cost. It was a collosal $15. Fifteen dollars! Where was I ever going to get $15. I wasn't a baby sitter -- ever. Babies just weren't my thing.

Well, it happened that a man in our church needed some typing done. My wonderful father was a gem when it came to finding me tasks for which I could receive compensation if he thought something I wanted to buy was worthwhile. So, on an old Royal manual typewriter, just like the one pictured here, I typed that man's reports. I got 50 cents a page. So, doing the "math", I needed to type 30 pages. However, he only had 20 pages that needed typing. I knew my allowance -- which was up to $1 a week, would help if I didn't drink any Hires rootbeer, or buy any pickles, or get any school supplies, so I figured I could do without for 10 weeks -- NOT! I mean that was almost the whole summer, and I wanted that tennis racket before the end of the summer, I wanted it NOW!

Once again I walked the streets looking for coins, and soda bottles. I could get two cents per small bottle, and a nickle for the large bottles. Back then the bottles were always glass -- no two-liter size large bottles, but the large bottles were one-quart size, no plastic. The quart-size bottles were harder to find.

So, one day, I went up to Suicide Hill, walked down the hill to the town dump and found quite a stash of bottles. I finally had enough money, almost.

I went home, told my father I had $13.75, would he please, please, please give me $1.25 so I could get the tennis racket. He did. I got the racket.

My game improved greatly after that because the Spalding Young Star was a lighter weight racket, and soaking wet I weighed a whopping 95 pounds. I still was no match for my father -- I was never a match for my father in tennis -- but he played the game with me and seemed to enjoy the camaraderie we shared on our make-believe tennis court in the school yard across the street.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

I married my father

Left is a picture of my husband Alan with our latest grandchild -- Elliana. On the right is a picture of my father practicing the piano in the backroom of the church he pastored for 50 plus years

It occurred to me today that I was told a long time ago that I married my father. Well, today confirmed that.
My father used to carry a cloth bag with him wherever he went. Today, and recently, Alan has taken up that pasttime. If he goes to the car, he carries a bag. If he gets out of the car, he carries a bag. Now, I'm not saying the bag isn't useful. I use my hands, Alan and my father used a bag. I carry the mail in my hands, no bag required, even for bigger loads. Alan now uses a bag to do that.
Just a short remembrance of my father, who when we cleared out his home must have had around 50 of these cloth bags that he had collected from the local and not-so-local banks and stores and freebies in the mail. Alan's on his way toward such a collection. On my!

Dodge ball, double dutch, and double bubble gum

Alliteration again. I didn't like dodge ball, until I got good at it. It seemed, since I was the smallest kid in the class that I was usually the target of the ball. But I practiced dodging pretend balls and got good at avoiding getting hit. And I practiced throwing that big round brown ball and was able to hit whomever was in the middle of the circle at the time we were playing.

Yes, folks, dodge ball was one of the playground games we played, often. We were mean, and hurtful, and didn't care. We were competitive and didn't care about anyone but our selfish competitive selves. It wasn't until way after I was out of school that dodge ball was abandoned as a playground game.

Double Dutch, I loved. I really wasn't good at jump rope in kindergarten, but I watched the "big girls" on the playground playing double Dutch, and then I got a piece of clothes line rope and started practicing jumping (alone) so I would be able to jump in with the "big girls" and play double Dutch. Double Dutch is a rope skipping exercise played when two ropes are turned in eggbeater fashion.

Double Dutch then was nothing like double Dutch now. No hip-hopping, just jumping. Of course, those of us who were good could jump first on one foot, and then the other.

When we played double Dutch, we would chant D-I-G-F-S-H-A-R. And when we jumped in we would jump until we missed at double duth, then whatever letter we missed on, that was the type of jumping we had to do our number counts to. The two people in line with the lowest numbers had to take over being the double Dutch rope turners. Can you believe some girls couldn't get the hang of turning the ropes? Yeah, right. I think they did it on purpose, because while their hands weren't coordinated, their feet were. They were the best jumpers.

D-I-G-F-S-H-A-R -- originally was D-I-G-F-S, then we added the last three letters. D stood for Dutch, and that was the same as you went through to get to the letter you missed on. I stood for Irish; G- German; F - French; S - single; H - (hop?); A - anything you wanted; R-Russian.

I wish I could remember what each type was, but I can't. I remember one of the letters was double Dutch backwards. In other words, instead of turning the two ropes toward each other, you turned the ropes away from each other.

Another letter was where you put one rope on the ground, held in place by the rope turners' feet, and the rope turner would turn one rope and you had to jump to avoid the rope on the ground. You could do this using two feet together or using one foot then the other.

Another was the same situation, only the rope was swayed back and forth. I think "H" stood for hop -- hop on one foot only while double dutching -- no putting down the other foot, and no switching feet. Another one of the letters meant you had to pick someone to jump with you. Remember the goal was to get the highest number so, you had to make sure you picked a FRIEND who didn’t want to turn the ropes either.

I went on-line, but can't find anyone who played DD the way we did when I was growing up. And, I have to say that clothes line was the best rope for jumping double Dutch. I did find lots of pages that have jump rope rhymes, and that brought back a lot of memories.

On to double-bubble gum -- Double Bubble is the ONLY gum that gives good bubbles. The bubble gum in baseball cards is the worst.

So, there you have it -- dodge ball, double Dutch, and double bubble gum. Any of you out there that can help me with the double Dutch game, comment, please.

Cigar boxes

What a prized possession a cigar box was when I was growing up. Of course, I knew no one who actually smoked cigars, but how I coveted a cigar box my dad had.

Think about it. You could store all kinds of things in a cigar box -- fish hooks, Esterbrook pens and pencils, handkerchiefs, jewelry, valentines, stamps, etc.

I wanted a cigar box really bad. I asked my father where he got his. He said, "I just went into Joe's and asked for one. Joe's was a small shop on The Pike that sold cigars, cigarettes, magazines, and had a soda fountain. Joe's really wasn't a 5 & 10, but it did carry some other things that I loved, but, of course, had no money for.

So, I at the age of 8 or 9 walked the two blocks down to Joe's and asked Joe if he had any empty cigar boxes he could give me. He told me he didn't, but that he would save one for me and to stop back in another time and pick it up.

Those weren't the days of cell phones, so he didn't think of calling me or my dad to tell me the cigar box was ready.

Thus began my daily "nag". I stopped in his shop every day on the way home from school to see if he had a cigar box for me. I guess he got tired of seeing me, because after about a month -- at least it seemed like a month, because I wanted a cigar box so badly -- I got my box!

The picture above isn't necessarily the same box that I received, but it is a representation of what a cigar box is. Back then they were wood, covered in pretty paper. Aren't they made of cardboard covered in logos now? Anyway, I got my box. Nobody told me how awful it would smell. It smelled of cigars! Go figure.

I got it home, and had to air it out -- I opened it up and let it sit for a few days, still it smelled of cigars, and I wasn't about to put any of my precious articles into that smelly thing. Finally after many days of airing out, mom gave me a potpourri bag and I put that in the cigar box. After a few days it didn't stink any more, but it was a delicious blend of lavender and cigar!

It was now ready to receive my precious belongings.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Update on "The Weather"

"The Weather" was posted a couple of days ago. Since then I recall another failure-proof method of telling what the weather will be.

Yesterday I could barely move -- my joints were hurting so bad -- and that is the real weather forecaster -- arthritic joinys. Last evening the weather turned bad -- a low pressure system was going to go through our area. In fact, the weather people on TV said it was going to be right over us by this morning.

The low pressure has passed, barely, and now my joints are feeling much better.

So, those of you who have to know what the weather is going to be, pray you don't find out how this method works. It hurts, really bad.

Lunch in the woods

I found this picture today. It was much, much, smaller. In fact, it was in a box that Alan found of prints that you make when you take a picture -- the very small proofs that amateur photographers develop. I'm going to guess that Alan took the picture, since it was in a box of pictures he had taken on various occasions throughout this life -- yes, throughout his life.

You all know that many times in my young life one of our Uncle Joes would take us out on day trips. Since this is a picture with Uncle Joe Egitto, I'm assuming he was the designated driver on this day and took mom and me and my sister Debbie, and my brother Mark, as well as Aunt Anne on a trip to somewhere. That must have been a very crowded car, because I know Uncle Joe never had a station wagon, but with Alan (whom I am assuming took the picture) that would be seven people piled into an auto. Three in front, four in back.

I dont' recognize the place at all. But I do recognize the clothes I'm wearing. Isn't that odd? I know that the blouse is the color of Hershey's cocoa powder. The pin I'm wearing at the throat is a "sweetheart" pin that Alan gave me in late February of 1961, after he was on a trip to Vermont with his father. I still have the pin. It has a locket attached to it, and in the locket portion of the pin is a picture on one side of me at 16 and Alan at 15. The skirt (why would wear a skirt in the woods?) I made when I was a freshman in highschool. It's what they called a straight skirt, and it was tan, heavy cotton. In those days, though, everything had to be ironed because polyester was the new kid on the block, and wasn't real popular yet.

That's about all I know about this picture, though. My brother Mark is in the back. My sister Deb, on the left is hiding her face, something I was good at too, when I knew someone was taking my picture.

Aunt Anne is looking backward at Mark, and my mom is looking at the camera. Seems to have been a nice day for a picnic.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Yo-yo man

Yes, there was a Yo-yo man who came to our school several times when I was growing up. I wanted to badly to be able to wield a yo-yo like Yo-yo man. I wanted to be able to walk the dog, let the yo-yo go to sleep, and do the around the world. But to do that I needed a yo-yo.

I could purchase a yo-yo for ten cents at Jakes 5 and 10. It wasn't a good yo-yo and because I didn't know about how to slip the string that wound around the yo-yo on properly, I really couldn't do many "tricks."

Well, one day I discovered (by accident) that if I wrapped the string on this yo-yo very losely around the peg that held the string, I could get more spin. Then I was able to do, at least, the trick where you drop the yo-yo and it spins and spins and spins, and then when you jerk up the string, it comes back up. It's called the sleeper.

I really wanted a Duncan yo-yo, not a generic yo-yo as I had bought for 10 cents. The trouble was the Duncan cost 75 cents, and that was a chunk of change for me when I was in the 2nd grade or even the third grade. A dime I could handle, three quarters? Well, that was a problem.

I received no allowance at that time -- allowance started in third grade. So, I had to find a way to get that money. I could steal it. No, the Bible says, "Thou shalt not steal." I could work for it, but who wants to hire a 7-year-old girl who isn't allowed to wear dungarees? What was I to do?

I started walking the streets of Runnemede -- don't get excited, I didn't say I became a street walker. I walked the streets with my head down looking for change that people may have dropped along the way. It's easier to find pennies these days than those days, but I was able to find 43 cents. Why do I remember that it was 43 cents? I was born in 1943. And I knew I needed another quarter and 7 pennies.

Uncle Joe Sprat was coming to visit us on Friday night. I figured he was good for a quarter. He almost always gave us each a quarter when he came to visit. Then, all I had to do was come up with seven more cents. Duh -- why not ask my mom and/or my dad if they wouldn't like to invest in my yo-yo skills, which I was sure would make me yo-yo woman in just a few short days.

I was able to get the money for the Duncan yo-yo, which by far was a much better trick yo-yo than the generic dime model. I played with that thing for hours each day until I was able to do around the world, walk the dog, and breakaway. I learned a few more tricks in later years because each time the Yo-yo man came to our school, I was energized to practice some more tricks.

By the way, I'm still pretty handy with a yo-yo.

I found a really neat website for all you yo-yo wannabes out there -- . It shows the various moves and names them. And check out this yo-yo page: Yo-yo man (not the same yo-yo man I knew)

Treasure Trove Trunk

How's that for alliteration?

Well, in our basement there was a HUGE trunk. It was a treasure trove of trinkets (another alliterational phrase) which came from dad's family. Some of the items could be dated back to the mid-1800s. One of the prize items in the trunk was the Family Bible. The Family Bible (my daughter Becky is the keeper of that treasure) was last updated when my grandfather Drexler married his second wife, Anna Mack. So, my father's birth was listed in that book.

On rare occasions, after begging, pleading, and cajoling my dad, he would take me down to the basement and would open the trunk. Oh, my. I just know my eyes lit up with anticipation each time we perused the contents.

In this trunk were Christmas decorations that had to go back to the late 1800s. Real glass trinkets, made in Germany.

The truck also housed a hefty amount of cut glass bowls and pitchers. There was a set of glasses (cut glass), and several salt cellars. Dad used to laugh about going to the cellar to see the cellars!

Another treasure was porcelain ware from Bavaria, beautiful pieces which now are scattered among various family members.

I have to admit that my favorite thing in the box was the Bible. It had pictures in it. Pictures of family members long gone. Also in the trunk were piles and piles of framed pictures of the Drexlers, and dad would patiently tell me who each person was. Many of those formally framed photographs (another example of alliteration? -- stretching it with the "f" sound in photograph) are in my home today.

It seems Uncle Harry (the one who lives to be 105) was a photography buff whose vocation was framing pictures. So, we were so blessed to have so many of the family photos framed to perfection for hanging on the wall, or walls. Believe me, there were enough framed images to fill walls. I know, because I, alone, had a wall full of these pictures in my previous abode. These photos are also in my sister's home, my brother's home, and my daughters' homes.

Well, I think I've spoken enough about the treasure troves of the trunk, and the fabulously framed photos that were in the trunk, so I'll sign off for now.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

The weather

I was reading a friend's BLOG and rather than submitting a comment to her BLOG, it reminded me of my dad and his fascination with weather. I, too, have been fascinated with weather forecasting for as long as I can remember. I really wanted to be a meteorologist (it only took me 10 minutes to recall that word in my declining brain) for most of my high-school life, until I found out that I would have to take that dreaded course -- chemistry. Aargh!

Back to my father -- he had a barometer, and for as long as I can recall, on a daily basis, he would examine that barometer, call me over to it, if I were in the room, and make adjustments and let me know that he thought we would have good weather, or bad weather, depending on what he read on the barometer. He especially loved it when we had hurricanes or northeasters and he could watch that old barometer bottom out.

He watched the barometer and when it got to a certain pressure he would order mom to get the candles ready because “it” was coming. “It” meaning a bad storm.
One day he watched that barometer and said, “We’re going to get a tornado.” I thought, “Dad, you’ve lost it. South Jersey doesn’t get tornados.” And I have to say that up to that time, no one ever mentioned even the possibility that during a bad thunderstorm we could get a tornado. But sure enough, that particular thunderstorm on that day did contain a tornado. It didn’t hit us and it was what is now known as a Class One tornado, but it came as close as Bellmawr – the next town to our north.

Let’s talk a little of northeasters. I don't know where the weather pundits of today come from when they say nor' easter. In all my life -- until recent weather prognosticators used the term -- I only heard of these storms referred to as north (emphases on the th) easters. We didn't drop those two letters. To me those weather people -- they aren't meteorologists by the way -- seem to be showing a sort of ignorance when they say that (nor' easter). It's like they're mimicking those folks from Maine, who are the ones who say it that way. I could be wrong about this, but I just don't recall every hearing a northeaster referred to as anything other than a northeaster.

Back to the weather. Where dad was proficient at reading a barometer, I used my nose. I knew we were going to get bad weather if I could smell the Delaware River. Who needed a barometer?

I am so glad that I now have the local weather channel (Insight 71) which gives the temperature minute by minute, wind velocity, etc. I also have a thermometer on my sun porch so I can tell if the temperature is warm enough (or cool enough) for me to enjoy sitting or working out there.

Today, Alan asked me why I was reading indoors instead of on the porch. I told him to look at the thermometer -- it was only 55 degrees out there. He told me he didn't even know we had a thermometer out there. I pointed it out, and he wondered why I had it pointing toward the living room, instead of toward the outside. I told him, that I wouldn't be able to read it without going out onto the porch if I had it turned from the living room. I just couldn't fathom why his engineering mind didn't gel with my logical placement of the thermometer.

So dad and I were always "weather" junkies. Once we got a TV, we waited for the TV weather person to come on to let us know what he thought (it was always a "he") the weather was going to be tomorrow and the next day.

I was able, however, by watching clouds, to almost predict what the weather was going to be on most days in south Jersey. I once even predicted a rather large snowstorm -- it was large enough to close school for 4 days.

So, dad and I had weather in common. He had his barometer. I had my nose.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Large vs. Small Homes

In Runnemede in the 50s there were few truly large homes, and even the large homes were small by today's standards.

I recall when Dr. Palmisano set up his office on 6th Avenue. He and his family were in a small home, and the front room was the office. He wasn't there for many years, but through third grade, Elsalyn, his oldest daughter and I were playmates. During that year and the next the family was building a "large" home on the Pike with his office in a separate, but connected, building behind the main house.

After they moved in, and I was given the grand tour by Elsalyn, I had never seen such a home. It was huge, I thought. It had closets! Closets are those tiny rooms where you store things. Our house had two very, very, very tiny rooms for storing things, but this house had not-so-tiny rooms in every room, including the upstairs hallway (which closest we pretended was an elevator for a few weeks). It was hard for me to believe that people would even NEED so many closets. The dining room had a built-in china cabinet. The kitchen was loaded with cabinets. Yet, it really wasn't that big of a home. Maybe 2,400 square feet max.

Also, included in the "big home" category was Dr. Luisi's home. He also lived on the Pike -- but at the other end of Runnemede (north end). He had a tennis court in his back yard. Of course, it took up the whole yard. But, imagine, having your own tennis court in your own yard. Our "hit the ball against the school wall" tennis court, couldn't compare. Even this house, while large by Runnemede standards wasn't that large either. And part of it, not a separate building, was used for the dentist's office. I was never in that home.

Our small Runnemede homes, however, were sufficient for our needs. I mean, doesn't every six person family live in a two-bedroom home, one bathroom, and an attic?

As I pass those homes on the Pike, now, I think, well, when I was small they were big houses, now they aren't such large homes anymore.

Friday, February 8, 2008

My cousin Hannah

I don't have a picture of Hannah, except when she was a very little girl. I really should say I don't have a photo of my cousin Hannah, I do have a picture of her in my mind.

Hannah (as well as Micki about whom I wrote in the last BLOG) was one of Aunt Daisy's daughters. Aunt Daisy was my mom's eldest sister, and she was grown up and married not too many years after my mom was born, so her children were only 10 years or so younger than my mother, and in her (my mom's) extended family they tended to be more like sisters. I never heard Hannah or Micki refer to my mom by her first name, though, it was always, "Aunt Rose this..." or "Aunt Rose that..."

The last time I saw Hannah was at my mom's funeral. And, of course, at the afterward at the house Hannah came in and started in---she was a comic, you see -- not a professional comic, but a comic just the same. Hannah could cheer the bark off a tree. She just made everyone laugh. She cheered us up with stories of my mother when she (my mom) was younger, and some of the stories of her courtship with my dad.

I remember Hannah's house in Ridley Park or one of those towns on the west side of Philadelphia, and her entire back yard was a swimming pool. No grass, just pool (in ground) and deck. And I remember her basement because Alan and I would go down there to catch a few smooches. If I recall correctly (now this was in the 60s) it was decorated in orange and gold and brown. Those were the colors of the year, after all.

Hannah had three children who were my age or close, Janet was a year old than I, Valerie was the same age as my brother Mark, and Johnny, was the same age as my sister Deb. I can't say I was close to Hannah's children. I mean we met each other at the family events and we talked and when we were small we played together, but that's as far as it went.

Hannah and her husband John moved to Florida in the late 70s/early 80s and stayed and died there. Hannah lived across the street from Micki in her last years.

I spoke to Hannah about two weeks before she died. What an awesome act of God that was. I had been surfing the net search for cousins, and I found a Hannah with the same last name as hers and I called that person hoping it was she.

She had just gotten home from the doctors and had been told she had lymphoma -- Hodgkins -- but that she was going to fight it and win. Well, I guess you could say she won, because she's with the Lord, but the fight only lasted two weeks. Two weeks after I spoke with her for the last time -- and we laughed a lot during that conversation -- she went to be with her Lord. She told me she was looking forward to that event -- home-going.

So, that's my cousin Hannah.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

My cousin Micki

Alan and I are heading down to Florida in a few weeks for an extended stay down there. One of the people I want to visit is my cousin Micki. Micki Evans. She was a TV/Radio star in the 50s and 60s, both in South Jersey, and then in Orlando, FL. That's a picture of her back then. She looks much the same, now, except, she's 82, and her hair is no longer black. She still sings.

Micki had a radio program to which I listened religiously each Saturday morning. She basically sang songs (Dolly Partin-like) and talked about who wrote them. She closed her show with "Yodeling Cowgirl." Boy could Micki yodel. I loved to listen to her yodel. Nobody I have ever heard since comes even close to her yodeling. Whenever we had family get togethers, I would ask her to yodel unaccompanied. And she would do what this little girl cousin of hers asked.
She always closed her radio and TV program with a hymn. And each week, all the songs she sang were "by request from." Well, two things I have to add here -- first, I loved to hear her sing, second, I loved to hear her mention my name on the radio. So, each week I would try to get her to sing one of my favorite songs.
I remember requesting her to sing Gene Autry's "Back in the Saddle Again." If you watched "Sleepless in Seattle" you would be familiar with that song. And I always requested that she sing "Peace in the Valley" at the end of her program. Her rendition of that song was unlike any other recorded by that time and since, and I loved to hear her sing it.
Micki is alive and well and living in Florida. We spent a bit of time with her a couple of years ago, and she has a knack of telling us stories of growing up in Philly during the depression, and telling us tales of her life on the "road."
I can't wait to visit her again on our trip to Florida this year. God willing we'll be able to spend more time together than we did last time. She's got the aches and pains the body enjoys as it ages, but she still has vim and vigor that amazes me. She loves the Lord and that's the most important thing in her life.
Sorry, no recent pictures of her. Last time I saw her, I forgot my camera. How stupid was that? Stupid, stupid, stupid. Sound like my mom, don't I?

New Look

I had to do it.

I've been "redecorating" my bedroom -- after seven years -- actually 15 years -- because I brought all my "new" things from our old house. So, being in the redecorating mood, I had to change the look of the BLOG.

Do you like it? If you don't, let me know what you'd prefer. I was so tired of pink and mauve and cranberry.

Back to my bedroom. The walls, of course, are builder's beige. I just can't get up the gumption to move all the furniture and paint it (or have it painted) another color. I prefer to change the bed covers and curtains and rearrange the furniture to get a new look.

I supposed it's part of my upbringing. Since mom never had any money to redecorate, she always just changed the nic-nacs, the room arrangement (although in a 12x12 living room, there isn't much rearranging you can do ), and new, or different curtains on the windows.

I was fortunate enough to receive a Pier One Imports gift certificate for Christmas, and with that I purchased new curtains -- the old purple ones had out-lived their usefulness, and I think I mentioned that the bedspread was in shreds -- yes it fell apart. Rumpke now owns it. I saved the curtains because you never know when you're going to need purple material, right?

So, since I'm in a redecorating mood, I revamped the look of this BLOG. I hope it didn't surprise you too much and that you didn't think you had gotten the wrong BLOG.

I didn't mention the new color for the bedroom, did I? It's seafoam green -- or is that seafoam blue. I think you get the idea -- it's a cross between blue and green, a color that is soothing and restful, and I'm very happy with the new look.


I'm helping Alan repair a dripping faucet today. Yes, our faucets are only seven years old, and we're replacing all kinds of washers to keep them from dripping. We’ve already, with the help of our son-in-law, Quinn, replaced all the toilet insides. I am helping Alan because I want to know how to do it myself, so that in the future I won't have to wait a month with the water turned off in a sink that has a dripping faucet.

What has that to do with growing up? Well, my dad was NOT handy with tools. He had many, many tools that he apparently inherited from his dad, but he didn't use them. Fortunately for us we lived in a parsonage, and the repairs were the duty of the trustees of the church and church property. A parsonage is church property. So, if something went wrong with our plumbing, all we had to do was call up someone and presto, we'd have a plumber at the house fixing the ailing faucet or pipe.

Dad was handy with a plunger, though. Because of the cesspool thing, he did have to use it quite often. He could use a hammer to put a nail in a wall to hang a picture, but usually mom did that. I really don't recall seeing my dad using tools except once. That was when he built a platform for the train set he bought for us. He purchased a pre-cut sheet of ply wood, and six "legs" (4x4 pieces of wood cut one foot long. And these "legs" he nailed (not screwed as he should have) to the corners and mid-point on the two longer sides of the plywood, so that the platform would stand up from the floor. I guess he used enough nails because the platform DID withstand four children clambering onto a platform to play with the trains.

As I mentioned before we had a junk drawer in the kitchen. There were a few tools in there, including the hammer dad used on that platform. Also in the drawer was a couple of screw drivers, scissors, a pair of pliers, and a wrench (heavy). Mom was the only one that I ever saw go into that drawer to do repairs, until my youngest brother became tool savvy.

So, we're in the midst of repairing a faucet. The trouble we're having is getting the puzzle back together again so that the faucet turns on in the right direction. We'll get it, I'm sure.

Well, back to the job at hand.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Uncle Joe Sbaraglia's support

It was the worst day of my teenage life. Alan and I had been inseparable during the summer of 1960, and it was August. We knew it would happen, but August 8th came so very fast. That was the date of Alan's sailing on the Robin Gray to Africa for his parents' second term as missionaries to Kenya. I was going into my senior year in high school a month later.

On the day of Alan's departure my Uncle Joe Spratt (that was his nickname -- Sbaraglia shortened) called ME on the phone just to encourage me because he new how "blue" I had been a few days prior to Alan's leaving, and he remembered the date when my true love was leaving me for at least three years, and he called to encourage me, and remind me that I would see Alan again, and that letters were an option. Back then there were NO telephone calls between the US and Africa.

It was such a sweet thing for Uncle Joe to do. All I could do was cry into the phone, and he listened to me cry, can you imagine that? So sweet. Such a loving thing to do.

Shortly after I hung up the phone, it rang again and it was Alan telling me that the ship was not leaving for three more days due to a hurricane in the Caribbean, and that he would be back in Philadelphia for two days and we would be able to get together again for a little more time.

It still hurt when he left the second time three days later, but it was buffered by both the phone call I had from Uncle Joe and by the fact that I was able to see Alan again before he sailed.


Hugs are not something I give or take often. My husband can hug me anytime. He knows how to do it without hurting me. I have fibromyalgia and hugs are agony for me if not done correctly. So why am I writing about hugs?

The other day, I was looking at ALL the pictures I have of my mom and dad from their early courtship to the time near my mother's death. In every picture I have of the two of them together, they are either holding hands or my dad's arm is around my mother, protective of her. She was his Rose -- and he treated her as a precious flower. But I don't recall that he hugged her very often. I know my father didn't hug me very often. Which is NOT a problem, okay, so don't start thinking I'm dissing on my father for not hugging me.

Back to hugs (did you catch the yell in the last sentence?). Dad's hugs were loose and rare. He would wrap his arms around you and give you to very light pats on the back, then he'd back off.

Mom was more of a good hugger. I think that's because the Italians were so open with their hugs and kisses. You could always count on your Italian family hugging and kissing you with gusto at the beginning and the end of a visit.

With my father and his family it was entirely different. I don't recall even cousin Alberta sharing a hug with me. I think it was the German, austere thing in which he grew up. I have to say that dad never initiated a hug. If I were to get a hug from him, it was because I went to him first.

It's getting close to Valentines Day, and I was making cards and it occurred to me that I should write about hugs.

Fun and games, finally

By the time I was in my mid-teens (a sophomore or junior in high school) Runnemede started acquiring some amusement areas, not a Ferris wheel or merry-go-round, but a place that you could go to, pay for, and have a night of enjoyment. Runnemede acquired it’s own miniature golf course -- down on Clements Bridge Road across from Mr. Softee, and there was also in that plot of land a trampoline pit.

What's a trampoline pit? It was a section of the mini-golf course where they had actually dug several pits then stretched the rubber across the pits and for 50-cents an hour you could trampoline as you wished. One big, big drawback to these trampolines, they really weren't very safe. Imagine a trampoline set in concrete! Surrounding the bouncy part of the trampoline, at ground level -- the same level as the rubber -- was concrete.

We didn't let that bother us at the time, but if my parents had seen the area in which we were trampolining, I don't think I would have been allowed to participate. And, at that time, no one heard of helmets or knee pads or elbow pads, as they would require now days should you go to a public trampoline area, if there was such a thing.

Miniature golfing was a cheap date -- 50 cents a game per person. Alan and I went there several times. We were pretty well matched in our golfing pursuit, almost always scoring the same score.

When I was a senior in high school, the town acquired a bowling alley. It was really a nice place to bowl. It was large, too, lots of lanes. Another cheap date. You could bowl as long as you wanted for $2 plus shoe rental (I got my own shoes real early in the game). I never joined a league there, but I certainly enjoyed bowling.

I was never good at bowling, even in my adult years when I was on a league. My head always knew what I had to do to get strikes, but my arms just wouldn't cooperate. Thus, my average was not something I would ever publish in a BLOG.

So, Runnemede finally had some places teens could go for good, clean fun. These amusements were short-lived however. The bowling alley burned to the ground (can we say arson?) after only three years of existence. The miniature golf course and trampoline pits closed shortly thereafter.

Well, it was nice while it lasted.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

It's cold season

My father had at least two aids for sore throat due to colds.

No, we didn't gargle salt water. My mom tried that once on me and I promptly threw up. She never tried that again. We did, gargle with Listerene -- not as bad as salt water, but I don't know if it worked as well. This was NOT one of my father's "cures". There was also some homeopathic liquid with which we gargled whenever we got any type of mouth sore or toothache. But I can't recall the name of it. That stuff tasted good, and was lower in alcohol content than listerene.

Dad's favorite remedies for sore throat was hoarhound drops -- this came back to me today as I was grocery shopping at my favorite little store (Country Produce on Beechmont). They had hoarhound drops. I didn't buy any, but I know where to get them should I want them. I don't think I will want them, they really don't taste all that good. But they seemed in past years to do a good job on sore throat, and coughing.

Dad's second favorite remedy was Sucrets. They came in the neatest little tin, and each Sucret was wrapped individually in foil. They tasted really good, and we children really preferred the Sucret remedy over the hoarhound drop remedy. In fact, we would fake coughing in order to get another Sucret because they tasted so good. They sort of numbed your mouth, too.

Ricola doesn't work for Alan, nor does any other brand that we've used. Of course, a hot toddy is always an alternative for sore-throat/coughing. You all know what is in a hot toddy, right? Either lemon juice or orange juice and a shot of whiskey. This is Alan's favorite remedy. Personally, I don't like hot toddies and won't use that remedy.

The little tin box that Sucrets comes in is good for storing straight pins, regular pins, thumb tacks, rubber bands, paper clips; and for little ones, it's a handy bank for those pennies, nickels, and dimes.

After searching on-line I found out that Sucrets are still available -- I haven't seen them in my drug store (Walgreens), but they say they are still around in the little tin box. The ad states:

The Sucrets Brand, the pioneer of the now popular “tin box”, was first introduced in 1931. Since then, Sucrets has remained a household name synonymous with “serious sore throat relief” for over 75 years. Recommended by doctors and trusted by families, Sucrets has outlasted many brands that have come and gone for one simple reason - it works!

Of course, if a cold led to a more horrible ailment, such as flu or toncilitis, dad would put us on some homeopathic pills that were supposed to cure us quickly, reduce our fever, etc. I suppose his cures worked well. All four of us children (now adults) are still alive, and got through many, many cold and flu seasons without the aid of the family doctor. Dad's love probably had something to do with that.

The Cinderella Homes

Mom came home one day exclaiming, they're "salt boxes", those homes are nothing but "salt boxes."
Well, I pictured a round dark blue house with a little girl and yellow umbrella plastered on the front door. I didn't know that a salt box was a type of house where you have a first floor in the front and two floors in the back, and it looks like a one-story home from the front. This picture shows a type of home popular in New England in the 1800s. We didn't have the waterfront as in this example, but you get the picture.

The Cinderlla Homes had arrived. It was 1951. They were built in a plot that encompassed Ardmore, Knight, Johnson, and Lindsay Aves -- extending those streets for about 1/2 a mile, so that on each side of those streets, they built, I would say 8-10 homes, maybe 12. My eyes are not seeing how many to count. I do know that they built a "sidewalk" between the houses about 1/2 down the development that ran parallel to the two main streets in two (Clements Bridge and Ephsham Rd) so you could walk between the four streets without going to the main-streets end of the street, then going to the next street by going up the street to where the Cinderellas began, making you have to walk basically a "U" with a flat bottom (down, across, up).

They all were alike. Cookie-cutter homes. Cute, though. After several years, they all changed, and took on their own persona, depending on what the owners did with them. Many were expanded out the back. None were built with garages, so homeowners put garages in their back yard, or put a car port on the side of the home. The lots were quite small, so if they put in a car port, they almost overhung their neighbors yard (air space).

I had several friends who lived in those homes, but the mind is dim, and no names are coming to my mind. The new residents were 99 percent catholic, coming from Philadelphia. And, since they didn't attend my church, which was really my main social-building place, I didn't get close to any of the children who lived there.

Mom may have lifted her nose at those "salt box" homes, but I thought they were cute -- cottages, like the cottage in Random Harvest, a movie I recently saw (again) with Greer Garson and Ronald Colement. It's a two hankie movie. 'Nuf said.


When I was a child, I loved to climb trees. There was a wonderful "climbing" tree in our back yard. It was removed when I was in my early teens. It was up against one of the chicken coops (next door). I loved that tree, and I could climb all the way to the top.

I had a friend. His name was Harry. He became a priest. Not that becoming a priest is relevant to the conversation, here, but he did. Anyway, Harry and I (for a couple of months) spent a lot of time in that tree. I was 6, he was 7. Then, something happened.

I don't know what happened, except school started. Harry still came over for the first few days of school, and we'd climb the tree and pretend we had a tree house -- which we didn't, of course.

Then, it happened. He didn't come any more. Why? Well, I supposed it was because when I was transferred from first to second grade (and he was in that grade), when I acknowledged his presence in the classroom with a small "Hi" and a small, low "wave of the hand", he got embarrassed. He never spoke to me again, unless he had to. And he never returned to our tree house.

So, little girls, pretend that a boy doesn't exist if you want him to enjoy your company away from the classroom or other social/church events.

Fishing vs. Tennis

My father never took me fishing. That's not a diss on my dad. He wasn't interested in fishing. His sport was tennis. And he played that until well into his 80s. My dad was great at one-man tennis.

The school (pictured) across the street from us, in the mid-50s, put down asphalt on the playground. Prior to that it was dirt. Well, skinned knees went up when they did that, and so did good tennis playing. This is the view from Central and Third Aves. We lived on Second Ave. side of the school and that's where the playground and the BLANK WALL was.

Dad and I would go over there and hit the ball back and forth, and he always beat me until I started practicing one-man tennis. It improved my skills remarkably. I actually won a trophy at Summer Tennis/Triton Regional Highschool -- beating all the other ladies who played that summer. But back to one-man tennis and then fishing.
The BLANK WALL was the teacher and the one-man tennis tournament location. Dad would go over and hit the ball back and forth to him self, practicing spinning the ball so it would bounce away from him when it came toward him. He drew a box on the wall with chalk (the school board didn't seem to mind) and that was what he would aim for when he practiced his served. Ditto for me. That's how I learned to beat my father. I, of course, being younger could run faster without getting as winded as dad did, but for a man of his "old" age of late 40s, early 50s, he had remkarkable stamina. My father was 38 when I was born, thus the advanced age when I, as a teenager, began playing tennis. It was my summer sport.
However, back to fishing. As I mentioned dad didn't fish, but that didn't mean he cared whether I went fishing. Well, we lived not too far from Timber Creek, where according to the book, A History of Runnemede, NJ the fishing was supposedly the best in the area. I got into fishing mode after reading Tom Sawyer when I was 8, and I wanted to go fishing. Of course, with no money available for fishing pole, I made my own, just as Tom and Huck would have done. I found a great long stick, not too thick, not too thin, and on the end I got a pen-knife and notched it, wrapping a string around that end -- the notch holding the string in place -- and then was able to get a few hooks, as they were only a penny a piece, and off I went, down to the Creek. Not too small a stretch for 8-year-old legs, either. It was about a mile from our house.
I didn't know I needed a fishing license to fish there. But after I found that out, I snuck in on several occasions and fished. I never caught a thing. And I went fishing almost everyday for a whole summer. I guess my worms were the kind the fish liked. Or maybe the fish knew I wasn't supposed to be there and were giving me a break so I wouldn't get arrested for catching a fish without a license.
Needless to say, after my "Tom and Huck Summer" I didn't go fishing again. I grew up enough to know that girls and worms didn't mix, and besides, I really didn't want to get arrested for catching fish.

Monday, February 4, 2008


Dad liked his gravy just so. Not too thick, not too thin. On many occasions my dear mother, in her always-trying-to-please attempt at making gravy (with flour, not corn-startch) wouldn't get it right. She's make, what my father referred to, as crank-case gravy. Crank-case gravy was gravy that was so thick it poured from the gravy boat in clumps -- not lumps -- no lumps in the clumps. Or if you tried to scoop it out with a gravy spoon, it was nigh unto impossible to get it into the spoon.

I don't know why my mom never made corn-starch gravy -- it's perfect every time. No crank-case gravy when using corn-starch. But she never did.

My attempts at gravy are superb. I never get lumps, and I always make it to the thickness I'm looking for -- I use cornstarch, but it wasn't always so. After all I learned to cook from my mother who always shook up flour and water to mix it and then combined that with what meat drippings with some water added to the drippings. Good gravy most of the time, but not perfect. It wasn't until about 8 years ago when I discovered the Food Channel that I learned how to make perfect gravy every time.

Gravy could also refer to spaghetti sauce, as a distant cousin of mine insists, but we never called it (spaghetti sauce) gravy, so that doesn't count. And mom's spaghetti GRAVY was always perfect, so it doesn't need to be discussed here anyway.

I wonder if my siblings remember dad complaining about crank-case gravy.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

A history of Runnemede

I just finished re-reading the book "A History of Runnemede" by Wiliam Leap (a former resident of Runnemede who was about 10 years ahead of me in school).

I was hoping re-reading his book would evoke memories of my past. It did and it didn't. It brought back a few ideas about which I was going to write anyway. Nothing new, though. There are some pictures in the book that I want to scan in and post on the BLOG -- pictures of the routes I took in my walks to the post office when Alan was in Kenya and I was in Runnemede waiting anxiously for a letter from him. The routes which I took as I went to the post office twice a day hoping against hope that there would be a blue air mail letter waiting in my father's mailbox (PO BOX 41). I can still remember the combination to open that mailbox, but I won't post it here in case the post office hasn't changed the combination since the box was turned over to a new person after dad left Runnemede.

So what new things did I come up with? Well, wait and see. I learned more about doctors and dentists, that I didn't know. I found out that the homes in Runnemede (where the doctors and dentist lived) while they were larger than any other homes in Runnemede, weren't all that big at all.

I learned a lot about the Cinderella homes -- a housing development built in the early 50s across Clements Bridge Road and up Knight Avenue a bit -- and that those houses cost $8,500 when they were built. I'll take a whole BLOG to talk about the Cinderella homes.

It was recalled for me lessons from "Aunt Nellie." Another BLOG on that one.

So, folks, I'll have a few more topics to talk about before I leave Runnemede and head out to Cincinnati -- then, it will be just notes about my life with my husband of 41 years and my children. Boring to most, I'm sure. And when I start writing about my children, I'll try real hard not to embarrass them (yeah, right).

It also occurred to me that building Triton High School in Runnemede was a big deal in 1956 and '57. So, I'll spend some time talking about that aspect of my life -- high school -- a time in my life I've tried to blot out because I was so skinny, so pimply, my hair was so kinky, curly, when straight was the style. Not a good time for me.

Enough of the "woe is me" syndrome. I'll pep it up and make the teenage years of my life seem funny, because, in retrospect, the events of my teenage years, if put in a movie would be comedic, rather than tragic.

Saturday, February 2, 2008


When Alan and I first married, and moved into married-student housing at Rutgers, I thought I knew what a neighbor was.

In Runnemede everyone was your neighbor. You looked out for each other. You talked with each other. You shared dinners with each other. You had picnics with each other. It was something that I thought was common throughout the United States.

At Rutgers, we had a neighborhood, and it was similar to what we had in Runnemede -- we would just drop in on our neighbors from time to time to play a game or invite them to dinner (always at the apartment, never out to eat, couldn't afford that).

Then, Alan went into the Army. Our first apartment was a sewer -- really it was. The sewer line kept backing up in our bathroom/bathtub/toilet/sink/ and floor. We didn't get to know the neighbors because I was working full-time and Alan was doing his Army reserve/work thing.

Then we went onto an Army base where neighborliness is forced, but officers' wives didn't dare fraternize with enlisted wives -- and those wives were my friends because those wives were in our church and Bible study. So the "neighborliness" had to be done in secret, sort of. But we still were neighbors and could depend on one another if we needed help or just wanted someone to have a cup of coffee with.

Then when Alan was dischared, we moved to Fanwood, NJ, and we had neighbors. That's it. We had neighbors. The family in the house next to us were prison-camp survivers of Hiter's war, and weren't very interested in being neighborly. I can imagine they were still leary of getting close to anyone for fear of being turned into the police for crimes they didn't commit. We had a nice lady who lived across the street from us, and her daughter baby-sat for me a few times, but I don't remember her name. Our neighborliness included a rare cup of coffee on a morning when I only had the two girls to watch.

After two years in Fanwood, we moved to Cincinnati. We moved into a home in a "neighborhood". We were in a neighborhood where most families lived well above our income level and so they didn't "fraternize" with us. The first couple of years we were in Cincinnati we made really good friends with two of our neighbors -- elderly widow ladies -- but they soon moved away and their "replacements", while welcomed to the neighborhood by me personally never seemed to want to be neighborly.

I don't really blame them. I worked full time. They worked full time. That left only Saturdays to "meet and greet" as our Sundays were taken up full-time with church activities.

I'm disappointed that I didn't make friends with my neighbors in Cincinnati, but it takes two to be neighbors, not one.

Then we moved to our final home -- it will be my last move until my children put me in a home for the elderly or incapacitated. Here we have once again come to know what being a neighbor is. We have neighbors who care for us and about us. It's sort of like "Cheers" where everyone knows your name ( and the names of your children and grandchildren). When my back went out, I was overwhelmed by neighbors who wanted to shop for me -- what a blessing that was. When Alan was hospitalized, I was overwhelmed with thoughtful neighbors who wanted to visit him, shop for me, feed me, etc.

It hasn't been one sided on their part, either. I have reciprocated on many occasions in the last seven years (yes, it will be that long in June) and have really enjoyed being a neighbor again.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Sunday Drives

Some pasttime. Sunday afternoon drives. Leave church, eat dinner that is waiting in the oven for church to be over, after clean-up of dishes, take off in the automobile to a pre-determined destination.

I remember several Sunday drives -- dad never went with us -- that Uncle El (short for Elwood) Wentzel took us on. Us would be me, my sister, my brother Mark, my mom, and Uncle El's wife, Aunt Blanche, and, of course, the driver, Uncle El.

Mom and two children were in the back seat and one of us children was relegated to the front seat, in the middle (I hated that seat). Because I didn't like the middle front seat -- and this was before seat belts, so it really wasn't too uncomfortable if you were tall enough to see out the front window -- I was permitted to sit in the back. I didn't like that front seat because I was short and couldn't see where we were going, and that always made me sick to my stomach. Good thing I was in the back seat, and.......I was able to have a WINDOW seat! Window seats were prime real estate on Sunday drives.

So take-off begins. I remember a memorable trip we took out the newly opened Pennsylvania Turnpike. We went as far as the first tunnel -- about two hours one way. Then we turned around and came back home. Another two hours. We got home just in time for church.

Another trip we took was to an animal farm somewhere near Allentown, Pennsylvania. Another trip was to the shore -- Sea Isle City. Why I remember that, I don't know. Other trips were just on the back roads of South Jersey, down to Bridgeton or Vineland. Once we went to Newport, NJ -- the place where dad had his first church. It was a short trip. Mom showed Uncle El and Aunt Blanch the church and the parsonage (outside only) and we turned around and came back home.

My father missed a lot on those trips. Looking at the countryside as we breezed past it was so much fun.

We didn't take too many of these trips, but Sunday afternoon drives were part of the life in Runnemede in the 50s.

Sleepy Town

Sundays weren't only a "sleepy" day for our family, it was a "sleepy" time for the town as well. Even the gas station stopped pumping gas on Sunday. Every store was closed. The drug store was closed, but Mr. Pitt was available (he was the pharmacist) if there were an emergency. Ditto with the town doctors. If you ran out of food, you went hungry. Sunday shutdown was a lesson for all in planning.

The only thing open was a small restaurant that was located between Dinks and the corner store at the Pike and Clements Bridge. I do know that when Dinks expanded, he bought out the restaurant which made his store twice as large -- which isn't saying much.

The restaurant, of which I remember only one dinner to which I was invited, was very small, but the food was good, or so the adults thought. Fresh baked bread. Fresh vegetables (not canned). Fresh-baked pies. This restaurant was probably 15 feet wide by 30 feet long at best, including the kitchen. It seated people in booths on the left hand side as you walked in (or was it the right-hand side?) and there were maybe three or four other tables with chairs against the other wall, which weren't used often because it made the facility too crowded. Only the "overflow crowd" sat at the tables. And I might note that back then there were no fire codes that limited the number of people per square foot.

I do recall that the windows had 1/3 curtains -- red gingham (large squares) -- on the lower portion of the window box. I also recall that the life of that small restaurant was short-lived after I started remembering things. It could have been a Runnemede "fixture" for years before I arrived in town.

But back to "sleepy town." I think it was very nice that the noice, hustle, and bustle of daily life shut down on Sunday. It was a day when only needs were supplied -- no wants. You had to schedule your wants to six days per week. It was a day when you could hear a bird sing because there was little traffic. You noticed the wind rustling the leaves in the trees. You watched the bees flitting from flower to flower then off to their home. You watched ants make homes in the cracks in the sidewalks. It was truly a day of leisure, except of course for church time.

There were, of course, Sunday drives -- a subject of another BLOG, but while they were popular, not many people did that every Sunday. No, Sunday was truly a day of rest and relaxation. Rest, as I told you meant a Sunday afternoon nap. A tradition I still adhere to, religiously.

It's Friday

It's Friday and I'm getting ready for a scrapbook event at a local church. Lots of ladies, lots of pictures, lots of talking, lots of fun.

Fridays, growing up, meant Saturday would follow, which mean extra sleep in the morning, bath in the evening, weekly comics in between. Saturday was also a play day. Or, if it rained or the weather wasn't nice for playing outdoors, it was a scrapbooking day. However, no prep was needed back then.

I didn't have to find all my embellishments. I didn't have to pick through reams of beautiful paper for find a great background for whatever I was putting into my scrapbook. I didn't have to lug a heavy album, as my "album" was a spiral bound plain paper notebook. I didn't have to make sure I had a handy-dandy paper cutter, or punches in all shapes to make my own decorations for the page. Crayons were all I needed in that department. Crayons and a scissors.

And, of course, Saturday was get ready for Sunday, which was the day of rest. Always forced on us was the "rest" part on Sunday afternoon. The house was locked up, the phone was taken off the hook, and everyone was put to bed to rest.

My parents had no trouble sleeping in that two-hour period, but we children certainly did. And you could hear my brothers giggling quietly so as not to wake my parents who were in the next room, thus bringing on the wrath of my father, who really needed that sleep. My sister and I would "play" quietly in the bed, usually a talk-fest in whisper mode.

Then after the two-hour forced "rest" we were able to get back into normal mode and get ourselves ready for the evening services at the church. Those services included youth groups and then the evening service -- which, I have to tell you, was the best service of the week.

Why, you ask? And even if you didn't ask, I'll tell you.

The evening service (every Sunday) was an extended song-service -- REQUESTS -- for the loudest shouters -- and then a few testimonies -- and then a very short sermon from daddy. If, dad were doing a "series" of sermons on like, say, "I Samuel", then he would delete (a word we didn't know in the 50s) the testimony portion of the service. He never cut down on the song part thought. I think he knew the children in the audience liked that part and it did keep them in tow during that hour-long service. No squirmy kids in his service. At least not during the firsr part.

I know on occasion he would let us sing five, then preach, then end the service with as many songs as we could get in. And we never sang more than two verses of the hymns. He wanted to keep it fair, I suppose. I think putting the extra songs at the end of the service had two benefits -- we children had something to look forward to, and if people wanted to stay longer to sing, it was a great way to keep the singing going. I mean, we were having a wonderful time singing those hymns, so who wanted to stop? Not me. Not lots of people. Those evenings -- when dad put the songs at the end often went on for an extra hour.

I would try every week to yell out the number in the hymnal which I wanted the congregation to sing -- it was always Wonderful Grace of Jesus. I loved the way the men sang the bass part in the chorus. I just loved listening to the congregation singing that song.

Did I ever mention how good a "choir" Mt. Calvary had. It wasn't an organized choir, but the Lord provided good voices from both men and women, and He provided those who could sing parts -- provide the harmony. It was such a treat to hear these saints sing. They are all gone to be with the Lord now.

Dad would always end the song service with a "slow" song such as Sweet Hour of Prayer or Great is Thy Faithfulness.

How I wish I had told my father (and mother) now much I appreciated God's choice of occupation for them. Our God is truly awesome.