Growing up in a small town in Southern New Jersey

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Family Christmas -- new families

None of the families that attended today's Christmas party at my home here in Northern Kentucky lived in Runnemede. Few of those who attended have ever been to Runnemede, but they have heard my stories of our Christmases many times.

Today, we continued another tradition. Each year we try to get the entire family together for our family Christmas. Today was the designated day. I've included the pictures but can't caption them because I can't see the pictures on my screen, only gibberish, and don't know where to add what each picture is. I do know that one of the pictures is my daughter Cyndi and her look-alike daughter, Toria. Becky is in two of the pictures, one where she is getting things set up for me in the kitchen, and another of her just resting afterwards. One picture is of Adam, he wears glasses and every says he looks like Alan. I do not see that at all. I think he looks like his other grandfather, "Doc", who is now with the Lord. The little girl showing off her dress is Ellianna. Such a pretty outfit she was wearing yesterday.

We had fun, fun, fun. The children were attentive and played well together. My games went over like lead balloons, but the children got their gifts and they were happy.

We also celebrated Alan's 65th birthday. Alan really seemed out of it yesterday and I think the whole birthday thing went right over his head. But he received a really nice gift, a hand-held GPS thingy to replace us taking and smothering ourselves in the front seat with his extra large laptop. We'll see if he ever uses it. It he doesn't, I will!

Now the house is quiet and I'm truly enjoying the quietness of the evening.


Saturday, December 26, 2009

Day after Christmas sales

Did we have day-after-Christmas-sales when I was growing up? I don't remember that we did.

I do remember one day-after-Christmas, though. I was 14 and had receive $30 for Christmas. I wanted to buy some new clothes and a get a new pair of shoes. So, the day after Christmas I headed into Philadelphia with my money prepared to get a couple of skirts, two blouses, a sweater, and a pair of shoes. Yes, you could get that much back then with $30. You can't even get a pair of shoes for $30 these days. But I digress.

I got into Philly. It was closed down. Not a single store was open, and it wasn't Saturday or Sunday, it was a Thursday. I was so bummed. I mean who would have thought that the stores would all be closed the day after Christmas. Just because all the stores in Runnemede were closed, I didn't think Philly would close as well.

SO, I got on a subway (Broad Street Subway) and headed south to visit with my Uncle Joe, Aunt Rita, and Joanie before I went home. Also back in those days a 14-year-old girl could ride a bus into the city, get on a subway, and even head back home after dark, and not have to worry about being abducted or worse.

I have never gone to any day-after-Christmas sales because I just don't like crowds. And after my experience in Philly when I was 14, I probably never will.


Thursday, December 24, 2009

First Date

One of my readers asked for detail about my first date with Alan, my husband. I don't recall our first date, isn't that awful? Who doesn't remember their first date with their spouse. I don't. I suppose the first date I remember is a banquet we went to -- a group of churches put on a banquet for all the teens in their respective churches. It was a Hawaiian Luau. Authentic Hawaiian food was served.

Alan took me and paid for my food. I'm pretty sure that was our first real date. Oh we'd been together before, but not on a "date" date. We would just hang out together at church activities and everyone knew we were a couple. If the church had a skate night, Alan and I got in a car together, and skated all the skates together. One time we were sitting too close while waiting for an all-skate (during a ladies only skate) and were told to break it up -- in other words move apart. Be pure. Yikes! I hope my dad didn't find out!

Anyway the Hawaiian luau was such a nice event. It was outdoors (of course), and the only thing was that the weather was cold and I was freezing. Alan took off his jacket and then he was freezing, and I was still cold.

The food was delicious except for the poi. Never could get that stuff down, but the rest of the meal was very good. Of course, I've always been one who could eat almost anything. I have even eaten fried grasshoppers and chocolate covered ants -- and not on a dare. I ate them just because I wanted to try them. And since I actually enjoyed them I ate more and even bought a jar of grasshoppers for myself.

So, that's a reminisce of my first date with my husband, Alan.


It's Christmas Eve

Alan and I attended a Christmas Eve service at our old church. It's been years since I've been to a CE service and I just had to go. Don't know why. I recall my father dragging me to Christmas Eve service over at the Lutheran Church. Our church didn't have a service, but he always went to the one at the Lutheran Church. I guess I would have appreciated it more if I didn't wish I was out with the other kids from my own church who were partying together and caroling all over town. And I wish I was home enjoying my mom's seven fish dinner, an Italian custom I didnt' even know about until I watched the food network. I thought it was just something my mom did. She never told me it was an Italian tradition.

So, to all your Runnemede folks out there who might read this: Merry Christmas to you all.



Monday, December 21, 2009

I remember a big snow on a weekend

It was probably in '59 or 1960. The snow started on Saturday morning. It was the weekend of the Army/Navy game, and it was the weekend of Youtharama for December. I loved seeing it snow, but I didn't know that it was going to ruin my weekend.

It snowed at the rate of about two inches per hour, so that by 3 p.m. there was a foot of snow on the ground and I got a phone call from Uncle Bill that we weren't going to go to Youtharama. I think I must have mouthed off to him and asked in a smart-mouth way why he couldn't drive in a foot of snow. Since I had never driven I didn't realize what it was like to drive with even two inches of snow on the road. But Uncle Bill just said we weren't going and that was it.

I thought about taking a bus into Philly so I could go to Youtharama, but my mom and dad wouldn't let me. So, I sat home on Saturday night and sulked.

The next morning, it was still snowing, and poor daddy had to shovel the walkway from the house to the church and then the church walkways. But while dad was at church and his family was at church, nobody else came, at least not for Sunday school. By church time a few people had braved the weather and walked to church, so we did have a church service that Sunday.

Nowdays, church would just be cancelled, but back then people could and did walk to church. People still live as close or as far from the church as they did back then, but they all drive to church. No one walks to church any more. Let's face it, folks just don't walk any more. I include myself in that. But then, I really can't walk any more. And boy I wish I could.

So after Sunday a.m. service, dad announced (because it was still snowing) that there would be no church in the evening. The deacons had a quick meeting and helped dad decide that.

I think we didn't have school the next day. Runnemede schools were open, but the high school was closed because buses couldn't get through. In Runnemede kids walked, at the high school, only Runnemede and Glendora kids walked. The others rode in buses.

So that's my snow story about Runnemede, brought on by the big snow they had this past weekend.

I wish we had a little more snow where I live now. But I guess I should be thankful for the little bit we got.


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Christmas movies

When I was a child there were very few Christmas movies, and since we didn't have a TV until I was 10, I didn't get addicted to them until I got old (younger than I am now, but still old).

There were only two movies that I can recall seeing with my father and mother and those were: Miracle on 34th Street and It's a Wonderful Life. I can't remember the number of times I've seen those movies. Then when I was about 13 White Christmas was released for TV viewers.

I don't remember how old I was when the cartoons became my Christmas fare. Was it when I was in college or when I had children? Anyway, I have seen Rudolph, Charley Brown, and Frosty too many times to count and I still enjoy watching them.

This year, I'm overfed, so to speak, on Christmas movies. The Hallmark channel runs them from noon to Midnight. Lifetime has them on from 6 to midnight. And ABC Family runs them in the evenings as well.

Are there any new classics? I don't know. I know that I'm still enjoying the real classics on TCM (tonight is Gone with the Wind, which I'm not watching -- it's just oo long and I'm too sleepy).

Many of the TCM movies evoke those memories of my father and me watching late-night movies (11:30 to 1:30) including those like The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, Random Harvest and Mrs. Minnever. If I catch those titles in the movie scroll of a day, I will stop and watch, hankie in hand, no matter that I've viewed those movies dozens of times -- sort of like the new "old" movies: You've Got Mail, Sleepless in Seattle, and While you were Sleeping, all sappy chick-flicks that Alan walks away from, and I sit engrossed for as long as they take to view.

Runnemede and movies -- some combination.


A long time ago

It occurred to me today that I haven't been living in Runnemede for over 40 years and yet the memories I have of that town are so near and dear to me.

Of course this time of year evokes so many memories -- good memories -- of those days when I was in residence in that town.

As I sat wrapping oodles of gifts for my grandchildren and children today, I remarked to my husband that it now takes me so much longer to do this than it used to, regardless of the numbers increasing, it still takes me so long to wrap even just one gift.

I also think of my father's perfection at gift wrapping, and mom's -- well let me just say, the gifts were surrounded with paper, most of it wrinkled from use again. She saved the paper each year and used it when she could the following year. Dad -- he always bought new paper, so I guess that's why his gifts always looked to perfect.

I don't reuse paper, much to Alan's chagrin. His family used to do that too. It must have been a Depression Era thing, as well as a lack of money thing.

I am thankful that God has given us enough for our needs and many or our wants, especially at this time of year. My favorite, because I love giving gifts to my family. My dad loved giving gifts to people, even if it wasn't Christmas.

A person could NOT come into our home and leave empty handed. He would either give them a book or a pen or a bookmark -- something to remember their visit with him and/or our family.

I like that idea and whenever my grandchildren visit they get something. I usually send something home with my cleaning crew as well.

This is the season for giving, but I like what my dad did -- he gave year round. Isn't that special?


Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Christmas tree

We always had one.  We didn't get it until just a couple of days before Christmas, although I remember mom asking dad over and over to pick one up, and everyday he'd come home from the post office WITHOUT a tree.  I think he was waiting for the price to drop.  I mean $5 was a lot of money back then, and he was waiting for the dollar sale.  So we usually got a tree, a scraggly tree around December 22 or December 23. 

Tinsel was saved from year to year -- back then it was made of aluminum foil, not plastic -- and it had to be draped just so.  Dad, the perfectionist, made certain of that.  Me?  I'd just throw it on the tree.  I had no patience for draping.

I recall the beautiful glass balls we had, which are now waiting to be hung on my tree.  The box is out which has all these precious oldies, and I'm waiting for a spurt of energy to get me going to add them to my tree.

Do you all like my new border?  It's so reminiscent of those days back in the 40s and 50s.  The sleigh looks so much like the sleigh which was parked next to Santa's "house" in front of the Municipal building -- which was Santa's second home.  His first home was at the fire house.  There was no room for anything but his chair at that gathering place.

And the reindeer?  I recall so many folks having a similar chach-key in their front yard.  The wreath is not unlike what you'd find on many doors in town. 

Ah, yes, I loved Runnemede at Christmas time.  How many times have I said that?  Old people tend to be repetitive, but the love of the small town, the decorations on peoples' lawns, porches, and doors, all are remembered fondly.

They say, "You can't go back."  I know that's true.  I wonder how the old town is decorated this year.


Monday, December 7, 2009

December musings

I know I loved December for more reasons than it was the month of Christmas. 

I know I loved snow.  I still do.  I really don't mind driving in snow, I just don't like ice, and it seems that while in NJ we got snow, out here in N. KY we get ice.  It's beautiful, but oh, so treacherous.

I know I loved finding a gift for my mom and dad. something I hoped they would like, knowing the whole time that my 50 cents didn't go very far.  However, when they opened their gift, they always oohed and aahed, and seemed to think that they got the most wonderful gift in the world.  At least that's what I remember.

I know I loved wrapping gifts.  I have never been good at it.  That is, my dad was perfect at wrapping gifts.  All the corners were squared off, and the ends of the packages had even triangles taped together to hold the paper tight.  My package ends never match, I rarely get the scotch tape to hit correctly on the first try, thus having to put more tape on a package than is necessary.  But I love curling ribbon (I wrote about that a couple of years ago). 

I never liked addressing Christmas cards, and I still don't.  For many years I didn't send any.  Then we moved to a community where everyone sends cards to everyone else.  I had to "keep up with the Joneses."  This year, however, I'm cutting way back.  I finally found the cards I bought last year to send out this year, so I hope to get them addressed tomorrow.

I loved to watch my mom bake.  I loved to watch her cut out cookies.  I loved that she let me put some sprinkles on the sugar cookies.  Mom didn't bake much because the ladies in the church always showered us with boxes and boxes of cookies, which I must say were much better than anything my mom baked.  I hope to get some cookies made this weekend.

I loved Christmas Eve dinner and caroling with the other teens in the church (when I finally got to be a teenager).  I was so glad when my 13th Christmas had arrived, since I envied the teens the caroling events each year.  All that cocoa!

And, did I mention, that I loved the snow?  Yes, I did, and we had snow back then.  Global warming hadn't hit NJ I guess. 

Just a few things I remember about December.  Hey I made a poem!


Wednesday, December 2, 2009


Don't you just love this picture?  It's Micki (two years ago) and Alan lovin' on her.  He just loves our visits with her.

Well, folks, and some of you in Runnemede might remember her, she had a stroke on Thanksgiving Day.  She's in the hospital in rehab and doing quite well.  She had a knee replacement in mid-October and was going through her home-rehab, feeling really awful after the physical therapist left. 

Thing is:  I had called her right after her visit with the therapist and she told me she wasn't feeling well, and that her leg was really numb, but we both thought it was because of the PT she had just gone through.  Fortunately, after I hung up, she  called her friend and told her she couldn't feel anything in her leg (the one that was supposedly fixed) who came right over and got her to the hospital.

For you in Runnemede:  Micki was on the radio (before TV) and had a program coming out of Philly every Saturday morning.  I listened to it religiously, and she did make at least one "appearance" at church and sang a few hymns with her guitar.

She is now 85 years old.  Praying for her would be appreciated.  I'll keep you all updated.


Monday, November 30, 2009

What a trip!

I'm posting this on The Fat Lady Singeth as well.  Covering all my bases here.

Alan and I just got back from a cruise to nowhere.  That's what they call it when you basically wander around in the Atlantic ocean for days on end and enjoy the cruise ship as a resort, instead of getting suffled off the boat every day to try to see sights that you can't possibly see well in the time alloted.

I will get to my ONE TOUR this trip.

The trip was out of Baltimore.  This was a first time to use this port and I have to say that for passengers with mobility problems this was the best ever.  And our immobility this year was the worst ever.  So that's saying a lot.

They were very attentive to our needs and got us to our cabin in good time.  Dumb us.  We showed up two hours too early, thinking we were on a Miami boarding schedule.  Not at all.  But that's okay.  They were still very nice about our earliness (and we weren't the only ones) and weren't put off by it at all.

We had pre-ordered scooters so we would be able to get around the boat with little or no pain.  Well, that worked well for three and a half days, then Alan did a back flip with his scooter -- the back wheels got caught on the ramp through one of the doors to the upper deck -- and he got the wind knocked out of him, bruised several ribs, and was in misery the remainder of the trip.  Basically, he stayed in the room for the rest of the time, except for meals when after not liking the room service selection he decided he would join me for meals at the restaurants.  Someday I'll write about those mis-adventures, but not today.

Anyway, on Thanksgiving day, we were in Nassau, Bahamas.  Now, I've walked from the ship to Nassau several times, and each time it has been a wearying, hurtful process.  But I want those free bracelets and other jewelry they hand out at the various jewelry stores there.  I now have enough charm bracelets for all my girls, big and small!  All free!  And I have necklaces for stockings, etc.  I'm so excited about that.

Anyway, this trip what normally took me 1 hour to get into town, took only 10 minutes on the scooter.  It was so much fun and I could see so much more.  Granted many of the shops didn't have ramps, so I couldn't go into them.  Their loss, as I was in a spending mood, and I had saved my meager allowance for six months!  I bought myself a present for Alan to give me for Christmas -- that's a tradition.  I buy it, he pays for it, and wraps it up, and I enjoy it for as long as I live.  Then one of my girls will enjoy it.  See?  Isn't that the way it's supposed to work?

Alan had been complaining and saying he was sure he had shingles, and I kept checking (this was after the back flip) to see if he did have shingles, and I saw nothing, so I decided he needed to get to an ER as soon as we landed.  Well, lucky for him, shingles showed themselves for the nasty things they are and now he only has to endure a trip to the doctor's office to get some anti-biotics.  He has the pain meds that they gave him on the boat, and the meds he's been taking since his last shingles attack.

You see, with a compromised immune system once you get shingles you never get rid of them entirely. You get rid of the rash, but the pain may lessen some, but it's still there.  Sort of like fibromyalgia.  And because his immune system is compromised, he can't have the vaccine that is available for singles. 

So at the end of the trip -- and I have to say we had the best wait staff ever -- I packed us up, and boy did that hurt, because I had been having to lift Alan from a chair or bed, and I was so totally sore from doing that.  I packed us up.  Got us all set to get off the boat which was slicker than butter this time.  What a difference from other cruises.  They wheeled us right up to the taxi.  The cab-driver took care of transferring out luggage to our car which was had parked at the hotel in which we stayed in Baltimore, and off we went. 

Home again, home again, jiggety-jig!!!!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Hall Light

I KNOW I have never written about this before.  And why not?  It was so much a part of my daily life in that little house on Second Avenue.

These days you have what is known as a night light.  Not so when I was growing up.  So my dad, ingeniously, or otherwise, devised his own night light.

The house had two bedrooms, separated by a bathroom room, and a short hall joining the two bedrooms.  On the ceiling of the hallway there was a ceiling fixture.  Into that fixture my dad put a small wattage (25 watts) light bulb, and that light was left on all night long.

It was a comfort for us children because while the door to the bedroom was closed, it wasn't closed al the way.  It was left open a crack, just enough light to keep the children from "dark" nightmares. 

And I suppose it was left on so that when mom and/or dad got up in the middle of the night (after four children, I'm sure my mom did -- it's a woman thing) the light would lighten the way to the bathroom.  The switch for the hall light was on the right of the hall doorway as you were entering it from the dining room, but it wasn't close enough for mom or day to put the light off when they went to bed ir they knew it was going to be needed in the middle of the night, whether it was because of a child who had the croup or because a child had a nightmare or a parent had to use the facility. 

[Note: the location of the switch is murky in my mind, but I know that the thermostat was on the left side as you entered the hall, so I'm thinking the light switch was on the right.]

Some of the comforts of childhood are so obvious that we forget them.  Having that hall lit and having just a crack of that light showing through the doorway, was a comfort for the Drexler children.


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Walking to School on a November morning

About this time of year, it was time to give up on wearing the highschool sweater for outer-wear on the way to school.  I saved and saved so I could get that sweater.  Remember them?  They were cardigans, but they were thick-knit and they were BIG, or at least we wore them three sizes too big.  Triton's sweaters were red with blue strips on the sleeves.  I never got any letters for mine, but that was okay.  I liked it "plain."  Oh yeah, I paid only $15 for that sweater, but that was as much as a new coat cost back then!

So, it was now time to break out the winter coat and wear it unbuttoned -- because it wasn't quite cold enough for us hardy folk that walked to school in snow up to our waists, uphill, at 20 below, for six miles.  My winter coat was an old pea jacket and while they are in style now, and I suppose have always been "in", I hated it.  I wanted a leather jacket.  I mean all my friends had leather jackets.  My friends got a new coat every year.  I had mine for two years and it didn't look like I would get a new one this year either.  I made a deal with my mom.  I would earn some money to add to her Christmas fund for my gift and she could get me a leather jacket.  Somewhere I have a picture of my daughter wearing that coat.  It lasted that long.  And I wouldn't be surprised to find out that one of my daughters still had it in her possession.  After all, it is vinitage 50s.

Back to walking to school.  I would leave the house at exactly 6:50 each morning, meeting up with Marilyn Groninger and Peggy Gibson as they passed my house.  We would walk away from the pike to the end of Second Avenue (where 2nd meets Clements Bridge).  We'd cross Clements Bridge Road and walk up Harding which wound around to Shubert Avenue, which is where the school was.  Triton Regional Highschool.  We'd get there and in the doors at 7:00 a.m.  Homeroom started at 7:10 a.m., and the day would begin.

Coming home I was on my own, mainly because either Marilyn or Peggy or I had after-school activities and those activities didn't allow for us to leave school together on most days.  That was okay.  I knew the way home!


Sunday, November 15, 2009

Communion/Sunday saying

Communion.  A.K.A. The Lord's Supper. At Mt. Calvary we celebrated the Lord's Supper once a month, the last Sunday of the month.  Communion was very special to me and I looked forward to those monthly "suppers."  I have to say that I was not permitted to partake until I had been baptized, and so for 10 cognizative years I watched as the elements were passed past me on those Sundays.

The church was very quiet during that part of the service, except for my father's recitation of Scripture.  And after everyone (except the children) had been served one element, dad would say, "This do in remembrance of Me.  Eat ye all of it."  And down would go the Matza, which he had cracked into tiny pieces between a paper napkin back at the house prior to the service. 

He also filled all those tiny cups with just a couple of ounces of grape juice.  And said:   "This do in remembrance of Me.  Drink ye all of it." 

I recall that communion set the church had.  The plates for the Matza were peuter and had a wonderful patina.  The juice rack was made of wood with holes in each tier (the church had three because there were three sections in the sanctuary) for the cups which held the juice.  And in the early years the cups were made of glass and mom had to wash them after each communion service.  In my last few years at the church they had switched over to plastic which could be pitched and no washing was required. 

I don't remember mom ever complaining about having to wash all those tiny glasses.  I know I did because I had to dry the things.  After drying them for several years and before we changed over to plastic, I tried to convince my mom that washing them and then letting them dry on a towel was more sanitary than my drying them and touching them with my grimy fingers.  I think I was about 10 or 11 years old when she finally succumbed to my logic and we would place those tiny glass recepticals on a kitchen towel, unside down, and they would air dry.  Then she would carefully place them into the wooden racks for the next month's Communion service.

I loved those days.  What can I say?  They were very, very special.


Saturday, November 14, 2009

Baby ring

I really should take a picture of what I'm talking about here. 

I woke up this a.m. and was vividly recalling a Sunday many years ago.  I was five or six years old.  And I was sitting in the back row of the church with my friends, Kathie Kenders, Linda Wallace, and Sue Youngblood.  Mrs. Youngblood was sitting right in front of this quartet of five-seven-year-olds and so we were behaving -- mostly.

I had/have a ring.  It was given to me by my grandmother Drexler shortly after I was born.  Of course I don't remember that particular event, and am just going on what my mom told me.

Anyway, it is/was a gold ring set with a small emerald.  I was only permitted to wear that ring on Sunday morning, and I had to ask permission prior to wearing it.  As soon as I got home from church I had to return it to its box -- a small ring box -- which resided in of all places, mom's money drawer.  That was a drawer in her dressing table in which she "safed" the weekly stash on which we lived.

Well, this particular Sunday, I decided to put the ring in my mouth.  No, I didn't swallow it.  I did however bit on it, and not realizing that gold is soft and if thin enough it will become damaged, I dented the bottom part of the ring.  I put a wrinkle in the roundness of the ring.  Not wanting my mother to know what I'd done, and feeling really awful about it, I put the ring away as soon as I got home.  Since the emerald side was showing and not the wrinkle I figured I was safe. 

But when the next Sunday came and I didn't request to wear my ring, I guess mom got suspicious.  She knew that every Sunday I wanted to wear that ring.  So she took it out of the box and found out what I had done.  Uh-oh!  No spanking, just a lecture (which was worse).

Good ending to story:  I was permitted to wear the ring every Sunday, I just had to promise to keep it out of my mouth.  Which I did. 

I wonder why that Sunday is so vivid in my mind right now.  Oh well.  I still have the ring, and it's still bent, but it doesn't fit any of my fingers any more. 


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Stupid, stupid, stupid

If I might quote my mother as she was sliding off the bed while she was trying to sit on the side of it in the last days of her life, laughing as she sagged to the floor:  "Stupid, stupid, stupid."  That's me.  I forgot to give you all a Sunday saying. 

Well, this week's saying is "Stupid, stupid, stupid."  And I was SSS because I forgot the Sunday saying saying. 

The saying, was made famous by my mother and we've been using it in our family ever since that day around 20 years ago when she made that statement, and while she was laughing we all got the giggles, and unfortunately were laughing so hard we couldn't help her get back up onto the bed until we were able to control our laughing.   (That would be Sue and I.)

So to you, Sue, and to me, and for mom -- remember when you forget to do something, do something wrong, just say:  "Stupid, stupid, stupid."

One more SSS moment in my life -- the day I left the brand new, expensive digital camera in the car in the parking lot, and we were getting on a boat to go to Panama when I remembered it.  The walk back to the parking garage was prohibitive for me, and I was hitting myself and yelling at myself (Stupid, stupid, stupid) for days until Alan decided we should buy a cheap digital camera on board ship so we would be able to get pictures in Panama and at the Canal.  I mean how many chances would I ever have to get to Panama and the Canal?  This one chance.  The SSS camera is now being used by grandchildren to take their various "event" pictures.


Mt Calvary Union Church -- 100 years!

I just got the outline for the activities for the 100th anniversary of the Church.  It all begins on May 23, 2010, and hopefully as many Drexlers as possible will be there.  It will be a great family reunion if as many of us get there as want to.

The church had a Drexler attending or preaching for over 50 years, that's half of the life of the church so far!  And a couple of years ago I sent to the committee a copy of many of the pictures that my mom and dad had in their albums.  Most of the pictures were of vacation Bible school classes or Sunday school classes. 

All the Drexler children except for Mark, were married in this tiny church. 

Dad never took vacations and stayed at it until his health just wouldn't allow him to do the job any more.  Oh, he could have preached at every meeting that required a "message", but he couldn't live on his own any more, so he had to be moved to a place where he could be taken care of.

I wish I could spend the entire summer of 2010 in Runnemede because the activities will be scattered throughout that time. 

I have so much to be thankful for in regard to this church, mostly the people who attended and took the "preacher's kids" under their wings and taught us how to fly.


Saturday, November 7, 2009

Parking Wars

My new favorite program on mindless TV is Parking Wars. This will be very short.  I saw it today for the first time and A&E was running a PW marathon.  I'm hooked.  My favorite part, of course, is when they write the tickets in South Philly.  I love the way those people talk.  Just like me!


Thursday, November 5, 2009

The piano tuner

My father was very particular about our piano.  He had it tuned frequently.  By that I mean at least once a year.  And perhaps that's what one is supposed to do when they have a piano, I don't know.  At any rate, at least once a year the piano tuner came to our home.

His name was Lynn Atkins.  He was blind.  Yes, that's correct, blind!  His wife would drive him to our home, dad would meet him at the curb, and lead him into the living room, and set him on the piano bench.  The man was amazing.  He could take that piano apart.  He could repair broken strings.  He replaced felts.  And he could tune the piano.  I suppose that because he was blind his hearing was highly tuned and that made him a good piano tuner.  Daddy liked him. 

Back to the piano tuner.  He had a pitchfork (set at A) and he could begin going up and down the keys until the piano was tuned to perfection.

I think my father must have had an ear because he could tell if there was a problem with the piano and would call Mr. Atkins if he thought there was a problem. 

Mr. Atkins was a very nice man who talked with us kids a lot.  He never seemed to mind us running in and out and around him while he worked. 

He didn't live in Runnemede. I think he lived in Haddon Heights, or was it Barrington? Doesn't matter. I do remember that he and his wife came to church infrequently. Daddy was always telling him about Jesus. Mr. Atkins didn't think he needed the Lord because he lived a moral, upright life. Wasn't that enough? Of course, it wasn't.

Isn't is funny that I remember this man and his name?  Why?  What brings this to mind?  Today I'm getting this same  piano tuned for the first time in years.  Some repair work is needed, of course, and Mr. Blank (Bill) is beginning the tuning, and I hear the ping, ping, ping as he adjusts the strings.  I wonder why it is that piano tuners hit a note three times when they are tuning it?  Maybe I'll ask.


Sunday, November 1, 2009

Sunday sayings -- Judith...

This is truly a "Sunday" saying.  I was a preacher's kid.  I was not a sit still child.  That squirmy disease children have was not lost on me.  I have never been able to sit still, even now, I squirm.

And so when my father would call from the pulpit, in the middle of one of his sermons, "Judith!"  I knew I was in big trouble, and would get it when we got home.

I used to hate that!


Saturday, October 31, 2009


I know several of my family members don't feel about Halloween as I do -- now, not as I did when I was a child.  That aside, I must reference my niece's BLOG for today where she talks about her children going from house to house.  Her son didn't want to go out in the daylight, and so they left near sundown so he could have some time in the dark.

All I wanted to say was that when I was growing up, I NEVER went out in the dark, and I was always angry with my mom and dad for not allowing me to do that.  At least on that day I was.  But at night when I was counting up the money I had collected, surveying all the great candy bars I had gotten, and looking at that apple taffy I got at Gardner's I knew my parents were the best.

You see, if I had waited until dark, I would have missed out on the great candy bars, because after talking with several of my friends who only went out after dark I found out that the great candy bars were gone by dark.  Same with the money places.  And, ditto with Gardner's and the apple taffy. 

So, while I didn't like what my mom and dad insisted on, and while they were just trying to protect me, I suppose, I see that they were smarter than I thought, and because of their insistance on me going out before dark, I was able to collect the best of the best of the candy, money, and that wonderful apple taffy!

Before I sign off, I have to apologize for any misspellings.  Apparently Blogspot doesn't have spellcheck any more, so I may have some words wrong.  So sorry.


The sooner you get to sleep...

...the sooner it will be morning.  How many mothers have said that to their children on a night when the children are so excited about something, like Christmas?

I know my mother did.  The first time I recall was on Christmas Eve.  I was, of course, watching through the window next to the bed looking for that sleigh and then the noise on the roof.  This was about 9 p.m.  Of course I was antsy, and mom came in and told me "The sooner you get to sleep, the sooner it will be morning." 

Well, I still think about that since I really don't sleep well at night.  I keep repeating the mantra:  The sooner you get to sleep, the sooner it will be morning.  I know it works, but for me, now in my dotage, getting to sleep at all is the problem. 

Elder folks don't sleep, they nap.  


Friday, October 30, 2009

Kicking leaves

Who doesn't remember walking along the sidewalk or across the lawn and kicking the leaves that had fallen from the trees?  I recall doing that.  When that time arrived, we knew it was time to grab the rake and scoop up the leaves in the front yard into piles and push the piles into the street. 

This morning as I was looking out my sunporch window I noticed that my yard was covered with leaves.  The trees are getting barer by the minute since we have a steady "blow" of wind at about 15 mph, and are expected gusts later today in the 40s.  Can't wait. 

I'm watching the sliders on the porch to make sure they down bow in because of the wind like they did when Ike went through.  The wind is howling -- folks that just means it's noisy -- through the area between the buildings, and i'm thankyou I don't see any shingles lifting from neighboring roofs. 

I guess reminiscing about kicking up the leaves as I walked to school or ran across the yard to visit a neighbor is a Runnemede thing.  I sure know I wouldn't be out there kicking up leaves any more.  The knees don't go that way any more.  LOL


Thursday, October 29, 2009

I lost my list

I had a list of items about which I wanted to write.  I lost it.  Well, misplaced it.  I'll find it one of these days, but not today.

It's a beautiful fall day here in Northern Kentucky, the leaves are still hanging on the trees, barely.  I know that after tomorrow's weather comes through all the leaves will be gone.  We're supposed to have t-storms and high winds.  Today, though, is a good day to get outside and enjoy the porch. 

Wish I was still at 116 E Second and enjoying that porch. 

I recall that Alan's and my first home had a wonderful front porch and the children were either babies, toddlers, or very young when we lived there, and the porch was the perfect place for them to play as long as the temperature was conducive to outdoor play.  That house was NOT in Runnemede, but it was a Runnemede-type home, old, in need of some repair, not exactly a money-pit.  But, I loved that house.  Of all the places we've lived, I loved that house more than any other.

Yes, even more than the home where I grew up.  And probably more than the home where I now live, which I really, really am enjoying in my elder years.

At this point in the year, the windows on the Pike in Runnemede would have been painted by the 8th graders with Halloween pictures on the inside.  The bad kids, or children whose parents didn't care, were getting their eggs ready and stashed for their mischief-night escapades.  It was considered a right of passage, I supposed to go down on the pike and egg the Halloween windows, so that on Halloween, they were a mess.  I never heard of toilet papering a tree until we moved out here.  Do they do that back east?

I never participated in the egg throwing, but I suppose my brothers did.  We didn't have a car so we never suffered the egg-throwing in that way either.  When I finally got a car, on mischief night I parked it out behind the house between the house and the church where no one would see it.  It was safe there.  Dad would light up the house and watch the school across the street just in case.

It looks like that even without "my list" I can come up with something to remember about Runnemede, and this beautiful day in N. KY evoked those memories.


Sunday, October 25, 2009

Sunday drives

I don't know what brought this subject to mind a few days ago, but there it was.  It must have been something I was reading. 

I do remember Sunday drives AND Sunday drivers -- the butt of many jokes back in the slower days.

First, you need to know that Sunday afternoon naps were almost a religious thing in our household.  Okay, for the adults, but the children?  Not so much.  So, if someone in our town or a family member who owned a car offered to take a few kiddies on an afternoon drive, it was a go from the first offer.  No thinking there.  Most of the time mom went with us.  When my youngest brother was just a little tyke, it was usually me and my sister, and maybe my little brother, as opposed to my youngest brother.  All the children were younger than I, so to differentiate between brothers is difficult to describe sometimes.

Anyway, someone would pick us up after dinner (leftovers from Saturday night's supper) and take us for a drive.  A slow, meandering drive down country roads.  There WERE such things as country roads in South Jersey back in the 50s.  Looking at a map was not an option.  We had no designated place we wanted to see.  We didn't care if we were just driven up to Suicide Hill, given a couple of boxes to slide down on, and play at the Hill for an hour or so, then take a few twists and turns around Runnemede and Barrington before coming home..  Mom and Dad got a brief respite from the four children.

I recall a couple of drives though, specifically, around South Jersey.  There was a lady in our church called Miss Brown.  She lived in Swedesboro, another small South Jersey town, and she would every once in a while eat dinner after Sunday morning church with the Misses Dodge, who lived down on the pike, and then pick us up for a Sunday afternoon drive.  Mom ALWAYS went on those drives because she loved where we would end up -- at Miss Brown's.  She lived on a creek or river, down there, I was never sure, and mom loved her garden.  Miss Brown would vary the route from time to time so we didn't get to her home by the same roads, until the end, then we all knew where we were, and we all loved her yard, and yes, even her tiny little house.  I think we all remember her back room, which was really an enclosed porch, but it must have been heated, because I don't recall it ever being cold out there, but then maybe we didn't visit her in the winter.  Who knows?  It was a long time ago.

Another drive I recall was the zig-zag drive.  Uncle El (Wentzel) took us for a drive in his green car, I think it was a '49 or '50 Chevrolet, four door.  Not the boxy one, but the one just before that.  I could certainly look it up, since my husband collects books about old cars, but then I'd lose my chain of thought. 

This one Sunday, Uncle El offered to take us on a zig-zag ride.  What's a zig-zag ride?  Well, one of us would yell out, at his signal,  "Turn right here, Uncle El!"  And, he'd turn right, and we'd drive for a while, then he signal again,  and the loudest person would yell out "Turn left here, Uncle El."  Amazingly we never got lost.  Perhaps he knew what we would say before he signaled anyway, and always knew exactly where we were.  He owned a moving company and probably knew all the roads down in South Jersey, even without a map.

As for Sunday drivers -- well, they became a rare breed in the 60s and the 70s, but you always knew who they were because you'd be tearing along on a back road, and bam, you meet up with a slow driver who was just rambling along and then after several minutes of frustratingly slow driving you'd pass that driver, just knowing, yep, it was Sunday, and the couple in the car was just taking a drive.

I loved those days.


Sunday saying

I think I missed last week because my sister was here and I wasn't BLOGging while she was with me.  So, this weeks saying is -- wait for it!

It's flu season.  A lot of people are sneezing.  You'll hear "God bless you" or "geshundheit" often.  But not in our house.  No siree, Bob. 

I guess because of World War II, my father wanted to put aside all things German.  Now, we still had some family sayings that came from the Pennsylvania Dutch, but in fact, dad's family all came from Bavaria -- isn't that Germany?  My father, however, was always an American.  Not German, not Italian, not Pennsylvania Dutch.  He was an American.

My mom's family was Italian -- all of them -- the whole brood.  And while very few Italian sayings came down through the family line -- well, there are quite a lot actually -- one saying that my father picked up on and said anytime someone sneezed was:  Dio ti benedica, (pronounced dee uh duh benna deech).  I quickly learned to say that instead of "God Bless You" when someone sneezed, but apparently, I was the only one in our family that did, except for, of course, my mother.

So, my sister sneezed last week, and I said, "Dio ti benedica," and she said, "Huh?"  I had to explain it to her, so I guess the Italian saying didn't sink in.  Now, there's a reason for that.  Because my father was into homeopathic medicines we were rarely sick.  Few sniffles and sneezes, I guess.  But there had to be enough for me to pick up on the Italian "God bless you".

Go back to October 29, 2007 and read more about this particular family saying.


Tuesday, October 20, 2009


Phil wasn't born near Runnemede, but he lived there for about three months when he was a baby.  He's  my oldest child. 

I recall one time he and I were on a bus on our way into Philadelphia.  He was around four years old at the time.  There was a man sitting on the bus, and my son just had to talk to him.  Phil was very talkative when he was little.

He went right up to that man and he said:  "You sure do look like Jesus.  Are you he?"   Please notice the second sentence.  I had been correcting him on that for a few weeks, he got it correct.

So, Phil waited for the man to answer, which the man didn't; he just ignored this little pip-squeek.  Then Phil said:  "I don't think you are, because Jesus would never smoke, and you're smoking.  Don't you know that's bad for you?"

That's today's remembrance.


Monday, October 19, 2009

About mothers

My visit with my sister, Debbie, who also grew up in Runnemede and left a few years after I did, has been a blessing. We've talked a lot about our own mother, and this has led me to some deep thoughts about motherhood.

Here goes: God not only gave us our mothers, but He gave our mothers us to nurture and bring up. I was thinking about teenagers and how much they don't like their moms. I was one such person. In fact, I didn't know any teens who really liked their mothers back when I was growing up.

I mean, we had curfews, we HAD to go to church on Sunday and any other time the church doors were open, we had to do our homework, had to get good grades, had to get married -- whoops! Not all of us got married. Well, not as soon as our mother's would have liked, I think.

Of course mothers want their daughters to marry. And back when I was growing up, our mothers prepared us for being wives first, mothers second.

Anyway, I was thinking about the after-teenage years and how I came to appreciate my mother. And today God reminded me that even though I was a gift from Him to my mother. In return, my mother was His gift to me. And what a gift she was.

Thank you Grandmother Santa for the God-life you breathed into my mother Rose, that she passed on to me.


Saturday, October 17, 2009

My sister -- Deborah Rose -- and roses.

My sister, Deb, has been with me for a few days, and boy have we been talking about those things we did as children and then as we grew out of our time in Runnemede. 

We were visiting my daughter, Becky, yesterday, and my grandchildren just sat at the table at dinner time and wanted us to tell more and more stories about when we were growing up.

Things like having only one bathroom (like they do), and how we survived four teenagers, one bathroom, and a water ban because of filling up the cesspool too fast.  We didn't get sewers put into the town until the mid- to late-50s.  Before that we all had cesspools which when they got full, had to be emptied, which cost money we didn't have, so we were very limited in our water consumption.  Our baths were taken in two inches of water in the tub (it was a beautiful clawfoot bath tub), Deb took her bath, I took my bath, and the boys bathed together.  By the time we got the sewers put in, the boys were getting to an age where they were going to have to take baths individually as well.  And, of course, our baths were on Saturday night, as I've mentioned before. 

And we talked about my mother and her garden and her roses.  Just today, my sister brought into the living room a vase of roses which I had put in her room for her to enjoy.  She placed the vase on mommy's piano.  And I mentioned to her that they looked a lot like the "sterling silver" rose my mom loved so much.

There's a story there:  My mom wanted a sterling silver rose bush very badly.  I think I was about 10 or 11.  And of course it was just too expensive for her to think of spending money on something as frivolous as a rose bush, when her children needed shoes, food, clothes, etc.  I mean that bush was a whole $12.  Well, around May 15 she received a package from Jackson Perkins and it was a sterling silver rose bush.  My dad had gotten it for her for her birthday.  She was so very happy he had done that.

And that rose bush flourished under her care and produced many beautiful roses of a gray/lavender hue.  Smelled great, too, not like the roses today.  Am I the only one who has noticed that roses don't smell like roses any more?


Monday, October 12, 2009

It's back!

The pictures on the piano are of me and Alan when we were little tykes. I am seated at a piano (my first piano recital) and Alan is just standing by the piano in his mom and dad's house back in 1946.         

My mom's piano, that is.  

This is the piano that sat in the very small living room in Runnemede at 116 2nd Ave.  It is the piano upon which I learned to play.  It's the piano from which my mistakes urged my father to remark:  "Play it right, Judith!" 

The piano was given to my mother (by my father) when they got married on March 21, 1936.  My mom was such a good piano player.  She never told me where she learned to play, but I suspect it was at the boarding school she and her sister Anne attended.  The name of the school escapes me, but it was a school in Western Massachusetts and it was specifically for fatherless girls. 

My mom played the piano (or organ) at our church for as long as I can remember, until she no longer could concentrate and was replaced by Jean Manduka, who was really good at the organ.

Now to near-time:  Alan and I moved to N. KY in June of 2001.  I didn't think it would be possible to put the piano in our new home.  I thought it was too small -- the home, that is, not the piano.  So, I gave the piano to my son and DIL because Amy knew how to play.  But now that Phil is jobless, and the great possibility that they may have to move, presented us with a problem.  What to do with my mom's piano?  It is a family heirloom, so to speak, and neither Amy nor I wanted it to go to the dump or leave the family if someone in the family wanted it. 

I decided since I was getting rid of my love seat, and replacing my sofa with a smaller one,  that I would now have room for the piano and I would "store" it for someone else to have, should they want it, and could come get it.

Now comes another problem:  How were we going to get that piano up 18 steps?  Anyone who has ever moved a piano knows how heavy they are, even small ones like my mom's.  Well, God was so good about that.

You all know, or should know, that we have an elevator to get us from our vestibule to the level on which we live, which is above the garage and another smaller condo directly under us.  Well, they measured and guess what?  The piano fit in the elevator.  They were all so happy that they could get it on there -- no pushing or shoving or gasping for breath to get it upstairs to our living room. 

So, you can see, the piano has a home again.  I have given away almost all of my music, but we have a hymn book and some sheet music, so I'll have some things to play until I get a chance to get to the music shop to get some new music. 

Thank you Lord for getting the piano into my home in one piece and enabling it to get upstairs on the elevator.

When I talked to my sister yesterday -- she's coming to visit me this week -- she told me she has a piano bench for me.  Isn't that another wonderful gift?  And while we were talking she asked me if I was going to decorate the piano for Christmas.  I told her:  "That's the first thing I thought about when I saw the piano in its place.  I've been mentally putting lights, angels (My mom always had lots of angels on the piano at home), and some greens on the top.  Can't wait.

Finally, my new sofa will be arriving on Wednesday.  My 2009 decorating is finished.


Saturday, October 10, 2009

Sunday's saying

The sayting for this week is:  hoodgee - boodgee.  I haven't a clue where it came from or what it means.  I can't find anything similar in the extra large Amish/Pennsylvania Dutch dictionary.  But here's the storry about hoodgee-boodgee.

Dad would hide on his hands and knees behind the door way that led into the kitchen, and when we came out of the kitchen he would jump out and yell, "hood-gee, bood-gee" -- haven't a clue how to spell that one. It was a game he played with us. We knew it was coming, too, but he always surprised us with it because he didn't always do that.

He always scared us, made us jump, run away screaming, and laughing so hard we nearly -- well, you know what we nearly did.  Fortunately the house was small and the necessary room was right in the path of our dodge of the "hoodgee-boodgee".  Run into that room and lock the door and the bad old hoodgee-boodgee couldn't touch you.


Merry-Go-Rounds on trucks?

Yes, yes, yes.  I remember thanks to a reminder from the FB group, "Growing up in Ole Runnemede, NJ" that during the summer a man, whose name escapes me, would drive down Clements Bridge Road, a sound being amplified from his truck, announcing to all within hearing distance that the merry-go-round truck was nearby.

What's a merry-go-round truck?  It's a truck that had a very small merry go round on it.  And for a nickle you could get a wonderful ride on this MGR for probably two minutes.  Who knows, when you're a child somethings are longer than they seem, and some are shorter than they seem. 

Well, this truck would park in front of the church on Clements Bridge Road, and the line would grow.  This driver was no dummy.  No siree.  There were a lot of kids that lived in that vicinity.  Just our family and the Lutheran Church's pastor's family would give him 8 children to ride on that thing.

 I wish I could show you exactly what it looked like.  The picture at the top seems to be a pull-behind bed with a MGR on it.  Below is a truck, like the one that came by our house at least once a week in the spring, summer, and early fall.  It's a pretty good replica.

A nickel a ride.  That was what you got back if you turned in a quart-sized soda bottle.  That was 10 candy cigarettes, two Mounds bars (two came in a nickle package), one frozen Three Musketeers. 

A child had to have priorities even at those early ages.  Did we want shleck, (junk food) or did we want to ride the Merry-Go-Round?  I usually opted for the MGR, as did my sister and brothers, and apparently a lot of other neighborhood kids. 

I wonder what ever happened to my MGR riding mates:  Janet and Butchie Britton, David and Linda Wallace, Eddie Hopkins.  I found his sister Faye, who was my sister's best friend.  Phil Musimeci, Sue  and Donna Youngblood, Linda, Barbara, Weezi (Mary Louise) Lott -- the list goes one. 

I miss those days, but I don't dwell on them.  They were good, happy times, and I once again, thank God that he blessed me early in my life by settling me in that small town in South Jersey and surrounded me with a wonderful family and many, many friends.


Sunday, October 4, 2009

October is upon us, in full bloom

The trees are turning so fast.  I wrote about the leaves turning in September, and I couldn't believe it.  Well, they are turning so fast now.  I must get a picture to post to show you.  But that's here in Northern Kentucky.  In Runnemede, I don't know, and since all my early pictures of my favorite town are in black and white, I won't be able to post a Runnemede-in-the-fall picture.  Bummer.

I heard from Bill T. again.  October is his favorite month.  And I can understand why.  The weather is at its best if you don't like hot or cold.  I mean it might get up to 60 degrees today, which for a woman who still gets hot flashes (and I know that's more information that you need) 60 degrees is just about right.  Which reminds me that I pushed the thermostat back to 65 and Alan was freezing so he put it back up to 74, and then I pushed it back to 68 where it sits right now.

Back to Bill T.  He mentions the beautiful colors of the leaves, and I do recall the vividness of the colors on the trees.  Out here, the leaves are not the beautiful oranges or pinkish reds that the leaves in Runnemede had.  I know the tree brands are the same, and maybe it's because we are warmer here, I don't know.  I miss the beautiful hues of the trees I enjoyed as a child. 

Remember gathering leaves and then pressing the best of the best between two sheets of wax paper with an iron to make a place mat for the table?  My mom had us do that almost every fall, and those place mats would sit on our table for at least a week before they got all rumpled by us rowdy kids.  My sister and I would carefully cut a scalloped edge to our placemats, while my brothers just yawned, did the ironing, and went off to play.

Bill reminded me that the new models of cars came out in October.  He mentioned to me that every male went to see these new cars.  Hey, Bill, so did a lot of females.  I always walked down to Campbell Chevrolet to see the new cars.  Baseball?  I'll have to leave that to my brother who still collects baseball cards at the young age of 61.

And I see that we all went to the same places to get our treats on Halloween.  Gardners being the prime place.  But I remember that you had to get there early or all those candy apples would be gone.  Gardners was always the first place I went.  Then I would do a figure 8 around town hitting the houses I knew either gave out money or gave out nickel candy bars. 

And we used to gather the leaves and burn them in the incinerator we had in our back yard.  Burning trash was acceptable back in those days of the 40s and 50s.  Who knew that we were killing future Americans with all that smoke we were putting into the air.  Seems that my age group is getting older, so I guess we didn't inhale as much as the eco-friendly people thought we did. 

Again, I have to thank Bill for reminding me what I loved about Runnemede.  For those of you on Facebook, there is a page entitled:  Good Ole Runnemede and the folks who talk on that thread talk about Runnemede back when.  Just search Facebook for Runnemede NJ and the link to Good Ole Runnemede.


Sunday sayings

I thought I'd start a new thread in my RR ramblings and go back and pick up on our family sayings and talk about some of the times when my dad or mom would come out with the particular words that made up those sayings.

This week:  "I feel my blindness coming on."

Most of the family love this story.  Yeah, they can laugh and enjoy it.  They weren't part of the awfulness of having their father grab hold tight of their tiny hand, and pretend he was blind in the middle of downtown Philadelphia, as he started singing, "Abide with me."

It all started on one of my early visits to Philadelphia with my father.  We were heading over to 15th and Chestnut to see Dr. Feldman, a chirpractor.  My father was a big chripractor supporter.  To get there, we got off a bus which we picked up in Runnemede (#21 or #31) at 12th and Market and started to walk toward City Hall, in Philly.  After we got off the bus, of course, I took my dad's hand.  He had with him an umbrella.  He never went to Philly without his umbrella. 

All of a sudden I noticed that he had gripped my hand more tightly.  I looked up at him, and he smiled and said, "I feel my blindness coming on."  Huh?  What did that mean.  I was about to find out.

Dad started to sing "Abide with me", he took off his hat and held it in front of him using his umbrella (with the same hand) as a cane, pretending he was blind. 

This was not, to me, a funny tease, since there were several beggars who really had problems on the street near where my father's "blindness " hit him. 

Did I learn my lesson?  No.  The next time we went to visit Dr. Feldman and he took me with him, he did it again!  Am I stupid or what?  It seems to me that daddy must have pulled that trick four or five times before I finally learned not to hold on to his hand on Market Street in Philadelphia.  If I wasn't attached to him I could pretend I didn't know him, making his "blindness" all his own, and not involving me in his little "joke."


Friday, September 25, 2009

It's always nice...

It's always nice when someone other than family and the three friends I have that read my BLOG and then actually tell me about it. 

I received an e-mail from a man (he was a boy back when I was in Runnemede) who knew my sister.  I'm going to just paste what he had to say about Runnemede on this particular page.  I'll let you know when I start the paste.  I will edit out personal stuff. 

I have to say that my sister and I talked today and we both agreed with this former resident of "our fair town" that we were all so blessed to grow up in this small town, located on the main thoroughfare from Philadelphia to the shore communities in South Jersey.  Runnemede has changed so little, when you think about it.  Oh, some of the stores have changed hands, the library is at least 10,000 times bigger than the little 10 x 10 room that housed it when I was growing up.  The schools are the same, at least on the outside.  I know what is taught is a lot different than when I attended -- art was a crayon and a piece of no-line paper, music was learning a song in the classroom.  There were no TVs in school, no computers, not even a movie projector.  I think the school had one slide projector.  Overhead projectors were the gleam in a teacher's eye back then.  And there was not a library to be had in the schools.  There are still three churches (Mt. Calvary, Evangelical Lutheran, and St. Theresa's).  I say there are three because I heard that St. Maria Goretti which opened in the early 60s, closed recently, or is in the process of closing.  That may be in error, in which case there are more churches in the town. 

And lest someone decides to Google St. Maria Goretti, it's still on the Runnemede Website.

But it was a wonderful town, and I shall always be thankful that I grew up there.

Now to what a "friend" wrote about RR:

I came across your Runnemede Remembered blog because of Google Earth. I was looking at Runnemede, because I grew up there, and Google Earth actually labels "Suicide Hill." So I searched Suicide Hill and your blog came up. Apparently you had mentioned it in a posting. And then I got to reading. I can't tell you how pleased I am to find another person who treasures memories of growing up in Runnemede in the fifties.

You're four years older than I am, but your sister is around my age, and I remember her.

I can't imagine how you ended up living in KY, but I'm even farther away. For 10 years now I've been living in California, the Sierra foothills at present. Apparently you're near Cincinnati, which I always found to be almost more like Philadelphia than Philadelphia.

My tenure in Runnemede was basically first to ninth grade.  Unlike you I was not much connected to the community at large. We were Catholic, and of Irish heritage, so the church was our community. You, and others like you were those Protestant kids, all doomed to hell, of course! We heard unspeakable stories of things that went on in those public schools. But they couldn't keep me entirely out of the community. Scott (last name withheld by me) was my best friend. We were in the Boy Scouts together, and Jim Mutchler was the Scout Leader. My mother was horrified that I was in Troop 117, but St. Teresa's didn't have a troop so she allowed it.

Reading your blog is a real treat. The fourth of July activities I remember so well -- especially the decorated bicycles in the A & P parking lot. I also remember the Christmas events at the fire hall -- yep, the old one on the Pike. Those guys were great with all they did for the kids in the town. I still remember Santa riding through the streets on a fire truck tossing boxes of candy to the kids. And I don't recall you mentioning it, but someone sponsored a live Santa on the corner of Third and the Pike -- across from the jewelry shop. You could stop by and tell him what you wanted without going over the Gimbels in Phila! And I'll bet you were a kid who had an ice cream cone at Joe's Sweet Shop once in a while! I went to school with Joe, the son of the owner.

Obviously, we both have lots of memories. Do you ever get back there to visit or to see the place? I was there two years ago when I went back for my Dad's funeral. My Mom lives over in Deptford now; so does my sister. And I have a brother in Westville. In a lot of ways the town seems very different today, but the old foundation is still there. At least I hope it is.

A few years earlier I had come across a book, "The History of Runnemede, NJ, 1626-1976" by William Leap. You may remember Mr. Leap as he was in business painting most of the signs around town. Well, two years ago he was still around, and I was lucky enough to spend a few hours with him talking about the town. He lives in that big house on the corner of Washington and Lindsay, and I think he lived there most of his life. I also took some pictures around town when I was back there, and if you'd like to see them, I'd be happy to share.

I wonder if you share the feeling I have that we owe a great debt to the community that was Runnemede in the fifties? Growing up there now feels like it was a wonderful gift. We were allowed the innocence of childhood. There was virtually no violence. The adults all shared a sense of responsibilities for all the children, and they took care of us. Surely not a completely realistic picture, but it makes me sad to think that most kids today cannot even conceive of such an experience.

Well, I'll keep reading your blog. If you talk with your sister, please tell her I said hello although I'm sure she won't remember me. Please do ask her if she remembers Scott  or Bobby.

NOTE TO WRITER:  She remembers.  And yes, I'd love to see any pictures you have taken.

Thanks, Bill, for the lovely e-mail.  I'm glad your memories are as good as mine.  We were blessed, weren't we?


Tuesday, September 22, 2009

My mom's kitchen -- again!

Once again I've been thinking about my mom's kitchen.  I watch a lot of HGTV and the kitchens they have on those programs are, well, let me be frank here, wonderful.  But who has kitchens like those?  Now, I have a wonderful kitchen.  I love my kitchen, but it will never be featured on HGTV. 

My mom's kitchen was small.  It was what is billed as an "eat-in" kitchen.  We had a table in the middle.  Nowdays, it would be an island, albeit a small one.  And that magic "work" triangle?  It did not exist in my mom's kitchen unless you removed the table.  If the table was gone, you could say you had that triangle.

Who ever heard of a "work triangle" in a kitchen back in those years?  I first heard of it when I was taking a course in interior decorating in college in 1970 -- it was, I thought, an easy elective.  But the "work triangle" was something only decorators were thinking about and putting into text books which would produce decorators that made those types of kitchens ten years later.

The "work triangle" was not a necessary item for my mom.  She cooked well without that old triangle, and I learned to cook without it.  I guess God knew I wouldn't have a "triangle" in my life for many, many years, and he was preparing me to make do, as my mom did.  In every apartment or house in which we lived, there was never that magical triangle, until we moved to where we now reside.  I managed, just as my mom managed, although I think my mom did it better than I did.

I recall when I was first married and experimenting with a different dish every day, I came up with some really good eats.  But then I had children.  Children who only wanted hot dogs and macaroni and cheese!  When my girls got to be teens, that changed, and we three were able to start with the experimenting again.  Oh, happy day!

Now, in my mind's eye I'm back in my mom's kitchen -- that's the one with the stainless steel counter (now in style), the refrigerator with a freezer on the bottom (now, in style), a mandatory gas range (now in style), and the table (now called an island).  I guess her kitchen wasn't so bad after all!


Saturday, September 19, 2009

Sleeping in

It's Saturday.  It's 1:30 p.m.  I'm 16 years old.  I'm just not getting out of bed.  Yes, folks, on Saturday, I slept in.  And every Saturday I woke up with a headace.  Not enough oxygen in the past 12 hours?  I don't know.  All I know is that I woke up with a headache.  And no, I lived in a tea-totling household, so it wasn't a hangover.

Living in the attic with my sister was great because no one bothered me, or woke me up.  And Saturday was the day I slept.  All the other days of the week I had to be up by 6:30 a.m. or earlier, depending on what I hadn't set out the night before, such as clothes.  Decisions by girls (namely me and my sister) who had few clothes, had to be given great thought.  I mean one had to think whether their peers would remember that I had worn that same outfit two days ago.  So, unless I just wanted to grab something out of my closet (which was a few nails hammered into the wall, upon which my clothing was hung) and hope I hadn't worn the same thing two days ago, so I could get out of bed at 6:30 instead of say, 6:00 a.m., I had to set out the clothing the night before.

And back when I was 16 no one would ever been seen in public with just washed hair.  Oh, no, never, never, never.  Even if we had gym 6th period (that was the last period of the day), we would not get our hair wet in the shower.  It just wasn't done.  So I had to figure on whether I was washing my hair in the morning or the night before.  There were advantages to both.

Washing the night before, of course, the advantage was obvious.  I could sleep in until 6:30 a.m., and just comb my hair out.  The disadvantage to that was that I had to sleep on those huge rollers so that my hair wouldn't be one big, curly, frizz ball in the morning. 

Washing my hair in the morning had no advantages that I can think of, except that I would smell like fresh shampoo, and at that time I didn't know that was something boys liked.  Or did they?  And washing my hair in the a.m. meant that I had to set my hair in the big rollers and then hope that the hair dryer would get those big curls dried enough so that when I combed out my hair, it wouldn't spring back into a big, curly, frizz ball. 

Those were the decisions of my life when I was 16.  However, on Saturday, I didn't have to make any such decisions.  In fact, the more I hid in my room working on non-existent homework, I could get out of dusting, vacuuming, cooking dinner, going to the grocery store, etc.  The love of going to the grocery story wore off when I was about 12.  Every since, it's been very low on my list of things I love to do.

There were certain things I absolutely had to do on Saturday, though.  I had to clean up my room, which included changing my sheets and pillow case.  And since to me, cleaning the floor meant moving the furniture, almost every Saturday I rearranged my room.  I know that nuts, but I did.  And mainly I kept my room clean because I never knew when the fire inspectors were going to surprise us, and I didn't want to be the cause of us failing the fire inspection or being labeled a fire hazard.

I'd show up downstairs, ready to go to Youtharama, or some other church activity, which followed dinner.  So, when I smelled food being made, I knew it was safe to head downstairs and offer to help mom with something.  I usually ended up just setting the table.

Okay, folks, most of this is a work of fiction.  I rarely slept until 1:30 p.m., although on the rare occasions when I did, I certainly did have a whopper of a headache, which I figured was because when you sleep you take in less oxygen, and therefore, I was suffering from oxygen deprivation.  And the fire inspection thing?  They always let us know in advance when they were coming and mom would be in "whirlwind clean" mode, so we all knew to get our rooms spiffied up. 

The things about the hair is mostly true -- at least the part about my hair looking like a big, curly, frizz ball.  But my hair looking like that most of the time any way, no matter what I did to it.  

Last:  I apologize for misspellings.  Apparently Blogspot has deleted their spell check icon, at least I can't find it, and therefore, I can't spell check my BLOGs any more.  And, I am NOT a spell checker.  I have never been able to find my own mistakes.


Monday, September 14, 2009


I was 12 years old when I was baptized in the baptismal pool at Woodbury Baptist Church.  Our small church does not have its own facility for baptism, so our church, for as many years as I was at Mt. Calvary, borrowed the Woodbury church's facility.

I loved the drive out to the church, which was substantially larger than ours.  I know you want to know why.  The drive to that church took us past some beautiful, large, tudor-style homes, and I would gaze at those homes, with, I have to admit, covetousness in my heart.  I knew I'd never, ever see the inside of one of those homes, but I could dream, right? 

I recall that I and the others that were being baptized the day -- one of them my friend Kathy Kenders -- had to attend several classes on why our church baptized by "dunking" and did not baptize anyone who didn't know and understand that being baptized was telling the world (i.e., those in attendance and anyone who ever asked) that we were followers of Christ, that Jesus was our savior, having lived, died, and rose from the dead, to be taken up in the clouds to sit next to the father, and that he was the mediator between us and the Father.  Heavy words, and I could break down the larger words if you want, just ask me.

Anyway, as I was watching my grandson, Dan, being baptized yesterday (that's his picture), I recalled that day so many years ago, over 50 years ago, and I also remembered some things about all the baptisms I attended at Woodbury Baptist Church. 

First, I told my husband as Daniel was being pushed under the water, that it seemed to me that my father, who was performing the baptisms, held me under just a little longer than others, just to remind me to remember what I had done and why.  We always sang one of the verses from the hymn "Trust and Obey" as each person came up out of the water, and after all were baptized, we sang "Great is Thy Faithfulness." 

I have to say, I know the day on which I was baptized was a coolish spring day, and it was sunny because I recall the sunlight coming through those huge windows in that church on that afternoon as my father was giving a lesson on baptism to those guests in attendance, and once again to those of us who would be entering the water.

I am so thankful for my father.  He and my mom led me to Christ, raised me with the truth, and it is so ingrained in me that I guess I'm at an age that so many things I see outside my window remind me of God's faithfulness, His mercy, and His love. 

I wish I was the type of writer who could really say what is in my heart and mind about how much my Lord and Savior means to me.  Words just cannot express that.  I must close with these words:  Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.  What a wonderful savior.


Saturday, September 12, 2009

I just love that picture

My new look, I mean.  I just love that picture of my part of the front porch at 116 E. Second.  How I wish I could just sit on that porch and watch the cars go by.  Back when I was growing up, there were few cars on the street.  Now, as then, it's a cut-off from Clements Bridge Road to The Pike, and if people know about it, they use it.  It cuts off the main traffic intersection of The Pike and CB Road, which has always been a bottleneck for those using CB Road.  The traffic has often backed up the block and a half to the church -- and that block is really two blocks long. 

But, I've been thinking of all those nice-weather days -- and not-so-nice-weather-days -- I spent out there, either reading, or stitiching, or crocheting, or knitting, or just watching, and this picture says it all.  COMFORT!!!!!

You've got to love it!


Tuesday, September 8, 2009

New look

Do you like my new look?  This picture (the header picture) was taken outside my Runnemede home a couple of years ago.  It's not the entire house, just a shot of part of the front porch.  MY SIDE OF THE FRONT PORCH!  I hope you like the look.


Christmas 1960

I was certain that Christmas, this particular year (1960) was going to be a real bummer. We didn't use words like bummer back then, we would have said "pukey". But I was sure it was going to be a dismal Christmas. The love of my life, Alan, was off in Kenya, 8,000 miles and eight time zones away.

I had a horrible time getting a gift to him that year. I think I sent it via his Aunt Virginia. It was a scrapbook and I had started it for him with a few pictures. We have a picture of him looking at that scrapbook, and that picture even appear in his senior yearbook at Rift Valley Academy. Once again, I digress.

Alan had left me in August. I didn't date. Well, I did once, but the guy that took me out told me he knew I was pining away for Alan and he wanted me to be able to go to some sort of area church teen banquet with a date. A sympathy date, you might say. We had a decent time, but I was still "pining" as he put it.

I guess I should address the picture I posted. This is the first picture I received of Alan after he went back to Kenya. Shortly after the family arrived in Kenya this picture was taken, or maybe it was taken just before they left for Kenya, but the picture didn't get developed until they were in Kenya, I'm not certain, all I know is that at Christmas time in 1960 this picture was sent on a prayer card for the Hahn family to all their missionary supporters. I looked at Alan and I thought how much he had changed from the boy that had left in August. I mean physically changed. He seemed to have grown some and he had lost a lot of weight. That's him on the right.

I had also decided that year that I was going to open my gifts on Christmas Eve at midnight. I figured Alan would be opening his presents at 8 a.m. his time, which was midnight my time. Well, I was wrong. I found out a few weeks later when I got a letter from Alan that they always opened their gifts on Christmas Eve (around midnight), which was 4 p.m. our time. So, I guess the joke was on me.

I also recall that there was a full moon or close to it on that particular Christmas Eve, and while I knew that Alan couldn't possibly be looking at the same moon I was, since it was morning in Kenya, I felt like maybe he was.

The saddest part about that Christmas, in retrospect, is that Alan did get a gift to me via his Aunt Virginia, but I can't recall what it was. Now that's a real bummer!


Monday, September 7, 2009

Jobs I don't recall my mother doing

Today is labor day. We're supposed, I suppose, to be working, or is it not working, but working to honor those who are working or who aren't working. I don't know. I think labor day is a stupid holiday -- especially if you're a woman and have really had at least one "labor" day! If I have the idea of this day correct, we're not honoring all the women who have had an actual "labor" day on this day.

That being said, however, I have always enjoyed having the first Monday in September off from labor, and as I have never had a child born on September 1, I really have had a labor free labor day.

Now to the "jobs" I never saw my mother do.

I have recalled how every Saturday night, after dinner and after the dishes were clean, she would get out her bucket, her scrub brush, put some Pine Sol in the water, and get down on her hands and knees and scrub the kitchen floor. Then she'd go into the bathroom with that Pine Sol filled bucket of water, and as soon as we all had finished with our weekly bath, she'd scrub the bathroom floor, then dump the dirty water from the bucket down the toilet. She'd then fill the bucket with clean water and go back into the kitchen and get down on her hands and knees and wipe up the Pine Sol residue with a clean cloth. Every Saturday night, she'd do this.

But as I became a homemaker myself there were jobs that I had to do over the years that I never saw my mom work on. Things such as: cleaning the exterior of the kitchen cabinets -- because they get greasy; cleaning out the silverware drawer because of the dirt that accumulates in the corner of those dividers, emptying the refrigerator to clean it (she did that periodically with the freezer, but there wasn't automatic defrost back then); wax the wood floors.

There were, on the other hand some jobs that my mom did, that I rarely, if ever did: one that comes to mind is take a spray bottle, or a sprinkler bottler, and lightly spray or sprinkle the basement floor and then broom the floor. The light spray of water was to keep the dust down. I always used a vacuum cleaner to do the basement floor. I guess mom never thought to drag the heavy Electrolux down the basement steps to get the floor cleaned up, or maybe her method was better than mine.

Another job my mom had was on Mondays she would wash clothes, and then as she took them out of the washer, she'd lug them half-way up the cellar steps -- the washing machine was in the basement -- to the exit door, and hang them on a clothes line in the back yard. I never, ever hung my clothes outside to dry because the places we have always lived had "covenants" which prohibited hanging clothing on a line to dry. I miss, still, the smell of a sheet that has hung on a clothes line for half a day. I recall as many of us who were available rushing outside to get clothes off the line if a stray shower showed up. I never had to worry about that, either. Mom finally got a dryer when she was in her mid-50s, but all those years she used a clothesline. Even after she got her dryer, she still hung the sheets out to dry.

Another job my mom had was to make sure the bottom sheets on her bed were tucked in properly. She never had fitted sheets. And I, uneducated as I was when I first married, returned all the fitted sheets I received as wedding presents. I mean how dumb was that? What did I know? So, I guess I can't say that's a job she did that I didn't do, but I didn't do it for very long.

Do you all like the way I keep repeating the same word(s) over and over? It's a new style of writing (lol).

I do remember my mom emptying the kitchen cabinets every year to replace the shelf paper. Do you all use shelf paper? I don't any more. Do they even sell it any where? As I think about shelf paper, I surmise that was mom's method of cleaning out the cabinets, rather than washing them down. Although, in my mind's eye, I see her washing the shelves of the cabinets, just not the outside or inside of the doors of the cabinets.

Well, I guess that's enough reminiscing for today. More to follow.


Thursday, September 3, 2009

It came and went

My husband and I were married 43 years ago on August 27. The day came and went. We had planned to go out to a fancy restaurant, but neither of us felt well enough. Seems like some sort of flu bug has been plaguing us since late last week. It comes and goes. Well, on the 27th it came, so we didn't go (to the restaurant).

I had chosen Prima Vista, which is a restaurant in Price Hill, Cincinnati, Ohio, which has a fantastic view of the city, and the food is absolutely wonderful. We'll go there someday soon.

But coming up is our 50th anniversary -- of when we met. I found Alan's high school picture from that year. He looks so very, very young. He doesn't even look like a teenager, does he?

As I mentioned last month, we had about 6 months of enjoying each other's company before he and his family got on a boat and headed back to Kenya. The boat was scheduled to leave on August 4, but got delayed, so I was able to get one more day with him, because his folks had to come back down to the Philadelphia area to spend the night. Then they headed back to NY City on August 5 and sailed on the Robin Gray, a freighter. The trip took them through the eastern Caribbean over to the southern coast of Africa, then up the east coast of Africa to Mombasa, Kenya.
Well, after three years of letter writing, he returned to the USA, again in August, and we picked up where we left off. He had about a month to try to find some work so he'd have some cash for college. He found a job working for a contractor who was installing heaters in some HUD housing in Audubon Park, NJ. He came home (not to my house, but to the place where he was staying) each evening and was filthy from crawling in the crawl-space under each unit to get the heating ducts and units installed. But each evening, after dinner, we would take a walk or just sit on the porch talking, until he had to get back to where he was staying.
Around September 10 he headed off to Rutgers and that began three years of treks to New Brunswick. His first semester I had no car, and he had no car, so we had to get back and forth to see each other via bus. That trip took about two hours each way, and the buses were not frequent. He always found me someone to stay at Douglas College, so I could stay overnight and go home the next day.
One thing I remember during those early days of his time at Rutgers, was that every time the phone rang, I'd race down the stairs from my attic room to answer the ONE telephone we had in the house, hoping that it was Alan calling me. Those were the days when, yes, a home had only ONE telephone. Now, I don't know what I'd do if I didn't have a phone in each room of the house. How did we live like that? He had to call me (reversing the charges) because he only had access to a pay telephone. No cell phones back then, either.
Christmas came in 1963 and I have to tell you, that was the best Christmas of my life. My husband (who was not yet my husband, nor were we engaged) gave me so many gifts. Oh, yeah, he got a new job in New Brunswick to get cash for college (his tuition, room, and board were paid for already) or was it cash for Christmas, by collecting the golf balls on a golf course. What a boring job! Anyway, back to Christmas. He bought me so many things.
You need to know that his dad had told him, before he left Kenya, that whatever gifts he gave me had to be something he could see me put on -- in other words, if it was clothing, it had to be something that could be put OVER my clothing, like a sweater or a jacket, or jewelry. So, he bought me a wonderful jacket, a beautiful sweater, a scarf, gloves, a purse, and he gave me some jewelry he had been saving that he purchased when he was in Israel earlier that year. Amazing. He's never done anything like that since -- I mean showered me with so many gifts.
At this point in our lives, we just buy what we want and tell each other, "This is what you're giving me for Christmas this year." How unromantic!
--to be continued --