Growing up in a small town in Southern New Jersey

Friday, May 29, 2009

Family pictures

Back row: Alan, Quinn Ford (Becky's husband), Becky, Toria Stamper (Cyndi's daughter) holding Ellie (Cyndi's daughter), Amy (Phil's wife) holding Matthew (Phil's youngest), Phil Hahn, Shandon Stamper, Jr. (Cyndi's oldest); Shandon, Sr. (Cyndi's husband), Cyndi Stamper holding Jack (her youngest).
Middle row: Dan Ford, Jonah Stamper, Adam Stamper, David Hahn
Front Row: Judi, Annie Ford, Rachel Hahn, Grace Ford, Rose Hahn
NOTE: Last names tell to which parent the children belong.
Why is it that children take such awful pictures? They are supposed to smile and they stick out their tongue, or they move, or they wiggle (thus blurring even a digital picture). This is the best of several pictures taken of our family (Alan's and mine).
Only my own children (and my oldest grandchild) have ever visited Runnemede. And Shandon, Jr., my dear grandson, was only two months old when he visited my father, so I know he doesn't remember it.

Anyway, this is a picture of the family. And I've listed who everyone is.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Memorial Day Present

This is Cyndi (my youngest) and her youngest daughter, Ellie May. This is my son, Phil's, oldest, Rosie.

This is my oldest grandchild -- he's now 15. He rarely smiles, so this picture is a real treat.

This is Jonah, Cyndi's middle child. He's 7.

This is our newest grandchild (Cyndi's). He's 2 months old. Isn't he the cutest thing?

Our present Memorial Day -- in fact Memorial Days for the past 33 years -- did not occur in Runnemede, sad to say. Although new memories are being developed, the past ones hopefully will not be forgotten.

So, I've posted some pictures from our family Memorial Day picnic at a local playfield -- children's park -- which was, as far as I could tell, was enjoyed by everyone. And, all of my children and grandchildren were able to attend. While I took some pictures, I didn't get pictures of everyone.

I did have more "professional" pictures taken, but I haven't gotten them back from the photographer yet. When I do, perhaps I'll post a few of those, at least the one taken of the entire bunch.

And yes, this picnic was just as noisy as those from times past.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Memorial Days past

Taking a note from my niece, Lori, who publishes her "Flashback Friday" on her BLOG most Fridays, I'm posting some pictures from our past Memorial Day family get togethers. They were always fun.
What you can't see, is that there was a ping-pong table in the basement of Aunt Anne's house, and believe me it was well used by the cousins -- AFTER we ate! Uncle Joe also had a horse-shoe game set up in the back yard, and further down in the hollow out back, they had set up crocket, so we did have things to do besides talk. But we Italians are known for our chatting -- and getting caught up each other's lives was another big part of that day in May. Back then Memorial Day was on the 30th of May (my son, Phil's birthday, by the way); not the last Monday in the month.

So, enjoy the pictures. And no, I'm not starting my own "Flashback Friday."

Monday, May 18, 2009


Well, I discovered that I live attached to an aviary. This morning as I was sitting on my sun porch I could heard the chirping of the birds, and then I looked out and there was a plethora of bird species flitting from tree to tree. I know this pictures doesn't show you which species, and don't be confused by the pine cones in the tree. There are three birds at the top, and one near the bottom.
These birds are small birds, so I am assuming they are babies just getting their wings, and I also base that assumption on the fact that they would only flit from tree to tree, a very little space to go because the trees in the yard are very close together.
Why am I bringing this up and what has this to do with Runnemede?
My mother loved birds, second to her flowers. And while I thought this was just another one of her "things" I didn't really connect with it as my brother did. In fact, my brother was so connected to the love of birds, that several years ago while on a bird hunt in a wooded area near his home in Indiana, he saw a bird he hadn't seen in, well, forever. And to get a better view, he decided to climb a tree. At that time he was over 50 years old. Fifty-year-old men do NOT climb trees. But up the tree he when, and then down the tree he fell. He got hurt quite badly, and still suffers from that fall. However his love of birds, which he got from my mother hasn't dwindled.
Mom used to take us to the woods and as she would point out plants, she would also point out birds to us, naming them. She had several bird identification books in her small bookcase in the dining room and would peruse them frequently. BecauseI was able to identify several of the birds I saw today, I'm glad my mom took me and my brothers and sister to woods and taught us the names of the birds.
Finally, for my brother's information, this morning I saw the following birds: cardinal, red-winged blackbird, wren, morning dove, woodpecker, blue bird, blue jay, oriole, swift, and tanager. I did not see any robins. But we don't see many robins around here.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Mother's birthday

Today would have been my mother's 100th birthday. Quite a landmark if she had lived this long.

Unfortuntely for we who survived her, but fortunately for her she went to be with her Lord about 20 years ago.
I recall her birthday celebrations. Dad was in charge. Does that tell you anything? Celebrations consisted of mom doing all the work. Getting her own dinner (and breakfast and lunch). And then after dinner she would open her gifts. Dad always gave her something really nice -- a very pretty dress, a new hat, a piece of "good" jewelry, etc. She always told him he spent way too much. We children usually gave her a handmade card, or a hankie (again with the hankies?), or a home-made pot holder. Sometimes two of us would put together and get her a new bottle of perfume. Some "rose" scent. She, of course, over-reacted as a good mother would, as she opened her children's gifts.
Now she's gone and I can't talk to her any more. Someday I shall.
Happy birthday, mom.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Don't you just love...

...the smell of the outdoors after a good, heavy, soaking rain in late spring? I do. Always have. I have to admit that the smells in Runnemede were a lot different than the aromas here in N. Ky. For one thing, my mom had flowers all over the place and the smell of all those plants mixed together was, well, heavenly. The roses would be just blooming now, the lilacs finishing, the lilies of the valley in full bloom, and her irises would be almost open. Mom's herbs would be putting forth from their remains from last year -- her basil, chives, oregano, etc.

Here in N. KY the only plants in bloom right now are azaleas and after the hard rains of the past day and a half, there are very few blossoms left. Add to that the fact that today the lawn people mulched -- mulch isn't a particularly nice smell.

Mom's mulch wasn't too bad. She kept her leafy greens and coffee grains and other vegetarian left overs in a pile behind the garage and used that to "aid" her plantings from time to time. The pile was started with leaves from the Autumn raking of the yard. So, I guess her mulch really smelled mostly like a walk in the forest. Mulch, at least the brand used here, smells like -- well, you know. It stinks, but it works.


Wednesday, May 13, 2009


I am so very glad that I closed the windows on the sun porch before I went to bed last night. I am not an early riser, and while the weather prognosticators were saying that it wouldn't rain until noon, they are rarely correct, so I decided I'd better shut the place up. Well, this morning, I was an early riser -- 6:45 a.m. And guess what, it was raining! Well, the weather forecasters really missed the boat on that one.

I recall three things about Runnemede and rain.

First, in the Spring, if the weather outside was warm enough, the windows were open. There was no air conditioning, EVER. And, even when it was rainy outside the windows were still open. That house have great eaves -- they really overhang a lot, and it didn't rain in. The only time we shut the windows (on the west side of the house) was during a thunderstorm because, eaves or no eaves, wind blew the rain right in on that side of the house.

Regarding the air conditioning -- my father wouldn't have it. He had six or seven fans going in various parts of the house, but never a/c. He tried it once, but it was too cold for him -- the rest of us suffered each summer because it is really hot and humid in South Jersey, especially as close to the ocean as we were. And, dad thought the old was better and just wouldn't permit A/C in the house.

The second thing I recall is moving outdoors and basically living on the front porch when it rained. I don't recall that we had a rainy season, like here in Northern Kentucky. It seems that it rains all Spring, and we have a few hours of sunshine each week. Whereas, in NJ we had a few hours of rain, and the rest was sunshine.

I recall setting up a TV tray (that's what they called those little portable tables) on the porch, and using it for working my homework, or setting a lunch upon. In those days, the only TV tables you could get were metal, and if you put too much weight on them, they collapsed. Now they have really nice wooden ones. I wonder if they still make the metal kind.

The third thing I remember is weather forecasts. I recall more accuracy without all the radar, gidgets, and gadgets the weather people have these days. Maybe it is just that in NJ it's easier to predict the weather than it is in Northern Kentucky. It just seems to me that the weather forecasts are rarely accurate out here and so I depend on my sight rather than the local weather channel for accuracy. Even radar is often wrong. The radar scopes say it's raining or snowing, and it isn't reaching the ground. The stories I could tell about dependence on radar and it being entirely wrong.

In NJ we knew it was going to rain based on the smell. The wind always blew from west to east. The Delaware River was about 4 miles as the crow flies west of us, and the wind blew an odor our way so that we knew it would be raining soon.

So, today is a rainy day, and the prediction for this neck of the woods, or should I say part of our country, is rain for the rest of the week. Bummer.


Monday, May 11, 2009

The day after (Mother's day)

From our balcony, last night at sea. Sunset somewhere between Nassau, Bahahams, and Ft. Lauderdale, FL, USA. It was a beautiful last view of the sun before getting off the boat.

How can I give thanks for the things He has done for me? An Andre Couch first-liner to the song "To God be the Glory."

After Saturday and Sunday, I can't give enough thanks to God for giving me such a great batch of children and grandchildren. On Saturday I visited with my youngest and her brood, on Sunday, my middle child and her family spent a few hours with me. My son called on Sunday night, and I actually had a conversation with him. He, like his father, is not a phone-talker. But I have to say it was nice seeing everyone and talking with those I had opportunity to talk to.

As I mentioned yesterday, I only wish I had been able to be with my mom on Mother's day and I wish I had known then what I know now, about being faithful in contacting her. I'm so happy my children live close enough that we can enjoy each other's company from time to time.

Today is Monday, and it is another beautiful day. God has provided us with three sun-filled days, and the temperatures in the low 70s, which is wonderful for me. I'm not really into 80s and 90s. The pool work is going forward. Today, they were working on the gate, getting it to stay shut when it's supposed to. And on Wednesday, the pool furniture will be thoroughly cleaned and put in place for another season.

I love this time of year because I love the pool, and my condo looks over the pool, so I can see all that's going on down there. And it's the time of year when I think of all the walking I WANT to do, but probably won't do because of the leg problems.

Realizing this script has nothing to do with my favorite small town, Runnemede, NJ, I shall say adieu, and recall, fondly some of the times when my mom was preparing for the summer season -- all those things having to do with house-keeping chores like cleaning and changing out the curtains, making sure the storm windows were replaced with screens, putting slip covers on the furniture so that sandy, dirty feet marks could easily be cleaned up. After all, summer was barefoot season. So, I'll go sit on my sun-porch and reminisce about those times when I was growing up.

One of my grandchildren said to me yesterday that he didn't particularly like childhood. I told him, someday you will, and will only remember the good things, not the bad things, and your childhood will be something you reflect on from time to time. Enjoy your childhood while you can. It will be gone very soon, and you'll have all the responsibilities of adulthood, which, I can guarantee you aren't fun. We left it at that.


Saturday, May 9, 2009

Mother's Day

I have wonderful children. My mother had four children, I being one of them would like to think that I was wonderful. However, I don't think I was. My children are so much more loving and giving than I ever was, or that I picture myself as being.

Every Mother's Day, even after I left home, I DID send my mom at least a card. Being far removed from Runnemede by several hundred miles, and in the days before the Internet when sending a gift to a far away place wasn't so easy, I did little to let my mom know how much I appreciated her. I called her, unfailingly, every Mother's Day to tell her I loved her and that I really missed her. And I did miss her, terribly.

I guess that hardest thing about leaving family and cleaving to one's husband is leaving one's mother. My mom, the woman whom I would love to be like, and probably never will. I'm so much like my father, who was probably 180 degrees different from my mom. My dear mother was kind, sweet, had a servant's heart, and everyone loved her. My dad was strong, non-affectionate, had a giver's heart, and not everyone loved him, because he said things that needed to be said, and often got himself in "trouble" because of his speech. Not unlike his eldest daughter.

My mom was a mother from beginning to end. Her life revolved around her children. Sorry to say, her daughter, while she dearly loved her own children, was not the "Leave it to Beaver" type mom her own mother was. I didn't spend all day in the kitchen baking cookies. It really wasn't until I had to take care of my mother before she died and decided she wanted to die at home, that I realized all the sacrifices my mom made so that her children would know that they were loved, adored, and took second place only to her husband in her heart. The first place in her heart was for her Lord, Jesus Christ. My mom lived Christ.

I am now getting to be the age I thought I would never become. My mom was always "old". And now I'm actually older than my mom was when I left home. Much older. Yet when I left Runnemede, at 23, my mom was only in her 50s. Not so old, although I thought she was very old. Now, I know what I missed when I was training my own children, and I wish I could take back all the not so mom-like things I did as a mother.

I've talked to several other women at church and they all have the same insecurities about their own child-raising experiences that I have. But the proof is in the pudding, so to speak.

My husband and I have three wonderful, God-fearing, saved-by-grace, children, and 13 grandchildren learning to love the Lord because of what their parents (my children) are teaching them. My children want to be servants as Christ was a servant. They want to be as close to the Father as Christ was. Even when the burdens and distractions of each day pull them away from that goal, they all have the same goal, and are all teaching their children to do the same.

What more can a mother ask for? Not much, if anything. I am so glad I had the mother I did, that God gave me to my mom and dad, late in their life after being told they would never have children. I am so glad God opened my mother's womb and she had me and three other children for her to adore, love, and serve. And, I praise Him who is the giver of life that he allowed me to give life to three children and train them up in His way. Blessed by the Name of the Lord.


Friday, May 8, 2009


I put up several pictures on recent past BLOGs if you all are interested. I also posted a couple to The Fat Lady Singeth. Take a look if you're of a mind. If not? Oh, well.


Wednesday, May 6, 2009


When I was a child, prayer was a part of our lives since my dad was a pastor. I learned to pray early in my life. Little prayers, like "God bless mommy and daddy." Then I tried the more eloquent prayers like the ones I heard in church. I was never good at that. The short sentences were more to my liking. After reading the Yada Sister books, I started praying Scripture along with my requests and praises to God. This has been my help and aid in the past few weeks.

But I wanted to talk about prayer partners. When I was a child, if I WANTED something, I would ask Aunt Blanche -- a prayer warrior, Sunday school teacher, Good News Club leader -- to pray for that "something." Aunt Blanche always got her prayers answered the way I wanted them answered. I learned later that what I wanted was not always what God wanted, but that's another lesson and story.

So when I was in Runnemede I had Aunt Blanche to help me in my praying for things in my life. Oh yeah, I had my mom and dad, but Aunt Blanche was the one I went to first. Then when I left Runnemede, after I got married, my husband was my prayer pal. I didn't have a woman friend that I felt I could ask to pray for things with me, but I could still call on Aunt Blanche.

When we moved to Cincinnati I met a woman, my age, and her children were my children's ages, who was a real pray-er. I latched on to her like white on rice. And she has been faithful to pray for me and listen to my cries and pleas for over 30 years now. She also has been my best friend and doesn't care how awful I am, how nasty I am, how sick I am, or how much of a leech I am. She listens, then she prays -- not necessarily what I want her to pray, but she prays what she believes God wants her to pray, and her prayer is loaded with God's own Word.

This past week has been a very bad week for me and Alan, physically. We were travelling home from Florida, a 24-hour drive with three stops for dinners. I was having a very painful fibromyalgia event, and Alan was weak as a kitten, plus he had a really bad cold, for which he was given antibiotics by the ship's doctor. So, I became me and Alan and on the trip and had to do what he normally does and what I normally do -- both jobs. Well, I called Nancy right away and told her to pray for me and since it was an answering machine call she didn't know what to pray for, so she just prayed for a "safe trip", which was exactly what I needed her to pray for me and Alan.

On day two of the trip I developed a migraine which I'm still fighting after three days. I called Nancy again, and this time I talked to her in person. She had been awakened the same time during the night with a headache which she never gets, and knew she had to pray for me for a headache. The headache was just dull enough that I could drive, then hit hard again after we stopped for the night. It let up again in the a.m. for drive time, then hit again when we got home.

Now what is the point of this epistle? Well, God knows what we need before we ask for it or even think about it. I pray that a lot, you know? "God, you know what I need right now, so Please supply that need." And God is good all the time. I think of the Apostle Paul often and while I don't know what his physical problem was, he does mention it, so it must have been something, because he admonished us to pray without ceasing and we are told to rejoice in the Lord always.

I'm not the Apostle Paul, nor do I ever think I will attain the spirituality of that man, but his God is my God, and his God is faithful to those who love Him.

So, today, if you have time, pray for someone you know. Pray that God will supply their need for this day.


Monday, May 4, 2009

The Shore

My brother recently recounted in his BLOG his first time at "the shore". Unfortunately, he didn't remember his first few times which were before he became aware of things, I suppose. I have a picture of him, which I'll publish when I find it, of him at "the shore" when he was almost one, or maybe just one. He remembers his first trip being when he was around 7 or 8.

"The shore" for us Drexler's was not always the same place-Whale Beach, Ocean City, Barnagate, Atlantic City, Seaside Heights, etc. We visited Whale Beach many times. Several church folks had homes in that small community, and we were invited to be with their families for one day at a time. I suppose because we were four young children, two of which were rambunctious boys, a day at a time was all any one in his/her right mind could handle. But, oh, how I enjoyed those days at Whale Beach.

I recall one particular time when the host family gave us a real special treat. That treat -- shrimp. I loved the stuff! I ate and ate and ate. I got really, really sick. And I layed off shrimp until I was an adult, then I retried it -- just a little bit. Still loved the taste, and I didn't get sick, so I upped the portion I ate and now I can enjoy any "all you can eat" portion of shrimp that any one wants to serve me.

We recently went on a cruise that had, this time, a daily midnight buffet. The previous cruises we went on, only had one midnight buffet each cruise. Well, I had hoped to get to at least one of these buffets, because shrimp was abundant and not measly, little baby shrimp. I mean these are jumbo shrimp and they are so good. Well, even though I miss out on the midnight buffets, I did have shrimp each evening for dinner.

I love ship dinners. You get a menu. Appetizer course, salad course, soup course, main course, dessert course. And, if there are more than one appetizer that you desire, you can have them. So, if I wanted six appetizers, I could have them. Well, I, on at least two occasions ordered TWO shrimp cocktail appetizers -- that was 12 jumbo shrimp. Yummmm.

I didn't gain any weight and that's mainly because I only ate breakfast and dinner, and I walked and walked and walked. Alan actually lost weight, mainly because he was sea sick for three days, poor thing.

So, back to the original thought of this BLOG -- "The Shore" It was the New Jersey Shore to which we went each summer, taken there by one or the other of our Uncle Joes. And we always had a great time. We'd get there around lunch time and have sand sandwiches (no stutter there, the sandwiches always ended up with lots of sand mixed in). Then we'd wear ourselves out chasing waves. Finally, the Uncle of the Day would take us to Johnson's Restaurant on the boardwalk for dinner. The meal, as my brother reminded me, chosen by most of us was open-faced turkey sandwich. It was made with real turkey, sliced fresh off the bone, and slathered with lots of turkey gravy. I haven't had one that good in years.

So, brother, to answer your question, yes I remember those trips to the shore with Uncle Joe E, or Uncle Joe S, and all of us tightly fitting in the car fighting for a window seat. I remember that on almost every trip one or the other of us would get car sick and throw up (I think it was usually me or Carl). But we did have a very good time once we were there.

Remember getting close to the beach with the car windows open, and seeing who could smell the "ocean" first. Actually, it was the smell of the bay, which was really a smell of dead clams and crabs, not a great smell, but it signaled to us that we were within 15 minutes of the sand and the sea. Don't you wish we could go back?


Sunday, May 3, 2009

Free Range Chickens

When I was growing up, our neighbor raised chickens, but he did it in coops, and he sold the chickens, after he took off all the feathers, and took out all the innards, and he also sold the eggs, which were brown, and most often had two yolks in them. They weren't free range.

However, a friend of mine, with whom I worked at Answers in Genesis, and who lives in a "holler" in Southern Indiana, wants some free range chickens for her "holler" acreage. Well, I have a solution. She just needs to visit Tortola, BWI. There are chickens everywhere on the Island, and they run free. These pictures are just two examples of how "free" these chickens "range". We were at a beautiful beach in Tortola, and there they were, more FRCs. It seems no one was paying any attention to them, let alone feeding them, but I guess they were getting fed, because they all looked fat to me, ready to be eaten.

We, those of us who took the "coast to coast" tour, were certain that the "free range chicken" which was available nightly on the cruise, and which, I might add, was "delish" had come from this small Island in the Caribbean.

So, Stacia, get on a boat and head over to Tortola, and grab yourself a few chickens. They're free--as free range as you can get.

I just wanted you to know I was thinking of you while I was on my most recent jaunt.