Growing up in a small town in Southern New Jersey

Monday, August 31, 2009

Outside MY window

The picture from MY window!

A friend of mine who lives in an Indiana "holler" has a BLOG and she's been keeping track of things that happen outside her window. She's been doing this every day for over 120 days. Wow! So, I thought I'd show you something that I noticed -- rather suddenly -- outside one of MY windows, the same window from which I take most of my neighborhood pictures.

And yes, this has to do with my life in Runnemede.

I was sitting out on my sunporch/lanai/deck/veranda yesterday afternoon and I noticed that the trees were turning into their fall colors ALREADY. I mean it's still summer, and I don't recall any other summer to fall season, since we've lived in this area of the USA, that being over 30 years, that the trees changed from summer to fall in late August! Usually -- in fact I can't remember year when this hasn't been true -- the trees change in late October and then the week before Thanksgiving, we get a cold front come through with winds over 20 mph and all the leaves are gone overnight. This has been something I've thought about for all the years we've lived here, waiting impatiently for the trees to change their color, knowing that in NJ (back home) the trees are already bare, and here in KY the leaves are green, maybe tinged with some color. But not until late October are the trees in full-color mode.
Well, this morning I noticed that a few more trees were turning, including those on the knob/hill/mountain across the road from my home (in the south they call them knobs, in the Rockies they call them hills, in NJ they call them mountains!).

Yes, it's been a cool summer (so much for global warming). And I've absolutely loved the weather this summer, swimming or not swimming. It's been absolutely lovely. And now it really feels like autumn and I'm loving it even more, except that the darkness is descending upon us.
I recall one fall, in particular, when I was growing up in Runnemede. I was in fifth grade. And I know it was September because school had just started up, and it was still light out after dinner. In NJ it gets dark earlier in the evening that it does out here. That aside, I recall that I was taking a walk around the neighborhood, which I loved to do after dinner, often hoping that dad and mom would want me to go to Joe's and pick up some ice cream. This particular evening was not one of them.
I also recall that it dawned on me that the leaves on the trees had changed to their fall hues. In New Jersey, the colors are more vivid than they are in Kentucky. That's either because of the type of trees or because of the weather, I don't know for sure. But it impressed on me that Fall was here, whether the calendar agreed with that or not. The trees had changed, the weather was cool, and I remember that because I distinctly recall having to put on a sweater before I went outside for the walk.
I have always loved Fall, not just because of the vivid colors, but because of the weather cooling down (I'm not a lover of hot weather) and because, well, it was getting closer to Halloween, and all those treats that I could only enjoy one time a year. It was apple taffy (not taffy apple) time.
Just to let me know that summer is almost over, even if the trees are telling me this is a certainty, I went to the Farmer's Market today, and was told that today was the last day for peaches. Bummer. They've been SOOOOOOO good this year. The corn supply was minimal and I was told maybe another two weeks maximum. Tomatoes would still be around for a while, and apples were coming in. Apples. Apple taffy!
Can't wait!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Audubon High School

When I was a child the high school that Runnemede students attended was Audubon High School. It was in, duh, Audubon, NJ, and was about 10 miles from where I lived. The Runnemede students were bused there. The school colors were green and gold (that's really emerald green and yellow). We all were Audubon sports fans and followed the football, basketball, and baseball teams avidly.

Then it happened. Audubon was getting too crowded because other towns also attended that high school, and our end of the pike had no high school, so it was decided to build one in our neck of the woods, and three towns would be the main occupiers of the building -- those being Bellmawr, Runnemede, and Glendora (which included Blackwood and Turnersville, so it may be that Glendora was part of a township or something). But basically it was supposed to be a three-towns high school and was called Triton. Get it?

Triton's colors were red and blue.

I have to tell you how disappointed I was that I wouldn't be going to Audubon. After all I'd heard church kids older than I talking about how much fun it was attending that school and all the clubs and sports they had, and I had, after all, been hoo-rah-rahing the sports teams for as long as I could remember.

Well, the new high school, unfortunately for me, fortunate for the three towns was built on schedule and it opened the year I started high school, so I never got to go to Audubon, in fact I never, ever set foot inside the building. I never attended any games (listened to them on the radio). Never got a green and gold sweater like my friends all had. I was just one year too young to go to Audubon.

When the switch was made it was decided that Runnemede students who were going into their sophomore and junior years would come over to Triton. Seniors would stay at Audubon. So my first year at Triton, the only seniors were those who came from the southern end of the Pike, those being from Blackwood, Glendora, and Turnersville. I don't recall which high school they were bused to, but I think it was Lindenwold. Don't hold me to that. And it may be that there were no seniors that year at all, I just can't remember.

Why am I recalling any of this? I don't know. I was laying bed and it occurred to me that I had a big depression when I was around 11 and it was mainly because I knew that I probably wouldn't be going to Audubon high school. Hope springs eternal, though, and I hoped that the completion of the building would be delayed by strikes or other means, but that didn't happen.

There was only a brief time when I was at Triton that I was unhappy to be in the new building instead of attending Audubon. Soon I was hooked on the new school and it became my alma mater with all the support I could give it.

The picture is Audubon high school. I posted one of Triton a year or so ago. I also supposed I was thinking about this because my best friend from those days is going to be celebrating her 50th high school reunion in a few months. Imagine that. Where did the time go? I'll be celebrating, Lord willing, in two years with my classmates. Can't wait.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Old Movies

I've been watching a lot of old movies. You know, the old classic black and white movies with "G" ratings?

Yesterday, Alan and I were watching TMC. It was Jennifer Jones day. The first movie I watched was Love Letters. It had a long, convoluted plot, and as usual Alan came out in the last five minutes and wanted to know everything about the movie. He does that a lot.

All through this movie there was music (of course) quietly being played in the background and I would catch snippets of the melody and think, I know that melody, what is it? It alluded me, and I was really getting frustrated and annoyed because I used to know music (tunes) quite well.

Finally, at the end of the movie when they ran the credit, I heard the entire song/tune/melody. It was a song called "Love Letters." Ah, what memories that song brought back to me.

Why is this so memorable for me? And what does it have to do with Runnemede? Well, this particular version of the song came out in 1960, the year Alan went back to Kenya, and it was released shortly after he left the States. And his "love letters" were what kept me happy for three years.

I mentioned in a previous post how I would go to the post office two or three times a day waiting, hoping, praying that there would be a letter from Alan. And rarely I would be running on air as I returned home from the post office -- running the whole way so I could read his letter. I didn't read the letters in the post office or on the way home because, well, it was a small town, and I know everyone in that town that knew me would know that I had received a letter from Alan and want to know the contents. They were private!

I guess people knew anyway, but in my romatic, teenage mind, I was the only one who was privy to the contents and knowledge that I had received this particular letter.

How silly of me. They were, after all, air form letters, which a very particular shade of BLUE so anyone seeing me with a BLUE letter in my hand knew that I had received a letter from Alan!

So, listen to "Love Letters" (linked above) and you'll understand why this particular song was sort of my theme song in 1960 until August 1963.


Good Morning, Miss Dove

Well, I have to say that this movie brought back so many memories. (Good Morning, Miss Dove is the name of a movie starring Jennifer Jones.)

First and foremost, it brought back the memories I have of watching movies late (very late) at night with my father. He was seated in HIS chair -- a captain's chair of unknown vintage, and I laying on the loveseat, which is probably why my posture has always been so crooked.

This movie is one I had not seen before. It was at least a 10-hankie movie, in a good way. Good things also make me cry, not just sad things.

Second, my dad and I watched these very late night movies in our little living room in the little house in which we lived in Runnemede. I can't imagine why he (and mom, who always went to bed before the movie was over) let me stay up so late, except that he enjoyed having company while we watched these classics.

Third, I recalled that while this movie was in "technicolor", most movies were in black and white, which, of course, didn't matter, since we had a black and white TV, not a "color" TV. I mean, who these days even knows about B&W TVs?

I know I was an ignoramus for staying up so late (or early depending on your point of view) to watch these old classic movies -- hey they were classics when I was a kid, and they're really classics now. I was stupid for staying up so late because I had to be up no later than 6 a.m. in order to get to school by 7:10 a.m. Most of the movies lasted until 2:00 a.m. You see where that leads?

I wonder now how I stayed awake in class. But I did, and the only time I "caught up" on lost sleep was on weekends -- Saturday, to be exact -- when I would sleep until one or two in the afternoon, after, of course, watching a movie with my father the night before.

If you have never seen the movie Good Morning, Miss Dove rent it. It's a really great movie, and it's rated "G". It such a great "dad" story. And also, a "Judi" story. Hint: It's about a strict teacher and it is reminiscent of Goodbye Mr. Chips.

So much for this episode of RR. ttfn

Monday, August 17, 2009


For all those of you who have listed "Runnemede Remembered" as one of your favorite BLOGs, I noticed that RR is NOT being updated automatically on your computers. Why? I don't have a clue. It's not that I haven't "paid the rent" so to speak. So, keep watching for updates. I'm being more regular now that I've reread several of the really old items.


Saturday, August 15, 2009

Mom's Jewelry Box

I have always loved jewelry. Whether it was dime-store jewelry or real, I loved it.

My mom had a jewelry box. Not a large jewelry box, just a small box, maybe 8 x 10 with one drawer underneath. It was made of cardboard covered in some sort of imitation leather-like paper, and it was pink. The little drawer had two goldish buttons for use to pull out the drawer.

Being a pastor's wife, she received many, many dime-store items for Christmas and birthday gifts. Some of those items are now worth a lot of money -- nostalgia become retro, etc. Unfortuntately, few, if any of those dime-store pins and earrings are in either my jewelry box or my sister's.

When I was little I would go into my mom's and dad's room at least once a week, maybe even more -- at least I know I was in there on Sunday morning watching my mom as she did up her hair, put on a little "rouge" (I still have that tiny rouge compact she used for many years and it still has a small amount of rouge in it), no lipstick, just some chapstick, then she would peruse all those "jewels" in her box and decide which earrings she would wear to church, often asking my opinion of whether I thought the large gawdy earrings would be better than the small pearl screw-ons. I always preferred the pearls.

She would often let me wear one of the "scatter" pins to church. "Scatter" pins (pictured above) were sets of pins -- two to a box -- that were the same pin, only one was larger than the other. Sometimes they were shapes of objects and every one could tell what they represented. Other times they were just shapes with gems pasted into various parts of their beings. I have to say that my daughter (Becky) and I still enjoy several of those pins and earrings.

Mom had her ears pierced when she was a little girl. All Italian little girls had their ears pierced. But she let them grow closed because she believed that putting holes in one's body was not what God had intended. But she had no compunction about wearing clip-on or screw-on earrings. Frankly, I never had my ears pierced and for years I wore clip-on earrings. I rarely wear earrings any more, even though I own several pairs of the screw-on variety, including real pearl studs.

These days' it's very difficult to find clip-on or screw-on earrings, but that doesn't matter. I'm supposed to be talking about jewelry boxes.

All this came to light the other day when two of my granddaughters and their mother decided they wanted to look through my jewelry box. I think the little girls had a great time looking through that box, as did my daughter, because she remembers the two of us sitting down with my mother, and just LOOKING at my mom's jewelry. And, I think my father must have been a jewelry lover as well, or he just didn't have a clue what else to buy my mother, because he always gave her something nice (in the jewelry department) for her birthday, for as many years as I could remember.

So, to all you little and big girls out there, take time to look through your mom's or your grandmother's jewelry box, and ask the history of each piece -- maybe that's why I loved doing that so much, because mom would always tell me who gave her that piece of jewelry, and when she got it, and what, if anything it meant to her. That's what I'm trying to do with the granddaughters -- those who are interested, that is.
A jewelry box can be as much a remembrance piece as a photo album, as with each picture there is a story, with each piece of jewelry there is a story.


Friday, August 14, 2009

Sunday school picnics -- addendum

My sister wrote the following: My words are italicized and colored pink.

Oh, I loved those picnics too. And Daddy always went (I didn't remember this or the following), though if he could get a ride home with someone who was leaving early he left with them. After our lunch we all gathered at the tables and sang hymns, and then Daddy would bring a short sermonette (This I remember).

Uncle Bill (Manduka) or Uncle El (Wentzel) always brought the hymnals. Daddy always gave the excuse the he had to prepare for Sunday's sermons, and no one minded that he went home because they knew his preparations were in their best interests.

I loved that thermos Mommy had. She sometimes made lemonade, that was my favorite. And she always, always brought olives, green and black, as a special treat. And the cookies were the sandwich kind with chocolate on one side and vanila on the other side with white icing in the middle. We gorged on all the goodies as I remember.

The reason for the meeting after the eating was because in those days folks thought that after a meal one never went into the water because it could bring on cramps. I remember waiting for that magical time frame to be up so we didn't go in one minute early and get a cramp and drown. Funny how things change, huh!!

I never rode the bus because if I did I would throw up. Usually I rode with Mrs. Kenders. She had this big Plymoth with fins and the back seat was so smooth, I never got sick. She really was very attentive to my needs. We had some very special ladies who loved all us Drexlers didn't we. Hard to find that now (because we're now the older ladies!).

God has blessed us immeasurably through our lives hasn't He. I mean you and I were Princesses. We were placed in a loving Christian home with folks in the church wanting to be our Aunts and Uncles and Grandparents. Wow, we had it so good.

I do recall that Plymouth that Mrs. Kenders had. It was such a fancy car for anyone in Runnemede to have. They were the first family in the church to get one of those cars with the fins. About the bus -- I probably threw up in the bus a couple of times or almost because I always got bus sick. I still do, although I have found that if I take a sea-sick pill prior to riding in a bus, I don't get sick. And Deb is correct about the lemonade -- it was lemonade kool aid, not real lemonade. Mom would never have been able to afford enough lemons to make lemonade to fill that large thermos.

I guess this finishes up the Sunday School Picnic sagas. I hope you have enjoyed reading them.


Thursday, August 13, 2009

100th anniversary

The CHURCH, Mt. Calvary Union Church, will be celebrating it's 100th anniversary sometime next year. I can't wait. I DO plan to attend, and as soon as I find out the date I will make my reservation at the local Holiday Inn. So this is a short post as I get some pictures of the times I spent at that church ready for review.

I learned today that the annual Sunday school picnic will be after church on Sunday. Daddy would NEVER have allowed anything to be held on Sunday. It was, after all, the day of rest AND CHURCH. But that's okay. Times do change, and I have to say that I always found our Sunday school picnics relaxing. I don't think my father ever went to the Sunday school picnic anyway, so it wouldn't have made any difference what day the picnic was held on.

I recall that they rented a bus to get us to Lake Palentine in South Jersey for several years because the church was large enough to pay for such a luxury. The picnic was always held on the second Saturday in July. I loved those picnics. Mom always made macaroni salad and potato salad. She brought burgers and hot dogs and the men of the church set up the charcoal grills and the women cooked their meats for their own families. I don't recall any sharing (pot luck style) back then. However, in later years they went to a pot luck type meal, which I'm sure was much easier on the women. My mom always brought a large thermos -- I mean family size thermos -- of kool aid, and we children always hoped it was purple not pink. Purple was grape and that was our favorite.

So, after reading this short burst of Runnemede Remembered, please be sure to keep checking The Fat Lady Singeth at That will keep you up-to-date on my own families happenings out here in Northern Kentucky. A far-piece from Runnemede.


Wednesday, August 5, 2009

For the next few days or weeks

Please go to The Fat Lady Singeth for updates on me and mine.

I'm organizing RR and that's going to take some time. I'm also printing out the older BLOGS as I don't want them to get lost since the family history is so much a part of those older tomes. Sometimes rereading the older issues of RR reminds me of other events that occurred in that small town.


Monday, August 3, 2009

No fear

If you read my niece's (Lori's) post about her father, you'll read that when he was growing up he had a group of friends -- 8 or 9 -- who all lived within a couple of blocks of each other, and they played together all the time.

I, too, had several friends within a block of our home, and we played "mommy" or "brides" day in and day out. And neither we children, nor our parents worried about anything like being kidnapped.

A young family in our church recent told their oldest child (who I think is 4 or maybe just 5) that she was never, ever to talk to someone she didn't know, and she was never, ever to get into a car with anyone, or get near a car that had someone in it that she didn't know. She was to run like crazy back to her house if anything like that happened. Well, it did, and the child did as she had been told and ran up the front walk to her front porch. God was good, because this was a topic that had not been discussed with this child but two days before she was approached.

I got to thinking about that. I can't imagine what it is like for parents and children today. I can't imagine the constant fear they must live with -- the fear that someone might steal or molest their child, the fear for the child that someone might steal them.

This just wasn't a topic that we ever thought about. We would run out the front door, tell mom we were heading up the street, and we'd be back for lunch or she would get on the front porch and yell our names and we'd come running. We were never out of range of one of mom's yells! Sort of like the dinner bell on a ranch, I guess.

I do recall a time I did NOT tell my mom that I was going to visit one of my friends, and she called, and I was out of range and didn't hear her. When I waltzed into the house, I could tell I was in trouble. My mom was crying. Dad was upset, and I just knew it had to do with me. What had I done? It never occurred to me that I couldn't visit one of my friends who lived just two houses beyond mom's yell range. But I did. But I never did again. At least not unless I told my mom exactly where I was going.

I was punished by not being able to go out and play with any of my friends for one whole week. I could go outside and play, but it had to be with either my sister, or alone. No friends were permitted to visit me, either. They and their parents understood about punishment and honored my mom's and dad's wishes.

After the week was over and I was once again permitted to play with my friends, believe me I had learned that lesson. Always tell my mother where I was going to be. Never again did I just, on my own, decide to visit a friend.

Lesson learned. But the point is -- there was no fear other than the fear of punishment from my parents.

I am so glad I grew up in the years in which I grew -- the late 40s and 50s. Such a wonderful time it was. Would that it were like that again.

Oh, I'm certain there were bad things happening but it wasn't in our face, day in and day out. And never, ever were we coached in school what to do if someone tried to pick us up. We were too busy worrying about getting into bomb shelters in time before the big bang (which never came).