Growing up in a small town in Southern New Jersey

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."