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.