Growing up in a small town in Southern New Jersey

Thursday, January 7, 2010


When I was a child we (the family) had one sled. No tires. And cardboard sleds weren't something about which I was familiar.

I'm mentioning this because today, here in Northern Kentucky, we are experiencing what I call "a sledding snow." What is "a sledding snow?" It's a snow where you can run your sled down a hill and the snow doesn't disappear because in reality the snow upon which you sled was a mere dusting. Yes a few inches of good, snow is best for sledding.

When I was a child, since I was the oldest, I always had first dibs on the family sled.

I remember when I was about 3, maybe 4, one of my very first memories, my father put me on the sled, and he pulled me down to the post office, down the middle of Second Avenue to the Pike, then close to the curbs on the Pike (not on the sidewalks which would have been cleared) and on that trip I heard the train whistle. A train passed through Runnemede twice a day on its way down to Grenloch from Camden and environs north of there.

To get my dad's attention, I asked in my three-year-old English: That's the choo-choo, huh? That came out: Ats a choo-choo? And daddy thought I was saying "Where's the choo-choo?" He tried very logically to explain it to me, and finally we stopped at the corner of Second and the Pike and I could see the choo-choo. It made my day. The thing is, my father took me on a sled ride to the post office. I think my sister was maybe a year old, still a baby, so I had my daddy all to myself for the length of that ride.

After that, whenever he would take me to the post office with him, whether it was winter, spring, summer, or fall, it almost always coincided with the time when the train was going through Runnemede, and the expression: "That's the choo-choo, huh?" was my mantra during those jaunts.

The things one remembers.

NOTE: The whistle was pulled at Smith's Lane, Third Avenue, Clements Bridge Road, and Evesham Road, so I don't know whether I heard the Third Avenue tug or the Clements Bridge tug of the whistle. It matters not. I heard it. Now? I probably wouldn't hear the whistle if I was sitting directly under it.

Also of NOTE: The trains back then were still coal powered, so we could see the smoke billowing from the train's smoke stack way before we heard the whistle. I wonder if my father waited on purpose after seeing the smoke to take me on our jaunts just so he could hear me ask about the train.

Also of NOTE: "Where's the choo-choo, huh?" became sort of a table tease if my father wished to embarrass me in front of friends and especially boyfriends, of which there were very, very few. Talk about a father not wanting his daughter to get married and leave him. That's a tale for another day.

Well, the snow has slacked off, so I guess the shovelers did know something that I didn't and the weather people haven't been broadcasting. And I'm going to head to my next Internet project.


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