Growing up in a small town in Southern New Jersey

Sunday, February 28, 2010

The garage

Oh, how I wish I had a picture for this posting. If you look at the snow picture, the garage is barely visible on the left of the walk way.

When I was a little girl, I mean pre-pre-teen, I used to play in the garage. I pretended it was a playhouse.

Now, the garage housed the incinerator, the lawn mowers -- I think there was three of them -- hand-pushed style, all moms gardening tools, and some spare lumber. These were spread along one wall and behind one door of the garage. The rest was free space.

I would sweep it out each spring, and make rooms in there with chalk on the floor, and by arranging the outdoor furniture that was also housed in the garage. It was a fun place for me to play. And dry. I could play in there when it rained.

Of course, I had the back porch in which to play school, since that was set up like a school room. And the basement was available for me to play in on a rainy day. I could skate down there. And the front porch was also available when it rained, but that was just for reading.

But the garage...that is where my imagination really let loose. I was a mother to my baby dolls. I was a cook in my pretend kitchen. I think I had three or four of my mother's old dinged pots to play with. And I would use the small charcoal grill as my stove. Small doesn't even describe that grill. I mean it was hibachi size, before hibachis became popular. I arranged the folding chairs into my living room. It was so much fun for me.

I am so looking forward to going home in the spring and taking pictures. Oh, I know nothing is the same, but I'm certain I can find some things that have changed little. I plan to walk, yes walk around the block. It might take me two days to do it (just kidding) and I will be taking pictures along the way. I will go down to the pike and get a few pics as well. Then, if I am able and Alan is able, I'm going to ask him to walk to Triton with me and take pictures along the way.

We used to walk home from Triton on Mondays for Hi-BA, and he would stay for dinner, then his dad would pick him up. I will have someone either take us over to Triton and we'll retrace the steps we used to take, or I'll have someone pick us up at Triton. I don't think we could make the round trip any more. Our legs just don't work that well.


Monday, February 22, 2010

Facebook and Runnemede

Facebook is amazing. I know it's probably very invasive into the privacy of anyone who signs up and uses it, but it does get me connected with people who I thought were either gone or who are hidden in the recessives of my mind.

Today I found another "friend" who shall remain anonymous. Just let me say to the family, her mom made the best cookies! The family will know who I mean, at least I think they will.

I'm still looking for folks and someday I might find some more.

I remember when I found my cousins. I found them almost simultaneously. I had a state address for one of them and through her I found a couple more who led me to some more and by the end of a week I had found all my living family on my mother's side. Then I received an e-mail from my father's cousin's daughter. And since then I've e-mailed that side of the family as well.

Facebook is helping me find high school friends and church friends and rekindling those friendships long forgotten.


Saturday, February 20, 2010

I imagine this is what Runnemede looks like about now. the only difference is that the church has white clapboard siding on it now instead of that ugly grey stuff that covered it for most of my years in that town. This is the view from the back door of the house. Obviously, I wasn't going to trample over to the church for any reason that day, so I just took the picture. The snow doesn't look too deep, does it?
Just a reminder of things past.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

It will be snowing snow

I have heard all the reports of the heavy snow Runnemede got last weekend, while we got only seven inches (more like three, actually). Well, today we, here in Northern Kentucky are getting another storm, and I know it's heading toward Runnemede.

I remember a winter such as this one. I'm fuzzy on the year, but I think it was 1959 -- the year I turned 16. I recall that we didn't see the street surface from Christmas until mid-April. We had to go to school an extra two weeks (in June) that year, and finished up shortly before July 1.

I also recall that on March 3 of that year we had a snowstorm which closed the school on my birthday, so I didn't get my birthday corsage. Back then you got a bubble gum corsage for your 16th birthday. We were out of school for the rest of the week, and when we got back, whoever was supposed to get me the corsage figured my birthday was long gone, so I didn't get it.

But I wasn't down and out about that, because two days later, we got another storm that knocked out power for a week. And we had no school during that time. We were cold, and at night when we went to bed, we would get under a pile of down quilts, and when we breathed we could see our breath. Daddy had set up a small kerosene heater in the living room, and mom kept the gas oven going all day and night, so the downstairs wasn't too bad. We still wore two pairs of socks and our coats and gloves, most of the time, but we toughed it out.

Now I'm thinking I'm glad I'm not in that situation (no heat or electricity). No electricity wasn't as bad in the 50s and 60s because we didn't depend on it for telephone, computer, microwave, stove, hot water, and in most instances heat. Some people still had coal furnaces. And I recall my dad almost swearing that we didn't have ours any more, because if we had kept it and not switched over to oil heat, we would have been warm and toasty in our house.

I can't recall what dad did to make sure the pipes didn't burst, but he must have done something.

So, a story from many years ago. Deb and I talked about this a few days ago. So far, neither of us has lost electricity this winter. Thank the Lord for that.


Sunday, February 7, 2010

Sunday sayings

Let me just say that we didn't have a "super bowl Sunday" when I was growing up. It wasn't until I got married, in 1966, that I even heard about a super bowl, Alan being the football fanatic he was and is.

Having digressed from the re-opening of "Sunday sayings", I shall continue.

"Blast, dash, darn, confound" was an expression using instead of a four-letter word that started with a "d" and ends with an "n" and has "am" in the middle. A good expression when you hit your thumb with a hammer, or can't find something in the junk drawer (doesn't everyone have one?), or when you slip on the ice and fall down, or -- make up your own list.

It wasn't used very often in our house when I was a youngster, but as I got older and my parents got older and started doing stupid stuff like hitting your thumb with a hammer, I heard it more often. Mostly I used it when I missed an answer on a homework assignment.

Enough said.


Saturday, February 6, 2010

Whatever happened to...

Whatever happened to mandatory yearly chest x-rays?

I know that when I was a child, we went into a mobile unit out in the school yard that had an x-ray machine in it, and we all had to get a chest x-ray.

You know: "Take a deep breath, hold it -- that is all." Does anyone else remember this?

With all the angst about mammograms, why isn't there any crying about chest x-rays. I think they would be more important to more people than mammograms. Does anyone else agree with me on this?

I haven't had a chest x-ray since -- well, I can't remember how long ago it was I had one. Maybe when I had a stroke in 2001. But I don't remember anything about that day, and Alan doesn't remember what all they did to me. Yes, I said did to me. Should I have said did for me?

I know I had a chest x-ray in 1993 when I had kidney stones and they were setting me up for a kidney-stone-ectomy (I don't know what it's called, but I was sure glad I passed that little bugger before surgery!).

So, as I was remembering things from school in Runnemede, it occurred to me that yearly x-rays were part and parcel of small-town living.


Thursday, February 4, 2010

Update on Cousin Micki

I called my cousin Robert this morning. He lives not too far from Micki and has been sort of looking after her. She is 85. Just before Thanksgiving she had knee surgery. After one of her rehab sessions, she suffered a stroke on the side opposite the one that had the knee repair. I figured since she suffered the stroke on the day I happened to call her, it was the shock of my call that had caused it (just kidding). She complained to me about feeling funny and numb. We both thought it was probably because she had a rough physical therapy session.

Unfortunately, it wasn't.

I found out the following if any of you want to send her a card. Make sure you let her know who you are (how you're related to her) or you're just a friend of Judi Drexler.

Micki Evans
Moultrie Creek Nursing And Rehab Center
200 Mariner Health Way
St. Augustine, FL 32086

If you want the phone number, e-mail me and I'll send it to you. There is only one phone at the facility and they pass is around. Strange, I know. I would love to get her a cell phone, one of those disposible types, but I wouldn't know how to get it to her.

If you want more information on the facility you can go to:

Her brother David is going down next weekend to be with her for a few days. After that, we'll have to wait and see.


Tuesday, February 2, 2010


This is a very short post.

My sister reminded me about Runnemede Supply -- the hardware store between one string of shops and another bounded on either side by, if I recall correctly, the bakery and Dink's. The hardware store was Brogan's before it was Runnemede Supply.

My father loved that store. He'd peruse it at least once a week seeing if a new brand of clock came in, or a new brand of flashlight was available. My dad collected flashlights. He also collected pens and pencils, but he went to Philadelphia in search of those collectibles.

I was also reminded that one year my dad bought my mother a ladder for her birthday. I have to say that was the last thing he bought her for her birthday from Brogan's (or Runnemede Supply). Can you imagine getting a ladder for your birthday from your husband? I can. Only in my case it was a vacuum cleaner.

Another memory: Brogan's caught on fire one Sunday evening shortly after church. That was the first fire. Brogan's came back as Runnemede Supply. Apparently that first fire while it was spectacular didn't take away the much needed lumber company. After I left Runnemede there was another fire, which decimated Runnemede Supply.

I'm not sure what is there now. Is it still at hardware store/lumber supply company?


Monday, February 1, 2010

Mrs. Marcantonio

When I was in first grade (at Downing school), after the first week of school, I and eight other children, was taken from Miss Welch's class and put into Mrs. Marcantonio's class. They put the eight best readers into Mrs. M's class. You see, Mrs. Marcantonio was the second grade teacher. And I guess they thought we first graders who could read well, could handle second grade work.

I've written about Mrs. M before. She's the teacher that sent me to the principal's office for mouthing off to her. Remember? I had colored a house and fence white, and she didn't think that was good coloring. And I pointed out (through the school window) that houses were white, and fences were white. She didn't like my lesson to her, so she sent me to see the principal.

Mrs. M had dyed red hair. In my opinion, that made her a "fallen" woman. Whatever that was. I mean who knew what a "fallen" woman was when they were six years old, especially back in those days. But I had been churched enough to know that a good, decent, Christian woman did NOT dye her hair. And because you could see her roots, and really, no one had that color red hair naturally, I knew, and it was common knowledge, that she dyed her hair.

That aside. Mrs. M was a good teacher. She had two bug-a-boos though. She loved giving us "sums". And not just two numbers added together. She would give us 20 or 30 numbers to add up, and then add up again. I learned how to add very well in her class. And to this day, I trust my own addition skills over a calculator. Even when I was using an adding machine, the precursor to the calculator in one of the jobs I held during college, I still trusted my own addition over the adding machine's addition. You see, an adding machine (calculator) is only as accurate as the numbers put into it, if you miss entering just one number correctly, the whole sum for that column of numbers is wrong.

Now, the reason Mrs. M came to my mind today was that I was reading a book in which the children were diagramming sentences. This was another favorite "busy-work" task that Mrs. M had us engage in. I didn't mind doing arithmetic (sums), but I did NOT like doing sentence diagramming. I just had the most difficult time with it.

I am a person who doesn't like to be wrong or make mistakes, and I was always making mistakes with my sentence diagrams. In the end, Mrs. M's insistence that we all learn to diagram sentences was "a good thing". At least, I suppose it was. I can't give an instance in which I have actually used the sentence diagramming skill I learned while in her class, but at least I learned something about sentence structure and word building into thought in her class.

The next year, I was put in with the third graders, although officially I was a second grader. Then when I was supposed to be in third grade, I was actually put in third grade. That was the year I was sent over to Bingham school because Downing was overcrowded.

This time they didn't move us based on reading skills or arithmetic skills or any other schooling abilities. This time they just moved us based on our addresses. Those of us who lived closest to Downing were sent over to Bingham. And it was not just my grade that suffered the split. Every class from third to seventh was split. This meant, of course, that I was taken away from my best friends.

Sometimes you have to wonder what adults are thinking when they make decisions (such as the splitting up of classes). Now days, though, I think they just draw names and shift around the children in classes in that manner. And it seems they do this every year. At least this is what I gather from talking to my grandchildren. Does that damage a child for life, I wonder? Probably not, but I was not happy to be shifted to another school away from my best friend. Of course, best friends do not have to depend on being in the same class to stay BFs, but in this case it was so.

Being moved to the other side of town for school didn't leave many options for finding new best friends, those after-school playmates, but fortunately a new girl moved into town that lived real close to Downing, and she and I became new best friends. That friendship survived until we graduated from high school and went down different paths to different colleges. And while we saw each other at Christmas and once in a while during the summer, we didn't continue the closeness we shared during our growing up years.