Growing up in a small town in Southern New Jersey

Saturday, May 29, 2010

More great pictures

If you all want to see more great pictures of Runnemede -- pictures which I haven't posted to Facebook yet, pictures of the Downing school, inside and out, go to my niece's blog:

If this doesn't work, then just go to and then go to her index on the right and pick Day 4 -- School visit. She took some really great pictures of the inside of the school including, ta da!, inside the boy's restroom. Go figure. It had to be at my brother's pushing. I mean who cares what the inside of a restroom looks like, right? Well, I guess some people do.


Thursday, May 27, 2010

We're home

The view from the condo in Wildwood.
It's so good to be at my "old people's" home -- where I currently live, not the place I shall always call "home" in Runnemede.

On our way home we stopped in Wildwood to spend time with Alan's family. The weather on the first day was bad, but the second day was beautiful, and so it was the day we left.

The trip home was really good. No traffic mishaps or stops or problems of any kind, and beautiful weather.

This entire trip was probably one of the best trips (vacations) Alan and I have ever had, and I know it's the best we've had in years. Alan handled the travel well. He was able to walk most of the time. I was able to walk most of the time, albeit painfully. And, except for what I wrote about our rustic accommodations in the non-Poconos, all went well. We both probably gained 20 pounds each, though, because we ate very, very well, and lots and lots of those good eats.
Again, I can't say enough about the folks in Runnemede who made our reunion/stay so very enjoyable. Our prayer is that the church blossoms and grows and spreads God's Word far and wide for another 100 years.

I'll be bouncing back and forth between here and The Fat Lady Singeth ( for the next days, weeks, months, years. Who knows?

This is me, signing out. TTFN

Sunday, May 23, 2010

The view from the porch

When I was a child I played on the front porch from April until October. When I grew up a little, I sat and read books on the porch. And these pictures are just a couple of views from the front porch.

After we ate dinner last night we went to the house and gathered to look at old family photos. I was surprise how well that activity was received. And happy that there was so much interest in the family history.

So, I hope you enjoy the pictures from the porch. I always enjoyed the view.


Gathering of friends and family

Pictures: Mark preaching, empty church, Micah Drexler singing, and friend, Faye Hopkins Bourne.

Well, today was the "big day." The beginning of a year-long celebration of the 100th anniversary to Mt. Calvary Union Church. The family was gathered -- most of the living Drexler/Sbaraglia clan -- and so many friends joined us at church today.
My brother preached, I played the piano during the congregational singing, and Micah Drexler (my nephew) sang. And the service went long, but that was okay because we were having fun. At one point my brother was commenting on the fact that one of his "fold" in Goshen, IN told him ages ago that if he went too long in his sermon that he would stand up to let him know he was becoming long-winded. Well, Mark related that at the very beginning of his sermon. At which point, I stood up. It was good for a laugh, anyway. And maybe you had to be there.
Tomorrow we tour Downing school -- the school across the street -- and then we all head home. Such a joyful occasion, and now I feel the let down of the quietness hitting me. I want this time with family to last and last and last. A little taste of heaven, I guess.
It was wonderful to meet up with friends I hadn't seen for so many years and just laugh and, yes, cry together. My dear cousin, Joan, joined us. Joanie and I haven't seen each other since my mother's funeral over 20 years ago. But we've been facebooking and e-mailing for the last five or six years. I love modern technology. I never would have located her without real estate transfer listings. And so many of my friends from long ago were found via Facebook.
Won't it be wonderful to be with family and friends forever and NEVER GET TIRED! That was the big drawback this weekend, my being so tired. But I would do it again and again and again.
What a wonderful time. Wish my sis could have joined us.


This is a picture of my brothers (Mark on left, Carl (Dit) on the right) and me. My how we've aged.

Followers of this BLOG know that I have fibromyalgia. That diseases causes me to have pain when people touch me -- most of the time, that is.

So, I was really not so looking forward to meeting the entire family at dinner because I thought -- uh oh, painful hugs.

Well, God was good.

Most of the time children's hugs aren't painful because I can mostly control them. In other words, I do the hugging, the kids just stand there and accept the hug, except for the girl children. But even so, they don't have the strength at their young ages to squeeze quite as hard as an adult.

So, when I first met my youngest brother and his wife (my oldest brother knows of this affliction and doesn't touch me) I was reluctant to hug them, so I didn't. But we met prior to the dinner at the diner where we were all going to congregate, eat, and then head home for a night of reminiscing.

However, when the rest of the family arrived at the diner, I thought, oh well, I'll probably never see these nieces and nephews again, and all these grands again, so I'll bite the bullet and hug.

And hug I did. No problem at all.

I still hadn't hugged my youngest brother and his wife.

We all went back to the house and talked and looked at family albums for hours after dinner, and when my brother got ready to leave, I said, "Dit," that's his nickname, "Dit, give me a hug." Now this brother is big and strong, albeit 60. But what a joy to get that hug. No pain, just happiness that I could receive it.

Now, we're on our way to church where I'll be meeting and greeting friends and other family that I haven't seen for more than 20 years. God will be good again, I'm sure, and allow me those hugs.


Saturday, May 22, 2010


Peace Rose.

Back of church.


The fifth picture is a holly bush/tree. My mother transplanted a small seedling from my holly bush (in Cincinnati) 27 years ago. And this is the result. Next is the 2nd Ave view of the school across the street that I attended for K-2, then grade 8. The name of the school is Grace Downing School, and the family is scheduled for a tour of the building at 7:45 on Monday morning. The Bridge Deli used to be Vince's Deli, where I bought hoagies for years and years and years. I went there today, and got a hoagie from the new owners. It was just as good as Vince's. Sooooo good. I shared it with Alan.
There is a picture in the group of my mother's iris, at least the late-blooming ones. Most of the iris in her garden were finished. The pink rose bush is a climbing bush and the roses are a very soft pink. Beautiful. I got a closeup of one of the roses. But the rose pictures in this group is a peace rose -- one of my mother's many rose bushes. Her name was Rose and I suppose that had something to do with her love for roses. I was dismayed, however, that her rose garden is now grass. There are only a few of her rose bushes left in the yard. The west yard has no roses left. It contains a shed and about 10 garbage cans. Not a nice view. And I added a picture of the back side of the church. That's the view from our house's back door. I didn't mention that the back porch was dry-walled making it a true three season porch. I imagine if a space heater was put out there it could be used year round.

I will take pictures of inside the house tonight, and my "view from the porch" at that time as well. I didn't have anyone to help me get up the steps today to get to the porch.
I have more pictures that I took around the town. I drove all around and took pictures from my car window. I'll get them posted another day.
I'll just say, ttfn.


To say "We've Arrived!" is saying something. The road to Runnemede from our last "pit stop" was basically one parking lot after another. We got to the Valley Forge exit of the Northeast Extension of the PA Turnpike with no problems. Then we got on the Schuylkill Expressway. I used to know the way to Runnemede from there. And Ms. Garmin was helpful. If only there weren't so many automobiles. However, nothing seemed familiar to me, this time. So I was glad for Ms. Garmin.

My objective in leaving our non-Pocono retreat was to get past Philly before 4 p.m. Well, I could have just forgotten that objective. I discovered that Friday -- all day -- is rush hour in the Philadelphia area. Add to that a baseball game -- the Phils were in town. We left our rustic abode around 11 a.m. and should have gotten to Runnemede by 1:30 or 2:00 at the latest.

From the Valley Forge exit of the Turnpike, it took us 2 hours to get to the Ben Franklin Bridge (Garmin's preferred way to get us to Runnemede -- I would have gotten us to Runnemede via the Walt Whitman Bridge). Since I was following that voice, I got going in the wrong direction. Once we got to the BF Bridge traffic FINALLY was moving faster than 10 mph. Until, that is, we got to the NJ side of the bridge. Then again, we hit another parking lot.

Well, because I recognized names, I took us off the expressway, and wove us in and out of side streets and got us to the Black Horse Pike in Bellmawr. Okay, we're now within sight of our hotel at 9th & Central in Runnemede. We're up to 30 mph and bam! Another parking lot which began at Exit 3 of the Turnpike. Two blocks to go. I zipped up the middle lane -- not exactly lawful -- to 9th Avenue and turned left onto 9th, went to the Comfort Inn and checked in around 4:30 p.m.

My brother, Mark, had already arrived and was antsy to get dinner, so we headed over the "THE DINER" -- that would be the Phily (spelled incorrectly -- their choice, not mine) Diner. Another parking lot. This one a real parking lot with no available spaces. The place was jammed at 4:45 in the afternoon. I parked behind the diner, my legs were aching and I walked around the front. All three of the handicapped places were taken. And valet parking hadn't started up yet.

I have to say the food was something else. Wonderful doesn't even come close to describing my meal.

I met with the banquet coordinator and we're all set for 38 for dinner tomorrow night at the same eatery. Can't wait.

It seems so many things have gone wrong in the past few days, and I won't go into those details in my BLOG because frankly their family business and not everyone elses. Just need to say my sister can't be with us this weekend, nor can my niece, Jennie and her brood. My brother Mark, has to leave right after church on Sunday because of the loss of one of his church people in Indiana.

On the plus side, another one of my nieces, whom I haven't seen for years, joined us for dinner -- a surprise for all of us, and we spent hours talking to her. It was a real treat for Mark and me as well as Alan and Sue.

I was so tired after dinner that I left the house -- we all went there to wait for the rest of our family to arrive -- early (around 8:30 p.m.) and headed back to our hotel and went to bed. Now it's 12:30 a.m. on Saturday and I'm wide awake. Amazing how 2 hours of sleep can do that for me.

Tomorrow is picture taking day. I'm still determined to walk the block, which is so very much changed from what it was like when I grew up. Our neighbor's picket fence, which was there for at least 50 years is gone. Now there is lawn from our house clear up to the end of the block, where before there was a large yard surrounded by a white picket fence. As I was leaving the side yard -- where we parked our car -- I was watching for the fence, because I didn't want to hit it (habit). It wasn't there, so I didn't have to be so careful.

Everyone was commenting on how small the house seemed. I didn't notice the smallness. It just seemed like home. Different decorations, but still home.

Hopefully, I'll get some pictures up tomorrow, but I'm not promising anything because it's going to be a very, very busy day.


Thursday, May 20, 2010


Alan and I went to Hershey yesterday (Wednesday). We sort of drove half way back to Ohio (not where we lived, but the border) and when we got there we went to the Antique Car Museum. I thought it would be a two-hour maximum thing. Stupid me. Alan needs to get his money's worth. We were there for four hours.

However -- and this is a big however -- we really had a good time. The whole day. The weather was mostly cloudy, but there were patches of blue -- the kind of blue that matches Alan's eyes. I told him that long ago, in a solar system far far away, it was his eyes that drew me to him. He had the most magnificent eyes. After four eye surgeries and 65 years of aging they aren't quite as forceful as they used to be, but they're still the same magnificent color of aqua marine.

While Alan went through the museum -- he used the seated walker and stopped between each exhibit to read -- I saw in the car and did all kinds of things. I read, I downloaded some more freebies to my Kindle, I made phone calls to family members to check in on what's going on with them for the upcoming weekend, and I inadvertently turned off my phone, so I didn't get a couple of calls.

One very sad call I received was from my sister, Deb, who absolutely can't make it to Runnemede unless God sends down some angels to transport her and pay for the trip. Jenny and her children won't be coming either. Jen's father-in-law is very ill and at this point being fed with a tube, etc. I did cry a bit last night (sorry Deb), and Alan was really sympathetic about it because he knows how much I was looking forward to having ALL my brothers and sister in one place for one last time. Oh well. God knows what he's doing, and for some reason he needs Deb to stay behind. I don't always understand what God does, nor why he does what He does, but I accept it, sometimes kicking, screaming, and crying. In this instance, only crying.

Deb-- I shall miss you most of all. My sister whom I've grown to love to much in the past four years. I guess I'm just going to have to dump on you (visit) in the month of July.

I was telling Alan, now that we've stop his Interferon shots, I feel so free to go places because I don't have to be home in three days to give him a shot. Speaking of which, he goes to the oncologist on June 4 and we'll find out then about the Interferon reactions he's been having.

So, today, is a beautiful day. Warm. I plan to sit in the sun and read a bit. Then, I'll get dinner ready for our friends from Rutgers who are visiting us tonight.

This will be my last post until I get to Runnemede -- hey that's tomorrow! I'll write from there.


Wednesday, May 19, 2010


I have nothing against rusticity -- is that even a word? I love the quiet, the deer that come to my deck, the skunk that runs away from my car, the breezes coming in the window with a fresh, clean smell, the ability to see the Milky Way, and probably some other things I'm missing.

What I don't love is the spiders -- furry, little beasts that crawl on me in bed. I've killed three of them so far -- all wanting to crawl on me in bed. Charlotte's children they are not.

I don't love the fact that I had to BUY a G3 stick for my computer so I could have internet. They don't even have dial-up here! I have decent cell service, which I needed for the G3 thingy, but if I move my computer an inch I lose my cell service. I have great service in the middle of the bed, but near the pillows, not so much. Go figure. At least I can use my cell phone, mostly.

I don't love the fact that this place didn't supply what I consider necessities -- sugar, coffee, salt, pepper, dish cloth, toilet paper, paper towels. But that was easily remedied by a two-hour trip to the not-so-local grocery store. It took us about 15 minutes to find the store, even with the directions -- handwritten -- we were given. But that's okay, because we did find the Radio Shack with no problem. Could that be because it was right next door to the Shop Rite? Probably.

I love the ability to read and read and read (my Kindle) without feeling guilty that I'm vegging and not doing housework.

I am very grateful that they provided a washing machine and drier. However...the doors that hide the appliances are folding. They fold and unfold well, but no matter how far I open or close the doors, I have a difficult time with the drier door. And the washer door (lifts up) is barred by the shelf they put above the appliances to hold soap (which they didn't provide) and towels and face cloths.

We have today and tomorrow and then we will, Lord willing, be in Runnemede, my hometown. I am sooooo looking forward to getting there, and being there for a few days.

If you're reading this, please pray that my legs hold up, and that Alan's legs support him.


Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Rainy Days and...

Today it was raining -- all day long -- lots of rain. So, we didn't go to Hershey. The deciding factor was that Alan's legs were so very wobbly he decided since it was raining and he was wobbling that we'd wait until tomorrow -- our last day to go there. On Thursday, we're entertaining old college friends, and I'm doing the cooking.

Speaking of cooking: We found a great east-coast diner and went there tonight. Actually, it was only about two miles down the road. The food was wonderful, and I (and Alan, too) had a really hard time choosing what we wanted to eat. I settled for veal Parmesan and Alan has his usual ham. It was really good food. The sauce for the spaghetti was wonderful. Good salad. Great garlic bread.

We took cheesecake and cherry pie back to the condo for dessert before we leave here on Friday. I think we'll have it on Thursday night when I make dinner. I'm making spaghetti and sausage. It will be yummy. We're having "honeymoon" salad (lettuce alone) because I don't have anything I can add to the lettuce to make it anything other than a salad with a vinaigrette dressing. No tomatoes. No cucumbers. No nuts. No berries. No carrots. Nothing else but lettuce alone.

I saw a skunk tonight when we drove in. It was slithering into the neighbor's yard. Better them than us.

So, until tomorrow, when I'll try to report again, I'll say: ttfn.

PS: If you ever have a chance to read any books by Erynn Mangum, do so. She is so funny. Alan keeps reminding me to be quiet because I'm laughing so loud. Her Lauren Holbrook series, is hilarious.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Getting there

Yes, slowly, but surely, I'm getting nearer "home."

The first day out was wonderful. Great hotel. Of all the hotels I've ever stayed in, including condos, this was #3 on the list. And, I've stayed at a lot of hotels!

We left Saturday morning for our week in the Poconos. Wrong! We're no where near the Poconos. We're in a rustic cabin in the woods, though. And the cabin is a nice three-bedroom abode. But it is rustic.

By rustic, I mean -- it is NOT handicapped accessible, as I had been told, and I WILL get my week back because of their misinformation to me. I never would have accepted this exchange if I had known what we were in for.

Saturday evening, just checking in, was one of the most painful experiences of my life. That's all I'm going to say about it. Sunday was a close second. And that's all I'm going to say about that!

Back to "rustic." I have NEVER been to a time-share exchange where they don't provide toilet paper, coffee, salt, pepper, and sugar. I knew it was a mistake not to take my kitchen pack, but it was just something extra to pack into the car (it's ever-ready) and so we are without coffee, sugar, salt, pepper (how can I cook without salt and pepper), and TP.

First order of business on Sunday was to go to the store. Never go to the store on Sunday. Since I haven't shopped for myself for over two years, I didn't know what it was like. It was a mad house. The only saving grace was that the Shoprite was like coming home. The smells! The availability of the foods I grew up with (TastyKakes?, Lunchmeat?). Yum! By the time I finally got out of the store two hours later (and I only got 8 bags of food) I was famished. Needless to say, we had a great lunch!

I forgot to get -- you got it -- salt/pepper/sugar/coffee/and TP. Those things that I realized they didn't provide, I forgot to get, so we will stop at WAWA on our way to Hershey tomorrow and pick up those items.

Monday -- I've been in bed all day, sleeping, reading, resting, getting my knees back in order. Getting rid of a fibromyalgia flare up. etc.

I also installed a WIFI stick -- they don't even have dial up here -- and that took the better part of the morning. Figured out that where I was sitting there was little reception, but if I moved three feet to the right I had full reception. GO figure.

So, for now, I'm getting closer to home, with a side trip to Hershey.

See you all soon.


Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Going Home

It's getting close. Going home, that is. The hoagie buying spree is all set. The hotel arrangements have been made. The Sunday service is all in order. Saturday's foray into the Philly diner with 40 other Drexler's is all set as well. And I finally made the arrangements for the tour of the school (Downing) for those in the family who were interested. It's at 7:45 a.m. Let's say quarter to 8, that sounds later, right? Well, most folks can just tumble out of their sleeping bag and head across the street. I'm not going to be able to do much at the school because there is no elevator, and I can't do stairs. I MUST however get myself to the top of the gym/cafeteria. And I really wanted to get up to the top floor so I could see where the old Principal's office was, which then became a teacher's lounge. Don't know what that room is now, but I recall it as being a glass room, like a sun room.

When I talked to Pat Watt's, Downing Secretary, (nice lady, by the way, thanks Pat for all your help today), she wasn't following what I was saying about that room, so perhaps in some renovation of the school, that room was done away with.

It's going to be an fun-filled, fast-paced, adventurous, giggly, tear-infested, sappy, tiring three days. All this work -- a year's worth on this end, and much more on Mt. Calvary's end -- for three days of family.

We're praying for health, safety in travel, and financial aid (from above, God is able to provide) for those who need the aid. God will provide. He is faithful, and we're all counting on Him.

I can't wait to see cousins whom I haven't seen for at least 20 years, probably longer. I can't wait to see folks I haven't seen for over 35 years. The last time I saw most of these folks they were early 20s, now we're all mid- to late-sixties. I can only imagine the changes. I hope I recognize some of the visitors.

We're (the family) all so thankful for this opportunity, and really believe it is a God-given opportunity. A chance to enjoy each other's company one more time. How good is God! And, I make no apologies to those readers who don't agree with me on the God thing. I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able....

Mom and dad, we'll miss you. Wish you could be with us. This is to honor you both for all the years of service to a small NJ church in a small NJ town. 100 years! Amazing!


Sunday, May 9, 2010

I'm losing it

This is a picture of my mom and her four children. I figure I'm about 8 in this picture. Probably in third grade. In order, left to right: Deb, me, Mark, Mom, on her lap, Carl.
I dialed my old home phone number (the 931 area code number) wanting to talk to my mom. Of course, I realized what I was doing in time to quit before the number went through. Duh!

My mom is with Jesus and has been for over 20 years. I was just thinking about her and was going to wish her a happy mother's day -- something I did NOT do very often when she was here on this earth. I feel bad about that. Mother's Day was not a holiday we celebrated very often in our house. Maybe that was because it just wasn't one of those days that was advertised very much (no TV) back then. There were no Hallmark stores. The local 5 & 10 didn't have mother's day cards, and unless my mom's birthday fell on the day after mother's day, I didn't even think about it.

I was also thinking last night about how often my mother went to school functions for me and my sister and brothers. She never joined the PTA -- it cost money she didn't have, but she went to the PTA meetings. She helped the PTA ladies with their events. Poor mom. I know she felt she needed to join PTA but she couldn't, so she helped when she could.

I recall vividly my mom sitting along the wall in my 1st grade (2nd grade) classroom, while we students put on a Christmas play of some sort. I had a small part. And my mother was the prettiest lady along that wall, except for perhaps Mrs. Lott -- the pastor's wife of the Lutheran Church across the street from our church. Mrs. Lott (Linda's mom -- one of my best friends at that time) was really a beautiful woman. I always thought that. But my mom was right up there with her.

I was so proud to have such a beautiful mother. And I always wondered if the kids whose moms I thought didn't measure up in the beauty department thought the same thing about their mother.

Aren't our own moms the most beautiful moms in the whole wide world? I think they are.


Saturday, May 1, 2010

I'm just bubbling

You all can't imagine. I've been bubbling in my soul all day.

First I was reading Karen Kingsbury's novel, Take One, and one of the children in the story told every one to PUSH -- PUSH stands for Pray Until Something Happens.

Well, I've been praying for so much regarding the 100th anniversary celebration in the past few weeks and I'll let you all in on just what.

First and foremost, that God will be glorified, and those who come in contact with any Drexler will know that we're different from the world.

I've been praying for health for all of us, Drexlers and church people. No broken bones, no lost teeth, no falls, etc., and I've been praying that God will provide the finances for all who are coming. That's a biggie since my son, Phil, is still out of work. I've been praying for safety when we all travel east.

There will 37 of us at dinner on that Saturday, and many more that I'm aware of at the lunch/dinner the church is having on Sunday.

Plus, I got exciting news of some people who will be coming to church on Sunday. News I didn't expect, and I shouted a loud "Hallelujah" and Alan wanted to know "who else is coming?" Isn't that fantastic. I guess I have a "someone else is coming Hallelujah" that he recognizes.

I'm bubbling when I think about it. And I just know I'm going to embarrass myself and dear Alan by giggling through the church service. That was something I did as a child/teenager/young adult and I'm afraid that giggle bubble will erupt during the church service that Sunday. I may have to stay outdoors (weather permitting) that day.

Anyway, I'm bubbling. Lori's BLOG is keeping track of how many more days, and we're heading east real soon.