Growing up in a small town in Southern New Jersey

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas long ago

I vaguely remember a time when I believed that there was a Santa Claus.  My parents never let on that the fictional character wasn't real and until I was in first or second grade I waited anxiously on Christmas Eve for Santa's visit.

I recall vividly one such Eve.  I was being a pill.  My mom wanted me to get to sleep so she could do what parents do to keep the sprite elf's visit a mystery, and told me if I didn't get to sleep there would be no visit from Santa.  The threat of getting a lump of coal in my stocking was real, as we still has a coal-fired furnace.  Poor dad.  He had to go down and bank that thing every night and then stoke it first thing in the morning. 

I digress.

So I weedled her into allowing the shade that was pulled down on the window next to my bed to be raised all the way to the top so that I could watch out that window for Santa and his sleigh to arrive.

Of course, I soon fell asleep.  All I needed was a reason to really keep my eyes open, and then the lids slammed shut faster than a rabbit runs into his hidey hole.

The next morning I found a doll -- my first -- which I still have.  It had the kind of eyes that close automatically -- quite a treat for me.  I held that doll all day long on Christmas day.

One more thing.  This must have been before I was 5 because my sister wasn't in bed with me yet.  She was still in a crib. 

Ah, memories!


Sunday, December 18, 2011

Remembered again

I know I have a tendency to be redundant in these BLOGs but sometimes I can't find a remembrance I'm looking for in the list of BLOGs I've written for Runnemede Remembered, so if this is a repeat, just stop reading.

I think one of my first recalls I have of my life is the arrival at home of my mom from the hospital with my sister, Debbie.  Yippee!  I'm three years older than she, and in youngster years that practically made me an adult as far and I was concerned. 

She and I didn't get along too well when we were growing up, mainly, I think, because of that big gap in our ages (a little sarcasm there).  We yelled at each other.  We'd mess up each other's side of the bed we slept in.  If I didn't clean the floor soon enough, she'd write in the dust on my side of the bed, "Judy's dirt".  Neither she nor I would dare mop the other person's side of the bedroom, even though the mop certainly could extend under the bed all the way.  We were just that ornery with each other.

Her friends weren't my friends, and my friends weren't hers.  She was a freshman.  I was a senior.  I got married first.  I had my babies first.  But by then we were catching up to each other and became more endeared to each other.

I don't when it happened, though, that we really bonded.  However, I'm so glad it did.  We talk almost every Sunday.  And those talks make me feel so much better.  My husband can't understand what we have to talk about, but then he is not a great conversationalist.  I think we just gab.  She makes me laugh.  And I often cry.

I so wish we lived closer to each other so we could talk face to face.  That would be so nice. 

I am writing this because this week my dear sister sent me a Christmas bouquet and I'll have that to look at (and talk to?) for at least a couple of weeks.

Thanks Deb for all you mean to me.  I thank our Lord for you every day.  I love you.


First kiss

Do you remember your first kiss?  I do, sort of.

My husband (then boyfriend, sort of) and I were on one of those Delaware River cruises with several other church kids and I bet him a quarter he wouldn't kiss me.  Pretty smart, huh?  Well, he leaned toward me and he told me he kissed me on the cheek, and he's still sticking to that story.  I didn't feel it. 

So, does that count?  I don't know.  I didn't feel it, and I didn't pay him a quarter.  We did, however, eventually kiss each other, and still do.  And yes, we still enjoy kissing each other.


Just wondering

Is the Borough Hall still between 4th and 5th Avenues?

Is Santa's shed still in front of Borough Hall?

Do the police still work out of Borough Hall?

Where does one go to get a marriage license these days (in Runnemede)?

Does NJ still require a physical exam before issuing a marriage license?

Do all Runnemede students stay for lunch, or do most go home, like when I went to school?

Do all Runnemede students ride the bus now?  Or do most walk, like when I was a kid.  Note:  Out here where I live all students ride the bus even if they a couple of blocks away from the school.  And...the buses in some of the counties stop at every single house, even if two students live next door to each other.  This is very annoying if you get behind a school bus in the afternoon.  Since the school buses start picking up at 7:00 a.m., I wouldn't be involved in trailing one.  But I have trailed a bus on more than one occasion in the afternoon.  What ever happened to walking five miles to school, one way, in the winter, in foot-deep snow, uphill going and coming? :)  I've learned to not be out driving around between 3 and 4:30 p.m.

See what things I think about when I'm falling asleep at night?  Stupid, huh?


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Desk cleaning time

There's something enjoyable about cleaning out a desk. 

You find all kinds of things in a jumbled desk drawer that you thought you'd lost forever.

I'm thinking now, however, about the desk cleaning times I remember from school.

Didn't we have to clean out our desks once a month? 

And on the day we cleaned out our desks we received a brand new pencil, right? 

And it was worth the cleansing because we always found the lost red crayon, or the lost piece of chalk, or maybe that lost work book page we were supposed to take home and get signed, didn't we?

Ah, those were the days!


Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Pictures on Windows

I was just reminded of something about which I wanted to comment on a couple of weeks ago, but my fuzzy mind just didn't remember to do it.

I was reminded by a Facebook posting about how happy our Halloweens were as children in Runnemede in the late 40s, early 50s.  No problems with poisoned candy or needles in the chocolate or anything like that.  Just fun for all, even the adults, I assume.

Well, I was reminded also that the windows on the Pike were painted (by the 7th and 8th graders) with Halloween pictures, you know those typical cemetery pictures, witches flying through the air, etc.  And then a few days after Halloween they were washed away and a few weeks later, right after Thanksgiving, the students got to do it again, only the second time they painted Christmas scenes, such as a Manger scene, Santa and his sled and reindeer, A Midnight Clear with a lone star shining on an old barn, etc.

I couldn't wait until I was in 7th grade so I would be one of the "volunteers" who painted those scenes.  By that time, however, they were no longer painting the windows on the Pike, or I was in Bingham in 7th grade and only the Downing School kids had the privilege of doing the painting.  I'm not sure why I wasn't a painter, but I don't remember that I wasn't a painter because of my inept art skills, just that the windows were no longer being painted.

Maybe that was for the best.


Friday, November 4, 2011


As much as I loved school, I also was very happy for a day off now and then, especially when I was a child (younger than 13) and getting in the Thanksgiving mood.   Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, by the way.

Anyhow, I recall that November was a great month for days off from school -- official days off, that is.

The first weekend in November was the NJ State Teachers Convention, and we had Thursday and Friday off.  Then came Election Day, or in rare years Election Day came first.  I am assuming we had Election Day off back then because (1) more people voted, and (2) the polling places in Runnemede were, at that time, in the schools.  Then, there was Veteran's Day, and since we haven't celebrated Veteran's Day on the actual Veteran's Day since I can't remember when, I also can't remember what date in November that was.  And finally we had the day of Thanksgiving and the day after Thanksgiving off.  What a great month.  As I figure it, that was almost as many days as we had off in December for Christmas, and yes, it was called Christmas vacation back then. 

Grand total for November?  6 days off.
Grand total for December?  Depending on where Christmas actually fell anywhere from 5-8 days off.

Yes, I loved those two months.  Then we had January and February and March.  The only days off we had then were Lincoln's Birthday (Feb. 12) and G. Washington's Birthday (February 22).  No Monday holidays back then and thus no Presidents Day.

I supposed school children are still reveling in the days off in November, as I did as a child.  Good for them.

Grace Downing School, Runnemede, NJ


Friday, October 28, 2011

It's time to winter proof the house

I think my dad disliked this time of year more than any other.  He and all the other men in the neighborhood. 

You see, this was the time of year when houses had to be winterized.  That meant changing out the screens for storm windows.   Back "when" we didn't have the wonderful windows we have now, the kind that tilt in and are triple paned, or whatever is selling at the present time.  We had inside sashes -- windows that went up and down by a pulley system and rope -- and outside we had separate storm windows or screens, depending on the time of year.

We also had awnings made of cloth that we used in the summer to supposedly keep us cooler.

Well, October the THE MONTH to get the screens removed and replaced with the storm windows.  That meant the windows on the second floor as well.  And the awnings had to come down.  On the back porch, it was the same deal.  All those windows (I think it was 10) had to be changed out.  Mom did the washing and drying and dad did the changing. 

Those were the days when I and my siblings would hide and keep out of the way because neither parent was in a very good mood. 

Now days we have other things that make us cranky.  We have bill-paying whether electronically or by mail.  Yes, I know my mom and dad had bills as well, but they only had electric/gas (same bill), water and telephone.  And because dad was a pastor and considered self-employed, the good old IRS and SS system quarterly estimates.

We've added to that list with our cell phones, Internet connections, cable TV, insurance (my mom and dad didn't have insurance until later in life when they FINALLY got Blue Cross for health support), automobile payments/repair bills.  I'm sure I've forgotten a few more.

We also get cranky about the weather, cars that won't start, standing in the rain waiting for a bus to get us to work or elsewhere, UPS packages that don't arrive on time -- we used to blame the US Postal Service, but they have lost a lot of their package business to UPS and FedEx.

So let's all lighten up and enjoy each day as it comes.  We don't know how many we have left.


Thursday, October 20, 2011

Is this for real?

Sometimes I cannot remember fact from fiction, I think. And if have this all wrong, somebody please tell me. Or maybe not. I want to keep this as a nice memory whether its fact or fiction.

I seem to recall that on Halloween day grades K-5 did something special.

All students would come back to school after lunch dressed in their Halloween costumes. I say "would come back to school" because back then there was no lunchroom or cafeteria, and we all had to either pack our lunch (and our Halloween costume if appropriate), or go home for lunch, and during that hour eat lunch, get our costume on, and come back to school ready for the afternoon event.

Of course, this was not an afternoon for any learning. All the students would gather in their classrooms and at 1:30, we would all go down to the school yard -- weather permitting -- and parade around while teachers would watch and decide who had the best costumes. The butterflies were flying on those afternoons. If it rained we would parade in the gym.

Most of the students were dressed as either ghosts or cowboys/cowgirls. When Daniel Boone became popular the cowboy hat changed to a coonskin cap, and the holstered guns were play rifles.

I know I was a ghost, the Lone Ranger, Daniel Boone, and an Indian (native American), complete with homemade bow and arrow. And as I mentioned before I was Snow White.

It was a fun time. I think we all got a small bag of candy corn from our teacher. After the parade and judging we were dismissed to go home. Alas, I never won, not even when I wore the Snow White outfit.

Unofficially, T or T didn't begin until around 3:00 p.m. and my mother would never permit me to go out earlier than that, even if the streets were crowded with other children getting their treats. I was often afraid I would not get that apple taffy! But I always did.

So fellow Runnemede - ites, did I recall this correctly, or is it just a pleasant dream I had one time long ago?


Cold north wind

Yeah, I remember the first cold, north winds of many of the Fall/Winter seasons. It seemed to me that they usually showed up just before Halloween, making wearing a nice costume nearly impossible.

The conundrum was whether to wear the costume over the coat, so you wouldn't freeze, and so that your nose wouldn't run because you weren't cold, or did you wear the costume under the coat so no one could see it.

One year my mom made me a Snow White costume. I loved that costume. I wore it two years in a row. The first year, it was one of those cold, blustery days that come out of the north, denude the trees, and cause you to catch your breath because the wind is so fierce.

Mom insisted I wear my coat OVER my costume. But when I got around the corner, I pushed my coat into the bushes and made by trek to get my apple taffy, money from the money venders, and the nickle candy bars from the nickle candy bar givers.

When I got home my mom KNEW I hadn't been wearing my coat. How did she know? Moms are so smart. First of all my lips were blue, second my hands were freezing cold (and my coat had pockets so they shouldn't have been cold), but the kicker was my nose was dripping!

I was only allowed to keep the apple taffy, all other items were donated to my smaller brothers who were too young to go trick-or-treating.

And BTW, none of us of that era had a parent accompany us when we went begging on Halloween night.


Friday, October 7, 2011

It's apple taffy time

I have a hankering for an apple taffy. This is that time of year.

It's Fall after all.

Beautiful Fall. The time of the changing of the colors of the leaves. Spring leaves are a pale, yellowish green. Summer leaves are a hardy, emerald green, but fall...ah, fall. That's when the leaves put on a color display that can take ones breath away. And Runnemede's trees were no exception.

And when the leaves turned, it was time to get ready to get those apple taffies.

Where did we go to get those taffies? Gardner's Funeral Home. Every year from the time I was six until I was 13, which was a little too old to go begging on Halloween night, I got my apple taffy from Gardner's.

So, I'm hankering for one of those mouth-watering, crunchy red coated apples.

Can I find them anywhere around where I now live? No. The only ones I can find have peanuts on them. I don't like peanuts, never have. So, there's no rush to buy out the store or anything.

However, I can guarantee you, if anyone in Cincinnati lets me know where I can get the red, crunchy apple taffies, I'm off in my car and hobbling into that store likity-split!


Friday, September 30, 2011

Reminiscing again.

Today I was once again thinking about Fall in Runnemede in the 40s and 50s and very early 60s.

I recall going down to the pike and crossing over at Third Avenue from the east side to the west side, with the help of a policeman who was there at 8 a.m. to 9:30 a.m., 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m. and then from 3:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. That was before they put a light at Third Avenue -- LONG before they put a light there.

While I was on the west side of the pike I would take my pennies and dimes into Joe's and see what was new that I could afford and if there was something I really liked I'd save up until I could buy it.

Then I learned about bottle returns and walked all over town looking for empties (my early bag-lady days I call them) so that I could get more money for 5 & 10 items at Joe's or on the east side at Jake's, when Jake was on the pike. He did move to 1st Avenue when the optometrist took over the space.

And Fall, as I recall, was the time when I collected as many bottles as possible. Too cold in the winter, and too wet in the spring. During the summer I was doing other things and not thinking about going down to the Pike to buy trinkets at either Joe's or Jake's.

So, that's what I was thinking about today as I look out my windows and see the Fall colors on the trees, and enjoy the perfectly cool "football weather."


Saturday, September 24, 2011

It's that time again

Fall has officially arrived and I am presenting again my annual rant about the descending darkness. Can you feel it? I can. I especially notice it in the morning. It's dark outside until almost 8 a.m. In the evening, it doesn't get dark until after 7:30.

I don't like the shortening of the hours of daylight. I guess I should move some place near the equator where I would get 12 hours of daylight and 12 hours of darkness and that would be it. But that's a little boring.

As a girl, this was the time of year when the cool weather blew in, the leaves changed their color to those beautiful reds and oranges which are abundant in the Northeast, and which in the midwest are more of a burnished yellow or orange. The trees are the same "brands" (oaks, maples, sycamores, etc) but the leaves don't change to the same hues as those which I was so fond of back when I lived in Runnemede.

I so enjoyed taking a walk after dinner -- that would be around 6:00 p.m. I would start at the front porch, descend the steps, and turn left on the sidewalk. I'd then walk down to the pike, turn right, do my window shopping tour until I got to Clements Bridge Road, then I'd turn left, and head east on CBR to the place where Second Avenue comes into CBR and then turn left again until I reach home.

I remember that most evenings I had to wear at least a sweater, and my little nose would be a little runny when I got home. This September, so far, I haven't needed a sweater in the evening, and my nose is, well, it's dry.

So, my rant isn't really a rant, but I am not looking forward to the impending darkness that won't change over until after Christmas. Yikes! Can I say that word already? It's coming up faster than I'd like, but I do love the remembrances of my childhood Christmases.


Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Dancing the night away

Lorraine Hynes requested that we post only pictures where people aren't making faces. And unfortunately my photos of the dancing were too dark to post, so I only have these few remaining from a memorable weekend.

Nancy Ivins and Art Adams

Seated next to me were Dave Diehl and Conni Beakley

Joan Stroup and Elwood Pollock

Don Balch

Calvin Weatherby


I am a "closet" dancer. I am not good at dancing and my husband doesn't dance at all. Oh, we often will hear a slow song and hug each other and move our feet a bit, but that's as far as our dancing goes. I, myself, love to twist, clap, sing out loud, and just move with the tempo/rhythm of the song to which I'm listening. Of course my favorites are from the late 50s and early 60s.

So what does this have to do with the 50th reunion?

Well, let me tell you. I never would have believed it if I hadn't seen it for myself. Not-so-young people dancing like any 17-year-old back in the days of Bandstand -- twisting the night away. They were having so much fun, and I was enjoying watching them, since my body will only allow chair dancing any more.

Did you know that chair dancing is good exercise and there are exercises especially designed for those of us who are unable to move quickly using our legs? Check it out online sometime.

Back to the 50th. On Saturday night, September 10, we met in a room across from the banquet room for meeting and greeting one another. More folks were present than on Friday evening, at least I met more classmates than I did the night before. I just scooted around and secretly read name tags of those I didn't recognize and then started right in by saying, "Hello S0-and-so, I'm Judi Drexler, and went on from there.

Since I'm basically a shy person (YES I AM) I really mostly talked with men and women from Runnemede and with whom I had also attended grade school.

Then when we were permitted to enter the dining room, I scooted in on the right side of the room, found no seats there and probably was the last person seated on the left side of the room in the only seat I could find. I was in the good company of people I really had only been acquainted with (the women, mostly from phys ed). I am so terrible with remembering names, so if I got that wrong and if I forgot who was at the table, I apologize. Conni Beakley I remember being nearby during the evening. Janette Haines sat nearby as well. Dave Diehl was to my left. Talking across the table was difficult and I barely heard the names of the women who were seated opposite me.

One other memory that will be seared in my brain for years to come is the sight of many of the women dancing with 3 and 4-inch heals, which I loved and about which I am very jealous because I haven't worn heals since one of my prior bosses told me I was putting dents in the floor (old pine) of his family home, in which the law office was located. Also all that twisting and bristol stomping and strolling.

Just goes to show that we who are nearly 70 can still handle dancing up a storm.

So, dear friends, once again we had a great party and I'm looking forward to scooting around our 55th event. Enjoy the few pictures I took of the evening.


Tuesday, September 20, 2011

50 years!

Reunion photos -- more to follow in tomorrow's finale.

Elsalyn Palmisano and Sue Youngblood. I would have recognized them anywhere, including the Carnival sailing ticket counter in Miami!

Richie Kaye. For three years I spent the earlier hours of morning in his car on our daily trip to Glassboro State College. He was my ride. And Richie is ALIVE and well, not as rumors had indicated earlier this year.

Richie and Lorraine Hynes -- Lorraine you did it again, you and your helpers. Great job.

It was a little over 50 years ago that my high school class graduated from Triton. What a day/night that was. First, the day started out very, very warm and humid and we practiced out on the football field, then we came indoors and practiced indoors, just in case the weather was bad, which is was predicted to be.

About mid-afternoon the storm(s) rolled in. Would the graduation ceremony be indoors or outdoors. Of course in the school it was quite warm, but since the outdoors cleared of any rain or threat thereof, we were moved outdoors. Apparently the temperature maker didn't know that we were graduating that night, and turned on the chill. We just about froze, and because it had rained so hard, the ground was a little bit muddy -- well more than a little bit -- and our high heeled shoes sunk into the ground too far so that we who were stupid enough to wear heals had to march on our toes or barefoot, leaving out shoes behind, because no self-respecting graduate in those days would carry anything in their hands.

Of course, after the main event, there were several parties. My mom and dad would not let me attend any parties, never did find out why.

So, last weekend my class, the class of 1961 celebrated it's 50th anniversary of graduation and had a reunion.

It was such a fun event, starting with the cocktail/appetizer mixer on Friday night. Introduction ourselves to one another was quite humbling for me, at least. Yes, we had name tags, but to try to guess to whom we were speaking, without being obvious about looking at the person's name was quite a effort.

Some I recognized right off because, hey, even in 50 years, they hadn't changed much. The names that come to mind are Elsalyn Palmisano, Sue Youngblook, Nancy Touchet, Lorraine Hynes, Jack Weaver, Jerry Belber. The rest of us? Well, we all still looked good, I think, but not recognizable.

I must mention that I did notice that the of the women in attendance, there were very few with gray hair, including myself. Under my blond "do" there is a head full of white, note even gray, hair which until last February was my "color" from the time I was 30 years old. Yes, I was gray by the time I was 30, and white by the time I was 40.

To differentiate between gray and white -- there are still a few strands of black, brown, red, mixed in with the white hairs. White means no colored hairs at all. All white. I am so glad I change the color.

The men on the other hand, I guess, didn't really care what color their hair was. Quite a few white heads among our men -- which only made them seem much more dignified.

More to follow.


Monday, September 19, 2011

High school 50th reunion, etc.

I will be posting several articles -- some with pictures -- for the next few days about my 50th high school reunion.

I went to Triton Regional High School in Runnemede, NJ. We were the first class to go all four years at Triton. In fact, the school wasn't even finished when we first started. Some of the hallways were blocked off, but the school opened in September of 1957 anyway.

Yes, I met my husband at Triton, but that's another tale for another day.

Let the journey begin!

Alan and I left on Wednesday, planning to arrive in Mt. Laurel around 2:00 in the afternoon on Thursday. That didn't happen. And prior to our leaving I had told Lorraine, reunion coordinator extrarodinare, (last name omitted on purpose) that I was going to be at the reunion if I had to be wheeled in on a gurney. Well, I did wheel myself in on a scooter for old, mobile-impaired people. I thank the inventor of scooters that come apart and can be put into the trunk of a smallish car.

However -- there's always a however or a but, isn't there? -- on Thursday morning after breakfast Alan collapsed/passed out/ fainted, we don't know, at any rate the poor lady in the hotel breakfast room where we stayed in Somerset PA on Wednesday night, came running out to the lobby where I was sitting in a comfy chair waiting for Alan to finish his breakfast and reading USA today, figuring I could get in a good hour of reading a book I was into. (Phew, long sentence. Ms. Magargee would never approve.) When Lois (the lady in the hotel breakfast room) came running out to the lobby yelling "CALL 911, CALL 911", I knew that Alan was down and out, and I was correct, he was lying on the floor next to our table unconscious. At that point I started laughing and Lois was near tears and I told her about relating to Lorraine that I would come to the reunion even if I had to be rolled in on a gurney and it looked like my husband was going to be the one on the gurney, or I was really going to miss the reunion, and that was NOT going to happen.

Actually, after 12 years of these episodes, I take it in stride and everyone thinks I don't care about Alan, which I really do, but I can't do anything, so I wait until EMTs arrive and then transport him to the hospital and get a doctor's report. In this case, they filled him with fluids, raised his oxygen levels, watched as his blood sugar level went down, and let him go, telling him to be certain to get in touch with his physician as soon as he got home. That appointment had been made several weeks ago, so tomorrow he will be seeing his physician.

Today is Monday, September 19, and this is the first BLOG I have written since before I left for NJ and the reunion. Needless to say, since I got to the reunion, and home again, all is well with Alan.

When we left Somerset, three hours later than I had scheduled for us to leave, after three hours of great driving on the PA Turnpike, I saw a line of red lights ahead after we exited at Valley Forge. We had run head on to a massive traffic jam because of more flooding in NJ and PA, on the Schuylkill Expressway. Four hours to go from Valley Forge exit of the PA turnpike to the Ben Franklin bridge. By the time we checked in I was exhausted and my knees were killing me.

You know what happens in traffic jams you have to switch from gas to brake, gas to brake, gas to brake and that really is not pleasant when you have two bum knees. Funny thing is, I had absolutely NO pain for the three days prior to our departure from Cold Spring, until we were on the Expressway, then I went downhill from there.

So, keep checking FB and I will keep going through the reunion part of our trip, since, after all, I went to school at Triton, which is located in Runnemede, and many of the attendees at the reunion were from Runnemede. So what happened at the reunion is not staying at the hotel where we had all our fun, but will be BLOGged for all the world to view -- as if!

Pictures will be included as soon as I get my battery pack recharged and the pictures downloaded.


Thursday, September 1, 2011

It's getting close

What is? The 50th anniversary of my high-school graduation -- well a little past that time, but the class is celebrating next weekend. I am really excited to be going back to Runnemede again, and it will probably be my last trip East.

I shall get a hoagie, a cheese steak, a half a pizza, and anything else I can think of. Since TastyKake is no longer in existence, eating that won't happen. So that means, I suppose I can eat more hoagies or cheese steaks that I had originally planned.

I'm also really looking forward to going to church on Sunday morning at Mt. Calvary. I forgot to get a picture of the cornerstone when I was home for the 100th anniversary celebration, so I want to try to remind myself to get a picture of that this time "home."


Saturday, August 27, 2011

Goodnight Irene

I remember one time when I was a child, probably 7 or 8, there was a popular song entitled, Goodnight, Irene. And one night there was a bunch of rowdies over at Downing School sitting on the Girls steps singing at the top of their lungs that song. Over and over and over again they sang that song until we who lived across the street from the school and could hear them -- it was very warm night in the summer -- wanted to go to sleep.

Since it summer we had all the windows open so we could catch a breeze. Dad had gone across the street and asked them to stop singing or go somewhere else. They didn't respond in the affirmative to his request. Dad came home a bit miffed (I'm putting that kindly). He finally called the police who broke up the songfest.

By the way, the only part of the song they knew was the chorus.

Words: Irene, Goodnight; Irene, Goodnight. Goodnight Irene, goodnight Irene, I'll see you in my dreams.

Maybe if we all sing that loud enough "Irene" will go to sleep or at least roll over and go the other way.

Prayers are with you all on the coast. I'll be there in a few days, and I can't wait.

By the way, stay away from Timber Creek. Remember, it's tidal.


Saturday, July 23, 2011

Air conditioning

Do you see that little house at the top of this BLOG? That's the house I grew up in, got married from, and returned to every summer for 25 years or more. There was never an air conditioner in that house when I lived there. We had fans.

There was a fan in that front top-floor window, pulling IN the cool, shaded air. There was a fan in the back window, drawing OUT the hot attic air. Downstairs there was a fan in the living room, and one in the dining room.

My dad did not like air conditioning, nor did my mom. I never knew I was deprived by not having an air conditioned place. I just tolerated the heat, and it often got hot enough to cook an egg on the sidewalk. I know this because every time the temperature reached 95 degrees or so, the front page of the Courier Post and/or the Philadelphia Inquirer had a picture of someone frying an egg on the sidewalk.

My grandchildren, the ones that live over on the next hill from us, fried eggs on their driveway earlier this week, and they could have fried them every day.

I'm not complaining about the heat, mind you. I just stay indoors in my nice non-deprived air-conditioned house, because I know that come late December, early January, I'm going to be wishing it was summer or that I was in Florida enjoying warmer weather.

I don't like this heat and humidity, I didn't mind the heat in the southwest when we were there and the daily temps were getting up into the 100s every day, but I shan't complain, because I know what's coming.

Snow, snow, snow, snow, snow!


Tuesday, June 28, 2011


I was thinking about this the past few days -- the fact that today we have instant pictures -- not Polaroids, but digitals which can be printed into great, color prints.

When I was growing up even color pictures were rare. The film was expensive as was the processing. So, when I got my little Brownie camera I always bought black and white 120 film. And I'd go through a roll of film in double time and then get the pictures developed.

Back then (in the 40s, 50s, and even well into the 60s) you have to wait almost a week to get your pictures back from the developer. And was the wait worth it? Mostly.

The picture up top is one of the many I took when I was a child. This was in 1955. I was 12. The coat mom is wearing is made of squirrel and I loved that coat. I "inherited" it long before she died and wore it when I was a lot smaller than I am now. It was so warm. I remember begging her to let me wear it when we went Christmas carolling because I wanted to be warm and it was so cold out.

Anyway, I was thinking about how great it is to have those instant pictures to send around the world so people can see what we're up to and enjoying and the places we're visiting, or just seeing people's (children's) faces.

Do I print all those digitals? No. Wish I could, but I already have thousands of un-scrapbooked pictures, all neatly filed (hard copies, not just on the computer) and ready to be inserted in a scrapbook.

One of these days...maybe I'll get them all in books.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

New computer

Growing up in the 40s/50s in South Jersey I would never have dreamed of something like a computer. Then when I went to college, the computer was a "new" baby, but was too big for anyone to own one, we only had cards with little chads in them telling the mammoth main frame what to do. I had a difficult time grasping that one. I was still in the typewriter age -- at least I had graduated to an electric typewriter.

Well, 50 years later I find that I am pretty computer literate -- NOT programming literate. Let's face it, I'm a user, just like I was a typewriter user back in the good old days. However, I could take apart my manual typewriter and put it back together, seriously. I could pretty much maintain my electric typewriter as well. Back then an electric typewriter cost as much as a laptop (mini) does today, but when the average take-home pay for me and my peers was maybe $60 a week, buying a new typewriter every few years because of some glitch was not even an option.

So why am I writing all this in Runnemede Remembered? Well, my first job was as a typist for a man who attended our church. Then my second job was a typing job for Mr. Softee. My third job was a sales job for Strawbridge's, my fourth job was as a temporary person in whatever typing position my overseer sent me. Get the picture. All those jobs originated in Runnemede.

Now I know that Runnemede has joined the computer age. No longer is the library a small card file with 500 books, no longer do the banks write deposits and withdrawals in long-hand. No longer do the check-outs at cash registers require the cashier to divine the change in a transaction.

I am writing this because I have to get a new computer. My laptop is shot, almost, and it's more frustrating to use it that to not use it, but then I miss so much --BLOGs, e-mails, internet, information about the upcoming 50th reunion of the first class to go all four years through Triton.

Progress, it's amazing, frustrating, time-consuming -- but I love it. Be back when I get the new computer up and running.


Thursday, June 9, 2011

Those hazy, hot, humid days of summer

It isn't summer yet, but the weather is very much summer(ish). Over a week of hazy, hot, and humid days evokes memories over 60 years old. Yes, 60 years.

I know NJ schools are open longer than those in the Midwest where schools have been closed for at least a week.

I recall that immediately after school was dismissed for the three-month summer vacation, the next week started a two-week Vacation Bible School. The thinking was that it was still early summer and the dogdays hadn't quite reached NJ. Wrong.

Also, VBS began at 9:00 a.m. the thinking being that children were used to getting to real school by 9 a.m., so getting to VBS by 9 a.m. would not be difficult. Also, it was cooler before noon than after noon. Wrong.

At least from a child's perspective. Personally, I always looked forward to being able to do what I wanted to do, be able to sleep longer, be able to sit on the cool(er) front porch and read, etc. But I did like VBS.

VBS started with a "pep rally" each day. Dad would start us out with a bevy of songs and flag pledging and scripture verse memorizing. Then we got the project for the day. If we returned the next day and had one of the five best turn-ins of the project, we received a prize. I can only recall winning one prize that I really, really wanted and that was a sheriff's badge. The project? Write out the 10 commandments in my best handwriting. Not only did I write out the commandments (shortened version that appears on many courthouses), but I included all the other words in Exodus 20 as well. I was determined to win one of those badges. And I did. That was my "Western" summer. I had a holster with a cap gun, my sheriff's badge, my rope which I learned to used quite well, actually, and I had a baby brother who would sit still long enough that I could lasso for practice.

We all were ready after the "pep rally" to head downstairs for our lesson and handcraft project. These were the days before air conditioning was common, especially in churches. So the basement provided a lot of heat relief.

The lessons were themed, I suppose. I only really remember the Moses to Ten Commandments to Joshua series.

The handwork projects included woodcarving -- we made bookends. This included varnishing them, carving them, and putting them together with a screwdriver. Teacher help was available, but as I am not a very patient person, I did my own, proving that an eight-year-old could do something a little difficult.

VBS at Mt. Calvary. After the first day of getting "in the groove" so to speak, it was two weeks of great fun, adventure, and friendship.

Oh? And did I mention the wonderful snacks? No? Well, that's because they weren't real good, but the teachers tried. I recall the really bad homemade root beer. I mean it was really bad, but the dear lady who made it faithfully each year for all us children, was thanked by one and all, regardless of whether we liked it or not.

I pray that this year's VBS programs will be as much fun for the children who attend as they were for me when I was a child.


Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Spring storms

We've had quite a number of severe storms lately -- out here in the Midwest -- and I remember the storms (if you could call the that now that I know what a storm is really like) we had when I was growing up and during the many times I returned home.

There was a smell in the air, even before there were any visible storm clouds. I suppose it's because we were due east of the Delaware River (yes that's what the smell was) and the wind had changed direction and picked up speed. Anyway, we always knew that a storm was coming well before we actually heard any thunder.

Now we have weather radar to keep us updated. These past few days one of our TVs has been tuned into that channel almost constantly. We praise God that the storms, while tornadic, haven't spawned any funnels in our area.

I recall one day, I had just gotten home from school. The sky was darkening. Our bad storms (remember that's relative) always came from just to the east of the Downing school. And we'd watched the clouds build up and darken. I usually just stayed on the front porch and watched them roll in.

I got home from school and my dad grabbed me and told me to go to the basement. Go to the basement? Why? Because there is going to be a tornado, I was told. Yeh, right. Well, the sky did get that greenish tint that accompanies and warns of the possibility of a tornado, but I wondered why my dad would say such a thing. NJ doesn't get tornadoes, does it? Well, not back then. We never heard of such a thing.

Well, if there was a tornado that day, it missed us, but I had nightmares for years of me being in the basement with the family, and looking up into a funnel and it turning and missing our house just as it got close enough to see what was whirling inside.

Last night as the storms came through we were given a play-by-play of where the whirling clouds were. Communities were told to go their "safe place". Our "safe place"? Our "safe place" is with our Lord. However, our tornado non-shelter is under the stairwell behind the elevator.


Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Monthly cleaning

I first attended Downing School, then Bingham, then back to Downing. One of our monthly "chores" was to clean out our desks. I loved doing that. We were encouraged to clean our desks whenever we had spare time, i.e., we finished our arithmetic before everyone else. But, we were required to do it at the end of the month. The teachers had to justify their attendance books at that time, and this was when we had the monthly cleaning of our desks and various other classroom chores, such as clearing off the bulletin boards of any papers that were posted, making sure that the cloak room was clear of all matter such as rotting lunches, or clapping the erasers -- which really was a daily chore which I loved to do. I think most of us did enjoy clapping the erasers.

For those of you who don't know what clapping the erasers is, it is simply taking two chalkboard erasers and taking one eraser in each hand -- chalk side away from the hand -- and then banging them together until you can't see any more dust flying from them. You had to either hang out the window or go outside to do this chore. If the weather was nice, we opted to go outside. Since each classroom was provided with four erasers, two of us had this job!

Our desks were the kind that had the seat that was hinged, as was the lid. There was a hole cut in the desk on the right side corner farthest from the child, which at one time held an ink pot. No more ink pots once the lead pencil was invented.

We had a desk like this on our back porch for most of my growing up time, and I used it, of course, to play teacher. Dad put a chalkboard up in front of one of the windows, which was a little high for a shorty, so I had to stand on a footstool to use it.

After our desks were cleaned out to our teacher's satisfaction, we received a new pencil. We got a new pencil (No. 2, eraser tipped, yellow painted) every month. And oh how we coveted the box in which the pencils came. The top slid off the box not unlike the larger crayon boxes do today.

I don't remember what qualified us for a box, but whatever it was, believe me I tried very hard to be one of the recipients. Since the class was 30 or 31 children, that meant that three boxes would be deprived of its pencil content (12 per box), so three of us each month received one of the coveted boxes.

I suppose it would have been fairer to just give the boxes out to the children in alphabetical order (10 months, 30 children) but that's not how I recall the boxes being given out.

I still have a love for all things stationery (as did my father to a hoarding extent). And I just love to walk through Staples and sniff the paper or the pencils (the wooden ones). The smell of these items evokes such fond memories.


Sunday, May 15, 2011

Back home

It's been almost a year, now, since I was back in Runnemede. Where has the time gone?

The Drexler family returned to Runnemede to attend the 100th Anniversary celebration for Mt. Calvary Union Church, where my father pastored for 55 years. What a weekend it was! I never had so much fun in my life, not even at family weddings.

In the past year I lost a dear friend, Dawn Anderson, who seemed to be doing pretty well fighting cancer when is saw her last May. She was one of my bridesmaids, and we kept in touch over the years. In fact, several years ago, I had a bridesmaids' lunch reunion and she was there. Also, Mr. Manduka (Uncle Bill) was very ill, nigh unto death, but God wasn't ready to receive him yet. He's 90 and still going and going and going. Praise God!

I am heading back in September and will see what or who is happening at the church. I need to get a few more pictures that I didn't get last May, namely the cornerstone of the church which has the date of the building of the church. And maybe some fall floral pictures from what's left of mom's garden.


Sunday, April 3, 2011

Fancy lunch

I am reading a book about a WWII hero (Fiction) and in this book the author describes the Wanamaker Tea Room. Boy, did his description bring back memories. I don't know if I've ever written about this before, and it's realy about Philadelphia, not Runnemede, but the journey starts in Runnemede, so I guess it really is about Runnemede. When I was a child, say 7 or 8, my dad took me into Philly (via bus #31) and we got off the bus at 13th and Market in downtown Philadelphia, PA. The excitement began as we got on the bus. Excitement equals an upset stomach. However, I was able to keep my breakfast down during the bus ride into Town. Dad wanted to take me some place special. I think the occasion was my birthday. Anyway, it was the first of several trips dad and I would take to this wonderful restaurant -- the Chrystal Tea Room on the 9th floor of Wanamaker's store. There were three ways to get there once you got into the store. You could ride up in an elevator, you could take a series of escalators up, or you could climb nine flights of stairs. Dad opted for the elevator. (ASIDE: the music floor was two floors down - 7th floor -- and I spent many lunch hours there when I was working in Philly in the early 60s. The difference was that to save time I would run up the stairs to the 7th floor and run down the stairs when I left the music department. To think that now I can't even do one step!) We arrived at the entry to the restaurant. The tables were set with linen table cloths and had linen napkins and silver cutlery, as well as two goblets. One for water, and the other for wine I suppose. We only got water. Dad suggested that I get the chicken salad sandwich on toast, which I did. It was delicious, and became my favorite. Did dad and I return to that restaurant? Yes, we did, several times. So did my mother and I. Thank you daddy for taking me to such a nice place. And thanks to Dan Walsh (the author of the book The Homecoming) for reminding of those pleasant trips and times of love and laughter with my father. ttfn

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Daddy and his roots

The last time I really talked to my father, prior to our moving him to North Carolina, and he was still talking to me, he was telling me about his boyhood years and his Amish roots.

That got me thinking...Daddy never had an auto, didn't want one either. He did have a bicycle which he rode all over Runnemede and neighboring towns. He also would pay a bus driver to take him into Philly, and when he got older and wasn't riding the bike any more, he always paid someone to take him to the places he needed to go. A very Amish thing to do.

He also told me about the visits he had to one of his family's farm in Lancaster, PA. He loved going there, but for some reason there are no pictures of that farm.

Also, the things dad loved to eat could be taken right from any Amish cookbook. He loved creamed celery, which he got to eat rarely, so he substituted cream of celery soup. Not one of my favorites. He loved noodles and dumplings and pies and he always had bread and jelly with his dinner. Coffee was another favorite of dads, and he had several cups each day.

Now, some are saying, so what. He had coffee. Read any of Beverly Lewis' books. The characters in her books are always sitting down to have a cup of coffee, and they always have bread and jelly with dinner.

My mom put up enough jelly every summer so that she didn't have to buy any and dad especially loved her peach jam and her apple butter. Of course, we children loved mom's jams and jellies also, but we were rationed a couple of bites. Dad was very stingy with his wife's jellies and jams. I think my favorite was peach, but my sister and brothers liked the grape jelly.


Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Snowy winter

I know I have a picture of a snowy winter in the 60s, but I can't find it, so you'll have to just visualize a snowy Runnemede in 1961. This is not the picture, I just wanted to put you readers in the mood, so to speak.

I have to smile at some of former Runnemede-ites (or is it Runnemede-ians?) who are on Facebook and still live in the area and their comments about the snowy winter of 2010-11.

Thinking back to 1961, if I recall correctly, we didn't see the tar of the street from Christmas until after March 21 (we had a really bad snow/ice storm on March 15) in 1961. And we all loved the snow. It snowed a lot that year. We had a lot of "snow" days. So many, that school finally closed somewhere around June 25. And it was hot that summer, which started early, so we suffered in an non-air-conditioned high school building.

All of us who are now opining over the snowy/cold weather (including myself) loved the snow when we were young and weren't afraid of falling down and breaking a hip. We had the energy to shovel the snow, although, I usually left that to my brothers. We enjoyed snowball fights. We could make snow angels and get ourselves back up out of the snow with the aid of another human being. We youngsters even enjoyed ice storms, because they left a sheen of ice over everything, and we could break out our ice skates and actually skate on the ice layer left by the ice storm.

Ah, yes, we loved that snow.

Frankly? I still love the snow. It looks pretty. Everything is quiet. You can actually walk in the street without getting run over.
Me? I just stay indoors, and because I'm retired I have the luxury of doing that. Those who have still not retired and have to get out, well, I do feel badly for you.

Just think nice thoughts... "The weather outside is frightful, but the fire is so delightful" ...Or sitting in front of a fire drinking hot chocolate, or buttered rum (not my personal favorite) ... Or watching your grandchildren playing in the snow enjoying all the things you used to enjoy.

As I watch the flakes coming down again, at 6 a.m. on a Tuesday morning Februrary 22, 2011, and the school closings are pouring in, I think, better them than me. I'll just stay indoors today, and make my husband some oatmeal and a nice pot of coffee, infused with chocolate, and enjoy the view.


Blast from the past!

Okay, I'm not real proud of this picture, but I thought I'd post it and give you all a laugh!
I'm 16 years old. Note the classy glasses! Note the curly hair! Note the long, Audrey-Hepburn neck!
How time changes things.
I still wear dorky glasses. It seems when I get new glasses, I always purchase a "current" style that is sadly, out-of-style in two weeks after purchase.
The curly hair? It is no more. First, there is so much less hair now, than there was then. Second, the color is different. Under the "coloring" it's snow-white. Third, it is no longer curly, a new phenomenon which has occurred only since I had my hair colored just before Christmas, 2010.
I post this picture so that all my classmates from the Triton class of 1961 can recall what I looked like. The soon-to-be 50th-anniversary-of-our-graduation party will be celebrated. I will be there, Lord willing, and except for the infusion of over 100 pounds since this picture was taken, a different color, hair, you all will recognize me by the "dorky glasses."

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

More on family sayings

I mentioned in a previous post (maybe it was on the Fat Lady BLOG) that I'm reading books about the Amish (historical fiction) and am really enjoying them. I have really enjoyed a series that takes place in Lancaster, PA.

My dad's family started out many, many years ago in the Lancaster area and I'm finding that a lot of the sayings I grew up with are in these books I'm reading. I didn't realize that my father knew so much of the Dieutch and that the words were part of his heritage. In fact, except for a cousin of my fathers who lived in Reading, PA, whom his cousin Alberta talked about when she visited us, I didn't even think about having an Amish background. I still don't know whether daddy's family was at one time Amish, but the language that would slip out at times was definitely from the Amish.

The latest words that I recalled because I read them are dummkopff and himmell. dummkopff means dummy or stupid, and you would never call someone that, but you would refer to yourself as a dummkopff if you did something stupid. Himmell was a way of saying "Oh my goodness" -- "Himmell" also being translated God.

Dad didn't use those words often, but they came out occasionally and I picked them up and used them once in a while as well.

Another word that was used several times in the last book I read was "dotage." I realize I am now in my "dotage" and am not liking it too much (nor did the character in the book, with whom I was relating).

Added Feb. 7: I also read in one of the books that a common prayer said at the table was: "Come, Lord Jesus, and be our guest, and let this food to us be blessed. Amen." Guess what? That was one of dad's favorites -- when he was hungry.


More daylight?

My sister reminded me when she called me on Sunday -- she calls me almost every Sunday, and I look forward to the talks so much -- that we get 2 more minutes of daylight in the a.m. and 2 more minutes of daylight in the evening -- that 4 minutes per day. Oh, really?

I think the people who wrote that up were just trying to encourage me through the darkness. I have noticed very little change in the mornings. It's still dark until after 8 a.m. In the evenings, it is dark by 6 p.m., which is a little later than when the darkness descended at Christmas, but not much.

I don't remember disliking the dark when I was living in Runnemede. Of course I was much younger then and really wasn't paying too much attention to the amount of daylight. Being on the East coast the day starts at least an hour earlier than it does out here which is at the tail end, almost, of the eastern time zone. So when I got up in the morning I never noticed it being dark, and I don't recall having to walk to school at 10 til seven in the dark. Out here? I would have to walk to school in the almost dark at 10 to eight!

Complaining? Yes, I am. I want more daylight. I'm getting old and my eyesight isn't what it used to be. I need light, people. Lots of light. Physical light, that is.

I do have the LIGHT of the world, Jesus, in me, for which I am very, very thankful.


Thursday, January 20, 2011


I haven't noticed that the days are getting longer. The TV says they are, and the minutes of daylight each day have gotten longer, but...

I don't notice any difference. Could it be because we've had snow or some sort of precipitation every day since early December? And because we've had precipitation and the sun is hidden, the expanded daylight hours just aren't coming through?

I want it to be light! I don't like the winter dark.

I do, however, like our weather this year. Just enough snow to keep me happy, but not enough to give me agida. And, so far, no ice storms. Now, that's a real blessing.


Saturday, January 15, 2011

Familial sayings and other things

I have just finished reading The Thorn by Beverly Lewis. It is about an Amish family, present day.

I knew my dad had some Pennsylvania Dutch background. One of the last times I saw him, he told me about that part of his family -- which I didn't know existed. He told me he was reluctant to ever talk about them because of the hexes they had on their barns and other buildings on their farm. So, that part of the family sort of disappeared from the radar screen, so to speak.

But I did find out from reading this book that some of what I grew up with -- sayings and food and prayers -- came from that background.

The word schruewwlich -- which we always pronounced stroo blick (accurate would be shroo vlick) which is not too far off from the real pronunciation was used through this book for the way the heroine's hair was always unkemp. Yes, daddy would tell us we look schreuwwlich if our hair wasn't combed just so, or if our buttons were not buttoned correctly, or our socks weren't put on with the heel at the heel, etc. This along with verschimmelled, disheveled, and just plain untidy were part of the everyday vernacular at our home. Four little kids, you get one tidied up and the other three are all apart in that short amount of time. A never ending process to get four little ones spiffied up at the same time.

I had often wondered why, when my father made coffee, he would put an egg in the bottom of the drip coffee pot. He said it made the coffee taste better, and that's the way his mother made it. Well, his mother probably learned it from her mother. Apparently, the PA Dutch folks do that because they believe it takes the bitterness out of the coffee. I have never tried it. With my luck, the egg would break and I had scrambled coffee eggs. Yuck!

And, I was amazed when on one of the rare occasions the family had an oral prayer (the Amish usually have a silent prayer at the food table) the grace they said was the exact same grace daddy taught me when I was a very young child. Come Lord Jesus and be our guest, and let this food to us be blessed. Amen.

I'm sure there was other things in the book that I missed which were common to our household.

I have to say that I enjoyed the book, and I have enjoyed other books by Beverly Lewis as well. Always a great read.


Tuesday, January 11, 2011