Growing up in a small town in Southern New Jersey

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.