Growing up in a small town in Southern New Jersey

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Remember when?

Sometimes when I can't sleep at night I think about the days when I was a child.  And tonight was such a night.  First I couldn't sleep because I couldn't remember certain street names in Runnemede.  Then I couldn't sleep because I was uncomfortable in the bed.  Then I couldn't sleep because I had an idea for this BLOG.

So, now, it's 3:30 a.m. and I'm writing what I was thinking about remembering back when...

I was wondering if any of you who read this BLOG remember "skating" down West Third Avenue, toward the Pike between Read Avenue and the railroad tracks during the winter?  No skates, just shoes.  In the middle of the street.

You see, there were very few cars on the streets of Runnemede to worry about back then.

I can even remember sitting on the curb with Linda Lott watching cars come down East Clements Bridge Road, heading toward the Pike.  Sometimes we would wait for what seemed like forever.  We even had a lemonade stand one summer on my side of Clements Bridge Road and only a few cars passed us and even fewer bought our lemonade.

I remember riding my bike to school (when I attended Bingham) and enjoying the lack of need to pedal when I came home from school either for lunch or when school was out for the day.  I would just let go of the handle bars and lean back and enjoy the ride.  Yes, I was quite the dare-devil back then.  Being small for my age didn't stop me from doing some things which I would consider quite foolish now, but I do like to see children riding bikes at break-neck speed without using the handlebars.  I know their parents down enjoy that sight, but I do. 

I remember skating (using the kind of skates that you had to use a skate-key on) and hoping my skates would stay on and not pop off.  Some half-years my shoes were such that they [the skates] stayed on and other half-years they wouldn't stay on at all.  I say half-years because I got two pairs of school shoes per year, so I would have each pair for half a year and beside riding my bike skating was a favorite thing for me to do.  I would pretend that my roller skates were ice skates and do "tricks" like the ice-skaters did on TV.  We didn't get much ice in the winter and you can't ice-skate on snow.

Which takes me back to "skating" down West Third Avenue between Read and the railroad.  You see, there was ice in the middle of the street from where the snow had melted and then frozen again and by the time we were out of school, it was frozen because the sun had set far enough that it was in shadow.

How times have changed.  You can hardly sit on the porch at 116 E. Second Avenue (our homestead) without a car whizzing by every few minutes, far more frequently than they were passing us on Clements Bridge back in the early 50s.


Friday, October 19, 2012


What?  What kind of title is that for a BLOG about growing up in a small town in South Jersey?

I shall tell you.

The first time I was introduced to communism was in second grade.  At my class at Downing School we were taught to get under our desks if we saw a bright light outside that was not attached to a thunder storm.  And we practiced diving under our desks.  We did this periodically throughout the year. 

Why?  Well, the Russians had "the bomb" and might use it on us and we had to be prepared.  The communists were out to get us and they were our enemies.

We were taught that the communists' children were in school at age two and that when a communist met a non-communist and they were having a discussion of any kind the communist would talk over the non-communist and but-in constantly so as to throw their opponent off their train of thought. 

We were taught that our homes would belong to the "state", meaning the communist government. 

Then in 7th grade we read 1984 -- which was quite the scarey novel for a pre-teen. 

So when I was watching the recent debates I was thinking, wow, the debaters sure to interrupt each other an awful lot, some more than others, and I was reminded of the days when we were reminded of what to look for in a communist state.  Dodn't get into a snit, folks.  I'm not accusing either candidate of being communist.  I'm just saying what I was taught in school.

Other things our teachers told us about communist Russia was that food supplies were low and what was available was very expensive.  The very expensive part I can relate to.  The land and farms were owned my the government, and even though the government now owned the farms, at least the people who had owned them previously were permitted to farm their own land for very low wages.

We were told that prices on most commodities (gasoline, heating oil, etc.) were very high even though Russia had plenty of resources right in their own country and they were selling the things their own people needed to other countries, thus pushing the prices higher.

The communist government took over whole companies including the auto companies, the trains, the banks, etc.

There were other things we were to look out for, but I can't remember them, maybe because they
haven't come up yet in our own nation.

How is this country leaning?  Yes, it is the best and most wonderful country in the world, and I don't want to live anywhere else.  But I see things I don't like that are happening in our country.  Things I learned about as a child and hoped then would not ever happen here in our country.

Maybe these things I mentioned in this particular BLOG don't seem real to some of you, but think about  these examples and be aware of what is going on around you.


PS:  I imagine I'll get quite a few comments on this BLOG. 

Friday, October 12, 2012

Brain drain

I was recalling this afternoon that most of my posts have centered around church life.  I guess that's because my young life was either spent in school or church, at least that's how it seemed to me at the time.  And being a PK (preacher's kid) of course I would be spending quite a bit of my time in church whether being engaged in church things or just accompanying my father to his study -- which I loved to visit, and from which the smell still lingers.  You know, that smell that an old attic evokes, or a musty basement, or a baby's aroma after a bath? 

So with that introduction, I shall tell you what I was thinking about.  I was thinking about the young ladies trio (or was it a quartet) that I participated in during my teenage years.  We practiced quite a bit.  I recall myself and Kathie K. getting the giggles and trying to compose ourselves before we sang (nerves, I think).  Once we started singing we were okay.  Unfortunately, I can't remember who else we sang with. 

Which leads to something else I discovered today.  After 46 years of marriage, my husband I work really well together.  I can't remember some things and he can't remember some things, but together we can remember the whole thing!  Unfortunately, he wasn't around during the trio/quartet days!


Friday, October 5, 2012

Senior Trip

When I was a senior at Triton, it was decided that I would not be going on the class senior trip to Washington, DC.  Reason?  We (we being my mom and dad and I) couldn't afford it.  Mom and dad had barely two nickles to rub against each other and I had used up my meager savings from my summer of work at Mr. Softee's office. 

Since I couldn't go on the trip, I had assumed, wrongly, of course, that I would be able to stay home and begin reading the books I was required to read by early September for my college English class.  Well, that was a wrong assumption.  The few of us who were unable to go on the trip were required to show up and assemble in the auditorium for our "day of fun". 

This day consisted of field hockey,  calisthenics, gymnastics, and any other torture the phys ed teachers could think of.  We didn't have math or English or foreign language, or anything academic, just a day of physical abuse.  As you can tell, I'm still bitter about it.

Now, I liked gym and I especially liked gymnastics -- all of it.  But when combined with hours of other physical activity, well..

I woke the next morning and couldn't move.  My dad called the school and told them I wouldn't be there for the second day of senior trip activities for those who stayed behind, instead he was taking me to the doctor.  Well, that doctor happened to be a chiropractor and he adjusted me which only added to my pain.  When we got home,  Dad sent me back to bed because he was tired or hearing my moans and groans.  Mom got a hot pad out of the linen closet and made me put that on various places that hurt.

On day three of the senior trip, my father called the school and after telling them I wouldn't be in for the rest of the week; and he wrote a letter to the principal telling him that he didn't appreciate the way the kids left behind were treated.  Of course, I avoided the principal for the rest of the year because I was so embarrassed. 

At any rate, I know the classmates that went to DC had a great time.  Me?  Not so much.