Growing up in a small town in Southern New Jersey

Monday, August 26, 2013

Sunday School Picnic Time

Sunday School Picnic Time was one of the most awaited events of the year back when I was a child.  This was one of the highlights of the summer. 

The church would get a bus to take those who didn't have cars (not all families had cars in the 40s and early 50s) and even those who had cars allowed their children to ride the bus. Some of the dads would take their cars to the site in case the children tired and wanted to get home earlier.

The picnics were usually held at one of the lakes in the "lake region" of South Jersey.  I know we went to Lake Oberst for a few years, and then we went to lake Paletine for several years.   I know we went to a third lake in my teen years, but as much as I've tried to think of the name of that lake, I just can't. 

The picnics always had grills where mom would cook hot dogs for lunch and then hamburgers for an early dinner.  The bus left at 7 p.m.  (I think).  I know by the time the bus did leave the lake to take us home, we were wiped out and slept very well after our Saturday night bath.

The hosts and hostesses of the events (they changed from year to year) had games for the children -- the best of which was the candy toss. 

One thing about the S. Jersey lakes -- they are for the most part cedar lakes.  That means that there are cedar trees in the deepest parts of the lakes, and they are surrounded by these trees.  You cannot see your feet if you are standing in one foot of water.  And you do not want to wear a new bathing suit in one of these lakes, unless it is black or brown, because the suit will be darkened because of the pigment in the water (cedar?).   I learned that the hard way. 

I bought myself a new bathing suit -- I wanted a NEW one, and not someone else's hand-me-down  -- for a change, and it was a really cute suit -- pink gingham, one-piece.  Well, it was brown when I got home, so I washed it right away.  It was still brownish.  It just looked dirty.  I bleached it.  It didn't help.  So I had this mauve and muddy colored bathing suit which I wore for several years. 

The last Sunday School picnic I attended at Mt. Calvary was when I was in my late 40s.  We were home for a short vacation, and it was SS picnic time, only this time it was held at someone's home.  Sunday school had dropped quite  bit in attendance since the 50s.  I remember this day because I helped mom get ready for the picnic and we went in our car.  Mom was carrying the potato salad which I made.  When we got out of the car to go into the very large yard where the picnic was being held, mom would not let go of the bowl.  She said it was helping her keep her balance.

I never knew what she meant by that until this past year.  I have had severe balance problems, and I fine if I am holding something with both hands I can walk steadier.  Who knew?

One final note:  I find that out here in the Midwest they don't refer to these picnics as Sunday School picnics, but church picnics. 


My brother reminded me that we went to Centerton Lake a couple of years and I think that's what I have pictures of in one of my many albums, and we also went to Cedar Lake.  I loved swimming there until one day I saw a bunch of fecal matter in the lake.  That was the end of it for me.  Sorry, Mark.

Monday, August 12, 2013

A small house

I lived for 23 years in the house in the picture above.   It was a small house.  The footprint is at most 1,000 feet.  It is a two bedroom house, with two attic rooms. 

I must start at the beginning.  I am writing this because I used to enjoy watching House Hunters on HGTV.  I have gotten tired, recently, of the younger set whining for and wanting at least four bedrooms (they have no children, just the two of them), they must have at least two bathrooms, and the master bedroom must have a bathroom with two sinks, a soaker tub, and a huge shower, separate from the tub.  The fixtures must be up-to-date, etc.  The kitchen must be huge with granite countertops.  And finally, this is in most cases their first home, not the one in which they want to raise their children.

There is rarely mention of the house being a home.

Well, our small house was a home.  My mother made it a home.

When I was small we had the two bedrooms, one for mom and dad, and one for us children.  In the children's bedroom my sister and I shared a double bed, and there was a crib, and a twin bed. One of the two closets in the house was in that room.  It held my mom's clothes.  Dad's clothes were in a walnut wardrobe.  The only other closet in the house was in the hall way.  It stored winter coats.  There was room for about six coats in there.  The vacuum cleaner was also stored there. 

There was little room to move around in either bedroom but we managed and we didn't think we were deprived.  And, oh, did I mention there was only ONE BATHROOM, no shower, except for a hose-like contraption attached to the faucet in the tub, which was a beautiful claw-foot tub.  Six people, one bathroom.  We didn't feel deprived, because it was our home.

When my sister and I had reached the ages of 6 and 9, respectively, we were put up in the attic.  It was cold in the winter and hot, hot, hot in the summer.  We didn't feel deprived.  There was no closet up there, so we hung our clothing on nails or a very small roll-around valet.  We were crowded in the attic because the center part was probably only 9 feet wide, and the only place to put the bed was sticking out into the 9x15 room that had a chimney in the middle (the heat source) and stairs taking up three feet at one end.  We loved that room. 

To this day, I have very fond memories of that room.  When I went to college I moved into the storage room in the attic, pulling out as much of the junk that was stored there so I could put in a single bed and use one of the chests of drawers that was stored in there.  I liked that room a whole lot.  Why?  Because I could rearrange my furniture as often as I wanted.  I had a desk, a chest of drawers, a bed and lots of neat "stored" items which I arranged in that small room.  The only source of heat in that room was what came through the doorway, so in the winter I had to leave the door open.  I felt like Louisa May Alcott.

I loved that  home.  My sister loved that home.  My brothers loved that home.  Mom and dad put the love in our home.

Yes, we had outdated appliances, fixtures in the bath and an unfinished basement.  Shabby sheik?  My mom invented it!