Growing up in a small town in Southern New Jersey

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Seventh Grade

Continuing the "school saga". 

Seriously, seventh grade was my worst year in school.  I was still at Bingham School, which had nothing to do with it being my worst year.  It was the teacher.

I had Mr. Latieri -- who spent weekends in some town in northern PA and came in on Monday mornings and regaled us with what he did over the previous weekend, whether it was a play by play of a football game (high school, when they were still on Saturday morning or afternoon) or a movie he saw, or if he slept what he dreamt.  BORING.

The room his class was in was on the northwest side of the building, uppermost floor, old part.  The room was fine and I had a seat by the window.  And about the only thing I did like about his class was that he had the desks in straight rows, like a normal classroom back in those days.   I really didn't like the circle classroom set-ups, or the sideways rows set-ups.  I was very happy with my seat in the last rows from the door and one of the back seats.  

I was absent a lot that year.  I was sick to my stomach a lot (not really, but it was easy to convince my parents I wasn't feeling well).  I spent a lot of time at the chiropractor (Doc Feldman in Philly) which I didn't mind at all, except for the bus ride, which really did give me a sick stomach for two days.  I don't remember why I went to the chiropractor a lot, but I did.

I still learned whatever we had to learn, though.  I got all A's.

As an aside:  One day the class was being rather rowdy and Mr. Latieri was getting frustrated.  A lot of pencil sharpening and paper getting was interrupting Mr. L's train of thought.  So when the lesson was over Russell Fisher raised his hand and asked if he could have a piece of paper.  Mr. L in his frustrated voice said, "Take five."  Russ took five pieces of paper.  Mr. L meant get lost for five minutes (which he explain after Russell sat back down).  I don't think any of us had heard that expression before (meaning take five minutes off).  Poor Russell, he was then made to go to the back of the room and stand against the wall for five minutes, and be the butt of Mr. L's jokes for the entire five minutes he was standing there.

I did have fun in the school yard that year.  I beat Joe Spence in hitting a baseball one day.  He was the best hitter in the 7th grade, so I felt pretty special.  And finally....

I give up.  I was trying to put a picture of the school in the BLOG, but BLOGger must be broken for now.



Saturday, September 14, 2013


So many of my facebook friends have mentioned Mr. and Mrs. Manduka (pictured) and asked about them. 

Mr. Manduka -- uncle Bill to many of us -- was our main driver to all youth events.  I remember one time it was snowing very hard and piling up fast.  It was a Saturday, and Saturday was Youtharama, a program that was held for area church youth at the Philadelphia at Town Hall on every other Saturday night.  He called me and told me that he wasn't taking us to Youtharama.  I was, of course, crushed, and I didn't understand the danger of driving in 12 inches of snow with rear-wheel drive in a big car (by today's standards).  I asked him to please take us.  He was firm and I cried.

The next day there was church, but only 10 people showed up besides our bundled-up family.  My father would never cancel a church service for anything, and weather was on that list.  Mr. and Mrs. Manduka and their two children were four of those 10 people.  They were so faithful.

Mrs. Manduka died several years ago.  She was a teacher until her final illness prevented her from teaching.  I am not certain what she died from, but I believe it was altzheimers. 

Uncle Bill is still living, but he is in failing health.  He is 91.  He does have a facebook account.

Jean is retired.  She still plays the organ at church (Mt. Calvary Union Church), but no facebook account.

David is a missionary in Germany.  His children are grown up now.  I haven't seen him for years, but Mr. Manduka sends me his letters concerning their mission and what's happening in their lives from time to time.

I hope you all will pray for Mr. M (Uncle Bill) that the Lord's will be done with him.  I know he wants to be with his Lord and is looking forward to moving on to his real Home.


Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Week at the shore

It was the summer of my 13th year.  My father's cousin, Alberta, asked me if  I would like to spend a week at the shore (Ocean City, NJ) with her and my friend Linda Speer.  Linda was Alberta's neighbor in north Philly, and a pen-pal of mine. 

I know you all are thinking, "Why a pen-pal?  She only lived in N. Philly, just a hop, skip, and a jump from Runnemede."  That's correct, but I had been writing letters to Linda for several years, and north Philly was a long trip for a child of  9 or 10 to go alone.  I did, however, see Linda occasionally when my dad visited Alberta at her home.  I probably should have said rarely, because we didn't go see Alberta very often.

Moving along.  Of course I wanted to go to the shore for a week.  What 13-year-old girl wouldn't, especially when that 13-year-old was in a family that didn't take vacations?

So we went to the shore in early August.  We stayed in someone's house in a rented unit.  This unit was in the basement, and the kitchen was under the front porch.  That's about all I remember about where we stayed.  I know it was a one-bedroom place, and the under-the-porch kitchen is still vivid. 

This all came back to me a few days ago when I bought a huge cantaloupe from a local farmer.  You see, Albert was quite fond of cantaloupes so when she told Linda and me on that first morning we were having cantaloupe, Linda and I laughed.  I mean, who ever heard of having cantaloupe for breakfast?  Cantaloupe was a dessert in our house!  We overcame our laughter and ate the cantaloupe, which was delicious, I might add.  We also added a bowl of some cereal to go with the fruit.

I know that in this day and age cantaloupe is a common breakfast fruit, but back then, I lived the sheltered life of a preacher's kid and we didn't get much cantaloupe, so mom used the fruit for dessert.

I recall one day we went to a very large hotel on the boardwalk.   I was in awe of the place.  And the was huge.  The Flanders Hotel is still there and is still a beautiful, elegant hotel.

Well, after a week at the beach I had acquired quite a tan and I was, I admit, so proud of that tan.  I had tans before, but this was the best.  And I didn't use any tanning lotion.  And I didn't burn.  I rarely got a sun burn.  Must have been those Mediterranean genes.

I have to say that back-yard tans never come close to week-at-the-shore tans.  I never had a week at the shore again, just day trips.  Thank you, Alberta, for a great week!


Rubber Boots

I was looking through the LL Bean catalog today and saw something that reminded me of those good old days of rubber boots -- we called them rubbers.  Mine were black, boy's boots, hand-me-downs; but they did the job, sort of.

Anyway, we all had them, but the boots went over our shoes, so they had to be a couple of sizes bigger than our shoes so they would fit.  I wasn't overly fond of them for two reasons.

They were difficult to put on and then get off again, especially if you were a third grader and your mother wasn't around to help you.

The second reason was when you wore them in snow, the cold, wet, damp snow tended to implode downward into the boot freezing your tiny feet off and coaxing you to go indoors in less time that  you really wanted to spend outdoors playing in the snow, building snowmen, or sledding down the slight incline across the street, into the street, and onto the yard across the street.


Today the rubber boots are lined in warm, fuzzy fleece, and you don't wear them over your every-day shoes. 



Sunday, September 8, 2013

The church bell

Up in the belfry there is a working bell.  It is pretty loud.

My father used to call us children to church by pulling on a rope and getting the ringing started.  He would pull the rope about 10 times and his own children would march in with his wife and other children would come as well.

I don't know much of the history of the church, but I know some of the history of the town.  It was decided in 1910 that the town of Runnemede (population 500 maybe) needed a church.  I believe the name Mt. Calvary Union Church was named "union" church because it was a union of the various denominations in the small town.  I know that one of the builders stayed with MCUC until his death.

I believe the bell was used to call people to church and those nearby could hear that call.

The bell was used for other occasions as well.  I remember when WWII ended in Europe on V-E day my dad went over to the church and rang the bell. He rang it for a long time.  I was only two but I remember that and I remember when Japan surrendered there was another ringing of the bell.  Of course by the time Dad got to Runnemede there were two other churches.  There was the Lutheran church and the Catholic church.  And with Runnemede being built up by that time, I don't know how far the sound of the bell went.

Also, after weddings, the bell was sometimes rung -- not always.  I asked that it be rung on my wedding day, but my father didn't want to do that.  He was losing one of his girls and, well, you've all seen Father of the Bride so I guess you can understand why he wouldn't ring the bell.

To my brother Mark:  Did you ring the bell on my wedding day?  Just wondering.

The bell still rings when someone pulls the rope.  But you have to pull that rope gently, because pulling too fast, or too hard will turn the bell upside down and then the rope gets all messed up.

I remember my father getting up into the belfry on a couple of occasions to get the bell straightened out -- he had to unwind the rope where it had gotten tangled, and he was not a happy camper on those occasions.  I think Sue Youngblood's father also came over to the church to fix the bell on a couple of occasions.

I think it is amazing that I can see Mr. Youngblood as he was then, and Mrs. Youngblood as she was then.  But I can't see how my aunts and uncles looked in the late 40s/early i

My sister, Debbie reminded me that my father always rang the bell at exactly midnight on New Year's Eve.  And when I say "exactly midnight", I mean, exactly midnight.  Dad would check with the phone company a couple of times a day to make sure his pocket watch was holding perfect time and that it was set with US Naval Observatory Time.  And, I can't believe I forgot to mention that!

Well, I guess that's enough about the bell at MCUC.  Ring that bell one more time (at least) for me.


Sunday, a long time ago

Many years ago, a lot more than 50, but fewer than 70, when I was a young child, my father deviated from the regular schedule of the church service. 

Here's what I remember of that Sunday morning. 

My father had purchased a Bible which he wanted to place on the Communion Table (that's the table on which you can see an open book).  He said that the Bible should remain on the table, open, and from time to time he would change the page to another chapter, and perhaps another book, and would talk about that for a few minutes. 

On this particular Sunday he had selected a chapter in Psalms.  I do not remember what the chapter was, nor do I remember the sermon that day.

I do remember another thing that my father pointed to, however. 

In this picture you can see a small sign over the Pastor's Chair which is just behind the Pulpit.  It is black and is just above the burgundy colored curtain.  It says, "Jesus".  This, my father told the congregation is Who was precious to him, and he wanted it there to remind the church on Whom it was built.  As Jesus Christ was humble, my father wanted the sign to be small and unobtrusive, but visible even from the back row of the church. 

Dad then stood behind the pulpit,  prayed his closing prayer, and we all sang the Doxology as we left the building.

I really never forgot that day when dad opened that Bible, placed it on that table, and said as long as he was pastor, he wanted that Bible there. 

It was on that table for over 50 years. 


Saturday, September 7, 2013


I have two brothers.  There's the one that's, shall we say, the quiet one (now); and the one who speaks with forked tongue (broccoli hater) whenever he can get away with it.  I love them both dearly.  One for his yearly birthday call to me, and the other because he makes FB worthwhile.

Mark, is the one that most resembles in mind his sister (that would be me).  He is a pastor in Goshen.  That's the one in Indiana, not the one in southern Ohio.

He's the one I used to leg wrestle.  He's the one I would punch for no reason at all, and he took it because he was trained that as a boy/man he should never hit a girl/woman.  I still give him a slug from time to time.  But since the time-to-time times that I see him are getting less frequent as we get older and spouses that can't travel keep us bound to our local area for the most part, I guess my punches will have to be KIWIs.  (See paragraph below for explanation.

Mark has a running commentary on FB about his dog, his lazy dog, Sherm, and his bathroom habits (Sherm's not Mark's).  Not exactly the most tantalizing subject, but he does put a very humorous slant on all he says about Sherm. 

Mark also hates broccoli.  So, lately, instead of saying _**&^, he says "broccoli".  So, I've been countering with "kiwi".  It's not that I hate kiwi, it's just not in the "my favorite fruits" category. 

Mark has a way of exaggerating something so that it almost sounds like the truth.  And therein is the rub.  Mark is a pastor.  He speaks the truth on Sunday and Wednesday, but other days?  He's just funnin'.  I love him for his humor, believe me.  He is an interesting "preacher". 

As I said he has made my forays in FB fun and interesting and I just have to respond.


My brother Mark (he's the elderly gent, not the baby).

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Thrifty MOm

My mom was so thrifty.  She could refresh six people with two oranges.  She'd cut the orange into sections, six per half orange.  That would be twelve sections per orange.  And those sections were equal and didn't look very skinny, as they should have. 

So with 24 orange sections, and six people, we each received four sections -- or smiles as mom put it.  We would suck the juice out of a section, then eat the pulp.  Yummies in our tummies.  We had our afternoon snack or breakfast orange supply and we were all happy.

Of course with three oranges, we made out like bandits, 36 sections, 6 people, 6 sections per person.  That would be dessert after dinner. 

To this day I cannot cut oranges the way my mom did.  I mean I cannot cut even sections like she did.