Growing up in a small town in Southern New Jersey

Monday, December 22, 2014

Christmas in the 50s

It's a few days before Christmas Eve and where is our tree?  Well, we're still waiting for the price to come down to under $10 a tree before dad will buy one.  He usually waited until it was Christmas Eve evening when the trees were free, but if we begged enough, he would get it a couple of days earlier (we, being my brother and sister).

I think if we cried and complained enough he would get a tree early.  But let me take you back to a Christmas Eve when we got the tree late in the day (when they were up for grab at the tree lot).    Dad would bring home a tree that was mostly losing its bristles and leave a trail from the back door to the dining room bay window where he would work for at least an hour getting the tree into the stand and then we had to wait for him to get the lights ready.  See, here's where I have a problem.  I would have had the lights ready for the LATE tree.  Well, after he got the lights ready and on the tree we would stop for our annual Christmas Eve dinner (sausage, mashed potatoes, sour kraut, peas and a fresh loaf of Italian bread).  No seven fish dinners for us.  Dad wanted his Sausage and Kraut dinner.

After dinner we could start on the tree.  The balls were glass (I broke two more this year, I'm down to about 15 of the old, old balls from when I was a kid).   We were not permitted to touch them back in the 50s.  We were permitted to hang our school projects.  You know, those macaroni encrusted, gold painted frames with your school picture in them. 

After the balls were on the tree and it was plugged in and the lights were lit, we children were happy.  Mom was in charge of the tinsel and we had to wait until Christmas morning to see the tree with the tinsel on it.  Each piece the tinsel on the tree was hung individually, no pieces were thrown on mom's tree.  

We were put to bed early, but sleep didn't come until around midnight for us children.  We were too excited. 

On Christmas morning we were so pleased to see a decorated tree.  Still shedding!

The tree came down and went out the door for trash collection on New Year's day.

Now to the present day.  I start the week of Thanksgiving   to get all three of my trees up and decorated.  This year I was behind, but finished my third tree last week.  I usually get them all finished the day after Thanksgiving.  I must be getting old.  It takes me a much longer time to get the trees trimmed, but I love the result!


Thursday, October 9, 2014

82 Hillview Drive, Springfield, Delaware County, PA

Aunt Annie lived here and I visited as often as I was allowed or as often as the family was picked up by one of the Uncles Joe to get us there.  There were times, before I was permitted to travel by myself to Aunt Annie's that mom would take me and whoever else wanted to go by way of subway out to 69th street and then get on the train or trolley to Media where we got off in Springfield.

We loved going to Aunt Annie's.  She had all the pictures of her family in albums; you know, the old black pages with corner stickers to keep the pictures in place.  We loved looking at those pictures and she loved reminding us who all the people were.  After many years, we finally knew them all by heart and she didn't have to help us any more.  But, the first thing we'd do when we got to her place was to sit down on her sofa and look at the picture albums.

Then some of us would go downstairs and play Ping-Pong.  Yes, she had a Ping-Pong table.  What fun we had on larger family get togethers playing round-robin Ping-Pong.

My cousin Betty lived with Aunt Annie and Uncle Joe from the time she was a pre-teen until she got married (I think that's correct) and she was so much fun.  And she kept us laughing.  She would walk us to one of the parks in Springfield, not too far from Hillview Drive after she got home from school.  I can image her thoughts:  Oh, no, the Drexler kids again and I HAVE to take them to the park.  Ugh!
She never let us think that.  She was always attentive, making each of us believe we were important to her and that she enjoyed our romps in the park.

If I could get my picture loader to work, I would post a few pictures of those days.  Alas, it doesn't want to work today (or any other day in recent weeks), so you, dear reader, will have to imagine what we looked like back then.

For Throw Back Thursday...ttfn.


I have written so many times about Autumn in Runnemede, but this year, being out of Runnemede and in Kentucky I noticed something different out here.  Whether what has occurred here happened in Runnemede this year, I don't know.

I noticed that our trees turned all shades of red, yellow, purple, and dark green in early September, which was earlier than I remember since I've lived in this tree house (13 years) where I have a personal relationship almost with the trees in our "yard".

Now, it is early October and the leaves are mostly shed and that doesn't usually happen out here until November.

I remember late September as a girl.  And it was almost always cool in the evenings.  After dinner I would walk down to the pike, hang a left and walk to Clements Bridge Road, hang another left and walk to the church driveway and cut through to home.  About a 10 minute walk, unless I dawdled along the way. 

I really enjoyed September and October in Runnemede.  November was okay and I remember some before Thanksgiving snows.  Not deep snows.  But enough to cover the ground and having to be swept off the sidewalks.  I loved kicking the leaves that were unraked and those that were raked.  And I remember falling into the piles of leaves that were left until the weekend  and the leaves were reraked and put into the gutter so that the street cleaner could gather up the leaves.  What I never understood was why the leaves were raked up since it was such good mulch.  I think my mom kept a pile in the corner by the back of the garage for mulch to use in the Spring for her new plants and her annuals.
Autumn was and is the time for high-school football.  I was thinking the other day that Triton was brand new when I walked into those halls for the first time.  That was over 50 years ago.  Triton isn't a new school any more.  But I still think of it as new.  And, where did the time go?

I have a question.  Out here high school football is played on Friday nights.  When I was at Triton and for many years after I left, the football games were played on Saturday.  Are they still played on Saturday, or did they move to Friday night?  I just wondered about that.

I know the predictions for this year are a cold winter and a snowy one as well.  "Winter" meaning the colder months,  which December and November are included.  Let's hope the squirrels and wooly worms are wrong.


Old friends

When I think of old friends, I am not thinking in the present, that is in terms of my friends being of an age where we don't move as fast as we used to.  I am thinking of friends of years past, old friends.

I was recently thinking of my first friend, her name was Linda.  She lived up the block from me.  I think her dad was a carpenter because he built such neat things.  Linda was very smart and her birthday just happened to occur in the month before school started, whereas my birthday was six months later.  So, she wasn't so mucher old than I (I put the word "I" there for my younger friend Stacia, even though "than me" sounds better sometimes, no always), but she did get to go to school the year before I went and so she was ahead of me all through school, but we did other things together about the same time. 

I'm thinking about piano lessons which after a lady in our church taught us for a couple of years we went over to Hegeman's School of Music and were pretty much on the same track.  Then in high school she took up viola and I took up violin.  It was Linda's suggestion that in the summer we go early in the morning for our piano lesson because it wouldn't be so hot walking to and from there.  Smart, eh?

I remember in either her junior or senior year we practiced together so she could play for a recital, I think it was.  All I remember is practicing.  Her part was different from my part so it was a duet, but I don't remember playing it before any people.  Maybe there was much terror on my part at playing a violin duet and I have blocked it out.  Maybe Linda will read this and correct me and say it was all a dream.

As I mentioned her dad was handy -- better than handy -- with tools.  He built a wooden sliding board -- before there were the aluminum type slides and plastic slides, there were wooden slides.  It was quite tall.  So that we could slide very fast, we would from time to time get some wax paper and slide on the wax paper to make it very slippery, and then we would really zip down that thing. 

He (Uncle Ben, I called him) built Linda a play house.  It looked like a house it had windows, a door, and wasn't that small for us small people.

I glad that Linda didn't forget me as a youngster and we played together after school as long as mom let me go outside before it got too cold, and before I got too old to play with dolls.  I was glad when I was on the same time schedule as she was and that was when I started school the next year.  That year she was in Kindergarten was hard for me because all my other church friends were on the other side of Clements Bridge Road, a relatively busy street which I was not permitted to go near, so I had to play by myself until she got out of school for the day.

Thank you, Linda, for being my friend.


Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Those were the days

A former classmate of mine recently posted some pictures of her recent time at the shore -- Ocean City, NJ to be exact. 

One of my favorite places.

I remember as a child and into my teen years, Uncle Joe Egitto would arrive at our home at around  8 a.m. and we all would squeeze into his automobile, throw some blankets and a basket full of lunch food into the trunk.  We would always go to the boardwalk for dinner.

Our favorite beach was the 9th street area until that grew too crowded and then we went south to 21st street beach. 

No matter how cold the water was, our day at the shore was always so much fun.  Sandwiches that collected sand as the wind blew strongly enough to stir up the sand.  Kool-Aid (strawberry flavor).  A beach umbrella if we got too hot. 

Never did we get any sun tan lotion put on us -- Did they even have such a thing back then?  If we got burnt, when we got home, mom would wipe us down with Witch Hazel, which cooled us off and by the next morning our red skin was a nice shade of tan. 

Aunt Annie and Uncle Joe were so much fun.  Uncle Joe would make sure if we got into the icy water he was there to keep us afloat.  (if the water temp was 72 degrees, we thought it was warm -- and the degrees were always posted)

How did we get into the chilly water?  Well, we'd run from where our umbrella was into the water, screaming when we took those first steps into the ocean, then after a few minutes we would be acclimated to the water temperature.

Aunt Annie usually had a game with her, or she would help us with our sand castles. 

A day at the shore.  It was so much fun.  I wish I lived closer to Ocean City so I could just sit on the beach and water the younger generation have the same fun as I had as a child.


Tuesday, June 10, 2014


I am reading a series of books by Patrick E. Craig.  It's the series of an Amish woman who was in a car wreck when she was four and found by an Amish woman.  And since there was no way to find her parents, if they were still alive, the Amish couple was permitted by the State of Pennsylvania to adopt the little girl.

When the girl became a teenager she wanted to find her birth parents.  The story takes place in the late 1950s.  It is called the coming home series.

What has impressed me is the way the writer has placed his thoughts about HOME in his books.  And it is just the way I feel about Runnemede.

While I only grew up there, my husband and I returned every year to visit mom and dad, and I left not knowing whether any particular visit would be my last visit with them as a couple and as individuals.

Even after they passed away I still tried to get HOME every year.  That has now been reduced to once in a great while (like every five years or so).  While I can still walk the streets nearly the old house and remember this house where Joan lived, and that house where Sue and Donna lived, or the house in which Marilyn lived, it revives those precious memories of friends I had as a girl and brings to my mind how much I miss my friends and especially my home (house) and that attic bedroom with no heat in the winter that I enjoyed in my teen years and early 20s. 

My only regret is that I didn't pump my mom and dad for more information about their early years as a married couple.  How did they meet?  How long after meeting did they know they loved each other?  How did my father handle the death of his mother when he was only 9 years old?  How did my mother handle the death of her father when she was only 8 or 9 years old?  What was the past history of mom's family in Italy, and what was dad's family history in the Amish country in Pennsylvania.  He did mention the Amish family farm he visited many times when he was a boy, but I really wasn't paying much attention.  What ever happened to the Casper bath-house in Seaside Heights when his grandmother and grandfather died?  I vaguely remember dad having to do something legal during that time, and he talked about the "shore" house and business.  Where did it go?  Who bought it? 

I will still go home with so many memories, and like Patrick Craig says in his book (not a quote here) home will always be the place where you grew up and those memories will always be the brightest.

I loved my HOME in Runnemede, NJ.


Sunday, June 8, 2014

I lost a grandchild today.

I know this post will probably offend some people, but, you know what?  I don't really care.

I lived in Runnemede for 23 years, and in Gloucester for two years.  During that time I had my son, and was pregnant with my daughter when the Army moved us to Virginia.  Then we were moved to Brooklyn (Fort Hamilton) where we lived for almost three years.  During that time I had both of my daughters.

Also during the latter period of my time in Runnemede the Supreme Court banned school prayer and in the early 70s said a girl/woman could have an abortion of a baby in the first two trimesters.  Even back then there were reports of babies who were being saved in their fifth month, very small babies.  Now, it's more common for an early birthed baby to be saved. 

Today my youngest child lost a child.  She carried it for almost 4 months.  When she got to the ER she saw her child a little baby with hands and feet curled in a fetal position, but no heart beat.  NO HEART BEAT.

I was so looking forward to that child as was my daughter and her large family of husband and 7 children. 

All I can think about is all those BABIES that are being thrown into medical waste receptacles because someone made a "mistake". 

Back to Runnemede in the 40s, 50s, and 60s.  If a woman/girl made a mistake they had to live with it.  I know there must have been girls in my high school who got pregnant without being married and were sent away to their aunt or a home for unwed mothers to have their baby and no one would know.  I never heard of coat hangers being used to get rid of a baby, or doctors who would purposely take a live baby from a mother.  There were no day-care centers in high schools back then.  And I really don't know what I think about that.

I lost a grandbaby today.  It was taken from its mother, my daughter, into the arms of Jesus, I believe, and I also believe that one day I will see that baby and somehow, I will know that baby, and two other grandbabies that have gone to heaven. 

How many other babies will there be in heaven who no one will claim as their own?  Think about it.

And if there is just one girl out there who is contemplating getting rid of a blob, I ask, have you ever referred during your pregnancy to the "blob" inside of me.  I'll bet you have referred to your baby.  Please keep your baby and if you can't take care of it, let someone adopt it.  Please save your babies life.

I am mourning the loss of this child as if I had held it and laughed with it and took its picture, and then it died.  It just died early and I didn't get to hold him or her, or laugh with him or her, of take a picture of him or her.  God knows our grief and He will take care of the feeling of loss and give me joy in the morning.


Thursday, June 5, 2014

June -- Let there be light!

I love the month of June.  I decided just today that it is my favorite month.  This really has nothing to do with my growing up in Runnemede, except that I was permitted to stay and play outdoors longer in the evenings, and really didn't have to come in until after the lightning bugs were doing their thing. 

The month of June is the lightest and brightest month of the year.  Think about it.  The longest day of the year in the northern hemisphere is on June 21.  Leading up to that date we see and feel the sun for longer and longer times each day until it is the day that I love, June 21 (or there about). 

I am in awe of the change that occurs as we enter June each year and as we leave it.  I can actually read by the light of the rising sun at 5:30 in the morning.  And here I am working at my computer in a relatively dark room because the blinds are shuttered, and I can see well enough to read.  I love it!

I will be going out onto my sun porch later this evening, for a few minutes of fresh air before I actually go to bed and hope to see some lightning bugs.  If I see them, which I haven't since we moved to Kentucky, I will really be happy.

So, June, yes June is definitely my favorite month of the year -- except maybe December because of the season, and because after the 21st of December we begin to get more light each day.  Having given it a few minutes thought, I still think June is my favorite month!

One last thought -- I know Jersey has lots of mosquitos.  Where I live we are relatively mosquito free.  I wonder if the ratio of mosquitos to lightning bugs is the reason I haven't seen many lightning bugs around here.



I think the following repost (from Facebook) lets you all know how things were in my early years.

My mom and I used to do the laundry on Monday, wring it out in between the rollers, and then hang it outdoors to dry.  No matter the weather, except when the temperatures would freeze the unsqueezed water and the clothes wouldn't dry until spring. :)  Sound familiar? 

She would then hang the cloths in her immaculately clean basement (except for the ever present thousand leggers) until the clothing all dried from the heat of the coal furnace.  Oh, those were the days.

It was daddy's job to keep the coal furnace going so it wasn't too cold in the morning when we woke up, but it was mom's job to clean up after him and his droppings (of coal).  

So every Tuesday, she would dampen the clothing that had to be ironed and put it in a basket and then she would start my training in ironing.  The first thing I ever ironed -- down in the basement -- was my father's handkerchiefs.  I had to make sure they were wrinkle free and square.  If I ironed them incorrectly I would get more of a parallelogram -- and yes, Mark, I know that a square is a parallelogram, but most folks think of a different shape for the parallelogram. 

Then when I had gotten that down pat, we moved to mom's handkerchiefs -- a little more delicate and it used a different temperature on the iron.  No steam irons in those days.  Not yet.  They were coming and while they were okay, there was nothing like dampened clothing ironed without steam.

So, there you are.  Ironing 101.  Soon to follow was the Bendix automatic clothes washer.  I used to sit in front of the door with the window and watch the clothes spin round and round. 


Monday, May 26, 2014

Memorial Day - 60 years ago.

How times have changed.  Sixty years ago when I was a youngster (11 years old) or younger or a little bit older, Memorial Day was a holiday when everything, and I mean everything, including most gas stations, was closed.

It was a time when we all went to the flagpole in front of the police station/town hall/library to honor those who had returned from World War II, those who hadn't, and during that time we were in a police action (?) in Korea.

There was no parade, that I recall, because I only remember the gigantic 4th of July parade.  It was a day for family -- repeat family -- picnics.

The day started early for mom and us children.  Dad was usually on his way to Tri-state Bible Conference, if not he just stayed home and studied.  But mom and the children were going to Aunt Annie's for the annual Memorial Day family picnic (4th of July was usually at our house). 

We looked forward to this day for weeks.  We were going all the way to Springfield, PA (about a 45 minute drive) and we were going in a car!  Since our regular modes of transportation were bike or bus, going anywhere in a car, no matter how sick we got, was a treat.

There was no Memorial Day weekend, unless Memorial Day actually fell on a Saturday or Sunday or Monday.  If Memorial Day fell on Sunday, the holiday was celebrated on Monday.  A day off from school.  And it was a reminder that we would be out of school in two weeks. 

Memorial Day -- May 30.  Always May 30 -- once every decade or so on a Sunday, celebrated on Monday.

Today?  Everything is open, there are a few small town parades, and many family picnics. 
Here where we live today, there is a flag raising ceremony to honor those who have served (we still have a couple of WWII vets as neighbors), lots of Viet Nam vets, and a few Iraq/Afghanistan vets living in our small community (where everybody knows your name).  And a time to pay homage to those service people who have passed on. Then we pile into the community center for coffee and donuts.  That's how we celebrate today. 

My family is usually scattered on Memorial Day weekend, unless we plan a year in advance that we're having a picnic at one of the many parks nearby.  We especially like the airport playing area (small airport) for the children and there is a lot of shade there for the adults, as well as enough older children to watch out for the younger children.  But, as I said we have to plan a year in advance. 

This year is an off-year.  Next year we will be celebrating at the park.  Mama and papa will provide the KFC, the girls (ladies) will provide the potato salad, chips, olives and pickles, desserts, and drinks.  We'll meet and greet around three in the afternoon and party until around seven, which is when the grandparents and younger grandchildren poop out, and we'll all go home. 

I have loved Memorial Day since I was a child.  I don't know what our children remember or what my grandchildren will remember of our family MD celebration, but I hope they have the fond memories I have.


Tuesday, May 13, 2014


I wish I had a picture of mom's lilac bush (tree) in full bloom.  I said that wrong.  She had two purple bushes the size of trees, and one white lilac which didn't grow as well as the purple ones and was only about six feet tall. 

Oh, how I miss the sweet, sweet smell of those bushes, and the cut flowers through our tiny home. 

Mom also had a huge lavender bush just by the back porch on the west side of the steps.  I had a really big bush.  It's gone now.  It didn't survive the winter and the landscape hackers where we live now.

All I remember of spring was mom's forsythia bush which was a yearly chore for her to cut back.  It grew like a weed.  Then there were the honey suckle bushes which were backed up against the chicken coops.  The chicken coops no longer exist, nor does the honeysuckle. 

Next we all looked forward to the lily-of-the-valley which mom had planted against the east wall of the house and it multiplied.  She was very careful when she worked with the lily-of-the-valley because it was the home of black widow spiders.  There is no longer a lily-of-the-valley along the east wall of the house, which makes me sad.

Then came the roses, and mom loved roses (her name was Rose) and she planted a new one every year.

Every spring she would look through the seed and plant catalogs and decide which rose she wanted.  I remember the Peace rose, the Sterling Silver Rose, the Crimson Glory rose, and yes her Mrs. Minaver rose (love that movie).  I remember the year she ordered the Sterling Silver rose.  It was a new rose and she wasn't sure about ordering it.  It was a toss-up between that rose and another climbing rose.  Sterling Silver won out.  And it was beautiful.  I remember when it bloomed and mom nurtured that one bloom until we all (the all-inclusive Italian family) saw it and agreed it was, in fact, the color of silver. 

Being the little one I was, I thought it looked like lavender.

Most of her roses are gone now.  Some are still there and give off their wonderful smell late in the spring and if fortunate, another blooming late in the summer.. 
Last, but not least, was mom's irises.  In May she went to a garden near Springfield, PA which has dozens of iris plants.  Even I enjoyed walking through that garden and looking at the plants.  I dug up a couple of her iris plants and planted them along my back fence at the home in which we live prior to moving to our final home.  They are still there, putting forth many  more blooms than I ever got from them.  Of course they are over 20 years old at this point.

Thanks mom for the memories!


Thursday, April 24, 2014

Away for a long time

I think the winter blahs got ahold of me and that's why I didn't add to my BLOG.  However, I have been keeping lists of things I remembered about Runnemede and my family during the 40s, 50s, and early 60s. 

The weather has been extremely cold here in Northern Kentucky every since early December.  I've lived out here for 39 years and I don't remember a colder winter, and I don't feel like looking up the weather records for the years I've lived here.  If someone else would like to take that on, so be it.  It is now Spring, but the nights are still cold, and there is a snow storm ravaging the Midwest.  Will it reach here?  I don't know.  I hope not.

Now, I have to admit we have had colder weather in winter, but the number of below freezing days, I think is a record.  It is for the time I've been here, for you researchers, is 1975 to 2014.  And I know we had a lot of snow.  I guess if I watched the 11 p.m. news I'd know all these little tidbits of trivia, but since I have to get up early most days (5 a.m.), I am in bed most nights by 9 p.m.  Okay, too much information.

I remember one winter in Runnemede and it was not only cold, it was snowy.  And I remember one specific week in the winter of '58 - '59.  It was in early March.  School didn't re-open for a week.

We had a lot of snow on March 3 and 4.  I remember this vividly because it was my 16th birthday and I was looking forward to getting a bubble-gum corsage from my friends.  Well it snowed and it was one of those wet, heavy snows, and it took out the electricity in most, if not all, of Runnemede and the surrounding territory (towns - Bellmawr, Glendora, Blackwood, Turnersville).  It was one of many snow storms we had that winter.  Much like this winter (in NJ that is).

The electricity was out.  Did I mention that?  Oh, yes, I did.  What I didn't mention was that we were without electricity for over a week.  Do you know how cold a house can get when the temperature at night goes down into the teens, and only gets into the mid-thirties during the day?  Cold, very cold.  You can see your breath - cold.  And they didn't insulate homes that well back then.  I know in the unfinished part of our attic there was no insulation, just boards and then roofing material.

Dad got a kerosene stove and he had that on until about 1 a.m. (when he went to bed) and then since there was no school and we could sleep in, he turned it back on around 9 a.m.  My sister and I were really cold in the attic, only when we got out from under the many blankets and down quilt we had.  Slippers were a necessary item, however, we both wore socks to bed, so the fact that we didn't have slippers was only that -- the fact that we didn't have slippers.  We didn't need them.  In that particular year -- multi-colored wool socks were in style with our penny loafers, so we just doubled up on our socks.  I had bought several pairs ($1 a pair, which was expensive back then), so on the cold feet front we were all set.

Day after day we had no school, but we also had no heat.  The schools couldn't be heat either, so until the electricity came back into service, we stayed home and mostly inside, except for daily sled rides (down suicide hill) and we found a place to ice skate, so we did that also. 

Just about the time we got used to the cold, the lights came back on and we all welcomed Spring a couple of weeks later.

If I could apologize to my mom I would, knowing now that four children and two adults in a 1100 square foot home (including the attic - uninsulated) must have driven her nuts. 


Tuesday, January 21, 2014

A snowy rememberance

It seems to me that in winter, Runnemede was quite snowy.

I also remember my dad running down Second Avenue to the  Pike hauling me on a sled behind him, and me telling him to slow down, which, of course, he didn't.  I'm sure he was aware of safety, and if I fell from the sled it wouldn't hurt me, I mean, how fast can an old man of 40 run?  (Note:  40 isn't old, but to a 3-year-old it is.)

I loved those days and the attention my dad paid me.

I am also glad I grew up in the days before Second Avenue became a "through" street from Clements Bridge to Central and Central to the Pike at 8th Avenue.  Now days, because of the increased traffic, my joy and thrill of having dad pull me on the sled would never have happened.

This is one of the things I remember as I watch another snowy day here in Kentucky.


Friday, January 17, 2014


Why do some things we smell bring back such pleasant memories?

The other night I made spaghetti sauce and I used sausage instead of meatballs to flavor the sauce.  It was delicious.  It tasted just like the best sauce in the world, as far as I'm concerned.  That sauce was the sauce made by Aunt Rita.

Between Christmas and New Year's each year we would go to visit uncle Joe and Aunt Rita and stay for dinner.  The best dinner in the world that left me groggy from so much food.  And, I kept going back for more.  Rigatoni and sausage sauce, baked chicken breasts, anti-pasta, garlic bread, and some sort of dessert.  Since I'm not a dessert person, that part didn't stick with me.  But I'm sure it was my dad's favorite part of the dinner.

Being mostly Italian, there were great cooks in our family.  Aunt Annie's spaghetti didn't taste at all like Aunt Rita's.  My mom's spaghetti didn't taste like Aunt Rita's, and mom kept asking Aunt Rita for her sauce recipe, and Aunt Rita would give her hints from time to time, but she never gave her the full recipe.

I would hope that some of the smells of our home, as the children were growing up, and now here in the condo, would evoke happy memories as they get a whiff of a smell that brings back that happy memory.

To my Aunt Rita, thanks for making such a good meal for our families to enjoy at the happiest time of the year.  She is not with us any more, but I shall always remember that sauce.  Mmmmmm.


Thursday, January 2, 2014

Memories of Christmases long, long ago

Years ago there was a beautiful young woman.  She was engaged to a handsome young man.  He was 29 years old.  They got married in 1937 and had their first child in 1943.  The beautiful woman was my mother (Rose), the handsome dude was my dad (Carl) and the child was me (Judi).

A few years later when I was four the Christmas month of December was full of events, gaiety, love, excitement, and food.  I mention this because it's the first Christmas I have any memory of.  I think that's because my friend Linda Wallace and I both wanted the same doll for Christmas.  I don't remember what Linda got, but I know I got a really nice doll, which I still have, and it is dressed in a dress that was mine 70 years ago, and a sweater/hat/booties set that was mine back when I was a SMALL baby.  I emphasize the word SMALL because that size for me went away after my third child was born. 

So in 1947, there was me, my sister Debbie, and my brother Mark.  My brother Carl was born in 1949.

Mom seemed to be very happy with four children cramped into two small bedrooms.  The baby and crib were in her and dad's bedroom, and Deb and I were in a double bed in the back bedroom, the only room in the house with a very, very small closet, and Mark was put onto a bunk size trundle bed in the corner of the room.  No privacy there for any of us.

No matter our lot, Mom always made Christmas nice for all of us.  I remember her making a fun job out of curling ribbon for 100 boxes of chocolate which were handed out at the Christmas program one year.  She made the chore of sewing 20 aprons on her old Singer sewing machine a fun job and it was a "grown-up" job, because the material had to be cut just so and she let me do the cutting.  I was around nine years old when I was blessed with that job.  I could go on.  I'm sure my sister and brothers could add to the list.

Mom always seemed to take things in stride, calmly, while Dad was the one who panicked if one of his children had a dirty diaper, or threw up.  Poor Daddy.  Mom got the praise and dad got the disapproval for his actions.

Mom to me was the prettiest mother (other than Mrs. Lott) in my classroom -- my other peers' moms couldn't compete at all with her looks.  Mrs. Lott being the exception.  Imagine that.  Two pastor's wives being the prettiest moms.

I was always proud that my mom was my mom.  And Christmas came too soon after school started.  We had a lot to do to get ready for it.


Glad Tidings

Yes, Glad Tidings.  Uncle Bill, who's been ready to go Home for several years now, finally is at Home with his Saviour, Jesus Christ.  He died quietly at home yesterday. 

Also, Sad Tidings.  I want to express my sorrow (and joy) to Jean and David.

Uncle Bill (Manduka) as a blessing to me and Alan for all of our lives together, including when we first started dating.  He drove us all over South Jersey to multi-church activities where we could meet and mingle with teens from churches not located in Runnemede. 

After he got his e-mail set up he was a great source of information regarding folks from Runnemede, Mount Calvary Union Church, and his family.

I thank God for Uncle Bill.  And I'm sure there are many others who were blessed by him and his wife, Marian.

One day I shall see him again, but not until, as a friend of mine recently put it, I've walked and talked with Jesus for 300 years or so.  Well, since there is no time in heaven, I will see Uncle Bill after I've talk with Jesus for a while. 


Christmas decorations


Earlier today I wrote a rather long Facebook blurb and then decided it should be a BLOG.

I remember in Runnemede dad would wait until he could get a tree for free (late Christmas Eve) or when the trees were reduced from $5 to $1, Christmas Eve day.  I think the lot was next to the bank located at the corner of Lindsay Avenue and CBR. 

Well, we didn't get the tree up until late Christmas Eve, but my mother started the day after Thanksgiving and put up her special ornaments.  I remember a blue angel with yellow hair and gold wings and a gold halo.  I don't know whatever happened to that special porcelain piece, but I can see it in my mind's eye.  And that particular decoration would move around!  Yes, it would. 

One day it would be artfully surrounded with greens set on the top shelf of a fairly high bookcase on the left side facing the bookcase, the clock would be in the middle, and a candle would be on the other end of the case.  Another day would find that same angel on top of the piano, on a mirror my mom saved for Christmas, and which was once again decorated with fresh greens.  Then we would find it on the dining room table, then on mom's desk.  And that rotation went on until late January.  Mom just didn't want to put the decorations away. 

So, I guess I have inherited that trait.  My sister hangs on to her decorations also.

So, I'm wondering, am I just slothful in not wanting to put my decorations and trees away?  Or is it because I really like the way they perk up my home?  With no children anymore, does it bring into my home the feeling of children?

I have to say, mom kept up the practice until I was in my late 30s at least.  After that I think she was just too tired to do the work. 

When finally all the Christmas things were put away, my mom, my sister, and I would occasionally head down to the basement and open the lid of the large trunk that held the things from Bavaria and the Christmas balls from there as well.  And we would unwrap that Angel.  What fun we had on those days. 

And if I remember correctly, that was a rainy day activity.  The boys would just ride around the basement in circles on their trikes while we "girls" would think about and enjoy Christmas day over and over.

Thanks Mom.  I'm glad you liked keeping some things around longer than one week for us to enjoy.  I hope that my children have appreciated that I have done that as well.

And I have to thank Tamara and her family who for the last six Christmases have put up my trees and put around the house my many snowmen.  And folks winter has just started, so the snowmen stay out until February!  You see, I have someone to help make my home bright, an advantage my mom didn't have.  Tamara has made my hospital Christmases bright as well.