Growing up in a small town in Southern New Jersey

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.