Growing up in a small town in Southern New Jersey

Monday, January 12, 2015


I think I wrote about this a long time ago, but I'm going to write about it (again?).

Icing has nothing to do with cake.

Where I live in Kentucky we get a lot of ice storms.  We just dodged one this weekend.  Get it?  Icing?

I can only really remember one ice storm in Runnemede and I think I was in 8th grade at the time.  I know I was attending Downing school, and I only went there for K-2, and then 8th grade.  So, I'm pretty sure I was in 8th grade because I didn't have ice skates in K-2. 

We were sent home shortly after lunch time.  Now, I lived across from Downing, and went home for lunch and didn't notice ice when I went back to school for the afternoon.  However, by whatever time they dismissed us (and I know it was pretty early in the afternoon) the playground and steps were a sheet of ice, so was 2nd Ave. I slid from the steps at the Girls' door down to the steps leading onto the side walk at 2nd Avenue, then walked very carefully home, getting onto grass as soon as possible -- more traction there.

The storm must have dumped quite a bit of ice, because school was closed for a couple of days.  Somebody, I can't remember who, decided to try ice-skating on the playground, and once I saw that it worked I called Linda Lott and we had four great days of ice-skating after that storm. 

It was during that spate of days -- and let me assure you I was skating from early a.m. to dark -- I taught myself to spin, skate backwards, jump (one twist) and that's about it.

I wish I could still skate, alas my bones are too brittle to even think about it.

I hope some of you who have an "icing" his winter, get to try some ice-skating.  I recall it was great fun, even with all the bumps and bruises!


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.