Growing up in a small town in Southern New Jersey

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.