Growing up in a small town in Southern New Jersey

Saturday, May 30, 2015


I have to admit that when I get nervous I laugh -- or giggle.  It's a plague that has sometimes been a bad thing ever since I was a teenager.

Case(s) in point.

I was in a girls trio at church and we often would sing for the morning or evening service in what was called "special music".  That's when a group or person would provide spiritual music for the church congregation. 

I am an alto.  I can sing the second part naturally, and sometimes I can sing tenor.  I remember several incidences when our girls trio at church was asked to sing and I would start giggling when we started into our song because I was nervous.  I wish I could remember who was in that trio with me.  I know Kathy Kenders was, but I can't remember who the other person was. 

When I played the violin with a couple of other instrumentalists, yes I would giggle, but I didn't have to sing and voice any words.  Giggling and singing don't go hand-in-hand.

Well, in my senior year at Triton I tried out for All-State Chorus (at our chorus teacher's suggestion).  I also with several others from Triton tried out.  I was paired with three others (not from Triton), and I was singing (or supposed to be singing) the alto. 

Unfortunately, as soon as my group began singing, I began giggling -- the nerves set in.  We (my group) had rehearsed the song we were given (everyone who tried out sang the same thing) and were flawless and sounded really good, until...

We went before the judges and I started giggling and I couldn't stop, even though the judges were kind enough to allow my group to start over SEVERAL TIMES.  Yes, I blew it for myself and perhaps the other members of my group, I don't know.

When we got back to school on Monday after the Saturday auditions, our teacher was kind enough to tell us who was chosen, but said nothing about who wasn't or why.  I'm sure my giggling knocked me out. 



A love story

I was talking to Debbie earlier this week and she told me something I had never heard before about my mom and dad.

Daddy was moved to North Carolina when he could no longer take care of himself and lived with Debbie.  She asked him one day how he met my mother.  This is what she told me.  Ladies, get your hankies out.

It seems that early in Dad's preaching career (which was over 65 years long) he was invited to speak at a Baptist church in South Philadelphia.  As he entered the rear of the church he saw "an angel playing the church piano."  That angel was named Rose Sbaraglia.  He told Deb it was love at first sight for him.

My mother wasn't admitting to her feelings for dad because ---

Mom's sister Anne was the one who had connected with my father and got him the preaching gig in South Philly.  Aunt Annie thought my dad was wonderful, and being the good sister my mom was, she wasn't about to encroach on Aunt Annie's "boyfriend", even though it was a one-sided thing (Aunt Annie and my dad).  Dad was having none of it.  He loved my mom and was determined to win her.

Yes, mom knew of my father's love at first sight.  Eventually, Aunt Annie got the picture and gave Daddy over to my mother.

He talked about his love for my mom whenever I visited him after she died.  And he wrote some pretty wonderful love letters to her.  My brother has the letters in his files. 

So, that's the story of how my dad and mom met, fell in love, and eventually married.


PS:  I recently posted a picture of my mom on Facebook.  She does look like an angel in it.  Also on my home page is a picture of mom and dad the day after they were wed.  If you want to see them you can go to

Monday, February 16, 2015

Bad boys.

I imagine many of you know who the bad boys are, but I'll start at the beginning.  I've been "concepting' this for weeks.

I don't remember what time of year it was, or what year it was, all I know is that it was one really bad, bad evening, not only for me, but for my brothers, Markie and Diddle.  Somehow my sister, Debbie, even though she was involved, got off with a smile from mommy.

I was "baby sitting" while my parents were at an evening service at the church.  I hated "baby sitting' chores because my brothers really were bad little boys.

Well, this evening, unbeknownst to me they got into the cough syrup.  Cough syrup -- high alcohol content.  They were LITTLE boys. 

After sharing a bottle of the syrup, they decided to play Ramar of the Jungle (after a popular TV show in the 50s) and got out my mother's largest knives.  I think my sister helped with that one.  And thinking they were hacking their way through the jungle with said knives, they decided to hack away at the doorway into the kitchen.  Yes, that's right.  They chopped away at the door frame.

The evidence of this dastardly deed is still visibly today, or at least it was in 2011, the last time I was in my childhood home.

I sent my drunk sister over to the church to get my mother, who ran right home (about 200 feet).  Needless to say, she was not please, but not nearly as not pleased as my father was after church was over.

Did I ever babysit them again?  I don't remember.  And truthfully, I only remember that one night because the story expands with each telling! :)


For more information, Facebook John Mark Drexler and ask him.

Thunder snow

After watching Jim Cantore's "thundersnow" video all day today (we're having our first snow, so I've been watching the weather channel, which didn't exist when I lived in Runnemede), I decided to write a short epistle on my first remembrance of thundersnow.

My husband, Alan, and I had only been married 4 months.  It was Christmas Eve.  (Make that 4 months and 2 days).  It was our first Christmas as a married couple.

We knew we were going to spend several days with his parents in Ventnor, NJ, because they were heading back to Kenya (missionaries) for another 5-year stint, and we were spending Christmas eve-eve and Christmas Eve with my parents.  We were travelling to Ventnor on Christmas morning.

Well, wouldn't you know?  It started to snow on Christmas Eve around seven o'clock.  It was warmish, and the snow was big, heavy, flakes, coming down pretty hard.  All of a sudden I saw what I thought was lightening.

How could that be?  It was snowing.  Then I heard what I thought was thunder.  Well, it was snow thunder, and it happened several more times during that "winter storm" which was not named, by the way.

Alan and I loved snow and playing in it, making snow angels, having snowball fights, building snowmen, etc.  We were young, what more can I say.

Well, about the time we were leaving for Ventnor on Christmas morning another thunder-snow-storm came rolling through.  When we left there was 13 inches of snow on the ground in Runnemede.  On our way down to Ventnor, the snow accumulations became less and less and so did the snow falling earthward.

It was certainly a Christmas to be remembered.  Our first as husband and wife, and our first experience with thunder snow.


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