Growing up in a small town in Southern New Jersey

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.