Growing up in a small town in Southern New Jersey

Sunday, September 30, 2007


I found these pictures today. Imagine that. I've been cataloging and scrap booking pictures for two plus years now and it never ceases to amaze me when I find new ones. Where do they all come from? They're like dust bunnies, they just appear, except I really don't want to get rid of the pictures like I do dust bunnies.
Our family was avid picture takers. It seems dad's family (Drexlers) took the most, at least before his mom died in 1918, after that there aren't too many pictures of the Drexler family until dad started going with my mom, then the pictures of dad and his family started up again. I don't know whether maybe that's when dad got his own box camera (which I still have) or not. But I remember him taking pictures of us children lots of times.
Mom's family took lots of pictures, too, especially in the late 30s and early 40s. Of course I have dozens and dozens of pictures of my mother and father during their courting days and early marriage years.
I love these old black and white pictures. In fact, my digital, of course, takes color pictures, but I often print them out in black and white. It's gives a new dimension to the photos.
Back to old pictures. In reminiscing pictures are so important. When you look at them they evoke memories that may be hidden in the recesses of your mind. Take a look at the pictures above. Most of you are too young to even know these people, many of whom are related to you. But you oldsters, will remember these folks with love and affection.
The pictures above have the following relatives in them.
Top picture: Aunt Annie, front, Uncle Joe Sbaraglia, back
Left picture: Standing left to right: Dad and mom (Rose and Carl Drexler), Aunt Rita and Uncle Joe Sbaraglia; seated middle is Ruth Evangelista Allison (the others I don't know)
Right picture: Aunt Rita (left), Uncle Joe Sbaraglia (right), mom (Rose Drexler) in middle seated. Others in picture, unknown

Saturday, September 29, 2007


This is the third time I've started this particular episode. I had to completely shut down my computer in order to get into Blogspot. Don't know what was wrong. Anyway, I had written a nice, chatty, opening paragraph about odors and aromas and how they bring back memories -- or so I've heard..

This is a picture of my mom and dad, me and my sister (in my mom's arms). I can tell it's not a Sunday because mom is wearing socks, not stockings. She'd never wear socks to church!

I remember the smell of an incoming thunderstorm. I supposed it was because Runnemede is down wind from the Delaware River, and the odor of the river was prominent at times just before a storm broke out. Even if the weather forecast didn't call for storms, we knew one was coming anyway.

Even now if I go into a damp basement, it reminds me of the cellar at home -- the cellar at home was where mom did the laundry and hung it to dry on wintry days or if it was raining outside. We didn't get a dryer until I was a teenager. If I smell someone smoking, it reminds me of my Uncle Joe (Sbaraglia) because he was our only family member that smoked. If I go into an Italian deli, the smell reminds me of Vince's Deli that was on Clements Bridge Road in Runnemede. See where I'm going with this? No, well, read on.

My mom wore perfume. The smell always gave me a headache. Now, she didn't wear perfume all the time, only when she was going to church, or going to visit someone, or going into Philadelphia with me. How do you tell your mother than her perfume makes you sick? I think the brand she wore was To a Wild Rose, or something like that. Dad gave her some other kinds of perfumes, but she always wore the rose scent. It didn't smell much like roses to me, though.

Anyway, whenever we would go into Philadelphia, we had to take the bus, because as I mentioned before my father wouldn't own a car (he thought they were murder weapons). So, she and I would get on the bus, she with her perfume freshly adorning her wrists and neck, and I without perfume, just knowing I was going to be sick or get a headache. If I could just get into Philly without getting sick or getting a headache, I'd have a great time.

Our first stop (assuming I wasn't sick) was always Woolworth's lunch stand. We got hot dogs. Mom always got buttermilk. Yucky stuff. She got me an orange ade. I would have preferred a coke, but for some reason soda was not permitted in my early days. Anyway, we would sit at the counter and munch on our hot dogs and she'd drink her buttermilk. One time I asked if I could taste it. One taste, and that soured me on buttermilk for the rest of my life. It's okay to add to recipes that call for it because you can't taste it, but to drink the stuff? No way! I'll stick to orange ade, thank you very much.

After we ate our meal we would browse through Woolworth's. She loved to go to the flower department -- they had live plants in Woolworth's at that time. I liked to visit the paper-doll section.

Don't misunderstand -- we always had a purpose to go into Philly -- and it was not to get hot dogs and buttermilk at Woolworth's. Usually, it was to go to Pinebrook Book Store to get something for church, like a new song book that had just been published, or a new flannel graph lesson. Or, it was to get me or my siblings new clothes, but since I was the oldest, I had the honor of accompanying mom while the other three stayed home with dad. Some times we'd have to go visit Dr. Feldman (dad's favorite chiropractor)--his office was in a building with a man-operated elevator, at 15th and Chestnut Street.

Dr. Feldman would come to visit us once in a while, just because he and dad were friends, I suppose. He gave my father a large painting of a river scene -- which my daughter Becky now owns -- and which we loved to look at. And if we were looking at it and dad saw us, he would always ask if we saw the cow hiding behind the tree. There was NO cow hiding behind any tree in that picture, but dad was a tease. Let me get back on track.

After we picked up whatever we went to Philly to get, we'd head over to a candy store on Chestnut street -- I can't remember the name of it, but mom always bought us some fudge. Us, meaning my father. She would share one piece with me, the rest was put in a box for dad. He liked vanilla fudge. Those were the days when there were three flavors -- vanilla, chocolate, and peanut butter.

Then we'd head back to Market Street, down near Wanamaker's (13th & Market) and get on a bus and head home again. By this time the perfume had worn off and I didn't have to worry about getting sick or getting a headache.

Believe it or not, I still have a bottle of that stuff, and it still stinks!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Old fashioned things

You kids probably think we old folks are nuts thinking about the good old days -- days when, yes, we had school when it snowed, and we walked to school in snow up to our waists, for miles and miles. NOT!

Actually, we did go to school, at least through grade school, through every snowstorm but one, and that day, the snow was up to my waist. I was in fifth grade, probably had grown to a height of 4 feet 7 or 8. I tried to get to school, got as far as the corner, and Mr. Kline (he was the janitor at the school across the street, where I didn't attend at that time) told me school was canceled due to the snow -- oh, yeah, it was still snowing, hard. And if I had walked it would only have been one mile, not five or six, and while some of it was up-hill, most of it was level ground. One thought, coming home would have been downhill. Too bad I couldn't take a sled with me to school!

Anyway, I was thinking about some things you kids know nothing about, or haven't had the pleasure to experience. One thing is a typewriter -- a typewriter was a mechanical machine that had a keyboard, like today's computer keyboard, but you had to press a little harder on the keys to get them to mechanically moved to hit a ribbon that was inked that pressed into the paper and made a letter. I have two typewriters on my plant shelf, which are being used as decoration. In fact, we bought one (a Remington) this summer when we were in Wyoming. It works better than any old manual typewriter I had (not electric typewriter, that came later, after I was in high school) I ever had when I was using the old fashioned typewriters.

In those days, there were no copiers. If you wanted copies of something you had to make a carbon copy. And if you made a mistake, the backup key didn't automatically erase the mistake, you had to use a special eraser, which never worked. Basically, it put a hole in the paper. When I got into my mid-teens, some enterprising person invented white-out (most of you don't know that that is either). It was white goop that you put over the mistake you made, then you backspaced, and retyped the correct letter into that place. You had to be there.

I remember working for a lawyer in Philadelphia when I was in my early 20s. In a law firm, you could make no mistakes, because there were multiple copies of everything, usually five, and if you made a mistake you had to start over, because the copies could have no erasures on them. I learned to be very accurate in my typing, and until I had my stroke back in 2001, I was a very good typist (keyboardist?). Believe me, I'm very thankful for computers and the ability to make a mistake, and just backup and do it again, correctly.

Another item that I didn't have when I grew up was something as simple as a "highlighter." You know, those yellow or pink pens that you use in textbooks to let you know that what your making yellow or pink is something you think you need to remember. They came out my second year in college (1962) and I bought a box of them. I thought they were the neatest invention ever.

I already mentioned xerox copies or photocopies. Since Xerox made the first copiers that worked well, when you wanted something copied, you said, "Get me a xerox of that document."

No microwaves. Radios had tubes, then transistors, then circuit boards. The smallest radio I owned pre-1970 was about the size of a box of tissues (the smaller box). When we wore stockings, we didn't have panty hose, we had to wear garters or garter belts or girdles (yes, even we skinny girls wore girdles) that had hookie things on them to hold up the stockings. Pantyhose came out in 1972, I believe. And, I have to tell you, the stockings that were held up with garters disappeared quickly, and we were given no choice. I personally never liked pantyhose. Have I given you too much information? Well, be thankful I don't go into personal hygiene, for men or women. That's another area where so much has changed since I was a girl.

There were no ice makers, except for mom, who took ice cube trays and filled them with water and made ice that way -- and not those plastic things, either. They were metal trays. And until Tupperware invented them in the mid-60s- the plastic ones -- that's all we had, and when you took them out of the freezer, your hand stuck to them, like your tongue would stick to a flagpole on a cold day in February. Tupperware wasn't around when I was growing up either, but when it came out my mom stocked up. I mean, she had more Tupperware than Tupperware had, I think. It was so hard to store, so it sort of took over the small kitchen she had. But she used it.

Tupperware use to get real sticky -- tacky -- but it always did keep the bugs out of the flour and sugar, and those jello molds worked so much better than the metal ones mom used to have.

Supermarkets were very small, maybe six aisles, nothing like what we have today. You maybe had a choice of three kinds of cereal, no Pillsbury cookie dough, few fresh veggies and fruits out of season. You kids are blessed to have so much.

Just think of my growing up years as "pioneer" years -- not as early as those settlers of our great country, but pioneer years, just the same.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007


This picture is the Sbaraglia clan in 1939. Grandmother Sbaraglia (Santa) is in the center of the front row. My mom is on the left of the front row, and my dad is just behind her in the back row. Most of the people in this picture are my cousins birthed by Aunt Daisy, my mom's oldest sibling.
As one gets older, one thinks back on his/her life and remembers the good things. I frankly don't remember the bad things. I remember blessings God gave me throughout my life. I remember my cousins. I had lots of them, as I've mentioned frequently. And I had lost contact with all of them until about 3 years ago.

When the Internet became popular I started searching for them. It only took me four years of searching real estate transfers, phone listings in the NJ, PA area, and then actually searching on their names.

It has been so nice for me to find these folks and spend time either on-line, on the phone, or personally visiting them. We all remember the same things, but we remember different things as well.

As time goes on, so you, my children and nieces and nephews, can get a picture of who is who, I will talk about the various families and which children came from which parent and how they are connected to my mom and dad -- your grandparents/great-grandparents.

I feel bad sometimes because my children aren't close to their cousins. Never have been. We (my immediate family -- husband and children) did not live physically close to either my siblings or my husband's siblings and so there was little contact with the families and thus little contact between my children and their children. My children really did miss a lot by not having that camaraderie. Oh, they spent some time with their cousins, but not like I did when I was growing up. Talk about extended families.

I have to say I had never thought about that terminology until recently and I realize that my aunts, uncles, and cousins were my extended family. We all lived in the same general area and I think because my mom's family all lived very close to each other when she was growing up and even after she married, that that extended family just kept on going. We took care of each other. We loved each other. We enjoyed each other's company. We laughed together. We cried together. We yelled at each other.

I treasure the times I had with those cousins of mine and am thankful that my mom and dad thought it was important for us all to visit with each other many times a year.

The list of my cousins would take a whole posting, and it would only confuse you all. So, as I get on with these memories, I will let you know just where each of my cousins fits into the family tree.

Memorial Day picnics

I think I mentioned our family Memorial Day picnics before. This picture was taken in 1959 or 1960. That's me, with the typical 50s glasses standing face forward and my little brother (he'll kill me, he's bigger than I am now) Mark (with the baseball cap and glasses). My mom is sitting next to me with her hand holding her chin. Isn't she beautiful. My mother was truly a beautiful woman in all respects, looks, demeanor, and spiritually. But I digress, as this is supposed to be about Memorial Day picnics.
I don't remember for how many years we actually had these picnics, but I do remember how much fun they were. The whole Italian side of the family -- or at least as many as were in the neighborhood -- came and everyone brought food. Now, I have/had a lot of cousins, and many of those cousins had spouses and children of their own. The picnics were physically located at Aunt Anne's and Uncle Joe's (Egitto) house and the party was in the yard. Aunt Anne had a nice yard for a picnic -- flat and long.
One part of the day's events was a trip to an iris garden in Allen, PA. The irises were almost finished their year cycle by Memorial Day, but I remember Aunt Anne, my mom, and once or twice, Aunt Fran oohing and aahing over the variety of these beautiful flowers. Personally, I thought the visit to the iris garden was boring (at that time in my life), but as I look back, I appreciate the visions I have of those beautiful flowers, which are now, one of my favorites.
When I left New Jersey and we moved to Cincinnati, OH, my mom gave me some starts from her irises (she, too, had a beautiful garden) and those irises are STILL alive and well at that house -- although we no longer live there.
I remember some of the food stuff that we got to enjoy, as each person had a different special dish. Aunt Anne made a delicious macaroni salad, my mom's potato salad was special, Aunt Rita usually made an anti pasta. Every familybrought a dessert of some sort, and Uncle Joe (Egitto) grilled burgers or hot dogs. At least that's what I recall.
We played horseshoes, I think. Of course, since Aunt Anne's house had a ping-pong table, that sport was also part of the activities.
There were no fireworks, no schedule of events, just lots of good family fun. And, yes, funny family stories. I remember most that we laughed a lot!

Monday, September 24, 2007

Three-piece suits

My father never wore jeans or shorts, he didn't own any. He wore three-piece suits with a tie, even on his "day off". Actually, he never had a day off, as far as I know. He never took a vacation, and even preached at both services the day my mother died (it was a Sunday).

I know, you're thinking, surely he didn't wear a suit in the summer. Well, yes, he did. In fact, he played tennis until he was in his late seventies, and basically wore the suit, but took off the jacket and loosened the tie.

Later in life he discarded the vest, sort of. He wore sweater vests instead of the vest that came with the suit. He saved the "good" vests for Sunday and Wednesday night (preaching nights).

And, in the summer he wore long-sleeve shirts -- he just rolled up the sleeves.
Daddy didn't own a pocketbook, but he had pockets and was very particular what item went in which pocket. Poor mom, his shirt pockets were either ink-stained or constantly torn. He carried in his shirt pocket (left side) a fountain pen, an Esterbrook mechanical pencil, and a pen-light flashlight, but no nerdy pocket liner. In his inside jacket pocket (left side, again) he carried a new testament. In his pants pocket, front right, he carried a change purse. Left pocket of his pants, his keys, and his back pocket, his wallet.
He did own a briefcase -- well, several, I lost count, actually. Each briefcase was for a different purpose. I think it was his filing system. He had a briefcase for Tuesday night Bible school, another briefcase for Thursday night Bible school. He kept all his banking things in a briefcase.
And he was a collector of pens and pencils (something I enjoy doing as well). So, the pens and pencils for his pocket were carefully chosen. And I'm not sure he put the same ones in his pocket everyday until they wore out. He probably switched them around.
Oh, yeah, occasionally he carried a glasses case in his pocket with a spare pair of glasses. But that's another story, for another day.
And he had ties -- after all it was easy to give the pastor a tie for Christmas. I'd say he got 10 ties each year, and he never threw any away. Mom would cull out the dirty ones from time to time, but not when dad was looking. He had his shirts cleaned at the Runnemede dry cleaners and had them lightly starched. The dry-cleaners were originally next to the hardware store, in the pike, but in the 60s they moved south on the Pike a few blocks, I think it was on the corner of Ardmore and the Pike. But don't hold me to that.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Church Christmas Play, candy, and cookies

For several years the Sunday school children put on a Christmas play for the adults in the church. I was so proud -- yes, I know pride is not a good thing, but proud I was -- when I was finally old enough to participate and actually got a speaking part! I also remember what I was wearing that night. But I need to get back on track.

The play was always the Christmas account of Mary, Joseph, no room in the Inn, and a visit from the Wise men. I don't remember my line(s) but I remember how nervous I was and worried that I'd mess up. I didn't, but I still worried about it.

The play was held on the Sunday night before Christmas. The platform where the pulpit and communion table normally stood was emptied, and that became the stage. The church was packed with parents and other guests.

After the play was finished (we children also sang some carols) we actors went to our seats and then one of the deacons would start handing out Christmas presents. Everyone got at least one. My mom, got lots and lots of gifts -- mostly hankies and whatever costume jewelry was popular that year. Anyway, I remember that first time I was in the play, I had a new pair of shoes -- Mary Janes, patten leather, shiny. And when I walked in them they made a clicking noise on the wood and sidewalk, which I thought was so cool. So, when my name was called I walked down the center aisle of the church LOUDLY and received my gift. Everyone was laughing because I had clogged those heels so hard on the floor of the church. I didn't care. I wanted folks to know I had new shoes and they made noise!

Cleats were often added to shoes to save on having the heels wear down -- cleats were metal tabs that were nailed into the back of the heel, like the cleats you find on tap-dancing shoes only smaller, and I loved the sound cleats made. But those shoes had no cleats, so I just stomped and made the noise without them.

After the gifts were passed out, we were dismissed, and as we left the sanctuary, every one there was given a box (probably 1/2 pound) of chocolates -- everyone that could walk, that is. Babies, or carried children lost out until they could support themselves and receive the gift. And boy was the candy good. I always liked the jellies. Didn't much care for the nuts or nougat filled ones. It was a once-a-year treat and I horded that candy for days.

Mom and dad were also given boxes and boxes of cookies for the family. Dad was very stingy with some of those cookies because they were his favorites. I had one favorite and that was a date-nut filled pie-crust type cookies made by Mrs. Krudwig. They were so delicious. I also loved the butter cookie candy canes. Yum. What can I say, I'd eat any cookie I was allowed to have, and dad and mom did not allow us to just feast on those cookies. They lasted well into January. My sister and I disagree on whose cookies were best, but they were all good. Mrs. Aspling made an almond flavored squiggle butter cookie, Mrs. Manduka made the candy canes, Mrs. Nordt made some kind of flakey butter cookie with nuts in it, and on it goes.

Those ladies have all gone to be with the Lord. But the memories of those cookies will remind us of wonderful people who cared for the pastor and his family.

After we got our chocolates and gifts, we went home and then it was off to bed. I slept with my gift near my pillow. The chocolates were put on the buffet and when they were gone, they were gone, so it behooved us to go slow in eating them.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

New Year's Eve

Growing up we always spent New Year's Eve in church. The service started at 11:00 p.m. It was called a watch-night service. And basically it was similar to the Thanksgiving service -- where people could share their blessings with others, and then there was a time of prayer just prior to midnight. After the service was over we all went down to the church basement (now called a fellowship hall, but back then it was the basement) and we feasted on food prepared by the church women. No matter how young we were, or how tired we were we went to this service and fellowship time afterward.

I know when I was a teenager I really wanted to be somewhere else, but being the preacher's kid, I wasn't permitted to go to anyone else's "party."

After I met my husband, and he was whisked off to Kenya with his parents, the New Year's Eve service was again something I enjoyed because I would try to envision what Alan was doing in Kenya at that time -- even though he was eight hours ahead of us.

After we married and moved away from Runnemede we never found a church which had a watch-night service. One of the churches we attended had a game night and food fest on New Year's Eve, but most people left before midnight.

Now, Alan and I are elderly (that's my granddaughter's term) people who are in bed well before the ball drops, snoozing away by midnight when the year changes. If we aren't asleep yet, there's enough fireworks around here to keep us awake for a while after midnight. This is the south, after all, and fireworks are common at most holiday celebrations.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007


I don't recall that birthdays were a big deal in our house. I do remember my father being impatient to give us his gift, though. I don't think I ever got my birthday present from him on the actual date of my birth. He was the same with Christmas gifts. But some of us were stubborn enough not to open them until either Christmas eve late or Christmas morning. But that's another tale.

I remember when I was 12 my dad bought me a "suit." Well, it was a skirt and blouse that matched. I have to say when I first saw it, I thought, "I'll NEVER wear that." It was gray cotton and on the gray (battleship gray I might add) fabric there were these safety pins (white) with little flowers (yellow) either pinned or in the process of being pinned -- "in the process" means the pin was open, "pinned" means the pin was closed. Well, as "luck" if you believe in that --which I don't --would have it, it was miles too big for me. (I really did thank the Lord that it didn't fit). Poor daddy, I know it was good quality clothing, too, because he did buy the best. But mom made so much fun of the material, and even asked daddy if he was "daft" to think anyone would wear it.

Well, as I got older, believe it or not, I did wear that skirt and blouse (with a yellow or white belt it looked like a shirt-waist dress). So all was not lost, and I'm sure dad was glad to see me actually wearing it and not cringing when I twirled -- full skirts twirl.

When I was 13 dad started giving me jewelry for my birthdays. REAL jewelry. I still have most of it. I did, however, lose one ring he gave me. But when I was 13 he gave me a birthstone ring, it had two small aquamarines in the twirl pattern. I love that ring. Then when I was 14 he added to my charm bracelet with a typewriter and a piano. When I was 15, he gave me a beautiful pin (sterling silver with a blue zircon). For my 16th birthday, he gave me another aquamarine ring -- emerald cut, gold setting. I wore that a long time. Then one day someone borrowed it, and lost the stone. Not being able to afford putting an aqua into it (they were very high priced at that time), I had it reset with a garnet, and gave it to my daughter.

Speaking of 16th birthday -- we had a gigantic snow storm on my 16th birthday, which meant no school. Now when I was in school, on your birthday, your friends would make you a "corsage" made of various items, and since I only remember that 16th birthday was bubble gum, and that in that particular year I had some friends who were making me a corsage, I was really looking forward to being in school on that day. But we had a snow day, and that snow day became a second, and a third, and a fourth snow day. Well, by the time we got back to school, the next week, no one recalled that I didn't get my corsage -- I assume whomever made it also ate it!

I remember that we didn't have birthday parties, except once, and it was such a disaster, I guess it was decided that no birthday parties would be held again.

I was going to be six. I was still in kindergarten (remember I went full time, not 1/2 day) and mom said I could invite four people. So I invited Marilyn, Sue, Linda, and Lyda. I didn't know when I did the inviting that Patty Parker was planning a huge birthday party (her birthday was March 17, mine, March 4). Well, when she was not included in my list, I was the only kindergarten girl she didn't invite to her party. I was so very hurt. She couldn't understand that I was only allowed 4 friends, and she didn't live that close to me to be one of my play pals.

Anyway back to my one and only birthday party. Well, mom had planned no games, so we made up our own. Acrobats -- circus acrobats. The bed was the center stage. We jumped like it was a trampoline, and broke the bed. At which time we were exiled to the table, where we ate cake, which was not very good, as I recall. Poor mom, she tried. I got a coloring book and crayons, the book, Black Beauty, and a game, and some hankies. I wasn't disappoint with the gifts, after all loot is loot. But after the cake, the girls left, and I'm sure the party was discussed with Patty, about what NOT to do at a birthday party.

If any of my brothers or sisters can recall any neat birthday celebrations, give me a clue, will you?

My husband was raised in boarding school, so he never had birthday celebrations either. So, after we married, birthdays were just birthdays. But when we had children, that HAD to change. It didn't much change, though until we had Cyndi...she had her own ideas of how a birthday should be celebrated, and she would start (from the time she was going to be three, until she left home) reminding us everyday for months that her birthday was so many days away, and this is what she wanted, and this is who she wanted to invite to her party, and this was the kind of cake she wanted, etc. Well, what you do for one child, you have to do for all children. But, in retrospect, I don't think we did celebrate birthdays with our children, except for Cyndi's mainly to quell her nagging.

I have to say that now, her own children get a party every year on their birthday, and while it's not an "invite everyone in your class" party, it always has grandparents and maybe one friend and one cousin in attendance.

Speaking of birthdays, today is Elliana's six-month birthday. Hardly seems possible she was born six months ago already. I must get over and take her picture this week.

And, I have to add -- one more birthday -- I was six when my brother Carl (remember "Diddle"?) was born. Mom went into labor shortly before Sunday school, and he was born at home. We were shuttled off to church folks' homes after church, and he was born shortly after the morning service ended. I remember the adults with whom I was with saying, that the baby must have arrived, because the shades in all the windows were raised. They were correct, we were hustled home shortly after that so see our new baby. He was so cute and had such well-defined dimples and blond curly hair -- where the blond hair came from, no one knows since mom and dad both had black hair. He did grow up to be a cute little boy and I wish I was able to talk with him more often.

Sunday, September 16, 2007


When I was a girl I loved weddings. Dad had several to perform at our church, and the church across the street also was the site of many weddings.

Don't misunderstand, I still love weddings. I love to watch weddings. If I had an excuse, I'd subscribe to Bride magazine, just so I could keep up on the trends and look at the lovely dresses.

When I was a child, my imagination was quite good because I could come up with my own wedding, sans husband! I would take two similar-sized baby blankets, and tie one in front and one in back with a ribbon, so that they were secured to my waste. Then I'd gather them in front and back and there you have it, a wedding dress. Another blanket was pinned to my head for the veil. Then I'd practice step together step on the sidewalk in front of the house. My bouquet was usually some weeds I'd picked, or dandelions, or queens ann lace. I wouldn't dare pick from my mom's garden, which would have provided me with a lovely bouquet, depending on the season. Lilacs (white and purple); lily of the valley; roses; irises; various wild flowers.

Anyway, on Saturdays I would head over to the churches and see if there were a wedding in progress. Of course, if there were a wedding at our church, I would know and probably attend because dad would be officiating. If there were a wedding at the church across the street, I'd sit outside on the step of our church and watch and wait expectantly for the bride and her maids to appear.

No two dresses were ever the same, nor were the maids dresses. In those days, the bridesmaids all wore different colors. Not like today where all attendants wear the same dress. Oh, they wore the same dress, just in a rainbow of colors. And all the female attendants wore little hats as well.

No bride was without a veil to cover her face -- not just one that went down the back of her head. And no bride was without gloves -- if she wore a short-sleeved gown, then the gloves would go up to the elbows.

Times change, as do styles. I just wanted you to know that I remember fondly the weddings I attended on the steps of the church.

Saturday, September 15, 2007


Here I am in the Midwest, where we've had record heat day in and day out and the warmth started in April. Finally, we are enjoying a cool day -- the first in a long time. I do prefer cooler weather (note, I didn't say cold) than hot, humid weather. I never did like the heat and humidity of summer "dog" days, as they were called.

However, I just realized it's the middle of September already. I can't believe it. September 15. Wasn't it just Easter? Anyway, this cool weather has brought back some really fond memories of Septembers long gone.

I always loved September. After all, it was back to school, which I've mentioned enough times now to be actually repetitive, a favorite activity -- going to school, reading, writing, etc. And September meant the leaves were going to change soon, if they hadn't already begun their change.

Fall in New Jersey was beautiful. I know Vermont gets the award every year for beautiful displays, but NJ (at least in the non-concrete areas) could rival that beauty. The colors are -- well -- they're just like the beautiful pictures you see in magazines. Out here in the Midwest, fall colors are brown, tan, and umber (burnt and plain). And it has nothing to do with the weather. It's the trees. The colorful trees aren't prevalent in this area, so we don't get the colors. Maples are the best for color. We have maple trees, but not so many. We have lots of oak trees, but mostly they are pin oaks and pin oaks just don't color like the regular Oak.

Now, this year we've already lost a lot of leaves because of the drought. And yesterday I noticed that a couple of the trees that lost their leaves already have bloomed again -- yes, they have flowers on them, like in the spring. The flowering pears and flowering crab apples are blooming again. But, I digress.

Back to September in Runnemede. I would love to go outdoors after dinner just to watch the sun set and see how the leaves became even more vibrant in the setting sunlight. And the coolness of the evening which required a sweater or jacket was, again, something to be enjoyed. There was often the smell of smoke in the air, I suppose from people starting up their fire places, although I don't remember many people having fireplaces in their homes. Or perhaps, it was trash being burned in the back yard incinerators. Back then every yard had either a wire basket about 4 feet high and 3 feet in diameter in which burnable trash was placed, or an oil drum, and when it was nearly full, it was lit and the trash was burned.

The days were shorter, noticeably, in September, and the sun set around 6:30 or 7:00, and we knew that soon to follow were the holidays -- Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.

Anyway smells and sights of September are something I shall enjoy as long as my memory holds. I'm getting to the age of memory loss. But I remember September, beautiful trees, cool breezes, and oh, yes, the pink cheeks from the cool breezes.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Cars are murder weapons

I can't tell you how many times I heard my father say that -- "Cars are murder weapons." It wasn't that he wouldn't ride in one, he just would never own one or drive one. He rode a bike a lot when I was growing up, he never drove a car -- at least in my lifetime. He told me that he drove a car when he was younger.

Anyway, I was thinking about cars since we had to get a new one. The process of buy a car is as complicated as buying a house any more. I lost count of the number of times I signed my name on the documents that were pushed in front of me, and while I tried to read each one so I didn't sign something that made the cost higher than it was, or something that said that repossession would occur within 60 days if I didn't wash the car, or something wierd like that, I finally ran out of reading steam and just pray I didn't sign something I shouldn't have.

I know you're all wondering how did we get places when we were growing up. Well Runnemede was pretty much self-contained. We didn't NEED to go any place else to buy food, clothes, toys, cars, etc. But if we did need to go out of town there was the bus-line (one block away) and there was a bicycle, and there were feet.

I used to walk into Haddenfield in the summertime to go swimming. There was a huge community pool in Haddenfield, it was four miles one way, and I'd walk over there at least once a week.

I started going into Philadelphia via bus when I was 10 or so, by myself. It was a lot safer back then. The day after the day after Christmas I'd take my Christmas money and go shopping -- I usually bought one nice school outfit and a pair of shoes, and if it was a "rich" Christmas, a purse to go with all that. You need to know that really nice dresses cost $3, shoes were usually $2.99 a pair, and blouses and skirts were similarly prices. So, I could get a skirt, blouse, sweater, shoes, and bag for under $15.

I know dad would "impose" on kind folks to take him places as he got older. And my dear Uncles (Joe and Joe) would take us fun places, like the shore, or pick us up and take us into their neighborhoods, a treat for us just to go to a new environment.

I remember one time when I was 8 or 9, an opportunity arose and a lady in the church was selling her car for $100. It was in good shape, according to Mr. Fisher -- an auto mechanic who was a member of our church -- and a very good buy. Mom really wanted the car. We children wanted the car, but daddy? Nah. He thought about it for a week, and finally decided against getting that car.

After that episode, I think mom gave up on "encouraging" daddy to get a car, and we just relied on the goodness of folks to take us places.

Thanks to: Uncle El (Wentzell); Uncle Bill (Manduka); Mrs. Kenders; and Mr. Lentz for schlepping us kids to camp, Youth-a-rama, and Christian skate. What a blessing you were to us.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

I love my sister!

Here's a recent picture of Deb. She's still beautiful and really has changed little since we were in our early 20s.
She called me today. I love it when she does that. She always cheers me up. No matter what I'm doing, I drop everything just to gab. I didn't recognize her voice when I picked up the phone today, and I thought maybe it was one of those real sweet talkin' telemarketers, and I was about to hang up, as is my custom whenever a telemarketer calls. I know, I'm on the "Do Not Call" list, but that doesn't stop them. Well, what a nice surprise to hear it was my dear, sweet sister, Deb (I call her Drex -- an abbreviated form of our maiden name and a habit I picked up in high school).
As I talked about in a previous post, my sister and I are really enjoying our latter years -- I guess some wisdom is received as one ages, at least in the area of relationships.
I remember one time, when my children were in their teens, we were on our way home from Myrtle Beach and decided to stop in and see Deb and her family -- unannounced! Well, she greeted us with such exuberance, like we had made her year. That impressed me so much. If it had been me, I probably would have locked the doors and pretended I wasn't home -- I'm not big on surprises, even good ones.
My dad used to do that. If some family member decided to drop in on our family, he quickly pull all the shades and pretend no one was home. Of course, it never occurred to him, I supposed, that the visitors had SEEN him pull the shades, and could hear the shushing in the background. Or was it just a joke? We'll never know. You couldn't tell with daddy.
I figured out how to see what I wanted on TV, though. I just told daddy I didn't want to watch something, and that was what he was determined to watch. Do I think he knew that I knew what was going on, and that I knew how to manipulate him? Yeah, I do. It was a game.
Anyway, today I wanted to tell everyone who reads this, that I LOVE MY SISTER!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

What is it about holidays?

I have written a couple of remembrances of holidays as I remember them. What is it about holidays that makes one remember smells, tastes, laughs, and other things with such fondness?

My sister was recalling Halloween. We don't "honor" halloween any more. We didn't "do" halloween when my children were growing up either. Without getting "religious", let me just say that I believe Halloween is the devil's holiday, wholly. And because of all the evil things that transpire on that day or around that day, we felt is was a safety thing for our family to ignore the day and think on Godly things.

That said...

How can I explain what Halloween was like when I was a child. It was fun! And I guess for some today, it is also fun, but all I can see is the dark side of Halloween. However, when I was a kid, I would rush home from school on October 31 (I wasn't allowed to participate before I went to school), and since I had a costume already for school, I just checked in with my mother and off I went with my bag.

There were certain places in Runnemede that I had to get to before they ran out. Gardner's Funeral home always gave out apple taffies. Not the nut covered kind, but the red-hots covered kind. They were soooo good. Then I went to Calenders, on Clements Bridge Road, two up from the church, because they gave out nickles. There was a home (don't know who's it was) on Knight Avenue that gave out dimes. After that circle was completed, I methodically went up and down the pike, because the stores gave nickle candy bars (50 cent candy bars these days). Then after I got up to 8th Avenue, I would work my way back going back and forth on the various avenues. Now, I didn't cross the railroad tracks, there was enough good stuff on our side of the tracks. And, I had to be home before dark (which was at 5:00 p.m.). I was never allowed out after dark.

I don't recall any reports of razors or pins in candy, or poison, or any kidnappings or beatings. We just had fun.

I'm sure my banging on Halloween might offend some family members, but that's okay. You have to come to a conclusion on your own, based on your understanding of God's word about "fleeing evil", etc., and because some in my family still celebrate Halloween, doesn't mean I love them any less, or think that God isn't pleased with them. It's just something Alan and I determined and we stuck to it.

But this muse was not supposed to be about Halloween, it is supposed to be about holidays.


I know, I know, Thanksgiving is two months away. But you wait and see, it will be here before we can blink our eyes!

I love Thanksgiving -- still. I was and is my favorite holiday. I hate it, though, when it is referred to as "turkey day." No, folks, it's Thanksgiving. A day for giving thanks.

Growing up we had no choice. There You know, around here (in northern KY) there is not a single church that is open on Thanksgiving.

Anyway, every Thanksgiving morning (including the mornings of the final high school football games of the season) we were in church from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. Nowadays, I know women would balk at that. After all we have all that cooking to do, right? But my mom and all the women at Mt. Calvary didn't complain, at least not so anyone would hear them. And, what was the purpose of the Thanksgiving service? To give thanks for God's blessing from the past year. EVERYONE stood up and either said a Bible verse, or said, "I'm thankful for..." Some people were more long-winded than others, but at 11:00 a.m. a person's opportunity to give thanks was over. The service was over and we went home, after singing: We gather together. (

Most years we had Thanksgiving dinner at our home, but for a few years we all went to Aunt Annie's house (in Springfield, PA). And what a dinner it was. It was one the day we had all the treats we didn't get the rest of the year. OLIVES, home-made pie, peas and onions in a cream sauce, sweet potatoes.

It was also the day that my father said a grace that lasted so long, the food got cold. First he read one of the "thankful" psalms. Then he would say, "Bow your heads," which, of course, we did. We were hungry. It was almost 1 o'clock and we'd been up since around 7 a.m. Anyway, he started to pray and he was thankful, boy was he thankful. He thanked the Lord for each child (he had four), his wife, his wife's family (individually named, and my mom came from a large Italian family), etc. Just when you thought he was finished, he'd start up again, thanking God for each item of food that was on the table.

Well, by this time, Aunt Annie could contain herself no more, and she started snickering. Being the good PKs we were, we didn't peek (yeah, right!) and when Aunt Annie started snickering, well, it snowballed. Dad seemed oblivious to the laughter as he continued, and continued, and continued, and the gravy started to gel!

Eventually, he stopped being thankful, and we were able to eat -- and eat we did. Always, we were stuffed, and dessert waited until later in the afternoon. While we were digesting our food we either looked at pictures (this was when we were at Aunt Annie's) or play ping-pong -- when we had Thanksgiving at our house, we usually went outside (and it was always cold on Thanksgiving, and I can even remember snow on the ground) and played. I probably walked my dolly around the block in her coach, with my sister tagging along. Then around 4 o'clock we'd sit down and have dessert.

The feast didn't end with dessert, no siree. We had to have our supper-- usually around 7 p.m. And that was leftovers. Not heated up leftovers, just cold leftovers, but you know what? Those cold leftovers were wonderful. Most adults made sandwiches with the leftover turkey. I just ate the cold turkey and cold stuffing and if there were any left, olives. Yummmmm!

After that, we were all exhausted. We cleaned up the dining room and kitchen, put the few left over leftovers away (I said that correctly -- there were leftovers still remaining), and we either went back to Runnemede, or all the family left for their places of abode.

Who attended these feasts? The Drexlers, the Sbaraglias (my mom's brother's family), the Egittos (Aunt Annie's family), and several of the Evangelista's (Aunt Daisy's family). If the Boylls were up from Tennessee (very rarely, until Betty and Dan went to Philadelphia College of Bible), they joined us as well. The Boylls were Aunt Fran's family. Aunt Fran was one of my mom's sisters, as was Aunt Daisy.

I hope I didn't leave anyone out. When TV became more popular, those football games took over the afternoons, at least for the boys and men. But that was okay. We women-folk had plenty to do -- no dishwashers back then, and when we were little, my sister and I, and my cousin Joan just did girly things.

I tried to start that type of tradition when my children were growing up -- we were so far from my family, and Alan's family was scattered all over the country. We usually invited some of the neighborhood kids over in the afternoon to play table games, and stay for "leftover" supper. After the children all married, they had other families to visit. Many of those years when my children were growing up, we went to Royal Center, IN to spend Thanksgiving weekend with my brother, Mark, and his family. They were very special times for our family.

Two years ago, we had a Thanksgiving reunion, sort of. All my children, and my brother and one of his children (Lori and her family) came to spend the weekend here in northern KY. We had dinner at Cyndi's house. I think we had a good time. You see, I don't remember much of the weekend, because I had a mini-stroke, and all memory of our time together is erased from my mind. But the children tell me it was a great time. We apparently played games after dinner -- NO FOOTBALL.

I must add that for a few years we went to the Stamper family Thanksgiving dinner, and I am so grateful for those invitations, since those years were years when Alan was recovering from bone marrow cancer, and all the children were at their spouse's families. They were a special blessing for me and Alan.

So, folks, with Thanksgiving coming up -- remember the purpose of the day is to be thankful for all our blessings -- which in truth should be a daily remembrance. God's Word says to gives thanks for everything, and the day of the year isn't mentioned, so one has to assume it's a daily attitude.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Ginger ale and milk and other gourmet treats!

Does anyone in the family remember a special treat -- at least at the time I thought it was special...

Ginger ale and a little milk mixed in, or was it the other way around -- milk with a little bit of ginger ale mixed in?

Mom must have thought it tasted like an ice cream soda, but since we didn't have any ice cream around she mixed this concoction. I loved it -- before I became a teenager. Now, the thought of it makes me bilious.

Another goody...cream cheese and olives. I visited my cousin Robert last year and he told me he always liked the way Aunt Rose made him cc&o sandwiches. My cousin Betty Boyll also likes cc&o. Believe it or not, Alan and I still enjoy cc&o often. Can't remember, but I think we had cc&0 the last time my sister and I visited. Maybe not. The old brain is getting tired and not remembering as well as it used to.

And lest we forget -- pastina and butter -- our favorite Sunday night dinner. I tried it a few years ago -- yuck! What did I ever see in that dish?

Smelts -- I loved smelts. I probably would still love smelts, but who knows where to buy them? I've tried baking fish the way my mother did. I've only had success on one occasion and for the life of me I can't remember what I did to make that fish taste good that time. Alan and I went to Max & Erma's (a local eatery) and I ordered the baked haddock -- I don't often order fish in a mid-west restaurant). It tasted just like my mother's baked fish (albeit she usually baked flounder). So, I found a place that makes fish like mom used to make. And it is now my favorite restaurant dish.

Because we had a fish monger who came by every Friday with fresh fish, which he would fillet right there in front of my mom, we had fish for dinner on Friday nights. Sometimes it was flounder, sometimes it was smelts, sometimes it was scallops.

I sill love fish and seafood, unfortunately Alan won't touch the stuff, except once in a while when I can get him to eat tuna salad, if I mask it with eggs and relish and stuff that shouldn't be set on the table with fish. So, I take the opportunity to order fish as often as I can when we eat out--which I have to say is rarer than hen's teeth!

Daddy had to have bread and jelly with his dinner. I never took up on that habit, and I couldn't figure out why anyone would want to end a meal with bread and jelly instead of a good salad with oil and vinegar dressing! We children used to fight over who would get the last portion, because then we'd get to slurp up the dressing (drink it actually). The danger with waiting to be last at the salad was that you didn't get much salad, so you had to weigh getting as much salad as you could eat, or waiting to get the drippings.

Silly memories!

Friday, September 7, 2007

My dear sister

I always wanted to have a relationship with my sister like my mother had with her sister, Anne. My mother and Aunt Annie were inseparable from the time they were very young girls. Not so with me and my sister. But the separateness was not Debbie's fault. I take full blame for that.

I was three years older than she, and felt far superior to a "little kid." But we lived in the same house, shared the same room and bed for most of our pre-marriage life, and had separate lives. She had her friends, I had mine.

Now days I don't know what I'd do without my sister's encouragement and prayer. And as she lives a good distance from me, we don't see each other much, BUT we do communicate at least once a week via e-mail or phone.

Growing up we shared a room, as I mentioned. Cleaning was a problem for me. I hated cleaning my room, or my part of it. My drawers were a mess, the half of the bureau that was mine was a mess, and my side of the room was always a mess. The floor was linoleum so dust bunnies were a way of life. Deb, bless her heart, was a good cleaner and duster. I couldn't have cared less. So, she'd clean her half of the room, her half of the dirt under the bed, her half of the bureau, her half of the floor under her side of the bureau, and she'd clean down the steps.

As far as cleaning went, I had better things to do. I had to read. I had to practice the piano. I had to pretend I was a teacher and my brothers were my students. I had to play with my dolls. See? Much more important things than cleaning the floor. Oh, yeah, she made her half of the bed, I couldn't care less about that either. What a source of frustration for her.
THE BED we shared is the same one in the picture above which is now shared by my granddaughters, Grace and Annie. That bed was part of the bedroom set my father's mother and father got when they got married in 1906. So it is an official antique, now. And it has withstood all those years. After my sister and I got finished using it, my husband and I used that bed, then when my husband and I expanded in size and no longer fit into that bed, my daughter used the bed. When Alan and I moved to our retirement home, the whole set-- bed, bureau with beveled mirror, and vanity/desk -- moved into my daughter's home. I have to wonder how much longer it will last. My dad liked to point out how well it was made, and that it was curly maple -- does that mean something? It's being made of curly maple, that is?
I was so often jealous of my sister because she was so cute, and when she became a teenager she got pretty. She didn't go through the big-nose stage, which I did. She didn't go through the big-lips stage, which I did. And she always had beautifully combed, stylish hair. And no matter how new my clothing was it always looked blah on me. She could wear rags and look stylish (like my mother). And she stayed thin, even after three children. She's still a beautiful woman at I won't tell how old she is now. Let's just say she's three years old than I, and her bones are beginning to creak!
Deb also did things I would never do, which I won't mention here so as not to embarrass her. Let's just say, she turned out okay, in fact, she's great, and a spiritual mentor for me. I thank God daily for her, and for the prayers she says for me and mine. I love you sister!


What is it about brothers? You can't live with them, and you don't want to live without them.

My brothers were something else. I love them dearly, but I didn't particularly care for them when I was growing up.

I had the duty on many occasions of "babysitting" my brothers (they were 4 and 6 years younger than I), and this "babysitting" began when I was maybe 9 or 10 years old. The babysitting took place during church services -- my parents knew they were only 50 yards away at the church, so I could get help quickly if I needed it.

Needless to say, my brothers weren't mindful of rules when I was in charge. They were rambunctious and made a mess of the house. They fought, more than my sister and I fought, and their fighting was destructive.

I do remember leg wrestling with my brothers until I was in my late teenage years, and ALWAYS beating them. Of course, I was bigger than they were, but they were boys, after all. They should have been able to flip me with no effort at all.

And since I was a girl, and there was a no-hit rule, I took advantage of that, and beat my brothers whenever I felt like it. No excuse was necessary. I'd just walk up to them and start beating on them. And everyone thought I was such a good little girl. If only people knew. Unfortunately, God knew, and I've had guilty feelings for years about how I treated my little brothers.

My brother, Mark, loved baseball. He FINALLY made a local team after several years of practice. I believe he was a catcher. By the time he was on one of the local Babe Ruth league teams, I was no longer interested in attending games, so I only saw him play a couple of times, and I think those times were on the 4th of July, when everyone in town was in attendance.

In this day and age, if the bad guys knew a whole town was occupied at the local ball field, I'm sure robberies would go up. That was not the case when we were growing up. Daddy always locked the doors, TWICE, but most people in town didn't worry about having their house broken into, any more than they worried about their children being kidnapped.

My brothers didn't do as well as my sister and I in school, and those poor guys, had to live up to my reputation, and my sister's. It wasn't that they weren't smart, it was just that they didn't care as much about doing well in school. And, trouble? Well, my father was called to the principal's office on more than one occasion to discipline the boys.

Mark settled down in high school, I think (I was pretty much out of the house by then). Carl, didn't settle down until he married.

I remember one time I -- yes, sweet, innocent me -- got Carl into trouble. I wanted to be a circus acrobatic, so I decided one day I was going to ride my bike and then as I approached a rope, my brother was to lift it, and I would lift the bike over the rope as I had seen the circus acrobats do. Well, it didn't quite work out that way, and when asked what happened, I told my mom that my brother had pulled the rope and made me fall. He got disciplined for that. I hope he forgives me for that trouble-making event in his trouble-filled early years.

We called Carl "Diddle" because when he was a baby, my mom called him "Little Carl" to distinguish between him and my father, who was also named Carl. Well, my brother Mark, couldn't say "little", it came out "Diddle" and the name stuck. To this day, I call him "Did" -- which is Diddle shortened. I see him rarely because he lives in NJ and I live in KY. I miss him, though, just as I miss my brother, Mark.

My brother Mark has e-mail, and I do e-mail him occasionally, but I never get a response via e-mail from him. Once in a while he'll call me, and I try to remember to call him occasionally also. Time does get away from me (and him) and then it's another day and I haven't contacted either brother. Maybe they will read this and know that I love them and wish we could see each other more often, and that distance wasn't such a problem.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Photo Albums

This really has little to do with Runnemede, but since the purpose of this BLOG is mainly to give my children and grandchildren a bit of my families history I've decided to include this post.

I've started scrapbooking -- putting remembrances into photo albums. In so doing I've found lots and lots of pictures of my family going back to the mid-1800s.

My mother's family came from Italy in the early 1900s so that's where her photo history begins. Dad's family has been in the USA since the mid-1800s as close as we can tell, thanks to my son's (Phil) efforts.

Since there were no TVs, no video cameras, and few box cameras until the 1920s pictures prior to that time are few, except for my father's family. They must have been a "photo" family because there are many pictures of his mother and father and him from 1908 through 1918. There is a plethora of pictures of his grandparents as well. After 1981, however, the pictures dwindle, to be picked up again in the mid-1930s when my father met my mother.

My mom's family pictures are plentiful as well, and they start in the early 1920s and go through to the mid-30s, early 40s, when the most pictures were taken. Those were the years in which mom's sisters and brother courted and got married, so we've lots of family pictures from those years.

Aunt Anne -- my mother's younger sister -- was the keeper of the family photos on the Italian side. And, when I was growing up, the biggest treat for me and my siblings when we visited Aunt Auune was to and look through the photo albums. My mother had some of the same pictures, and some different pictures of the family, but they were not as well organized nor as many as Aunt Anne.

Dad's family pictures were all in albums, including a family Bible, which now resides with my daughter. And there were duplicates of most of the pictures in those albums so when we shared the pictures (my brother and my sister and myself) we all got mostly the same pictures. Dad's Uncle Harry (remember him?) was a framer and so a great many of the pictures were already framed. They were stored in a trunk in the basement. We split those also. Someday, I'll talk about THE TRUNK IN THE BASEMENT.

So, I'm looking through these albums I've put together, hoping I'll recall some of the events from my childhood because my dad had a box camera (I have it now) and he took many pictures of me, because I was the first child, lots of pictures of my mother, because he was the love of his life, and some pictures of my sister and brothers. Isn't that the way of parents, even today. We have tons of pictures of our first-born, but then with each successive child, the picture taking dwindles.

Anyway, I think Dad ran out of steam on the photo-taking front when I got my first Brownie camera -- I was 9 at the time -- and he just left it up to me. He paid for the prints, I paid for the film, but since money was in short supply, I really didn't take that many pictures, although I think most of them reside with my sister and brothers because when we split the family photos we took pictures in which we, ourselves, appeared and since I was the taker of the photos, I'm not in many of the pictures.

I'm still taking pictures, more now that I have a wonderful digital camera and can print my own photos. I recently was blessed with a new grandchild (Elliana) and I have been driving her mother to distraction with requests to take pictures, but it will be the only grandchild whose photo album starts at her birth day and continues on a weekly/monthly basis for as long as I'm able to do that.

Making albums is relaxing for me. It has also shown me that while I can't draw a stick figure, I do have some artistic talent, I think, because, if I do say so myself, the pages I make are quite nice!

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Second Hand Rose

Remember that song, sung by Barbra Streisand called Second Hand Rose? When I first heard that song a long, long time ago, I thought it must have been written about my mother. Not really, my mom was never anything like that character played by Ms. Streisand. However....

Her name was Rose, she lived on Second Avenue, and she rarely (I can't say "never") had anything that was new. But my mom (Rose) loved her second-hand things. She treated them as if they were new. I do believe, however, that her "piano in the parlor" daddy paid full price for.

Mom played the piano. She never told me who taught her to play but she and her sister (Anne) and even her brother (Joe) played the piano. I can't remember if Aunt Fran, mom's other sister played, but I think she did. I'll have to ask her daughter (Aunt Fran's) next time I write to her. Anyway, back to mom and her second hand items.

Dad was the pastor of a church and I don't believe we had much money, at least not in the years I was at home. In fact, thinking back, I believe you could say we were poor, we just didn't know it.

Our clothes were almost never new, usually from some kindly parishoner who had out-grown them or because they were out of style didn't want them any more. I'm not complaining. Mom made do, and because she was handy with a sewing machine, or needle and thread, she made them stylish. Kids clothes are kids clothes and so our hand-me-downs weren't bad. We just outgrew them so fast, as did the donors. The only things we got that were new were our shoes.

Down on the corner of First and the Pike there was a shoe store and it had one of those x-ray machines so you could be certain you got the right size shoe for your foot. Twice a year we would go and get a new pair of shoes, LARGE -- the x-ray machine showed a good inch for growing into each time we got a new pair. The new shoes were for Sunday, and then the old shoes became our play shoes or school shoes. Once in a great while someone gave us a pair of used shoes, but that was really a rare occurrence. If the soles wore out, mom would take them to the shoemaker (owner of the shoe store) and have them half-soled, or if they were really in bad shape, but still fit, we would put cardboard inside the shoe to cover the hole so that our foot wouldn't be scraping the ground.

Mom's furniture was mostly used. I can only remember one thing in our house that mom bought at a store and for all I know it could have been a used-furniture store. But it was our dining room table, chairs, and buffet. I don't know why she got that set. She had another used set that was serving a purpose. The china cabinet for the old set she kept, and my daughter, Becky, has it now. The buffet to that set my husband and I inherited as our first bureau which became a bureau for our son, after we padded the top and made it into a changing table when he (my son) was a baby. The table and chairs for the old set? I don't know whatever happened to them. Maybe they were so worn out that they just pitched them, although I doubt it. Maybe the chairs went into the kitchen, which had another hand-me-down, drop-leaf table and chairs. Even our high-chair was used -- it was my dad's when he was a baby. I have that now, or still, as it was used by my children when they were babies, and even a few of my grandchildren have sat at the table in that high-chair. It was reinforced with wire to keep it from falling apart. At least it wasn't duck-taped together, right?

Mom was fortunate to get a new stove and a new refrigerator in the early 70s. The refrigerator we had when I was a child was very small. It was a GE back when GE made good appliances. I believe it's still being used by one of her grandchildren (one of my sister's children).

Our toys were often used as well. Even our Christmas present toys. My bike, my brother's fire engine, my baby doll, my bride doll (mom got a doll with no clothes from the doll hospital in Philly and made a bride dress and veil for that doll).

I am grateful for the second-hand things we received, and I know my mom was. Always gracious, she thanked the giver of the item profusely, and then proceded to use it "as is" or remodel/update it.

Changes on THE PIKE

How I wish I had some pictures of The Pike to add to this post, but I don't. All the pictures are in my mind.

There have been many changes on The Pike. I mentioned previously that the firehouse was on The Pike -- located next to the Gulf gas station, between First and Second Avenues. When the firehouse was on The Pike the siren had different signals -- perhaps it still does -- but at the time two siren cycles meant someone needed an ambulance. Eight cycles meant there was a fire. Four cycles meant another town needed help.

I recall the feeling in my stomach whenever that 8-cycle signal went off. Fires were usually not contained and if there was a fire it usually mean total destruction of the building on fire. When that 8-cycle signal went off, my dad and I would go out on the front porch and scan the sky for a red glow (since usually the 8-cycle sound was at night), and if we saw nothing, we'd go to the back porch and scan the skies visible from that part of the house. If we saw nothing we were happy because that meant that it wasn't a bad fire. But if we saw that glow.....

Anyway, back to changes...

So, in the late 50s, early 60s the firehouse (not sure of the year) the firehouse moved from The Pike to East Second Avenue -- just a block away from our house. They tore down some houses, and moved one. It's ugly -- well, what can I say, it isn't a quaint old-town type firehouse. It's a big two storied cinder block building and the upstairs was a hall for the towns people to rent for weddings, parties, etc. Oh, yes, the fire department was manned by all volunteers.

One fire I recall at night was the town theater (movie house) burned to the ground. That was in the early 50s. I was never in that building, but it was located across the street from Hegeman's (remember my music teacher?). When it burned it was replaced with a car dealership.

The deli's in our town were several. One was located at the corner of Sixth Avenue and the Pike, another was near the corner of Clements Bridge and The Pike. Mom preferred the one near Clements Bridge because it was truly Italian. Some years later Vince's opened which was on Clements Bridge right near the railroad tracks. And Vince's had the best hoagies in the world. No one, but no one, made hoagies like Vince and his wife. He also had fresh rolls, every day, a pickle barrel, and the smell, oh my!

Whenever we headed east from our home here in KY we would go to Vince's and load up. You see, out here we have no deli's, or at least if we do, I haven't found them. Oh, there are "deli's" in the large grocery stores, but they don't have the Italian meats that were avilable at Vince's. Last time I was there (about two years ago) Vince told me he was retiring, so I imagine that store is gone now.

The post office was originally located at Clements Bridge and The Pike (on the railroad side) but in the early 60s a new post office was built (I know it was at that time because I recall visiting the old post office for two years hoping there was a letter from Africa). The new PO was built on The Pike between Second and Third Avenues. I don't recall any buildings being demolished to put it in. I think it was built on a vacant lot, next to Joe's (ice cream/soda store).

I've searched the net to find "history" of Runnemede. There are four pictures on the Runnemede town's website, but that's the sum total of any history I could find. Bill Leap wrote a book about Runnemede which I have in my library. It has a few pictures and is a very interesting book about the town's history up to 1976. (The History of Runnemede New Jersey 1626-1976, William Leap, 1981). I did find a very short article about the town's history which was printed in the Courier Post (

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Tomorrow is Sunday

Sunday, in our house, was the busiest day of the week. It was not a day of rest. Preparations began on Saturday.

We took our "weekly" bath. Yes, weekly. Oh, we washed our face, necks, ears, and hands throughout the week, but before the sewer system was put in (in the mid-50s) all our waste went into a cesspool, which was located in our back yard. It had to be periodically emptied/pumped out. Anyway, I think that is why we only had a "weekly" bath. Because after we got the sewer system put in, we were allowed to take baths whenever we wanted. Not showers, baths. We didn't have a shower.

Dad had installed a hose onto the faucet so we could have a spray for our hair and I guess if I had been more coordinated perhaps I could have used it as a shower, but I basically just used that hose for washing my hair. Those wonderful hand-held showers we have these days hadn't been invented yet.

Anyway, back to Sunday. And, on Saturday evening the Sunday paper, sans the news section, arrived. If we didn't read the comics on Saturday night, we were not permitted to see them until Monday. I never figured that out. But reading the comics on Sunday was not permitted. Of course, dad had first dibs on all of the paper, then it was a scramble to see who would get the comics first. I usually won out on that score because I was the biggest.

Also, on Saturday evening we had our best meal of the week. It was either roast beef, leg of lamb, or ham (and all the trimmings). Leftovers were expected. Also, on Saturday night, my mother always baked some sort of breakfast cake for Sunday breakfast.

Sunday was church day. We went to Sunday school at 9:45, and then to church at 11:00 a.m., then we would come home and have those leftovers from Saturday night's dinner. Mom did not cook -- or minimally cooked -- on Sunday. On Sunday afternoon we were REQUIRED to REST. When I was little, I don't imagine I liked that too much, since I carried that practice into my own life as an adult and required my own children to rest on Sunday afternoons. But, I certainly did enjoy that Sunday afternoon nap as I got to be a teenager, and then as an adult.

We did not eat dinner before church on Sunday night. Young people's meetings were at 5:30 or we participated in orchestra/quartet/trio practice; and then the evening service was at 7:00 p.m. After church we came home and had "supper" of saltines, cold cuts, and cheese slices, and leftover dessert from the breakfast cake. See, no cooking for mom. We NEVER went to a restaurant -- after I left Runnemede the Sunday "diner" tradition began -- on Sunday.

Most Sunday evenings our "supper" was shared with people either from church or visiting missionaries or speakers. I don't remember many Sunday evenings when we didn't have guests at the table -- at least in my pre-teen years.

It seems when I hit the teenage years so many things changed. I think it was because of TV. When we got a TV -- and we were one of the last families in Runnemede to get one -- so much changed. Whereas we used to watch the radio on Sunday morning -- when daddy would speak at the Sunday Breakfast Association's radio program, or on Sunday night, and I think we "watched" My Little Margie, A Date with Judy, and Our Miss Brooks. You see our imagination was our viewing screen, but I did watch that radio and saw it all.

After TV, though, at least my siblings and I would rush home from church so we could see Ed Sullivan. We hated it when dad would go past 8:00 o'clock. I think sometimes daddy would be long-winded (he was the preacher remember?) on purpose so that we wouldn't be able to watch something we had mentioned earlier in the day.

At 9:00 p.m. we were supposed to be in bed because we had to be in school the next day.

Another oddity about our Sunday...we were never permitted to purchase anything on a Sunday, no matter what. We could not run down to Joe's to get an ice cream cone, nor could we go to the Snow-cone store to get a snow cone. We were not permitted to spend money on Sunday. Of course, until 1966 not many stores were even open on Sunday. It seems the year I married, was the year that stores decided that they would stay open on Sunday. JC Penney was one of the last hold-outs in that regard. Back then Sundays were like the rare holiday now days when the parking lots are vacant, there is little traffic, and life is tranquil and peaceful.

When I get into a traffic jam on the way home from church, I wish for those days again -- the traffic jams are around the restaurants, marts, and grocery stores and are crowded with the after-church crowds.

I think it's nice to give God honor on one day of the week, and if that means not shopping and really resting on that one day, I'm all for it.