Growing up in a small town in Southern New Jersey

Friday, August 29, 2008

Another picture

So you can compare, I'm including a picture (just received) of Alan and me taken right after we got back from our honeymoon (September 4, 1966). We're wearing our Bermuda hats.
You can see how we looked then, and how we look now. The aging process at work!


The year was 1964

Okay, don't laugh. Yes, that's me. We'll go through this picture piece by piece and by so doing you will get a picture of life in the winter of that year. How do I know it's winter? I'm wearing my winter coat!

I'm in someone's car -- not mine. At that time I owned a 1951 straight-eight Pontiac (gray) with a gray cloth interior and I had those plastic Fingerhut seat covers on the seats. So, I really don't know whose car this is, nor do I recall where we're going.

First, notice the lovely glasses and frames. What goes around comes around. Those frames would be right in style today.

Note the pimples on the chin. That was a problem I had well after I was 21 when pimples are supposed to stop popping out (and getting popped to get rid of -- gross). I still get bimples (yes, small pimples are bimples) on my chin from time to time, and I'll never see 21 again, that's for sure.

The leather coat was brown and it wore and it wore and it wore. One of my girls may still have that coat in their closet.

My hair has obviously been straighted (Yeah, Curl Free!), but as you can see it's still curly. Just not Betty Boop curly. (I added that exclamation point just to annoy my friend Stacia.)

The car had no push button windows. It has 4-60 air conditioning (roll down 4 windows, drive at 60 mph and you have 4-60 air conditioning).

I can see a resemblance to my Becky. When I first picked up this picture -- which I got in the mail today from my sister-in-law Libby -- I thought, wow, I look like Becky, or rather Becky looks like me. Becky on the other hand is aging much better than I did. By her age, which I won't post here, I had turned completely gray, gained 100 pounds, and looked old, very old. On the other hand, my beautiful Becky is still beautiful and has kept her pre-children figure. Good for her.


Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Life with Alan

Well, folks I met Alan in November,1959, and I can't say it was love at first sight, but pretty close. We were a couple by January of 1960 -- that was the first time he called me "Honey." Boy was that a thrill.

We met each day at either my locker or his locker and he walked me to my homeroom and went on to his, then he would meet me after homeroom and walk me to my first class. After that we didn't see each other until lunch. Fortunately, we had the same lunch time -- there were three separate lunch times that year. Then he walked me to my after lunch class and then we saw each other for a few minutes at the end of the school day because he had to catch a bus. I walked to and from school.

On Hi-BA days, he walked home with me (sneaking hand holding) and of course we talked and talked and talked on the phone at night. One night we talked so long his dad hung up the phone on us. I mean Dad Hahn actually pushed the button and cut off the conversation mid-sentence.

At the end of the school year, we saw each other infrequently during that summer because he lived kind of far away -- probably 10-15 miles by roads, and hitch-hiking, while popular and pretty safe back then was an option, but he lived out in the country and cars were few and far between. So we saw each other whenever his dad was traveling through Runnemede and he would leave Alan at our house and then pick him up on his way home from wherever he was going to.

On August 8, 1960, I thought my life was over. Alan left for Kenya on a freighter call the Robin Gray. I didn't hear from him for six weeks because that's how long the trip was -- it went by way of so many ports. And while I had the port locations and sent mail to him at the various ports, which he received, I didn't get mail from him quite so fast. Foreign mail is, well, it's foreign and slow.

That began three years of letter writing and my daily visits to the Runnemede post office. No e-mail or cell phones in those days. And no IM with pictures either.

In August of 1963 he returned to the USA and since he was on his own we could pretty much see each other as often as our school schedules would allow. He was at Rutgers in Central Jersey, and I was at Glassboro State in South Jersey. So, basically one of us hopped on a bus to the other's location, preplanned, and we visited with each other on weekends. When he came south he stayed with his Aunt Virginia, and when I went north, I stayed in the dormatory at Douglas -- the female school. At that time Rutgers was all male and Douglas was all female. That changed shortly after we left Rutgers.

After two years of this we had had enough and decided to get married and after a year-long engagement, we did, pledging our love to each other for better or worse, richer or poorer, in sickness and in health. We've had better and worse, we've definitely had poorer rather than richer, and of late we've had a spate of sickness. But God has been good and I couldn't have a better husband that the one He gave me. Alan is the love of my life and while my children don't think so, I still get a thrill out of seeing him every day. I still get that tingle when he smiles (which isn't very often), and I still depend on him to make the hard decisions in my life.

He is still my sweetheart. My honey-oney (pronounced won eee). My stud muffin. My sweetie. And I'm still his "me" (that's because when i call him on the phone, I always say it's me, and he say's, hello "me."), Jude, Judith, hon. His darling twosie (after I call him honey-oney).

We fit each other perfectly. But then, what God has joined, etc., etc., etc.


The chiropractor

Today as I visited our local farmer's market, I struck up a conversation with one of the oldest members of the group. I mean this farmer was old when I was 30 and had just moved to Cincinnati. Now, he's 85, and you can tell he's hurting. I talked to him last week a little bit, but he told me he was feeling better since he went to the chiropractor and that it was his sciatic nerve that was causing the problem. I can relate to that. How he can stand and serve people with that pain is beyond me.

But that got me thinking. Did you all know that my father was a chiropractor? Oh, yes, he was. He was taught how to do the "tweaking" (that's what he called it) by our family chiropractor, Dr. Feldman.

He was a genius with homoeopathic treatments and decided to "upgrade" I suppose and so Dr. Feldman taught him how to do several of the manipulations.

I recall going to Dr. F's office (in Philadelphia) and Dr. F came to my wedding, by the way, in fact, Dr. Feldman came to visit us at our home in Runnemede several times because I believe he and dad were true friends. But back to going to his office.

When I was little, I didn't mind going, because I wasn't the one being treated, I was just an appendage to my father's hand -- you know that one that would grab on tightly when he felt his blindness coming on. Anyway, I loved going there because we had to go up to his office in a elevator, one you could see through! They (the see-through elevators) were a rarity at that time, most elevators were all enclosed, but the elevators in that building were open in the front and back, and the doors were glass, and you could see it coming and going and see the gears and ropes moving as the elevators moved up and down in that building. It was a special treat for me.

Dr. Feldman started his work on me when I was in high school and had several injuries when I was in gymnastics. Back in those days chiropractors weren't in favor with the medical community, and Blue Cross certainly didn't cover any visits to them. In fact, I had an unexcused absence one day when I had to go see Dr. F. I guess that's why daddy learned how to do the "tweaking." I mean when I and my brothers and sister started having injuries it would have become very expensive to go to the "doctor" every time we had an injury.

The only thing was, that dad decided that if homeopathy didn't help, then the only solution to a medical problem was a chiropractic adjustment, said adjustment given to us on the piano bench which was placed in front of a chair thus extending its length, and batta-bing you had a chiropractic adjustment table. Ugh!

I'll tell you, when I had a headache, if the pills didn't work, then dad would try a neck tweaking. I hated them. They didn't really hurt, but I thought they would, and so I would always tense up. Dad would make me relax by moving my head back and forth and he could tell when the tension left, then he would TWEAK. Same with back problems, which were common when I was a teen -- he would put me on that bench and then start the back pressure adjustments. I didn't like them very much either.

I do appreciate NOW what my dad did to keep us healthy with the little to no money he had to do it with. My father was very intelligent and that was evident in most everything he said and did. I miss my father and I wonder if he would "tweak" my back now because of my sciatic nerve problems.

Just to add a footnote: Dad also had the side roll maneuver in his repertoire, he had the back pressure tweaking in his bag of tricks, and he had a maneuver where you would cross your hands across your body by grabbing your right arm with your left hand, and vice versa, then he would lift you by your elbows onto his chest and that would somehow move things and straighten things and that was my favorite adjustment because I knew it wouldn't hurt at all.


You asked for it -- Lori

Lori asked that I talk about my wedding.
Well, tomorrow, August 27, is Alan's and my 42nd wedding anniversary. We were married at 10:00 a.m. I wanted it early because, well, you know...
I wanted it early because it was in August and it is usually cool enough to breath in the morning, but gets really hot in the afternoon (in New Jersey).
This is Alan and me after we are married (a whole 5 minutes) as we're leaving the church getting ready for the "rice throw." No rose petals in those days. No bird seed either. It was rice, white rice, and it stuck in my well sprayed hair. Pictures were taken at the photographer's studio -- that's another tale for another day.
Please notice that my hair is in a flip and relatively straight. I had given my self an un-perm (Curl Free) and until I washed my hair it stayed straight. But I didn't wait the seven days you're supposed to wait, so the next day, after I had a shower, my hair was one massive blob of curls. I didn't care at that point. I just wanted it to look nice for my wedding, and it did.
My mom woke me that morning at 7:00 a.m. I was miffed. I wanted to sleep a little longer, but she thought I needed that much time to get ready. I don't think so. I had bathed the night before, I was NOT going to have to do anything but comb my hair, as I slept with a hair-net on my previously uncurled hair; and, of course, get dressed. But all my undies and my dress were laid out and I figured I could get ready in about one-half hour. Make-up wasn't worn in those days (it was a sin) but I did sneak in some lipstick just before the ceremony. And, I knew I would not eat breakfast. So I figured I could sleep until at least 8:30 a.m.
The church was a mere 50 steps from the back door. Well, maybe 100 steps. But you get my drift. I didn't have to get into a car. I dressed at home. And at precisely five minutes to 10, I walked over to the church to get married.
I saw Alan arrive at 9:30 a.m. And my flowers had arrived about the same time. I was all set. My brother took Alan's boutonniere over to him and the other groomsmen (of which he was one). And at precisely 10:00 a.m. I walked down that aisle to become married. To become a wife.
And Alan told me I looked beautiful. What more can I say?

Monday, August 25, 2008


I have been trying all day to change the backgrond on my BLOG. No such luck. If any of you who are using "Cutest Blog" know how to DELETE their backgrounds, let me know. I don't like what's there, and even following their directions, I can't change to another one of their backgrounds, let alone Blogspot -- which is where I really want to be.


I wish...

A wish is a dream the heart makes.... (Jiminy Crickett in Pinocchio).

Well, maybe that's true. I recently read a book by Debbie McComber entitled Twenty Wishes. It's a book about several women and they get together for someone's birthday, and decide that they are going to make twenty wishes and write them down and then see how many of them come to fruition. Well, in fiction, wishes always come true, right? BTW, it's a good book.

So, today I was thinking about wishes. Some are STAT for women, some were mine alone.

  • First and foremost, every little girl wants to get married. That's wish #1.
  • Every little girl wishes her chest would develop faster than it does.
  • After the little girl grows up and gets married, her next wish is to have a baby.
  • Some women wish to get a good job and become career women. Good for them, not for me, though.
  • I personally, after having my children, wanted them to grow up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. This is not a wish of many people.
  • I wished to go to Kenya with Alan and see where he grew up. God granted that and we were able to take a short missionary trip to Kenya. What a wonderful, blessed trip.

You see, for me, wishes are really prayers. And I have a connect with the only "wish granter" in the world, my Lord God, the Creator of the Universe, the one true God, the I AM, the Alpha and Omega. I could go on with more names for my God.

I know this really has nothing to do with Runnemede, but I was thinking about this around 3 a.m. -- I do my best thinking then. And yes, it does have to do with Runnemede because being the daughter of a pastor whose life was God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and who everyday spoke God's Word to his children, and who lived most of his life in Runnemede, I guess it does have to do with growing up in Runnemede, because that's where my Biblical foundation was spawned and birthed and where it grew in me.

So, how many wishes have you made in your life? Are they God honoring, or selfish. I know for me, there have been many more wishes (more money, more money, more money) but where is the happiness that only God can give in that. He has promised to supply our needs not our wants. But he also has said he would give us the desires of our hearts. I believe that is true, only if that desire is part of His gifting to us.

Sorry, didn't mean to preach. ttfn

Saturday, August 23, 2008

A Garden Tea -- it was wonderful

I wrote yesterday about the Garden Tea to which I had been invited. Well, to all who are reading this, I have to say it was one of the most blessed experiences of my life. The women who worked to make it special -- and there were 100 guests at this tea -- receive my special thanks. I have included two pictures -- one of Cyndi and me (doesn't she look beautiful?) and one of me, alone.

There are few pictures of me anywhere because I don't like to have my picture taken. And, I think these pictures turned out well, especially the one of Cyndi and me.

We were greeted by two young women who gave us a name tag and then gave us a program. There was no assigned seating, except for me (because of my inability to walk) and Mrs. Evelyn Cole, who is the Pastor Emeritus' wife -- a spiritual mentor for me and hundreds or other women. I was so blessed to be able to sit by her and spend time talking with her. And she told me how blessed she had been by a visit from Becky and her children when she was so ill, earlier this year, just recuperating from being operated on for cancer.

To know that your children and grandchildren are a blessing to someone is a very praise-worthy time.

The food was superb and not over played or heavy or just for dieters. The teas were special, and the tea punch was something I had never had before and it was delicious -- not too sweet and not too fruity. As I told my friend, Nancy, the food was comparable to a cruise ship afternoon tea menu.

The location -- the back yard of one of the church lady's home was a beautiful setting. The yard had a gentle downward slope and there was a creek and small spate of woods behind the house. The birds were chirping (my sister would have loved it) and they had tea cups on posts all around the yard and in the tea cups they had vanilla citronella candles which kept the bugs away. I didn't even see one bee and each table (there were 15) had a large centerpiece of live flowers.

Alan has asked me to stop talking about the "tea" because I've been chattering about it all day remembering this and that from time to time.

I also had an enjoyable time with Cyndi on the drive to and from the event. My thanks to all the ladies who worked on the tea -- not that any of them will be reading this BLOG, but you never know, do you?
I am getting a CD of all 280 pictures that were taken today, and I will post some of the yard and table setting pictures another day.
So, ttfn.

Friday, August 22, 2008

New Look

Just for a few days. I'm trying new looks thanks to a website that Lori sent me to which provides different backgrounds and things for Bloggers. I will probably revert back to my favorite which was what I had yesterday. But for now, there will be different looks, and so don't think you've hit on the wrong place.


A Garden Tea

My mother loved tea. I never caught the "tea fever" as I call it, that she had or that my sister has. Tea is okay over ice with lots of sugar. Drink it hot, I need at least 10 lumps (of sugar). Alan and I enjoy sharing a cup of tea late in the afternoon on cold, blustery, wintry days, otherwise, I prefer just plain water.
I'm attending a Garden Tea tomorrow. It's a church women's affair and I'm going with my daughter and granddaughter. I am going to dress as I think one should dress for such an event. A floral, flowing dress, a hat, and gloves. Now the gloves no longer fit me. I was going to wear the ones I wore to my wedding. Alas, my hands are too fat anymore to go into them. So, I shall carry them in a glove carrier.

Does anyone remember glove carriers? They were a generally a small ring-like clamp on one end, and a small chain was affixed to the center which was attached to a rounded item that is like what is on the end of a key chain. You could hang them from your purse. This picture of one is not unlike one I had when I was wearing gloves everyday. It was part of my "work" uniform.
And, oh yes, I'm carrying a purse. I don't usually do that, but tomorrow I shall have a purse that matches my shoes, hat, gloves, and dress. I'll get someone to take a picture and then I'll post is in a few days. Man, I haven't had this much fun dressing up for years!
I just read a book about tea and the art of having an afternoon tea. This one is in the morning, but I assume the same "rules" will apply. Did you know that used tea bags are good for drawing fire from tired eyes, and if you have a sty, they are also good for that. Now, I think they were talking about the old fashioned tea, no flavoring in them, but I'm thinking about trying that.
Tea time: The mere chink of cups and saucers turns the mind to happy repose. (George Gissing)
I'm looking forward to this event.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

My small office

My small office -- or my sister's room when she's here -- reminds me so much of my father's office at the church in Runnemede. It runneth over with books, papers, and other items. But it also runneth over with heirlooms.

This will be the final episode, probably, about heirlooms.

As I look around this room I see, first of all my fathers desk, which originally belonged to his father. It is an oak library table, actually, mission style, with a drawer. It serves the purpose. It holds my laptop, my scanner, my printer, and two other heirlooms -- a trophy cup my grandfather Drexler won in 1901 at the Wannetah Tennis Club. And another heirloom is a thermometer that my father had on his desk for years. It's not the long, skinny kind. It's square, and looks more like a barometer. There is also a paper weight on the desk which was my father's and shows an incline outside of Philadelphia.

Then as I swing around the room I'm face with a framed print of a bride, circa 1935. I always thought it was a painting of Aunt Francis because the dress surely resembles her wedding dress. Under that is an old oak bookcase FULL of old, antique books, including my father's copy of The Secret Garden with all those wonderful picture plates.

Of course my grandfather's trunk is at the foot of the bed, and that contains the wedding gown about which I wrote lately, over 50 old handkerchiefs, my wedding gown (not exactly an heirloom, but getting close to being an antique), a beautiful silk bedspread, which I won't use because I don't want it damaged. I'm not sure what else is in the trunk, but it is loaded.

If I continued through the home, I'd have to mention so many more. And, I do love the old things. They last and last and last. They are not good to have if you're into redecorating every few years, though. I mean, who could throw away a good antique? Not I. I love the old mission oak furniture which seems to be a big part of my home.


Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Heirlooms, again!

I was also asked to address what is my favorite piece of jewelry, heirloom or otherwise.

Every married/engaged woman's favorite should be her engagement ring. And for years that was my favorite piece of jewelry. But I need to get back to my jewelry roots.

When I was a child, I loved jewelry. My mom had a wonderful jewelry box, about which I have written before. My first piece of jewelry was a baby ring. I still have it. It is gold and has a small emerald in it. Why an emerald I don't know, since I was born in March and the birthstone for March is aquamarine. Mom would only let me wear it on Sunday to church and when I got home, she would make me remove it and she would put it back in its box.

As I got older my father would let me wear his step-mother's jewelry. And eventually, when I was in my late teens, he gave me a beautiful necklace which is very ornate, but delicate at the same time -- very, very Victorian. It is set with garnet and pearls. My father also gave me a sterling silver ring when I was 13, which was pierced with little hearts. It was such a pretty ring, but somewhere along the way I lost it.

Then when I was 16 he gave me a birthstone ring -- aquamarine -- I still have that ring as well.

See a pattern here? I LOVE rings. So, enter my engagement ring. It was designed by Bailey, Banks, and Biddle -- a very old, Tiffany-type jewelry store in Philadelphia. I loved that ring. Alas, it broke. Yes, one of the prongs broke off, so I had to have the diamond reset. And while I do like the new setting, it's not the same, therefore, no longer my favorite piece of jewelry.

I think at this time my favorite piece is my mother's engagement ring -- which was an aquamarine ring that I wore for years and years. The setting on that ring, also, caused the stone to come unpronged, and it couldn't be fixed, so I had it reset. And I do like the new setting. It makes the stone look huge.

There is other heirloom jewelry which I have shared with my sister, and we have traded a piece or two.

One final note: When my father died, I found his step-mother's will. She had willed all her jewelry to me. Unfortunately, during the poor times of my father's ministry he sold several pieces, so that part of her will was not honored. That's okay, though. My Father (heavenly) is rich and I don't really need more jewelry. I'll be awed when I see those gates in heaven which are made of precious stones. And, those golden streets. Awesome.


Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Hierlooms, continued (part deux)

When asked what my favorite heirloom is, there are many, not just one favorite. My "favorite" has changed from time to time.

I think, however, my most favorite heirloom -- drum roll please -- is my great grandmother's wedding dress.

I remember as a child my mom would get out this dress -- and there was another one, which I believe was my father's mother's dress -- the one about which I'm writing today is my father's maternal grandmother's dress, and I should know her name -- was it Minerva? I know she was a Casper. But that isn't what's important. What is important is how it came to be my favorite.

Wow, that paragraph I just wrote says a lot, isn't a complete sentence, and I should delete it, but I won't. I'll let you all figure it out.

Anyway, the dress is beautiful, and it was housed for years in my Grandmother Drexler's hope chest. Now is is housed in another heirloom, my Grandfather Drexler's wedding trunk. Both dresses were beautiful, but I fear my mom wore Grandmother Drexler's dress to one too many church dress-up functions. It just didn't stand up to her wear and tear and then allowing me to try it on and parade around in it -- always upstairs in the attic where it was stored.
The picture shows what the dress looks like when it is on a dress form. I had this dress in various rooms in our former home, but decided it was getting too dusty and I was afraid the dust and sunlight (albeit I did not put it in direct sunlight) and other airborne particles might harm the delicate material of the dress so I put it away.
Under the dress is a half slip -- the top is double strength mesh and lace. And then beneath the dress there was a pair of bloomers. Please notice that she is carrying a bouquet -- it was made for me by my favorite florists -- Batavia Floral Designs -- and it is in an old-fashioned silver bouquet holder.
The crown that held her veil, is on top of the red fluff -- the veil material is not anywhere to be found, but the crown is still in working order and it is satin with seed pearls sewn into it along the top and bottom and in the middle where you can barely see two lines.

Grandmother Casper's gown is no longer white, it has become the color that aged white dresses become -- sort of an off white. Shortly after I married a lady in dad's church who was a student at the Philadelphia College of Art asked if she could restore the dress for an exhibit that the Philadelphia Art Museum was putting on. So, the dress is now is perfect condition. All the torn lace frills were resewn and reattached to the dress. And it was exhibited at the Philadelphia Art Museum in the early 70s.

If I think of other things about this dress to add, I shall. However, that's all I can think of at this time.

I hope you enjoy this reminiscing about heirlooms. Let me know what you think.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Family Heirlooms has been an interesting, getting reacquainted time for me and friends and family. This particular post doesn't really have to do with growing up in Runnemede, but maybe it does. One of my newly reacquainted friends game me a list of questions to answer about the family and since most of the questions are really better handled in The Fat Lady Singeth, I'll answer them on that BLOG, but the question of "What about your family heirlooms, are there any?" has been talked about before but I'll try to add more to it here.

My family -- that means my mom's and dad's family, their offspring, and their offspring are mostly, really into family heirlooms, even now to the point of another group of offpsring -- my grandchildren. (If you're wondering why I didn't make offspring plural by adding an "s", I'm thinking that the word offspring is all encompassing and is already plural, like the word children. If someone would like to chime in on that I'd appreciate it.)

We are fortunate in our family to have many heirlooms, and I think the favorites for me are the picture albums -- there were several. Since my father's uncle was a picture framer/photographer that generation's photos were mostly framed. And, yes, we (meaning me, my offspring, my sister and brother) have those framed photos around our various residences. There were also family photo albums, several, containing pictures going back to the 1850s. Most are well-documented, which is also a help.

My daughter and I have rebooked the set of old albums I inherited -- I didn't take them all. When my mom died, she had at least four albums of her life from the time she was little, until the times of her children's growing up. So, we each took one of those books. And when dad packed up to move to North Carolina, I took my share of albums. And in the past few years I've been very busy at Staples copying those pictures on a color copier, which gives me the same hues as the originals.

So, when I visited my brother a couple of years ago, I swiped HIS album and went to Staples with it, and made copies of all those pictures. And when I visited my sister, we went through a couple of albums and then another trip to Staples. When I visited my cousin Betty, in Tennessee, another trip to Staples. A visit to my cousin Micki in Florida, another trip to Staples (which was a disaster).

So, you see we have tried to keep everyone in the loop with the family pictures. And while my father's family pictures go back to the 1850s, my mom's family immigrated to the USA in 1906 and so that begins any pictures we have of her family. I suppose they either didn't take any pictures in Italy, or they left them there.

So, family members, if you have pictures that you think I don't have, or should have, scan them in and send them over. I'll not only copy them and send them to family members that don't have computers (there are still a few), or I'll make sure everyone who has a computer gets a copy.

I'm particularly interested in getting some wedding photos of your parents and you. I have special ways I keep those photos preserved. School pictures? Hanging around the house pictures? Any pictures at all, either in color or black and white. It makes no difference.

The Drexler-Sbaraglia-Evangelista brood is scrapbooked currently, in four albums. Since I've met up with so many of my cousins, I started a separate album with NEW pictures. The pictures of us all grown up and aged. It's an interesting journey, and I've loved doing it.

So, while this just touches on family heirlooms, I guess I'll have to end this epistle with MTF.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

What to do with extra sunlight hours

Well, as a child I know what I did with those extra hours. I was outdoors until the lightning bugs came out, then I would chase them for a bit, catch a few, and almost every night put them in a mason jar with holes poked in the lid, hoping that they would live through the night. My objective? Collect enough bugs to light up the jar so that I could read by it. That never happened.

The Perseids (the 12th of August annual meteor shower) are over and I saw several this year. I recall, and I've iterated this before, as a teenager laying down in the grass in the lot next to our house (where the parking lot is now), and watching the skies, looking for those shooting stars. But in that case, again I wasn't using the extra sunlight hours, but waiting for dark.

Recently I've noticed that the days are shortening very fast. And as they shorten in daylight, they seem to shorten in time I have to do what I need to do. Why do you suppose that is? Since we don't really need sunlight where we live to do what we do, including swimming, I'm not attuned to doing things with the extra sunlight. I just notice that it's getting darker sooner and getting light later. To me it's like an implosion of darkness. Winter weather is fine, but the gray and darkness of that season is not.

And I do love watching the sun come up in the morning and noticing the way it hits the walls in my house and on the sun porch. I've just been noticing those things lately. The sun sets on the side of the house where my office and Alan's office is located, and we're rarely in there in the evening as we are in the library, generally, watching TV. But since the sun is setting earlier, I have been able to watch the patterns made on the walls in my office, and I love that.

So, to answer Creative Memories last suggested question for "journaling" this summer, the best thing we do is head out to Graeters and get us some ice-cream.


Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The First Grandchild

I can relate to this because I did have a first grandchild and he -- Shandon Matthew Stamper -- will always be first in my heart for my grandchildren (that doesn't mean favorite, it just means first).

So, Lori asked me what it was like for my mom and dad when Phil, my son -- their first grandchild -- was born.

I don't know, but I do know when I visited them my father sort of ignored Phil -- like he was afraid of babies. And maybe he was. But not my mom. That baby was like a dolly to her and she just cuddled him and held him as long as she could.

About three months after Phil was born, Alan and I were kicked out of our married student housing -- we had lived there for what was at that time the limit allowed for a couple to reside in that housing (three years). So, since Alan had a few more hours to work on to finish his Master's Degree in Environmental Engineering, and since the pastor of the church we had attended while he was a student at Rutgers (and we were married) was a bachelor, Alan was able to stay with him during the week, and I moved in with my mom and dad.

Those days are a blur to me. However, shortly after Alan finished school and got a job with the NJ Department of Transportation (washing dirt -- I'll explain later) we got our own place and Alan wanted me to go back to work at Rutgers (this time in South Jersey), so my mom had Phil most of the time.

The washing dirt thing -- to build good bridges you have to have a good mix of soil (dirt) and concrete. To find out whether the soil (dirt) will hold up and mix well with the concrete, you have to run it through water (wash it) and see how long it takes for it to turn into a muddy flow. 'Nuf said about that.

I recall that my father, once he got used to Phil (the litter fella who everyone else but dad called Pip) whenever "the little fella" would cry, my father would go into him and tap him on his forehead. Sounds ridiculous, I know, but it worked. He would stop crying. I mean it wasn't a hard tap, just a light tap on his forehead for a few seconds. Then he'd stop, and if Phil was still crying he'd wait a few seconds and do that again.

There was a time when Phil was about one and just learning to walk and grabbing everything in sight. We were visiting -- because by this time I was no longer working because mom had her first heart attack. Long story there. Anyway, Phil decided to grab the OPENED box of spaghetti and it (spaghetti) went all over the floor. At least the spaghetti wasn't cooked at the time. My father couldn't understand why I couldnt control "the little fella" better than to allow him to throw all the spaghetti on the floor!

I knew what dropping a bowl of cooked and sauced spaghetti was like as I had dropped a whole bowl of it once before and fortunately it landed on a chair -- none of it went on the floor -- so clean-up was easy. But we had to wait another 1/2 hours for water to boil and spaghetti to cook before we could eat. And, of course, my father wasn't please by the wait. He wanted his dinner promptly at 6:00 p.m. Not before, and not after.

One more thing about being a grandparent -- I do recall that I was on the phone all the time with my mom telling her about every thing that I was feeling -- heartburn, the first feeling of the baby moving, braxton-hicks contractions (they didn't have a name back then), what to take when constipated, which seemed to be a constant when I was pregnant. Her remedy? A tablespoon of olive oil (it had to be olive oil) every morning. It did work and if I had been smart I would have taken the olive oil everyday for all the months when I wasn't sick, which was only three.

I guess I've given you all more information that Lori wanted. Sometimes, I just don't know when to stop.

I hope that's what you wanted to know about my parents and their first grandchild.

BTW, I went looking for pictures -- which I know I have -- of Mom and Dad with Phil, but being the queen of organization that I am, I have once again out-organized myself and can't find them!

Monday, August 11, 2008


MTF -- Do any of you recall that when you got a letter in the mail -- no e-mail -- there was a real signature, then below that was typed the name of the person whose signature appeared and below that was the initials of the signatory and his secretary or the person who typed the letter?

It looked like this:

Scribbled signature

Judi Hahn (typed)


See the JDH:mtf -- well that's how I would sign my letters when we had The Wordshop a business venture and adventure my husband thought up that kept me working 24/7 and earning our family zilch! Another tale for another time.

MTF stood for "my ten fingers". You see I had typed the letter so I figured I should give myself some credit, and it would look like I had an actual secretary.

In my younger years, MTF stood for "my two fingers" and I dare say a lot of people could use MTF to stand for "mtf" having never been taught to type properly.

Thought you'd want to know that.


Thanks, Guys!

Well, as you can see from Ye Old Sitemeter Counter I have had over 1,000 hits on the BLOG. Wow! Also, I can't believe it's coming up on a year since I've been doing this. How time flies! I started this last August 22.

In one year, or a little less, 1,000 times someone other than myself has hit on this BLOG. Actually it is less than a year, because I didn't set up the sitemetter until January.

I hope you all have enjoyed it so far. I'll keep it up as long as I have subject matter (thanks to Lori and my sister for hints).

TTFN (ta-ta for now) and MTF (more to follow) is something I've been adding to the bottom to let you know I'd be back with either more silly stories, or continuations of stories started.

Thanks again.


The dreaded headache!

I didn't know whether to write this in Runnemede Remembered or The Fat Lady Singeth, but decided since it all started in Runnemede with my mother, I'd put it here.

I woke up in the middle of the night with the dreaded headache, something that hasn't happened to me for years. I dreamed I had a headache, I dreamed I was taking Advil to kill it, I could feel the actual pain in my dream, and woke up with a lollipaloosa (how does one spell that?) of a headache. It wasn't a hangover either!

I recall as a child -- a younger child -- before my teenage years, where my real memories began -- that my mother would NOT get up in the morning, and dad was the one who got us off to school if it was a school day, if not, he'd give us some toast and send us either outside to play or down the basement to play. We were NOT to disturb mom who was abed with a headache.

The shades in their bedroom were down and we were to be quiet, and I mean that quiet rule was enforced, if needs be by being taken to the church and reminded what it meant to be quiet with threat of, if not actual use of daddy's belt.

By noon, mom was puking, then by 1:00 p.m. she was fine -- it was the throwing up which cleared up the headache.

If any of you have suffered from migraines you know what I mean. My sister and I have had that affliction as do my children and hers. It must be something passed along -- yippee!!!

Anyway, when I hit my teenage years I began getting headaches -- really bad headaches. I head off to school (or later to work) with a headache that would build as the morning progressed. Then, most often I'd head to the school nurse, who would send me home. Dad would try to doctor me up with some little pills, asking me every two minutes whether I was feeling better. Please, dad, just leave me alone and let me die -- that's what I was thinking. Then I'd feel my stomach churn, but not wanting to throw up, even though I knew that was the solution to the problem, I would let it churn until, of its own volition, it would spew forth whatever was in there (usually just pills and chamomile tea) and then I'd feel better.

But the dreaded headache didn't really go away. I mean the pain was gone, but the thought of it returning lingered and every little pain or hurt in the eye because of light or stomach rumble would lead me to wonder, was the dreaded headache back again.

I recall that after my children were born the headaches were more frequent and I finally went to a real doctor (not my father) and he gave me something with codeine in it -- well, let me tell you, that cleared them up. But we moved and I found no other doctor that was willing to do that, so for the years through my 40s I suffered the dreaded headache often.

I found that Alka Seltzer Plus in orange juice helped -- so I kept a supply of them in my desk at the school where I taught and would be drinking those fizzies on a regular basis. Sometimes the remedy worked, other times it didn't work.

So, you see, this should probably be in The Fat Lady Singeth because of the subject matter -- aches and pains -- but because it all started with my mother, I put it here. Sorry to be so graphic.

And yes, I still have a bad headache, and no I haven't yet given homage to the potty.


Sunday, August 10, 2008

I know God is near

This morning I was sitting on my porch and just listening. I could hear the birds. There was barely a breeze, but the birds were stiring the branches in the trees. It was so quiet, and I was having a time of prayer for my neighbors, my children, my cousins, my siblings -- and not the child-like "God bless Debbie, God bless Markie," etc. Real prayer -- not that God doesn't hear even the simplest prayer like "God Bless."

And I was thinking of times past when I would sit on the front porch at home and just listen to the birds.

Then I realized I was in my garden -- my pots with herbs and flowers. There was no "dew on the roses." But I was listening for that "voice" -- that voice that tells me "I am his own." It was there. God came to me in my garden this morning. How wonderful.

I always think of my mother in her garden, and walking and talking with the Lord while in her garden -- not the opposite way around -- God walking and talking to us in our garden. And when I think of the song "In the Garden" I often cry, just because I think of my mom and her garden.

But now the song has a different meaning for me. "For he walks with me and talks with me and tells me I am his own. And the joy we share as we tarry there, None other has ever known."

Friday, August 8, 2008


Lori asked me about my mother's Christmases as a child. I really don't know anything about them. She said she recalls a story about my mother actually getting a doll one Christmas and it seems to me that it was a gift from the mission -- not a new doll, but a used doll, and she cherished it.

My mom loved dolls and vicariously through her daughters she was able to get dolls. I recall one year my father gave her a Gibson Girl Collectible doll which she set on top of HIS chest of drawers and she would carefully get it down and let us look at it -- never touch it. I think that's why she put it on his chest of drawers because it was so high that we couldn't get to it. This picture is a pretty good duplicate of that particular doll. Note the parasol on her right arm.
My mom also had a couple of dolls which she kept in the cedar chest that was in Deb's and my room. One was a Chinese doll with a china head. Another was a doll some missionary from Mexico had given her.
Then when we were old enough she started us on "collectibles" and that's where the vicariousity (is that a word?) comes in. She basically bought us a new doll for our birthday and for Christmas, and rarely asked what we wanted. She always made us feel like the doll she purchased was exactly what we wanted and couldn't live without.
She made sure we took care of those dolls, and even made some clothing for them. I know I learned to sew by hand by making clothing for those 8-inch dolls. Mom would give me scraps of material and I would design and sew the clothing for the dolls. Some of them were really awful, but I have to admit some of the clothing I made for them was pretty nice.
So, Lori, I hope that answers your question about Mom/Christmas/Dolls.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

My father was NOT blind

Oh, he was very persnickety about his vision. He cleaned his glasses with some special glass cleaner -- the smell of which I loved -- at least four times a day, but he was NOT blind, although he did like to pretend he was -- only if on the occasion of his blindness he could embarrass one of his children.

Lori wanted to know the truth about this non-myth. Well, I wrote about it many, many months ago, and it's embedded in an epistle about my father taking me to Wanamaker's at Christmas time. You can check it out by clicking on "on his blindness" in the subject listing to the left.

In case I left anything out in the telling of these very embarrassing moments for me and my siblings whenever my father would say, "Oh, I feel my blindness coming on," I will try to make it plain, once again.

We (my father and I or one of my siblings) would be walking down Market Street (the main drag) in Philadelphia where there were at that time lots of REAL beggars who would sit near the doorways to shops with their cigar boxes and bells, asking for "alms for the poor."

Well, usually right between 11th and 12th on Market, where the congregation of beggars was the greatest, my father would grab hold tight of my hand, and I knew what was coming. His blindness was coming on. I think he put on this act as a protest to the many beggars sitting in his way on the sidewalk, and because he knew that most of the "beggars" were not in need of "alms for the poor."

He always carried an umbrella when we went into Philly, no matter what the weather was when we left, nor what the weathermen said it would be. So he was prepared for the act to follow.

Now you all might think this is funny, but it was humiliating to a child or teenager.

He would grab hold of my wrist -- he had strong hands -- and would state: "Oh, I feel my blindness coming on." Then he would flip over his sunglasses onto his glasses (blind people wear dark glasses), and he would take off his hat (he always wore a felt hat), he would, with the hand that wasn't gripping me put his hat in front of him so that it was in a position to receive "alms for the poor" and he would stop walking, get over toward the building and start singing, "Abide with me," tapping his umbrella like cane while he was doing all this.

How embarrassing! After one verse, he would put his hat back on, let go of my wrist, and we'd be on our way again, usually to Wanamaker's which was at 13th and Market.

So there you have it again. But make no mistake about it. He needed glasses, yes, but he was NOT blind.


Wednesday, August 6, 2008

My first remembrance of my brother Mark and sister, Deb

The question came from Lori -- What is your first memory of my father and your sister?

I was three (almost) when my sister was born. She was brought home from the hospital one week before I was three years old and I do remember that. I remember -- I mean I can see this so clearly -- my mom coming in the front door holding this tiny baby (Debbie) and she looked so very, very happy. My father announced to me that the child's name was Deborah Rose Drexler (accent on the "bor" syllable) , but called her Deb from the first. When we got to high school I started calling her "Drex" and that has stuck. Most of the time I call her Drex.

Being the older sister, I always was superior in my mind to her. She was my little sister. I knew more. But...she (Deb) always had more style than me. Her fashion sense was impecable. I envied her that. I always felt like I looked like a dork (that wasnt' the word back then, but my mind isn't recalling the word I'm trying to find).

A year and a half later my brother Mark was born. He was a screamer. I do remember that. He one of those high-pitched cries that let you know he wanted something.

I recall one night he had just fallen asleep and I went into the room where the crib was located and poked him to test if he was really asleep. Well, he woke up with a start and started screaming at the top of his lungs. My mom came in and asked if I had waked him. I told her no. I figured he wouldn't have waked up that fast from the tiny poke I gave him as a test to see if he was, in fact, awake.

Amazing how you can always justify half-truths, isn't it?

More to follow (MTF).

Tuesday, August 5, 2008


This has nothing to do with hair, and it has nothing to do with ice.

Today is a wonderfully dreary stormy day. It is exactly the kind of day you just want to curl up in a wing chair with a book and read.

I recall a morning not unlike this when I was about 17 or 18 and it was storming in the morning -- a rarity in NJ. Usually the storms came in the afternoon or early evening. But it was a stormy morning, and because it was so dark the lights were on. I recall on that morning Mr. Charlie Dawson came to pick up my dad to go somewhere and told him that he didn't think they could go because the roads were flooded.

Well, that's all I remember about the conversation, but I remember after that, because it was warm -- after all it was summer -- I got my book (probably a Grace Livingston Hill classic) and went out on the front porch and read for most of the day.

Oh, I probably practiced the piano for hours as well, but I know I went out on the porch and curled up with that book.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Thanks to Lori

Thanks to Lori (Mark's daughter, my niece) I will have some items to add to this BLOG in the next few days. She asked plenty of questions and she wants pictures. That might not happen as the pictures are GLUED IN, STUCK TO, NOT REMOVABLE FROM albums. And, if I haven't already scanned the pictures she requested, there won't be pictures to go along with the answers to her questions.

I have bookmarked previous entries to let you know that I've already answered a question, so today's question -- What about the day my brother Carl was born? has already been BLOGged and I linked it with Carl's birthday.

So if you go to the links on the side of this that list the subjects of my BLOGs.

Clear? If not, call me. You have my number.


Fourth and Central

In Runnemede, at the NW corner of 4th and Central there used to be a store. It's a house now. It was a house then, actually, but it had an outside entrance to it's basement, wherein lay the store.

It was not your usual store. I actually think it was a front for some mafia activity, but I'm just thinking that like people in my community think I'm in the Federal witness protection program.

This store had very FEW items for sale (see why I think it was a front for the mafia) and there was never anyone in it but the Drexler kids (see why I think it was a front for the mafia). There was obviously no means for support for this "store." I mean the Drexler kids might have spent $1 total on a good week!

My brother Mark liked the place because the man carried baseball cards. Not that 15 other stores in town didn't, but he had to get all the packs he could, because he never knew when that ONE card would pop up in a pack, so he shopped all over town buying baseball cards.

The man -- whose name my sister and I cannot remember -- who ran the joint had penny candy -- of all kinds, nickle candy bars -- of all kinds, but the supplies never seemed to be any different from week to week. We'd buy our stash (a dime each, usually) and the next week, there would be the same number of candy bars and penny candy items as when we left the week before (see why I think it was a front for the mafia?).

Monday was allowance day, so Monday was probably the day we walked the three blocks to the store.

The man also carried some of the items you would find in the Oriental Trading Company catalog. Rings that turned your finger green after five minutes, yo-yos (the cheap kind, not any brand name), pencils with pictures on them (not naughty pictures), comics, and magazines. Since at that point in my life I wouldn't have recognized an off-color magazine, I can't say that he carried anything like that.

But this was a different store from Jake's 5 & 10, or Binkley's 5 & 10, or Pitt's Drugstore, or Dink's news-stand.

I don't know how else to describe it except a 15x15 corner of this home's basement had been rounded out with shelves on all walls. There was a glass case in the center of the store with the cash register on it, and all the products lined the walls. It was a dinky little store, which I didn't frequent very often -- it frankly gave me the creeps, but apparently my sister and brothers liked it.

But then, they also liked the hoagie shop at 6th and the pike, whereas I preferred the deli on the Pike near Clements Bridge Road. It was all a matter of taste.


Saturday, August 2, 2008

New Post -- another family saying

I was talking with Debbie (my sister) today. I can't believe we talked for at least an hour. When she called I was watching Geronimo with Alan (a movie I've not seen) and frankly I was a little bored. I loved westerns, but this one was beating a dead horse-- literally!

So we talked and while I have writer's block and have had it for a few days, we remembered another family saying. Are you ready for it? Here is comes!

"Another birthday. I will not live to see another birthday. The years haven't been kind."

Okay, everyone, who said that..every year, every Christmas (substitute the appropriate holiday for the word birthday in the quote), every anniversary? Bingo! My father.

We laughed and laughed and laughed. When he was 45 he said it, when he was 50 he said it, when he was 90 he said it. Finally, when he was 93 he meant it. It caught up with him.

We were also remembering that no matter whose birthday it was, his, mom's, mine, sis's, Mark's, Carl's -- we ALL got a gift -- usually a dime or a quarter -- which in those days was a lot of cash for us. When I got older, was married, and moved away, he ALWAYS sent me a check for his birthday (made out to me), a check for my birthday, and a check for mom's birthday. I know my brother and I used to compare notes to see who got the biggest check on these occasions. They were all the same.

You know, I still look for the card in the mail with the check in it on my birthday. Sadly, they don't come any more. But I know that he is with his heavenly father whose riches far surpass anything I could even thing about.

So: Add to sayings -- another year, another birthday, I won't live to see another one, the years haven't been kind. And you must say it in a whiney voice!