Growing up in a small town in Southern New Jersey

Friday, December 26, 2008

The day after Christmas

I remember as a child that the day after Christmas was one of just playing QUIETLY with our new toy -- we each received one new toy from our mom and dad. Once in a while we would get an additional toy from the town Santa (one of the volunteer firemen), but not very often. All the other gifts we received from either church members or family were some sort of clothing. My brothers hated getting socks and I wasn't particularly enamoured when I got a new scarf or a handkerchief, but these items were sorely needed by us and we really should have appreciated them more than we did. When I reached the teenage years, I was finally at a stage in my life when I appreciated the clothing items people gave me.

Well, today is another day after Christmas and we are preparing for our Christmas get together which is taking up our quiet time that has been a tradition for the "day after."

Since the children left home -- and I often felt bad for my mom and dad after all their children were gone -- we do very little to celebrate Christmas. I'm sure it was the same for my mother and father. And while I always called mom on Christmas, I knew that they probably hadn't even decorated their home.

My children have their own families now, and we have ourselves. But we try to get together with each of the famlies either singularly or as a group.

This year, while we met with one family alone, the other two families will be joining us for a big party. We're looking forward to it and the noise!


Christmas presents

My husband has always -- well almost always -- given me the most wonderful Christmas presents.

The first year he was back from Kenya, he bought out the store and gave me so many wonderful things -- a new coat, a sweater, several pieces of jewelry, and some gloves -- fur lined. He over-spent, and was a little short for second semester at Rutgers that year.

Then, a bad gift year, was the first Christmas after we were married. I, of course, was wanting something romantic. He got me a trash can with matching bread box and a vacuum cleaner. Now, we really needed these things, but I did not consider them good Christmas presents because they were needs not wants.

But after my sulk that Christmas, he got the message. After that year, most of my gifts were jewelry, because I love jewelry, especially sterling silver. And now, it's time for me to pass on those gifts so lovingly given to me to my children and grandchildren, which is a tradition I started several years ago.

Now Alan doesn't like Christmas. Except for what he has given me over the years, he's very much like Scrooge and has a real bah-humbug attitude about it

Well, this year he gave me The Complete Jane Austin -- hard bound with gold leaf printing and on the page edges. I have started the first one -- Sense and Sensibility -- but didn't get too far because frankly I had too much else to do today.

So, I wanted to let you know what my great present was this year. And believe me, I really, really wanted that set. I love Jane Austin.


Thursday, December 25, 2008

New Traditions II

First, because my sister, whom I dearly love and miss, especially at this time of year, asked me, I have posted a picture of Elle -- she was not in the picture posted in the last message.

Next, I need to mention another tradition that my daughter, Cyndi (whose child Ellie is) and her family have. They have 5 children and for the last three they have waited until Christmas morning to find out what the sex of the child will be.

Well, child number 6 is due in March and we found out this morning, because today is Christmas after all, that they will be having a BOY! They must have gotten up really early because my dear daughter, Cyndi, called me prior to 9 a.m. and I was actually awake.

I was not particularly waiting for the call, because frankly, I forgot that they were opening the envelope this morning, but I'm glad I was up.

One of my husband's and my tradition is to have roast duckling on Christmas day, and today's feast, prepared by me, was very, very tasty. I have already made duck soup with the left overs and we will enjoy that for the next couple of days. I might freeze some of it, but I don't know how duck soup freezes, as I have never frozen it before.

So, my last tasks are to finish wrapping presents in prep for our big family Christmas party. I'm really looking forward to it.

Last -- I watched for the first time ever The Christmas Story a story about a 8 or 9 year old boy who wants a rifle (bee-bee gun) for Christmas, and his mom doesn't want him to get it, and how he finagles his parents, well, his father, into getting it for him. Frankly, I found the story boring, but the "sets" were wonderful.

You see, the story is set in a small town, not unlike Runnemede. And it is set in the late 40s/early 50s -- the time when I was growing up. And it was very nostalgic. You see, the kitchen is not unlike the kitchen in which I spent so many hours growing up. Same refrigerator, same kitchen sink, same counter top. And the bathroom had the same sink, same medicine cabinet with mirror, same light over the medicine cabinet, etc. And the wainscoting in both the kitchen and the bathroom was just like what we had in our home, including the color of paint. I watched it twice, just to make sure I didn't miss any "scenery."

Well folks, Christmas Day 2008 is over, but it was a pleasant day, and Christmas Eve was as well. I'll discuss that next -- a little out of order, but I have to, because of my wonderful husband.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

New Christmas traditions

Growing up in Runnemede we had several traditions. One was the visiting of relatives, either they came to us, or we went to them. My mom was the one with the "relations". Daddy had only one cousin and she (Alberta) would always get down (from Philly) to see us sometime during the week between Christmas and New Year's Day. But visiting my mother's family, if they didn't come to us, really kept us busy traveling away from our town to South Philadelphia or Springfield (Delaware County).

I loved going to visit mom's sister and her brother and seeing their trees. Back then people didn't put much into outdoor decorations, the focus of the home decoration was the tree, and mostly the trees were live. The other choice was a mealy looking fake evergreen that looked awful, or a silver/aluminum tree with a rotating light. You could hang balls on both these type trees, but lights were not recommended because back then the lights could become an electrocution (being electrocuted) problem. So, while you could hang balls, you couldn't put lights on the artificial trees. Therefore, back in the 50s we had live trees.

Well, all this is to lead up to new traditions. I haven't really addressed my family (Alan's and mine) traditions and I will do that some other time. But after my children married, the third set of traditions started. And last night one of those traditions was experienced.

For the past few years, because of Alan's and my health, we have been visiting our children's families one at a time. And last night it was Cyndi's turn. She cooked a wonderful meal for us. And made a spectacular dessert. Her home was beautifully decorated (see the pictures?) and we had a really good time. The children were bored, I think, because we adults were talking and sort of ignoring them.

Ellie was hard to ignore because being not quite two years old, she's at that "cute" stage, and her antics made us laugh a lot. The change in the children's faces from last year to me was very noticable. See Toria? She is the spitting image of her mother. And that's a development of the last year.

So this newer tradition was such a treat for Alan and me and we thank our children for providing us these pleasures at this season each year.

NOTE: The top picture is the children horsing around, and that is Toria, not Cyndi. Then the other two pictures are pictures of Cyndi's family room tree and the fireplace.


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Thank you, Rachel!

Who is Rachel? She's the daughter of the wonderful woman that God has provided to us to do a bi-weekly clean of the house, and then do my grocery shopping for me. This provision has saved me this month. And Rachel is her 18-year-old daughter who loves to decorate for Christmas, so she went into the attic and picked and chose the best of my decorations and spread them around the living room. I was insistent that ALL the snowmen be put out. However, there is still one box of snow-people -- a whole village, including a snowman doll house -- which I can't find, and is still buried somewhere in the attic.

Well, here are just a few pictures of what Rachel did to my home for Christmas.
The top picture shows what we did to the landing where the stair-way turns, and from where I fell down to the bottom of the stairs, hitting my head on the hard floor of the foyer. I saw stars, then felt no pain, and figured I was paralyzed. But I wasn't. All my padding protected me (actually it was God) from breaking anything. Anyway, this was my vision for the landing, and Rachel worked it so that it turned out exactly as I had seen it in my mind's eye.
The middle picture has the tall glass vase -- it's three feet high -- filled with tiny lights and glass Christmas balls, next to the wash-stand, partially hidden by my silver tea set which Rachel's mom, Tamara, so lovingly polished for me. This is the view from the love-seat.
The bottom photo is the view from the large sofa across the room. I love the look of the table with many of my snowmen on the floor in front of it.
So, you have a small idea of how just part of my home is decorated. The porch is well lit and I finally got the timer to work so that the lights go off after midnight. I still can't figure out the outdoor lights' timer, so for now they are on 24/7. It's only three strings, so our electric bill shouldn't shoot up too much.
When I lived in Runnemede our outdoor decorations were a wreath on the front door and a wreath on the back door. My mom made them fresh every year from cuttings she took from the YEW plants that grew wild in front of the house at that time. She later included holly. The holly tree she grew from a "start" from the holly tree we had at our first home in Cincinnati.
I remember her working on the kitchen table on those wreathes. She loved doing that, and the smell of the greens was wonderful. The only decoration on the wreathes she made was a big, red bow, which she tied herself. I've never been able to do ribbons or bows. When I tie a bow it looks like I tied a bow, now like a professional did it. Same with ribbon draping. I haven't gotten the hang of that either.
Indoors mom put greens around and interspersed them with angels and Christmas balls. And we had the tree, with lights -- those big things that when one went out the whole string went out. Poor daddy, he would work on those lights to make sure they all worked before he strung the tree, and then without fail, by Christmas day one of the lights would break and we'd have a lightless tree for the rest of the season.
So, for now, and until I find that missing box, that's it from our home in Northern Kentucky and a little remembrance from our home on Second Avenue in Runnemede, New Jersey.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Confession is good for....

getting you into trouble? Sometimes, I guess.

But I have another confession to make -- am I about to die or something with all these recent confessions about my most well-kept secrets? God knows.

The confession is this: I LOVE, ADORE, CAN'T WAIT TO SEE, FIND IRRESISTIBLE, and am MADLY PASSIONATE ABOUT Christmas movies. Most of them are not worth the time I take to watch them, but I don't care. I love them.

This year has been especially full of Christmas movies. They are on the Hallmark Channel, the Lifetime Channel, ABC Family Channel, Oxygen, and who knows what other channels. Anyway I had been overdosing on these movies.

The dilemma has been when there are two on that I haven't seen before. What do I watch? Well, I bounce back and forth and hope that the commercials are scheduled at different times so I can get the gist of what's going on in each movie. I'm hopeless. I'm just a couch potato who loves Christmas and those stories.

Do you know how many Scrooge movies there are that take the three ghost theme and are set in modern day? Some really mean and nasty person gets the visits from the "ghosts" and wakes up and all is well with the world. They haven't miss Christmas, and "God Bless us Everyone."

Well, so far I've counted 8, and I'm sure there are more that I haven't seen, and maybe have skipped because I don't want to see another "Scrooge" movie.

I have to say that I do enjoy the movies on the Hallmark Channel, and Lifetime has some pretty good ones, also.

So where is this leading. Well, at our community party the other night we played Christmas Trivia, which my table was very good at, mainly because I had seen so many of these Christmas movies -- and let's not forget the Children's cartoons -- I veg out on those too -- and was able to answer most of the questions asked of the audience. I miss the one about Rudolph having antlers, even though everyone said male reindeer have antlers, it depends on which cartoon you see with Rudolph the red-nose reindeer whether or not he had antlers, so our table, all having seen the same cartoon, apparently, decided to say "no antlers." That was wrong!

But we did very well on the other questions.

So, while I veg out and waste hours and hours of time (while I am not walking) on these movies and cartoons, something good came of it. Our table had the most answers correct overall. So there!


Confession time

I have to confess that I didn't really have much of a relationship with my mother-in-law. We were polite with each other, but we didn't really get close. Whether that was my fault or hers, it doesn't matter.

I was determined that when I had a daughter-in-law, I would try real hard to get close to her and treat her as a daughter. And I really think I have. I love my daughter-in-law -- and it's hard for me to write "daughter-in-law" because I really think of Amy as my daughter.

She and I get along very well. If there is a problem between us, I don't see it. I love her to bits and she is really a lot like me (poor thing).

First and foremost, we both love my son, Phil. And Phil found the best wife ever and she is perfect for him.

I made a comment at dinner tonight, and Phil was so pleased. I had made as part of the dinner, mashed potatoes, and they were lumpless, but I didn't think they tasted all that good. All I said was, "Amy you make such good mashed potatoes, I wish I could make them as well as you do." Phil beamed. But Amy does make the best mashed potatoes I've ever tasted. And she makes several other dishes much better than I -- ham for instance. I just don't make a good baked ham. It is always dried out, and tastes yucky.

I know Phil remarks about my cooking to Amy and I hope she doesn't harbor any inferior feelings about her own cooking. We all have our nitch. And men always think their moms were the best cooks ever. My own husband wishes I would bake like his mom. Not gonna happen, not in this lifetime. I hate to bake. I love to cook and experiment with sauces and gravies and reductions and vegetable dishes, but I don't like to bake.

So I learned to make the most awesome sandwiches in the world. And my husband likes -- no, he loves sandwiches. It's his favorite thing to eat. He could live on sandwiches. Now, he still loves the sweets, as the ladies in our community can attest to -- he always gravitates to the dessert table at community functions -- but he does love those sandwiches.

Anyway, here's to you Amy. I love you and am so glad you are in my family.

DTC - 13

Friday, December 12, 2008

I know I wrote about this last year, but can't find it

Another thing we always listened to, and this we listened to almost on a daily basis. That record was "Twas the night before Christmas" as performed by the Pennsylvanians. I have put a link in the title of this BLOG so you, too, can listen to this wonderful recording.

When I was teaching at Bible Baptist Christian School I had the children learn this version and I was able to get a background tape of just the music part, so they could sing the words and the instrumental part was just the same as the record.

Listen to it, I think you'll really like it. Catchy tune.

Another tradition we had was listening to "Why the chimes rang". It's a two-hanky story and you can find it at: Read it and weep with me.

Of course, there was "The Littlest Match Girl" which I tried to read to my own children every year, but never have gotten through it without shedding a few tears. And even reading it to my rambunctious grandchildren hasn't changed that, I still tear up when I read that story. Poor little thing. You can read that at:

So you don't miss any of my Christmas ramblings, I spent some time and went back and catalogued them under Christmas; holidays. That's only Christmas. The other holidays are not included. So, if you want to know what Runnemede was like back in the 40s, 50s, and 60s at Christmas time, and what our family the Drexlers did with the Sbaraglias read them. It won't take you long. And, please, fell free to comment.

DTC - 13

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Talk about pictures

It never ceases to amaze me the things we find when we open a box that has been in storage now for almost 8 years. Today we opened another box!!!! Only about 70 more to go. :)

In that box was a file and in that file were all kinds of things. It was labeled "family stuff" and it contained among other things thes two pictures of my sister, Debbie, that I've posted above. Doesn't she look absolutely beautiful. She was about 18 in both of these pictures.

Now, if you've checked out Lori's BLOG (All because two people fell in love -- or something like that -- it's listed as one of my favorites, check it out) you'll know that yesterday she posted a picture of herself from the past, and the biggest item in that picture was the hair. Well, notice my sister's hairstyle in the pictures. Just typical mid-60s flips. And what's amazing is that her hair is normally as curly as Lori's, but she was able for these pictures to get her hair to behave somewhat. Anyway, I think she looks just beautiful in those pictures. And if I put up a current picture, except for a little graying, you'd see that she still is as beautiful as she was when she was 20.

So? What else was in the box? I know you want to know.

Well, there were several items from Alan's work days, which I skipped through and left for him to dispose of. But there was a New Testament w/Psalms -- probably my first one -- it's dated 1952, and I would have been 9 when my father gave it to me. It's very small. Pocket size, has leather binding and gold leaf on the outside of the pages. I will pass that on to one of my grandchildren some day.

Also in that box, which I will put in one of my albums are two bills of sale. One is for my second car -- a 1965 Chevelle. Total cost? $2263.95 after trade-in of my 1950 Pontiac -- which I wish I hadn't traded in. I loved that car (my first car). But then doesn't everyone love their first car and wish they kept it?

Then there was also a bill of sale for our first car (Alan's and mine together after we were married). It was a 1968 Pontiac Lemans convertible -- RED. Total cost? $3835.00. He finally gave that car away to a charity for the tax deduction just before we moved here -- that would be 8 years ago.

Alan doesn't throw anything away. I mean nothing! If something gets pitched, I do the pitching. But I'm glad he kept some of these things and they will go in the family albums for my children and grandchildren to pitch.

14 DTC

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

"A Christmas Carol"

One of our traditions as a child was to listen to the recording of "A Christmas Carol" on which Lionel Barrymore played the part of Ebineezer Scrooge. We'd sit on the floor and watch the box where the sound came out of our "victrola" and were transported in our mind to another place, another time. I do have very fond memories of nagging my father to let me hear that recording day in and day out, and I think I "won" in my mind the battle at least four or five times during the month of December.

Well, I was watching the first sound movie of that Christmas classic and found out something very interesting.

Lionel Barrymore was slated to play the lead in the movie, but he had an accident which paralyzed him and so Reginald Owen played the part of Scrooge in the movie, but apparently since he didn't have to do any walking in order to make the recording (vinyl record set -- 4 records, 8 sides) he made the audio recording.

I thought that was an interesting bit of trivia. I always picture Lionel Barrymore as playing Scrooge, but never saw him in any of the many movies of the book. And now I know why.

I wonder, does my brother Mark have this record, too? I know he has "Hatchie Melatchie." :)

MC in 15

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Gone for a while

For my sister who will worry when I don't write anything for a few days, this is to let you all know that I'm taking a break to let my mind rejuvinate and hopefully come up with something new to write about.

I will be attending a few grandchidlren Christmas presentations in the next 24 hours and hopefully I'll get some decent pictures. But, I may still not write anything on the BLOGs.

I have just too much to do right now, and BLOGging is going to have to take a back seat to the other things that are pressing.

I'll be back in a few.


Snowy Saturday and Army/Navy Game

See? we had snow. I know this picture is dark, but I took it tonight, after the community lights were turned on. Not a very good glimpse of our various displays, I admit, but you can see those splotches in the picture -- that's snow, folks. And, I'm loving it.
Oh, I had to postpone plans to head west to visit my daughter today and spend the night. I'm not one to try to go anywhere if there is even one flake of snow, unless the temperature outside is 40 degrees or more and the flakes melt as soon as they hit the ground. But it's cold outside and so the snow is sticking, and it's suppose to get very cold again tonight, which means whatever is water is on the roads will freeze. So, I opted to stay home and be bored.
The reason for the Army/Navy game mention in the title is because today was the 79th (or something like that) consecutive Army/Navy game. And that, dear folks, relates to my time in Runnemede.
My dad wasn't a football fan, so to speak, but he did enjoy the Army/Navy game. And so, on the Saturday after the Saturday after Thanksgiving, no matter what, we watched the Army/Navy game. Dad always routed for the Navy. I rah/rah/sis-boom-bahed for the Army. And I would watch the whole game.
I think for me, it was more, a girl loving those cadets and midship men, more than really loving the game, although I did enjoy football back in my younger days.
And I recall that as a teenager on that first Saturday in December (usually) we would go into Philadelphia where the Army/Navy game has been played for those many years, and I, teenager that I was, with all those hormones raging, would love to walk the streets of the city and see all those men on leave.
So, while Alan and I were watching the A/N game (sort of, I lost interest pretty early in the game when Navy got a touchdown), I was thinking of those Saturdays when my father and I watched those games together.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Home work

Not house work. Home work.

Alan and I were watching the news this morning and the pundits were talking about how much homework children are given these days and that the time they have to spend on that odious task is not allowing them to be children in their "off hours" from school.

Home work for kindergartners is not something I understand or can comprehend. Why would a teacher require that a 5 or 6 years old do homework when they get home. Seems cruel to me. Are teachers afraid that the child will forget what they learned in the 16 hours they are out of their teacher's control? I don't think so. I mean that might be what teachers are afraid of, but I don't think they will "forget" what they learned that day in school. I didn't. My sister didn't. My brothers didn't. Well, maybe they did a little bit.

But my point is, give the kids some credit that they will retain what they have learned that day.

I was a teacher. And I know I've ragged on this before. But when I attended Runnemede Public Schools back in the 40s and 50s, I did NOT have homework. Not once! Never! It wasn't until I got to high school that I even knew what homework was, and then it seemed that each teacher I had was in a competition to see which one could give the most homework. And, if you didn't do your homework, you COULD fail the course. Stupid. The homework was never graded, but if you didn't do it, you got a black mark and were threatened with failure.

And when I was teaching, I always gave enough time in the classroom for a student to get his/her homework completed in class if they worked at it, plus they had the advantage of having me nearby if there was a problem with their homework. I remember doing math homework and not being able to do it because I didn't know how to work the problem, and then turning in an incomplete homework assignment, fearing that I would fair the course because I hadn't been able to work all the problems assigned. I'm feeling the angst I felt then as I write this.

So, I learned to read, write, and cipher without doing homework. There were enough hours in the day for the teachers to get into my brain, and my classmates' brains what we needed to know to go onto the next grade level. And, we had time for recess each day, and time for music, and time for art, although for music and art we weren't sent to another teacher. Art was part of our classroom experience, and music was a combined effort by one of the teachers with whom we combined classes to have a time of singing or play rehearsal.

Alan went to boarding school from the time he was 9 and he said that after 4 p.m. each day there was no more school work. That was the time for sports or reading or just being a kid and doing kid things.

So, I have to ask, when do children today get to do children-type things. If they have two to three hours of homework a night (which is what was reported on the TV, if you can believe that) when do they get to go outside and ride their bike. When do they get time to play a game of Monopoly? When do they get to play with their dolls? I mean if they are in school from 8 to 3:30, and get home at 4:00 p.m. Homework would go until at least 6:00 p.m. at which time it would be dinner time. Then, figuring dinner is over around 7:00 p.m. it's time for baths and then to bed.

I know that my younger grandchildren are in bed by 8:00 p.m. They have to be because they have to be up by 6:30 in order to get on the bus by 7:30 in order to get to school by 8:00.

And so the circle goes. Poor kids!


Thursday, December 4, 2008

Out back

Not "outback", but out back. In South Jersey, that means outside the back door, or in the back yard. The view from the back windows -- and this will be the last in the windows series -- logically would be entirely different from the front windows. The back windows faced south, and the front windows faced north.

For years I had the attic view for "out back". The window was at the top of the stairs and if I sat on the top step, I could look out the window and see far away -- no trees to obstruct my view. I could see our church, I could even see the church which was across the street from our church. I could see a ways up Johnson Avenue, and I could, of course, see several of the neighbors' homes -- the ones that lived on Clements Bridge Road. And, best of all I could see the rooves of the chicken coops that belonged to our neighbors. And, if the window was open I could hear what was under the rooves of those coops. Sorry, no pictures.

In the winter, because the back windows faced south, when it was a sunny day, it was a warm day. At Christmas time, dad set up a train platform on the porch. The back porch, being on the south side of the house, was lit up and warmed and that was our play room. The back porch was mostly windows.

Now, that view, being almost at ground level (there were six steps up from the outside ground) had an entirely different view than the attic view, but both were from a comfortable, cozy place.

In the summer, there would be a huge fan in the attic window so enjoying the view was not as easy as in the winter. From the porch you could, of course, see the church, and I posted that view in a previous rambling, I could see my favorite climbing tree, the garage, my mom's rose bushes -- of course all these things were visible from the attic window, but looking at the roof of the garage or the top of the tree is entirely different.

It's amazing that looking at the same place, from a different sea level abode, is so different.

How I wish I had some pictures of those views, other than the ones in my mind which is getting fuzzier the older I get.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Attic windows

In the attic where my sister and I were housed (after several years of my father using it for his study), there were two windows, one in the front, and one in the back. You can see the one in the front in the picture of our house. The "front" room was used for storage until I was 16, at which time I nagged and nagged my parents to let me have the room for my bedroom. I told them I would clean it out and since there was furniture in there, I decided I could use that furniture for my own, and not share a bureau and bed with my sister. Not a bad idea, eh?

The front room had no heat in it, so we took off the door that separated that room from the "back" room, where my sister and I had been housed, so the heat would flow into the "front" room (minimally). I think I had an electric heater in there for the really cold days in winter.

So, I had a different view out of the front of the house, than I had from downstairs, either through the door or the front window -- that would be the openings that faced Second Avenue.

From my perch I could see a lot more, and since I was even with the tree branches, I could enjoy the birds more closely than downstairs where I would have to look up to see them. I recall a family of cardinals that "lived" in one of the sycamore trees that was out front. The trees are still there, you can see them in the picture. The cardinal family lived in the tree on the left as you look at the picture.

I loved my roost. And it really was like being in a tree house. The window, although it doesn't look really large was 48x54, so it really was a good sized window, and the dormer in which it was set was like a little sitting room, although I did put my bed under the window in the summer time.

I have always been a furniture mover, and so every time I cleaned my room, I moved the furniture. Now that I can't move myself, my furniture moving days are over, and I think my husband is very thankful for that, because when I was younger, he would leave for work and the furniture would be arranged one way, and he would come home, hoping when he walked in that I hadn't moved the furniture to a place where he would trip over something. I tried to be sensitive to traffic patterns, at least.

So I arranged that little dormer-room as my "office" with the desk in front of the window and the chair set so I could see out the window. Or, as I mentioned, my bed would be placed in front of the window and I, like Beth in Little Women, had a great view of the street, the school, and far up the street, and trees and their inhabitants.

From my lofty position I could see not only Mrs. Mahorter's house, but the Britton's home, and almost up to the Strike's house.

I recall one day Tom Lodge -- our produce huckster -- was parked out front of our home, and I was spying on him. He looked up, and I'm sure he could see me on my side of the window, but maybe he couldn't. After all, when you look in a window in the daytime, you really can't see very far into the house -- not like at night-time when all the lights are lit and you can see whatever the curtains or blinds don't hide.

I wish I had a picture of that view, but I don't. You'll just have to imagine what it was like.

NOTE: The picture of mom and dad sitting is the side window in the living room, which is the first window about which I wrote. The one where they are standing is in front of the porch/front window in the living room.


Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Windows -- II

Well, yesterday I mentioned what it was like looking out one of the living room windows. When I counted the windows, I did not count the door windows, and I suppose I should talk about what I could see out the front door window. I also didn't count the two attic windows, but I shall talk about the views I had from those two windows at another time.

The closest thing to the front door was the front porch, then the steps leading down to the sidewalk, the street, and across the street, Downing School. The school I attended for 4 years. I recall waiting by the front door for the children to line up to go into the school, then I would head over to school arriving just in time for school to begin. I really didn't want to play on the playground in the morning before school started, but can't recall whether the reason was I was shy -- yes, believe it or not I am shy -- or whether it was because I didn't want to get dirty before school started.

The piano was just inside the front door -- there was just enough room to open the door without bumping into the piano. As I mentioned the rooms in the small house were, well, small. So, as I sat at the piano, which was a daily occurrence for me as I was religious about practicing right after school, I could see the comings and goings on the street -- of which there were few, children playing on the school ground -- there weren't many of them either -- and the porch, where, if the weather was nice, my brothers and sister would be playing.

In nice weather the door was left open, and the screen door provided the view, rather than the beveled glass door which was shut during cold weather. I seem to recall that the door was open on the first nice day, usually in March, and left open, pretty much the rest of the time, until late October. The only time the inside door was closed was at night, when we were in "lock down" mode.

My dad was a stickler about locked doors. Why, he wouldn't even give me a key when I was in college for fear I'd lose it and someone would find it and figure out where we lived and break in. So, I had to pray that someone was home at any time I was away from the house and coming back to the house. I don't think I had to sit on the front porch very often waiting for someone to come home to unlock the door for me.

Since my mom and dad both played the piano, I think they were determined that each child would learn to play. My dear sister tried, but didn't get very far. My brother, Mark, quickly switched to trumpet, and I don't recall that my brother Carl ever learned any instrument. If he did, it was done after I wasn't home very much any more.

So my view from the piano was such that I could see and hear the street and it's sounds, and the street could hear the sounds emitted from the piano, good and bad. But it was another view from the multitudinous views I had from various parts of that tiny home.


Monday, December 1, 2008

Window views

I was awake again today at 5:00 a.m. and was thinking about Runnemede and it came to me that every window in the house where we lived had a different view.

I recall watching Little Women (the one where June Allyson plays Jo) and how at the end of Beth's life they moved her to a place where she could look out of the window.

I am going to spend a few days recalling the many views that you could see from the house on Second Avenue -- the house where I grew up.

While the house was really quite small, probably 1800 feet including attic space, it was loaded with windows, and I'm not going to count basement windows, because really the only view from there was up someone's pant leg or the sky. But on the first floor -- not including the back porch which was one massive set of windows now known as a three-season room -- there were 12 rather large windows, each having it's own distinctive view of the neighborhood in which I lived, the view of which changed as the seasons changed and as my direction of looking from them changed.

I recall one Christmas Eve I desperately wanted to see Santa Claus. I was probably 4 or 5. And I changed my position in bed, so that I was sleeping at the foot of the bed and had a clear view of the two windows in the little back bedroom where my sister and I slept with my brother Mark(he was in a crib at the time). Mom and dad weren't too thrilled with me sleeping in that position, but they let me, knowing full well that I would wake up in the morning in bed, in the correct place (because they had moved me during the night) and that while I hoped to see Mr. C, I wouldn't see him, but looking out the windows would make me drowsy and sleepy. They even put the shades all the way up to the top so I would have a full view from those windows. Parents will do anything to get their children to sleep in Christmas eve!
What did I see that night? Nothing but reflections of the bedroom, and stars. Never did see Mr. C or his animals. But when I woke in the morning, I was sure I had heard the bells and the noise of hooves on the snow.
One of my favorite places to get a view from the Runnemede house was the side window in the living room. There was a love seat placed in front of that window, and I would sit for hours looking out that window, watching the traffic (maybe one car an hour would drive by, on a busy day), watching for my friends, looking at the garage next door -- yes, there was a great view of that garage, because it butted up against the church's property. Mom had planted roses and lilies there to try to hide the garage. She also had a forsythia bush that covered a portion of the building.
That particular building was black tar paper on the outside, and roofed with an ugly dark brown roofing single. It was not an attractive building, and as far as I ever knew, it was never used. Mr. Kline, our neighbor on whose property the garage resided, may have used it for storage, but I never saw anyone coming from or going into that garage. I think finally it fell down.
From that seat I could see the sky, the sunset (it faced west), smell the on-coming storms, watch them roll in, and enjoy the magnificence of the lightning and thunder on a summer day. From that seat I could watch the seasons change and with each change the view changed. In the summer the garage was well hidden by mom's bushes. In the winter, all the plants seemed to have died, they had lost their leaves, and so only a few "sticks" hid that garage.
I also liked to sit in that seat and on a cold day blow on the window creating a haze into which I would write words, or draw, and then get in trouble because I messed up my mother's clean window. My task then was to clean the window back to it's original cleanliness and pass mom's inspection. But that didn't stop me from huffing and blowing on the glass again and again and again.
The view at the top of this BLOG is the view from the back porch windows over to the church on a snowy day, many, many years ago. It had to be before the 1970s because the gray siding came off in the 70s and was restored to a white clapboard siding, to make the church look like it did originally.
much mtf