Growing up in a small town in Southern New Jersey

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Orange Juice

I grew up in a small town and the small-town grocery store didn't have everything you could get in the big city. I say this because frozen orange juice did not appear in our house until the A&P came to town in the late 50s and it had lots and lots of frozen goods that we never had available to us in the other grocery stores in town.

I have put pictures of two types of juicers that my mom used. If she was juicing a bunch of oranges, she used the juicer of the type shown in the bottom picture. She had a good rhythm with that juicer and would cut six oranges in half and then slip one half orange in the do-hickey at the top and push the lever and the juice would start pouring. She used this machine when she was making juice for the whole family.

Mostly, however, she squeeze one orange in the morning for my father and she used the glass juicer.

I was unable to drink OJ in the morning. It always made me sick, but I often wanted a glass of juice after school. Did I get fresh squeezed? No way. I got orange KoolAid. It was a substitute that I didn't mind, but it wasn't the same as fresh squeezed.

I did get the real thing on my trips to Philly with my mother, about which I've written before. (Perfume, 9/27/07) The orange ade mentioned in that BLOG was billed as fresh squeezed OJ.

I don't know why this came to my mind, except when mom found this frozen juice in a small can and knew she could make a pitcher full for 10 cents (the small cans were 10 for $1 back then on sale) we all started to enjoy OJ at any time of the day, as I do now.

Mom would cut the top and bottom off the can and slide the frozen concentrate into a pitcher and mix in the water. Thus we had OJ with the pulp and everything. And I have to say it tasted really good. Unfortunately, my taste buds have changed over the years and frozen OJ doesn't do it any more. I think it gets too watered down when the water is added. I need that fresh-squeeze stuff (not from concentrate), even if it comes in a carton or bottle. I am an OJ junkie and in a two-week time I, alone, drink a gallon of the stuff. Maybe that's why my weight stays where it is. But I do need the vitamins and potassium that OJ has.

So, I weigh the pluses and minuses and come up with a definite need for OJ. And often when I'm drinking OJ I think about my dear mother and how she had to squeeze those oranges, and all I have to do is remove the cap from the container.

PS: I have a juicer which I use when I am able to get oranges in bulk. It's an attachment for my mixer, and it works very, very well.


Wednesday, February 25, 2009


We didn't always have a freezer. We had a tiny, little section above the small GE refrigerator (which is still working, by the way) which held four trays of ice cubes and maybe some ice cream.

When I was a child, not much was really known about frozen food. Well, we knew if we put something in the freezer it would freeze, but we didn't know about freezer burn, food going bad after a month or months depending on what was put into the freezer, etc. So, when mom came up with a "plan" to get herself a "deep freeze" in an upright position, there was quite a discussion (between her and my father). She was stubborn about this and she wanted a freezer.

She found a "plan" that would GIVE you a 15 cubic foot freezer (I think that was the dimension, it was huge, even after I grew up it was huge) and all you had to do was order food from the "giver" twice a year to fill your freezer for five years. Good deal, huh? Well, I'm not so sure that the amount of money mom spent on that food was such a good buy.

We really didn't need more than overnight refrigeration back in my earlier years because we'd just run down the street to the grocery store and order whatever we needed for the next day or so. Milk and butter were delivered. Fish was delivered by a fishmonger. Produce was delivered by the produce truck. So what was left was meat and bread, basically. But mom wanted a freezer and she decided that freezing food in the summer was going to be so much better than canning.

Well, it was, but the taste was entirely different. I mean canned peas are awful, frozen peas taste almost like fresh peas. Canned green beans were never a favorite of mine, but frozen green beans were more like real green beans, so I liked them better. Corn was a piece of cake to freeze, and it was a bear to can. She found out real fast that tomatos don't freeze well.

The freezer was put in the basement and it had a lock on it. We always kept it locked. Why? I don't know. We all knew where the key was -- it was in the lock! Mom would send me down at least once a day to get something out of the freezer, whether it was some sort of veggie for dinner or a pound of meat, or butter -- she cancelled the butter order with the milkman.

I think we had better dinners after we got the freezer mainly because mom was less stressed about making a dinner and taking all that time to do it from scratch. She could get her veggies finished in 15 minutes, instead of spending one-half hour prepping the beans or the corn or whatever. And desserts? Well, that didn't change much. Instead of canned fruit, we got frozen fruit, and sometimes it hadn't thawed by the time we were to eat it.

I recall one year she decided she was going to freeze rhubarb. Now, I have to tell you no one but my father liked rhubarb. But my dear mother, she scraped those stalks and cut them and cooked them down, added the sugar, then bagged them -- yes they had special boxes and baggies back then for the happy homemaker. Mom would pull a box of rhubarb, thaw it, and serve it over stale cake. It was not yummy! And that recipe will NOT appear in Runnemede Remembered Recipes, because frankly I hated the stuff. Still do.

And then there was something that the salesman didn't tell mom. That hulking big thing had to be defrosted at least twice a year. What a mess that was!

When I was growing up

There are some things I wish I had known back then.

First and foremost, I would have raised my children in a small town. We started our familiy out in a small town -- Fanwood, NJ -- and I loved it. I could walk the children, one in a coach, two walking slowly, all around, and we could window shop. I could walk to a butcher. The children enjoyed the life as well because it wasn't really much different from what I knew from growing up in Runnemede, NJ.

At Christmas there was the requisite Santa at the town hall, a.k.a. the fire station. This particular town (Fanwood) had a train station and trains went through often on their way to and from New York City. I wish I had known then that the small town was the best place in the whole world to live.

Second, I would have found a SMALL church. We always gravitated toward medium sized churches which were nice. I mean we made friends, but didn't get to know everyone. And the preaching, sorry to say, was generic, with the pastors trying to reach the middle group with touchy-feely sermons, not trying to push the Word of God on the people who listened to him.
In the church in Runnemede, the preacher (my father) didn't mince words about the Bible. It was the text, and if the passage talked about Hell and how awful it was, dad didn't downplay it or term it as allegorical. I should have learned this (known this) from the training I received in Runnemede. Get the picture?

I wish I would have known to tell my mom and dad that I loved them more often. We were not huggers in our house, and I would have hugged them more. I also would have been less selfish as a teenager and helped my mother more around the house.

I guess the item highest on the list of things I wish I had know is that children mimic their parents. And I often said to my mother, "I'm never going to be the kind of mother you are." Or, "I'm never going to do that to my children."

Guess what? I am my mother. I exactly mimicked my mother's mothering style, her cooking style, her cleaning style, her discipline style, etc.

I wish I had know then that I would become my mother. I would have observed her better and more lovingly. Boy, I miss my mom.


Friday, February 20, 2009


My mother and father both loved to read. My dad read mostly Bible study books, which he would critique, finding that many of the books published in the 50s and 60s were not true to the Word of God. He always wrote a letter to the author telling him (no hers back then) how they erred in their interpretation of God's word, and warning them about that jot and tittle thing.

My mom, while she loved to read, really didn't have time. But she always took the time to read through Better Homes and Gardens magazine and The Reader's Digest.

I guess I come by my love for reading naturally then. I'm looking at all the older books I have shelved in my sister's room, and realize that many of them were my mother's books. Later in life she was a member of a book club and read good, clean books. One of her favorite authors (and mine) was Janet Holt Giles. Ms. Giles wrote books about the Kentucky hills, namely the Appalachian part of the state. And her books are filled with life as it was in the 50s and 60s in south-central Kentucky. I loved those books. And when we moved to Cincinnati in 1975 I really wanted to live in Kentucky because of those books. We didn't settle on the south side of the river until 30 years later. And I love living here in Northern Kentucky, which is really nothing like the world down in the hills.

Another author my mom enjoyed was Elswyth Thane -- she wrote a series about Williamsburg, Virginia. The first book introduces the characters that started the families that she uses throughout the series. The first book is about coming to America and the beginning of the revolutionary war. The series ends after World War II, and the beginning of the renovation of Williamsburg. I don't know why the series ends there, but it does. I have read these books several times, and in the front of the first in the series, I keep a large map of Williamsburg -- the part that is the old village so I can follow the footpaths of the characters in the books.

It's difficult to get these books these days. Fortunately, I have a complete set of the Thane books, and I can go to any Kentucky library, in the Kentucky section and get the Giles novels.

If you get a chance, try one of these books. They're really good. If you can find the Thane books, you really need to read the Williamsburg series in order. The Giles books -- to get you started begin with Miss Willie. I think if you read that book, you'll be hooked.


Tuesday, February 17, 2009

My recipe BLOG

Well, the past two weeks' report is in, and only one person is reading this BLOG. Well, maybe more are reading it, but only one person per day is reading it. So, I'm asking, is it worth it to do this on-line "cook book" for you folks who read this BLOG.

I learned last night of an author from South Philly who just published a book (Gravy Wars by Lorraine Renalli) and I really am looking forward to getting a copy of the book because she includes so much of the South Philly Italian humor in the book.

You're probably asking, what's with this South Philly thing I keep bringing up. Well, frankly it's because I have fond memories of my many, many visits to South Philly and the family members who lived there. I went there from the time I was a small child, holding onto my mom's hand, and listening to her converse with the folks down there in Italian, not understanding a word of what she was saying. I often wondered what "secrets" she shared with her friends. They all seemed so old to me.

And I remember that when I was about 14 and was permitted to go to Philadelphia by myself, without a parent tagging along (or was I tagging along with a parent?) and then switching from the bridge el to the Broad street el to get down to my family in South Philly. Can you imagine an unaccompanied14-year-old girl getting on a subway in Philadelphia in this day and age? I was never afraid, and never worried for my safety, and apparently neither did my parents. Times were so different then.

So, if you want to get a flavor for what we ate back when I was growing up, and find out what and how I learned to cook, you must read this new BLOG -- Runnemede Remembered Recipes (click on the title to link to the new BLOG). Comments appreciated!


Sunday, February 15, 2009

Post Valentine's Day

I don't get it. When I lived in Runnemede my husband never forgot to get me a beautiful gift for Valentine's Day. And he didn't have any money back then, either. Over the years the gifts have dwindled to once every four or five years -- the past three years we have been on a cruise, so I got to pick my own jewelry gift.

This year, and I'm not complaining because Alan really can't get to a store to buy something and he doesn't have the hang of on-line buying, except for his books -- he did figure that out -- he almost didn't even tell me Happy Valentine's Day.

Anyway, after we left Runnemede, he would still get me something, even if it was chocolates -- which he ate, because I can't eat chocolate. It was the thought that counted, right?

Well, this year tops them all. And I have to say the whole Valentine's thing didn't bother me at all, because at this point in my life, I prefer to be the giver -- that's what gives me pleasure, but...

Last night around 11 p.m. Alan came into the bedroom to "visit". I'd been in bed all day because of back problems -- and he said to me: "Did I tell you 'Happy Valentine's Day'?" I said, "No." And then I laughed. As always he started talking at the END of a movie I was watching -- I was watching the one on the Hallmark channel. He asked what I was laughing about, and I told him that once again I missed the end of a movie. He said, "Well, Happy Valentine's Day."

That was it. He went back out to the recliner, where he's been having to sleep because of his own back problems, and I went back to the book I had started earlier in the day. And that was the end of Valentine's Day 2009, one that will remain in my mind for about two days, and then will be gone. But it is now memorialized on a BLOG!


Saturday, February 14, 2009

Valentine Cards

Today (it's 12:10 a.m.) is Valentine's Day. Not my favorite holiday.

If you want to know why, go to The Fat Lady Singeth. That's a real Runnemede Remembered story and it's about Valentine cards, or the lack thereof.

Now on to this day and year.

Yesterday I did what I have been trying to do each year for the past several, and that is send out valentines to all the grandchildren. That means a trip to Hallmark. I was worried about that trip because when I go into a store, I tend to, well, "trip." However, I did okay, and I spent a huge amount of money to get Valentine cards for the grands and my husband. Wow! What happened to the 10 cent card? Back in my Runnemede years, Mr. Pitt sold nice Valentine cards for a dime! He owned the drugstore on the corner of the Pike and First Avenue.

I realize that cards have increased in price, and bargains can be found, but I really like Hallmark cards. So, I bit the bullet and got the cards, wrote them out, and got them in the mail today. They should all be delivered tomorrow, Valentine's Day. Hope you grandchildren like them.

Memom sends her love to you all (pop-pop is included in that love, by the way).


Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Mt Calvary Union Church

The church in which I grew up and learned so much about the Lord, Jesus Christ, was called Mt.Calvary Union Church. I went through a history (of Runnemede) book which I have, but there was nothing in that book that said what the reasoning behind the name was. The church was built in 1910 and was built because the nearest church was in Glendora -- the Methodist Church.

I have never written about the inside of the sanctuary of the church, but it is beautiful in the sense that it definitely portrays the early 1900s in materials and fixtures.

I've spoken about the vestibule (small entry room) before, but as you pass through the two swinging doors that lead to the main part of the church you see that the church is very small by today's standards. However, small doesn't necessarily mean "not good" or "not visited by people who believe in Christ the Lord as Savior of the world", etc.

I do have pictures of the inside of the church, but I'm not certain they would show up in the BLOG because they were sent to me in a very small view.

Needless to say, the inside of the church has an oak floor. I'm almost certain that sometime in the late 40s, early 50s, the wood floor was covered with linoleum -- after all it was what everyone was doing back then, because wood floors could give you splinters. Dumb reason.

Anyway, around the inside of the church there is a wainscoting -- it's tin. It's been painted many, many times, but it's in good shape. The ceiling is also decorated tin, painted only a couple of times. The ceiling peaks in the middle of the center aisle. On each side of the main room are stained glass windows which tell who donated them and in whose memory and the year of the donation. A mini-history of the early church. The names were all prominent in Runnemede (according to the history book) in the early 1900s, including the mayor, town council people, and the fire chief.

The pulpit area is raised two steps and is fronted with a kneeling rail. The pulpit area is still wood covered with an area carpet. This area also has two chairs -- one to the right, the other to the left of the speaker's pulpit, which is a big wooden thing with several shelves under the sloped top. Behind the actual speaker's pulpit there is a large wooden arm chair -- I always thought of it as a throne because it had a high back, was ornately carved, and had a big dark red pillow on it (that was to sit on).

Behind the whole pulpit area is a dark red velvet curtain which hides large doors that can be folded back to open the whole church up into one large room, or to extend the pulpit for plays (which we did a couple of times when I was a child).

The light fixtures are pewter, simple, but have that patina that only older pewter can have. I always liked those lights.

I was married in this tiny church in 1966. The church is going through some cosmetic changes now, but I would hope that in making those changes the integrity of the early 1900s wouldn't be destroyed or removed.


Friday, February 6, 2009


I started a new BLOG today entitled: Runnemede Remembered Recipes. These are recipes I learned from my mother or which I developed later in my cooking life. I hope to put up a new recipe every day. And, I hope you enjoy this BLOG. There will be a little bit of history with each recipe, as I remember it from my learning days in my mom's home.

The link is: Be sure to bookmark it!


Thursday, February 5, 2009

Go to "The Fat Lady Singeth"

For today's update on the snow and what it was like in Runnemede on a similar day, go to today's posting at

My goof-up. Sorry. I intended for that BLOG to be on Runnemede remembered, but my eyes flipped and I put it in the wrong spot.


Wednesday, February 4, 2009


Well, yesterday's snow out here in N. KY is melting nicely, even though the outside temperature is only 10 degrees. I should say that the places that are in the sun are melting nicely. Since our home fronts to the northwest we get only about 10 minutes of sun late in the afternoon and so we don't have much melting, but across the street, the homes face southeast and they are getting lots of warm sun melt.

Our sun porch is warm as toast (it faces southeast) and right now the temperature out there is 80 degrees. Isn't that amazing -- the outdoor temperature is 10 degrees, but inside the sun porch it's 80 degrees, and no there is no heat source other than the sun out there.

We're enjoying the day and the snow (how it looks) and remembering how we would go out in the snow as children and make snow angels. Oh, how I wish I could do that now. Well, I could get down to make the snow angel, but we'd need to have a crane to get me back to an upright position, so making snow angels is no longer an activity in which I can participate except in my dreams.

I know why children love snow so much. And I love to just watch the few children that live in our community out playing in the snow, throwing snowballs, making a fort -- 18 inches of snow makes a neat fort. I love watching them get in those circle things and sliding down the hill. We used to use handle-less garbage can lids, if we didn't have a sled.

So, while I can't participate any more in the winter activities, I can remember how much fun they were and really, really enjoy watching children have fun!