Growing up in a small town in Southern New Jersey

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Sunday sayings

Several months ago I started listing "sayings" we had when I was a child. First let me say, that I don't like the word "kid". A "kid" is a baby goat. That said, if I err and say something about myself or my family and include the word "kid" or "kids" in the sentence, I'm not referring to any baby goats. We had no goats. We lived next door to chickens. And we had mice, spiders, cats, a dog, gold fish, and probably snakes. I mean, aren't there supposed to be snakes in chicken coops?

That said, I'm posting a picture of Deb (my sister) and me probably not taken on a Sunday (since I appear to be wearing overalls) and I'm sure we were talking to each other. At least I was talking. Since Deb is very young in this picture, she was probably just drooling and saying ma-ma and da-da. So, I can't say that this picture denotes a "Sunday saying", I just thought it was a cute picture.
Back to Sunday sayings: One saying my sister and I had, which isn't really a saying per se, just something we said a lot to each other since we shared a bed for many, many years, was "Keep to your side of the bed."
I have to admit we probably were struggling with our feet when one of us would say that to the other. Then we'd hear mom or dad walking into the room, or in later years to the foot of the attic stairs, and tell us to be quiet and go to sleep.
Sleeping in a bed with a squirmy person isn't easy. I know this because I often sleep next to one grandchild or another on their overnight visits, but I don't ever tell them to "Stay to your side of the bed." I just endure the squirmy and leg kicks.

Friday, January 29, 2010

The house (again)

My dear mother Rose (and the rest of our immediate family) lived in a tiny house that wasn't our own. She lived there for almost 45 years. The house was the church parsonage.

Anything mom wanted to do in the house, including painting the bathroom, she had to get permission from the church trustees to do. She could buy no new appliances when the old ones broke without their consent, because, after all, the new appliances wouldn't be hers. They belonged to the church. She couldn't buy carpet for any room in the house. Of course, the floors were hardwood (oak) and would be in style now, but the floors were cold, after the coal furnace was replaced.

She really wanted to carpet the attic where Deb's and my room was, but the church decided it was more thrifty (I suppose) to put down plywood and then paint it. It was very, very cold in the winter, and we were constantly fighting with splinters.

This isn't a criticism of the trustees. They had a job to do, and mom was grateful for any and all improvements they allowed.

My dear mother's kitchen was a 10 x 10 square room with a sink and counter (a small counter) on one wall. That wall included the back door, which made the space even smaller, and the sink was in the center of that counter. Since there was no dishwasher (were they even invented yet?) the dish drain was always a part of the kitchen counter.

It wasn't a very convenient kitchen by today's standards, but it was the warmest room in the house, the most congenial room, and we all congregated there and were under foot most of the time. Mom didn't seem to mind, she'd just put us to work.

The stove was opposite the sink. And that would have worked very well except the kitchen table was between the two entities. I guess today that would be considered an island. The refrigerator was within easy reach of the stove.

There was no pantry; not even enough cabinet space to store any groceries, except for cereal, sugar, flour, salt, and olive oil. They were spread through the few cabinets we had, and there was no rhyme or reason to where they were housed. But we knew where they were, and that's what mattered.

Mom's "pantry" was the basement. Basically, it was in a jelly cabinet (which I absolutely loved). Mom also had storage under the basement stairs which contained a large closet -- a closet which my father told us housed the entrance to a tunnel that connected the house to the church. We never found that tunnel, but my father was adamant that it was there. My mom stored her canning supplies in there, and her home-made canned goods as well. So the full jars were put in there after canning season and then as we used up the food, the empty jars were put back in that closet.

The basement also housed a huge freezer which mom and dad purchased when I was in fifth grade.

Now when I talk about the basement, I mean basement. It was an unfinished space. The walls were cement. The floor was cement and very uneven, and full of cracks. But, it was clean. Mom made sure of that. At least once a month mom and I would don our scarves and tie them around our heads, then mom would sprinkle the floor with water to keep the dust down, and we would sweep. I had to make sure that the broom got into all the nooks and crannies of the ceiling, which was basically the flooring for the upstairs.

I had to make sure I got all the spiders out of the corners. And, there were always spiders in that basement. There were always centipedes in that basement. And, there were always silverfish, lots of silverfish, in that basement. Most of all I hated the centipedes (thousand leggers).

We didn't spray insecticide in the corners, but we should have. Dad had one of those old-fashioned debuggers with the long pusher and can on the end of the pusher. I suppose that we could have eliminated a lot of bugs if we had thought to do so, but I think mom would rather spend a day cleaning than smell the debugging stuff.

Me? I have on compunctions about killing bugs in any way I can. I don't like bugs of any sort.

I must add as an afterthought: Where I live now, I have the perfect kitchen (for me) and I absolutely love it. But I must admit that I never had any problem with that old kitchen in Runnemede. And I was thinking that it was no wonder I was such a skinny kid what with the food being in the basement, and my bedroom being in the attic. I got exercise -- built in Stairmaster!

Today's BLOG was written in an e-mail to my daughter when I was remembering how similar her kitchen is to the kitchen in which I grew up. She lives in a house that has a similar floor plan to the house in Runnemede, which makes visits to her sort of like going home


Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Still another great shop on "main street"

This shop was the place where dreams were made. This place was on the corner of Fourth Avenue (NW corner) and The Pike. The name of the shop was Palumbo's.

Palumbo's was a wedding gown/prom gown shop. And the window dressing was something from which the dreams were made.

My sister and I both recall how we would wait for the window to change clothes (new gowns put on display).

When I married my bridesmaids' dresses came from that shop. We went in to choose them and took our time.

My gown didn't come from there, though. After all those years of dreaming about getting a gown at Palumbo's, I didn't. I found one that was less expensive and just as pretty at Penney's.

But I remember riding my bike down to just look at the window and when I was riding a bus home from work, I'd take a peek at the window to see if they had changed the contents. Always a treat when the dresses were changed.

Prom season was another time when the window would change, and then after prom season was bride season, then came homecoming season, then Christmas, then it went round again. Always changing, always dreaming.


Main street continued

I started yesterday by describing in my feeble way a partial picture of Runnemede's main street -- the Black Horse Pike. I shall continue my dialog by heading north on the pike, starting at Clements Bridge Road. If you all want to see a map of Runnemede click on this link.

On the corner, was the Misses Dodge's house. It was an old house, two story home, and Camilla and Josephine Dodge lived there. When I knew them they were very old -- at least 70 plus -- maybe not quite that old, but they were really elderly. Miss Camilla was the lady who would click her tongue in derision whenever she saw a woman or girl in "pants" -- man's clothes. Not a good thing. I know I avoided her at all costs whenever I had on overalls. Miss Josephine was the sweetest lady ever. She always had some candy for the children, and she was a Sunday school teacher at our church. I remember Miss Camilla more than Miss Josephine. And yes, they went by those names for as long as I knew them.

Moving north on the Pike we came to what was the post office. I know this because I spent a lot of time there, and went to get the mail with my father on many occasions. Next to that was a deli -- the best deli ever. When it went out of business in the late 50s, we started going to Vince's (on Clements Bridge just next to the railroad tracks) and his shop was a good replacement for the best deli (always crowded) ever. The smell -- oh my! I can still smell those pickles, the salami, and other garlic-infused goodies that were all over the shop.

Now is where my mind becomes muddy. I don't recall any other buildings -- although I'm sure there were either homes or something -- until you came upon Mr. Leap's super grocery store. He, too, had a pickle barrel. But his grocery store was just that. He carried the things you COULD get in the deli (like cheese and lunch meats), but he didn't carry the good Italian bread that the deli carried. Mr. Leap's store also had the other things that no deli ever carried, like cereal, coffee, Wonder bread (which my mother never bought and which we kids really wanted), some frozen foods, which were a new-fangled thing -- you know like peas, spinach,, green beans. Until we tasted frozen peas we didn't know what real peas tasted like. Peas weren't something you could get fresh very often, and canned peas don't taste like peas. I don't know what they taste like. I guess they just taste like canned peas. Mr. Leap's store was on the corner of the Pike and Second Avenue, across from the gas station, and two blocks down from our house.

I'm going to walk up (going north was up, going south was down) the Pike another block. On the NW corner of Second and Pike was an empty lot. Then you came upon Joe's soda shop. And boy were those soda's good. He had a regular soda bar in the back of the store, and magazines in the front. In between were all sorts of goodies. School supplies, kiddie jewelry, etc. Loved that store. Then next to Joe's there was another grocery of sorts.

What I can't figure out is why Runnemede had so many grocery stores. The one on the corner of Third (next to Joe's) had a lot of floor space, but not so much food.

And my mother shopped them all. I guess she thought it was her duty to help keep them all in business, and with four children, she certainly bought enough food. And mom bought something every day, it seemed like. Actually, I -- me, myself, and I -- did the buying from the time I was six or seven, mom sent me to one or the other of the stores for something. And when I started getting my dime allowance, I did my own shopping (usually a pickle was included in my weekly shopping).

On the NW corner of Third Avenue was Marston's Jewelry store. Actually, I think that store went in later, but I remember that corner always having a jewelry store on it.

I have one more "main street" dialog which I'll post another day.


Monday, January 25, 2010

Main Street -- Runnemede 1950

Main street, of course, is The Pike (Black Horse Pike). After a conversation with my sister today, I'm ready to update you on THE STREET as it was in the late 40s, early 50s, more likely the late 40s. I would have been 6 or 7 then. I can always depend on my sister to bring back some memories, even though she is three years younger than I. And, of course, she remembers things I don't recall at all because of our age difference.

I know, three years doesn't seem like a big difference, but, believe me, it was. I was OLD, she was a BABY. We did very little together, except fight over the cleanliness of our room. But our remembrances of our tiny home town are so similar in so many ways.

So, here's The Pike as I remember it in 1950, starting on the eastern side of the Pike at Second Avenue and heading south toward Clements Bridge Road. Some of these shops were only in existence for a short period of time.

First was the Gulf Station, then the fire station. Next was an empty lot, full of trees and weeds, and I think it was the back yard of what was to become later on, Jake's Five and Ten. And yes, it was Jake, not Jack.

Then came Jake's 5 and 10 (which became an optometrist shop by the time I was in 6th grade). Next door to Jakes, on the corner of First Avenue was Finaro's shoe store. Mr. F was a cobbler, shoemaker extraordinaire. And he had one of those x-ray machines in his store. I do recall my sister and I loved going in there just to see our feet through our shoes. How neat was that.

Across First Avenue was Pitt's Drug Store, butted up by Mr. DiCecco's Tailor Shop, then came Weber's Bakery, then the hardware store. Dink's was next, but I think that was originally a small eatery, which I think was also owned by the Weber's. I recall that it was only one store wide, whereas Dink's was two stores wide, so it may be that Dinks was next to the restaurant before he expanded to the double width, and that the restaurant was next to Dinks butted up against the grocery store.

The restaurant had a very small menu, about six booths and maybe four other tables, if that many. I recall going there on a couple of Sunday's after church when I was very small, and it was just me, my mother and my father. Debbie, my sister was probably still on the bottle. She doesn't remember the place. I don't believe we ever went out to eat after she was big enough to cost my mom and dad money (except down at the Boardwalk, but I already wrote about that ).

Then there was on the corner of Clements Bridge and Black Horse Pike, still on the east side, the grocery store, which became a Firestone tire store, which became the vacuum cleaner store.

If you cross the street, and work your way up the pike, you'd find some other shops, buildings that changed hands over the years, but neither I nor my sister could remember all those buildings, or their uses, so I'm not going to talk about them for now. If I find out what their uses were I'll BLOG about them.

Just had to say that parking on the pike was not difficult back then, traffic on the pike was very light. Of course, not every home had a car yet, men were just getting home from the War (WWII) and houses were being built all over town. My dad was still bicycling around the town.

When I go home in a few months I'll take pictures of each and every building as they are now, and then I'll reconstruct how they were back when. I know a lot has been done to "reface" the main street (The Pike) in the last few years, and many of the shops will no longer be distinguishable in the new frontage.


Saturday, January 23, 2010

Returning to Runnemede -- for Real

Yes, I'm going back to Runnemede, for real, in late May. The church in which I grew up is celebrating it's 100th anniversary, and my family, since dad was the pastor at the church for more than half of the church's existence, will be coming to town in droves, so to speak, at the end of May.

Most my children and grandchidren, several of my nieces and nephews, and their children, are going to descend on Runnemede. We're all looking forward to a great family reunion, as well as a reunion with some of the church members who are still around.

I guess the last time I visited the church was five years ago when our nephew (on my husband's side) got married. We arranged it so that we would visit the church on the morning after the wedding and worship with them and then head home after that. The only thing we missed that trip was the trip to Phily diner after church, which was a custom in the last years of my father's life. How he loved that place. And they loved him. He was a big tipper!

One of the ladies on the celebration committee called me today to let me know some of what is going on, and as time goes by, I'll add "events" to my BLOG. The church has quite a few planned starting in late May and going through December, with a planned Christmas celebration to mimic one they had in 1910. Ledgers written by the church "secretary" have given the committee lots of insight as to what it was like in 1910 and one of the events for which they have an old ledger is Christmas in the early 1900s. I would so love to see those old papers and read through them. Imagine what history there is in them?

So, I'm really gearing up for this trip "home". Maybe as the trip time gets closer my memory will be jogged and I'll be able to post more things remembered about Runnemede.

I am also enjoying the Facebook page: I grew up in ole Runnemede, NJ. It's a bunch of us oldsters talking about what we did as children and the memories we have of the town in which we were raised. You can read the entries by going to and then search to Runnemede. One of the search responses is the "I grew up..." site and you can read what many of us have written. I especially like the history discussion group.

So, for now, I'll say ta-ta. Be writing soon.


Sunday, January 17, 2010

The town tailor

In reading Mr. Leap's book about Runnemede, he mentioned Mr. DiCecco. Mr. DiCecco was the town tailor, and his shop was on the Pike between Pitt's Drug Store and Weber's Bakery. It was a tiny shop. And if it was tiny when I was tiny, it must really have been tiny.

I don't recall whether Mr. D sold new suits in his shop, but I do remember going in with my father on one occasion when dad was having his trousers altered. Not the pair he was wearing, but another pair.

Well, Mr. DiCecco seeing me with my father, told me to wait in the outside area of the shop and not go behind the curtain where he was going to measure my father for the alterations to his pants. My dad would have none of that and told Mr. D: "She's my daughter, it's okay if she comes back with me." I don't' think Mr. D was very happy about that. I guess he though that if I saw my dad in his scivvies I'd be morally corrupted or something.

Come on! We lived in a house with one bathroom, and at that time two bedrooms. It was a home where there was little privacy, and daddy didn't get entirely dressed in the bathroom. I had seen my father in his undies on more occasions than I could remember, even at the age of 6 or 7.

Needless to say, Mr. D completed his measurements in record time, saving me from being corrupted, I suppose, not that I was even caring about my dad being in a partial state of undress. I was too busy reading a new comic book.

It didn't keep daddy from going down to Mr. D's shop. I went with him on several more forays into that store.

I loved Runnemede!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Weber's Bakery

Reading through some Facebook entries from the "I grew up in ole Runnemede, NJ" page, I was reminded of something I do not believe I have ever mentioned.

There was a bakery in Runnemede, on the pike. It was between First and Clements Bridge Road on the east side of the pike. It was either right next to Pitt's or the tailor was next to Pitt's and then the bakery was next in the line of stores, followed by the hardware store.

Weber's Bakery was a place I loved to just walk by and smell what was being baked. Since my mom wasn't much of a baker, I didn't know what I was missing by not getting something from that store.

My dad took me into the shop a couple of times. He would go in and get some cinnamon buns. Rarely he would get me a cream donut. We usually stopped in the store when he went to the tailor shop. I guess that tells you how often we went to the bakery. I mean, my father did get his clothes tailored very often. It seems to me that the tailor also did some shirt washing and starching. I might have that wrong, but I might have that right. If anybody reading this knows, let me know.

I know I've mentioned the cream donuts that I used to get from Kelly's Bakery, down in Glendora, but I had forgotten that we had a good bakery in Runnemede for a few years. Kelly's was a hike, but worth the hike. Weber's was a two block walk. Getting there, too, was worth the trip.

So -- here's to Weber's Bakery. See, I eventually will remember or be reminded of things forgotten but stored in the computer in my head.


Monday, January 11, 2010

The Round House

This is truly a "Runnemede Remembered" item.

When I was a child I would bike all over Runnemede and Glendora (the town just south of Runnemede). Located in Glendora, not far from the Runnemede border of Evesham Road there was a house which all us children found fascinating. It was fascinating because it was ROUND. Who ever heard of a round house? Well, there it was on Rowand Avenue in Glendora, having been building in 1947. It's still there. I would ride my bike past it and gawk at it hoping to see someone who lived there, imagining what the layout could possibly be, and wondering what it would be like to have a bedroom with a curved wall -- imagining having any room with a curved wall.

We knew someone resided there because the lawn was kept, there were blooming plants, in season, and you could see lights in the windows should you ride past the place late in the afternoon.

This is just a memory that I had forgotten, but knew someday it would be one of those which I would find and take out of one of the corners of my mind (sounds like a line from a song?).

Picture is of the round house, now titled and referred to as The Cookie Jar House.


Addendum to Triton fight

I had a request for more information about that rebellion that took place in 1961, I believe it was in late March or early April.

Gerry Drinkwater, as far as I knew, did not organize the don't drink milk/cafeteria strike. In fact, he ate and bought his lunch as he normally did. The line was very short, so everyone knew who was NOT going with the flow. Gerry was a laid-back guy, football player, getting ready to head out to Brigham Young University, when he was told "no prom."

Sorry to say, he was not permitted to attend. The school administration did not back down, and I guess we just got hungry or wanted milk, but the rebellion lasted as I remember for about one week.

You know how these things start? One person is upset by what has happened, thinking the punishment was unjust, and someone else says, "There has to be something we can do." Alas, in those days parents didn't file lawsuits or even threaten them if they felt their child had been maligned in any way, not that Gerry's parents thought that. I think someone suggested the saying, "Don't drink milk, drink water" and the strike was off and running.

We still ate our lunches, we just didn't BUY anything in the cafeteria. I don't recall that we made signs or carried any banners or formed a parade, we just didn't buy anything in the cafeteria.

I bet the kids who didn't go along with the crowd, and decided to buy their lunches anyway, loved the support for Gerry, because lunch line was non-existent. You just went up to the counter and got your lunch. What a blessing because on a GOOD day you would wait in line for 15 minutes. There were even days (usually pizza day) when the line was still moving when the bell rang. What did those kids do? Skip lunch or skip class? I often wondered about that.


Sunday, January 10, 2010

Triton cafeteria fight

It wasn't a food fight. And it was a silly issue, really.

What happened was: The class president, and the best looking boy in the entire class, was banned from the senior prom (class of '61). His name was Gerry Drinkwater. I don't recall why he was banned from the prom, but it may have had something to do with Gerry's inappropriate actions OFF campus, or it may have had something to do with his car and parking illegally?

Anyway, Gerry was banned and in protest the entire class of '61 decided to boycott the cafeteria. All I remember of the "event" was that we didn't buy any food for a week or so -- like the school administration would care if the seniors didn't eat their lunches for a week -- and we all wore signs that said: "Don't drink milk, drink water instead." Get it?

Just something I recall from those Triton years.

History finished

I have finished reading The History of Runnemede, New Jersey by William Leap. The book is available from Amazon, but it's expensive, I guess because it is rare.

The book had it's boring parts, but since I do enjoy reading history, the book for me was mostly interesting. I only wish the maps were more legible. Reading the book brought back some memories and throughout the night, between waking and sleeping I thought of several things about which I wanted to write reminding my family of things that occurred when I was growing up. Alas, I cannot recall what I was mulling over in my mind throughout the night. Perhaps the events I wanted to recall will come back to me. But for now they are in the deep recesses of my mind.

Mr. Leap's book is about one-half pre-1900s history and the rest is history of what happened in the town after 1900. That part of the book was more interesting because he wrote of actual interviews with people who had lived the times written in the book. And there were pictures of those times -- photographs.

I have searched the web for other pictures of Runnemede, but have found only a few, and those are very recent photographs. So, in a few days, I'll be posting the websites I did find that gave me more insight into the history and development of Runnemede, items that have become available since Mr. Leap wrote his book.

Today is Sunday, and mentally, I'm in church -- Sunday school class with Mrs. Wise, or children's church, playing the piano for the kiddies, then heading upstairs to listen to my father's teaching. Notice I said "teaching" not "preaching". Daddy rarely preached. He was a teacher and would take a few verses or a chapter or a book from the Bible and then pull it apart, and put it back together again, tying it together with other verses, chapters, and verses. He was good at that.

It is now about time for Sunday-afternoon naps. This was a habit occurring only on Sunday -- taking an afternoon nap, that is. I hated it as a youngster, but by the time I was 13, and went through that teenage "sleep" stage, I was happy to take that time to snooze.

After nap time, I would head over to the church again, to practice with other musicians in the church (mostly peers) so that we would be prepared to present some "special music" to the congregation on Sunday evening, and then thinking ahead and practicing something for Sunday morning service.

After practice, we would have our "youth group" meeting, which included a time of Bible study, prayer, and music. That was following by the evening service. Sunday evening service was less liturgical than the morning service and generally just a time of singing hymns and a short sermon.

So I recollect Sundays. After church there would always be a few people who would come over to our house for a small repast -- crackers, lunch meats, and some sort of dessert. Mom always stretched what she had to accommodate those who were invited.

Well, enough about Sundays. I hope I recall what I was thinking about in the wee hours of the morning.


Thursday, January 7, 2010

Another Drexler Saying

For a while I was posting family sayings at a rapid pace. I don't know how many others from Runnemede had these sayings, but today my sister reminded me of another one that my father (and of course the rest of us) used regularly.

Swearing wasn't permitted. That is, damn, wasn't permitted. We were not permitted to take the Lord's name in vane, therefore OMG or any form thereof was verboten. Gosh warranted a smack in the mouth. Golly was okay. At least it didn't warrant a swat.

So today's word could be considered an expletive deleted, but I think it's more a word of frustration or disbelief than anything else.

Today's word: piffle, usually preceded by Oh... Oh, piffle.

So my sister reminded me of this saying and in order to write it down I needed a pencil and paper, otherwise I know I would forget it. Well, piffle, I couldn't find a piece of paper. Oh, piffle the pencil's point was broken.

Get it?



When I was a child we (the family) had one sled. No tires. And cardboard sleds weren't something about which I was familiar.

I'm mentioning this because today, here in Northern Kentucky, we are experiencing what I call "a sledding snow." What is "a sledding snow?" It's a snow where you can run your sled down a hill and the snow doesn't disappear because in reality the snow upon which you sled was a mere dusting. Yes a few inches of good, snow is best for sledding.

When I was a child, since I was the oldest, I always had first dibs on the family sled.

I remember when I was about 3, maybe 4, one of my very first memories, my father put me on the sled, and he pulled me down to the post office, down the middle of Second Avenue to the Pike, then close to the curbs on the Pike (not on the sidewalks which would have been cleared) and on that trip I heard the train whistle. A train passed through Runnemede twice a day on its way down to Grenloch from Camden and environs north of there.

To get my dad's attention, I asked in my three-year-old English: That's the choo-choo, huh? That came out: Ats a choo-choo? And daddy thought I was saying "Where's the choo-choo?" He tried very logically to explain it to me, and finally we stopped at the corner of Second and the Pike and I could see the choo-choo. It made my day. The thing is, my father took me on a sled ride to the post office. I think my sister was maybe a year old, still a baby, so I had my daddy all to myself for the length of that ride.

After that, whenever he would take me to the post office with him, whether it was winter, spring, summer, or fall, it almost always coincided with the time when the train was going through Runnemede, and the expression: "That's the choo-choo, huh?" was my mantra during those jaunts.

The things one remembers.

NOTE: The whistle was pulled at Smith's Lane, Third Avenue, Clements Bridge Road, and Evesham Road, so I don't know whether I heard the Third Avenue tug or the Clements Bridge tug of the whistle. It matters not. I heard it. Now? I probably wouldn't hear the whistle if I was sitting directly under it.

Also of NOTE: The trains back then were still coal powered, so we could see the smoke billowing from the train's smoke stack way before we heard the whistle. I wonder if my father waited on purpose after seeing the smoke to take me on our jaunts just so he could hear me ask about the train.

Also of NOTE: "Where's the choo-choo, huh?" became sort of a table tease if my father wished to embarrass me in front of friends and especially boyfriends, of which there were very, very few. Talk about a father not wanting his daughter to get married and leave him. That's a tale for another day.

Well, the snow has slacked off, so I guess the shovelers did know something that I didn't and the weather people haven't been broadcasting. And I'm going to head to my next Internet project.


Wednesday, January 6, 2010

What's online

I've been so into Bill Leap's book on Runnemede that I decided I'd do some Net surfing and try to find out some more about Runnemede's past. After all, his book was written in 1976 and more historic info may have popped up since then.

I found some really good websites which give me the history of the area including Runnemede, and pictures -- old pictures. How neat is that?

So for a few days I'll probably be on hiatus while I surf and search and see if I can find anything that will nudge my thinking cells so that I can report some more of things I remember about Runnemede.


Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Double Whammy

First shot:

I posted several remembrances about snow days on my other blog: The Fat Lady Singeth if you're interested in "Snow Days remembered."

Now for today's second shot:

I've been re-reading Bill Leap's History of Runnemede, and the book is loaded with maps of Runnemede. My brain has really left me, I'm certain, because I know as a child -- well before it became unseemly for me, a young woman, to be riding a bike all over South Jersey -- I rode my bike all over Runnemede and Glendora. For those unfamiliar with South Jersey geography, Glendora is a town which butts up to Runnemede on the South side.

I looked at those maps of Runnemede, current as of 1976, 10 years after I left the town except for infrequent visits, and discovered that I couldn't remember half of the streets' names or having ridden on them, which I know I had to have done.

The brain is supposed to be a computer, right? So somewhere in my computer -- the one in my head -- all that information is stored and I just have to find the correct combination of buttons to push, so to speak, to recall all that data.

I'm so enjoying the History of Runnemede (again). The book begins in the mid-1600s and continues to 1978 when it was published. Amazon is selling the book for $120 if you're interested. I'm not selling my copy. I think my sister also has a copy of the book. Hers may be signed making it more valuable perhaps. Mine is just a book in pristine condition.

I wish Mr. Leap would update the book from 1976 to present. I've been searching the web looking for an e-mail address for him to suggest same, but have had no luck in finding any way to contact him.

Well, I'll keep at it, if my laptop computer keeps running. It only took five tries to get it to boot up this morning. I'm getting ready for it to crash and burn at any time. I have dumped all my pictures to several "travel drives" and I have backed them up by dumping the entire "pictures" folder to an external hard drive we took from an older computer, had it cleaned up, and have been using for a couple of years. It still has plenty of room on it.

Later today, I hope to pass off my e-mail files to Alan's laptop. Let's see: Alan has three computers -- a humongous desktop computer with lots of storage, a laptop, newly purchase which is empty except for a few games, and a computer in the garage on which he stores all the records of where various items in the house are hidden. And I, alas, have a computer that won't boot up, and is slower than molasses in January. Hey, maybe that's my problem. It's January!

So, folks, it's ttfn, or syl.


Monday, January 4, 2010

100 years

It's 2010. I know the ball dropped four days ago, but it's significant that it's 2010 because Mt. Calvary Union Church was started in 1910 -- 100 years ago. This picture of the church was taken in the 1940s. I'm in the picture (the little tyke with a person I don't recognize). I'm probably 4 or 5 year's old in the picture.

It was the first church in Runnemede. According to "The History of Runnemede" written by William Leap, the church congregation met at the old blacksmith shop. Since there were no benches or chairs in the building, it is reported that the congregation would arrive carrying washing benches. If it was cold, since there was no heat in the blacksmith shop, the congregation would move to the school house.

Mr. Leap reports that the building was dedicated on Feb. 22, 1911, and that's what the cornerstone on the church says.

You know? I don't recall ever seeing that stone, but apparently it's there on the right front corner of the building.

My dad was pastor of that church for more than half of its life (so far). He was pastor from 1944 until 1999 when ill health forced his retirement. He went kicking and screaming, let me tell you. In all those years he didn't miss a service (he didn't take vacations). He didn't even miss a service on the day his wife of 52 years died. He wept when she went to heaven shortly after the morning service. And went back to conduct the evening service.

I need to re-read the History of Runnemede (for the fourth time) because each time I read even a part of the book it reminds me of things I had forgotten about my favorite small town -- Runnemede, NJ.


Sunday, January 3, 2010


I used to enjoy the stringbands. I remember going to the Mummers parade when I was a teenager and into my 20s. I had family who lived in South Philly near Broad and Snider, which is approximately where the parade began, so the folks weren't so drunk yet.

But the best part was the stringbands. I recall dad watching the parade on TV and commenting about the costumes, which ones he likes, and then which band(s) sounded the best. I don't know how he could tell which costumes were the best because we had a black and white TV, but he gave his commentary along with the TV hosts.

Well, today, I was able to catch a rerun of this year's Mummers parade -- the stringbands. I was so very disappointed.

I don't know what happened to the marching band. Now it's a run-around the street band. The costumes -- which I saw in color -- were just plain ugly. Very few sequins or feathers. It looked to me like they went to an Oriental Trading Company catalog and ordered costumes for their bands. And the music? Well, I couldn't really call it that. Maybe it was the way the microphones were picking up the various instruments.

I recognized a few of the musical numbers, but mostly the songs were unfamiliar. You know, folks, some songs just done lend themselves to stringbands. Banjos are made to play certain types of songs, and so are saxaphones. Clarinets? Yikes. All I heard was squeaks.

If you want to know more about the Philadelphia Mummers parades, go to:


Concerts and the Club Diner

Why this situation came to mind I don't know, but it did.

I was about 10 years old and my music school teacher took several of her students into Philadelphia one evening to hear the Philadelphia orchestra. My parents got together the money for me to go with them. But they didn't give me any other money, except for a nickle, in case I had to make a phone call.

I didn't know that the others who went to the concert would want to go to the Club Diner in Bellmawr on the way home, but they did. There I was at a diner with no money. So, what did I order? Nothing. There was nothing on the menu that you could get for a nickle. I just said I wasn't hungry.

However, lesson learned. Of course when I got home I was blubbering. And the next time I went to a concert with the music school students, I had a whole dollar to spend, if I needed it -- which I did.