Growing up in a small town in Southern New Jersey

Monday, March 29, 2010

My father

My niece posted a short video clip of my father which brought tears to my eyes. My daddy was first and foremost a Bible teacher. He wasn't a preacher, and frankly not a very good pastor, but he was a great Bible teacher.

Anyway, the clip shows my father in 1989 or 90, and he would have been 81 or 82 years old. He was still an active minister, teaching three times on Sunday, Wednesday night, and then at the small Bible School (Grace Bible Institute) in South Jersey on Monday and Thursday nights. Pretty active stuff for an old guy, right?

He was spry for a person of that age, even though he was suffering from arthritis. Please go to this link and view the video. You'll see that my father when asked to tell someone in the background a story spouts forth Scripture. I'm pretty sure the person requesting a story wanted him to give them some information of when he was a youngster, but he gave them Scripture instead. So like him.

Oh, yeah, notice the pocket full of pens and the suspenders. It must have been a hot day because normally he would have been wearing a vest and a jacket and a tie. The first scene is my brother talking to him and that was his "in-house" desk. The dining room table. He also had a "study" at the church, which I loved to visit, mainly because it smelled like a library. You know how smells evoke memories. Well, dad would "babysit" me in that room when I was a youngster and I loved that little office of his, and I mean little. I think the room was probably 7 x 10 at the most. It contained a mimeograph machine, which had it's own odor -- I guess you could say a person could get "high" sniffing mimeograph ink. Not that I tried it, but I did love the smell. Okay, so I'm weird.

In a few weeks, the family and others will be celebrating the 100th anniversary of that small church, most of its ministry was that of my father. If the family had all stayed in South Jersey, the congregation would be pushing out the walls. Frankly, I don't know where we're all going to sit on that Sunday morning when we're all there, but, they'll find a way, I'm sure.


Tuesday, March 23, 2010


I remember Mrs. Mahorter. She was an older woman who lived across the street, and one of our favorite babysitters. She was also a very faithful member of our church.

One cloudy day I was over in her yard and she was outside just sitting on her front step. I was about five at the time, and I was jabbering to her and she asked me if I could see things in clouds. I said, "Huh?"

So she patted the step next to her and asked me to sit down, and then she proceeded to explain to me about clouds and how if you looked at them you could see dogs, cats, leaves, boats, all kinds of things, and sure enough my inventive mind was able to see all kinds of things in the clouds.

To this day, I like to look at clouds and try to imagine what they are. Is that a giraffe? Is that an elephant? Neat, huh?



I remember my mother sitting with me in church, holding my hand, and rubbing her fingers over the top of my hand as she was holding it.

It was such a wonderful feeling to have her touching me and "petting" me. I miss my mother.


Friday, March 19, 2010

The mirror over the piano

When I was growing up, there was a mirror over our piano. [This picture is the same piano, different mirror.] It was a really pretty mirror, sort of shaped like a crown, with a large center section, and two smaller side sections. My father's uncle Harry crafted the mirror, and he used bevelled mirror and etched panels on the side. He built the wood frame which held the mirrors together in one cohesive unit. The wood was carved on top to look like a crown, and all the frame was silver gilt.

I wish I had a picture of it. Alas, I don't

You see, one summer afternoon we heard a crash, and the mirror has dislodged itself from the screws that held it to the wall, and came and splintered into a lot of pieces. We cried. I mean, my mom and I actually cried. After that, my mom put some pictures over the piano -- NOT THE SAME.

I was thinking about that mirror around 3 a.m. I do so wish I had a picture of that mirror.


Monday, March 15, 2010

Getting ready

The family -- what's left of it -- is getting ready to descend on Runnemede in late May.

Mt. Calvary Union Church is celebrating it's 100th anniversary, and most of us are heading to Runnemede for the first part of the 6-month list of events the church is setting up.

The church is going to be in the the 4th of July Parade -- a float. Neat, huh?
In October, which is really when the building opened, but not when the church was incorporated (I think I have that right), they have a special day planned with pictures and a special program.

In some of the official church records they found a page that told the committee step by step how the church celebrated Christmas back in the 20s, and they're recreating that sometime in December. Then for New Year's, they will have an old fashioned Watch Night Service and meal.

I wish I could attend all the celebrative activities, but I can't.

Today has been a day of collecting addresses, getting in touch with family, trying to finalize some of the housing issues we'll have. Trying to get some sort of schedule for the family so we can all get together at least one time (not at the church) just to catch up with each other.

There are some things we all want to do: (1) walk around the block and remember who lived where, take pictures; (2) visit the school across the street -- this might be a problem. We don't want to cause a commotion during school hours. We may have to go really early in the morning on Monday; (3) visit the shore (not gonna happen for all); (4) go to the diner at least one time; (5) go to church; and (6) get some good hugs!

As the time gets closer so the agida increases. So much to do, so little time. What movie is that a line from?

Praying that we all have safe trips. So many families are coming from distant places. I hope to have updates as the time gets closer.


Thursday, March 4, 2010


Today is my 67th birthday. The best thing about it is that I'm getting closer to going Home and looking into my Saviour's face.

I did get a great gift from my husband, as I've mentioned before, a Kindle. Great, great gift.

I was thinking about birthdays back when...

We didn't do much to celebrate birthdays. I got a gift from my mother and father, usually clothing or new shoes. When I got to be a teenager, my dad would give me a piece of jewelry -- the real thing! I loved those gifts.

When I was 11, my father got me this really awful blouse with a matching skirt, so that when I wore it, it looked like a dress. What made it awful was the material it was made from. It was a gray background with safety pins holding small daisies to the material. You had to see it. Another thing about it, was that my mom hadn't had any oversight on dad's picking out this gift. When she saw it, she was aghast. However, the good thing was that it didn't fit me -- it was miles too big, so I wasn't able to wear it for a couple of years. And dad, in his nagging way, asked me almost every day, when I was going to wear the outfit he bought me. I'd smile and say, "It doesn't fit yet."

By the time it finally fit me, the material's ugliness didn't matter too much, because I finally had a semblance of a female shape, and the outfit actually looked good on me. I wore that all through my teenage years, usually on Sunday (which made my father happy) when the kids at school couldn't see it. I mean I would have been ridiculed for the material of the dress, but no one at church would have laughed except behind my back, and then I wouldn't know about it.

We usually got our favorite dinner and mom made a cake. I loved my mother, but she really wasn't that good at baking cakes. Her pies, though -- yummy. But whoever heard of a birthday pie?

When I passed the age where candles and hoopla were enjoyed a lot (about when I was 10 or 11) the birthday dinner was a formality, and we just ate our dinner then I got my gift. That was it.

I have to say that my husband didn't fare much better on birthdays. And unfortunately we carried this into our marriage for ourselves and our children. We just didn't make much of birthdays. Until CYNDI!!!!

I put that in all capital letters because my Cyndi wouldn't let birthdays be anything but a large celebration. She started in June to remind us how many days it was until her birthday in late October, and she would remind me, at least, every day exactly how she wanted, and how to celebrate it -- that is what kind of cake she wanted, how many presents she wanted (good luck with that one), and what kind of party she wanted (another good luck with that one). Birthdays were family events, and poor Cyndi didn't get many of those parties she planned. She did get her presents, though, and on time.

I think Alan and I did pretty well with birthday celebrations for the children since we both felt that while our own birthdays were celebrated as well as our parents could afford, we would go a little further to make the day special for our children. That specialness included their favorite supper, their favorite ice cream, a cake (store bought -- I inherited my mom's inability to make a very good cake), several gifts, and the best gift of all -- they could stay up as late as they wanted, even if there was a school day the next day.

Now, Alan and I have 13 grandchildren, and I try to get gifts to them on time -- I'm a month behind on Annie's gift which I have purchased and wrapped -- the same with my own children. Of course, in this day of electronic gifting, that's easy. Just send them a gift card and they're thrilled -- at least that's what they tell me.