Thanksgiving has passed and the holiday season is now in full swing! It’s also time for Saturday Night Genealogy Fun with Randy Seaver, who offers another interesting topic this week:
1) This week, let’s write about “My memories of the decade of my choice.” Choose ten years and write about your memories.
I think it’s great to start at the beginning, so I’m choosing the first ten years of my life, from 1952-1962.
Having been born in 1952, I was, and remained, the only child in my family and only grandchild on both sides of the family until 1957.
We lived on Summer Street in Passaic, New Jersey, and by all accounts, I was the apple of my parents’ and grandparents’ eyes.
Since either my mom or dad was taking the pictures, I don’t seem to have any earl photos with all three of us together. However, my parents did actually have several professional photographers take some of my earliest photos, like this one above. I’m guessing that this was taken in late 1952 or early 1953 in spite of the fact that I have a little sundress on.
1957 was an exciting year for me, as I gained not only a brother but one cousin AND I started kindergarten. I was more than excited to share with my teacher-to-be that I had no siblings, but my “brother” would be born soon. One of my earliest memories is of that day when Mom and I walked to school and she registered me. The kindergarten classroom was double-sized because there was an academic work portion and a play section in the same classroom. Kindergarteners had their own special stairs from outside to enter the classroom with the cloakroom right inside the door. I was super-excited to start school. Mom said she cried on my first day!
1957 is also the earliest year I remember visiting my grandparents in Massachusetts and at their camp in Maine. Aunt Barbara took the train to New Jersey and returned with me in tow, presumably to give my parents some much needed time after my brother was born.
I shared this same photo recently, but it was taken that summer. In spite of my maternal grandparents living 200 miles away, I apparently was fine getting on the train and going to visit. I was pretty quiet and shy when I was little, so it says a lot about all the experiences that I already had with them to not balk at leaving on a trip like that.
By the end of the 1950s, I gained a second cousin and was lucky enough to spend many summers through the years growing up with them.
I love school and was always a good student. I wasn’t too fond of the fact that #10 School had no cafeteria. Every student went home for lunch at 11:30, so if the weather wasn’t good, that meant a 15 minute walk to school in the morning, home for lunch at 11:30, back to school by 12:45 and home again after 3:00! We did all get plenty of exercise!
Another great thing about Passaic was that there were always children near by ready to play. Interestingly, on my block, some of us went to #10 School, others went to Holy Trinity (lucky them because their school was one block closer than #10) and one family went to Pine Street Christian School, which was four or five blocks in the opposite direction.
Favorite games were all outdoors – when there was no school, we were sent out to play first thing in the morning and told to come in for meals. Kick ball across the street in the apartments was always fun, but by the early 1960s, after the hula hoop craze came the stilts craze. We all had stilts and could actually walk long distances on them – and up and down curbs crossing the street – as we went around the block.
Bike riding was another fun past time, as was hopscotch and occasionally marbles, although that wasn’t too popular with most of the girls.
Holidays were eagerly awaited, especially Halloween, since we had an apartment complex right across the street from my house. That meant lots of door bells with very little walking.
December brought Christmas caroling and hot chocolate.
Aside from the holidays, there were birthday parties and occasional sleepovers. There was always something to do and someone with whom to play.
I also remember taking many walks downtown with Nana. Occasionally, we rode Bus #3 along Lexington Avenue, but most of the time, Nana and I walked the mile or so to the stores on Friday night. I loved window shopping with her, even though she met friends on every corner and spent what seemed like an eternity chatting to them in Rusyn/Slovak while I patiently waited to move on to Kresge’s and McCrory’s.
The most special family time happened twice each year – once when we drove to New England to spend time with my grandparents, aunts and uncle and cousins.
The second time was at Christmas. My dad always loved Christmas and I was often taken along on the ride to downtown Passaic to pick the best Christmas tree ever in the shipping area of some warehouses.
Dad carefully tied the tree to the top of the car and we slowly drove home. It was kept out on our porch until Christmas Eve and the tree was then trimmed with lots of old ornaments and tinsel. I still miss the tinsel, but since we only have a fake tree now and I don’t want to pick 1,000 strands of tinsel off the branches, I have to do without.
It was always sad on New Year’s Eve when the tree came down and was relegated to the curb for trash pick up. I’ve pointed this out in other posts, but if you look at the color photo above, look at the top left corner of the TV. Just to the left of that is a large white and pink ornament. I still have that ornament and it wasn’t new even back then! I’m quite sure it’s older than me!
Aside from school and friend activities, I was a Pioneer Girl at the Dutch Reformed Church across the street, later a Girl Scout at St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church and attended a week of YWCA day camp each summer, in addition to Sunday School and Vacation Bible School.
My parents didn’t have a lot of spare money, but they made a point to have me participate in lots of fun social and learning activities. I appreciate all the opportunities that they provided.
By 1962, I was aware that my parents were looking for a new home away from Passaic, but they had been looking for so long, I thought we’d never really move. Little did I know that just one year later, we’d leave Passaic for new opportunities in Wayne, New Jersey.
Thanks, Randy, for this week’s walk down Memory Lane.