the family home at 415 Parker Street
Some of the Stoeckel children were born in the upper left bedroom.
I remember scrambling around on Sunday mornings getting ready for Sunday School, coming home afterward and getting down on our hands and knees to read the "funnies". Of course, just about that time, company would pull up out front and there would be a mad dash to get everything picked up and put away. Heaven forbid anyone should catch us with anything out of place!
I remember trying to build igloos, sleigh riding, snowball fights and coming in soaking wet, then drying out by sitting on the floor of the living room closet over the radiator. Then there was the time I came in wet, took off my "new" hand-me-down Mackinaw jacket, and spread it on the little pot-bellied stove in the cellar --- I nearly burned the house down!
How about the times we jumped up from the dining room table, grabbed whatever pot or pan we could get our hands on and rushed outside to pick cherries before the starlings could strip the tree bare? Remember the watermelon someone carved "PIG" on that grew over the place Dad buried garbage? And the gray squirrel that came in to Dad's "office" and made off with the black walnuts he had stored in a keg for Mom' s Xmas baking. Poor pop! He had to eat crow when he spotted that squirrel, because he'd been accusing all of us girls on a daily basis of snitching the nuts!
I can still see Jeane
making us laugh at the dining room table until we'd all be in tears.
Mom would laugh so hard she'd choke and then Dad would get ticked off!
I remember Don & Hank coming to the house.....taffy pulls in the
There were the backyard clambakes that we'd watch surreptitiously from the bedroom windows......the times when the party moved indoors and Hilda Muller played the piano while everyone sang. (Adults only, of course, but we enjoyed it while we sat hidden on the upper staircase listening in!) Someone would giggle, and Uncle Orrin would go to the foot of the stairs and ROAR.....YOU GIRLS GET TO BED! More giggles and a bunch of scrambling feet!
I remember our family sing-a-longs -- "Santa Lucia", "Funiculi, Funicula" -- and Jeane's yodeling which, in my eyes, made her a real, honest to goodness STAR!
Then there are the quiet memories...coming upon Mom sitting at the piano, playing and softly singing "Let the Rest Of the World Go By." and "Little Brown Church in the Vale".......and Doris swinging me to sleep every afternoon when she got home from school.
Yes, Doris, I remember
learning to embroider, and having to pick out all the stitches that were
too long or sloppy and start all over again. I figured I'd be 80
before I ever was successful at making a French Knot! Doris, you
were the smart one, picking up mom's knitting and crocheting talents.
I learned a lot at Division
Street School. The longest lasting lesson was never to
stick my tongue out and touch an
Recess at Division Street was pretty neat. The folks in the house next door had a candy counter in their kitchen, and we were allowed to buy penny candy. I loved the miniature wax figures of boys and girls that were filled with a very sweet, colored liquid. You bit the heads off, sucked out the liquid, then chewed the wax. Remember the licorice whips, licorice candy pipes and cigarettes? How about the special animal shaped lollipops we got in our Christmas stockings? Did anything ever taste as good as the wild strawberries we pilfered from the old guy's meadow while he stood on his porch and shot a gun into the air to scare us off? Was there anything prettier than the wild violets we picked in the woods and put in paper baskets to hang on the neighbor's doors for May Day?
Things were tough in those days for the adults, but I think we were all very lucky to grow up in that time and in that place.
Remember the year that
Dad went to work in Paterson and came home for Christmas? At that
time we had chenille bedspreads on all the beds in the house. Dad's
Christmas gifts to Mom and Marilyn were mother/daughter chenille
And, on that note, I'm
off to bed! Good night Doris, good night Carol, good night Marilyn,
In the house where many of us were born there was a double wide built-in closet under the stairwell. It had a raised floor to accommodate the radiators that were built in underneath, and two sets of doors. As a rule, only one set was left easily opened and the other had a slide bolt on the inside. It was a favorite place to lie down in and keep warm in the winter.
One year when Uncle Lyle stayed with us during the week there was a very bad winter storm with lots of wind etc. Our Dad would sit in the living room in a chair at night and fall asleep sawing logs. Uncle Lyle often would lay down in the closet with one set of doors open and nap where it was warm. It was a favorite trick of his , before taking his nightly nap, to wait until Dad was deep asleep and then blow smoke from his pipe in Dad's face and watch him fight his way up and out of the chair.
kids thought it would be neat to play a trick on Uncle Lyle, so after he
fell asleep in the closet we tied him all up -- hands, legs, feet etc.
Not long after that a storm caused the ventilation glass frame on the roof
of our little greenhouse
across the drive from the house to blow off, and you could hear the
glass shattering all over the place. Poor Uncle Lyle was scared out
of his wits, and nearly killed himself trying to get out of the closet!
I think he thought the roof had come off the house. He, by the way,
had been out of work and unable to find a job so our Dad brought him over
as a plumber's helper and each weekend would let him drive the truck home
with a supply of food for their family.
I remember our cousin Dale was considered to be something of the family "star" and would recite poems etc. at these gatherings. Our mother would teach us all some little ditty and we would all stand up on a picnic table and sing -- I guess there was a contest of some kind but I was too little to remember the details.
I remember the Baptist church where we went to Sunday school had tall, ladder back chairs. One by one, I think each of us as we got to a certain age climbed on those chairs facing the back and hanging on to the top and -- you guessed it -- the chair would spill over and we would knock our bottom teeth through the flesh at the base of our bottom lip.
Our telephone number at home those days was six-nine!! We had a phone office in town with one operator, "Miss Maud", who wore powder, paint and perfume and was the talk of the town. I am sure Miss Maud knew everyone's' business working that job. The phone station would close at night, so if you had an emergency you had to find Miss Maud at home to open up shop for to be able to make a call.
Each fall when the dahlias were in their glory it was not uncommon to have many cars of people drive by the house to view the garden on weekends. People came up from Scranton and Dunmore etc. to see the show. Dad was growing dahlias to "supplement our income", but I remember when people would come to buy on rare occasions, Mom would complain afterwards that they bought 2 tubers -- but he gave them another 6 free ones. He did find joy in giving things away.
He had an eye for the unusual, and at times I can remember him having banty roosters, pheasants and toy bull dogs that he raised. At one time, at least some of his pheasants ended up stuffed and in the Nay Aug Park museum in Scranton. The pairs of critters I can remember were all named Maggie and Jiggs. The male bulldog was afraid of lightening, and he would jump the tall fence in the chicken run and race to the house. I was more afraid of dogs than he was of lightning, and I would scream my head off and climb up on the kitchen cupboards. This did not go over too well with Mom and Dad as I recall.
Mom had a friend who somehow got hold of a box full of stage quality costumes in small children's sizes. We were among the poor kids in town, but we sure out-did everyone else for the one to two years we were able to fit in them! I can remember Little Lord Fauntleroy and a Santa Claus among them. Dressing up for the holidays lost some of its charm after I outgrew those wonderful things!
As a young woman, I was a contestant in the "Miss Little River" Beauty Constest in Miami -- and took Third Place!
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