of how thankful I am to have had the "Norman Rockwellian" childhood I shared with my parents and brothers, in South Jersey. This is a drawing I gave my parents and brothers at Christmas, in 1988, illustrating that upbringing.
My parents had a country store, with a cast of characters from the local farming community. One of them, Billy McClintock, used to hold me over the grease pit and threaten to drop me in when I was little.
On the roof is our pet crow, Blackie and on lower right is our dog. Someone had cut off her tail when she was a pup, so we called her Numpie.
In addition to the store, Pop farmed the land. I loved walking in the furrow behind the plow, especially on hot days. The freshly turned earth was cool under my bare feet. Cucumbers, tomatoes, corn, and always sweet South Jersey strawberries were favorite crops.
My brothers and I spent most weekends, even in winter, playing in the fields and woods. If the ice was thick enough we'd skate on the small pond in the woods. In the summer we'd take our horses and my Kodak camera, and make cowboy movies in the local gravel pits. I was always the noble, but of course treacherous, Indian. Forgive me, my Native American brothers.
On rainy weekends we'd play in the barn, daring each other to walk the beam from one side to the other.
Or we'd have cap-pistol gunfights among the hay bales in the loft, scaring the nesting pigeons. The horse rearing below was brother Bob's palomino. It hated wearing a saddle, and would try to toss Bob.
Pop got rid of that horse within a week. None of us had the nerve to use the brier covered outhouse, for fear of spiders, and snakes.
On hot summer mornings I'd often be awakened by the buzz of a bi-plane as it roared over our house.
Beyond the woods were fields being dusted with chemicals dropped from the planes. Pretty horrific to
contemplate, in hindsight. But I'll bet it was fun flying one of those relics.
Equally scary was our second grade teacher, "Miss Reeves." Our grade school was just across the road. I still have a vivid image of an angry Miss Reeves holding a belligerent student by his ankles, out the window, over the sandbox below, as punishment. For awhile Miss Reeves lived in the spare room in our house,
so I had many reasons to not get on her bad side.
When I was a teen I'd often climb onto the roof at night to look at the glow on the horizon of what I assumed were lights from far away and mysterious Philadelphia. The lights were actually from the local town of Elmer, only about three miles away, and little did I know I'd spend most of my life living only blocks away from Philly. Note the cow staked out on the lawn. My Dad's way of cutting the grass.
With the exception of my brother Bob and me, everything I drew in this picture is long gone, except for some photos, and many wonderful memories. In the late 1950s the store, our house, the barn and outbuildings (and outhouse) and orchard, were razed. Where the barn once stood my brother Bob built a store patterned after "Seven Eleven." Above the entrance on the inside of the store are pictures of the old store, and of Bud and Helen making "Subs," and pumpkin pies...and...mmmmm... I wonder if we still have any pumpkin pie left over from Thanksgiving? I hope you all had a really enjoyable Thanksgiving, friends.