Monday, December 1, 2014

Thanksgiving, Family, And A Nostalgic Drawing.

Most of us are no doubt still indulging in leftovers, but I am indulging in nostalgia and childhood memories.
Thanksgiving this year was wonderful, delicious, and poignant. But throughout the festivities I was reminded
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.

On the left are my brother Bob and me in our teens. In the middle is my dad, Bud, and our mom, Helen, and my youngest brother, Frank, who sadly died within weeks of our father. Life and Death; still a magical mystery tour, to the end.

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.


  1. What a treasure then, to have this drawing! It's wonderful. What a great post Bill.

  2. Hi Kim. Thanks for the above. This was one of those moments when my skills as an Illustrator came in handy.

  3. Bill, Taking this trip down your "Memory Lane" is a joy. Thank you. Warmest post-Thanksgiving greetings.

  4. beautiful illustrations, thanks so much for sharing. was just a young kid when we would visit so helps me to remember how it all looked. How good it was that you all got to live where and how you did and with such great parents. Probably never a boring moment was had! South Jersey, a very good place to have come from!!

  5. Thanks for your comments to all. It was mostly fun, growing up where we did.

  6. I LOVE this !!!
    Fabulously wonderful
    I know you've probably heard it a million Xs but isn't there a kids book here. Love the little stories if all the charcters. This is so warm and friendly and slyly funny. Could it be a DIY on Amazon perhaps.
    It's Classic Bill. Genius.

  7. Droll is the word I meant. A graphic novel for kids or adults. I'd buy it in a heartbeat. Very cheering about the bad ole days. Reality.

  8. Well golly gee Ms. PB, I'm more than a bit overwhelmed by your comments re my childhood story.
    Thank for the input...and giving me food for thought.

  9. Marc S. Busnardo, M.D., FASCP, FCAPJanuary 28, 2018 at 4:05 PM

    As a child, I grew up right down the street from Ternay's Market, and my mother worked there, helping Bud make those great sub sandwiches !!!!! Penny candies were always fun to buy there too. Olivet was a great place to grow up as a child ... and those memories will be with me forever.