a harp unstrung

On Childhood ~

 I remember childhood.

We went out after breakfast to play in the neighborhood “somewhere”.  The term “neighborhood” was very loosely defined as I recall.

Lambertville/New Hope

Lambertville,NJ ~ New Hope, PA

We went to the creek, walked on the tracks, picked berries, visited the farmers field, explored neighbors barns and garages, held “seances” where we lifted Porky Hayes with our pinky fingertips!  Probably ate peanut butter crackers someone’s Mom made us all for a picnic lunch on their lawn.

Hexenclub, Der / Craft, The


Lunch over we played tag and baseball and kickball and hid in the most gawd awful dangerous places but no one made a fuss….wee regularly spent time exploring the treasures in basements and attics, barns, garages, abandoned houses. It was great.


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In the evenings when it started to get dark we’d all gather together on Patty Strouse ‘ s front porch ~ home base for the famous neighborhood game: Jail Breaks (aka hide and seek) and when we were “IT” we shouted “apple, peaches, pumpkin pie, who’s not ready holler aye! Ready or not here I come!” Every night in the spring, summer and fall.


In winter we went sledding and tobogganing down Mr. Holcombe ‘s hill or the horse farm hill and yes many times we ended up in the road at the bottom. We dried our soaking wet mittens on the nearest neighbors big giant hole in the floor beautifully ornate cast iron heating grate (sometimes our own) and hung out in their living rooms until they were warm enough to wear or our toes were thawed out enough to go back out in the blizzard. We dug snow tunnels and built igloos and played in them for hours. If one collapsed we just dug out the “victims” and made a new one. No one told us that we couldn’t do it again.




We walked to and from school. Went to grandma’s at lunch then back to school. Catechism on Wednesday and Saturday afternoons, church on Sunday….all by ourselves. We walked everywhere but we had to check in when the street lights came on. If we had a nickel or a dime we could walk up the hill to the corner store … (aunt Marion lived upstairs, sometimes we’d stop there if she was home from working in the hippie store in new hope…so cool!) … for a candy bar or ice cream cone. Penny candy was 3 for a penny. Sometimes we roller-skated like a band of young criminals through neighborhoods. We cut through everyone’s back yards, were allowed in for a glass of water and sometimes a band-aid.

Sweet Satchels

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We walked in the Halloween parade, Easter parade, labor day parade, rode decorated bikes in the memorial day parade, went to the fireworks on the 4th of july and the firemen’s carnivals all summer long where we ate cotton candy without a hint of shame. No one followed us or put us on a leash or outfitted us with cellphones or GPS trackers. We didn’t have nannies or neighborhood watch. We got in the occasional brawl, fistfight, tussle. Skinned our knees, broke our arms, got hit in the face with softball pitches (not so soft btw).  And no one got sued. No one’s parents raged over to tell another kid’s parents all about it. If we got in trouble with a teacher at school, WE faced the consequences, not the teacher or school board. We learned to behave decently.


We only got 3 channels on the TV and then only if pop went up to the roof to adjust the aerial antenna while one of us stood in front of the TV to check for a clear signal while another of us hung our head out the window to yell up to the rooftop when we “got it!”. It was a big to do to watch Disney on Sunday nights or Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom. We went to MomMom & PopPop’s every Sunday for dinner. We had the same pot roast, mashed potatoes and home made rice pudding for desert every single week.and we LOVED IT!  We had to endure the Larry Ferrari hour before dinner and the Phillies game blasted through the neighborhood on every Dad’s TV in the afternoon. We played clarinet or cello or sang a song for pop pop and we went home full and happy to spend the evening collecting lightning bugs in a jar.


Birthday Party

This is what childhood “used to be” and it’s a sad sad thing to have been lost before this generation could even begin to taste it.






2 responses

  1. Brian Soto


    The aerial shot of lambertville, did you take that picture or did you find the person and took that picture?

    I am just wondering because I would like to use it for my website and I’d like to ask for permission.

    Thank you.

    July 30, 2015 at 9:55 AM

    • Jo

      Hi Brian,
      Yiu know it’s been a while since I wrote this post. I cannot recall where the pilture came from but I’d say it was either Google images or, more likely from the Facebook group “Growing Up in Lambertville”. Check it out. I am not the owner of the original picture, sorry, but I’m sure it was openly accessible or I would not have borrowed it.

      November 3, 2016 at 3:50 PM

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