in the 1950s, I lived right across the street from from the Church Saint Michae’s It was was built on 12 acres of land and went 2 blocks lwest to east some, and 3 blocks north to south! It was the biggest Chruch in the country at the time and many attented mass there on Sundays and many were married there over the years and my oldest sister was married there also in 1958, it was built in 1869 and completed in 1875.
I moved there when I was 4 years old and still remember when they first put down tar for cars to park in one section, and the other section was dirt with trees and it was fenced in the entire length, so as I got older that’s where the kids in the neighborhood would gather to play, and we would play stickball down where the cars parked after Sunday services. It also had basketball hoops on each side of the parking area.
On the other end is where we would play baseball, the city would add a back stop later on but the bases we made with any decent size rock we could find for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd base, but we did have a home plate the city also added. Many times you could spend most of the day there, only to go home for diner then back again to play a game.
And I remember summer days shooting off those toy water rockets that had a launcher and when you pumped it up it took off straight up and we could have sworn it was headed into orbit! And of course, that’s where the city would dump those wonderful mountains of snow! from around the city and seemed to last a year in the cold winter!
I’m not kidding it took forever for them to melt and they were large and seemed to go on forever and the truth is, we didn’t mind if they did! Oh but what fun we had making snow forts and making up sides to have snowball fights! The Church is still standing there but no longer active with membership it was upgraded for the area highschools for sports and looks nice and on the south end part about 3 blocks away from there are condominiums built on the land a number of years ago very nice looking.
So very once in awhile when I’m in the area I say in a quiet whisper “Hello to Saint Michae’s Church” Thanks for the memories!
Photo by Luiz M. Santos on Pexels.com
In the 1950s my friends and I would go down the to a family farm only about 4 blocks away it was a farm well-known back then and named The McGill’s family farm! I don’t know the whole history of it but it was a great place to go in those summers of the 1950s! You could find, apples, peaches, pears, raspberries, and those wonderful blueberries!
Sometimes we would bring a brown paper bag or carry what we could but most of the time we ate the fruit before we made it home! We really weren’t allowed on the farm but it wasn’t a fenced in kind of farm and you could just walk right in but if the owner saw you he would chase you off.
Many times my sister and I would go down for fruit and other kids on the block that we knew, and my cousins who lived in the building next door from my famliy, and my Aunt would make applesauce from the apples and even the green ones! Yes there’s nothing like fresh fruit right from the farm!
Photo by Francesco Paggiaro on Pexels.com
Beginning in 1959 my parents and my sisters, brother, and I went on our first family picnic to Interstate Park in New Jersey. It was followed by many more including my Grandmother, all my Aunts and my Uncles at the time, and two of my oldest sisters were married so with my brother-in-law it was a great big summer day filled with lots to do!
We would all gather and meet there early as possible, to get a good table close to the bathroom area! We set up the tables with goodies that were prepared on the day before someone would make the potato salad, another would make the corn on the cob and so on, there was a boat dock right there you could go fishing if you wanted, and there was a great trail to hike on that went on it seemed forever up the palisades!
Then we take turns playing football, or tossing a baseball, the kids would fill up their water pistols, including the grownup kids! We would also go there on the 4th of July in the 1960’s over the years, It made for some great memories.
Photo by Matheus Bertelli on Pexels.com
One of the best memories I have as a kid in the 1950s was the summer evenings when we got to stay out a little longer and just hanging out in front of the house with a few family members and friends, my 6 cousins lived in the building right next door from us, and would come out also especially on those hot summer nights as no one had air conditioners back then.
We would play games from the time like johnny on the pony and more. Sometimes we would have sparklers that lit up the night and then wave them around! and sometimes we would just hang out on the porch after getting a bottle of Coke, Pepsi, or 7up soda around at Mom Bruno’s candy store we weren’t allowed to leave the area other than going to Mom’s store we had to stay in front of the house or we had to come in for the night.
we hardly stayed out past 9:00pm back then and if we were lucky till 9:30! I think the parents did that just to get extra time to watch tv without the kids! There was a barber shop I used to go to over the years and it was on the way from those very buildings, and not much had changed on the outside over the years, and as I walked past them on the way I could almost see us there on the porch with my cousins and friends just being kids and having fun on a summer evening.
The 4th of July!
The 4th of July was always a favorite day of mine growing up in the 1950’s, it was a day that began early in the day with events at the city stadium, and they held track events and much more!
As the day went on we would go in the early day then head back home to gather together and see who had the firecrackers or sparklers, and take turns throwing them in the air and running!
We were always careful not to get in the way when they went off, and a few of the older kids liked to throw those cherry bombs off! Wow were they loud and scary watching them go off! As the day went into evening, we would gather up and travel back to the stadium for the competition of the marching bands!
The bands came from all over the New Jersey area and everyone looked forward to viewing it at night but it was always a hot and humid night on the 4th, and the bands played great even in the humid heat!
But a few always got weak from the heat and had to rest. Then at last the big event of the night! The fireworks display that went on for about a half hour all the light in the stadium would go out and the crowd would roar! About 10:pm it ended and we all went home with memories of the day that we would talk about for days after.
God Bless America!
Illustration licensed by:
(c) Can Stock Photo / Boris15
My family never had an Air conditioner in the 1950’s, but then again most of those who lived on my block didn’t have one also, so we were all in the same boat! But no complaints we all got through those hot summer days!
Time for a snack!
Way back in 1953 I went with my Mother, Aunt and cousin to see the Walt Disney film Peter Pan, it was the first time I ever went to see a film at the drive-in. My cousin and I were more excited about being there than watching the film! It was a night-time feature and that make it more fun! And in between there was an Intermission, so people could get treats at the snack counter.
If I remember well there were 2 films that night, I don’t recall the other film that played but it didn’t matter as me and my cousin we didn’t sit long enough in the car to watch that much anyway, we were always going to the snack counter for candy, soda, hot dogs!
But I think our Mother’s were kind of mad and even glad that we weren’t in the car much so they could watch the films in peace! But thinking back I have to say, my cousin and I had a great time that summer of 1953 and a memorable time for 2 cousins who shared a fun night at the Drive-in!
Illustration licensed from (c) camstock photos
Browie Camera 1957
Back in the summer of 1957, I was coming back from Mom Bruno’s candy store around the block from my house and my sister was outside the house with her Browie Camera, and told my and my cousin who lived in the building next to mine and my two friends to sit on the porch to have our picture taken.
And she had us sit on the lower steps, while i was eating my 5 cent raspberry Italian ice! She told me to put it down and I said I have to eat it because it’s hot and would melt.
So after a few minutes she took a few photos, I’m not sure what happened to the others but the one I’m talking about is located here: Lazy days of Summer 1957 So on the top step is me eating that Italian ice and my friends and my cousin on the bottom step!
As you can see that’s my bike in the background and the grease stains we made from always fixing our bikes, I look at it now and think what were we doing! but it’s the way it was then grease and all! I would do it all again if Icould.
Photo Licensed from (c) Can Stock Photo.com
On those summer days of the 50’s, it seemed like we were always fixing our bikes outside. If wasn’t one thing it was another! Like taking out the inner tube if it had a flat we would always go to Pep Boys about 5 blocks away and get a tube repair kit and walk back and place the tube in a pail of water to see where the leak was.
When the air bubbles came up we dried it off and put on the patch, if it wasn’t that we would be taking the chain off to fix it, taking off the main link and adjusting the wheel. Then if that wasn’t enough, we were taking out the ball bearings and lubricating them if they needed it.
Oh I remember how the store smelled of rubber from the new tires in the store and anytime I get near a new tire today, it all comes back to me and I can vision my friends and me on a summer carefree day of the 1950’s going to Pep boys.
You never forget your childhood friends I was lucky to know them, friends to fix bikes with, to go see 2 saturday movies and cartoons by the way for .25 Cents friends to go play ball with, friends you fought with, friends you laughed with, yes those were special times, so here’s to my childhood friends wherever they are, and a special thanks to Pep Boys!