I Remember by Joe Opishinski
How it used to be.
From my home in Thurmont, MD., I live out my memories of Lopez through reading every page of the Sullivan Review, this website, and occasional trips to my boyhood home on Yarosh Street next to the old high school. Born in the upstairs bedroom in a house still standing today on Shady Nook Road (owned by Dolores Mattichak), I remember playing a lot as a boy in the Loyalsock creek behind the house. My parents had seven of us kids in that house until moving to a house on Cosgrove Ave, then renamed to School Street and now currently called Yarosh Street due to the owner’s name of the house at the end of the street on the hill. My father worked as a coal miner working in Bernice and was also a lumberjack, cutting down timber to be used in support of shoring up the tunnels in the mine. My mother worked in the silk factory which later became the pajama factory.
I don’t remember a lot of play time growing up, but rather memories of helping my parents and brothers and sisters make ends meet. I remember going into the woods with my father and picking greens known as “Princess Pine” and selling them by the pound to a local distributor that came out from Wilkes-Barre. I remember picking fresh mushrooms from the woods right after the first frost and the endless huckleberries for our family to eat. I can remember the mile and a quarter walk to school every day. I still remember Miss. Finnan, my teacher from grades 1-3, and Miss. Macek from grades 4-6. During high school, grades 7-11, I remember Miss. Walsh, Miss. Covey, and Miss. Behr. I remember how the train would bring in the kids from Ricketts.
I don’t have any memories of the railway as it supported its original use of the kindling factory but I do remember it being primarily used for the brick factory. I remember how dangerous Dutch Mountain Road was. One day I was with my father in his 1932 Chevy truck and we were coming down the mountain and the tires were in the ruts of the dirt road that were iced over. When trying to put the brakes on, we slid off the road near a bridge and went down into a creek. Luckily for us, the truck stayed upright and a local farmer heard us go off the road and came to pull us out with his tractor. I remember as a teen, hitch hiking into Mildred to see a movie for 10 cents. It was very common for those with a car to stop and offer rides.
As I grew older and needed money for myself, I used to trap beaver, fox, raccoon, muskrats, and weasels and sell their furs. I would hunt for deer, rabbit, and pheasant to help put meet on the table as well as fish at the Rouse Pond and the Ogden Mash.
At the age of 10 or 11, my father moved us from the Shady Nook house to the house I now own on Yarosh. One of my favorite past times when I was not working was hanging out with the boys at McGee’s store. I know I will remember more of my high school friends after writing this, but for now, I remember Burton Kellogg, Frank Kiwatisky, Frank Klem, Frank Sysock, James Miller, Nick Gulick, Rita Cahill, and John Hubiak. I left Lopez when I was 19 and served in the Air Force for 22 years and then another 20 years as a computer technician before finally retiring. It took my lovely wife, Margret Brass and I to both work in order to put our four kids through college.
Margret and I met in Germany in 1950 while I was stationed at Camp Lindsey, Wiesbaden (I served in Germany from 1948 to 1951 during the occupation and the Berlin Airlift). We just celebrated our 59th anniversary last October. We have 3 sons and a daughter. Most of my memories of Lopez today are filled with family events (kids and grand kids) spending weeks at a time over the summers enjoying the serenity and beauty of the mountains and the quietness of not hearing all the noises of the big towns and cities. I remember how we loved to just sit on the porch and talk, play board games as a family, fish the Ogden Mash, and sit out back and stare at the burning logs of a fire pit. The house is in great shape and we just made a lot of house repairs during 2010 and 2011.
Born in 1929 and now at the age of 82, I still make frequent trips to Lopez to check on the house and visit with my sister Tillie in Dushore. I also visit my parents and brother’s grave at the Russian Cemetery which once was part of my grandfather’s farm.
webmaster’s note: Ogden Mash is now Lake John