I Remember by Katherine (Gulick) Matychak
Mr. Miller would ring the school bell one hour early on April 1st.
We were all so small and filled the house with lots of noise, games, laughter and “Mom” taking time to Polka (radio on) with us after a beautiful Sunday dinner?
They had the big back yard garden full of beautiful vegetables and the yummy vegetable soup she made after she filled her apron full of vegetables coming up the hill? I didn’t like soup then – but I sure do now.
We used to wait for the train to bring home our loved ones for Christmas or Frank Calaman’s bus to come from Wilkes-Barre with them? I do really remember when Olga came home with Joe for the first time and coming on the train. God, I thought then Joe was so cute with a tan top coat and dress hat.
We had scads and scads of family for our Holy supper and Pop and Mom always saw to it that the animals (especially the cow) had their bread with garlic in it before we sat down to eat? Then, out came the walnuts as a real treat. Stockings all filled with candy, nuts and an orange? Not too many toys or presents, but lots of love. Vic and a new mouth organ every year?
Christmas Day always washing with money in our wash basin for good luck for the next year?
Mom got so very nervous when Denny came to see Julia on a Friday and we were all having sardines for lunch? But, she was so happy when he said, “Why no, I really like sardines.”
Julia and I would rake the yard late Saturday nights when the moon would be so bright and not a leaf left? Mrs. Gavlick would be on her way to Chesonis’ store to look for Mr. Gavlick – she would stop and say how good we were? On Sunday a.m. we would be so upset when the lawn was full of leaves again?
All the large, large loaves of homemade breads Mom made twice a week? (I told Mom so many times Wood’s were rich as they always had store bread.)
When Mr. Cunningham from Dushore put in our furnace and always went home with a hot loaf of homemade bread? Then he had a small white bag for Leo and I the next day with candy in it? (Leo and I were lucky.)
When coming home from school or work at noon and you could smell all of Mom’s good cooking all the way up and down the hill? (Never a cold sandwich for lunch.)
When all the good cookies (molasses) and pies Helen always made on Saturday when she was home?
All the jars and jars of veggies and fruits Mom would can?
The way she boiled the white clothes before she put them in the washer to wash? And would never put Clorox in the washer until we went to school as the Clorox always made Steve feel sick, so would wait and add it later?
The long underwear and cotton stockings we had to wear in the winter?
The kitchen window always left open when kids filled the creek with swimmers and screamers – so Mom could hear if someone would yell for help? (don’t know how she could have helped.)
The creek water the boys would carry for Mom before a wash day when our well was pretty low?
When on Sunday after Church our family dinner grew because we never knew when Pop or Mom would invite for dinner Kriel’s, Horutz’s, or Matychak’s from the farms?
Sitting on the porch Sunday p.m. and listening to the choir across the street sing so nice?
Mom and Pop never turning down giving the Church across from us water for their dinners they sold or Halloween socials? (and that’s when we didn’t have much water)
how the Church across from us always asked us if we wanted their Christmas tree the day after their Christmas?
I remember when our dear Mom was so sick at the end and “Fats” or Min Springer would come to the door and ask how she was. I remember telling them that she wasn’t too good and just really fell asleep and they wouldn’t ring their bell for Church that a.m. (so as not to wake her up). People were so kind so many years ago.
When the large red beet bowl never got too far away from Julia, Steve and I?
When Mom would call the Stout kinds in on cold winter a.m. before school and dig out warm hats and gloves for them to wear? And two days later they were lost and how she would say, “Never again” – until the next colder day and do it again?
When Bill was taking water to “Star”, our cow, on a cold, slippery Sunday a.m. and fell three times and had to change is clothes again and again? Then, after the third time told Mom, “Mom, the Hell with the cow. If “Star” wants a drink, let her come to the house and get it.”
When Alice always wanted Pepsi and minced ham? How Alice always cleaned and painted for Mom when she came home? In fact, Julie, you had a black pin-striped suit in the attic with other clothes of Helen, Ann and who knows – anyway, Al threw them down the trap door and told Mom to throw them out? Mom kept saying, “No Schooda.” Too good, so not too easy to throw out.
How Vukov always took Mom’s apron off of her when he was here and he did all the cooking for her? He said Mom need the rest.
How Cylvick always had Pop order a load of wood when they were coming in? And did always chop and stack the whole load in the cellar for us? And did a lot of high painting outside for Mom and Pop?
How we had to go rake leaves in the Fall up Stone Quarry for bedding for the cow all winter? And, come home and Mom would have a huge pan of poonski (fried bread dough) sprinkled with sugar on top for us?
All the yummy potato pancakes Mom would fry and they always seemed to disappear from the huge platter as she was frying them? how Mom really never sat to eat with us – just making more for us to eat?
When all of you had to go pick berries to sell and were happy to come home with a pail full? Helen watched the pails, if I remember right, and Bill really looked over the berry before he would put it in the bucket. I remember hearing that Steve or Vic told him not to count the berries, just fill the pail. Then once when the huckster came to buy the blueberries Mom and Pop were so upset because he was only paying three or four cents a quart. They said, “No, my kids worked too hard for them. I’ll can them before I sell them for that small price.”
When dried mushrooms and apples were hung on a string above and around the old kitchen stove to dry? But, off the would come before Mom and Pop shook the stove so dust wouldn’t cover them — then after were put back until the next time?
When homemade rootbeer was made and put behind the stove to keep warm and age?
When good chicken soup was had on Sunday – a crisp white table cloth placed on the table, flat dinner plates put on, then soup plates and place settings? Usually two kinds of meat we had when Steve had Mrs. Elliot here from Corning, NY, with whom he lived when he worked at Corning Glass Works. She was so impressed as to all the food and meat. (But she was so good to our dear brother, Steve.)
When Steve was growing up and had so very many surgeries to try and correct his bad arm and wore a full body cast for such a long time during a very hot Summer? How sad Mom and Pop were to see him walk down by the creek, sit in the shad on a rock by the spring to watch the kids swim? And how she had me very often take off his sheets each day and shake off the chips that would crumble off his cast? How Steve used the handle from our fly swatter to reach down in the cast to scratch at the itchy spots? (You are so, so special, Steve, to us all.)
How a week or two before Easter, Pascha was baked, ham and kielbasa done, horseradish was bought and a full box was packed off to Olga and Ann who were not coming home and they wanted them to have the Easter food?
How at Christmas time Alice and the older sisters usually sent orders in to Sears or Montgomery Ward to make a real Santa Claus? Alice and Kay Ball got older and wiser and off they would go on Calaman’s bus to Wilkes-Barre and would stay over night in a hotel to shop for all of us? (I thought we were so poor.)
How sorry Mom felt for Ann when she came home with her three? She would tell Ann not to send them up to bed so early. “Ann”, she would say, “Go sit down. They were good and it’s hot upstairs yet.” Off they would run and hide when Frank and Ann packed the car for another long ride?
The summer Sonny spent here with us and he and Leo would often tell me they will do the supper dishes – cover them with a clean dish towel and leave a note to me, “Kilroy was here”?
When Bill would have a ladder up to the front porch roof to wash windows or paint up there and our Sporty dog would go up the ladder on to the roof and walk all around with Bill? (Don’t remember how the dog got down.)
How bad one year for Christmas Leo did want high top boots and breecher pants? Alice and Bill were living in Ohio with Helen and Frank? Home they came for Christmas and that’s what they brought. Had the box all wrapped so nice and had Mom’s name on it. After all the gifts were opened she told Leo to open it for her, she was already too tired. Oh, how he yelled when he saw what he got. Poor Mom and Pop would just get into bed on Christmas Eve and one of us would wake them up to see if Santa had come – off she would go with us, never complaining.
All the carpet rags cut at night, with balls of rags rolled up for carpets to be made for the next few years?
When our city sisters, home they came, off we had to go carrying the old lantern to the old out-house – they were afraid? (No flusher on it, either.)
When the last day of school before Christmas vacation coming and all the kids would stop on the road in front of Johnson’s store and yell and yell and they would throw some candy and nuts out the upstairs window on the road the gang of kids to pick up and almost kill for? (I can’t remember if it was wrapped candy (probably not). Funny we didn’t get broken fingers.
When we had to take soup meat back to Yarosh’s or Johnson’s store because it had too much fat on it? (Boy, I was huffed so often taking it back down the hill. Mom must have known about cholesterol back then, too.)
When Sam Wonsock would come peddling his suitcase with socks, aprons, hankies and even Russian records on Saturday and went door to door?
How happy we were when we saw Joe Ellis’ truck in town and coming up the hill with stuff he had to sell? Seems we knew then Mom would buy us some bananas.
On Sunday morning when we all went to Church and Joe Huray was supposed to go? But, he went to Matsko’s store or Dyer’s store instead. At noon on his way home he would stop by the fence and yell for Bill, Steve, or Vic and ask them what the Priest’s sermon was about because his parents would ask him. (I never did figure out what he did with the couple of pennies he got for the collection.) Did he pay you guys off?
When Springer’s and others would house clean and throw stuff on the dump next to us? How fast we would go check it out and take what we wanted. I remember how I cut my foot bad when Vic and I went to check (Mom told us NO.) Vic, do you remember what we found? I don’t.
All the kids ice skating all the way down the creeks with those skates you put on the bottom of your shoes and had to tighten them on with a skate key? Not shoe skates, but I think Julia and Alice did get a pair somewhere along the way.
How Alice would play “Major Bowes Amateur Hour” in our hallway and tap dance like crazy? She sure made noise and what about the scratches she put on the floor?
When Alice would sing by the piano – how Bill would go get the castor oil and try to give her a dose?
Oh, yea, how about when the piano was locked and not played during Easter Lent – even the radio was only turned on for the 6 p.m. 15 minute news Pop listened to. We didn’t listen to Amos and Andy or the Lone Ranger or Jack Armstrong, the all American boy. Pop did like Amos and Andy and Hi O’Silver. He did live long enough to see TV that Steve and Andy and I bought when Cylvick got us a set in New York. I think we were the first on the street to have TV. Gary liked Kukla, Fran and Ollie and Pop would sit there by him and pretend to like it – then would tell me he only sat to be Gary’s Grandpa and watch too. Speaking of TV, we paid $150.00 for the set in 1951 (big bucks back then).
When it seemed like every home in Lopez had a cow or two — some wore cow bells around their necks; were all let out of the barn early in the morning, usually walked or were chased up to Murraytown hill or Stone Quarry. Then, about suppertime, they usually came back into town all going to their proper street and knew just what barn they belonged to (and they say animals are dumb). Seems like I vaguely remember when gypsies and their horse and buggies came to town — the women and children were in the back — ladies with their babushka, beads and colorful clothes. Boy, we were all afraid and running home so fast yelling the gypsies are in town. The many, many rag men who came and blew their horn. The fish man who came and the horn he had was different and we knew it was the fish man and not the ragman.
Bob Cast selling big blocks of ice for ice boxes — I’m not sure if he came two or three times a week. How on Sunday a.m. everyone dressed in their best and off they went to their Church — we had four of them in Lopez. When you went to school and got yelled at or made to stay in at recess or after school. We were afraid to go home and afraid to tell our parents because they felt no teacher would yell at you if you didn’t need it. When kids carried a lunch to school and had a glass jar full of milk to have with lunch. I remember Theresa Walsh telling us all to put our milk on the windowsill to keep it cold.
When all the kids went to skate by Decker’s Bar Room on the creek and all the tires that were burning to give us light and keep those warm who fell and got all wet.
Remember those very special hamburgers Decker’s sold and were homemade so very good (McDonald’s or Burger King can’t compare to them).
Remember John Huray’s shoe shop and all the shoes he fixed – and all the Saturday card games the men had there. He had a shop in Sulick’s building and would walk all the way from home to open up. He lived on Shady Nook Road.
The pajama factory and everyone walked to work and sometime about froze when you got there. Remember when one year we got so much snow the bus from Bernice couldn’t come to pick up the factory workers so some were invited to go home with Lopez workers and some slept at other homes. Not sure what year this was but I think late 30’s, early 40’s.
Remember the beautiful sound of the whippoorwill birds one could hear way off in the woods – wonder what became of them – they were so nice to hear. How during heavy snow in the winder, side roads were all hand shoveled – didn’t have to be very wide and there weren’t many cars; just folks off to work or school.
No street lights and very dark at night – sometimes hoping you weren’t sent to the store at night. When everyone in town went to pick huckleberries and how often folks took a large pail of them and walked to the top of Murraytown or Jackson Street and waited for cars and then would yell, “huckleberries for sale”. A lot of time was spent there because there were not many cars on the roads.
The silent movies at the high school. I think we paid 10 or 15 cents admission. Not sure how long they lasted.
The old trestle bridge from the train station that was across the creek and was very high and pretty scary to walk across.
All the plays held at Rouse’s Hall and dances held there too. St. Vladimir’s Church Hall also held dances and was always filled. The old school bell and when Mr. Miller would ring it one hour too early on April Fool’s Day.
By Katherine (Gulick) Matychak