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Slice 68 of 365

Talking about grammar school yesterday got me thinking about the block I grew up on. It was Harrington St, just one block long between Broadway and Magnolia. Most of the houses were old when we moved there in 1971. Our house was almost 100 years old at the time.

We lived closer to Broadway, one house away from the Shell station, next to George Jepson. He owned the land the Shell station occupied. George had a handlebar mustache, repaired old cars and old air horns on those old cars. He had three classic cars, one of them a 1932 Packard touring car. I loved when he would ask my brother and I if we wanted a ride. Everybody looked when we drove by.

There were seven original kids (some others came and went) on the block and my brother and I were the only two boys. I was the oldest and my sister was the youngest. Kristen and Laurie (who got very upset when I used to spell it Lori) were sisters who lived two house down in a two family. Jenn lived across the street from them in a tiny doll house and Linda lived one or two houses down from Kristen and Laurie. Jenn was the only one on the other side of the street.

We spent a lot of time together playing softball, kickball, board games and lots of fighting and crying too. We walked to school together often. Our parents were friends, we had barbecues and Christmas Eve parties. We grew farther apart as I went to high school and eventually them as well.

Down the block next to Kristen and Laurie were the Atchisons. Mr. Atchison was the principal of the Ann Blanch Smith school. Across from them were the Franzens, he was a fireman with my dad. There were others whose names I can’t recall, probably if I thought about it a little more.

Our house was on a decent piece of land for that part of Jersey. We had a circular driveway that went around the house. Two enormous trees, one oak and one tulip, that were probably ten feet around and close to 100 feet tall on the right of the house (a hammock hung between them, I think they’re both gone now) and another large pine right in front. A two-car detached garage behind the house. The house had an ugly Kelly green shake siding that I really miss.

My father was always doing something in and around the house. I remember pulling weeds from somewhere, everywhere in the yard, that and cigarette smoke.

I shared a bedroom with my younger brother upstairs at the the farthest end of the hall. I spent a lot of time in there, mostly to stay out of the way. We started out with bunk beds and at some point went to separate beds.

I could write volumes about the people, the town and the time spent with them but for now I do believe I’ve painted a small picture with wide brush strokes.

Until tomorrow…