Monday, November 14, 2005

Secane, Pennsylvania

Starting with the first home that I have memories of.... it was a post-WWII cape cod in Upper Darby township. The corner of Providence Road and Prospect Avenue. Just a small neighborhood. Every home the same. I believe conformity was the plan.

The neighborhood was a small one, and most everyone knew everyone else. My mother had a beauty shop in the basement of the house. Most of the women in the neighborhood came to her on a weekly basis. The result of which was that my mom pretty much knew everything that went on in the neighborhood. Forget about getting away with anything!

Across Providence Road, there was a shopping center. A strip mall, as was the norm in the 60s. Anchored by an A&P supermarket, it included a RiteAid drug store, Hoys 5&10, Mattson's Gift Shop, the Post Office (zip code 19018), the J. Lynn Deli and other stores which came and went over the years.

Directly across the street from my house and next to the post office was Secane Pizza. Both of my brothers worked there in their teens. My best memories, though, were the deli. My best friend, Maureen, and I would go there sometimes on a Saturday to have lunch. We felt very grown up. It was a small place, with booths. We would bring some quarters because it had those individual jukeboxes in each booth. We would give our waitress the order. I would always order the cheesburger meal, with french fries and a pickle. And a large coke. It was exactly $1.16. It's really strange how these details never go away..... I can still see the long narrow restaurant part of the deli. Booths on each side. I don't remember though if there were tables too. But I can remember the booths.

Hoys 5&10 was a favorite in the summer because they had a Rosati's water ice cart. For 25 cents you would get a paper cone full of a scoop of water ice. Vanilla and bubble gum were my favorites. That stuff was so good. I miss it. Can't buy it in Texas.

I went to Primos Elementary School and St. Eugene's Catholic School. I went to both at various times. Summers were spent at Primos-Secane Swim Club. Another detail that I never forget was our membership number, 139. We had plastic laminated membership cards and that number was printed on it. You handed it in at the gatehouse and they put it in the coordinating slot. You got to know your friends' numbers too and you could always tell if they were at the pool because their card would be in their slot. The cards were color-coded according to age. You had to be over 12 in order to be there without your parents. It was so great to finally hit that 12 year old mark!

One of the weird things is that I can still remember how the schools smelled. Primos always smelled like cleaning detergents, paint, modelling clay.... St. Eugene's always smelled like the incense burned at church. The church was actually attached to the school, so that made sense.

We lived there from 1964 until 1972. I was almost 13 when we moved. Here is my "where are they now?" list: Maureen Kennelly, Debbie Sweat, Sheila Babcock, Marydenise Collins.... I know Maureen is in Rhode Island. She and Marie Morris were my best friends. We had the best sleepover parties!! Marie and I still keep in touch through email. She is in Florida. I am in Texas. None of us are still in the same state! Weird, huh?

Growing up, we loved the Monkees, Bobby Sherman, David Cassidy, Dark Shadows, HR PufnStuf... Back then, there was a cycle to the television seasons. At the end of summer, we would be looking forward to the new fall shows. Especially the Saturday morning cartoons! There was no 24/7 cartoon channels. Saturday morning belonged to the kids and cartoons. No VCRs, no DVDs.... The Wizard of Oz was on television once a year. And it was always a much anticipated event! There were three channels on tv. ABC, CBS, NBC. Oh and PBS. Nothing on PBS for us. This was before Sesame Street and the idea of educational children's programming. And then there were the UHF channels. It was like AM/FM radio. Different tuner and antenna. They had the old movies and some cartoons. And crazy movie hosts like Dr. Schock. And the corniest commercials! Krass Brothers in Philadelphia comes to mind... And television was not 24 hours a day! If you fell asleep with the tv on, it would wake you up around 4 AM with a waving flag and the Star Spangled Banner being played. Then it would sign off for the night. How quaint is that?

Ah well, more memories later.....

2 comments:

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michelle said...

I enjoyed reading your blog as I currently live in your old neighborhood. If you'd like an idea of how things have changed, the shopping center is still there but there is now a giant CVS Pharmacy that was recently built. A&P is now a PriceRite supermarket. The Post Office/Secane pizza building has been knocked down and those businesses are now inside the shopping center as well. There is also a new traffic light right in front of your old house.

As far as the swim club, they still have color coded laminated cards with your member number, although I believe you can stay there without old an adult if you are at least 8 or older. I'm not sure Primos elementary has a distinct smell anymore, at least not that I notice.