Thursday, August 24, 2017

Going Back Part 2: Retracing My Steps

In this 2nd installment of my post series that shares the details of my mid-August trip back to eastern Pennsylvania to visit my family I'm going to be retracing my steps. Those that let to some of my favorite places decades ago.  

Although it was a relatively quick 3 day trip, I took some time to take a walk or two down memory lane. 

On the Friday I was there, accompanied my niece and nephew, I went back to some of the places where I spent a lot of time as a kid. 

This meant going across the Delaware River bridge to Phillipsburg, New Jersey. 

My first stop was my old high school. It is on North Hillcrest Boulevard. 

I roamed the halls of this facility from September 1974 until June 1978. But its now the town's middle school. 

A couple of years ago they built a new $175 million high school. I had never seen it; so that was my next stop. 

The new PHS campus is on top of a hill at the end of Stateliner Boulevard just off Belvidere Road. It is a beautiful new building that's state of the art. 
A short drive down Roseberry Street and past Warren hospital, where I was born... the Heckman Terrace Annex housing project where I lived on Green Street from the time I was born until I was 10. 

Over the last couple of months I have been having that sterotypical discussion with my kids about how far I used to walk to school when I was there age. 

Initially, I told them that it was a mile walk each way too and from my elementary school. I subsequently figured out that it was only 1/2 a mile each way but there are hills both ways.  
Here's a link to the You Tube video I posted that shows the route I walked to Brensinger School every day from kindergarten until 5th grade. The school is gone but the area still felt familiar. 

Later in the weekend I had the chance to go back and retrace a similar but different route leading to the same area. 

It was basically, the alleys behind the streets in the video. It was the way we used to walk in the summer to get to the pool that was right next to the school. 

We had to stay on the streets during the school year so, outside of school, we walked the alleys. It was our way of rebelling against authority.

The two things I remember most about the back way to Brensinger pool were both things that only kids would do: 
popping bubbles that formed in the tar during the midday summer heat... 
...and eating berries from the big mulberry tree at the corner of Pursel and Culkin Streets. To us the tree was massive. It looked something like this.
On the way home from the pool me and my cousins would stop and feast on the plump ones on the low hanging branches.

If you're not familiar with mulberries, here's what they look like. 
When ripe, they are sweet and delicious. Their juice also stains skin, clothes, and towels. These collateral effects often landed my cousins and me in our bathtub and a little bit of trouble (aka: the "wrath" of my mom for getting stains all over our beach towels) when we got back from the pool. 

On Saturday, I went to Walter's Park to attend my family reunion. Going there was yet another return to a place that meant a lot to my childhood. 

Since it was within walking distance of my house for most of my life; while growing up, I spend many day at this park. 

Running parallel to the north edge of the park is a set of railroad tracks that, over the years, made getting to the park a lot easier for me. 

As a youngster, I used to walk west with my dad to the park along the tracks that also ran behind our Green Street home. 

As a teenager, I used to walk east, on the tracks, from Brainard Street, with my friends to the park to go swimming, play tennis, play baseball, or just hang out.

There is a pedestrian bridge that goes across the cut out that the tracks run through. On the other side of the bridge is a building that was once the Firth Youth Center. This picture I found on the internet is the view looking from the Wilson Street side into the park. 
Here's the link to a You Tube video I shot while at my family reunion that explains the history I have with both the bridge and the railroad tracks. 

Throughout my time back in the Easton and Phillipsburg area, I did a lot of riding around looking at what has and hasn't changed over the years. Most of it is different but a lot of it was the same as well. 

There were dozens and dozens of places I went in the area that had been changed or developed. There are hospitals and shopping centers and even highway interchanges that weren't there 18 years ago when I moved away. 

There were a couple of places that were so much the same that it was like stepping into a time machine. I will share my experiences in those places with you later in this series. 

One of the places I went to was the cemetery where my parents are buried. 

The footfall of every single step I retraced during my visit was resonant with the echo of the spirit and memory of my mom & dad. 

Although I wish with all my heart that I didn't have to do it; I felt my visit would not have been complete without going there. I traveled Belvidere Road to the cemetery in Harmony township to take a few minutes to honor their memory.  

After going to the cemetery, I was feeling a bit down. I drove along county road 519 through Lopatong Township just to look around. 

My main goal was to see the new Walmart that had been built since the last time I was back. 

Along the way I found something that I knew would make me feel better: A Rita's Italian Ice stand. 
A root beer flavored treat was a real mood booster for me.  

I have a bit more to share with you in regard to going back to places in Easton. But I'll share them later in this series. For now, I hope you have enjoyed this initial walk down memory lane with me.

With this post, I hope I have helped you get to know more about me through going back to places that are part of my idyllic memories of my childhood. 

Thanks for taking the time to read about it. Come back next time and I'll share with you some of the new memories I made with my family and friends during my August return home.   


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