Tag Archives: North Bergen

The Dress Fiasco That Almost Wrecked My Brother’s Wedding

4 Aug

On September 2, my brother and his wife will be married for 38 years. Their Labor Day weekend wedding was notable for several reasons: his was the first wedding in our immediate family; he got married on our youngest sister’s 21st birthday; the drama of the dress my Mom wore to the wedding.

Why would a dress be so memorable? Here is what happened. My sister in law chose orange, yellow and beige as her wedding colors.   My mother did not want to wear beige, as she felt it was too close to the bride’s white dress. But she could not find a dress anywhere, in a color she liked. She decided to have one made specifically for her.

She chose an orange/peach color fabric, with a lace inset at the top. As a teacher in West New York, she knew many people. Someone recommended a good dressmaker.   The dress was well made, but it looked absolutely horrid on my Mom. I can still see the dress, even though she never wore it to the wedding, just tried it on for us.

My husband and I, who were engaged at the time, arrived in New Jersey about four days before the wedding. That evening, my Mom tried the dress on for all of us. My Dad, my sister and I stared at the dress, without words. Mom looked horrendous. The color was WRONG! It took all color from her face. The style was also terrible. She looked like she was wearing a nightgown to go to bed, NOT a gown to wear to a wedding.

My sister and I were stunned.  We were silent for a few minutes. We actually had no words, no way to tell her how terrible this dress looked. Mothers and daughters have a connection,  from our silence, and probably the looks on our faces, she could tell. “It looks horrible, doesn’t it,” she asked…or something like that.

Then the tears started. The wedding was just four days away. What would she do? We had a major disaster on our hands!  My sister and I were up in an instant.  We would do something!

My father was somewhat calm. “DO not worry. You will find a dress.” He was positive. But he was also insistent that she no longer tried to save money.   This called for emergency shopping, and we knew the perfect store: Gail Browns, located on 58th and Bergenline Avenue.  (Thanks North Bergen friends for this info.) It was a high-class dress shop near by. A store that we never shopped at because the prices were way too high for us. We usually went to Little Marcy’s, occasionally Corduroy Village, but never Gail Browns.

The next morning, as soon as it opened, my sister, my Mom and I went to the dress store. With in minutes, the sales lady brought over a beautiful beige dress with a brown belt. It was the same exact color as the tuxedos the men were going to wear. Mom put it on. Stunning.

Grandmas. mom, sister and me

Mom in her lovely dress stands in the middle surrounded by my grandmothers, my sister and me.

Yes, there were just a few minor alterations. The hem had to be shortened; the belt loops moved; an extra snap on the bodice. But the seamstress knew it was an emergency situation. This was Friday. The wedding was Sunday. By late afternoon, the dress was complete. I believe they even dyed shoes for her!

The Dress Fiasco was over.  The discarded dress disappeared.  Never to be commented on ever again.

Mom looked wonderful at the wedding of her oldest child. She looks lovely in all the photos. There is a picture of my Mom and Dad dancing that I can still see in my mind. It was a great dress.

I missed Mom when I purchased the dress for my daughter’s wedding last year, 37 years later. She also got married on Labor Day Weekend. My Mom is no longer with us.  She did not get to go dress shopping for this wedding.

Instead, my daughter and I went shopping, and narrowed the choice to two dresses, which I brought home.   Later that day my sister arrived from New Jersey. I tried on both dresses. I took the advise of my sister and daughter who both loved one specific dress. They said it was me. The other dress, which was grey drained me of color. Another dress fiasco was averted. I wore the lavender dress that they loved.

Now my sister is facing this hurdle. Her daughter is getting married next June.   I know she realizes that I will be there to make sure that her dress is the perfect one.   There will be no tears four days before another wedding because the mother’s dress is horrendous. No more dress fiascos ever!

Another blog about shopping: https://zicharonot.wordpress.com/2014/03/10/shopping-on-the-avenue-i-dont-mean-fifth-i-mean-bergenline/

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Death By Chihuly…Or So It Seemed

24 Jul

I was 3 ½ when my family moved from West New York, NJ, to North Bergen. The reason for the move was the soon to be arrival a new sister. The apartment we lived in was too small with only two bedrooms.   So we left the safety of West New York, and my grandparent’s bakery, to venture off to North Bergen.

We lived in a three-family home, we had the second floor. Next door was a family with one daughter, known here as DAS, who was a bit older than my brother, and 18 months older than me. DAS became my buddy. We loved each other, even though over the years she almost killed me several times and got me into the biggest trouble ever!

But I guess it does not matter. We are tied together though the bonds of our childhood memories, the close friendship of our parents, and shared memories that no one else, but my siblings share. DAS has to love me for life for all she has done to me over the years.   And I tell her that.

I have written in another blog about being pushed through a basement window and almost dying. That was DAS. I have written in a different blog about hitchhiking with a friend, even though my parents had forbidden it. Yes, that was DAS. Or the time we almost killed my brother by tying a rope across the driveway and pulling it up just as he rode his bicycle toward us. Yes DAS!

I could write about smoking my first and only cigarette…YES DAS.   Or even my one time of shoplifting as a tween.   DAS!  She dared me and told how to do it. Or the time I broke my big toe walking on cinderblocks after my grandfather specifically told us not to do it! Since my parents are no longer alive, I can now tell all. 

So over the years, I have complained to DAS about her being the cause of my biggest troubles as a child. Oh, I admit she was also the cause of some of my favorite memories.   It was not all bad with DAS.

I have known DAS for 59 years. That is a long time for a friendship. I won’t go through the years we did not see each other. It does not matter. What does matter is that now, even though we grew up in New Jersey, we live just three or so hours apart in the Midwest. I live in Kansas and she lives in Arkansas.   And over the past few years we have tried to see each other several times a year.


This summer it was mine turn to go visit her. My excuse was that I wanted to see the Chihuly exhibit at the Crystal Bridges Museum in Bentonville. I did write about the exhibit. (See below link). That is not my issue here. The issue here is that DAS is still trying to kill me. Not on purpose, but it happens.

First night in her house. She tells me that she cannot use the shower in her bathroom, she needs to shower in the guest bathroom. Okay, so when I was done, I went to her bathroom to brush my teeth while she showered.   I think she forgot I was there, and turned off all the lights while I was in the bathroom.

Luckily I remembered that when I left her bathroom (up three steps) and then walked through her bedroom into a small hallway, there were two little steps somewhere. I could not see them. I did not know where the light switch was, so I walked very carefully. It did not matter, I hit the steps and fell to my knees. Luckily I was going up! So I really did not hurt myself too much.

Her dog, Rue, started barking. And she yelled out, “Did you fall? What happened?”
“You turned the lights out. You tried to kill me for the 59th time!!!” I yelled back, while rubbing my knees.

She was sorry. And I forgave her. Something, I have been doing for along time. And I thought we were done. One death per weekend seemed enough.

But the weekend was not over. We still had the Chihuly Exhibit to see. The day time went fine. We went to Crystal Bridges by car, it was hot in Arkansas, and walked through the museum. We had a fabulous time. We both love the blown glass masterpieces designed by Dale Chihuly.

We had lunch. We visited. We got ready to go to the Chihuly Exhibit in the Forest. This is where we made our mistake. The museum is in walking distance from my friend’s house. So we decided to walk. We both love to walk and were used to walking a mile or two every morning.

But we did not check where the outdoor exhibit was located. We did not know that it was actually about two miles away.

And so we walked and walked and walked. Up and down paths, past the museum, up a hill into the Chihuly in the Forest exhibit.

We made it to Chihuly in the Forest, now we have to walk back!


We made it. We walked all around the paths. We saw all the wonderful Chihuly. But we realized we made a big mistake. We had to walk all the way home. And if we waited too long it would be dark. Walking those trails at night was not a good idea.   So we headed back before dark. We went back down to the Museum, through the paths, across the parking lots, up the hill, back to the streets of Bentonville.

In all we walked over five miles in the heat and humidity of a June evening in Arkansas.   And as we walked I moaned….”Now you are killing me by Chihuly. It wasn’t enough that you turned the lights off on me last night. This is the 60th time you tried to kill me. One for each year.   But I never expected Death By Chihuly.”

Needless to say, I lived.   And I loved the Chihuly exhibits. I learned where the light switch was in her home.   I guess I am always ready for another DAS adventure.

 

https://zicharonot.wordpress.com/2017/06/20/a-wonderful-gift-at-crystal-bridges/

https://zicharonot.wordpress.com/2014/10/07/oh-how-i-dream-about-ice-cream-in-the-catskills-in-the-summer/

https://zicharonot.wordpress.com/2017/07/22/the-big-snow-in-the-winter-of-1960-61/

The Big Snow in The Winter of 1960-61

22 Jul

Among my parents collection of photos and memorabilia were several little booklets of black and white photos called a Peek-A-Pix Album. When we went through their home, we sorted through the photos, and I took home all that looked important or interesting.   So now, whenever the mood strikes me, I take out the bag of photos and search through them.

Since it was 99 degrees outside today, I decided today was a good day to look at photos, specifically ones of snow. Why not?   It might cool me off!

I remember the big snow in North Bergen, NJ,  when I was five years old.   School closed. The roads closed. Dads could not go to work.   It was a wonderful holiday from life.   Even without these photos, I remember this snow storm.

I remember the work and effort to get into our snow clothes. I especially remember my sister. She was only 2 1/2 at the time. My Mom got her all bundled up, when my sister announced that she had to go potty.   Mom sent my brother and I downstairs to join our Dad, while she dealt with my sister.

Sliding down the backyard mound.

Ready to sled down the backyard mound.

The Dads were all very busy shoveling. Shoveling out their cars, shoveling out the walkways, shoveling out the streets. You really could not go anywhere. But all this shoveling created the giant mounds of snow that we could climb on!

I still remember climbing to the top of a giant mound of snow on Third Avenue. My brother, neighbors and I were all playing King of the Mountain. It wasn’t until we had been jumping and scrambling up this mountain for a while, that the green top of a car was exposed. The snow pile was so high, we were able to climb on top of a car! That made a major impression on me.

My Dad and my friend’s Dad, (they lived next door), made a giant mound of snow for us in the back yard. We could sled down from their back porch into the relative safety of their yard.   I have pictures of the three of us and our sled. You can barely make out our faces as we are so covered with clothes.

Mom and Risa 1960

My sister and my Mom…In the background the window where I almost died.

One of my favorite photos shows my Mom and my sister at the corner of the house. My sister is hiding from the camera. But that is not the exciting part for me. If you look closely you can see a basement window. That window almost cost me my life, one spring day, when my friend accidentaly pushed my head through that window.   Luckily the Dad’s were home. I remember my Mom standing upstairs yelling at me not to move, while the Dads went into the basement to figure out how to get me out without cutting my face. It was scary.   But as an adult, I am glad to see the window as in reinforces my memory. It really did happen.

I love seeing the backyards and all the old garages with their wooden doors. Each photo brings back memories of the cold and the snow. But most of all it brings back memories of the fun we could always have on Third Avenue. I know I will never forget the Big Snow.

Oh Canada: My love of Canada Was Nurtured in High School

23 Jan

I have been fascinated with Canada ever since I read my first “Anne of Green Gables” book. The books made me want to see Prince Edward Island and the people of the island, and I loved the character of Anne Shirley. But it wasn’t till I was in my junior or senior year at North Bergen High School that I was able to really learn something about modern Canada.

At school, the administration decided to have these little one-quarter classes. You had a choice to take one or two each semester. Among the classes offered was one about Canada by Ann-Ruth Enowitz, a history/social studies teacher. For me she brought Canada to life. And my desire to see Canada and learn more about it intensified.

I loved her class. I liked her as well. We learned about the provinces, the history with England, France and the United States. We even learned to sing the Canadian national anthem, “O Canada!”. There were just a few of us in the class. I think we met in a conference room in the library.

Although I had not been to Canada, I knew that many Canadians came down to New York. It was so close to travel and visit. Many had families in both countries. But for me, the closest I came to Canada was the Canadian exhibit at Disney World’s Epcot Center. But I wanted the real thing!

The class only piqued my interest!

My first trip was to Montreal for a family wedding. My plane was late, of course, and I could not remember the name of the hotel. But luckily I had the address of the party I was supposed to go to that night. By the time the taxi got me there, the party was over. But my mom and dad were sitting on the stoop waiting for me. In the time before cell phones, they were worried and could only hope and wait for me.

Once that emergency passed, I had a great time. We went on tours around Montreal. I loved the old town by the river and visiting all the French sites. We enjoyed the wedding, and my love of Canada continued.

My next trip to a Canadian city occurred when my husband and I were living in Ann Arbor, Michigan. It was a hop and a skip to get to Windsor, Canada. Many people went shopping there because the dollar bought more. My friend Ginny and took a trip there to shop. I will admit I almost caused a big problem at the border, but we finally got through.

My husband and I went back for a week’s vacation, driving through Canada; negotiating the weird signs. The signs don’t say, ‘merge’; they say ‘squeeze.’ Or they did. We went to Stafford and saw a Shakespearean play.   We drove to Toronto…just missing the traffic for the Pope. We got there the day after he left, but all the barricades were still around. It was September 1984.

We made our way all the way to Niagara Falls and spent a day and night there: taking the boat ride to the falls, walking along the Canadian side. We drove back along a southern route, but stayed in Canada. We stopped at Alexander Graham Bell’s’ home and the Royal Botanical Gardens. I loved that trip.

Ms. Enowitz’ class so many years before helped me on all these trips. She had spent much time on Toronto, Montreal and Niagara Falls, discussing border issues, and the wars between the French and English, as well as the US and Canada. Who knew that we once went to war with Canada!!! But her history lessons came to life as we visited forts and cities along the way.

Houseboats Vancouver

Some of the houseboats we saw as we walked to Stanley Park.

Many years later I went to Vancouver.  My husband was there for a meeting, and I was there to see the sites. But he had some time off and we took long walks and visited Stanley Park together and looked at all the houseboats along the way. I went to museums and Granville Island with a friend.

It was just two years after 9/11 and security was very tight. There were talks of terrorist trying to get over the border from Canada to the USA. So perhaps it was not the smartest move on our part to fly home on September 11. But it was my Dad’s birthday. And my parents were staying with our children. I promised my Dad he would be off duty for his birthday.

For some reason, security focused on my husband. They checked him at least three times. And even when I went down the walkway to the plane, I noticed he was gone. I walked back and there at the entrance they made take off his shoes and were checking him again.

But we still loved Vancouver. I always thought we would take our children there, but never did; just a pass through on the way to Alaska.

Another trip to Canada with my husband took us to Montreal as we started a cruise up the St. Lawrence Seaway. We spent several days first just walking around Montreal. The first stop on the cruise was a day in Quebec City. I loved it there so much, a few years later we travel to Quebec City and spent a week there. This French and English town is so interesting. Like being in Europe, but staying in North America.

We also went to Halifax, where several important battles were fought, and the survivors and victims of the Titanic were taken to after their recovery.

However, most important part of the cruise was finally making my way to Prince Edward Island and visiting all the sites made famous by Lucy Maud Montgomery (LMM) and her Ann of Green Gables books. I told my husband in advance that we had to do the Ultimate Green Gables tour. He agreed. And my favorite part of the cruise occurred on this tour.

Green Gables

Green Gables, the Anne Shirley home!

My husband was not an Anne Shirley fan. He knew nothing about her, nor about Lucy Maud Montgomery. Needless to say he was not as excited as the other 50 or so mainly women on the bus. So when we got to Green Gables, the house owned by LMM’s aunt and uncle that the house in the stories was based on, my husband was not that impressed.

Anne Shirley's room

Anne Shirley’s “room,” at the top of the stairs.

And when we went up the tiny staircase to the second floor, the tour guide said as you get up the stairs look to you left and you will see Anne Shirley’s room. I was so excited; I exited the staircase, with my camera ready and started taking photos. My husband said, “You know, Anne Shirley was just a fictional character and that is not her room.”

I turned to say something back to him so he would understand my joy and not undercut it! But I did not need to say anything; the woman behind him said, “You know you could just go back to the bus.”

From that point on my husband was silent. He just enjoyed the rest of the tour realizing he was with a bunch of Anne Shirley fanatics. And I had pure joy.

I thought that was it. I had satisfied my Canadian obsession. But then my daughter became engaged to a Canadian. I now learned that you can put maple syrup on everything you eat and there are such things as maple syrup lollipops.

To this day I think of Ms. Enowitz whenever I travel to Canada. It was a very brief class, but one I always remember.

 

 

Temple Beth El Has Closed, But It is Not Gone

15 Jan

I was sad when I learned through a North Bergen Facebook group that after 91 years, Temple Beth El on 75th Street in North Bergen was closing. This synagogue was where I spent most of my childhood, from third grade until I married. Right across the street from Robert Fulton Elementary School, Temple Beth El is where I spent four days each week in Hebrew School after I finished my secular classes.

I remember going to synagogue for holidays and Shabbat. I loved going when I was young because my great Uncle Leo and Tanta Esther belonged to Beth El. And Uncle Leo always had candy in his pocket. When we came to services he would slip us some candy. Uncle Leo was a very quiet man with a German accent. But when he put his hand in his suit jacket and brought out a sweet, a gentle smile would come over his face as he said, “here.” And handed over the candy.

When my brother and I would go by ourselves as we prepared for our confirmation classes, Uncle Leo was still there. And even though we were in our early teens, we made sure to sit next to him to get our candy!

I remember Cantor Ovstbaum and Rabbi Sidney Nissenbaum. The Cantor  wrote a Purim Spiel play using the melodies from the opera, “Carmen.” I can still sing some of the lyrics to these songs: “My name it is Vashti,” “Ahasverus, I the Glorious,” “Haman’s Seven Sons are We,” and more. I remember Ella P. who was Queen Esther. And my friends who all got singing parts like Shashi. I was not allowed to sing. But I still loved and remember those songs!

Walking to services with my Dad was fun. I especially enjoyed going to services for Succot, when they built the Succah in the small parking lot across the street from the synagogue.   I have so many good memories of the shul, the people, and my many friends who went there with me.

So when I read it was closing, I felt the pangs and sadness of the end to an era. It was a closure that completed with the deaths of my parents, another part of my childhood forever gone.

But then I had a revelation! I got a letter in the mail, which changed my feelings.

When my parents moved from North Bergen to Cliffside Park, they joined Temple Israel on Edgewater Road. My parents became extremely active in this congregation. My Dad served as president for 11 years! It was Rabbi Engelmeyer and the Cantor Peter and the congregants who were so kind to my parents as they aged and helped my Dad so much after my Mom died.   I loved the people of Temple Israel.

At Temple Israel in 2006. My Dad is with a scribe as they work on repairing older Torah scrolls.

At Temple Israel in 2006. My Dad is with a scribe as they work on repairing older Torah scrolls.

Although I never belonged there, I went to many services there with my parents and always heard so much about it whenever I spoke to my parents. It was at Temple Israel where we had a memorial service for my Mom. It was at Temple Israel that we endowed a library for my parents. It was at Temple Israel that we put up memorial plaques for my parents.

These two congregations were important to me even though I now live in Kansas. I still send donations several times a year in honor of my parents’ and other relatives’ yahrzeits.

So my revelation?   Temple Beth El was not closing. NO! It was merging with Temple Israel.   The new name is Congregation Beth Israel of the Palisades!

My Dad would be so happy. Throughout his years as president and board member, he was always searching for ways to keep the congregation alive and financially sound. With the combining of these congregations, perhaps they both will survive.

And in my mind, my Dad had a celestial part in the merging of these congregations. With Congregation Beth Israel of the Palisades the memory of my parents and my childhood continues.   Perhaps Uncle Leo never went to services in this sanctuary. But my parents and my siblings and my cousins and my parents friends all have sat there. I can close my eyes and see so many loved ones who are no longer with us.

Temple Beth El is not gone, even though many of the Jewish population have left North Bergen. It is still close by in another form. It has changed with time, as we all do. But it lives in my mind.

The Lighthouses That Made Me Feel Safe

22 Nov

When I was a little girl, my family drove every weekend from North Bergen, New Jersey, into New York City to have dinner with my paternal grandparents and my father’s family. We had to drive over the George Washington Bridge and into the Bronx.

My favorite part of this drive was usually on the way home. Then sometimes my Dad would drive in a round about way so we came to a point where we could see the little red lighthouse under the bridge. We did not always see it, but when we did it made me happy!

We had often read the book by Hildegarde Swift, “The Little Red Lighthouse and the Great Gray Bridge.” It was one of my favorites. I loved the story about the lighthouse being happy till the bridge was built, and then had to realize it was still important. I loved that little lighthouse that lives in Washington Park. So those little excursions to see it filled me with joy.

Rainbow and bridge

Near the bottom of the rainbow stands the little red lighthouse. View from my parents apartment.

Even now, whenever I am back east, I try to get a glimpse of the lighthouse. But it is much harder to see from the roads with all the barriers up, unlike the 60s when it was more open.

When my siblings and I were married, my parents moved into an apartment in Cliffside Park. Their view overlooked the Hudson River. From my parent’s apartment we could look north and see the George Washington Bridge and the New York City skyline. Whenever I was there I would try, perhaps through the trees, with binoculars, to see the little red lighthouse.

I really not see it. But I would imagine it sitting across the river just under the bridge, at the end of a rainbow.   In my mind it was always saving people, even though it had not be used in decades. The lighthouse was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979.

I know it is more than just the book and the adorableness of this little red beacon that made me love lighthouses. Our family had its own attachment to the security a lighthouse provides. My maternal grandparents had a lighthouse nightlight that kept us safe at night in the Catskills.

Lighthouse in the Catskills

The lighthouse nightlight in the Catskills house.

Night in Kauneonga Lake is extremely dark. There are no street lights. And when the night comes and the lights go out…it can be scary for children. Well for adults too, if you do not like the dark. And I do not like the dark!

It was this little lighthouse nightlight that made me feel safe.   It was not the usual nightlight. This heavy brass sculpture has a tiny light bulb in the top that can be switched on and off. Throughout my life, well since about 1964, it sat on a table at the bottom of the stairs. And every night that I spent at my grandparents’ and then my parent’s Catskill home, this lighthouse’s small beacon illuminated the scary dark nights. It was a beacon that kept use all safe. I loved that little lighthouse, as did my siblings and all the grandchildren.

The watchtower nightlight

My watchtower nightlight.

So when my children were little, I also bought a ceramic lighthouse/tower/nightlight that I kept it at the bottom of my stairs, in deference and in honor of the lighthouse I so remembered and loved. My nightlight was not really a lighthouse. It is more of watch tower with a dragon guarding it. But it was the idea of it that made me want to own it and use it in my house. It reminded of my grandparent’s nightlight.

Lighthouse

The Catskills lighthouse in my house.

I now have both nightlights.   After my parents passed away, and we divided some of the belongings, I took the lighthouse back to Kansas with me. I have it sitting on a small half table, just as it sat on a small half table in the Catskills. I have it near the bottom of the stairs. But it is not plugged in anymore. The cord is frayed and I am concerned about the chances of sparks. But I see daily, and I remember the glow of its light.

Across from it is the newer nightlight watch tower. The watch tower is plugged in, but with no children at home, I no longer turn it on. Both lights are out now. But in this troubled time, I still l feel a sense of security when I see a lighthouse and my lighthouse night lights.  I imagine sometimes that they nod to each other and whisper, “we kept them safe.”

 

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Little_Red_Lighthouse

A Photo Triggers Driving Memories

7 Oct
AP parking lot photo from Cindy Bottcher

A&P Parking lot, photo from Cindy Bottcher on the Town of North Bergen Facebook group.

The photograph on the North Bergen Facebook group page brought a flood of memories. It showed the parking lot of the A & P grocery store, a store that has been closed for many years. The photo showed the somewhat empty parking lot and to the left, alone by itself, a single light pole. I know that light pole well!!

It was in 1972. I had recently received my driver’s license. Mom and I went to the grocery store together. At that time the parking lot at the A & P was packed. I easily parked the car in the only empty spot by the light pole. Later when we left the store, Mom once again let me be the driver. As I put the car in gear I made a slight error. I went into drive instead of reverse, and I hit the light pole. It made a dent in the front bumper. My first fender-bender.

I was so upset. I knew my Dad was not going to be very happy about this! I had already had a mishap with the garage door during the summer. My father had told me NOT to attempt to park in the garage when I went driving with my brother in the Catskills. When we return home, I decided to try. My brother did not stop me, so I always sort of blame him. In any case, I misjudged as I entered the garage and off came the car’s side view mirror.

Dad was not happy with me.

So now it was a few months later, and I hit the light pole. My Mom and I looked at the damage. It was not too bad. My Mom was calm. “Better the light pole than another car,” she told me. Then she offered to tell my Dad that she had hit the pole. We agreed that he would be much calmer that way.

So home we went, and my Mom took the responsibility for the accident. The parking lot was busy. She got distracted. She hit the pole. My guilty face probably gave me away. “Who really hit the pole?” My Dad demanded. My Mom kept up the pretense.

A few days later my Dad announced at dinner, that it did not bother him that I hit the pole (ha), but it did bother him that I let my Mom take the blame (This part is true). My Mom still stuck up for me. It was her idea. I just agreed. However, now as an adult I do agree that we should have been truthful…somewhat. My Dad was much calmer a few days later when he actually learned the truth, than he would have been when it happened.

However, I never liked to drive in New Jersey after that. Luckily we had wonderful mass transit. I took buses, trains, subways and taxies wherever I wanted to go.

The following year, when I was a senior in high school, my parents went to India for three weeks. I was in charge of my sister. And I had to drive. We needed groceries. We were invited to friends’ homes for dinner. We had to go to school in the cold winter. I was getting much better and began to lose my fear of driving.

My parents left us with many phone numbers of people who could help in an emergency. Friends and relatives were on call. One of my Mom’s friends called every morning as a back up alarm clock to make sure we got off to school on time. So many people called to invite us for dinner, we never used the meals my Mom had cooked and froze for us.

But for me the most important person was my Dad’s business colleague and friend, Normie P.   One night I took my sister to the movies. We came home, and I forgot to turn the lights off.   The next day the car was dead in the street. We had drained the battery. At the time I did not know that. Normie and his son came and fixed it for us. I will never forget them in their work suits, jump-starting the car. We had to drive to school immediately, but take the long way to recharge the battery.

When I moved to the Midwest for graduate school, I was extremely concerned about driving here. But it was a breeze. The traffic was nothing compared to the traffic in the New York City area and in New Jersey. I drove downtown with ease. I found the perfect place for me to drive. I met my husband, and he let me use his old Buick to do my school assignments. Driving is easy in his opinion.

However, he learned his lessons about New Jersey.  I remember the first time my husband drove in North Bergen and West New York. He continually got stuck behind double-parked cars. I kept telling him to move over.

“What do you mean they are double parked?!” He demanded. “That is illegal.”

“Not here,” I told him.

He thought people in New Jersey were crazy.

We also made him drive into New York City one time. It might have been a bit cruel. But he needed to see what we were talking about.   Growing up in St. Louis, he had never experienced REAL traffic.

For years, when I went home to Jersey, my Dad would drive. As he aged, I had to take over some driving for him. And after my parents passed away, the driving ended as well. My sister or brother do most of the driving for me. I am once again in the passenger seat. I usually do not mind.

To this day, I do not like to drive on the highways of New Jersey. I am fine in the lovely highways of Kansas and Missouri.   I am fine in the local driving of my daily life.

But occasionally I get the urge to drive when I am back East visiting. I decided that Catskill driving is the best for me.   And now I have no problems at all pulling into a garage. It is something I do multiple times a day.

It is amazing what one photo can do for memories. I will always remember that A& P parking lot and light pole.