Life in a small village in the 1930's

A Bit About Our Family

Our family lived on Highland Avenue in Yardville Heights. My maternal grandmother Archer also lived on Highland Avenue until my grandfather died, then she move to my Aunt Leilaís house on Prospect Avenue, just a block or so from our house. We had what would nowadays would be known as an extended family because when I was a youngster, my paternal grandfather and grandmother Whiteley moved in with us. It was during the great depression. Granddad had had a hardware store on Chestnut Street in Trenton which he apparently lost in the depression. I don't remember many of the details except I know they lived with us for much of the rest of Granddad's life. They had a room of their own in our house which we were forbidden to enter except by invitation. Granddad had a garden and kept busy by cutting the grass and puttered around the house. I don't know what Grandma Whiteley did, she was his 2nd wife. His first wife had died when my dad was young (about 12 or so). There wasn't a great deal of love lost between my mother and my step grandmother. I don't recall her ever helping in the kitchen where my mother was in charge. As was the practice in those days, we always ate supper together, we had 3 boys, 2 grandparents, mother and dad at the table. We never ate until my dad came home, he usually came home at 6 PM. The rest of the kids in the neighborhood usually ate around 5 PM because their fathers got home earlier. If we were late for supper, we usually ended up washing the dishes by hand - no dishwashers in those days We had a very good home life in terms of a comfortable home, good food and loving parents who cared for us.. My mother was a very good cook and liked to cook (and we liked to eat). Of course she had a big load because she not only did the cooking but also all the washing and ironing for the family The clothes washer was kept in the pantry just off the kitchen. On Mondays (wash day) mother would move the washer into the kitchen, sort the clothes, use Fels Naptha soap and do the washing. The clothes were run through a wringer on the washer. Occasionally someone's arm or a loose piece of clothing would get caught in the wringer. It had an emergency release to prevent such accidents. The clothes were put in a woven reed basket and taken out to the backyard where clothesline was strung between several permanently installed poles. Ironing was done by hand except later when mother got a mangle which was a big help in doing the sheets and flat work. In the spring, mother would do her house cleaning which meant beating the rugs, taking down the storm windows which were wooden frames hooked on to the outside of the regular windows. No nice aluminum self storing windows in those days. We kept the storm windows in the cellar in the summer and the screen windows there in the winter. Clarence Heatonís mother had a big black cook stove which originally had been wood burning. It had round metal plates that could be lifted with a lid lifter to insert the wood. Her stove had been converted to burn kerosene. She baked bread every Saturday and it was delicious especially when used for a sandwich made from garden fresh tomatoes. We had services which are not common now. Our dry cleaning was picked up at the house and delivered back to us by a delivery man. I donít recall his name but he was a very pleasant man and we kids liked talking to him.

We tended to be pretty good kids and never got in any serious trouble. When we did get in trouble, we were punished by having to stay in or occasionally getting swatted with a fly swatter, my mothers favorite. Occasionally, my dad took his belt to us although I don't recall that anyone ever got hurt by it but it was a form of disciple that now would be labeled child abuse.