The story of a small village

A great place for kids to grow up.

Yardville Heights was a fairly isolated little community. It was about 5 miles from Trenton down South Broad Street, one crossed over Gropp's Lake and then on the right side was Highland Avenue which led up to Yardville Heights. The Heights was really "Heights" because it stood on a hill overlooking woods and swamps on 2 sides and the lake on the other. It was a good place for a boy to grow up, there were lots of fields, swamps and woods to play in. From Highland avenue there were two streets that went back and then several more cross streets.

I suppose there were 50 or so houses in the 1930's. In my childhood, there was a small grocery store at the corner of our block operated by Mrs. Thompson. I do know that she had penny candy for sale and I suppose other staples. Such a store was necessary because many people did not have cars then and all the mothers I knew stayed at home to care for their children and families. We had a telephone but not everyone had a telephone. Since it was fairly isolated, everyone pretty much knew everyone else by sight if not in more detail. As kids, we were in and out of the houses of our friends. Every Sunday, we made the rounds to Casonís, Fronleys and Moores all of whom got different Sunday paper comics than we did. When I was about 8 or so Eddie Cason died from Leukemia so we didn't go there anymore. I donít recall any of the details just that he disappeared from our lives. The Casonís later adopted a boy (Eddy Miller) and a girl. In Yardville Heights, there were a lot of people who were related to each other. There were several branches of the Middleton family. The Heights was surrounded by fields and woods. Across Highland Avenue was farm which was usually farmed with corn, but sometimes pumpkins and other crops. The farm was the full length of Highland Avenue and went almost over to Yardville which was nearly a mile away. It was a good sized farm. I do recall that it was plowed by a horse drawn plow.

On the other side of the Heights was South Broad Street and Gropp's Lake and then on the third side was the Little Creek which ran from a dam at the end of the lake out to the Big Crick which was on the fourth side. The Little Crick was bordered by woods and the Heights was on a hill. From the back of the Heights, we had to go down fairly steep wooded hills to get to the creeks. The big creek was bordered by swamps where muskrats lived and during the winter a lot of the local boys trapped muskrats and sold the skins. I never had traps myself but often helped kids who did when they made the rounds of the traps. In the very early spring, usually late March on the first warm day, we always wanted to get the swimming season started. We would go down the hill behind Bunky Middleton's house to the little crick to our swimming spot in the crick. There was a big birch tree overhanging the crick that we used for diving. We would strip and hop in to get our first swim of the season. We didn't bother with bathing suits, girls never went any where near the woods as far as I know. Later in the season, we swam there a lot as well as in the lake. The little crick was a favorite spot. From our swimming spot it was possible to walk in the crick out to where it intersected the Big Crick. The big crick was bigger, wider and faster moving. We didn't do too much swimming in it but there was some great mud out there, real thick and black and gooey. We liked to go out and get all smeared over with it. I'm not sure now why we did it but it seemed like fun then. It took a while to get rid of the mud when we got back in the water. There was a vacant field next to our house and we built forts and tents in the field. It was close to home so Mother could easiely keep an eye on us and call us for supper.

The neighborhood was small enough so that at supper time Dad could go out on the back porch and holler very loudly "DONALD!" and we could hear him from almost anywhere in the Heights. The woods around Yardville Heights were a favorite playing spot. We had trails all through the woods. We knew them intimately and some were used in winter for sledding, others were just trails along the creeks. We knew where the springs were where we could get a drink of water. At the base of the hill, there were several cisterns. Yardville Heights, when I was very small, had it's own water system. The cisterns were the source for water. The water from the swamp would filter into the cistern and be pumped up the hill to a big water tank. The pump house was at the foot of the hill. When I was still rather young, the city water system reached the Heights and the local system was left to go in disrepair. It was probably a good thing because the people who operated the system sometimes forget to go down to turn on the pumps to refill the main storage tank. People would have no water and they would have to get someone to turn on the pumps. In the winter there were several spots that were favorites for sledding. Bakers Hill near the middle of the back of the Heights was the best. It was longer and had nice curves in it as it went down through the woods. One summer we built sides on some of the curves so they were banked for speed. Lockwood's hill nearby was also good but did not have any curves in it. There were things in the woods that we liked to do, there were always logs across the cricks to walk across. There were certain places were we knew there was a clay bank where we could get clay to try to making pots "like the Indians did". We knew where the nicest flowers grew, dogwood, violets, may apples, wild azaleas, lady slippers, jack in the pulpits. Sometimes we picked them and tried to sell them to some of the neighbors.