Life in a small town, a Ralph eBook
Life in a small town runs at a different
pace. It seems to be set by the local business attitudes and activities.
It also could be the Pennsylvania Dutch (German) people. They were
dedicated hard workers but at a farmers pace.
My hometown was Sellersville, which is next to Perkasie, Souderton, Telford, Quakertown and far away Doylestown - the county seat. Actually my family was renting in 17 Noble St, Sellersville and mom and dad decided to build their house up on a hill just outside of Sellersville in West Rockhill Township. It was well named since we had these red colored rocks everywhere we tried to dig.
This rambling is a "Mackway thing" (my mother's family) they take a written road and follow it to a crossroad in their mind and then make a turn and keep repeating these turns until they have lost the reader in a maze of written subject turns. But we need to get back to Life in the slow lane.
My dad was born in Bethlehem and move to Sellersville looking for a job. He wrote a diary 1935-36 while living at the Sellers Inn/Tavern now called the Washington House. He worked as an artist and draftsman in the engineering department of the US Gauge company. It was a (German) gauge manufacture used for reading temperature and pressure. He worked his way up to chief engineer with no engineering degree.
My mother and the Mackway family was living in Sellersville. She worked at the US Gauge, I am not sure about her job there. She was active in the outside work activities and she met my dad since they were in archery together. He called her Mack. After Ralph Jr was born she stopped working to raise the family.
Dad walked home for lunch everyday. He walked everywhere since we had no car. We all walked. Of course, I had to be in the front of the line when we walked. But in this town you always knew where you were going since there were not many options. We had a small A&P grocery who everyone used and carried the bags hoe, A meat truck and produce truck each came by our rented 17 Noble St house. The milkman did bring bottles of milk with the cream on top. We would see a hobo every now and then who was looking for hand outs of food. To a young person they were scary since the boogie man lived under a bridge on my street. On the way to school and town from Noble St was a railroad bridge which had great black walls on which chalk allowed you to make it a personal sign. the stupid part was that mom and dad read it and knew it was mine and made me wash it off. Under the bridge was a scary dirt walk which we avoided.
The town trolley and railway system was used to visit Allentown, Bethlehem Souderton and Philadelphia.
I went to Sellersville School from kindergarten to 2nd or 3rd grade. Then we moved to the West Rockhill School district and 4th grade. There was a big difference in the schools. The playground became bigger with a ball field. The kids were different more rural and less family income. My first fight occurred when the grade bully picked on the new kid. But I beat him and we became friends.
I broke my arm in this school while sliding on the ice that formed on the ball field and falling.
The school was up to 8th grade. I remember graduating and my sister Marilyn was a flower girl. I was second in my class so I gave a memorized speech which was the Lincoln Gettysburg address.
After graduation from 8th grade we went to the Pennridge High School which was an older building in Perkasie. We could easily walk the back way to the school. Ninth grade was to be the last class in that building as we were moving to a new Pennridge way east outside Perkasie. I joined the band playing the clarinet. I took lessons in Sellersville from a man who was a milkman in our church. I really hated the clarinet - I wanted a Saxophone but dad talked me into the clarinet- do it first then switch, since it was metal it was hard to play and I did not like to practice. Later I bought a wood clarinet and what a difference in ease of playing. I was part of the marching band but really played by ear more than reading the music. The band director liked me since I helped him with band things. In the winter we had an orchestra and the band leader gave me an Alto Clarinet to use. I went to Bux-Mont band and played the Alto I must have been the only one since I got the seat and didn't play very well. I met a cool Quakertown clarinet playing girl at this band named Nancy Wyckoff and we became dating friends. We dated on and off for a long time and I took her to the school Prom.
We attended the St Paul's Reformed Church in Sellersville. My parents were members and dad sang in the Choir and was a Deacon. Marilyn and I both were confirmed in the church and sang in the choir for a while.
Dad eventually had to get a car. He research and picked a used Frazer made by Kaiser. Our neighbor said it was the best designed and built car. It was a tank of a car. He had to pay and rebuild the engine eventually. From then on he was an Olds man and a new white Oldsmobile eventually. His father was a Chevrolet man and bought a new car every three years. He sold or gave his old car to Don Waite.
The car opened up our world and towns beyond Perkasie became part of our shopping trips. We took up camping and bought tents, cots, sleeping bags, white gas cooking gear. And so we began to travel within Pennsylvania and New York state parks.
Our family first lived in an apartment across from the Washington House. After I was born we moved closer to the US Gauge in Sellersville. Dad made a copy of the house and the town Church out of wood for the Christmas train set. We moved to 17 noble St not sure why - guess it was bigger with two levels..
We lived were fairly was close to our grandparents, aunt and uncles relatives. My mother's mother Louise lived up a side street from 17 Noble St. and I would walk up and get a milk with coffee and cookies from Grandma Mackway. Grandpa Mackway was selling things in Sellersville town in a lower level walk down store. Grandma had a garden and rabbits. I was young when Grandma died and I remember about that time losing my Dog a Cocker Spaniel to a car.
The trips to Bethlehem grandparents Earle and Fan Waite was an annual April-May birthday event. Everyone came and a cake and ice cream was the high light. Thanksgiving was rotated among the aunts Fan, Tess, Marion and Naomi shared in this. The cousins would get together for exchanging whatever. Jim, Doris were the older and Dan and Marilyn the younger and of course me.
The Silver Birches House in the Poconos at Lake Wallenpaupack was the fun event of every year. Grandpa Waite had a Old Town Sailboat and he would fit it up and we all would take a slow tack around the lake. He would eventually get everyone on the boat fro a sail around. The story is that I slept in a drawer in the house when young. They rang a bell and everyone came in at one meal time. As I grew up the waitress became a partner in the bring more toast or whatever to get their attention. Never got to spend time with the help because it was a week end event. I returned in 2008 and found the son of the owner had bought his father out changed the name and added to the motel like environment. I have a brochure of this on this website somewhere. He married one a waitress. http://www.familycousin.com/ecwaite/index.html
My first jobs were hired helper for neighbors. Mowing the grass for Marie and Gordon Taylor. Caddy two walking bags for their golfing at the Indian Valley Country Club. The a job at a florist Greenhouse grower watering the plants. what a dull and boring job. Sometimes the stringing wiring the tall plants added variety. The owner had a young redhead daughter and she had a buxom friend who kind of worked there. They both would tease and try to distract me with their actions. Eventually they were successful in causing me to do poor work and I was fired.
Then my parents knew a dairy farmer who had a need for raking and bailing hey for the cow food kept in the barn. What a job, with my asthma the hay and dust drove me to wear a filter mask.
Then finally got a summer job at the US Gauge, One year I was on the assembly line and used a press machine to rivet the gage moving wheel parts. I had to join the union which I didn't want to do. But to be a Gage maker it was required, Dad would say remember I have to live with these people after your long gone. Next year I worked in the Experimental lab as a gofer. The next year I was in engineering as a draftsman. During one of these good years my friend John Keller and my cousin Jim worked there also.