Christmas is just a few days away. Hanukkah starts on Sunday. Reminiscing is a big part of the holiday season. At least it is for me. It cheers me up to think about the good times spent while growing up, waiting for Father Christmas to drop off all the booty I had been hoping to get.
One of my earliest recollections was having the mumps at four or five years old during the joyous holiday. My parents let me lay on the couch to be part of festivities, although I wasn’t really into the spirit of the occasion. Felt like I was going to die.
Don’t remember what presents I got though. I think one of them might have been a toy U.S. Postal Service truck. It was pretty nifty. A coin slot went through the roof and the inside was a bank. The back doors of the tiny vehicle opened up to a vault which needed a key to open for removing any coins put inside.
Off course I lost the key and used a hammer to make a withdrawal for buying some candy at the corner store. That was the end of that.
When I was in second grade, my family moved to Dumont, N.J. One of my best friends was named Johnny. He was chubby as a cherub. Another good friend, Richie, skinny as a noodle, lived on the next block by me. We’d walk to school together everyday, meeting Johnny on the way at the corner of his street.
I’d love to say our trek was for several miles up and down hills to get there, but fortunately for us, Lincoln Elementary was about a third of a mile away, or almost one-half kilometers.
We did hike in all kinds of weather though. Johnny was always late. One time we left without him. I can still hear him yelling, “Hey fellows, wait for me,” as he came barreling down his hill. His feet were moving like those of the Road Runner from Looney Tunes.
What made me think of Dumont was Johnny and how his family celebrated the holidays. His dad was Jewish, and his mom was Catholic. The boys were raised in his father’s faith, while his sisters practiced their mother’s religion. I thought it was cool that the kids ended up celebrating both Hanukkah and Christmas together, getting all those presents to boot.
Went on Google Earth to measure how far our school was from my house and was surprised that it’s still there after all these years. It looks great. Too bad my parents sold it so soon and we moved to Oradell, NJ, for my stint in fourth grade.
Our house was the one with the red truck in front of it. My bedroom was on the second floor on the right behind those two windows. There was a side door back then; but other than that, it looks the same except for the vinyl siding. They sure don’t build them like used to.
The kids in the house on the right had a guinea pig in a cage outside in their back yard. I had a crush on the girl who lived there, and would hang out with her often. She’d let me play with her pet.
The entire neighborhood appears pretty much like it did when we lived there. That really warms my heart too. Richie lived in the house behind that corner store in the above photo, which is now a 7-11. Johnny lived one block over to the right. Here’s what his hill looks like now. It seemed quite a bit steeper when we were children.
Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and a Joyous New Year to you. Thanks for allowing me to clear the cobwebs from my memory, for your stopping by, and for your continued support.