Monday, October 1, 2018

Montoursville 2018:
Our second house

This is what I looked like around Thanksgiving 1977, when I was nearly 7 years old and we were living in our second house in Montoursville, on Spruce Street. We moved there from Mulberry Street sometime in the mid-1970s, and we remained on Spruce Street until the summer of 1978, when we moved to Clayton, New Jersey. I believe we were on Spruce Street for a little less than three years.

It was a cozy little neighborhood, not that I knew anything otherwise at that time. There was a church on the corner (still is), plenty of kids my age running around, and an ice-cream shop right around the corner (more on that in a future post). The house was just a few blocks from Lyter Elementary School, so I often walked there in the mornings during first grade.

I've driven and walked past the Spruce Street house several times over the past 15 years. Unlike my false start finding the Mulberry Street house this past summer, the Spruce Street house is always easy to find, with its distinctive front and with the church on the corner serving as a landmark.

Spruce Street, mid 1970s
Here is a trio of photos, from the family snapshots, of the house in the mid 1970s. At one point there were faux shutters. Maybe they've come on and off over the years. I'm not sure what the chronological order is for these shots, though the first one is marked as being from 1976.

Spruce Street, 2018
And here are my photos from July 13, 2018...

In no particular order, here are some of my recollections of living on Spruce Street with Mom, Dad and my younger sister, Adriane, who was born in 1974, while we were still on Mulberry Street.

  • I spent a lot of time playing in the basement, with various Fisher-Price toys, including their famous record player and, to the best of my recollection, the circus train and the jet airplane. The furnace glowed orange through its grill, but I don't recall being particularly scared of it.
  • The house had an enclosed side porch, on the left side if you're looking at the house from the front. I recall sitting out there during storms and learning to count after each lightning strike, to gauge the proximity of the thunderbumper.
  • To my knowledge, there are no family photos of my bedroom. I recall that I had a 45-rpm record player and probably a radio. I remember listening to Shaun Cassidy's "Da Doo Ron Ron" and I recall composing a song titled "One Day I Picked Up a Rabbit."
  • Dad writes: "Both of you had your own bedroom. Adriane in a crib, Chris in a twin bed. Sang to Adriane each night with Grover on my hand. I still chuckle. That was when things were good."
  • One day, however, I almost turned myself into a Darwin Award recipient. I was going around the house trying to find uses for a skeleton key, and I stuck it straight into an electric outlet. I got shocked. Dad got mad (justifiably so).
  • There was a small breakfast nook in the back of the kitchen. I remember decorating Christmas cookies there.
  • Somehow, there grew a legend that one blizzard brought snow to the very top of the light pole in the front yard. I suspect the only way that's true is if shoveled or plowed snow piled up next to the pole.
  • Our neighbors across the street were the Goodspeeds, and they had two daughters. We played together often.
  • Once, Dad brought home an amazing piece of technology called a tape recorder. It provided hours of amusement.
  • I remember the Easter egg hunts at this house. And I remember there was a smell when one of the hard-boiled eggs went undiscovered for a few weeks. (Always count your eggs, parents.)
  • Adriane and I had the chicken pox in this house.
  • I was an absolute brat at one of my birthday parties, stomping upstairs (or perhaps being sent to my room) when things didn't go my way and I threw a mini-tantrum.
  • We had the game Mouse Trap, and I swallowed one of those metal balls. I'm assuming it's not still inside me, but who knows?
  • While we were living at this house, Dad taught me to ride a bicycle. We used the church parking lot for practice.
  • This is the house where a door-to-door salesman sold us the plastic Whirley mugs that I wrote about extensively in 2012. (Post #1, Post #2)
  • I remember exploring in the backyard and Mom teaching us about honeysuckle, clover, peppermint and a tiny leaf that tasted like pickle if you chewed it.
  • But if Mom got mad, there was a wooden spoon in the kitchen. She had only to mention it to end any disobedience. It was never actually deployed.

Inside Spruce Street house, mid-1970s
To close out this post, here are some old snapshots from inside the house...

This one is marked "Christmas 1976." I still have the little white rocking chair.

This is a repeat of the photo I wrote about last December.

This one is stamped May 1978, so it's probably from Christmas 1977. There's so much in this photo! I ended up inheriting all those old photos on the wall. I might still have one or two of the Christmas decorations, including the stocking hanging toward the right. I LOVED playing with sets of wooden blocks; that was my go-to activity for years. The cobbler's bench and clock atop the television are still in the family. That's one of the weights from a cuckoo clock hanging on the wall, to the right. I mentioned in this post the things that I remember watching on TV when we lived on Spruce Street.

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