Only The Ghosts of The Past Waved Back

How does it feel to go back to the home where you spent your entire childhood, to find that the people living there now had let it slide into a trash pit? Pretty darn bad. The only memories of my childhood were of living in that house. Looking at pictures in my old photo albums, from the time I was an infant, when I was named Deborah Fritz until I graduated from high school, leaves me with a longing to go back and spend a little time in a piece of my life from years ago. They were happy years. My life before I transformed into Sonni Quick

dad and kids
Yours truly on the left

Memories often have a way of filtering out the bad times, leaving only the highlights of the times you want to remember.  I think I was fortunate because I remember a childhood that was filled with good times and had parents who spent time creating a family that did family things together. We celebrated all major holidays and birthdays and went camping, took drives for ice cream, had picnics and went to the shore and rode bikes on the boardwalk and jumped in the waves. I have so many pictures that chronicle our life. I wouldn’t trade my life for anyone’s. I didn’t learn to appreciate it until I was all grown up and far, far away. Then there was no going back. It was over, almost in a blink of an eye.

Many years later, after my own children were grown, with children of their own, I stood in front of our house again. Even after all these years the house still wore the same paint and the street numbers I painted on the front door was still there, although one of the numbers tilted to the side. The paint was dingy, there was trash on the porch and beat up curtains hung at the windows. 

Cheryl Morgan (2)
Taken in front of my house of two neighborhood children, looking down the street half-a- double homes in the very early 60’s, in Pottstown, Pa.  Cheryl, the girl on the left, and I were the same age.  We talked recently. She hasn’t seen this picture yet, but she will as soon as this posts to facebook!

 

 

The house looks like an Archie Bunker style house, on a numbered street in a neighborhood of street after street of half-a-doubles; two homes connected by a center wall, each set of homes separated by two walkways that led to a back yard. When I stood in the yard I could look left and right through the yards of every home on the block. My Great Nana Ferden grew flowers, but growing up I wasn’t aware of the love she put into them. 

Nana Ferden
Great Nana Ferden in our yard

The sound of children playing could be heard everywhere. We didn’t want to be inside. That was punishment. We played kickball in the alley or walked a half block to Manatawny Park to play in the splash pool or play box hockey with the big kids. We bounced balls against the wall of the original Dolly Madison Ice Cream Factory across the street. We knew to be home when the street lights came on. Dinner was always the same time and we always at dinner together as a family, something so few children know today. 

Today the flowers are gone. The sidewalks down the side of the house are so overgrown you can’t see them. I walked down the alley and looked into the backyard so overgrown and filled with trash. I didn’t want to imagine what the inside of the house looked like. My father had kept everything looking nice. The difference is, when we lived there it was a home with love. Now it was just a house. Probably rented by people who felt no need or desire to keep it looking nice.

If I squinted and looked through my eyelashes I could pretend it was the same place and I had come home.  I knocked on the door of the house it connected to. The woman who lived there was the same woman who lived there from the time I was baby until I left for college, 40-some years ago. She peeked through the door, looked me up and down and said, “Who the fuck are you?” 

When I walked down the porch steps and went to my car, I turned around for one last look and waved goodbye. Only the ghosts of the past waved back.

6 thoughts on “Only The Ghosts of The Past Waved Back

  1. We were so lucky to grow up the way we did! Kids in just about every house on the block. Parents that sat out on the porch at night and conversed with each other. They always kept an eye out to make sure we didn’t get into trouble. We did spend a lot of time at Manatawny Park and I don’t remember how many nights I spent hitting a tennis ball against the factory wall across the street. Sleepovers under our homemade bedspread tents and swimming in our little plastic pools. Corner stores on just about every corner. And we didn’t know it at the time but I guess we actually lived in a progressive neighborhood. Did you realize that we had gays living there? And we were never told to avoid them or never did I hear anything disparaging said about them. They were just like any of the neighbors.
    I wonder if that helped to shape us into liberal thinking people! I am so glad to have grown up the way we did.
    It is so sad to see what the area has become. Now it’s mostly Section 8 housing and not much pride shows in the neighborhood. Such a shame we can’t go back in time ’cause life sure was simpler then. Thank you for the nice reminder of days past and the picture to remind me.

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    1. You are right about all of it. I have to laugh about the time I realized that the next door neighbors on both sides of me were gay. I was a teenager. I told my mom. I guess I thought she didn’t know lol. Not one time did the subject of homosexuals ever come up so we were never taught it was negative. My mother’s 3 brothers are all gay. My grandmother was very supportive. The youngest built her a house and took care of her. Unfortunately he has Parkinson’s now. My mom is the oldest. The youngest of 7 siblings is 4 years younger than me!

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  2. Great article! We all have those same feelings. Fortunately, the person that bought my childhood home improved it but when I ride through the neighborhood every 10 years or so it’s so sad. I try to envision where all my childhood friends lived but mostly draw blanks. Since the manor houses were virtually all the same, just different colors, I sadly don’t remember what color my friends houses were any longer.

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    1. I think our generation was the last, growing up as kids in the 50-60’s who had the”Leave it to Beaver” families. We have roots. A neighborhood to go back to. I know my kids don’t have that. I moved around the country too much. For me the hard part is all the kids who died. In the neighborhood and school.

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    1. It was Larue. It was funny really. I made her guess who I was. Then I went and we talked for awhile catching up. She and my mom talk about once a month but she hasn’t seen me in all the years so I guess I changed a bit! She swears quite frequently. My mom was surprised. She never swears to her. Now Betsy is another story. Karen is stuck with her. Either her our Tom have to do her bidding on a daily basis. Quite a whiny pain in the ass. Since she married Tom’s father years ago ( he’s dead now) she had Karen’s kids call her Grand Mama.

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