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Remembering

Growing up in the South of New Jersey, Exit # 3 of the NJ Tpk. was my geographical reference point. I was quite familiar with the Jersey Devil. The below is from https://weirdnj.com/

The Jersey Devil

Weird NJ Photo

While this one is not a “ghost” story, the tale of the Jersey Devil has withstood the test of time—and for good reason. Stories of the winged beast are truly terrifying. But who or what is the Jersey Devil? According to Weird NJ, the infamous creature haunting the Pine Barrens is the child of Mother Leeds, a Pines resident who conceived her thirteenth child in 1735. At the time, Leeds had no idea how she could care for (let alone afford) another kid and so, in exasperation, she raised her hands to the heavens and proclaimed “Let this one be a devil!” Leeds got her wish. Moments after birth, her healthy baby boy grew horns and claws and bat-like wings. Legend has it the “devil” then killed his mother before attacking onlookers.

https://www.countryliving.com/life/g3793/scary-ghost-stories/

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This remembrance should have been posted before or on Halloween, once again, however, Life got in the way. 

One thought going back many years ago, in the mid-fifties I’d say, is the following:

There were train tracks going through our town back then. These tracks ran the breadth of South Jersey from Camden to Atlantic City, with many spurs running from them in north and south directions. One such spur even went to the north into the Pine Barrens.

On this day I was walking the tracks with a few friends in early fall. Just days prior, it had been reported that a murder had occurred in the area around Chatsworth, a town that is kind of the Capitol of the Pine Barrens.

Image result for boys on train tracks
Dreamstime Photo

One of the three or four of us began talking about the incident as we headed back home from Hadden Heights. The sun was setting to our front, and the early fall darkness was setting in. Someone even mentioned the killer could have hopped a freight out of the Barrens. I remember all of our imaginations running a bit on the wild side.

As you come into Audubon, there is a lean-to built to protect commuter passengers in foul weather. Someone surmised that the killer from Chatsworth could be holed out in there. To this day, I can remember passing that lean-to very quickly. Dinner and the safety of home were calling.

Image result for old lean-to shed by train tracks
A similar lean-to in Putnam County, NY

Whenever I return to that town of my youth and pass that intersection, E. Atlantic and Chestnut streets, I can still remember that fall day.

https://www.e90post.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1109136

Image result for halloween candy
Good Housekeeping photo.

I hope you all got a lot of candy and had a fun Halloween.  

1966

It’s Christmas Eve put the computer away, is what she said to me. But I have friends out there waiting to hear from me. Well wait until later before you go to bed, unless you hear the bells, on Santa’s sled.

I’ve got to send greetings to those who follow me, this is one day I just can’t let pass. Well right now we’ve got to get ready and, get to Mass, there is someone more important to who we must thank, and before church we need gas in the tank. So I log off the keys and clean up my act. If we don’t hurry, we’ll stand in the back.

We fill up the tank and drive to the church, I’m driving too fast, and we stop with a lurch. We’re greeted by the Priest with a skeptical stare, I’m thinking he saw us, speeding in there. We find us a seat and just settle in, as the priest and the Alter Boy’s march does begin.

The opening prayer is on Christmas and the birth of Christ, it’s the season of Joy and, everyone’s so nice. The theme of the Homily is to go forth and be kind, I turn to the wife and just start to smile, I’ve been kind to the woman for quite a while. Fifty-three years together are we, I shut my eyes and our first Christmas Mass together I see.

It was 1966 in New Jersey, a cold winter’s night when the two of us walked through thunder and snow. It was 8/10 of a mile to the church, the wind gusts were blowing 25 knots or so. There was something so special with everything white, I remember that walk, like it was this Holy Night.

Back at my grandmothers home after Mass, we were offered Mogen David wine, in a fancy cut glass. Joining us there were Aunt Maude and Uncle Jim. When I was little, every time they would depart, he would give me a dime. Those memories way back to a long-ago time, bring genuine joy and, I remember the Homily, Be Kind! theRooster, 2018

Reflecting Back

There are many great memories of Christmas with our families. While living in Connecticut, we would have Christmas Day at home and then in a day or two drive to New Jersey and Delaware to celebrate with our respective families there. This, of course, was a grand time for the kids when they were young. Santa seemed to always leave a few out of state gifts for our three, what a treat.

That first Christmas Mass together was attended at Holy Maternity Catholic church in Audubon, NJ. We walked the 8/10 of a mile from my grandmother’s house at W. Pine and 4th Ave. You can check the weather at the Wunderground site below. Twas, not a night fit for man or beast, but we were young, so what the hell.

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Google Image

An excellent remembrance for me was a Christmas Eve I had to work many years ago. I was a young State Trooper and my assignment on this eve was I-84 between Rt. 32 and the Massachusetts State Line. It was called the Upper Patrol. On this night I exchanged my big grey Stetson for a red floppy Santa’s hat, big white tassel on end and all.

If my memory serves me correctly, it was a relatively quiet evening. I would make a few stops, give some verbal warnings. I would hand out candy canes to those I came in contact with and wish them a Merry Christmas and ask them to please drive safely as they continued their journey. After the shift was over, I’d enter our home quietly, my lady was waiting up, and we would have a bit of quiet time and last minute wrapping together. Those were the days my friends.  

This past week saw us journey North to CT to visit our son and his family. We would take a leisurely route and cross into NY via the Bear MT. bridge.

Image result for bear mt bridge

A stop at the 202 diner in Cortlandt provided nourishment.

Image result for 202 diner cortlandt ny

It was only a three-day visit, but it was grand to be with those who are near and dear to our hearts. We had a meal at our favorite haunt when visiting Tolland, Camille’s. I got to spend a few hours with an old member of the Thin Blue Line, #467. We drank coffee at Dunkin Donut’s and told war stories for a couple of hours. I spent time with a brother-in-law, talking clocks and wine racks. He’s quite a Woodworker.

Yes, Christmas time is great for bringing us together. I thank the good Lord for giving me and the little women good health to travel and the ability to wish all of you who take a gander at the Blog from time to time a very Merry Christmas from our house to yours.

As I close, remember the theme from the Homily at Mass, BE KIND!

The weather on 24 December 1966 in the greater Philadelphia area.

Don’t forget to check on the elderly.

Growing up Methodist

Audubon, NJ United Methodist Church

I grew up during those youthful years until, I’m guessing age fourteen, a Methodist. At one point I even sang in the choir, I still look back and chuckle at this.

My biological parents separated when I was two and divorced by the time I was about five. Both my parents lived in the same town and I was shared back and forth for a number of years prior to age eight or nine when my father moved from South Jersey (Exit 3 of the Turnpike area) to Connecticut. Everybody in Jersey lives off an exit of one highway or another. At one time I lived off Exit 4 of the Garden State Parkway. One of the best years of my youth was spent in Wildwood Crest, more stories for an other day. My mother and I would live for a number of years after the separation with my great grandparents in a second floor apartment.

Living next door was the man my mother would ultimately marry when I turned ten years old. That man lived with his mother and father and they were Methodist. Oh were they Methodist. Ultimately my newly wed mother would have two daughters and they were raised Methodist also. One sister sang and directed their choir for a time.

Every Sunday until age fourteen it would be,  get on the church bus and go off to Sunday School. Sometimes, especially when I was in the choir, I would do church also and there was always a coffee and, after the service. No playing football on Sunday, no card playing ever and a whole bunch of rules I thought, “Really?” Did I mention no Alcohol or smoking either.

I can remember getting 35 cents for the collection when the dish was passed. I also remember getting off the bus on occasion in my teens, going in one door of the multi purpose room and out the other and playing hooky more than once. My mother has passed away so I’ll not be damned for telling that story. My self and a neighbor friend would go to a local corner store, buy a soda and candy and head to a local vacant lot where the Catholics were always playing a football game. They mostly went to church on Saturday evening. It was difficult explaining the grass stains at times. I’m sure I’ll atone for these transgressions at a later date.

I would rebel around age fourteen or fifteen, start going to a Lutheran church, my paternal side of the family’s house of worship and ultimately become a Catholic when I married my wife over fifty years ago. I went through that educational process while I was in the Marine Corps. I remain a Catholic to this day.

Today in our little village on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, the Methodists prevail. Our Methodist Women’s group are always cooking up a storm, feeding this group or that, having Teas and just plain bringing comfort food to the people of the village. God bless those Methodists.

Allen Asbury Methodist Church

My wife and I recently took a trip to Connecticut to visit our son and his family and my step-sister and her husband. We spent 20 years as next door neighbors to my step-sister. We lived in a tight-knit community on a Cul De Sac and had a great batch of neighbors.

We got to see one of those neighbors while at my sisters. Her name is Judy, a life long Methodist and her husband Stan is a retired Methodist minister. I asked he if she had ever heard Garrison Keillor’s Public Radio piece on Methodist’s. She said no she hadn’t so I located it on the internet and read it to all in attendance.

I feel it is a classic and would like to share it with you now.

https://steve4040.files.wordpress.com/2008/04/cross_flame.jpg

We make fun of Methodists for their blandness, their excessive calm, their fear of giving offense, their lack of speed, and also for their secret fondness for macaroni and cheese.

But nobody sings like them. If you were to ask an audience in New York City, a relatively Methodist-less place, to sing along on the chorus of “Michael Row the Boat Ashore,” they will look daggers at you as if you had asked them to strip to their underwear. But if you do this among Methodists, they’d smile and row that boat ashore and up on the beach! And down the road!

Many Methodists are bred from childhood to sing in four-part harmony, a talent that comes from sitting on the lap of someone singing alto or tenor or bass and hearing the harmonic intervals by putting your little head against that person’s rib cage.

It’s natural for Methodists to sing in harmony. We are too modest to be soloists, too worldly to sing in unison. When you’re singing in the key of C and you slide into the A7th and D7th chords, all two hundred of you, it’s an emotionally fulfilling moment. By our joining in harmony, we somehow promise that we will not forsake each other.

I do believe this: People, these Methodists, who love to sing in four-part harmony are the sort of people you can call up when you’re in deep distress.

*If you’re dying, they will comfort you.

*If you are lonely, they’ll talk to you.

*And if you are hungry, they’ll give you tuna salad.

*Methodists believe in prayer, but would practically die if asked to pray out loud.

*Methodists like to sing, except when confronted with a new hymn or a hymn with more than four stanzas.

*Methodists believe their pastors will visit them in the hospital, even if they don’t notify them that they are there.

*Methodists usually follow the official liturgy and will feel it is their away of suffering for their sins.

*Methodists believe in miracles and even expect miracles, especially during their stewardship visitation programs or when passing the plate.

*Methodists think that the Bible forbids them from crossing the aisle while passing the peace.

*Methodists drink coffee as if it were the Third Sacrament.

*Methodists feel guilty for not staying to clean up after their own wedding reception in the Fellowship Hall.

*Methodists are willing to pay up to one dollar for a meal at the church.

*Methodists still serve Jell-O in the proper liturgical color of the season and think that peas in a tuna casserole adds too much color.

*Methodists believe that it is OK to poke fun at themselves and never take themselves too seriously.

And finally,

+ You know you are a Methodist when: it’s 100 degrees, with 90% humidity, and you still have coffee after the service.

+ You hear something funny during the sermon and smile as loudly as you  can.

+ Donuts are a line item in the church budget, just like coffee.

+ When you watch a Star Wars movie and they say, “May the Force be with you,” and you respond, “and also with you.”

+ And lastly, it takes ten minutes to say good-bye!

Lake Wobegon is a fictional town in the U.S. state of Minnesota, said to have been the boyhood home of Garrison Keillor, who reports the News from Lake Wobegon on the radio show A Prairie Home Companion. Its location is believed to be north of St. Cloud and is claimed to be the town of Holdingford.

Thanks for stopping by.

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