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Growing up in two different cultures.
I grew up in Brooklyn but every summer we would visit my grandparents
in Pennyslvania. My grandfather on my mother's side was a coal miner
and we would spend time in the summer in Iselin, Pa. Iselin is about
halfway between Greensburg to the south and Indiana, Pa to the north.
Iselin was a town of about 300-400 people. Brooklyn had about 3
million people so it was a big switch for me.
I was the only kid with shoes on in the summer. All the other kids
were barefoot. I thought it was great walking around barefoot but my
mom wouln't allow it saying I could hurt my feet.
When I arrived there the kids would treat my like royalty arriving
from New York. Imagine, a kid who whore shoes in the summer. LOL
My dad would go down to the company store and pick up a newspaper. If
it was less than a week old it was considered current. :-)
My dad hated the place but I loved it.
The worse part for my dad was the outhouse in the backyard. It
smelled awful in the summer. During the night we used the big pots my
grandmother had and we would empty them in the morning.
All cooking was done on the coal stove in the kitchen. When you
cooked it was over a 100 degrees in the kitchen. Baths were taken by
heating hot water on the coal stove and mixing the hot water with
cold water in the big metal bath tub. There was only one cold water
faucet in the whole house.
The city has been mostly rebuilt but the mental and financial scars
are still there. This season is supposed to very active with storms
again. My wife and I don't say too much about it to each other but is
like waiting for another war wondering if you can survive the next
The best part of the visit for me was Eileen, she was the
granddaugter of the coal miner next door. To me she was a Goddess.
I would follow her everywhere and she liked me too. I could tolerate
anything as long as Eileen was around. Eileen had two older sisters
and a brother and I loved hanging out with all of them but I waited
for those special moments when I could walk down the road with Eileen
My grandfather would take me to Indiana, Pa, to do some shopping and
visit the Stewart Hardware store, the famous Jimmy Stewart Hardware
Each year I could hardly wait until it was time to go to Iselin, Pa.
My goddess was there waiting for me. LOL
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