Thursday, November 7, 2013

Stories by Mom: Part 2, Center Street

By Virginia Williams Kelly

My first debacle with the outside world was when I was four-and-a-half years of age. It was Christmas time of 1922 and our bank gave out oranges to all their small customers. My mother took my younger sister, Dot, and I to get these goodies. My mother could hold my sister above the crowd, but there was no one to hold me and since I was small for my age, it was claustrophobia time for me.
I was surrounded by very large people and scared to death that I would be trampled on or some other disaster would befall me. I don't even remember getting my orange for all I wanted was to get out of there. As you see, I did survive but it certainly left scars on my psyche. To this day I have to be the last on an elevator and closest to the door. When I go to church I have to sit on the end of the pew and I can't sit in the middle in the back seat of a car. I just can't be penned in.
That's my Mama and Dad, Emma Susan (Whetstone) Williams (1897 - 1956) and Cambria "Camey" Williams (1897 - 1960). I'm on Dad's lap.
Dad was named after the Cambria Mountains in Wales because his father was born in Wales.

Here's my Grandmother, Kate, in her back yard.
Their "farm" is now part of Frostburg State University.
Catherine Elizabeth (House) Whetstone 1865 - 1947.
We lived with them until I was about five years old. People did that then.

Here's the house we rented on Center Street, Frostburg, Maryland.
Here I am with a kitten in my lap.
Some things never change and now I have two cats in my lap.
At about age five, in 1924, we moved to a rented house on Centre Street. We had no inside plumbing except a cold water tap for running water. Our outside toilet was in the back yard and extremely cold in the winter. Water for washing and bathing was heated on our gas stove and carried to a tin tub for bathing once a week on Saturday night to get ready for Sunday church.

We always attended the Congregational Church on Bowery Street which was the next street over from where we lived at the corner of Loo Street (now College Avenue) and Center Street. The center of the universe, the center of the town, the center of life and of everything: these are the things that a small street called Centre Street meant to me growing up. I grew up on this street and although many, many years have passed since I left there, the memories of those years are as sweet to me now as they were so very many years ago when I was a child.

Mama was a member of the Ladies' Aide Society and here's a photo from one of their picnics.

Here's the Congregational Church Choir posing in front of the church. I'm in the middle.

I loved the choir and choir practice. Still love music, especially organ music.
I'm in the front row with my best friend Mary Middleton on my left and my sister Dot on the end.

Just after we moved to Center Street, it was summer and the city was paving our cobble street with macadam. Every day my sister and I sat on the curb and watched the great old machines and the men at their work. I still like the smell of that paving material.

Smells were always important to me on Center Street especially the smell of baloney, not the kind you get today, but the kind that old Mr. Byers had on his meat wagon that came around faithfully every Tuesday and Friday. The wagon was pulled by an ancient and patient horse that knew every stop on the route. Ours was one he always stopped at and we were always waiting because, you see, Mr. Byers had a very sharp butcher’s knife with which he always cut us a very nice slice of that oh-so-good baloney to eat. I don’t think I ever forgave Mr. Byers for retiring and taking his treat with him. Times change and progress takes over.

The smells of rain, snow and of fire from fall leaves burning are especially wonderful to me even today. The summer rains were the best because then Mama let us put on our bathing suits and play on the street and the macadam felt so nice on our bare feet.

There was nothing nicer than holding your face up to the rain and letting it pound on your face and sticking your tongue out to lick the rain drops. I don’t know of any child who doesn’t find pleasure in this form of entertainment.

You can read Part 1 here.

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