Sunday, April 17, 2016

Photo-of-the-Week #259 Reconnecting – Uncle Pete's House, Garfield, New Jersey, September 2013

I've decided to end this Photo-of-the-Week series at the five year mark. That will be at the 260th post of weekly photos. This is #259. I have no particular reason for ending this series. I still have thousands of photos left and I'm always taking more. I simply feel like taking a break and coming up with something new. I'm thinking it may be video instead of still photos. Stay tuned and you'll be surprised as much as I may be with whatever I come up with. So, there is still one more photo in this series next week.

Yesterday, Saturday April 16, 2016, something occurred that hasn't occurred in more than 20 years. As a matter of fact, something occurred that probably hasn't occurred in possibly as many as about 50 years.

The 20 year marker was that my two younger sisters, Lois and Denise, and I met and spent several hours together. I've seen each of them during those 20 years. They've seen each other during those 20 years, however, the three of us hadn't been together at the same time and place over those years. My, how the years have flown and how we've changed (please note, I didn't use the word “aged”).

The 50 year marker was that we actually were together for about five hours and shared a meal together. Many people who read this will raise their eyebrows about both of these events. I'll not go into the details of our family, other than to say, there are a million stories in the “Naked City” and ours is one of them. Obviously, we are not a close knit family and, if you'd guess there were circumstances that precipitated the situation, you'd be right.

My sister Lois, four years younger than me, drove from her home, a town just a couple miles from where we all grew up in northern New Jersey. My sister Denise, eleven years younger than me, now lives in a small town in the Shenandoah Valley about 15 miles south of Winchester, Virginia. Winchester is where I made my home for about 26 years prior to taking on my nomadic lifestyle the end of 2008.

I drove to Winchester from the small town I use as my eastern base camp in West Virginia and met up with Denise. She rode with me to Hershey, Pennsylvania where Lois met us. Yes, the same Hershey as in Milton Hershey and the Hershey Chocolate Company. It was about a 2½ to 3 hour drive each way to that meeting point for all of us. Of course, I had close to an additional 2 hours each way from West Virginia to Winchester. My total time behind the wheel was about 9 hours.

It was cordial. And, as is typical, especially when you haven't shared any time together over long periods, there was a lot of reminiscing. We are in contact and there are no anger issues to speak of. Logistics is the main issue. Lots of memories of old people (friends and family), places and things. It's amazing how, as kids at different ages in our development, we recall certain things and not others. We also recall common memories quite differently sometimes. It was very cathartic.

This week's photo-of-the-week came to mind as I was sorting through a bunch of photos from my hometown area in New Jersey. I was motivated to look through this batch of photos by our meeting yesterday. The house on the right of these two family houses is my Uncle Pete's house. Uncle Pete has been dead for quite a few years. Admittedly, he wasn't necessarily my favorite uncle. My father was raised as an orphan from age 8 until he was 18. Uncle Pete's was my father's home for those 10 years.

As you look at the house you can see there is a basement, a first and second floor and an attic. My father and my uncle, his younger brother, grew up in the attic, which was, to the best of my knowledge, unheated. And, of course, as most attics are, it was also the hottest part of the house during the summer. Heat always rises and the sun beats down directly on the roof of the attic.

I don't recall if the last home my parents owned was air conditioned. It likely was not since none of our earlier homes were air conditioned, not even window air conditioners. I still remember how hot it could be during the summers even in the lower, insulated parts of the house. So, I can only imagine what my father's life was like while growing up.

Reminiscing is an excellent thing to do from time to time. I don't live in the past and I don't enjoy talking with people who live in the past. That was then and this is now. However, as my sisters and I did yesterday, reminiscing about our early years can really help us appreciate the life we live today. I surely do. How about you?

Live free and be happy. EH


  1. I also believe looking back on all the way your life has unfolded benefits you. I find it provides perspective. The farther back I see complements how far forward I am able to anticipate what will happen when making a decision. Another term for it is wisdom derived from experience.

  2. Great post, Ed. I've found that my nomadic lifestyle has resulted in fewer people that I can reminisce with, and as I've gotten older, far fewer people who have known me for any length of time and that minimizes the reminiscing as well. I've never stayed longer than a few years in any given place, although I've lived in "areas" for up to 10 years at a time; it doesn't make for any long-term relationships. I miss having those conversations that start off with "remember this?" and then head down a now-funny path, but I don't regret all the decisions that led to being a gypsy. There's a balance somewhere... and I've yet to find it, although I more and more am leaning towards deciding that "balance" is not what it's all about anyway :D

    Thanks for the story! Rock on!

    1. Thanks for your thoughts, Lois. In many ways - probably most ways, I resemble your remarks. Going back over my life, since birth, I've moved about every 3.25 years on average. The longest I've lived in any one place was 8 years and the shortest was about 1 month. You probably have friends like I do who grew up in one house, eventually took the house over from their parents and lived in that house most of the rest of their lives. So, perhaps, they may have lived in two or three places during their entire lifetime. I guess mobility and the nomadic lifestyle work well for me (and you) because we've moved so many times. It's the same with vehicles. I've had about 24 vehicles since age 17. I have many friends who have, perhaps, had 5 to 8 vehicles during their lifetime.

      Here's the thing, Lois, I believe an excellent exercise for people like us is to write our memoirs, an autobiography, if you will. Not because we'll necessarily want to publish it, but because it is a picture of our lives from the earliest we can remember. Then as we're traveling, seek out people, names that may have fallen into some dusty corner of our memories. First, it's interesting to see how their lives turned out, but at the same time, you get to do that reminiscing that will jog your memory about other people, events, things and places. Each connection you make will potentially spark another one. The only place I've ever lived and not been able to revisit is the place my parents lived when they brought me home from the hospital after I was born. There is only one living person I know of who knows that answer to where that is. Everyone else is long gone. It's my aunt, my mother's sister. And she's the only member of the family, I really don't want to have any contact with. But, she harbors a secret I would like to have to complete my history of residences over my lifetime.

      I've been reconnecting with so many people since I went gypsy. It's fantastic. But, now that I have been writing this reply to you, I just thought of one other possible place that just might have that missing address - IF they still have records dating back that long ago. (Even the hospital where I was born is gone.) See what fun this can add to the gypsy life? We can become detectives of sorts. Keep on keepin' on.