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Published by klump04, 2018-10-11 07:14:54

REALLY What A time Book IX

REALLY SO WHAT
What A Time











REALLY:










What A Time















BY
RICHARD E. ZIMMERMAN










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REALLY:

What A Time







Copyright

© 2017 Richard E. Zimmerman
All Rights Reserved

No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted
in any form or by any means, mechanical or electronic,
including photocopying and recording, or any information
storage and retrieval system, without the express permission in
writing from the author or publisher.

Cover and Cover Photograph by the author
All photographs Copyright by Author

© 2017 Richard E. Zimmerman
March 15, 2017










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ACKNOWLEDGMENTS


When it’s difficult to remember long ago, the time you had,
the things you did and your friends it’s always nice to have
someone who knows how to unlock those memories. Arlene,
my wife, remembers her childhood, and better than anything
she knows how to get me to recall those early days, and
adventures.

She not only revived my memory, but she is my main editor,
reviewing my writing, making corrections and suggestions that
would otherwise be misguided forever. It would have been
impossible without her help, and time. Without her I’m sure
this book would never have been written or completed.
It has been very difficult to decide on a cover for the book.
But, once I did, Alyx, my daughter, prepared it. It’s a long
distance internet arrangement that constantly try’s my expertise
and proves her patience. Thanks again to her.

Paul Klump has kept my computer running. For that I am
forever thankful.
George Mindling has again given me a great deal of
encouragement. His recommendations to eliminate over used
prepositions and adjectives are so helpful.

Thanks to you all for your help and support on my childhood
journey.









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ACKNOWLEDGMENTS


Most of the Photographs are originally from the 1940’s. I wish
there were more. I decided to use them even when others,
made during the years with better cameras, than my families
Kodak Box. One picture of Uncle Howards barn, which is
now owned by Cousin Robert was taken in 2009. The two
young ladies Robert is escorting into the barn are Arlene and
my Grand Daughters Victoria and Nicole. An adventure they
probably won’t forget anytime soon.











































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INTRODUCTION


I’d been thinking about my early, pre-teen years, for some
time. Memories continued to run through my mind. These
were early years, like 4, 7, or 9. Years during elementary
school, while living with my family in Fairlington, Virginia in
the 1940’s as Washington D.C. flourished.

I could recall memories like playing in the woods, going to the
movies, getting terrific headaches, and playing some sports.
Mostly experiences I seemed to have by myself, not with my
buddies. Yet there were lots of friends.
What was surprising was the weak memories I had about the
children I knew and played with. I could recall only the names
of a few boys, I couldn’t recall any girls. There were 35 kids in
my second grade class, yet I couldn’t recall any of their names.
I must have spent 5 years with that group of kids. Who were
they? I don’t know.

On the block where I lived there were at least 20 boys and girls
from my age 4-5 to 16 or so. I couldn’t remember many of
their names either. Those few that I could were all boys, the
Curins, in high school, the Collins and Claxtons, in junior high
with my brother. But, when it came to my age, few names
were recalled.
I came across a Newspaper article, and if not for it I’d have
drawn a blank for most of the kids my age. What was
surprising was once I saw their names, boys and girls, in print I
remembered them. Jon Lynn, Bob Watson, Tim Hann, and
one girl Betty Linstrum.





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INTRODUCTION


This dilemma began to gnaw on me and I began asking friends
around. ‘Say do you remember when you were 6 or 8’? ‘What
was it like’? Well Arlene, my favorite reflection, remembered
lots of experiences, names of boys and her closest girlfriends.

One neighbor was overjoyed by the question and went on
about how she used her 25 cents, for the movies, she
mentioned lots of movie stars, serial movie heroes, and with
the extra dime she had left after buying her 15 cent ticket she
bought popcorn.
On the other hand, the fellows I asked replied with not-so-
much. One fellow regaled me with interesting stories when he
was a teen. The guys didn’t remember much about their pre-
teens. I remember my teens too, but that’s not what this is
about.

Maybe, it’s a guy thing, but I haven’t given up. I’ll keep asking
others, and continue to recall more of my own experiences,
and names as I continue to write.
So the story I’m about to tell no longer has any eye witnesses,
and very few names of the children that I ran around with and
indeed laid my own foundation around.

The adults I write about, Grand Parents, Aunts and Uncles,
seemed to have had quite an impact on me. I’d say they were
overbearing, crimping my style, in the sense that they bossed
me around, like they were my parents. Yet, they always took
time to be with me, and my brother Joe. When either we or
they visited they took us fishing, drove us around the




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INTRODUCTION


countryside, and let us act like farm hands. That’s what you
would call caring, and I’m sure they did.

A really big part of my early years was the environment. It was
Washington D.C. The fastest growing, most important city in
the world. During these years nothing grew faster with more
influence than the U.S. Government, not New York, London,
Los Angeles or Chicago. World War II was in full swing and
everything came from Washington to the United States and
the world. That was the way it was in the 1940’s, and for the
new world that was developing and building.
People came here from all over America, and the world. They
moved from their traditional homes where they often lived
their entire lives to a city that changed, revolving its population
every 3 years.

My home, Fairlington, was a new apartment complex. It
played a large role in supporting my parents and raising me.
Because it was designed to build community interest and trust.
Designed, to lay a safe foundation for a working class of
adults, and a moral and social structure for the children.
It worked because the adults were bound together by their
World War II effort. But, the physical structure of the
buildings, grouped together encouraged families to know each
other. There were many outside activities for them like
‘Victory Gardens’ , athletic fields and tennis courts for their
well being when not at work.






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INTRODUCTION


For kids every adult seemed to accept responsibility for us, to
lead us in a direction, to become members of the vast
community. One even larger than our home, or
neighborhood. One that seemed to establish rules and trust
for everyone. Our schools, and playgrounds encouraged and
taught that behavior.

I’ll not try to describe the effect these changes had on me.
Seven decades later and I’m still not sure. But I will try to
describe the things I did, some of the adventures I had and the
wonderful place where I lived and the people that cared for
me.
Our towns and cities in America probably never had a physical
structure, like Farlington, that strived to lead us in that
direction. You could say that the American leadership that
arose from the late 1930’s and the1940’s also had a profound
effect upon us children. We were part of that growth and to
be included in their guidance and decisions.

Above all we had a great deal of freedom. We often directed
ourselves, in school, and playground activities, social affairs
and entertainment. So some of my experiences were pretty
good, and some were pretty bad. Many of them have stayed
with me all my life. These 10 years were something.










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REALLY ………..WHAT A TIME.

TABLE OF CONTENTS



ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS 5
INTRODUCTION 7

TABLE OF CONTENTS 11

In the Beginning 13
Arlington, Virginia 17

Fairlington 19

My Family 29
Pop 29

Mom 32
Mom & Pop 35

Joe 41
Home 51

Imagination And Fantasies 57

The Fort in the Woods 67
Sports 71

Tennis 75
Busted Bike 81

Ditch 85

Parlor Games 87
Doctors and Broken Things 93



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REALLY ………..WHAT A TIME


TABLE OF CONTENTS


Our Backyard 99

Snow 109
School 117

Family Outings and Picnics 123
Vacations & Camping 137

Sherando Lake, Virginia 137

The Great West 143
Mount Rushmore 146

Yellowstone 148

Grand Tetons 155
Grand Parents 161

Zimmerman’s 161
Williams’ 165

Cousins 179
Deep Sea Fishing 183

Ten More 187









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IN THE BEGINNING


th
The first several decades of the 20 century were pretty
ruckus. Large populations had immigrated to the United
States through Ellis Island, including my mother’s father.
Migration continued to move from rural America into cities.
Our economy had recovered from the 1890’s, jazz and booz
had hit the speak-easy trail creating the ‘Roaring Twenties’.

By 1929 life in the fast lane had begun to slow down. Our
nation’s economy and the infamous ‘Black Monday’, stock
market collapse led to a generation that was far more careful
and thorough than in previous years.
My parents had lived through the ‘Roaring Twenties’ and by
the end of the era were about to meet. Pop was much older
and settled, while Mom was in her early twenties, 22. Neither
of them showed much inclination toward making a quick
decision. After all my father at 35, although being settled into
the work force, working on building the Delaware Memorial
bridge, still wasn’t married.

They met in Philadelphia. Mom was working at The Banker’s
Trust and living with her brother Rodger. As you can see by
the single share of stock she was serious about setting a
financial foundation for herself. However, in a couple of
months she would be out of her job, the stock, worthless, and
the bank closed.








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IN THE BEGINNING




















Pop on the other hand was friendly with Rodger. A special
friendship like many was interrupted by the introduction of his
sister.

In this case their relationship was electric. They were married
within three weeks. That being surprising enough, yet, Mom
must have known immediately as she wrote to her folks:

‘I’ve met this really swell guy. I think you will like him too. We are
going to get married.’










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IN THE BEGINNING


Here in 1929 is my future parents in Allentown, Pennsylvania

at Pop’s parents home, just after their marriage.































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IN THE BEGINNING


Pop would soon be out of a job also. In the next few years,
during the worst depression our country has ever experienced
they would become endlessly creative and lay a foundation for
my brother and me that would last our entire lives. Their story
during those years is captured in their ‘Auto Biography’ ,
written by them yet unpublished. Really, and by 1939 it was
time for me to arrive.












.
















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ARLINGTON, VIRGINIA


The Great Depression in the 1930’s and World War II caused
Washington, District of Columbia to change. Since the
beginning, 1776, it had been a sleepy, swamp filled town. For
the next 86 years it has had an astonishing explosion of
growth.

In the 1930’s the Federal Government took a strong
leadership position across our country. The Great Depression
caused it to focus on our national problems, our economy, to
grow an infrastructure, to find and make jobs for the
thousands who were unemployed, and to modify the laws so it
could manage the new country. Our nation for the first time
was tied together through communication, social and legal
responsibilities, and infrastructure.
In the late 30’s the rise of our international awareness of our
enemies, Germany and Italy across the Atlantic, and Japan in
the Pacific, brought another spurt of growth. World War II
caused an increase in development and the number of workers
in Washington grew even more.

It began with the war and continued throughout the decade of
the 1940’s. Our Federal Government dragged us, the whole
country kicking and screaming into the International Arena.
Washington grew like topsy-turvy, creating the Industrial-
Defense complex. My family and I were a part of that growth.
Washington grew under the Industrial-Defense relationship
until the late ‘60’s when as citizens we began to lose control.






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ARLINGTON, VIRGINIA


To turn our political choices, our leadership and economic
control over to the all powerful corporation and their
lobbying influence. Washington once again grew at an
astonishing rate. The suburbs then were 10 miles outside of
Washington; today they are more than 75 miles in every
direction, filled with corporate industry running the
government.

From the beginning Arlington, Virginia, had it’s own history
even though it had been part of Washington’s original 10
square miles. Just take a look at any map, to see the square.
Yet it wasn’t heavily populated, except with cows and pastures.
It had always been governed by Virginia, as one of it’s
counties, as it is today.
Crossing the Potomac may have been a problem but after
building a few more bridges it became more accessible. It was
also on the drier side of the city, as it was above sea level,
higher land than all of downtown.

During the War period Arlington began to grow. The
Pentagon led the way. Homes sprang up where there were
pastures. The county had a couple of small communities on
the north side, Roslyn, Clairdon, Balston , and a high school,
Washington-Lee. It lended itself to private homes, on it’s
northern side, while the southern area was less developed.
There was more open land in the south which led to an Army-
Navy Country Club, a junior high school, Dolly Madison, and
the community of Fairlington.





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FAIRLINGTON


Fairlington represented an early ‘garden like’ community for
hundreds of the workers and their families. It was needed to
house the growing population of Washington.

As Arlington was split between the north and south so was
Fairlington, in this case by a large valley. The south side closer
to Alexandria was built first. North Fairlington was built later.

Fairlington was designed as an all brick garden apartment
community, for over 1,000 residences, with 70 different kinds
of apartments. There were, duplexes, triplexes, two and three
story apartments. All the buildings were intermixed within
court yards. Parking was inside each court yard or block.
Sidewalks, grass, bushes, trees and flowers .were everywhere.
In addition to having an apartment everyone had a cellar
storage area, and weekly maintenance service.

It’s not hard to understand where the architects, Franzheim
and Mills got the quality of materials to build Fairlington,
because F.D.R. approved it himself because of the growing
population. In 1940 he must have only guessed how badly it
would be needed. His plans paid off, then and for decades
afterward.
Construction began in 1942, on the Colonial Revival style
apartments. In South Fairlington, there were tennis courts,
baseball diamonds, and an Elementary school.

By 1944 they began building North Fairlington. I’m sure we
had signed up and waited in line for our chance to move into
Fairlington. We got our chance in August of 1944, and moved




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FAIRLINGTON


across Washington to Virginia. We were the first family in our
block, and possibly the first in North Fairlington. Without
knowing it our move made all the difference to me.

st
Our address was 4644 31 Road, North Fairlington, South
Arlington, Virginia.

That was a lot to remember, even though we didn’t have zip
codes back then. Our telephone number was JAckson 7-
5471. The first two letters and the numbers were dialed on
our black rotary phone.

In Fairlington we were on the outskirts, isolated from the
Washington world. Beyond us there was only forests, not yet
opened by the massive growth that would become the great
city. Yet, change was coming and we could see it happening.
The change for us would come through the Shirley Valley; our
back yard. A four lane super-highway was planned. It would
run from Washington, past the Pentagon, the Army Navy
Country Club, the Shirlington Shopping Mall, right up
between North and South Fairlington and south through the
‘Phantom Forest’ on toward Richmond Virginia.

The ‘Phantom Forest’ was across the main road to Alexandria,
King Street. I never crossed King Street as long as we lived in
Fairlington. Only much later when older I’d drive to
Richmond for special occasions like the ‘Old Dominion Barn
Dance’ or High School Wrestling or Basketball State
Championships.





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FAIRLINGTON


I was born on the other side of Washington, at Sibley
Hospital. There was a terrible epidemic of Staff in the hospital
and many babies died. I spent most of my first year fighting it
off. Fortunately, surviving.

We lived in a rented home in Hyattsville, Maryland near Peace
Crossing, a major intersection. We were a block away from
the main road between Washington and Baltimore. It turned
out to be pretty bad place to live. Not only for all the noise,
but our little dog ‘Nipper’ was run over when he ran into the
traffic. Every time it rained Peace Crossing would flood. The
flood made it difficult for Pop to get to work, driving to the
Washington Mall and the Navy Department each day.
Mom didn’t work until later, but she had plenty of things to do
and lots of help from my brother, Joe and me. My early
contribution was making sandwiches. At three, I made my
first Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwich.

Crushed Peanuts had been around for hundreds of years. But
the good stuff, ‘Skippy’ crunchy peanut butter, since 1932. I
liked it then, and now.
Here I am in 1942 with my brother Joe before we left
Hyattsville. I must have worn jumpers until I was 4 or 5.











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Maryland was drab, there weren’t any kids for me to play with
and very little to do. Fairlington was the opposite. It was a
fantasy land, built for kids.


































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The block we lived on was typical of the community. There
were as many as 18 kids, of all ages. I’d group them into three
tiers, the oldest, high school age, my brother’s age, 8 of them,
and my age, hundreds.

By then I was well on my way to establishing a foothold in this
world. At 4 ½ feet tall, extra thin, with blue eyes and curly
blond hair I wasn’t a terror, but, had plenty of energy. I’d have
qualified for the drug Retalin. Lucky for me my mother must
have thought boys with lots of energy were okay. It’s possible
I took after her. She was a pretty ruckus, wild kid herself.
The number of children wasn’t the only difference in
Fairlington. The entire community was new and different. A
different idea. Its advanced design leaped forward, out of the
30’s, into family housing on the outskirts of the city; It would
be ‘The Suburbs’. Communities would spring up using it as
an original idea modifying and changing it for the next 30
years.

Families were different also with various backgrounds.
Although 95% white, they came from all over the country.
They were mostly educated and had traveled around the world.
They were Middle management people who were spearheading
the War effort; Army Colonels, Navy Captains, civilian
Engineers, Administrators, and Oil developers. It was an
integrated group with a single objective in mind. WIN THE
WAR!!.






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Here I am standing in front of our home in 1946. Notice the
corduroys with a belt, and cotton pullover tee shirt. Behind
me is our 1938 Pontiac auto; Abbington Street open spaces
st
and a line of apartments and triplexes along 31 Road. You
can see how much room there was for our cars. They mostly
parked diagonally around the block. Our car ran forever, or
until 1950 when we bought our first new one, always a
Pontiac.




























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The entire complex was designed with courts, quadrangles, and
in some cases apartments paralleling the streets. It lent itself
to friendly family interaction. Everyone knew everyone on
their block.

We lived in a triplex. Three attached homes with separate front
and back doors. Many of them were built all around the
community. Between them were two and three story
apartments. Each had four units on each level, with one, two


















and three bedrooms. Every building had a community
basement with individual storage areas, trash and laundry
facilities. There were no single unattached homes.






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The high rise apartments were great for delivering news
papers. Joe was a newsboy. He could deliver 4 papers on each
floor. But, even more important for me was the layout of
these buildings. There was lots of green space between them.
One could run around the building, into the apartments, down
into the basements and out the back. It became a game.

Our heat and electricity came from powerhouses. They burnt
coal and had high smoke stacks to carry off the grime. There
might have been three in North Fairlington. One at the end of
our block, behind the apartments near the woods. They were
single story, which led several of us to climb the rain spout to
get on to the slate roof. To get down we’d jump off the roof.
Our legs and feet were like spring boards. We’d land and roll.
There wasn’t any air conditioning, instead, during the hot
summer months Mom would open all our windows. They all
had screens, a North American thing. She would start our
large fan in their bedroom to draw cool air up from the cellar
into the rest of the house. By 10:00 AM each day she closed
all the windows. The humidity was always very high.

Up the street from us in another direction were the main
recreational facilities. They were behind the tennis courts and
maintenance buildings. It was a large open field, twice the
size of a couple of football fields. We would be in our teens
before we played football. By then it was a supervised sport
by the schools. The fields also held two baseball diamonds.






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FAIRLINGTON


There was an area where every apartment owner could have a
30 foot square plot to raise vegetables. Our ‘Victory Garden’s’.
Mom and Pop usually grew beets, tomatoes, string beans,
lettuce, carrots and peppers.

I’ve drawn a map to show our block with it’s different kinds of
buildings. It’s not topographical so it’s hard to visualize the
contours. Hills and flat areas were everywhere. I played a lot
of Cowboys and Indians, or what we called ‘GUNS’. It made
it a special place with lots of places to hide, duck into and
around.
We lived at the beginning of the block. On two sides of us
were small hills. One leading to a play-ground where I first
busted my arm, and further to a deep valley, called ‘Shirley
Valley’. Across it about ½ mile laid South Fairlington. At the
bottom of the other hill was Abbington Street. A main
thorough fare for the apartments. Our community had a
firehouse and the only retail, a Texaco gas station. Our
firehouse had the most friendly firemen anywhere. I’ve also
shown the forests, my woods at one end of the block and the
famous gully on the other, behind our home.

I’ll describe more as the years go by, but this is the basic
environment that I had spent my foundation years. They may
have been the beginning of the technological and
communication age.







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MY FAMILY


There were four of us Pop, John Uriah, Mom, Kathrine
Margretta Williams Zimmerman, my older brother Joe Allen,
and myself, Richard Edward. We made up the Zimmerman
family of Arlington Virginia.



POP:
Pop was a city fellow, born in Allentown, Pennsylvania before
th
the turn of the 20 century, 1896 he had little to do with the
outdoors, working in the mills at Bethlehem Steel, yet in the
years after his marriage Mom and he spent so much time
camping and traveling. He adapted to it. Together they taught
both Joe and me to love and respect the great outdoors. We
camped every year on his vacation from 1940 into the ‘50’s.
Once, in 1946 for an entire summer using work time saved
during the war.
Pop worked for the Navy Department from 1938 until he
retired. He was a serious, stern man that often over did it. As
a Civil Engineer in Washington during those growing years he
helped design many buildings including the Truman White
House restoration that added a concrete bomb shelter 4 levels
below the ground, and the Blair House, across Pennsylvania
Avenue where foreign dignitaries stayed while visiting the
President. There might have been others, including some
boats, as he also worked at the Navy Yards and Docks. It’s
hard to say because he never discussed his work. His security
clearance prohibited it, and he stuck to it.





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He really enjoyed making things. Soft, Basswood, was used
because wholesalers shipped produce in Basswood crates. He
made cars, loop-the-loops, and many other things.



















The grandest of all was our Lionel electric train. The train
had an 8 wheel engine, coal car, and three brown Pullman
passenger cars. The Engine blew smoke, and whistled. Pop
added a wooden bumper on the front, to stop me from
ramming it into the other cars. The passenger cars were an
ugly brownish red color but lit up when running.

He made a large plywood platform that sat on work horses in
the living room. On top of it he designed mountains and
plains. They were made of window screen. The window





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screen was bent into mountain shapes with deep valleys. It
was covered with plaster of paris then painted with snowy
peaks and forested hills. Trees and bushes were made from
sponges, and painted. The plains ran from the mountains to
the edge of the platform.

They had a few buildings, cottages, a gas station, and fire
house. It was a neat model and took up much of the living
room.
He built several small buildings to go with the display. A small
house with chimney and flower boxes at its windows. A train
station that was larger than the other models, and an even
larger farmer’s barn.

The barn was built to scale, not the train set scale, but to its
own scale. That is each cow stall; the steps to the hay loft
were according to the size of the entire barn. He painted it
several colors, both floors inside, were a chalky white, the roof
had two air stacks painted a light gray and the base of the
whole barn was yellow. I suppose he could have designed and
built anything, to any scale if he wanted to.
He would set up the train every Christmas, and both Joe and I
would run it for hours. Through the mountain tunnel, across
the plains to the station and back around. We really loved it.

When he was building or constructing anything, I never saw
him use an electric tool. No saw, drill or tool of any kind. His
chisels, drills, pliers, hammers and saws were all hand driven.





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Our paints, and we had a lot of different colors, were all
exterior paints which lent themselves to a chalky finish.



MOM:
Mom, a farm girl from a poor section of north central
Pennsylvania had a dozen brothers and sisters. Her mother
drowned in a flood when she was 13. Leaving her the oldest
at home, so she mostly raised her two younger sisters, Ester
and Elenor.

Everyone in the family went to college, normal school
(teaching ) or business school after high school. Once away
from home they moved all over the country and only returned
for visits. Grandpa was also a stern, no fooling around, man
who probably drove most of them away. At 35 he enrolled in
Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia, and graduated in it’s
st
1 class, and became the only country doctor for miles around.
Mom went to Business School, in Philadelphia while living
with Ester who graduated from Temple and moved to Illinois.

Stories over the years revealed mom’s personality in her
younger years. She was a high energy scaly-wag, a Tom-boy
that beat up many boys that crossed her. She was tough,
walking miles, to school across the pasture and forest in the
back of the farm, fall winter and spring. She sometimes even
tested her father, and although the woodshed was just in back
of the house, she was difficult to catch.






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These personality traits, fun loving, joyful, and energized lasted
all her life. She played tricks on people, laughed a lot and
showed unconditional love for her family. She was a tireless
worker without reservations. She was the pillar of our family,
stern, understanding, forgiving, and protective.

As a teen she spent one summer in Asbury Park, New Jersey
with her oldest brother Raymond. He was a pharmacist, and
owned a drug store. She had a curfew, but met a fellow she
liked and would climb out the bedroom window to go out
with him.
Later, when in Philadelphia living with her brother Roger, he
introduced her to a friend. This is when she met John, and
wrote a letter home in 1928. ‘I’ve met this really swell guy. I think
you will like him too. We are going to get married.’ They knew each
other for three weeks. It lasted a life time.

One Christmas my Uncle Rex and Aunt Augusta, Mom’s
oldest sister, visited from California. Like all the Welch sisters
she was a stern, bright woman. They had migrated to
California before World War I, and lived in Redding Calf.
They had an orange grove. He became a California Supreme
Court Judge, while she worked charities.
I had a run-in with her immediately. At dinner she insisted I
eat the peas on my plate before desert. She wouldn’t give an
inch and Mom didn’t come to my rescue. I could have gotten
sick, canned peas are the worst. I choked them down over her






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evil eye. If it wasn’t for the cherry pie desert I’d never have
survived.

That Christmas both the men, Rex and Pop got a surprise in
their stockings. No oranges, a real treat during the war;
instead there were switches and coal.

America had been driving autos for three decades and roads
were becoming quite the thing. By the 1930’s the first national
highway system had been built. It’s organization was simple to
understand. All highways running north and south were given
odd numbers, while east and west even numbers. US #1
therefore ran from Maine to Florida, and US #2 ran across the
northern states thru Montana. Uncle Rex and Aunt Augusta
had driven across the country before this system was put in
place . Many roads were dirt, some in the southwest had 2 feet
of dust and mud. The east coast had more paved roads. It was
quite an adventure for them.

Neither Mom nor Pop knew how to drive when the world
came crashing down on them with the Great Depression of
the 1930’s. They lived in Philadelphia and both lost their jobs.
th
They sold everything, bought a 6 hand Pontiac, took driving
lessons, modified the car and embarked on a camping trip
across the country.
For over a year they drove around the country. They traveled
to every National Park in the U.S. until Pop finally got another
engineering job.

.




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By the time the depression was over they had up-graded to a
nd
2 hand 1938 Pontiac with grey mohair seats, and everyone’s
favorite color, black.



MOM & POP: Stories
Pop after his World War I experience had few stories to tell
about his childhood. He was a good athlete and played
baseball, and a strange city street game. It was a pick-up game
like baseball only instead of a ball it was a cut piece of rubber
hose about 8” long. It was pitched like a baseball and hit with
a broom handle. The bases were run just like baseball. Both
Joe and I played it when we were teens.
During the War he was stationed in France. There, in 1918 he
wrote a letter to his mother. He said he’d heard that morning
that a declaration of peace had been signed. He wrote ‘I’ll walk
up to the front this afternoon and see if it’s true.’ It was; the Armistice
had been signed. World War I was over.

Before joining the Army and going to France to fight in the
War he was in his last year of school at Lehigh University.
Graduates then as today wrote senior papers. He had worked
on his paper early in the year, and completed it. Late in the
winter the school decided that any senior that signed up for
service wouldn’t need to submit their senior paper to graduate.

I always thought the research and effort to prepare a work of
that magnitude would be a good experience. One that would






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stay with you and help you for years. Pop didn’t feel that way.
I suppose he was angry at the school, because he had finished
the work and many of his class mates hadn’t. Yet, they all
graduated.

Mom on the other hand had lots of stories. Many were about
her experiences in Potterville, Pa. while she was growing up.

They had a horse called ‘Barney’. There was nothing special
about him except like all stallions he wanted his own way. She
would tell how this head-strong horse would crowd her in the
stall, or run away while out riding.

Barney would mostly be used for plowing, and pulling a
carriage around. Mom often held him while Grandpa made
the rounds across the country to see his patients. Money was
seldom paid for his services. Instead vegetables were often
bartered. Mom would collect many gifts of crocheted
handkerchiefs.
One of my favorite stories occurred when a neighbor had been
run over by a plow and broke his leg. He lay in agony on the
Oak kitchen table. My uncle Banatyne would help hold him
down, as he had just returned from milking the cow.
However, he slipped taking the milk into the basement to
separate the cream. The bucket went flying and Banatyne
smashed against the stairs knocking himself out.

Mom was the only one left. She was a young girl and
protested that the farmer was much, much too big and strong
for her to hold down. Grandpa snorted ‘Grab A-hold’, ‘He’ll.




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be out in a moment’. Grandpa was right. He twisted his leg
and the fellow was out like a light from the pain

Both he and Banatyne recovered, and despite his clumsy
experience with the milk bucket, he did all right, graduating
from the University of Pennsylvania at 16 and becoming the
youngest judge in the state at 25. Years later that old oak
operating table became my dining room table.

At home in Fairlington everyone walked in the woods behind
our apartments. Few were so resourceful as Pop. He was
always on the lookout for things to eat. And after years of
camping and traveling he had collected and eaten lots of
strange things.

I recall going out with him often, gathering different things.
Although I don’t remember ever finding any mushrooms, for
his weird salads. We would often stop to pick dandelions. I
never cared much for the flowers, but we only took the leaves.
They were bitter, as was so much of what we ate. We might
have picked other weeds to go into his salads, but they were
enough for me. Mom would mix up a mayonnaise with
chopped hard boiled eggs, and bacon. Yum, Yum, as I got
older I changed my taste.
This wasn’t the only strange food we had. Pop from his
Pennsylvania Dutch heritage had other weird foods. They
kept most of these things in the refrigerator. Often if they
weren’t cooked they were kept in vinegar solutions.






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Hard boiled eggs were pickled in beet juice and vinegar. They
turned pink. They loved beets. It was one of their main
‘Victory Garden’ crops. The greens would be tossed into the

salads, or cooked. Salad dressings often were oil and vinegar,
and the greens would be splashed with vinegar.

All summer long Mom would peel and slice cucumbers and
onions for a salad. She made a mixture of vinegar, water, and
sugar for them. It would stay in the fridge all summer, as she
would continue to add cucumbers and onions.

There were other German foods that Pop liked. One was a
gelatin with mixed things from a pig, their feet, intestines, and
other parts. All were suspended in this clear gelatin, called
‘Soucse’. And of course it was kept in a vinegar solution.
The worst of all refrigerator things was Pop’s cheese. He
loved soft cheese, and the best was Limburger. This cheese
was so soft it couldn’t hold it’s shape. He kept it in one of my
empty ‘Skippy’ jars. It would slither like a snake into the
bottom and spread out. When he opened the jar the heavenly
smell, like a barnyard, would waft through the air of the
apartment for hours. We would all leave. I never ever took
even one bite.

We often had buckwheat pan cakes or waffles with
Pennsylvania maple syrup. I never knew any other kind of
syrup. But, Pop had one other ‘Dutch’ treat. A loaf we ate for
breakfast. It was ‘Scrapple’, a delightful mushed up mixture of
pork things, cornmeal, buckwheat flour and spices. Sort of like




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my favorite meat loaf, except it wasn’t. Mom would pan fry it
and cover it with maple syrup. The ‘Dutch’ called it ‘Pan
Rabbit’.

There were other things that came out of our walks in the
woods beside dandelions. He often collected a bag full of
orange balls. These were wild persimmons. The size of golf
balls. They were really sweet and ‘slurpy’. I liked them, but
the skin always puckered my mouth. I never learned to peel
the skin completely off so I ended up with a foul taste in my
mouth. Persimmon trees were used commercially to make the
heads of golf clubs. They were very hard wood, and lasted for
years.
Late every fall we would go to collect nuts. His favorite were
‘Black Walnuts’. We always had them as a Christmas treat. He
collected several bags full, brought them home and dried them.
After that he would split them open and dig out the meat. Of
all the bitter things we ate these were the best.

Black Walnuts were used commercially too. They were the
best black or dark brown dye, and used to color everything
you wanted that color. Pop would be covered with black stain
and if he began picking them clean in November, his hands
would still be stained in January.
There were so many things I didn’t eat. Mostly Pop’s
Pennsylvania Dutch. Mom’s Welch foods on the other hand
were bland. Basic old ‘meat and potatoes’, one dish comfort
food, with salt and pepper. Right down my ally. It took me





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years, well into my 20’s before I realized there were other
things to eat. I finally discovered the joy of ‘sauces’ a secret
my father never kept from me, but I never realized. He would
eat anything with a sauce. I believe he liked the sauces better
than the food. Especially the seafood like clams, oysters,
herring or sardines.

But, maybe that’s just my point of view. Ugh.
st
During the 40’s sweets were not straight sugar like the 21
century. They were usually mixed into different deserts, like
pies. Most foods neither had a lot of salt nor sugar. It would
be later from the 1950’s that canned and packaged products
added all the sugar and maybe salt.

My favorite of all foods was cherry pie; not meat which was
always over cooked. We’d pick sour, red cherries when in
Potterville in late June. A funny thing about cherries. If you
pitted them as you picked they never filled the bucket. If you
just threw them into the bucket, you could pick several
buckets. Pick and pit worked best because it was one time,
instead of two. After picking them you still had to pit them
when it was time to use them to bake.
Apple pies were always good. Grandma Williams had an
orchard out back with Northern Spies. Mom’s favorite apple.
My favorite fruits were Cherries, but Blackberries, and
Huckleberries were great. Grandma would make pies from
them all year, as after picking they would be kept in the cool






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cellar. They were best however, when we picked them and she
baked right away.

Mom made jellies and jams from every fruit. The best, and
world class, was her beautiful pink red current jelly. Rhubarb
and Strawberry jam was also pretty good, yet I could eat
rhubarb fresh on the stalk with a little salt sprinkled on it. We
seldom had straight sugar like lollipops. They were okay, but
never had the fruity flavor of a ‘Jolly Rancher’.


JOE:

Joe was born in 1935 in Sharon Hill Pa. A suburb of
Philadelphia. He took after my father making and building
things. That was good, but he also had an enormous amount
of patience. All very good, as it left plenty of room for me
four years later to develop some of my mother’s traits. I
needed them, as I was not the cool headed thoughtful person
he was. I was more like my father in that regard. It would
probably be 40 years before I showed many of those signs. I
don’t know much about his first four years, but they couldn’t
have been too easy. It’s some of what he put up with from the
beginning.

Once I was out of the hospital Joe was taking care of me while
on my changing table. I rolled off it bouncing on the floor.
Maybe that made him feel guilty; forever. Because despite
everything and anything I did he always showed a brotherly
tolerance and consideration towards me.




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He was steady, and with Pop enjoyed building things. He also
had a paper route, The Washington Evening Star which he
delivered around the apartments. That would give him
spending money for his hobbies. And did he have hobbies.

To deliver his news papers he had bought a newspaper wagon.
It wasn’t like a Radio Flyer with high sides, rather this wagon
was wooden, wider, and had wooden spoke wheels, ball
bearings, and steel rims. It was built to last, and was great
going down the sidewalks and roads. It would rip.
Among the things he built with Pop was the Loop-de-Loop
and train platform. There were other toys, but the neatest was
a soap box derby.

It was marvelous red white and blue, with a long snoot
tapering down to the front. The snoot was blue with a white
stripe down the middle. Unlike Joe’s paper wagon it had large
rubber disk wheels that protruded out in the front to give him
plenty of turning radius. Together they steamed the thin
plywood until it bent into the snoots shape. They screwed it
to the frame and let it dry.
There were two ways to steer it. Pop must have devised the
wheel steering, a rope was wrapped around the axle and then
around the steering column. It worked, but I never
understood why it never slipped. The other way to steer was a
backup. All you needed was long legs to reach the axle and
push. No steering wheel was needed then.






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That experience led Joe to rebuild a bicycle he’d been given by
the firemen. The firehouse was just across the street. Joe and
several of the older boys spent lots of time there. The bike
was a long handle bar Schwinn. It could have been a nice bike,
but as a gift it was in a couple of baskets. Almost everything
was there only in pieces. He reconstructed it. With his paper
route money he bought new fenders, a storage grill for the
back fender, a chain, several spokes, and a 2-speed shifter. He
assembled it, tightening the spokes and balancing the wheels.
The shifter required a little help from Pop.

When it was finished it was pretty nice, with fenders, chain
guard and new white wall tires. Only, he didn’t like the black
fenders, so he took it all apart and painted everything.
Reassembled it was unique, he had painted it every color he
could get his hands on. It was a rainbow: red, yellow, blue,
green, orange, and a couple of mixed colors. It was a dandy.

Here’s a picture of Joe and a few friends from the block. He’s
second row middle, behind the hat.















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As he grew older, seven to nine, he became interested in
model airplanes. It didn’t take long before he tired of the
rubber band models. He then switched to gas motors and
wire controlled models. They were more complex, with
steering hand controls and motors that needed maintenance,
understanding and gas. The models themselves cost more,
and were larger.

The closest model airplane stores were in Washington, 8 to 10
miles away. Joe would make trips there on the AB&W bus
line. They were big red buses, which I sometimes got to go
with him. They went down from Fairlington across the
th
Potomac on the 14 Street bridge to the Post Office Building
off of Independence Avenue. From there we walked the 5 or
6 blocks to the stores. It was a real adventure for me. Imagine
two kids under 12 doing that alone. Yea, one 10 the other 6.
It was here where he bought his gas engines, several different
sized Olson’s, steering apparatus, gas, tanks, and models, glue
and dope to paint them. It would take most the day, but I
don’t recall stopping to get anything to eat. Both of us were
pretty skinny so maybe eating wasn’t high on our agenda.
With his bundles we would head back to the Post Office
Building and wait for the next bus home.

Of course his newspaper business paid for his hobby and
interests. I must say he stayed with delivering papers for a
long time. I tried it but wasn’t really cut out for it. Sometimes
the papers would end up in the sewer drain instead of being
delivered.



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I also tried selling ‘Spudpnuts’, a sugar dipped donut, like
Krispy-Kreme, a couple of times. They were really good, but I
wasn’t so hot at it either, and had to be bailed out, because I
couldn’t pay for the ones I’d eaten.

After meticulously building an airplane model he would take it
to the playground near the tennis courts. There the baseball
diamond was perfect to launch and fly his planes. He would
set up the line and controls, start the engine and run out to the
pitchers mound where he would control the plane. Meanwhile
I would hold the plane down until he signaled to let it go. I
was his helper.
I’d say landing took more skill than taking off. However, if he
pulled back too hard on the take off the plane would go up
sharply. The next move would tell if he could recover or it
would noise dive into the dirt. Too much down draft and it
was over. The plane would crash. Wings and tails could be
broken, and often the prop would go.

Landing was more difficult. After a clean flight, circling until
either dizzy or out of fuel bringing the plane in for a smooth
landing was tough. Alternative landings included the good
news. Gradually lowering the plane until the rubber wheels
rolled along the infield. Coming down a little too hard and
bouncing along, but not tipping over. Running out of gas,
made landings a little easier as the plane didn’t want to keep
going.






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The bad news was either of the above, where the plane would
hit a rock or bump and tip over breaking a prop. Worst of all
would be an uncontrolled downward sweep where the plane
would nose dive into the ground.

Joe loved flying planes, and by the time he was 12 he was
designing his own models. He tried several flying saucers each
about 2 feet in diameter. To steer them he built them with
two tails and an elevator. They didn’t fly so well but, he wasn’t
daunted by it.
He had two other interests arise before we left Fairlington in
1950. They were both fish. Tropical fish and fishing fish.
During his bus trips to Washington he had seen tropical fish in
the model shops and liked them. Over a period of time he
talked Mom into his first 20 gallon fish tank, and double
Decker stand. Tropical fish need special equipment like filters,
oxygen bubbling through the water, environmental
landscaping (sand, castles, coral, plants), and stuff like that.
All of which was extra.

Once set up he bought a lot of fish. I can remember Guppies,
everyone has Guppies, Mollies, red and green, 2 Angle fish, a
cat fish, a couple of Kissing Gromies, and his favorite a black
Beta. These fish are all temperamental, and had to be put in
the tank after the water sat for 2 days.
Once the water was seasoned he would introduce each fish by
putting it in a plastic bag of water lowering it into the tank and
waiting until the temperature was equal. Yes, he also had a





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thermometer that floated in the tank. Tropical fish obviously
needed tropical temperatures.

Betas were his favorite fish, and probably the prettiest, red or
blue. He had both red and blue, but, one was special it was
black. They were also known as Siamese fighting fish. In the
tank they were usually about 1 inch long with long flowing
upper, lower and tail fins.

They didn’t like each other and if two were in the tank they
would probably kill each other. If instead of letting two into
one tank you held a mirror up to them they would puff out
their gills and ram the tank trying to get to their mirror image.
Joe tried the impossible with Beta’s. He tried to mate them.

With another tank he separated two of them and proceeded to
introduce them without letting them fight. This actually
worked and at one point they mated and then the male
squeezed the female squirting out a fist full of live bearer baby
Betas. He separated them from their parents, and soon
needed to separate each of the babies. He lost many, but had
achieved an almost impossible endeavor.
From about 9 he became interested in fishing for fish. It
probably began during our family visits to Grandma Anna’s in
Allentown, Pa. Both Grandpa Michael and Uncle Paul were
avid fisherman. Uncle Paul was crippled yet from his wheel
chair he taught lots of kids how to cast and fly fish. He was a
prize winning fly caster.






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As an aside men’s first names in the Zimmerman family were
always Michael and John. Generations of them back to 1730.
Pop broke the spell and named his two children Joe and
Richard. My brother started it up again naming his first born
Michael.

Names could have gone back further, but 1730 is as far as I’ve
traced. In 1730 my ancestors lived on an estate outside of
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. I don’t know how they got to the
far western end of Pennsylvania. Grandma Zimmerman,
Anna Mary Sipes, was in the Johnstown flood, before moving
to Allentown.
Joe mostly fished each year when we were on vacation. Either
when camping, or when visiting in either Allentown or
Potterville visiting Mom’s parents. When in Potterville he
would fish Cooks Pond. He could walk there and fish for cat
fish.

Uncle Jenkin, a retired Merchant Marine, would take Joe
fishing to some out of the way creeks in both Pennsylvania
and New York. I would get to go along, not because I fished,
but because you could hardly leave me at home. They would
fish the streams while I would climb around the rocks, often
falling in and generally scaring the fish. Fish of course can see
out of the water and watch you. Sometimes considering that
thought makes you a better fisherman. I’m not proud of my
behavior, but I liked going with them.






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After Uncle Jenkin died I inherited his brass spy scope. It was
two feet long wrapped in black leather. I also have his brass
sextant. Even though I sailed a lot in later years I never
became accomplished using it. Mostly I stayed with ‘line of
sight’ near land. Both are prominent on my office book case.

Among all the things Joe did and enjoyed there was one
outstanding trait. He was a born teacher. He had the greatest
patience, an intuitive understanding and the ability to
communicate the right things and attitude that encouraged
everyone. He shared everything with me.
In the years that followed I’d try my hand at many of these
hobbies and activities























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