A Trip Back Home!

1714 Orchard Avenue, Folsom. How well I remember that address. Zip codes were not being used when I lived there, but just before I started writing this post, I looked it up. In case you’re interested, it’s 19033. I have no use for the address or the zip code, because, now, I don’t know anyone who lives there. A girlfriend did, named Elaine McKay, someone I wish I had kept in touch with, but didn’t.

Although, to me, it seemed like a long time, I only lived there about four years, between the ages of eight and twelve. The rest of my family, two brothers Donald and Richard, my mother and father, Edwin and Ada Britt, also resided there, and just a few years before moving from the area, a sister, Ada Mae was born.

I think it was sometime in the late 1960’s when my husband and I drove through the small

The hoagie shop I'd walk to, in business since 1935

The hoagie shop I’d walk to, is in business since 1935.

cluster of streets, called Folsom, and rode past the house on 1714 Orchard Avenue. It was the first time back in many years. By then, I was a mother of five children, residing in Sweet Valley, PA. I looked for the Fire Company, Annie’s Hoagie Shop and the place that had the most influence on me, Folsom Presbyterian Church. My heart sank when I saw it standing vacant and boarded-up. When I lived there, it was a vibrant ministry with many caring, loving people reaching out to the community.

Some of the towns near the sleepy town of Folsom were Upper Darby, where I traveled by bus to the dentist, by myself, I might add. I remember, well, biting my numbed Folsom PA 2bottom lip all the way home. Something I was very sorry for a few hours later. There is Prospect Park, and Swarthmore is close enough I could walk there to visit my Aunt and Uncle Morgan Kishpaugh. These areas are larger than Folsom. Even bigger and more of a city, is Chester, which is 3.8 miles away. What I remember most about it was the dirty, smelly, Delaware river and what seemed like lots of industry. My dad worked there at Sun Shipbuilding and Drydock Co., a business that closed after World War II. It’s said that Chester is the birthplace of the hoagie sandwich.I was frequently sent to carry home hoagies from the shop near us. Philadelphia was only 14 miles away, but I don’t recall the family ever visiting there.

I remember well, the layout of the house at 1714 Orchard Avenue. It was a double block, meaning built into the same structure was another house, side by side. Once neighbors moved in who had a young child who rocked a lot in her heavy wooden high- chair, a sound heard clearly on our side of the building. Entering by the front door you were in the living room, which had a brick fireplace that we never burned, then walk right into the dining room and on into the kitchen. The kitchen sink had no cupboard underneath until dad built one that was curved on the end. How he did that I’m not sure. He also screened-in the small front porch, a feature I was determined to have in my own home, some day. (and I do!) Steps going upstairs were in the dining room and there is three bedrooms. I had my own and my brothers another one and the third one was for my parents. My room was just large enough for a double bed and a dresser, but it was my own private domain. Mom always kept dresser scarves on all the dressers and arm and head doilies on upholstered furniture. This you don’t see very often today.

Does 1714 Orchard Avenue still remain today? We had no plans to travel there so you

This is a photo of the  home I lived in in Folsom. It is how it is pictured on Google Earth.

This is a photo of the home I lived in, in Folsom. This photo was taken from Google Earth.

can imagine my delight to learn that, yes, it is still standing. This was accomplished through the miracle of the internet when my husband and I typed the address into Google Earth. There it was pictured, with the double dormer upstairs in the front bedroom, the porch was no longer screened-in and the front hedge was gone, but amazingly it truly is the home in which our family resided. The house was not recently built when we lived there, so we can only imagine the sorrow, pain and joys experienced there, to this day. Mine was the experience I shared with you, in this week’s Shirl and You. 

Any one of you familiar with 1714 Orchard Avenue? Did you enjoy going back home with me? I hope you’ll write to Shirl and You.

This photo of 1714 Orchard Avenue was taken when our family lived there.

This photo of 1714 Orchard Avenue was taken when our family lived there.

I'm pictured here next to my dad, with siblings on each side and in the front. Taken about 1946.

I’m pictured here next to my dad, and my siblings,  in front of our house. Taken about 1946.

13 thoughts on “A Trip Back Home!

    • I knew you would enjoy this one. Wasn’t your dad a good looking kid? Still is good looking. Maybe some day you will visit 1714 Orchard Avenue, Then you can tell me about it. Love you.

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      • You were all good looking kids! My dad doesn’t talk much about his days as a kid – not sure why, so I really enjoy it when you share some of your stories and shed a little light on Dad’s past as well. Thanks for writing – I really enjoy your blogs. Love you, too!

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      • So often, we as parents, just don’t talk about our childhoods. Sometimes I think we take it for granted that everyone knows, or that it isn’t important. Sometimes it’s because we never think of it when we finally sit down and just talk. Hope this post sheds some light on your roots. Love you.

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  1. I grew up in Philadelphia and have been through the area you grew up in it was nice to go home with you. I grew up in two different houses in Philadelphia. 4731 Edmond Street and 1235 Fillmore Street both are still standing. The Fillmore Street house was a three floor double block with five bedrooms. I always had to share a bedroom with either my older or younger sister.

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    • I remember hearing you say you lived near Philadelphia. I’m glad you’re in the Back Mountain now, andPhilly isn’t too far to go if you want to visit. Thanks for writing, Gladys.

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  2. Thanks Shirley for plucking my heart strings.

    Joan and I have had houses that were dear to us torn down to make way for more modern homes. For those houses, we can’t even see them on Google Earth. Revisits are only by pictures and memories.

    For her first years, Joan lived in the city of St. Louis in a two-story brick duplex. Her family was on the first floor and another family was on the second floor. A stand-alone wooden garage was in the back yard and was accessed via an alley complete with an ash pit for burning trash or for making lye soap. Joan was in third grade when her family moved out of the city of St. Louis. A boy had been shot and killed at a robbery at their corner drug store and her parents decided it was time to move to the safer suburbs.

    Her second home was a small house (900 sq ft?) in Kirkwood, Missouri. It had been built just after WW II. It had three bedrooms, a one car garage, and a screened breezeway between the house and garage. I started dating Joan in 9th grade so I picked her up and delivered her back to this house several times but I don’t recall ever getting past the front door. Her parents had one room, her grandmother another, and Joan had her room. They all shared a single bathroom.

    In 1953 Joan’s Dad, an engineer, purchased an acre of ground on North Taylor Avenue in a desirable area of Kirkwood. He designed a modern three bedroom, two bath ranch house of about 1,800 sq ft. It had an attached two car garage. His house design worshiply preserved a 50-foot tall 3-foot diameter pine tree in the back yard. The house was oriented on the lot so the tree was the focus for a huge picture window in their living room. He had the house built and after about a year of construction, they moved there in 1954. He personally finished off half the basement with pine paneled walls, a tile floor, and a suspended ceiling. They had many relatives in town and lifelong friends so they enjoyed entertaining frequently.
    In the early1980s Joan’s Mom, a widow since 1976, sold the house and moved into an apartment at a continuous care facility. After the sale, Joan, her Mom, and I would drive by occasionally to see how the new owners were taking care of 520 N. Taylor. Within a year of the sale we were distressed to see that the new owners had cut down the big pine tree to install an in-ground swimming pool. In 1986 Joan’s Mom died so she didn’t have to know that in the mid 2000s the house which she and her husband had designed and built so lovingly was torn down to make way for an elegant multi-story house with attic dormers and a three car garage.

    After I was born, I was brought home to a house at 700 W. Woodbine in Kirkwood. It was home to me until I was twenty years old. The house was located on a one-acre pie-shaped lot at the intersection of Craig and Woodbine in Kirkwood Missouri on a street car line leading to a now defunct Meramec Highlands amusement area in what is now Valley Park Missouri. [For more on that park and the street car see http://www.legendsofamerica.com/mo-meramecresorts.html%5D

    Built in the 1890s as a tavern the house was constructed of hollow tile with a stucco exterior. During the depression, the tavern was remodeled under one of the new deal programs—perhaps the US Housing Authority.. It was renovated as an 1,800-sq ft three-bedroom home with a living room, dining room, kitchen, and bathroom. There were spacious porches on the front and west side of the house. It had a full walk out basement that connected to a two car garage. A concrete retaining wall on the Woodbine side had two 5×8-foot Falstaff beer logos painted on it about a hundred feet apart. One was still visible in the 1940s. My oldest brother was embarrassed by the logos and painted over them with gray paint. That paint flaked off in about fifteen years and vestiges of one of the Falstaff logos are still visible on what remains of the wall.
    In the midst of WW II, I watched men dig up the street car rails on Craig Road for recycling the steel for the war effort.

    In the early 1950s my Dad remodeled the house with the help of some of my brothers and me. He formed a great room by knocking out a wall to combine one of the bedrooms with the kitchen. We pine paneled the walls, installed 2×4-ft acoustic ceiling tiles, tiled the floors with vinyl asbestos tile, and installed a walk in pantry. We had sweat equity and lots of loving memories in that house.

    In 1960 my parents then 62 and 56 years old down-sized to a house in nearby Glendale Missouri. The builder who purchased 700 W. Woodbine tore the house down and put up five houses on the property.

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  3. I love the photos! And how wonderful to think you could see the house without going there. It still looks like a very nice place to live! And it sounds like you have good memories of it. You were pretty brave to go to the dentist all by yourself!

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    • Thanks for writing, Janine. I don’t remember not feeling safe there. It’s different today, when parents don’t send their children on errands or out at night by themselves. Too bad times have changed.

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