Translate

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

OVER THE RIVER AND THROUGH THE WOODS, Part 2: BABA'S HILL

Babicka means grandmother in Slovak...which is why (I assume) my brother and I referred to our Grandma Raymond as Baba.  Just five short miles from the Morosky household in Richeyville, PA, my grandmother, Mary Raymond, lived in a small house on Lowhill Road near the Monongahela River.  Just as the water tank overlooking Richeyville heralded  that our arrival at our Grandma and Grandpap Morosky's house was imminent...descending down Baba's Hill was indication that we were close to Grandma Raymond's.  Baba's Hill (officially known as Gillis Road) is a sketchy stretch of Pennsylvania, tar and chip, back country road that, as I remember it, is BARELY able to accommodate any sort of passing traffic. Wooden posts, linked together with rusty steel cables, were the only barrier between the road and steep, wooded, ravine that was just a few short feet away.  Baba's Road ended at an obnoxiously steep angle when it intersected with Lowhill Road....indication that grandmother's house was just around the corner.

Mary Raymond's house on Lowhill Road. -- 1978

For as long as I knew my Grandmother, Mary Raymond, she lived alone.  My grandfather, unfortunately, passed away long before I was born.  I've never known a woman as tough as Mary Raymond.  Tough mentally, spiritually, and physically.  By the time I had become part of the story she had lived through the Great Depression, World War II, the death of her husband, and had raised four boys (my father being the youngest).  She was an active member in her church and rarely, if ever, missed Sunday Mass.  On her own she would mow her massive yard, paint the railings on her porch, and almost daily carry water up from the spring that cut through the yard.  Yet, she was always the optimist...seeing good and beauty in everything.  She would religiously root for her Pittsburgh Pirates and Steelers...always hoping that they would "bring home a winner" but still loving them when they lost.  Mary Raymond never tried to rid her yard of dandelions...instead she would comment on how colorful they made the yard look.  Daily, Grandma would work on her crossword puzzles while she drank her morning coffee which, she would say, always "hit the spot."

My Grandmother, Mary Raymond -- Christmas Day 1986

Freshly baked bread was my absolutely favorite smell that came out of Baba's kitchen.  There was always a loaf waiting for us when we arrived.  I can picture the homemade bread sitting next to the knife and the crumbs on the cutting board on the kitchen table.  Grandma's homemade bread had a dark, tough crust...but man, the inside of it was so fresh and soft.  I loved it.  For breakfast, Baba would essentially fry eggs by floating them on top of a layer of sizzling butter.  Not the healthiest way to make eggs...but one of the tastiest!   There were also a few meals that I considered a little questionable...huge pots of sauerkraut soup and one of my father's favorites....something he loved, but even my mother turned her nose up at...fried mush.  I'm still not quite sure what that was.


Grandma Raymond allowing a one-year-old me to help clean up Christmas Dinner.  -- Christmas Day 1974

Mary Raymond cooking at her stove. -- November 24, 1984

Mary Raymond putting the finishing touches on Christmas dinner.  -- Christmas Day 1999

Grandma Raymond did so much with so little and was brilliant at making sure that she took care of the things that she had.  In the corner of the living stood a multi-colored lamp post which now has a home with my brother (I'm so jealous of it).  Baba had the most amazing silver artificial Christmas tree.  I'm sure that it was purchased in the 60s or 70s...and was horribly out of fashion when I was growing up...but that tree was vintage.  To my wife's horror...I really want one just like it.   At Christmas time she also displayed mechanical toys (a tin Rudolph and a camel) that were surely manufactured in the 1930s or 1940s.  They were so delicate that we were only allowed to with supervision.  Parked in Grandma Raymond's driveway was a brown AMC Gremlin.  That was the only car I remember her having up until she upgraded to a blue Ford Escort sometime in the 1990s.


Not only is this a good picture of my grandmother...but displayed on the wall clock were her vintage Christmas toys.  Off to the right you can see her multi-colored lamp.  -- Christmas Day 1987

Love, love, love the silver Christmas tree with the revolving multi-color light that would shine on it. -- 1979

My grandmother's AMC Gremlin. -- 1981

For my brother and I, especially in the summer months, Baba's house was a place of outdoor adventure.  Not everyone has a spring flowing through their yard...but Baba did.  The water flowed from the hillside, through a filtering system, and then into a stream that dissected the yard...eventually flowing underneath the main road and...I can only assume...down the hill and into the Monongahela River.  The water from the spring was a source of drinking and cooking water for my grandmother.  Jake and I would spend hours playing in the spring catching crayfish and building small dams.  On rare occasions, my mother would allow us to crawl through the corrugated pipe under the main road in which the water flowed to exit my grandmother's property...which seemed to me, at the time,  such an incredibly fun adventure.

Grandma Raymond walking back to the house from the spring. -- 1982

A very skinny me playing in the spring. -- 1980

My brother, Jake, and I playing in the spring.  -- 1981

My Uncle Dan walking on the side of the road just over where my grandmother's spring flowed off of her property. -- 1982

The spring wasn't the only part of Mary Raymond's yard that was memorable. In my earliest memories, I remember my grandmother's dog, Alphie.  Like my Grandpap Morosky's dog, Duke, Alphie chained at the dog house in the yard.  I never had much interaction with Alphie and I don't recall when he died.  Behind my grandmother's house was a green block building everyone called "the foundation."  It looked and smelled like a basement with a roof on it.  I'm not sure who originally built the structure but I recall my Great Uncle Tim and Great Aunt Olga would come live in the foundation during the summer months.  Further up in the woods, behind the foundation, was the remains of the old Radvansky Farmhouse. (My grandfather changed the family's last name from Radvansky to Raymond.)  I only recollect visiting the farmhouse when it was still standing once or twice...with my dad and my uncles.  Even then I wasn't allowed to go too far into it because of how unsafe the adults considered it to be.  Later, during my college years, I would wander back there a few times to poke around...but by then there wasn't much of the old house standing.

Alphie the Dog. -- 1982

Easter Sunday 1986...my brother, Jake, and I with Grandma Raymond.  You can clearly see the foundation in the background.  -- March 30, 1986

Uncle Tim and Aunt Olga (holding me just months after I was born) were common fixtures at my grandmother's house during the summer months.  -- 1973

The remains of the Radvansky farmhouse. -- March 24, 1995

The remains of the Radvansky farmhouse. -- March 24, 1995

Unlike at my Grandpap and Grandma Morosky's house, at which my cousins were a constant presence, I didn't get to see my cousins, aunts, and uncles on my dad's side very often...which made the times that we were together extremely fun time.  I always looked forward to seeing my Uncle Tom, Aunt Ande, Uncle Dan, Uncle Jim, Aunt Jane and my older cousins Ramona, Monique, and Tommy.  As a young boy I especially looked up to my cousin, Tommy, and wanted to be around him as much as possible.  I imagine that I probably drove him nuts!  I also took pride in playing the role of older cousin to Mariaelena, Jared, Jayme, and Jordan.  Because Grandma Raymond's house was so small these gatherings usually took the form of back yard cookouts with my father and my uncles manning the charcoal grill.  It was the stuff that made for great childhood memories. 

Grandma Raymond with her grandchildren.  Front:  David, Jacob, Mariaelena, and Mary Raymond.  Back:  Monique, Ramona, and Tommy Raymond. -- 1981

Cousins:  David, Tommy, Jacob, Ramona, Monique, and Mariaelena Raymond. -- 1981
David, Ramona, and Tommy with Uncle Dan.  --1981

Mariaelena, Monique, Ramona, Tommy, David, and Jacob Raymond. -- 1982

Cousins ganging up on Uncle Tom.  -- July 4, 1986

Family wiffle ball game at Grandma Raymond's House.  Tommy is up to bat.  -- July 4, 1986

My mother, Kathy Raymond, getting a hit.  -- July 4, 1986

Celebrating the Fourth of July at Grandma Raymond's house.  David, Mariaelena, and Tommy Raymond. -- July 4, 1986


Grandma Raymond with my cousin, Jared.  My father is in the back with my Uncle Tom and Uncle Dan.  -- July 1988


Hanging out with my little cousin, Jared. -- July 1988


One of my favorite pics from Grandma Raymond's house.  Jared, David, Tommy, and Jacob Raymond. -- July 1988

My dad and Uncle Tom manning the grill.  -- July 18, 1993

Family gathering for Grandma Raymond'd birthday.  That is a 19 year old me on the right in the back. -- 1993

Looking back, the one thing I remember the most about my grandmother was how generous she was to me.  It's obvious to me now, as an adult, that she didn't have a lot of money to give away...but she always found a crisp dollar bill to give me after each visit.  She would offer to help, assist, or feed anyone who needed to be helped, assisted, or fed...and she did it graciously, with a smile, and with a sense of eternal optimism.  In the ultimate show of generosity, Grandma allowed me to live with her my senior year of college.  I won't sugar coat it...there were definitely some growing pains and adjustments that we both had to make...and we naturally butted heads a few times.  During the year I spent with her, my relationship with my grandmother increasingly became stronger.  I had always loved my Grandma Raymond...but the experience really helped me to understand her, respect her, and truly know her. Our days began and ended with conversations (something that still doesn't come easy to me) that helped bridge the gap between Generation X and the Greatest Generation.  By the time my stay with Grandma came to an end we had forged a close and unique bond that I still hold precious to this day.

I was a senior in college in the pic.  I enjoyed my free time playing my guitar on the bridge that crossed over the spring.  -- October 1, 1994

Grandma allowed me to convert her ONE extra room into my bedroom for the year that I stayed with her.  -- February 5, 1995

My grandmother, Mary Raymond, passed away in February 2006.  At the time I remember thinking that she, at least, got to see her beloved Pittsburgh Steelers win their 5th Super Bowl championship.  Even if they would have lost, she would have found the positive in it.  Baba had the ability to find the silver lining in any situation.  The day she looked  out the kitchen window to find her Ford Escort engulfed in fire in the driveway she just considered it a sign from God that she wasn't suppose to be driving anymore.  That's such vintage Mary Raymond!  That attitude and spirit greeted anyone who visited her and it was the reason why I liked the drive down Baba's Hill so much.


A picture of Mary Raymond with her four boys:  David, Dan, Tom, and Jim.  -- July 10, 2002



Life is a journey...not a destination.





I loved the bond I had with my grandmother.   This picture was taken in the summer of 1995 shortly after I graduated from college. -- July 1995

Feel free to FOLLOW me on TWITTER and INSTAGRAM
@mountnbiker73




All of my posts are available at ALL TRAILS LEAD TO ICE CREAM and, if you get the chance, be sure to visit the good folks at 
 and 


"WRITE SOMETHING WORTH READING OR DO SOMETHING WORTH WRITING..." Ben Franklin

Monday, April 13, 2020

OVER THE RIVER AND THROUGH THE WOODS, Part 1: GRANDPAP'S TANK

On the hill, stoically overlooking my Aunt Deb's house in Richeyville, Pennsylvania, is the town's water tank.  From the back seat of our parent's car, my brother and I would compete with each other to see which of us would be the first to see it.  The tank...which Jake and I referred to as "Grandpap's Tank"...was indication that the two hour drive to Grandpap and Grandma Morosky's house was near the end.  Every kid loves their grandparent's house...and I'm no exception.  Even now, as an adult, far removed from the back seat of my parent's car, I can still conjure so many memories of our countless trips to the place my mom and dad referred to as "home."  

On a number of occasions, my brother and I would walk up to the water tank in Richeyville.  For the 11 year old me, it was quite an adventure.  -- 1984

We all have memories of visiting our Grandparents....and I'd bet that yours, like mine, are pleasant.  Visiting my mother's parents, George and Rose Morosky, was something that I ALWAYS looked forward to when I was a young boy.  It meant family, togetherness, fun, and love.  There was plenty of relatives, food, and laughter.  Grandpap and Grandma's house was a place to gather and celebrate family...and in these times in which we are living now...we all can appreciate and cherish, more than ever, the ability to gather and laugh and love and hug.

My grandparents, George and Rose Morosky.  Grandpap was a retired steelworker and Grandma Rose worked as a waitress at the Nemacolin Country Club. -- 1981

If I close my eyes, I can still see my grandparents house and back yard the way it was when I was a kid.  The sidewalk on the right hand side of the house led to two different entrances to the the house...the basement or the kitchen.    For a child, walking into my grandparent's basement was like walking into a place of curiosity and adventure. The path to the upstairs led you past a corner shower and though a maze of hanging clothes.  It was near the shower where my cousins and I would crush thousands of aluminum cans for our grandmother to recycle.  The basement also contained other gems that I remember today:  a freezer that was guaranteed to have Klondike Bars in it, a chalk board against the back wall, a shelf under the steps stocked with games for the cousins to play, and Grandpap's mysterious workshop.  There was also an ever present cardboard box containing old newspapers at the bottom of the steps leading up into Grandma's kitchen.  To put newspapers in the box all one had to do was open the basement door from the kitchen and slide the recently read papers down the ramp into the box.


My grandmother, Rose Morosky, standing on the sidewalk next to her house in Richeyville.  The basement entrance to the house is directly over her right shoulder.  -- 1980

The chalkboard in my grandparents basement. -- August 3, 2019

I took this picture in my grandfather's old work area in the basement. -- August 3, 2019

Emanating from the top of the basement steps was the steam and smells of my grandmother's kitchen.  A Rose Morosky dinner was always something to look forward to.  I can still hear the rattling of the pressure cooker on the counter...which produced the most incredible roast beef I have ever eaten. Or, the sound that my grandmother's mashed potatoes made as she transferred them from the rubber spatula to my plate.  I recall that when I would remove the cabbage from the halupki and push it to the side my grandfather would tell me that I was wasting the best part.  To this day, I still associate Chop Suey with Hungarian food...there were often huge pots of it cooking on the stove for Sunday dinner.  On Saturday mornings, I could always count on Grandpap making Hungry Jack pancakes for my brother and I...each with a piece of butter on top that would melt into the middle of the pancake while it was still on the griddle.  The one smell that I most associate with my grandmother's kitchen is the smell of Lithuanian Christmas fish...my absolute favorite.  Still, today, I make piles of it at a time just to eat throughout the week.


Grandpap George Morosky passing out Christmas wafers to the grandkids.  That's me on the left sitting next to my cousin, Joshua.  -- December 24, 1981

Everybody gathered around the kitchen table.  Left to right, my father, Dave Raymond, ?, Aunt Debby, Aunt Judy, David Raymond, Grandma Rose, and Aunt Helen.  -- December 25, 1987

Grandma Rose watching over the kid's table. -- December 24, 1979

There were treats too.  At Christmas time, I couldn't wait to eat my grandmother's homemade gobs (unfortunately referred to as whoopie pies in other parts of the world) and pizzelles.  My grandfather would make his own root beer.  It had such an unique and distinct taste to it...and I'm sure that I'll never taste anything quite like it again.  There was always an ever present jar of stale pretzel rods on the counter next to the stove.  On hot summer days, we feasted on multitudes of push up popsicles and the aforementioned Klondike bars.  In the evening, while catching lightning bugs, my grandfather sliced watermelon for us all.  With watermelon juice running down our faces and onto our shirts we would spit the seeds into the grass.  On special occasions, we would be treated to George Morosky's bacon bread....basically a slab of bacon cooked over an open fire and then served on rye bread (which had been basted in bacon grease).  A coronary waiting to happen...but oh, how it tasted!


Eating watermelon on the steps leading into my grandparent's kitchen.  Left to Right:  Uncle George, Aunt Linda, and Aunt Rosanne. -- July 7, 1975

A birthday celebration for my Aunt Deb in the back yard.  Left to Right: My father, Dave Raymond, Aunt Deb, David Raymond, my mother, Kathy Raymond, Uncle Ed, Jacob, Bobby, and Grandma Rose. -- 1979

The very same back yard that we spit the seeds into also served as a small playground for us.  I remember that it had a small circular indentation where an above ground pool once was.  In the summer time there seemed to be endless numbers of Japanese Beatles flying to and fro from one yard to another.  Decorating the flower gardens were pinwheels made out of old aluminum soda cans.  The back yard also had a shed next to the alleyway.  Each house in the neighborhood had one in almost the exact same location.  The original purpose of the shed was to store coal that would be dropped off by the mining company. Eventually, the shed was converted to a playhouse for my mother and my aunts...and then a storage shed.


My grandparent's back yard with the swimming pool.  My Aunt Deb is walking past the shed that served as her playhouse when she was young.  The door to the shed is visible...later my grandfather would move the door to the far right side of the shed. -- 1975

My Aunt Rosanne hanging out with my cousins Kristen and Bobby.  One year old me has her attention.  -- 1974

A back yard table eventually replaced the swimming pool.  Sitting around the table is my grandmother, Rose Morosky, my brother, Jake, and Aunt Judy.  I'm in the foreground signing my cousin Kristen's cast.  -- June 1985

  I have mixed emotions about the part of my grandparents yard beyond the alley...the part we called "the hillside."  It was on the hillside that I saw my first snake.  I still vividly remember Grandpap George killing it with a garden rake and then dangling it on the end of the rake for me to see.  To a young boy, that was both scary and epic at the same time!  It was in a pen on the hillside that my grandfather kept his dog, Duke.  Duke didn't like me all that much...seeing that my first real memory of Duke is of him peeing on me.  Eight year old me just stood there in the summer heat and allowed it to happen (I was paralyzed).  It was in the alley and at the base of the hillside where Grandpap would burn the garbage. (Yes, in those days you apparently could just go outside and burn your trash.)  Grandma had her garden on the hillside...and she was so proud of it.  There was nothing worse though, than when we were older and were asked to cut the grass on the hillside.  It was a miserable chore which usually ended up with a horrible case of poison ivy.

My grandfather, George Morosky, on the hillside taking care of Duke.  -- 1980

My grandmother, Rose Morosky, working in her garden on the hillside. -- 1987

My grandmother, Rose Morosky.  She was super proud of her garden.  -- 1987
Grandma and Grandpap weren't the only people who made my childhood days in Richeyville so special.  My mother's  sisters...my Aunt Judy, Aunt Rosanne, and Aunt Deb played an integral part.  But it was time with my cousins that I really looked forward to.  In the hierarchy of cousins, I fell right in the middle.  I looked up to my older cousins...Bobby, Andy, Kristen, and Jean...and I loved hanging out with my younger cousins Tim, my brother, Jake, Joshua, Luke, Katie, and Sarah.  Even though we are all grown and spread so far apart, together we collectively share all of the memories, smells, and tastes, of the Morosky household.  Together we played wiffle ball on the slate dump...swung together on the swings at the nearby park...crammed into Grandma and Grandpap's kitchen for dinners...exchanged gifts at Christmas time...and watched cartoons and the Pittsburgh Steelers on the huge cabinet television that sat on the living room floor.  We all remember the line of people ready to have their hair cut by my mother and the newspaper that was spread out on the kitchen floor to catch the falling hair.  There's no way any of us could forget the high stakes card games that were played by the adults and older cousins at the kitchen table.  I bet we all recall that the Hungarian word "seggy" translated in English is "ass"  and that the normal tone of talking in the Morosky kitchen resembled something a little more closer to yelling.  


Cousins eating breakfast in Grandma's kitchen.  Who remembers fighting over who gets to read the back of a cereal box? -- 1978

Cousins gathered for Christmas.  Joshua Rendulic, Kristen Meyers, David and Jacob Raymond, and Jean Morosky.  -- 1978

Cousins...Bobby and Andy Meyers, Jacob & David Raymond, Timmy and Katie Meyers, Aunt Rosanne, Joshua Rendulic, and Kristen Meyers. -- 1982

Jacob and David Raymond, Joshua Rendulic, and Jean Morosky gathered in Grandpap and Grandma's back yard for Easter  -- 1981

Celebrating my cousin Luke's first birthday.  Plaid was in!  Katie and Timmy Meyers, David and Jacob Raymond, Luke Rendulic, Bobby and Andy and Kristen Meyers, and Joshua Rendulic.  -- 1981

David Raymond, Andy Meyers, Luke Rendulic, Kristen Meyers, Joshua Rendulic, Katie Meyers, Timmy Meyers, and Jacob Raymond -- December 24, 1985

Bobby, Andy, David, Kristen, Jacob, Tim, Joshua, Katie, Luke, and Sarah.  -- December 25, 1990

My grandfather, George Morosky, passed away in 1984 a few months prior to my 11th birthday.  It's obvious that he made some a huge impression on me.  I often joke to my own kids that I plan on making my grandchildren pancakes the exact same way that he made them for me.  Grandma Rose passed away in 2013.  As an adult I feel a little bit guilty that, at times, I wasn't as patient with her as I could have been...or that I wasn't conscience of the difficulties that she persevered through during her lifetime.  The two of them helped to make some of the most memorable of my childhood.  I was in Richeyville last summer visiting my Aunt Deb to work on some genealogy.  She lives in my grandparents house and it has never looked as good as it does now.  It was nice to visit and walk around and reminisce about my childhood...(and yeah, she had me trim the hedges in the back yard).  It is equally as nice to know that the property is being taken care of, the memories are as vivid as ever, and that Grandpap's Tank is still keeping a watchful eye over everything.


The Morosky household in Richeyville, PA.  The town's water tank (which my brother and I referred to as Grandpap's Tank) continues to keep watch from the hillside above the town.  -- August 3, 2019

Grandpap's Tank and the memories I have of the Morosky household are only part of my story...the remainder of the tale can be told just five miles down the road in a little place called Lowhill.
To be continued...

Life is a journey...not a destination.




David A. Raymond -- April 13, 2020

OVER THE RIVER AND THROUGH THE WOODS, Part 2: BABA'S HILL


George and Rose Morosky.  This picture says it all. -- 1981

Feel free to FOLLOW me on TWITTER and INSTAGRAM
@mountnbiker73




All of my posts are available at ALL TRAILS LEAD TO ICE CREAM and, if you get the chance, be sure to visit the good folks at 
 and 


"WRITE SOMETHING WORTH READING OR DO SOMETHING WORTH WRITING..." Ben Franklin