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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

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