REFLECTIONS

Bean Days And Visiting Relatives

  The summer days were really enjoyable, because I had a lot of exciting things to do. My recollections are a bit hazy about the exact time: maybe I am going back in time to the years before school, or maybe to the school days. It doesn't really matter; the point is I have some fond memories to share. I remember the early years when my grandfather and grandmother Bowser would take me along to Lakemont Park. There was the celebration called the Grand Army of the Republic "Bean Days". They would serve soup beans that they cooked in a large iron kettle. All you needed to do was purchase a tin cup for five cents and you could get it filled as many times that you desired. If you took your own tin cup there was no charge. The Grand Army of the Republic were veterans of the Civil War. They had this celebration once every year to remind themselves and others of what they ate and how they ate during the war. After the lunch of beans and water or coffee (nothing else) they had a sham battle. They had sides representing the Blue and the Gray; they fired blanks from their muskets. This was terribly exciting and frightening to us children. It was usually late when we got home, and I would talk about it for many days afterwards.

  Then I remember the times that my dad would take my mother and I, and sometimes my Aunt Laura, to Hollidaysburg, and we would ride the trolley car into Altoona and visit Olive Ebersole. She entertained us, and after a while that seemed an awful long time, she served us a dinner of fried bologna and other things that I donít remember. I was enthralled with the bologna because we never had it at home. They talked of things that a small child did not understand. Sometimes we would walk a few blocks from her home to the Grantís Five And Dime store. There was always that frosty mug of Root Beer drawn from a large barrel that had the words Hires Root Beer painted on it. That seemed to a five-year-old, as about the closest he would come to heaven. One time we visited Olive, she gave me a small rat terrier called Tiny. I had her until about 1940.

  Another cousin we visited was living in Lakemont. She was my grandmother Bowserís half sister and Uncle Elmerís sister. Her name was Pearl Wolf. Her husband was Harry, and he was nice to be around. They had one son who was killed when he either fell off an ice delivery truck or was run over. Our visits to Pearl's house were different. She usually made boiled hot dogs for lunch, and after lunch we would all walk down over a hill in back of their house to Lakemont Park. I would get to ride the Leap-The-Dips, which I thought was the fastest and most thrilling ride ever made. It cost a nickel to ride, but I was thrilled that I was able to be riding it. As a side note, it had been idle for several years, but has been restored and began service again in May, 1999. These were cherished summers in my memories.

  I owe most of the visits to my mother, because my dad did not go anywhere, only occasionally. Mother was a dreamer and would have done many things if she would have had the money to do so.

  Those were the longest trips I made until I was around 15 or 16 when I was a delegate to the Annual Conference of the Eastern District Mennonites of North America. I traveled with our minister, Rev. John S. Raugh, to places like Allentown and Philadelphia.

  In thinking back I remember our few trips to Bill Rhodes' store in East Freedom. My dad would go there for the necessary things that we needed. There was flour, sugar, syrup and a few other things. Sometimes mother would send a few dozen of eggs to trade. I usually had a nickel to spend on candy, but making the choice was usually hard to do.