Grandma’s Memories: Part I


“This is Peggy Barbour Straughen and I am on my way back to Ohio from a family reunion and I thought I would report some of my childhood memories of my grandparents. As I am speaking of this, I am now 60 years old.  Let’s see…”

My grandmother grew up in south-central Pennsylvania, living for a time in Shippensburg but growing up mostly in Chambersburg. In 1997 she recorded a tape recounting memories from her childhood and transcribed it. These are some of Peggy’s memories in her own words.

Part I: Holidays in Newburg

Peggy’s Maternal Grandparents: David Coleman and Anna Mary (Craig) Coleman

I remember my grandparent’s porch in Newburg, [Pennsylvania] but before they lived in Newburg, they lived on a farm outside of Newburg and I remember that very well. I would go to Grandma and Grandpa’s to visit a week or so every summer. Grandma would always make Lemon Sponge Pies for me because she knew how much I loved them. That was a special treat. As some of the nephews said at the reunion, Grandma Coleman was a very loving person. You never went away hungry. She always had a warm laugh, ready to hold you, and hug you.

Both she and Grandpa were very active in the United Brethren, then EUB, later Methodist, although when they were alive it was not Methodist yet – Church in Newburg. Both Grandma and Grandpa taught Sunday School and I loved to go to church with them when I visited them; I loved singing the old hymns there. There was great pride sitting with them in church, being introduced as ‘this is Peggy, Pauline’s daughter’ and so I got to know lots of the people around Newburg.

I have memories of marching in parades in Newburg. I was a Girl Scout in Chambersburg at the time, first as a Brownie and then as a Junior Scout. At home we had our Memorial Day parade on the day, but in Newburg, they always had their parade on the Sunday before the actual date. We would always go to Newburg for this and I would march in their parade. Everyone in town would gather up at a ‘village green’ afterwards for patriotic speakers and music… The lady (Mrs. Rebok) who lived next door to the ‘green’ was a close friend of my Grandma’s and she had a granddaughter, from Philadelphia, who usually came for Memorial Day. She was about my age and had red hair. We would have lots of fun running around the bandstand, watching the people and ducking under the fence between her G’ma’s yard and the ‘green’. Just lots of good memories.

Then speaking of parades, I also marched in the Memorial Day parades in Shippensburg, where my other set of grandparents lived. It was a little larger town; the parade was a little bigger. Again there was great pride in marching and hearing people point to me and say ‘That’s Bob Barbour’s daughter’. Our destination in Shippensburg was always the Spring Hill Cemetery, where many of my ancestor’s on both sides of the family are buried.

Some of my other fond memories of growing up are the wonderful family gatherings and meals at my Grandma and Grandpa Coleman’s. I know we gathered there, particularly for Easter meals and celebrations though we sometimes went to my Aunt Mary Mohn’s farm outside of Newburg also. There were always Easter egg hunts and the kids would have to stay inside the house while the adults, usually the men, hid the eggs. My fondest egg memories were finding the ones that had been colored using onion skins; they were a beautiful bronze color. Those were my favorite ones to find and I never have been able to duplicate that color. There were wonderful meals at those family gatherings. The family was too large to sit around the table at one time, and you did not eat with food on your lap in the living room so we had two, or maybe even on occasions, three seatings. The children were told which seating they were to eat at, and I usually had the second seating as did most of the other kids and many of the men. We always looked forward to moving up or when there were fewer people there to be able to eat with the adults. But it was fun because the adults, mostly the women who ate first, would serve us our meals at the second seating. The Easter gatherings were the annual occasion for seeing all your cousins and all your relatives who never quite seemed to get together any other time of the year – all at once anyway. And so you had lots of fun playing with cousins that you had not seen in quite awhile. Somehow as we get older, we lose that closeness with those cousins who were so very important to us then.

A part of my life when I was growing up were these weekly, sometimes two or three Sundays out of the month, trips to visit my grandparents. Of course, if my Dad [an undertaker] had a funeral on Sunday, then we would not go that Sunday. But with great regularity, after church on Sunday afternoon —- well let me backtrack for a minute – after church, at 12:15, my Dad sponsored a program on WCHA, the local radio station. It was a 15 minute program of hymns and that was the only form of advertising which was socially acceptable in those days for funeral directors. I remember we always had to be home from church in time to hear my Dad’s program – brought to you by ‘the funeral home of friendly service’ – that was his motto. That was followed at 12:30 by “Your Hit Parade”. Of course as I grew into my teen years, I had to listen to ‘Your Hit Parade’ – all the popular songs like “The Tennessee Waltz” and some of those I remember. Anyway after lunch, we would all get in the car and head down to Grandma Coleman’s house and my Dad knew all the back roads down through Pleasant Hall and we would eventually come out on the Roxbury road. We would spend much of the afternoon at Grandma’s. Sometimes we would stay for dinner – usually we stayed for dinner, but not always.


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