Grandma’s Memories: Part VII

DSC00720“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 VII: The House on Second Street

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The red brick funeral home on the left and the white house the family lived in later on the right.

So my parents moved to Chambersburg and my Dad worked for Mr. Kraiss. There was an apartment over the funeral home and we lived there. Because it was over the funeral home, every time there was a funeral or viewing, we either had to leave the apartment or I was cautioned over and over and over to be quiet.

Another part of growing up was that phones were not for socializing; they were business phones. Any calls I made as I became older, had to be very short. I would have to tell friends that this was a business phone and I couldn’t talk very long. Maybe that’s why I grew up not liking to make telephone calls! I still remember our old number – 813.

We were still living above the funeral home when my sister was born in 1946. I was nine years old. I had been sent to spend a week at Grandma Coleman’s when she was born, but I was unaware of the reason.

I also remember the end of WWII while we were living above the funeral home. My Dad was a member of the Civilian Defense and I can remember putting down all the blinds for blackouts. My Dad had a billy club (now owned by my son) and he would put on his CD helmet when he went out. He was an air raid warden who looked for planes. I remember sitting huddled in the living room with my Mother with the lights out in the dark waiting for him to come back and signal that the air raid warnings were over. Those are the only memories I have of WWII.

But not too long after my sister was born, Mr. Kraiss died – I’m not sure he died first, but anyway, my Dad bought the business from him and that was a very tough financial move for him. But they managed and a few years later, my Dad got a helper and we moved over to the house next door at 154 S. Second St. Of course that is the home that I remember growing up in. I don’t have many memories of my bedroom in the apartment, but I have very clear memories of the house on Second St., because that is where I lived until I got married, or until I went away to school in 1955.

One of the things I remember about that house on Second St. was that my Mother always had a blue and yellow kitchen. The kitchen was at the back of the house, but there was a door that went over to the front of the funeral home and from the window, we could see if anybody ever came to the funeral home. or in the driveway. So it was a long narrow kitchen and I have warm memories there.

Well I forgot to tell you a little bit about my bedroom as I was growing up – My bedroom was at the front of the house on Second St. Of course, Second St. was Route 11. It was a business route, heavily traveled by trucks. At the street corners to the left and right of our house, were traffic lights. The trucks would just start to get up steam and by the time they got in front of our house they would have to start to brake. It was very noisy, but it was also very interesting. I learned to live with the noise.

Nights when I could not sleep or it was too hot to sleep or it was storming out, I would often go to the windows – they had very wide window sills- and look out on Route 11; it was always interesting. While I was in grade school, my best friend lived across the street from me- her name was Lois Carver- she was one year older than I, and we would have flashlight signals back and forth or play flashlight tag at night. So that was always kind of fun, too. I often played across at Lois’s house. She also had a huge mulberry tree in her back yard that was really messy. At home, I slept in a double bed, which I loved and with my windows open most every night.

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