Thursday, August 26, 2010

My Childhood in Food

Before I left DC, I did a little east coast touring. My mom came and we traveled to the Hometown market and then to Hazleton and Conyngham where I grew up.

This is the house that I consider my childhood home, although I realized when we went back to my "hometown" that my parents have actually lived in Portland, OR longer than we ever lived in Conyngham, PA. But this is the place where a young nerdy ninny concocted a pully system to bring books and potato chips to the top branches of the backyard tree. I can still remember the feeling of lolling on the brown carpet in the sunlight pouring through the formal living room window and the turquoise walls of my bedroom sanctuary where I had a pink telephone and the top of a bunk bed with my sister, Mo. There was Mrs. Ferrazano in the house behind us who cut pizza with scissors and paid $5 to mow her yard. The church parking lot that filled with puddles full of worms on rainy mornings - a perfect battleground for me and my brothers as we walked to the bus stop every morning on our way to Rock Glen Jr. High. This is the Valley Hi drive-inn. When I saw it, I freaked out because evidently it was somewhere important to my teenage years. The truth about the streets of the "big city" Hazelton is that it was and is a dump. But I didn't realize it as a kid...it was just the place where I grew up and the home of my friends.
You know memory is subjective, right? When I was a kid, all the richest kids seemed to be able to do all kinds of things that I NEVER got to do. Like eat icecream EVERYDAY at stewarts drive inn. This orange eyesore is right in the main strip of Conyngham (which consists of a grocery store and well...stewarts) and it features orange picnic tables and loads of shiftless youth after softball and football games. I made my mom get icecream there because I NEVER got to do it as a child (which she kindly reminded me is a falsehood. I actually had plenty of stewarts experiences).At the hometown market we ate every kind of delicious food that Pennsylvania has to offer.
Birch Beer. I don't really know what this stuff is, but you can only really get it in PA. Also, you can only really call it P.A. if you've lived there.


Whoopie Pies made by real amish ladies.

Pennsylvania pretzels. The only real pretzels.

The market was sweltering and smelled like new orleans in august. My mom likes to cool off with a little beverage.
My old young women's leader and her husband came to accompany us to the market. I was happy to show that I had overcome my painfully awkward phase and become just plain awkward (or painful...not sure which).

We bought senapes pizza and took a trip through the Gould's IGA. It was the perfect trip down memory lane and now I can safely say that I don't need to go back. Ever.
However, my family is another story. I am very aware that this time on the East Coast with my mom's extended family was a gift. My nan and pap and their scary freezer food. My crazy great aunt katie who now knows how to use predictive text because of me and sends me pictures of herself kissing her dog Bandit goodmorning. My 30 + cousins and their children, my uncles and aunts who are easy to be with not because we have anything in common but because we share something more important than interests...memories, ancestry, history, blood.

3 comments:

Nancy said...

Scrapple? Was it a part of your PA upbringing? If not, how did you avoid it?

Ninny Beth said...

nancy pants...that's in the next post. hahahahahahaha. I love scrapple. Don't judge me.

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