My aunt and I both celebrated birthdays this month. She’s now 89 and I’m 20 years younger. She called to say she had been thinking about the day I was born. She was a student nurse and tried to get time off to be present at the birth of her only niece, but it wasn’t allowed. Things were different in 1951. The word no meant no and there was no arguing.

Birthdays are good days for reflection. I thought about how things have changed in our communities. In 1951, the first direct dial coast-to-coast phone call was made, creating a necessity for seven digit phone numbers and signaling the end of operators. Remember picking up the phone and hearing an operator ask for the number? When my grandmother wanted to place a call to Italy, the operator had to be informed that she wanted an overseas call, and she was instructed to hang up and wait for a call back when the connection was made. It might take a half hour or more. What would my grandmother think if she saw me make a direct call to cousins in Umbria? No waiting. That triggered a memory of being in my friend Shirley’s house and listening in on someone’s party line conversation. Thank goodness that’s a thing of the past.

Color TV was introduced in 1951 and I Love Lucy was the big show. Not everyone owned a television set, but if you did, it was like a shrine in your home. Everyone was mesmerized by it and even sat in front of it to eat meals, creating a need for a fold-able TV tray. If the TV went on the fritz, a call was made to the repairman, Rudy Taddei, and waiting for his house call seemed like an eternity.

When my grandfather died, our television was physically removed from the house and stored in the garage for a year of mourning, but my dad missed it too much so it was returned before too long. A year of mourning. Can you imagine? Today you’re lucky to get an hour. My grandfather and, much later, my grandmother were both waked in our living room for three days instead of the easier vigil at Gubbiotti’s Funeral Home. No calling hours. People just came whenever, well into the night, hanging out and telling jokes in the kitchen, where there was plenty to eat and drink thanks to the neighbors.

Finding food and drink was not a problem in those days. There was a tavern on every street and a little grocery store on practically every block. My grandmother owned one on Seventh Street,which Antoinette Mazzarella took over before she opened her own next door. How about gas stations around town? There were four in a row on the avenue — Catell’s, Santarelli’s, Sleboda’s and Steiner’s, plus Castellani’s and Emershaw’s on Eighth Street. They filled your tank for pennies as they washed your windshield and checked your oil.

There were diners like Joe’s, famous for foot long hot dogs, the Wyo Inn, and Orlandini’s. My parents used to go to the Main Diner in Exeter after all-night bowling at Avenue Lanes. There was also a bowling alley on Lincoln Street, maybe Bonomo’s, but I may be wrong.

Before CVS and Walgreen’s, there were Jacoby’s, Bowen’s and Stapleton’s. No need to go to Lowe’s, we had Isaac and Jenkins Hardware, Townend’s and Shoemaker’s. We even had a department store, Klugar’s, and a movie theater. I guess our town has changed more than I first thought. Sounds like I lived in a bustling city, but I grew up before malls, chain stores, franchises and big box stores. We were able to get everything we needed within a mile of home.

I could go on and list many more little businesses in Wyoming, West Wyoming, and Exeter, but I’m getting carried away with myself, as usual. Time to pull myself out of my reverie and come back to reality. My classmates and I, graduates of the Class of ’69, were planning a picnic/birthday party for ourselves this year, but COVID-19 canceled that, as it’s canceling so many of our favorite activities. We all know how our kids will remember this year when they’re old and gray and have time to reflect. Hang in there, folks. Better days are coming.

Food giveaway

Wyoming, West Wyoming, and Exeter residents are eligible for free food from the Al Beech Food Pantry from 9 to 11 a.m. Tuesdays at Church of Christ Uniting, 786 W. Market St., Kingston. Proof of income is not required, but proof of residence is. This is drive through only. Remain in your car and food will be placed in your trunk. Everyone is welcome.

Wyoming notices

Wyoming Department

  • of Public Works is seeking application for a street laborer. For information, contact Jim Tregan at 570-693-0291, ext. 102
  • The borough building has reopened, using all suggested safety measures. Masks are required to enter.
  • No political signs or advertisements may be posted on tree lawns. They may be placed in your yard.
  • Wyoming Borough yard waste will be picked up the first and third Saturday through November, except for July. The next pick up will be July 25. The following are considered yard waste: grass clippings, branches, leaves, and weeds. Dirt is not yard waste. Waste must be placed in reusable containers or 30 gallon biodegradable paper bags. Branches must be tied in 4-foot lengths. If not properly bagged or tied, it may be left behind.
  • Residents are asked not to put trash and recycling bins out earlier than the evening before scheduled collections. Some cans and bins are put out early and trash ends up littering the street. Remember, recycling is only every other week. Please do not leave recycling bins on tree lawns on other days. If trash, recycling, or yard waste is not picked up on the scheduled day, report it immediately to J P Mascaro so they can dispatch workers to your residence. Also inform the borough so it can be reported to the Mascaro site manager. Mascaro’s phone number is 1-800-243-7575.

Pay your bills to the borough with credit cards online at wyomingpa.org. Sanitation fees for 2020 are now in the delinquent phase. A $50 late fee will be applied, bringing the cost to $300. Vacant properties are not exempt from fees. No cash payments will be accepted. Check or money order should be made out to Wyoming Borough Sanitation. Rental property owners are responsible, not the tenant. At this time, the borough building is closed to the public. All bills owed to the borough may be placed in the secure box outside the entrance to the building.

Face period for property taxes is extended to Aug. 18.

Wyoming Free Library

Wyoming Free Library announced hours of operation will be 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. The library is closed Thursday and Sunday. Patrons are asked to wear masks, enter through the front door and exit through the back door. A maximum of 15 patrons may be in the library at one time. Items can be returned to the bin outside and will be quarantined for three days, then disinfected. For information, visit the Facebook page and at www.wyomingfreelibrary.com.

To celebrate its 93rd anniversary, the library is selling Wyoming Free Library tote bags. Donation is $10. For information, visit www.wyomingfreelibrary.com or the library’s Facebook page.

Brackney Leather is selling cloth face masks for $5, with $3 from each mask sold being donated to the Wyoming Free Library and the Wyoming Recreation Board. A wide variety of colors and patterns is available. Order on Brackney’s Facebook page. Pickup time outside the warehouse on Susquehanna Avenue will be arranged.

First Presbyterian news

First United Presbyterian Church is not conducting public services but services are being broadcast live on Facebook at 11 a.m. Sundays. Look for the live stream at First United Presbyterian of West Pittston/Wyoming. Also, Zoom Bible study and prayer are held every Wednesday. Call 570-609-5410 for information or visit presbywp.org.

U.M. Church news

United Methodist Church resumed services July 5. Please wear a mask and enter through the kitchen. Services are held in the social room. Everyone will be asked to sign in at the door. There will be no singing and all possible precautions will be taken. For information, call 570-693-2821.

West Wyoming notices

  • Greater Pittston Regional Ambulance announced the membership drive for West Wyoming residents has begun. Residents have been mailed membership packets. Call 570-654-1202 with questions. Thank you in advance for your support.
  • Sanitation bills are due. All residents must pay this bill. The cost is $300. Pay by credit card at www.westwyoming.org. Mastercard and Discover will be accepted.

Exeter notices

Waste Management will resume a limited bulk pickup of one item per week per Exeter household. Bulk stickers are $35 for each item, including small furniture, carpets, mattress or appliances. To purchase a sticker, call 570-654-3001, ext. 2.

  • The penalty phase for refuse stickers began July 1 and cost for a sticker is $250. It is mandatory to purchase a sticker. Police will cite anyone without a sticker. At this time, the borough building is closed to the public. All bills owed to the borough should be mailed to Exeter Borough Refuse, 1100 Wyoming Ave., Exeter, PA 18643 or placed in the secure payment box outside the borough building. Make checks or money orders out to Exeter Borough. No cash will be accepted. For information, call Lynda at 570-654-3001, ext. 2.
  • Payments can be dropped off at the secure payment box located at the entrance of the borough building outside for the following: trash, taxes, tickets, building permits, and dumpster permits. Please call 570-654-3001 for information or visit our website at www.exeterborough.com/.

WA kindergarten registration

Janet Serino, Wyoming Area superintendent, announced registration of students who will be attending kindergarten in the 2020-21 school year will be conducted online. Parents can go to the Wyoming Area web page, www.wyomingarea.org, and follow links for registration.

Children must be 5 years old by Aug. 31, 2020 to enter kindergarten, inclusive and without exception. A birth certificate as evidence of age must be provided upon registration. Proof of residence also must be presented. These include deed, signed lease agreement, or property tax bill, plus a current utility bill for the residence, check stub for wages, public assistance, or social security.

State law requires children attempting to enroll must have proper immunizations. Required immunizations are listed on the website.

Children will receive required screenings.

For information, contact the Department of Student Registration at the Wyoming Area High School. 570-655-2836, ext. 2334.

WA reopening plans

Superintendent Janet Serino has announced that Wyoming Area is working on three plans for reopening school in the fall. If still in the green phase, there will be a hybrid of in school and online instruction. Classrooms will be modified for social distancing and all recommended precautions will be taken. If Luzerne County goes back to yellow, all instruction will be online.

Barbara Bullions writes about Exeter, Wyoming and West Wyoming every week. To list an item, email barbarabullions@gmail.com or call 570-301-2185 by Monday.

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