Picture it. Wyoming, Pennsylvania. Late 1950s. It’s Christmas season. Miss DiMirico’s art students are painting snow scenes in store windows as shoppers rush in and out, purchasing gifts like Jean Nate bath powder from Jacoby’s pharmacy, a new blouse from Fay’s, or a pair of khaki chinos at Klugar’s.
At school, our teachers know we are too excited to learn anything dull, so they keep us busy with construction paper, scissors, cotton balls, and glue. We watch the minutes tick by on the wall clock next to George Washington’s portrait, until, at last, the principal rings a bell announcing our reprieve. We grab our coats, mittens, and boots from the cloak closet and stampede across polished wooden floors, down concrete stairs and out huge metal doors to freedom. Once released, freezing temperatures don’t keep us inside. We play until the sun goes down frosty air carries the voices of moms calling us to supper.
In our homes, windows sweat and walls are decorated with dozens and dozens of cards from friends and relatives, delivered by a mailman who is so overburdened he comes twice a day. The older kids meet after dark to carol throughout the neighborhood as we are tucked tightly under chenille bedspreads.
On Sunday afternoons, half the town could be found skating down on the flats, but Saturdays were spent at the movies. Oh, the Wyoming Theatre. It holds a special place in the hearts of my generation. My friends and I never missed a two o’clock matinee. No parent had to drop us off; we just walked (rushed, actually) down Seventh Street and around the corner, past Mrs. Barber’s house, past the shoemaker’s shop, finally arriving breathless at the ticket window. Twenty-five cents.
Children on the loose alone? No worries. Every block had at least one older woman who peeked out past her curtains to see who was passing, assuring no funny business in her neighborhood. At the theater, Mr. Marinos and the younger Mr. Marinos kept a close watch on all who entered. We liked to sit in the row by the fire escape doors because there was a big gap to stretch our legs. Every hour spent there — in an era when our TVs were tiny, black and white, and carried only three channels — was magical and hypnotic. We left singing songs from the latest musicals or acting out dramatic scenes of our favorite players.
But the big event of the Wyoming Theatre, of the whole Christmas season, was the annual Christmas party. On that day, it seemed every child in the valley came to the movies. We sat wherever we could squeeze ourselves, two in a seat, to watch a child appropriate movie and when it ended, Santa arrived to give out presents — popcorn balls, colored candies as shiny as glass, and a little spinning Christmas tree. To see a real, live Santa was a rare occurrence. We were thrilled.
My grandmother had a grocery store in her house on Seven Street that provided housewives with the traditional Christmas Eve foods — smelts, baccala, calamari and other fish. I hated the scents that wafted into our side of the double block house, but I knew they signaled the best night of the year. What a night it was. Everyone dressed up for dinner. My mom wore a frilly little Christmas apron to protect her dress, earrings, and bright red lipstick. Adults drank high balls in the good glasses from the china closet. Anticipation grew through dinner as I imagined what toys Santa might bring. How was a kid to fall asleep? Of course, Santa won’t come if you’re awake, so one year, my dad climbed onto the roof outside my bedroom and stamped his feet. I jumped under the covers and closed my eyes shut tight.
Christmas is seen best through a child’s eyes, which, I guess, is why I love to relive my childhood memories again and again. In my mind, I see my parents and grandparents as though they are still with me. In a way, they are. It’s my favorite Christmas gift.
I hope you don’t mind my sentimental musing, and may they trigger some memories of your own and make you smile. May this holiday season bring you many happy moments that you will treasure again and again. Have a very merry Christmas!
First Presbyterian caroling and holiday services
First United Presbyterian Church will be caroling Sunday evening, Dec. 23, in Wyoming and West Pittston, spreading some Christmas cheer to shut-ins.
The Christmas Eve candlelight service of lessons and carols will be held at 7:30 p.m. Monday, Dec. 24, in the church sanctuary, This will be a combined service of the West Pittston and Wyoming Presbyterian congregations. All community members are invited to attend.
Salvation Army bell ringing
I saw the Exeter Lions ringing the Salvation Army bell at Price Chopper.
Members of the Wyoming Rotary Club will be there Saturday, Dec. 22. Say hello and drop a buck in the kettle.
Wyoming Hose Company
No. 1 fund drives
Wyoming Hose Company No. 1 would like to thank everyone who donated to its annual boot drive that recently took place at the Midway Shopping Center. Everyone’s generosity is greatly appreciated.
Also, as a reminder, the hose company’s annual fire drive donation request has recently been mailed. Please donate any amount you are able to give. If you misplaced the form or did not receive one, please drop you donation off at, or mail to, the Wyoming Borough Building, 277 Wyoming Avenue, attention Wyoming Hose Company No. 1.
Wyoming Hose Company No. 1 continues to serve Wyoming residents and businesses, as well as our neighboring communities through your donations.
Wyoming Borough notices
Wyoming Borough has announced temporary office hours. Offices will be open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. until noon.
Residents are asked to use the secure payment box located next to the entrance to pay for trash stickers, parking tickets and taxes.
Taxes are now in the penalty phase and are due by the end of the year.
There is a correction to the trash collection calendar. The last recycling day of this year was Dec. 19. In January, recyclables will be collected Jan. 2, 9 and 23.
The 2019 garbage fee is now due. The discount price of $190 is in effect until Feb. 6. Face value of $200 will be until May 15. After that, the cost will be $250.
Scouting for Food
The annual Scouting for Food Program of Exeter Cub Scout Pack 310 and Troop 311 is now underway.
Scouts are collecting non-perishable food items to be donated to a local food pantry. Each Exeter resident will receive a flyer from a scout listing the date and time when they will be collecting donations. Please attach the flyer to your bag of donated items and place it on your front porch.
Call 570-881-4052 for information.
Exeter Borough refuse stickers for 2019 are now available. Prices remain the same as last year. Stickers will be in rebate period until Feb. 28 at a cost of $150; $110 for seniors 65 and older. Proof of age is required.
From March 1-31, the regular price of $180 will be charged; $130 for senior citizens.
April 1, the stickers will go into penalty and the price for anyone who hasn’t purchased a sticker will be $250.
Stickers can be purchased at the Exeter Borough Building from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Monday through Friday. Stickers also can be purchased by mail by sending a self addressed, stamped envelope to Exeter Borough Refuse Department, 1101 Wyoming Ave., Exeter, PA 18643. Please use a long business size envelope.
For information, call Lynda at 570-654-3001, ext. 2.
Barbara Bullions writes about Exeter, Wyoming and West Wyoming every week for Greater Pittston Progress. To include an item in her column, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 570-301-2185 by Monday.