My earliest memories are of little me in this neighborhood. Going next door to Dot Raidey’s kitchen to help myself to cookies from the drawer under her stove. Wiping out in a snow saucer with my mom, her laughing, face covered with snow, picking up her glasses that are also covered with snow. It was a short hill behind the Jefferson Elementary school across the street from our house on Lincoln Avenue. Brunish’s was just down the street, a tiny crowded store that I remember being in with my sister. Then down the street and up the hill was the big market. I called it the Baptist Baptist store and it was, in fact, the Second Baptist Washington Hill Market. I can remember walking to the back where there was a huge white cooler, the kind with meat and cold cuts with a glass front. There were chairs to the side, sometimes with older woman in them. I think I tried to walk behind the cooler into the butcher’s area. The women laughed at me and called for my mom. This photo shows that the store is closed now, but the building is still owned by the church.
I was born in 1952 and we left the neighborhood in 1956 or 57. I started walking to high school in 1967, over this hill and down Warren Street behind it to Pottstown High School. Walking home from school I passed the store and occasionally stopped in for a TastyKake Honeybun and an orange drink- both for a quarter. Different people worked the register up front in the store. I don’t remember any young people working, mostly older folks, all very welcoming and friendly to a kid. I remember one gentleman from this time, a man named Clapper White. I didn’t know at the time but he was an Olympic class weightlifter who gave up a spot on the Olympic team to work for the church. All I knew then was that he had arms as big around as my waist.
I stopped one day in tenth grade and as I approached the register an older woman was working. She looked at me and tilted her head a bit, squinting as she said, “Aren’t you Hazle’s boy?”
“Yes ma’am. My mother’s name is Hazle. We used to live over on Lincoln Avenue.” The last time this woman could have seen us together I was stumbling about the store looking very much like an almost three year old. How could she possibly remember that child when she was looking at the strapping, fully mature fifteen year old man in front of her now?
“Now you tell your momma we asked about her, and wish her real well.”
Yes ma’am, I didn’t forget.