Thursday, October 13, 2011

On the Road to West Virginia: A Side Trip

As I mentioned, I spent last weekend visiting my sister Lori, in Morgantown, West Virginia. I drove down there on Friday. It was a gorgeous day, there was little traffic, and I made good time. I was heading south on I-79 by 3:30 pm, and decided to take a detour through Coraopolis & Moon Township.

My family moved to Moon Township in 1959 or 60. I can't remember the year exactly, but I believe we moved on Halloween. We lived in this house until 1975, when we moved to a house on Christler Court.

143 Claridge Dr, Coraopolis PA
My parents planted that maple, and it was a sad looking thing all the time we lived there. It grew straight up, and seemed like it would never fill out. (One of my brothers, and his friend, used a hatchet on it once, carving quite a scar on the trunk; that probably didn't help it any!) But look at it here, towering over the house, with branches that spread nicely.

You can just make out some steps coming from the back, on the left side of the house. I didn't feel comfortable traipsing over the property, but it looks like someone built a deck off the dining room, and those steps would  be from that deck. My parents talked about building such a deck, but it was always just a dream for them.

The wall along the driveway has been replaced since we lived there; the original wall was built of flat, irregular stones. Judging from the landscaping, the wall was probably replaced fairly recently. But the driveway is the same. I can remember the skill required to get a car up and down that driveway, especially in winter. And the snow would drift up in that corner where the wall, the house, and the driveway came together; what a challenge to shovel those drifts!

Mom used to grow chrysanthemums along that wall. I can remember playing in the flower bed, with small cowboy and horse figures, imagining they were riding through a great forest.

On my way back through town, I stopped by the Coraopolis Library.

Coraopolis Memorial Library

During the summer, Mom would regularly drive us to the library, to stock up on books. But I don't remember this building. In my memory, the library was squarish, and yellow / beige, not this red brick building with wings. I went inside and talked to the woman at the desk. She said this was the original library, built in 1955 (or '53 or '54, depending on which source you believe). The inside seemed more familiar to me, and of that era. I wondered if perhaps there had been some sort of renovation, but she said not.

This is a view of the wall, in between those two wings. If you look closely, you can see what looks like a concrete step, under the window. I wonder if that used to be the front of the library, and if there used to be a door there, instead of the window. I googled a bit, but can't find anything to confirm my suspicions. Maybe my siblings will remember a red brick library, instead of my fond recollection of a quite different building!

My last stop was at the Mt Calvary Presbyterian Church (at least, that's what I think this used to be; apparently it is now simply the Presbyterian Church of Coraopolis). This is the church we attended until I was 12, when we were baptized in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

I sang in the youth choir, joined youth group activities, attended summer Bible school, participated in Christmas programs, went to summer camps; my memories of this church are good. I remember attending a mother-daughter luncheon with Mom & Lori; they served tea, which held no appeal for me, and Mom said I didn't have to drink it (why do I remember that?!?). I remember singing Tell Me the Stories of Jesus, which is my earliest memory of church music.

We would often go out to eat after church services, to the local Howard Johnson's restaurant (where Paul always ordered red jello cubes). I also remember several Sundays when, after church services, we walked to a nearby building and received the polio vaccine, via sugar cubes. It seems to me that we did this 2 or 3 times. It was painless & sweet! Apparently this was in 1964, according to this Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article.

This reminds me of the coffee that was served after church services. There were sugar cubes, and we would try to grab a couple, so we could give them to a horse that lived in our neighborhood. (Sugar cubes were quite a novelty!)

The color of the building surprised me; I remember it being much darker, as is this nearby church:

Sometimes in the summer, our pastor & the pastor of this other church (which was just a block away from our church) would take turns going on vacation, and the congregations would meet together.

I finally tore myself away from memory lane, and got back on the road to WV. That, however, will have to wait for another blog post.

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