Tag Archives: Owego

Revisiting the old neighborhood

6 Jan

Since Facebook began, it’s been a place where people can reconnect with old friends, old classmates and extended relatives. For those who long ago moved away from the towns where they grew up, as I have, there are plenty of Facebook groups to join where you can reminisce about old times.

My main “memories” group is called “Growing up OWEGO.” I don’t visit it too often, since I’ve found that most of the discussions involve people I never knew and years I was never there.

That definitely was not the case last week, however, when — thanks to Facebook — I reconnected with almost a dozen old friends and neighbors from the street where I grew up, and relived countless memories of the fun we had and friendships we shared.

It all began when my old neighbor and friend Ann Hartman Buckley posted on her Facebook page a blog I had written. It’s titled “We All Have a Story — This is Mine,” and it recalls how one of my high school English teachers, Linda Yanchus, said four simple words one day which changed the direction of my life.

That one post prompted more than 70 comments, just about every one of them from old friends and neighbors who lived on my street in Owego, NY back in the 1970s.

It was a delightful walk through memory lane — or down McMaster Street, I should say. Here are some of the memories we shared (I’m sure many are much like the things you remember growing up in simpler times):

  • “Remember making Laurie puke?”
  • “Your parents always let me take care of your pets when you went away on vacation. That $10 bought me a lot of candy at Mullens!”
  • “I do remember the night you, Janie, and I snuck out to watch the Pumelly house burn down. Your Dad ripped us a new one! We deserved it.”
  • To Mindy, my sister: “I have countless fond memories of you guys. The first time I met you, I walked by your house and you and Missy were using magnifying glass and the sunlight to burn holes through newspaper. I knew then that I was gonna hang out there more.”

We remembered playing “Go Go Go,” dodgeball, football and baseball in the neighbor’s spacious back yards, watching the Joie Chitwood Thrill Show at the fair, the community pool and sledding at the high school.

My brother Greg summed up a lot of it with one of his posts:

Our parents divorced just before we came to Owego and you guys and the neighborhood crew were a needed constant in our lives. I remember basketball in Richie, Ricky and little sis Mary Dee’s driveway, my first girlfriend, Karen, yard games behind Little Richie’s barn, cross country (Wayne), our bike gang, causing mischief each Halloween, baseball at Nick Raftis Park, adventures in the fire department’s hook and ladder company with Chris, fishing for suckers and anything else that would bite at the “crick” and Susquehanna River, Joie Chitwood at the fair, swimming at the pool, watching the Chiefs handle the Vikings with big Richie, Super Bowl 1970, and tackle football at Stackmore’s lot. (I thought I was tough until faced with tackling my good friend Paul).

A few people even remembered my mother fondly, and also recalled also taking English from Ms.Yanchus.

I lived in a handful of towns when I was young: Cedar Rapids, IA; Raytown, MO; Lake Zurich, IL. But when people ask me “Where did you grow up?” the answer is simple: I grew up on McMaster Street in Owego, NY, and I have the friends and memories to prove it.

Click here to read that original blog post.

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