Many Pleasant Memories And Some History On A Snowy December Morning Walk In Green Ridge
It wasn’t a lot of snow, not for December in my home in Green Ridge in Northeastern Pennsylvania. Two inches fell overnight last Sunday. However, it was enough to create a ‘winter wonderland” in my back yard and in my “Green Ridge” neighborhood in Hazle Township in southern Luzerne County. I am not a fan of snow and ice anymore. It is hard walking on the slippery stuff with my old bones and muscles. But I will admit the snow did create a beautiful Winter scene in my backyard.
The roads were mostly snow free. It was around 30 degrees, about average, it could be a lot colder around here in December. It was still way too cold for me. I am a Summer and warm weather lover. I decided to take my camera along and photograph some of the beauty of the first snowfall. And, as I walked I thought I would share some memories of the streets of Green Ridge and neighboring borough of West Hazleton, the streets where I grew up.
and walking down to Winters Avenue where my parents home was located. On Winters Avenue I walk east toward West Hazleton. To the west the road would take you to what we knew, growing up in the “ridge” as Kress’s junk yard. It is now know as Harry’s U Pull It. At one time there was a picnic ground here and circuses would perform in the Summer . The oldtimers in our neighborhood would tell us stories of elephants marching down Winters Avenue and North Street.
My morning walk takes me past my parents house located in the middle of the 800 block of Winters Avenue. So many wonderful memories in this house on the left in this photo . We lost both my parents now and my beloved sister Linda too, but the love we shared, and those precious memories will always be with me. When my parents were alive I would stop here every morning on my walk. It’s been five years now since we lost mom and those visits, sadly, ended.
Continuing on my walk, at the next intersection I came to Kreshock’s hill. We would spend many a cold Winter day, and night, sledding recklessly down this steep hill when it snowed. Snow was only plowed back then, they didn’t apply salt to the roads, and so they were snow covered for weeks.
I had a paper route as a child and would pass papers to many of these homes. I a had cousins living on these next two blocks. At the beginning of the 600 block of Winter Avenue was the famous Gertie Sypeck’s store, one of the many small family stores in the “Ridge”
This store is also on the border between the Green Ridge section of Hazle Township, where I live, and the Borough of West Hazleton. Hazle Township was really just another “patch” town. It had no streets lights, or stop signs, or police when I was growing. The main streets were in poor condition and the alleys were dirt and rutted. It was the “bad” or “poor” side of town. I loved growing up here.
On the other side of the street was West Hazleton. It had street lights, stop signs , a police force and good roads. Although the entire area west of Broad Street was originally part of Hazle Township and known as Green Ridge, the residents of Hazle Township section considered themselves, me included, to be the true Green Ridge” or Ridge Runners. But even though we were in another jurisdiction , West Hazleton residents welcomed us and we played on their Little League teams, swam in their 5th street pool, attended their parades and Christmas tree lightings and parties, and attended their schools. We had the best of both worlds the ” lawlessness” of a patch town and the amenities of a modern town.
Well, back to my walk on Winters Avenue, I continued on my morning walk and on the next block, the 500 block. I also had cousins living here, and pretty much every block in Green Ridge. There was a bar on this block, Tobin’s Bar, which closed before I was able to drink there. At the end of the 400 block were two more family stores, Vercusky’s, a small butcher shop on the left, and, on the right Dubovick’s or Skimbo’s store, I bought many comic books, ice cream and candy from Eva and her sons in Dubovick’s store. Next to Dubovick’s is where my great grandmother Mary Bunk , and her son George lived. She was born in Poland and died the year after I was born. Her husband Jacob died in 1926, My dad often visited his uncle in his wood workshop here, with me tagging along.
On the next block I leave Winters Avenue on my morning walk and head down to Ridge Avenue. In the past I would walk up the 300 block to visit my aunts Mary, Betty and Annie who all lived on this block. My paternal grandmother also lived here for eight years before her death in 1971, She was born in Poland and immigrated here as a very young child with her siblings , Catherine, Blanche, George and Matthew.. She briefly lived in the 600 block of Green Ridge, where my dad was born, until she moved to Crystal Ridge. In 1963 she moved to my aunt Mary’s second floor apartment on Winter’s Avenue. I remember Christmas Eve Holy Supper at her house like it was yesterday. Sorry I can write all day about family memories. Someday I have to write a book. But one more comment on the 300 block, there was another family grocery store, with a small butcher’s shop, Casper’s. I loved that store. And there was another bar, on the block too Recklitis’s or Rex’s.
On Ridge Avenue I walked past “the Nest” once know as Jonathon’s Nest. The owner, Joe was a big supporter of the Community before his untimely death, The bar was originally the home Catholic War Vets, and later became TJ’s owned by two local attorneys.
On the corner of the 200 block of Ridge Ave my sister Linda lived with her family for over 15 years. She left this life way to early with her beloved husband Charles. Missed every day this wonderful couple are. Their four beautiful children and four grandchildren are the legacy of their love.
On the next corner there were two bars. Benderavich’s and across the street on Webster Avenue, the Tasmanian Tavern. I had long hair and a beard in high school and was served here when I was 16 years old. My friends and I would drink our beer in the nearby “black sands” the coal silt left from washing the coal at the Cranberry Breaker.
Also at this corner was the old Mining Company Store were coal miners were required to spend their pay. It later became a temporary church for St Francis Parish and finally, in my time, Mickey’s Auto Parts
My morning walk now took me back up to the 200 block of Winters Avenue where a number of business were located. Schweitzer’s Garage and Gas Station was on the corner. My dad would get gas here and I would fill my bicycle tires with air here. Across the street was both a bar, the famous Sailor Joe’s Bar, known to serve all hours of the day at the back door, and a small store we called ” Londe’s” it wasn’t open too long and later became a West Hazleton Hunting Club. Nearby was the Kosciuczko Club, once a very prominent social club in West Hazleton. Sadly it closed about 15 years ago.
On the 200 block was my dad’s favorite bar, Jakes’s Cafe, It was operated by the prominent Jake Planutis. The bar closed upon his death in the 1960’s. I remember meeting him as a very young child at midnight Mass on Christmas with my dad. He told me this is Jake an old friend. After his death the var became Zola’s Italian house. It served great food for many years. It was my last customer on my paper route. They always gave big tips. There was also a VFW post on this block.
Winters Avenue intersects with Broad Street, Route 93, at the next block. This street was once a Native American path and later became the Berwick Turnpike connecting Berwick with Mauch Chunk (now Jim Thorpe).
There are so many businesses located here, with so many memories, so I will only name a few, The Miners Bank ( now Citizens Bank) is the most prominent. I remember the Sisters at Transfiguration Parochial School encourages to save the little money we had with a bank account here. The West Hazleton Christmas Tree was here when I was a child. Thanks to the generosity of the Slusser family the Christmas tree it now is located across the street in a memorial park they donated to the Borough. Also across Broad Street was the Key Theatre (owned by the Hersker’s) and an A&P grocery store. I have to mention the famous Brehm’s Restaurant, a West Hazleton Landmark for decades. I only was there once, my aunt Mary took me here for a hamburger and a milk shake after seeing Philadelphia TV celebrity Sally Star at the Grand Theatre in Hazleton.
I continued my walk through the Pantry Quick parking lot, Justofin’s Pharmacy was once located here and then moved to the new building built in the 1970’s. A small furniture shop is located here now, A State Liquor Store was once located next to Justofin’s Pharmacy and is now a florist shop.
I next walked down Green Street and past my church, now Holy Name Of Jesus, but to me, it will always be Transfiguration Church. The church was built by Polish coal miners. most of them immigrants, and they hauled the rock on mules from the land I now own in Green Ridge.Here is a link to a gallery on my blog website with some more photos from the first part of my two mile walk. Green Ridge walk part one December 11 2023.
And this is the school I attended for 8 years, Transfiguration Parochial School. . So many wonderful memories. My dad and all of his siblings also attended this school as did my siblings and four of my nieces and nephews. My dad was in the second grade when the school opened in 1932 and my niece Cassidy was in the last class in 2004.
I usually walk down to the 300 block on Green Street, walking past the old Grobelny Shoe repair shop and two more family stores, Taluski’s and Plantutis’s. Planutis’s became Flaim’s Market in the 1980’s.
On Monday morning instead of taking my usual route, I walked back to North Street, so I could walk past my alma mater West Hazleton High School, home of the Wildcats. What great days they were attending school here. The high school was converted to an Elementary School in the early 1990’s. This blog is getting too long and so I will move on and not bore your with those wonderful memories.
I walked past the West Hazleton Little League Field were I played on the Kosciuczko Club. (Most of the kids from the “Ridge” played on the Pulaski Club but my Aunt Mary’s husband Alex was friends with the coach and I wound up on the Kosciuczko Club. My coach probably wasn’t too happy, I wasn’t very good.)
And on this snowy morning I made a snow angel, mostly for my dad. I would make one in his yard whenever it snowed, , even when I in my 50’s. He would saw I was crazy and smile. I think he was smiling in heaven on Monday morning.
I left the cemetery and back up North Street. I was going to write about Mary K’s, Uchino and Kusek’s Bar but this post is getting too long. ( I have to mention that Kusek’s was the best bar pitz in town.
I usually walk home from here, but on this day I had to walk back down to Green Street and visit the Green Ridge Honor Roll and Veteran’s Memorial.
I hope some of you enjoy reading some of these memories even just a little bit as much as I did in writing about them ( and researching the links). I had a wonderful childhood growing up in Green Ridge and I hope to write more about it in future blogs, maybe even when the flowers are in bloom in the Spring. Here is a link to a gallery on my blog website with some more photos from the second part of my two mile walk. Green Ridge walk part two December 11. 2023.
The first fall of snow is not only an event, it is a magical event. You go to bed in one kind of a world and wake up in another quite different, and if this is not enchantment then where is it to be found?, J. B. Priestley
If you carry your childhood with you, you never become older.” -Tom Stoppard.