What is Culture?
What does it have to do with an Amusement Park called the Gingerbread Castle?
Defining Culture can easily be done using any dictionary, but with regard to the Gingerbread Castle, this image of a Word Cloud (crafted by the Gingerbread Librarian using Wordle) – attempts to show the aspects of Culture that are relevant to the history of the companies, the communities and the artistic visions that intersect in the story of the Gingerbread Castle’s Creation.
1960s Culture was the wrapping I wore like dripping honey all over my awareness of life as a kid in Hamburg. I’m not at that point in the decade when all of a sudden something mysteriously shifted within the windmills of thoughts, mores, and beliefs of teens, young adults, and the few affected over 30.
I was still riding my spider bike, with banana seat, monkey handlebar, and playing cards clothes pinned close to the spokes to get that motorcycle like strum. I listened to WABC on my little transistor radio –it was the best signal we could get besides that old fogie station, WLVP, I think were the call letters. TV was regular fare with a rooftop antenna, color TV was fairly new to most families. Lost In Space was the real first treat of the spectrum in varied hues, so vibrant. The metallic TV dinner was often set on a tray for Dad so he could unwind from a hard day at work, watch the news, read his paper, and often fall asleep before 8 pm.
Since most Dads worked, Moms stayed home with the kids, did all the chores, did all the cooking. With one car households, they really didn’t have many opportunities to GET OUT and about but when they’d get the car for shopping and errands, they did the best they could, even taking the kids so Dad wouldn’t be bothered. Shop-rite, A&P, Acme were pretty much a few mile ride out of town for the bulk of grocery buying. Incidentals during the week could be handled by borrowing from neighbors and sending the kids to Bierly’s or Howe’s Drug Store, but with enough leftover change for candy that got long, indecisive stares from EVERY kid in a state of agony–Which Candy BARRR??!! should I get?! How many penny candies or bubble gum pieces or …
I don’t know how Mr. Bierly took it so calmly, so patiently. I think it got a bit less stressful when candy bars jumped up to a dime, not so much choice to mingle.
I remember the Howe’s, Mr. & Mrs., and the smell of their store–newspapers, new magazines smell, modern. Mrs. Howe once stopped her car to watch our family play football in the front yard, asked if she could try kicking the ball, and did, with her knee. The ball bounced up, hit her in the face, and my mother had to take her in the house to treat her slightly bleeding nose. She wanted to have joy, too, and family fun and discussed adoption. Yet when it happened, she built a safety cushion around her two girls, and I don’t think they ever played a contact game.
There were at least 2 hardware stores, town center, and the new bank on the corner. Down a bit on Rte 23, there was a farm with a big red barn. It’s not there now, hasn’t been in many years, and the last visit I made to Hamburg, I cussed at the uncompleted building project meant to replace that farm over ten years ago! Progress, bah, Hamburg!
I used to play in that field, wade in its stream, catch its minnows and frogs, eat some of the watercress that grew there.
A couple yards or so from the old farm stood those stately mansion type homes. Mrs. Lannin lived on one side of route 23, the Helms family on the other side, along with the Vinhage home. Mrs. Fowler, our school librarian, resided that side, too. One day, from what I witnessed and from other people’s statements, a strange thing happened.
I realize people have their own perspectives of an incident or event based on personal occupation of that time and place. This is what I remember:
In the Helms ‘ basement, it was accidentally discovered that a hidden room lay beyond a foundation wall. A table, candle holder, wooden chair, some rags, and what appeared to be a tunnel were found in the room. There was alot of speculation about the reason for its existence and why it had to be hidden at all. The tunnel went under Route 23 to connect with a basement in a house across the street, which might’ve been the Lannin home. There was great concern about the safe structure of the street due to the usage of traffic, especially trucks. The mystery of the hidden room and tunnel was explained by a long time resident. It had been a secret route and hideaway for the Underground Tunnel. Years earlier, the tunnel had been filled in with rubble. I do think the room items were preserved, but not sure where they were stored.