by Donald E. Leisey, Ed.D.

   Growing up in Honey Brook, Pennsylvania during the 1940s and '50s was a very meaningful and wonderful experience. Honey Brook is a small, rural town nestled in the northeast corner of Chester County near the borders of Lancaster and Berks Counties. It is one of the most serene, picturesque and friendly places in the United States.

   The following is a sampling of the many fond memories of my youth in Honey Brook, PA.

I remember:

The sounds of the Amish buggies on Sunday morning clikity clacking on their way to worship; the melodic church bells ringing at the Presbyterian Church signaling the community to come to worship; attending Sunday School at the Methodist Church taught by Miss Kennedy, my brother Al, Gus Spece, Al Stradling, and others, and attending church services conducted by Reverend McDonald, Reverend Graves and Reverend Hipple; becoming a member of the Methodist Church and participating in numerous activities including youth groups, Christmas programs, scouting, and the Junior and Youth Choirs directed by Helen Tournquist and her sisters Ruth and Alice.

The sound of shoveling coal into cellars preparing for the long winters; the ice man carrying a block of ice on his shoulder, protected with a leather mat, delivering it to ice boxes in the homes; sneaking on the ice man's truck and stealing a piece of ice to suck on.

The pungent odor in the air when farmers spread manure to enrich the soil; farmers busily working and planting their fields in the spring, and harvesting their crops during the summer. Trucks lining up at the Creamery in the morning unloading milk collected from the farms for pasteurization and bottling; trucks loaded with tomatoes rolling through town in the summer. Picking tomatoes for Mike Zook and working for other Amish cutting tobacco and picking potatoes.

My father perspiring profusely while working in our garden tending to the vegetables for my mother to can while working over a hot, cast-iron, cook stove; selling sweet corn and other vegetables throughout the town; sitting on the porch with my mother shelling peas and lima beans; removing sprouts from potatoes in our musty smelling cellar during the winter, and sampling the sauerkraut that was fermenting in the crocks.

The excitement of the first big snow storm of the year and children and adults sledding down Broad Street; ice skating on Wright's Pond; the disappointment when a snow storm occurred after a period of nice weather in the spring.

Playing a baseball game called ins and outs with tire taped broken bats and balls, and resolving our disputes without umpires or adult interference; playing basketball in our barn on Broad Street, on Bamberger's and Mimm's driveways, and at the Fire Hall; playing hide and go seek, capture the flag, dodge ball, tag, spin the bottle, and other fun games with friends in the evenings; taking piano lessons from Mrs. Morton and Mrs. Jones, but wishing I were playing ball with my friends; the shrill sound of my Mother's whistle alerting me wherever I was to come home immediately.

Riding three deep in George James' car on our way to playing my first organized baseball game in Lancaster; playing baseball on the Honey Brook Peanuts Baseball Team, the American Legion Team, and the "Big Team"; playing soccer, basketball and baseball at Honey Brook High School; the thrill of beating Warwick High School in basketball for the first time since 1947 during my senior year.

The excitement of the first day of hunting for small game , and preparing for deer season.

The blackouts during WW II with air raid wardens patrolling the streets dressed in their beige uniforms with arm bands; the pride when my brothers Al and Meb came home on leave; listening to Gabriel Heater on the radio every Sunday night with my Mother and Father hoping to learn where my brothers might be in the world; receiving letters from my brothers that were censored with many words and sentences blacked out; crying as I was trying to sleep, worried that my brothers might not come home; the relief and excitement on VE and VJ Days knowing that our love ones would be returning home shortly; going to Indiantown Gap with my father where my brother Bob was serving his National Guard duty; the Memorial Day Parades with Veterans dressed in their uniforms proudly marching down Main Street.

The trauma of having to go to the Coatesville Hospital as a first grader to have my tonsils and adenoids removed; the long recuperation after having my appendix removed; the extreme fear of contracting polio during the summer and the relief and excitement when the Salk Vaccine was invented; taking the Salk Vaccine on a sugar cube to prevent getting polio; the house calls made by Dr. Bamberger checking on his patients who had a variety of childhood diseases including chicken pox, measles, mumps, diphtheria, and whooping cough, and placing quarantine signs on the door when an individual had a contagious disease.

The pristine beauty of the lush green, rolling hills throughout the countryside; the buds on the trees in the spring; the rich sweet smell of freshly cut grass in the summer; the beautiful colors of the foliage, and the aroma of burning leaves in the fall; the tranquility of a snowfall in the winter.

Catching fire flies during the hot, humid summer evenings; restless nights throwing open the bedroom windows trying to capture a whisper of a breeze because we didn't have air conditioning or a fan; the sheets on the beds becoming wet from the humidity.

The ferocious, loud and frightening thunder and lightning storms that sounded like a war was taking place; the disappointing rain storms that washed away plans for picnics, ball games, and other outdoor activities; the freshness in the air after a storm.

The fire siren announcing that it was noon, and the dogs howling because the noise hurt their ears; the almost frantic concern when the fire siren blew alerting volunteer firemen to report to the Fire Hall.

Feeling safe, at a young age, walking my dog in the fields far from home; hiking or biking with my friends to swimming holes on hot, humid days in the creek while the cows were doing their thing in the water upstream; pulling leeches from my body after getting out of the water.

The Fire Company's Carnivals during the summer which featured many games of chance, including bingo, delicious corn chowder and hot dogs, and lively hillbilly and country music.

The many untiring, dedicated adults who volunteered their time to assist the youth in church activities, scouting, sports and many other worthwhile endeavors.

Hearing the ringing of the party line telephone, and listening in on conversations; the excitement when TV first came to Honey Brook in going to the Mimm's house on Friday afternoons to watch Hopalong Cassidy and Howdy Doody, and on Friday evenings going to Walter White's house to watch the Friday Night Fights and Phillies baseball games.

The thrill of passing my driver's test so I could use the family's car on Saturday nights to go dancing to the Big Bands at Sunnybrook in Pottstown, or going to a movie in Lancaster, Reading or Coatesville.

The small classes (15 students in my graduating class) and camaraderie of the students during my elementary and high school years; the dedicated principals (Mr. Johns and Mr. Peffer) and teachers (Miss Adams, Miss Arters, Miss Helms, Mrs. Seabolt, Mrs. Talbott, Mr. Davis, Miss Dyke, Mr. Rettew, Mr. D'Amico, Miss Ferris, Mr. Hunter, Miss Cook, Mrs. Hunter, Mr. Bicking and Mr. Strausser and others); the opportunity to take college preparatory, commercial and vocational courses; the high expectations and strong academic emphasis throughout the grades; the abundant opportunities for students to participate in a variety of extra curricular activities including sports, school plays, glee club, band and others.

Even though my career has taken me thousands of miles away, there has always been a very special place in my heart for Honey Brook. The wonderful people who patiently assisted in making my youth a rich and wonderful experience are greatly appreciated. I treasure the many friendships I made in Honey Brook which have lasted throughout my life.

As someone who has been fortunate to serve in leadership positions in both public and private schools, I reflect with great pride on the education Honey Brook Schools provided me. This education served as the foundation for a satisfying career and exciting life experiences.

   I enjoy returning to Honey Brook each year, which in many ways is the same as I left it 50 years ago, and visiting family and friends, and returning home feeling fortunate to have spent my youth in a wonderful place called Honey Brook, PA.