The Leisey Family Website


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Don remembers as a young boy sitting on the back porch shelling peas and lima beans and taking the stems off of string beans. He enjoyed raw vegetables and when Mother went inside the house, he would eat a handful of the shelled vegetables like they were candy. He said the raw peas were his favorite and he could not get enough of them, much to his Mother's dismay. Don would hide a salt-shaker in his pants when he worked in the truck patch, and would pick, salt and eat a ripe tomato or two. Potatoes and red beets were brushed off, cut and eaten raw.

Each year after the pigs grew to the proper size, they were taken to the local butcher, who would butcher the pigs for a portion of the meat. Dad also sold off some of the better cuts of meat. Almost every part of the pig was used for food. Some of the by-products were: pickled pigs feet, pickled tripe, sausage, bacon, and scrapple. Nothing was better than a meal of pork and sauer kraut served with onion mashed potatoes on a blustery, windy, snowy and cold winter day!

The chicken pen supplied the family with eggs. Every morning we would feed the chickens and collect their eggs. Each Saturday, Bob and Don would have to choose a chicken, chop off its head, dress it and put it into boiling water to pick the feathers prior to giving it to Mother to prepare for Sunday Dinner.

Don remembers that one of the chores during the winter was to go to the cellar and sprout the bushels of potatoes. By sprouting the potatoes, it gave longevity to the potatoes and prevented them from rotting. Mother also stored the sauer kraut she made in crocks in the cellar and warned all of us, including Dad, not to eat the sauer kraut until it aged properly. Despite her warnings, we all found reasons to go to the cellar to sneak a hand full of sauer kraut. It was a tradition to open the sauer kraut and have it for dinner with pork and mashed potatoes on New Year's Day.

Mother was a very good cook. She was very resourceful and creative in preparing our meals on the wrought iron "cook stove" fueled by wooden logs or coal. Potatoes were one of family's staple foods. The potatoes were grown in the truck patch and stored in the cellar. Mother would prepare and serve numerous different potato dishes at our meals - fried, boiled, mashed, mashed with onions, potato cakes, baked, scalloped, etc. We even made mashed potato sandwiches. No leftover food was ever thrown away. Mother could always find a use for them in a future meal. Nothing ever was wasted and our parents made sure we ate everything on our plates. Some of mother's greatest dishes were: chicken pot pie, filled noodles, chow-chow, pork and pork and sauer kraut, soccatash, mush, and scrapple. She always prepared wonderful desserts, such as shoo-fly pie, pineapple up-side-down cake, raisin pie, rhubarb pie, rice pudding, bread pudding, lemon morangue and lemon sponge pies, and many other very tasty desserts.

The piano was a major source of entertainment along with the radio and a hand-cranked Victrola. While living in Birdsboro, Dad bought Mother a new Baldwin piano. According to Al Jr., we were one of a very few families to have a piano. Mother never took piano lessons and "played by ear," meaning if she heard a song, she could play it on the piano. Friends and family would gather around the piano and sing while Mother played, especially during the Christmas season. While living in Birdsboro, Mother played the piano in an orchestra, and family and friends would attend orchestra practices at our house.

Although Dad was involved in his church during his youth, he did not attend church in his adult life. As a young boy, he received an award for having 14 years of perfect attendance in Sunday School which he proudly displayed in the China Cabinet in our dining room.

Our parents had very compartmentalized roles. Mother was in charge of the house and raising the boys, while dad worked and earned the money for the household. Mother was our spiritual leader and insisted that her boys attend Sunday school and church each Sunday and participate in the activities of the church. Mother was the real leader of the family, and Dad rarely expressed his opinions.

Mother was on the Board of Directors of the Honey Brook Methodist Church for many years, a member of the church choir and performed in church plays, participated in strawberry festivals, and was a founder and first president of the Senior Citizen's Club of Honey Brook. After mother passed away, the family set up a scholarship fund at the Honey Brook Methodist Church in her memory. The E. Marie Leisey Scholarship Fund has assisted numerous young members of the church to attend college.

According to Al Jr., Dad was recognized as an accomplished "bee keeper" and was called upon by friends and others to find the Queen Bee and put it back into the hive. He wore no special clothing or mask and would reach into the middle of a swarm of bees and pluck the Queen Bee without being stung.

After retiring from the Reading Railroad, Dad, a member of the Honey Brook American Legion Post 422, would walk to the American Legion Hall each day and proudly raise and lower the American flag. Mother was president of the American Legion Auxillary for several years. During World War II, mother worked in a factory in Honey Brook which made uniforms for the troops.

Failing or even getting poor grades in school was never an option. We were expected to work hard and make and save our money. If we did not behave in school, we could expect severe punishment at home. We were expected to be independent thinkers, sound decision makers and not rely on our parents or brothers for solving our problems. Our parents expected us to be leaders and not followers. They expected us to finish what we started. We were expected to honor our commitments, be a person of our word, and follow through on our promises. Our parents rarely stated the above to us, but we always knew what their expectations were. We knew that there would be consequences, including corporal punishment, for errors in judgment or defying family standards. The word love was rarely used in our family, but we knew that they cared about us and loved us. Our parents never owned a house and were proud of their sons when they purchased their first houses.

Dad passed away on February 17, 1973, from a stroke at the age of 79. Mother, who spent the last 15 years of her life living in her hometown of Pottstown, passed away after a series of mini strokes on August 31, 1988 at the age of 85 at Tel Hai, an assisted living facility outside of Honey Brook. Both Dad and Mother are buried at the St. Mark's Cemetery at Church Hill about five miles from Honey Brook.

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