Area grown-ups remember their favorite things
Dr. Mary E. Money of Hagerstown with her favorite childhood toy her blue Schwinn bicycle. At right is a trike that was a hand me down from her older brother. (By Joe Crocetta/Staff Photographer / December 22, 2012)
Though his father gave up the idea of playing with the Pirates, he put his all into raising young Reuter to love the game.
“My father, God rest his soul — we’d practice in the field. My father would hit the highest pop-ups anybody could ever see.
“We grew up right across from a big athletic complex, hundreds of acres of baseball fields, soccer fields.
“Here’s how my summer went: (Early in the morning), we’d have curb ball inside a fenced-in area. We used a ball, something called a Pennsylvania Pinkie. It was pink and it bounced kind of waist high. You threw it from a close distance (at the street curb).
“Depending how you hit (the curb), it could go into the air, down third base or you could hit a home run over the fence,” Reuter said. “You didn’t always know you could hit it over the fence, but you knew you could bunt. And you had to run the bases. And there were kids behind you, trying to catch the ball and throw you out.”
So at about 10:30 each morning, after playing curb ball, the kids would start a game of stickball, Reuter said. That game had a bat — “an old broom handle” — and the Pennsylvania Pinkie for the ball, he said.
Then, in the afternoon, the kids would play basketball and “at night, I got to play Little League baseball,” Reuter said. “I played shortstop and I pitched.”
As he remembered all this, it was the thought of the Pennsylvania Pinkie that caused Reuter to suddenly stop the conversation and turn to Google, finding a picture on the website of the United States Racketball Museum of the only Pinkie known to still exist.
“You could buy those things at the old five- and 10-cent store,” he said. “In those days, it was like 25 cents. A good one would only last five or six games.”
Reuter grew up to become president of the former Farmers & Merchants Bank in Hagerstown and is now head of Susquehanna Bancshares Inc. With about $14 billion in assets, the company’s primary subsidiary, Susquehanna Bank, has more than 220 branches spread from Washington County to areas throughout the mid-Atlantic region.
But his long career in banking hasn’t dimmed the memory of his boyhood days of playing ball.
“I went back to my old neighborhood, the old recreation area, recently,” he said. “I would do anything to go back now to those days.”
Pam Coyle, executive director
Martinsburg-Berkeley County Public Libraries
As one of 10 children, “there isn’t a whole lot of toys that you get,” said Pam Coyle, who has been executive director of the Martinsburg-Berkeley County Public Libraries in West Virginia for 10 years.
So because the gifts were usually practical, the toy that Coyle singles out today as her favorite is the see-through, colored Christmas ornament.
Her parents gave one to each of their children on Christmas morning in their home in Waynesboro, Pa.
The tradition began when Coyle was, at age 7 or 8, one of the oldest of the children.
For the next five or six years, each child would be delighted upon finding his or her own ornament — hand-decorated with his or her name and with glued-on glitter — already hanging on the tree, Coyle remembered.