Sunday Will Never Be The Same

Sunday Will Never Be The Same

Not surprisingly, it is often music that strikes a familiar chord within our memories. Such was the case a few weekends ago as my wife and I were making the trip north to DuBois, PA to visit our twin grand daughters and their parents.

While tuned in to WOWQ – Q102 FM, we caught the Sunday morning Polkas, complete with their goes-out-to's, happy-birthdays and anniversary wishes. We were immediately thrown back in time to our growing-years in Cambria County where Polka hours were and still are a common occurrence on a Sunday morning – not so, in Bedford County, where we raised our three children and lived for the past 30 plus years.

We became engulfed by a rush of nostalgia and found ourselves re-living some of the Sundays back home. We compared notes, customs and stories, which triggered a yearning for those old-time Sundays.

My customary Sunday began early when Mom somehow got all four of us ready for church. Even more shocking is the fact that we all got there on time. She not only helped each of her kids and got herself dressed she also had dinner in the oven or on the stove before we left. The trip from Sidman to Beaverdale took additional time, but I can't recall ever being late for a service. I do not know how she did it.

The house was spotless too. Having spent all day Saturday cleaning, the onslaught left our home hospital-clean and had no items out of place. It was immaculate, although Dad forbade us from using that word. He said it was reserved to describe the Virgin Mary. We didn't argue. After all, it was Sunday.

The Byzantine Mass was no easy barrier to get through for a young kid. The two hours seemed more like four and we never understood a word of the Slovak language used in the service. We didn't complain. It was Sunday.

After Mass a customary quick stop at either Aunt Gen's or Aunt Ann's in Beaverdale was common. Dad would have a piece of nut or poppy seed roll with a cup of coffee and my parents and aunts and uncles would sit around and talk. The cousins played in another room. The entire house was saturated with a freshly baked aroma from homemade rolls and buns, which were usually coming out of the oven as we got there. Warm, right from the oven and smothered with butter, I can still imagine their sight, their smell and taste today. But sampling the real McCoy nowadays, is way too infrequent. No one makes them like Aunt Ann did.

My relatives, the food, and the old Zenith radio playing Polkas, made a little guy feel warm and comfy all over. I still have that old antique radio from Aunt Ann's and Uncle George's in my house today. I actually warmed it up while writing this, just to hear its unique sound again.

If our visit lasted a little longer, an invitation from my uncles to Dad would invariably include having a shot and a beer with them. Dad would act like he needed coerced into this ritual, but in reality, he enjoyed it. The round of drinks would include vocalizing the popular "nosdrovia" or "here's to you." The Slovak greeting was heard incorrectly so often by my younger brother and myself that it became "nice driveway" to us.

I still say that today on occasion - especially on Sundays.

A stop at Carpenter's convenience store on the way home for milk, bread or the Pittsburgh Press was common too. When we arrived home, it was surprisingly still early in the day. Another oddity of the Sundays of long ago – they seemed to last forever.

Certain meals were common to Sundays. Mom usually had chicken or pot roast in the oven, or chicken soup on the stove. Homemade bread or rolls were a staple at home too. So was eating early. I didn't recognize until much later that most other families ate so late in the day. We were hungry – It was Sunday.

If only I had been encouraged to savor those flavors and aromas from the past, but when you are young, no one thinks of that. Like the mines, tracks and mills, the swift winds of time, have long since sent those tastes, smells and sounds, forever away.

The day was far from over. At times, Dad would take us back to Beaverdale to catch an afternoon movie at the Palace Theater. During warm weather he'd take the boys fishing. Still, on other Sundays, you'd find the whole family packed into the station wagon, on our way to visit our Pap, aunts, uncles and cousins on his side of the family. In actuality, I do not know how he did it either. After working all week in the steel mill combined with Saturday's home chores, he still found time for his kids on a Sunday afternoon.

Dad's side of the family lived in Wilmore, PA. And those visits contained their share of the traditional "nosdrovia" and good food too. With numerous cousins to play with, the times spent with my relatives will never be forgotten. It was Sunday at its best.

For many of you, Sundays may not have changed much over the years. But for me, they are much different now. Some family members have passed on. Still others have relocated to raise families and to work. Many have just drifted away from tradition.

Our current residence is only an hour away from our hometown. But it's tough to find a Polka on the radio, and even more difficult to find a weekend that doesn't fly by in the blink of an eye - making the yearning for the old time Sundays all the more prevailing.

Perhaps another musical tune might strike a memory chord with those like me? As Spanky And Our Gang sang in 1967, "Sunday Will Never Be The Same."

Sunday Will Never Be The Same

My Roots - The Potchaks - circa 1927

My Roots - The Potchaks - circa 1927
From Left: Son, Steve - Dad, Frank - Mom, Anastasia (Makar) - Sons; John, Mike, Frank, Chuck (Author's Dad) - Twins, Pete & Mary - Daughter, Catherine. Photo taken in Wilmore, PA