PEOPLE like to read stories about the old neighborhood. Mine happens to be in Farrell, but lots of people remember their days of growing up throughout Mercer County. They like to read stories about “the old days.”

Wally Wachter, one of my mentors when I started at The Herald in 1974, writes his weekly column “The Way We Were.” It is wildly popular with our readers, especially the ones that share his generation.

I’ll write my column about my experiences as a youth. I enjoy writing them, first and foremost, because some things in the past are worth remembering. I always tell people that I very much live in the present, and enjoy the technology and advances that have accompanied our growth.

But it’s very important that we remember the past, and the values that were instilled in us in those days, and try to pass that lore on to another generation of readers. It’s great to hear from readers who have stories to tell about their days as youths in the Mercer County area. The stories, and lessons to be learned, are priceless.

My recent column about sleeping out, roaming the streets, and raiding gardens, grape arbors and fruit trees prompted a lot of e-mails and phone calls from people sharing their experiences. Kids did that stuff in every town.

I continue to be surprised by the reactions to stories about life in simpler times. One of the e-mails was from Donna Mirage of Greenville, a Hickory High School graduate.

“I just want to comment on your article in the Herald on July 17. I graduated from Hickory High in 1965 and I guess there was no difference between what we did growing up, except we had no streetlights. I was raised down from the Hickory Plaza.

“At that time there was no plaza. My father could have bought all that land for $50 an acre, which, at that time, was a lot of money. Of course, when you worked in the mill and were raising a family, you just didn’t do those things. You didn’t take those chances. One needed that security of work and a few benefits.

“We also ‘borrowed grapes and tomatoes’ but had good clean fun and roamed the neighborhood without fear. We even had our own little carnival in Kiddy City at the plaza. And of course the ice cream skyscrapers at Isaly’s.

“I had to comment because I e-mailed Don Feigert recently on his article. He talked about going fishing while growing up and playing outside all day. I kind of got to longing for the old days. I love your articles, keep up the good work.”

I got the following e-mail from Mike Roscoe, a 1966 graduate of Farrell High School. His uncle, Bill, was the subject of a recent feature in The Herald.

“I am a Farrell native, graduating in 1966. I remember you being a few years younger. I am now living in Pinehurst, N.C. (since 1988). I read the on-line edition daily as it keeps me in touch with my hometown.

“You guys are doing a super job, but I do want to comment on our columns. The latest one about your youth in Farrell really brought back some great memories. I can remember playing Little League baseball in the ‘hollow’ on Hamilton Avenue, the ‘ash’ pile on Emerson, and sledding in the projects in the winter.

“Man, those were indeed the days. I often reminisce about growing up there. Keep those stories coming Jim, since I’m certain your audience is much larger and more appreciative than you can imagine.”

This one is from Farrell High grad Holly Chiodo Rodgers.

“Again I am warmed by your editorial. I have so many good memories growing up in Farrell in the ’70s that I wouldn’t trade for anything. I work with Vince’s (Cardamone) daughter Angela, and when I saw your story I sent it to her.

“I just bought a brick for my dad for the Veteran’s Memorial re-dedication in Farrell. With all the negative publicity, you keep the good memories of Farrell alive with your stories and many of us appreciate it.

“I know I’ve e-mailed you before, and I will continue to thank you for reminding everyone of the importance of family and roots and the love the people of Farrell will always have for their town. It is a bond that will never go away.”

Some misunderstandings about family

Throughout my life, lots of people think that like my cousin Joe Raykie, I’m related to all of the members of the Sirianni family. I had a few questions along those lines with the recent death of popular Sharon barber Buzz Sirianni.

Buzz was Joe’s cousin (Joe’s mother was a Sirianni), but not mine, but I do have a few relatives on the Sirianni side. It’s too complicated a family matter to explain this week, so I’ll wait until next.

Jim Raykie is the editor of The Herald and writes this column on Mondays. His e-mail is

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