Cokeoven Johnny

From beginning of my memory up to start of summer at end of 3rd grade, we lived in South Bethlehem. Small suburb of New Bethlehem, Pa. I remember first we had an ice box and then a refrigerator with a big round something or other on the top of it. Daily, a little dark-skinned man would pass by our house with an old horse and older wagon…selling ice. He would chip off a piece of ice and give it to the kids that would rush to him as if to the present day ice-cream man. I only ever knew him as Cokeoven Johnny. He literally lived in an old cokeoven on the other side of the crick. (Redbank Creek) In the spring, he would pick Johnny Jump-ups, (violets) and sell them by the bunch of maybe 10 in a small packet, up and down main street in New Bethlehem. Every lady had a tiny vase maybe 2 inches high for her yearly bunch of flowers from him. Also in the spring, he would sell a small paper bag, maybe 6 inches long, of sassafras root and bark for tea. We loved that flavor and relished the tea. But my Dad would never let us drink it in the fall or winter…saying it thinned the blood too much. I don’t remember Johnny talking but I believe he was Italian or gypsy in origin. Our house on Hamilton street was 2 story and had a side porch that extended out so that one could crawl out on the roof of the porch from a bedroom window. I can remember taking a cat out that window and dropping it off the roof to see if it always landed on its feet. Wasn’t a great fall and it always did.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *