Ice cream social helps bring Franklin Park memories into sharper focus

| Wednesday, July 10, 2013, 9:01 p.m.

Clean out a basement or an attic, and a homeowner has two options: trash or treasure.

But what if there was a third? History.

Neighbors celebrated their memories of the 1950s, when Ingomar Manor, the first large-scale post-World War II housing plan in what then was Franklin Township, was attracting its earliest residents.

Sue and Lee Rosenhamer, who moved to the neighborhood off Rochester Road six years ago, hosted an ice cream social to bring memories into sharper focus.

Residents brought photos, blueprints, newspaper articles and stories to the event on June 29.

Debby Rabold, historian for Franklin Park Borough, created in 1961, was there to scan in pictures and schedule times to take oral histories. Ultimately, she will help compile a memory booklet.

“What we've learned is so much fun,” Sue Rosenhamer said. “It's pulled the area together.”

As did the smoker the couple purchased one year.

“We were smoking three pounds of bacon, and everyone in the neighborhood was here,” she said.

Irene and Ray Kennedy have lived there for 63 years. Irene had been familiar with the North Hills from visits to her cousin's home as a young girl.

“They had no electricity and no bathrooms, and the thud, thud, thud of the oil wells kept me awake,” she said.

She eagerly returned to her Ivory Avenue home on Pittsburgh's North Side.

The Kennedys reared two boys on Crestview Drive in Ingomar Manor on property they landscaped themselves. The half acre came complete with well water and a septic system.

“There wasn't hardly anything here,” Irene Kennedy, 89, recalled.

Deliverymen brought staples to the door for the first 10 to 15 houses — either ranch style or two-story brick — in the 46-lot subdivision.

“The bread man, the mailman and the milkman, all their first names were Ray,” she said.

During the couple's first winter, the milkman couldn't negotiate the curves of the plan, so he left the milk that 15 neighbors had ordered at the Kennedy home.

With only one car, she and her husband shopped for groceries in the evening at A&P or Thorofare. Her other stories shared the fun of sled riding on a cinder-covered roadway and turning a mound of topsoil into a flat-top, waterlogged skating rink for the neighborhood children one winter.

Dorothy, 86, and Charles Hasek, 90, built their ranch-style house on a $1,400 lot. The three-bedroom, one-bathroom house was big enough for their family of seven.

“The house never seemed small,” said Pam Jones, 58, of Belle Vernon, one of the Hasek girls.

“It was a great neighborhood to grow up in,” she said. “There was always somebody to play with.”

Barb Beideman, 46, came to Ingomar Manor in 2000 from Clarion. She was happy to learn she and her husband had purchased her second-grade teacher's home. She grew up in the North Hills.

“Neighbors are friends in this little horseshoe,” she said. “We encourage each other and pray for each other.”

Each year, the couple holds a Christmas open house and invites the whole neighborhood.

Del and Pete Mendoza moved into the neighborhood in 2006 to be close to their son, daughter and nine grandchildren.

Del Mendoza, 70, said they wanted a small house with a great room. She loved the house at first sight.

She agreed with her son, who said, “‘This is a perfect grandparents' house.'”

Rabold considers this hunt for neighborhood history “Lee and Sue's project,” and she's hoping those in other neighborhoods will gather their memories.

Those who think they never did anything special should reconsider, Rabold said.

“You lived through the whole 20th century to get here,” she pointed out.

She'll keep collecting Ingomar Manor history throughout the summer.

Lee Rosenhamer offers more reflection for others to preserve tradition: “Some are so interested in where they're going, they don't pay attention to where they are.”

Dona S. Dreeland is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.

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