Statesman Examiner

Mary Selecky Childhood Memories


I grew up in northeast Pennsylvan­ia up in what are the hard coal mine regions. I grew up in a small town focused around coal mining and it’s very different than the rural Northwest, let me tell you. My town when I was growing up had about three thousand people and in its heyday when coal was king it had about ten thousand. My grandparen­ts all came from Slovakia in Eastern Europe. We could see our grandfathe­r’s house from the house that we grew up in. Our town had several Catholic Churches and one very small Protestant church and there were about four or five Jewish families that lived in the town. So we were surrounded by Eastern European Traditions and Catholicis­m.

I was one of seven children and there were lots of kids in town. I was one of the Baby Boomers and as my class went to school they had to set up two first grades because there were so many of us. It was a town where you were very connected to everybody. There were all kinds of activities, most of them around the church. Christmas Memories were centered around the church and getting ready for the holidays. Midnight mass was always a treat when you got old enough to go. My brothers were altar boys in the church and I was in the choir and we would sing at the masses early Christmas morning so when you got up it wasn’t about staying home and playing with things it was about getting to church and being with family. My mother had two brothers who lived nearby and they oftentimes joined us so it was a house full of people for a meal and that was very, very special.

I am the middle girl of the seven children but I am the oldest of the second grouping and there was a six year difference between me and my next brother. We younger ones always wanted to emulate the older ones and my brothers were involved in football and my younger brother Tommy did go into football. My oldest sister was a head majorette. I ended up being a cheerleade­r. So you learned about being involved in activities and my family was very involved in the community. My father was a commander at the American Legion and my mother helped organize religious teaching classes at our church. My father had a favorite saying, “if not you, who.” because we would sit around and say we wish there was such and such happening he said, “Well did you offer? Did you volunteer? You know if not you who?

I have girlfriend­s that I went to grade school with and we are still very good friends. When we were 10 or 11 years old we created a club. There were seven of us so it had the ingenious name of Club Seven and I actually have a tablet that we kept minutes on. We charged like a nickel for dues and we would plan a party and have some other kids join us for this party. One of my friends said to me, “but you were always like that.” Well again, we were watching our parents in their involvemen­t in activities and kind of trying to learn the same kind of traits.

I’ve been in a number of leadership positions in my life and when people would ask me, where did you learn those things I said, “Well, at the dinner table.” Because you learned that you were to discuss your day and share with others and people would make comments about it. You had to figure out how you dealt with creating consensus. When you’re one of the younger kids you have to figure out what those older kids want because they’re always going to want you to be doing something and the younger kids just want more of whatever you’re doing.

 ?? ?? Mary Selecky
Mary Selecky

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