I had six good English teachers in junior and senior high and they obviously prepared me for a life with words and writing. One of those words is “native,” which I see often in news stories and especially in obituaries.
Many times the story says someone is a native of the town they live in when the writer really meant to say that the person is a resident of that town. I recall a time when a newspaper wrote about me and said I was a native of Tamaqua.
But I’m not a native of Tamaqua; I’m a native of Harrisburg. That’s where my nativity took place and that’s how one can figure out what place he’s a native of. Where was he or she born?
Early in my life we moved to Still Creek, which is part of the greater Tamaqua area, but it isn’t the Borough of Tamaqua. When I was in fourth grade, we moved to a rental in the 600 block of Arlington Street and thus began my lifelong love for Tamaqua.
Tamaqua was a great place to grow up. We didn’t have gangs the way the cities did and I don’t even remember many bullies. If we weren’t occupied with organized baseball or other activities, we played soldiers in the woods behind East End Playground. As we got older, we moved from the woods to the stripping holes, but we soon reached the age of cars and girls and we left our youthful games behind us.
I worked at the Evening Courier for two years after graduation in 1961 and then joined the Navy. When I was a freshman at Penn State Hazleton, I lived with my mother in a rental on West Broad Street. Then I went to the main campus and left Tamaqua behind.
But I do know that my decade in Tamaqua shaped me in many positive ways, from Sunday School to the American Hose (There’s a pair for you!) and several school teachers, friends and their parents.
So while I am not technically a native of Tamaqua, I do think of myself that way and I hope my English teachers will forgive me.
R Thomas Berner