JT's Blog

Things that interest me, things that happened to me, things that I like, even some things that I don't like...

My First Baby Sitter

During my first three years on this planet we lived on Front Street in Womelsdorf, Pennsylvania. Next door (or maybe a few doors up) was a restaurant, and that’s where Nancy Oberly lived with her parents, who owned the restaurant. I know this because every time we’d talk about those days, my mother would mention that Nancy Oberly used to babysit for me.

The combined first, second, and third grade photo from the Womelsdorf 1943 yearbook. Nancy Oberly is listed as being in third grade, but her position in the photo isn’t.

We moved to the farm about the time I turned three (my arm was still in a sling from my unfortunate encounter with the washing machine wringer), and as far as I can recall we never visited that restaurant again. I suspect that it went out of business because there was a shoe repair shop across the street and we did visit that from time to time, and I don’t recall there being a restaurant across the street from it by that time.

In any case, I have what I think is a very vague memory of that restaurant, but it may very well be my imagination or a different one altogether.

But as I said, every time that period was mentioned, my mother always used to interject that Nancy Oberly used to babysit for me.

I only recall ever meeting Nancy one time. That was in the mid-70s when she came into the hardware store in Richland that my parents had recently bought. My parents seemed to recognize her right away, so I presume they had maintained some contact with her, but she was just a middle-aged woman to me.

So who was Nancy Oberly? Information on her is hard to find.

Satellite photo of Womelsdorf and the approximate house where we lived from 1949 to 1952

Nancy Lee Oberly was born in 1934 to William and Margaret Oberly, and census records show her living with her parents in Womelsdorf in 1940. She had two older sisters, Shirley and Marian, both deceased. Marian married a William Snyder and they had four children.

Then I got the idea to look for old yearbooks. At first I thought it looked promising, as in the Womelsdorf school yearbooks of 1941-43 when Nancy was in first through third grades, she is listed as being in the combined first, second, and third grade photos.

But after that there is no trace of her. Now some yearbooks are missing from the site that I was using, so possibly she did attend classes in Womelsdorf for somewhat longer, but she definitely doesn’t show up during what should have been her high school years, and she didn’t graduate from the school. What happened? Did she drop out to work in her parents’ restaurant? Did they send her to another school? I have no idea.

And that’s about all I can find. So Nancy would have been about 15 years old when I was born and 18 when we moved to the farm, prime babysitting years. I don’t know if she ever married or had children, nor do I even know if she’s still living or where she might be if she is. She’d be about 85 now, and I’d love to find her if she’s still with us. I’ll bet she might have a story or two to tell.