A Baby Boomer's Scrapbook
One and Two:
in grade seem to be good dividing lines when you're growing up. For me they work pretty well because I
never stayed in one school for more than two years in a row.
time between kindergarten and first grade, in 1951, my Dad bought two acres of
land on the east side of
barracks building part of this assembly was just a large open room that was, at
first, used as a bedroom, family room and playroom. The trailer was about 8 feet wide and 26
feet long and had Mom and Dad's bedroom, the kitchen, the dining room and a
small living room. There was a
shower but no toilet in the bathroom so Dad built an outhouse about 100 feet
away, directly behind the trailer. Although
100 feet might not sound like far, in the winter when there were several inches
of snow on the ground it often seemed like a long way. And, oh h h h h that outhouse seat was c
c c c cold in the winter! For us
kids, an enameled pail (that we called the "pot") was kept in the
bathroom for use at night and when it was too cold or wet to go to the outhouse. For as long as I can remember, until we
moved into a house with indoor plumbing, it was my job to empty the
"pot". After doing that
little task every couple of days for several years while growing up, no job I
ever did was so distasteful that it was worth
the barracks part of the house, my brother Roger and I slept on bunk beds in the
northwest corner of the room. My
sister Barbara, who was about 6 months old when we moved in, slept on a
hide-a-bed sofa in the southeast corner of the room. Since Roger was younger, he got the
bottom bunk and I always slept on the top.
was a kerosene heater on the east wall of the room that kept us all warm in the
winter but if you touched it when it was on, you got burned. We learned very early about the meaning
of the word "hot" and had to be very careful not to play too close to
the heater. As more brothers came
along at a rate of about one every two years, a crib and extra beds were added
to fill up the room. Eventually, we
would set up a card table in the middle of this "family" room for
eating because there wasn't enough room for all of us in the trailer.
the whole time we lived in that trailer house/house, Dad was planning and
working to build another "real" house on the north acre of the
property. More about that later.
first and second grade school was called McLaren. McLaren
was a one-room school (there may have also been a small room in the back)
located on the southeast corner of Schaffer and Sturgeon Roads. The school was on a large lot with room
for a softball diamond on the south side of the building a, swing set in the
back and some steel monkey bars on the north side.
class photo that I have says Beginners through grade 2 and is dated as the
1952-53 school year. Judy Fick sent
a class photo of the grade 2 and 3 classes that is dated 1553 -1954. This means
that I must have been in the first grade at the time of the '52 - 53 photo and
the second grade in the '53 -54 photo.
don't remember much about my time at McLaren so it must have been pretty
uneventful. My memories of grades one and two run together. I do remember a few things that happened
on the long walk to school. Most
kids had to walk because
time after I'd walked home on a very cold winter day, my mother saw that I had
frostbite so she and Grandma Overly (not my Grandma but everybody called her
that), who was visiting that day, filled one of those galvanized steel square
wash tubs with warm water, took my clothes off and put me in the tub. I remember being very embarrassed because
Mrs. Overly was there and helped to undress me.
Aside from my embarrassment, the experience did have one good out
first memory that year was of the first day of school when we were asked to
write our names on a piece of paper. My
mother had spent some time making sure that I knew the alphabet, how to write my
name and how to count. I'm sure now
that all the teacher wanted to do is assess our ability to spell and write but
when I couldn't remember how to write my last name it was all I could do to hold
back the tears.
think that my potentially illustrious baseball career began and ended in the
first or second grade. I don't
remember how I was at batting but I was allowed to pitch one game. Not quite understanding the rules, I
tried very hard and got the ball across the plate so well that everyone was able
to get a hit. I thought I had done
an excellent job but I learned after the game what I had done wrong. I don't think I was ever given a second
chance to pitch.
that I think I spent a lot more time on the monkey bars and swings (no rules or
think I was a pretty good kid at school most of the time. I can only remember
once when I did a bad thing. My
mother had gotten me a new box of crayons and somehow I lost them somewhere
between school and home. When I got
inside the school and discovered them missing, I asked the teacher if I could go
back outside and try to find them. She said "Yes, for a few minutes". I couldn't find them in the schoolyard so
I decided to retrace my steps all the way home.
Isn't it funny that I was able to time my search well enough that I
didn't get home until almost the exact time I was expected when school got out? Of course, the next day I had to answer
to the teacher but the punishment must not have fit the crime or I would
probably have remembered that too.
I wasn't interested much in sports, I was fairly
think my best friends were Jim Wasser, Mickey Howe and Mike Kauppi. At the time, Jim lived across the road
from the school in what would eventually be
think Mike Kauppi's mother was a roving guidance counselor and one day she drove
her Crosley station wagon to
working at the Bay gas station in
due to a lack of interest at my age, I only have a vivid memory of one of the
girls that I went to school with at McLaren.
That memory was probably the result of another curious event which, I'm
sure now, happened a little too early in my life.
was one boy in school that was always a little bit of a bully. I don't remember his name but I guess
there always has to be at least one bully at every school. Of course, being the smallest boy in
school probably made me a good target.
little ways from the school, on my daily walk home, there was a small bridge
that usually had a little water running underneath it. One day while walking home with Zoe
Harris, the "bully" asked us if we wanted to see what he'd found under
the bridge. Up to that point, he
hadn't been mean to Zoe, or me so we followed him down to the water under the
bridge. Once there, he dropped his
pants and told Zoe what he wanted her to do.
Considering my last such experience, Zoe and I scrambled back up the bank
to the road and ran off while he was still struggling to get his pants back up. He didn't catch up to us that day.
for me, there were other days. After
that, on the way home he would try to pick a fight with me. Most days I could get ahead or stay
behind him enough to avoid any problems. One
day, the inevitable happened and he caught up with me at the corner of Schaffer
and Eastman and I couldn't avoid the fight.
I think I was holding my own until he picked up a stick. Just about that time, a school bus
stopped and let off some older kids. One
of them saw what was going on and, although he didn't stop the fight, he did
take the stick away from the other boy. Although
I don't remember for sure, I suspect that taking the stick away intimidated the
'bully' and gave me enough courage that I was able to knock him into the ditch. The water in the bottom of the ditch had
the desired effect and he stopped fighting and went home.
wish I could remember the older boy's name.
The 'bully' never bothered me after that.
Unfortunately, I don't know if he ever bothered Zoe. I hope not. I think the Harris's moved away sometime after that and the Lightfoot's
moved into their home.
met Zoe again by chance years later on the night of the 1964 Meridian High
Jr./Sr. prom. But, that's another
story for later.
the McLaren 1952 - 1953 photo included in the 1964 class yearbook and lots of
help from MaryLou Woodruff here is a list of Beginners through 2nd grade class
of that year (I was in the 1st grade):
Joseph, Jim Wasser, Sandy Haggit, David Rogers, Betty Parsons, Ken Augustine,
MaryLou Woodruff, Morgan Smith, Neva Mackey, John Rogers, Audrey Richardson, Rex
Wendt, unknown, Betty Jo Ostrander, Gordon Swinson, Diana Howe, Bill Goullete,
Charlene Mosher, Bobby Harris, Christine ?, ? Robbins, Harriet Whitehead, Selby
Richardson, Zoe Harris, Mickey Howe, Judy Fick, Bobby Seward, Max
are the names that Judy Fick had listed on her 2nd and 3rd grade Mills 1953 -
1954 photo (I was in the 2nd grade):
Herner, John Gower, unknown, Leon Schneider, Lorrine Hardy, Mike Kauppi, Zoe
Harris, unknown, Jim Wasser, Betty Ostrander, Max