Thursday, March 5, 2009

School Experiences II

NOTICE: This is the second in a series with the above title. The first one may be read by “scrolling down” to it on this blog. If you have not read it yet, please do so before reading this one. It’ll make more sense.

I’m trying to pick up where I left off with the original of this title. I woke up early this morning, so it’s too early to go down for breakfast. What else to do, but write on a new “post”.

Another of the First Grade Boys mentioned earlier, was Bobby Jones. I almost forgot about him, since he didn’t make it to the Sixth Grade.

Bobby was the first one of us (in my memory) to get a 2 wheel bike. We all had tricycles, but after 3rd or 4th Grade, we had to have Two Wheelers. Bobby used to ride his “bike” (short for bicycle, meaning two wheels) with us. He lived maybe 4 or 5 blocks from me, up on West Race St. But we got together anyway. I think, mostly, that I went to his house. Although, we have a picture of Bobby and me on my folks’ back porch at age 5, with “carpenter tools”, like we were building something. He was the one who challenged me to put my tongue on the frozen pump handle.

Bobby seemed to handle the bike very well, so we were surprised when we learned that he had had an accident on it, seriously injuring himself. I don’t remember how long it was until he succumbed to his injuries, and died, but it was very sad for his family, and for all of us who were Bobby’s friends.

Bobby’s dad, Paul Jones, was a Funeral Director in town. The word was that Paul was one of 3 possible “Undertakers” who had embalmed the original Unknown Soldier, during World War I. Paul was a rather tall, imposing fellow. Quite outspoken, and knowledgeable. A community leader.

One Easter, Paul and his wife attended the local church for the service. The Minister at that time was also outspoken. I was behind Mr. and Mrs. Jones that Sunday as they were leaving the service - greeting the Minister. Out of a “clear blue sky”, the Minister said, “In case I don’t see you until next Easter, Mr. Jones, Merry Christmas to you.” Paul turned to us and said, “Did you hear that? Outrageous.” No comment by me. I don’t know whether he was back next Sunday, or next Easter. He was flabbergasted. I can’t seem to remember the Minister’s name, though I’ve always known it. Probably best left out, I guess.

Of course, I eventually got a “bike”. At about the 6th or 7th grade, I was riding home after school on the bike, rather fast actually for still being on the school grounds. I rode around a corner of the building on the driveway, when suddenly, in front of me was a car coming my way. The edge of the driveway was slanted upward toward the School, actually, and when I saw the car, I “slammed on the brakes”, leaving my front wheel up on the slant, and the rear wheel under the car wheels. Close call.

I entered school in September of 1930. How do I remember the date so clearly? Let me tell you. One thing, my sister was graduated in the spring of 1931. In addition, in early 1940, I had an appendectomy. I was just leaving the 10th grade, as a sophomore. Ya get it? 1940; 10th grade; I was graduated from the 12th Grade in 1942. Get it? The last number of the date was the spring of my school year with the same digit.


All during my Sophomore year, I had stomach pains - off and on. They’d come and go. They got so bad that I vomited, sometimes. Our local physician suspected my appendix, and in fact, sent me to a surgeon in Columbus. Why it wasn’t Urbana or Springfield, I don’t now. Unless, I now remember, our Physician originally hailed from Columbus, and he knew the Surgeon.

The Surgeon wanted to know if the pain kinda moved from my upper left abdomen, to the lower right. Sure enough, that’s the way it was.
“Surgery”, he said.

At the appointed time, we all got in Dad’s car and drove to Mt. Carmel Hospital in Columbus. At the time, I was working part-time in the Buckwalter and Adams Grocery (B&A). Clyde Adams was my boss. I worked mostly on Saturdays, except more in the summer. I was a “shelf filler”, as well as “order picker” (these are my terms for what I did), and some Saturdays I would drive the delivery truck and take groceries to customers. Much, if not most, of the business was by telephone and delivery. Through the week, Fred Turner was the full-time delivery man, and on Saturdays, I was the delivery boy. (He was,by the way, the “boy friend” of Dolly Longbrake, Ada Longbrake’s sister - my 6th grade teacher.)

I mention Clyde and B&A, because when we went to the hospital, Clyde went along, driving separately. That was very kind of him, and I appreciated it - especially when he went out and bought a Columbus Dispatch, folded over a pack of Camel cigarettes, a pack of matches, and tied with a rubber band. Clyde knew I was a “clandestine” smoker, and wanted to help me with my habit. I don’t think Mother and Dad EVER had a clue as to what he did for me. I know I never told.

The interesting thing about the Surgery was that this Surgeon was using an unusual procedure for Appendectomies - in those days. (1940) He made only a one-inch long incision, reached in with a forceps and knife, then pulled out the infected appendix, excising it. Of course, today we are familiar with these almost non-invasive surgeries, but then, the incisions were typically 5 inches long. I wish I could remember the name of the Surgeon. I did for several years - you know - old age. I do remember the physician from Columbus, it was Dr. Sharp.

Oops! Time for breakfast.

Ummmm. Good eggs, bacon, orange juice, toast and tea.

When I leave for something like this, I lose my train of thought, and maybe, my inspiration. Where was I?

Oh yes………school. I barely remember “tangling” with a really good Principal one time. Though I can’t remember what it was that started it, I do think I talked back to him one time, and walked away. What I DO remember was “MIKE!!” I walked back to him, and acquiesced, sheepishly. I SURELY didn’t want him to report to my Mother and Dad that I was impudent. But I think I surely must have been. I have otherwise good memories of him. I respected him, and my outburst was one of frustration, or guilt. I’m not sure which. At any rate, we returned to good graces with each other. I don’t think I’ve EVER mentioned this to another living soul. After more than 70 years, it seems like it is about time. I wish I remembered more of the occasion, so I could further “bow down”, in memory. Maybe it will come back.

We had, in our high school, a “Hi-Y” group, that was connected to the YMCA of note. It was led by one of our teachers who was a very godly man, but with an EXPLODING temper, when students acted up. You could tell when he was about to blow, by watching his eyes. It was almost as if he became another person. He would scowl, breathe hard, and say, “I don’t have to do this. I’ll just ‘throw him out the window’”. We were afraid he would do just that, to someone. Rumor had it that he even grabbed Bill Saxbe one time when he was in the 8th grade, but let him go without further incident. (I never asked Bill about that. I wish I had.) Suddenly, his whole visage changed, he calmed down, and acted as if nothing had happened. I think it’s possible that he didn’t remember any of it at all.

(In my initial telling of this story, I named the teacher, but I decided that it was not proper to mention the teacher’s name, while at the same accusing him of these actions. I have since decided to include the story, BUT omit the teacher’s name.)

This teacher, and Roger Counts, a Science Teacher, were co-advisors to the Hi-Y. To join, you had to participate in an initiation ceremony, after school hours, and after dark. In preparation for that we were told that individually we would go into a darkened school room, with no lights permitted at all, and recite the 23rd Psalm, while waiting to be called. I didn’t know if it was to be aloud, or silent. I couldn’t ask anyone, though I didn’t know for sure that no one was in the room. I started reciting it, but got confused at part of it, and had to start over several times - apologizing aloud each time, as if someone WAS with me in the room. I’m not sure to this day if there was someone there, but I couldn’t take a chance.

Finally, I was called, and taken to another school room. Both teachers were there, and maybe some students - I’m not sure. I was sat down in a wooden chair with a metal bottom - not noticed as I sat. I was a little intimidated, I think.

One of the teachers then began telling of a project the Hi-Y was sponsoring that needed donations. As the explanation was given, unknown to me, a student was behind me, holding a lighted candle under the seat. How they coordinated it, I don’t know, but at the proper time when the teacher was asking for a contribution, he said, “If you would like to make a contribution, just stand up.” Voila. The metal seat got too hot to sit on at just the right time, and of course, I stood up. Everyone laughed, including a nervous me.

Well, that ends my “school stories” for the present. Who knows but that I MIGHT remember some more things - in fact, I just now thought of something. I’ll probably post another story or two on this subject, sometime later.


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