Tuesday, November 01, 2011

More Harlem memories

When I think about how my mom used to obsess over terrible things that might happen to me as a kid, it amazes me that I wandered all over Harlem alone without her saying a word.  She and Daddy were both at work all day; maybe I never bothered to mention my wanderings.  
I cried myself to sleep many times when we first moved to the city because we had been living on a farm where my dad was a hired hand, and I loved that place.  I missed the barn cats and my dog Cookie, who had to be shot before we moved because she had a huge tumor on her belly (and we had no place for a dog in the apartment).  So yes, I cried.  
But there were things I learned to love about our new home.

The levee
I loved going on the river side of the levee, sitting on one of the big rocks, and simply watching the Missouri River below.  (I still love the river, and find it interesting that I live so near it today.)  Sometimes a boat would come along; you'd hear a "toot" that was the signal for someone to raise up a portion of the A.S.B. bridge (in the background) to let it through, and neighborhood kids would run up to the top of the levee to watch.  
Up under the bridge were signs that hobos had been there, perhaps taking refuge from the elements:  whisky bottles, sardine cans and such were scattered about.  
Surely my mom didn't know I was wandering up there alone!  

We lived within easy walking distance of the Municipal Airport, which was one of my favorite places to hang out.  It was THE airport serving Kansas City back then.  My mom and I met Pat Boone's plane one time when he arrived for a concert sponsored by Katz drug stores, and we ended up being in a picture of the crowd on the front page of the Kansas City Star.  
Because of our close proximity to the airport, our TV signal often went haywire as planes flew over our house; when they were taking off or landing, the noise was horrendous.  

We drove to the airport yesterday; it's no longer "THE airport", but planes still land there.  Kansas City International Airport lies about fifty miles or so to the north.

While we were in North Kansas City, I asked Cliff to take me to the spot where I went to school when we first moved to the city.  I was halfway through the sixth grade when I was enrolled in McElroy Dagg school, which at that time was a grade school.  Later on it became part of the high school.  

Now the building is gone; in place of the McElroy Dagg building and grounds is Dagg Park.

A couple blocks away stands North Kansas City High School, from which I graduated in 1962.  The old part of the building hasn't changed much, although additions have made it at least double the size it used to be.   One thing that has changed drastically:  In 1962, you wouldn't have seen one black face in the student body.  There wasn't any enforced segregation, it's just that the Kansas City population north of the river was 100% white.   
That seems strange now, doesn't it?  Some traditions are best left behind. 

  Cliff and I saw several faces of color when we drove past the school.

I realize these ramblings are probably of little interest to my readers, but sometimes I need to turn back the years and remember other times, simply for my own benefit.   


I'm mostly known as 'MA' said...

Memories are a good thing and all of us have them. Places and people of the past are important as they make up who we are. Without all the experiences you've had and those people in your life you wouldn't be or I wouldn't be who I am. They all affect our outlook on life as well as the way we often do things. Memories are mostly good things. Hope your Tuesday is a terrific one!

Vicki said...

I really enjoyed your trip to Harlem. I seems as though the older we get the stronger the memories. Vicki

kcmeesha said...

do you remember when that concert was - month and year?

Donna said...

No I don't, Meesha. We had our coats on in the picture, so it must have been autumn or early spring. If I were guessing, I'd say 1958 or 59. It was shortly after Pat Boone wrote a book for teens called "Twixt Twelve and Twenty".

Milly said...

I grew up in Kansas City and I had never, ever heard of the Harlem neighborhood -- though North Kansas City was kind of a dessert to us. We lived in the Waldo area almost all my "remembered" childhood. I enjoyed your journey through your memories. My grandfather grew up at 8th & Quindaro in KCKS and I've had Hubby drive me around there to see what the place looks like today. M.

Ralph said...

Your "ramblings" about the past are far more interesting than you know. They are treasures- we all have them and should pass them along.

Heidi said...

I loved reading this. I like hearing about my city in another time and seeing pictures of then and now. :)

Cliff said...

Yeah, Harlem threw me off too.
Good ramblings, it's hard to make a come back if you haven't been anywhere.


I think I would have loved to sit on rocks looking at the river, as a child... like you did. I can only imagine what you felt and the things you saw. Must have been pretty special. How exciting to meet Pat Boone's plane and end up on the front page of the paper. What other brushes with fame have you had? LOL Wonderful photos, Donna. Thanks for sharing.

katie said...

I have loved reading your recent posts. I am from the Independence area, born and raised. Now living in Warsaw. I remember all the places you have talked about. I watched my sister and 6month old baby leave from that airport for Germany to meet her military husband back in about 1958.
If you are on facebook there is a page "you know your from Independence if" I don't know if it would interest you or not.
Have enjoyed your memories.