Monday, September 08, 2014

My peripatetic childhood (part 1)

That word, peripatetic, was a "Henry Hornet" word when I was in high school (that's "vocabulary word" for those of you who attended boring, ordinary schools).  Otherwise I probably wouldn't ever have known to use it.  But doesn't it contribute nicely to the title of a blog entry?  

I paid for a one-month subscription to newspapers.com, mainly because I wanted to find out the times and dates of events that happened during my childhood.  As I read about various things that stuck in my memory, most of the time I could remember where I lived when those newsworthy items made their impression on me.  My mom has a book she got in the 50's that helped her make a record of places she worked, where she lived at certain times, baptisms, births, and so forth that has really been invaluable to me at times.


On one page she listed the various places she had lived up through 1971, and today I decided to make a list of all the moves that included me.

When I was born in July of 1944, my parents lived on a farm near my maternal grandmother's place, but they sold that farm to my mom's brother, my Uncle Leo, and in October of the same year we moved to Guss, Iowa, where my parents become the local telephone operators.  The mailing address there was actually Villisca, Iowa, and that is how she listed it.  This confused me for a few minutes until I figured out what was going on.

According to my mom's records, in October, 1947, we moved to Clarinda, Iowa and lived there for ten months.  I have no memory of living in Clarinda.  Mother actually put down the street address at which we lived.  

From August of 1948 until October of 1949 we lived in Nodaway, and I do have a few memories of that place.  I would have been five when we left there.  I recall playing with a little neighbor girl younger than I whose name was Mickey Snowden.  And there was some guy who would set up a projector in a vacant lot, have people make seats out of boards, and show "Blondie" movies.  I loved that.   

From October 1949 to October 1950 Mother has us living at New Market, Iowa.  I don't remember ever living in that town, but I think maybe this was the period of time when we lived on a farm owned by Ted Davies where there were sheep Daddy helped tend, and I think some cattle.  My dad was in bed with pneumonia part of that winter.  This was where we lived when he tricked me into touching my tongue to a frozen water pump, and where, as we were getting in the car to go someplace I said the word "crap" (heard it from Daddy) thinking it was an innocent word for "stuff".  My mom slapped my face almost before the word was out of my mouth.  (Isn't it strange the things one remembers?)

I started my education at Skinner School, a one-room schoolhouse, with Mrs. Lorraine Eighmy as my teacher.  I was five; in that area, they had a class that they called "Primary" that came before first grade.  School lasted a full day, and there were no naps in the afternoon.  I loved school and my teacher.  If you do a search of my blog for Skinner school, you will find several entries about it, along with pictures.  There was a sandbox in the front of the schoolroom on the right, and if you had your lessons done you could go play in the sandbox.  But you weren't supposed talk to anybody else.  Well, I couldn't help myself and whispered in a LOUD whisper to a little boy who was there with me.  Mrs. Eighmy tapped me on the head with a pencil and it broke my heart.  I almost cried, but managed to hold back the tears.  It was at Skinner that I used a teeter-totter as a slide and wound up with splinters in my bottom.  I was too embarrassed to say anything, but when I got home to my mom, she had me lay face-down on the couch and pulled the splinters out, one by one.  

That's me standing by our mailbox at Guss.  I remember the mailbox well
In September of 1952, my parents left the switchboard in Guss and moved to Eagleville, Missouri, to become the switchboard operators there.  If it hadn't been for modern telephone systems coming in, Mother and Daddy would likely have spent their lives there.  We were surrounded by family and good friends, and I still have a warm feelings for Eagleville, even though everybody I loved most is dead and gone.  I was a strange kid, a loner of sorts even then:  I never once ate a school lunch.  My mom gave me 25 cents a day, but I would either go home and make pancakes for myself (or have a sandwich), or I would go to the smaller of two cafes in town and buy a hot dog, a coke, and a Three Musketeers candy bar with my quarter.  Sometimes I took a sack lunch to school with me, but I ate it in the classroom alone, not in the lunchroom.  I don't think I ever asked myself why I steered clear of that lunchroom, and I still don't know what my reasons were.

I will stop and continue in a different entry, because this is getting long.  Right now I think I have the sequence of events established pretty well in my mind, so I am logging it for future reference.  It may seem boring to my readers, this is one entry that is mostly for my own benefit anyway.

8 comments:

Average Jane said...

I wonder if you can find some of the addresses on Google Street View?

Diane@Diane's Place said...

Not boring to me at all. I love reading your memoirs. ;-)

Jon said...

This is truly fascinating and it's definitely not too long. I'm looking forward to more.

I'm not sure if you know this, but Villisca, Iowa is infamous because of the sensational ax murders that took place there in 1912. Eight people were murdered in their beds - - a family of six and their two overnight guests. It's one of the scariest things I've ever heard of, and to this day the murder is unsolved.

Jon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jon said...

I should have properly said "the murders are unsolved."

By the way, it's wonderful that your Mother kept a record of the places where you lived.

Donna said...

Yes Jon, in June I did several entries about the ax murders. A doctor who was called in after the murders is the man who delivered me.

TARYTERRE said...

You are so fortunate your mother kept that history for you. LOVE that mailbox. And you were a real cutie.

Barbara In Caneyhead said...

I adore personal remembrances!