"My 7th Grade"
About 13 years old
Bad news. During the year of my seventh grade, both my mother and dad got teaching jobs somewhere around Appleton City. So, naturally they took a very sad brat with them, named "Tip". This was a very sad time for me, and I really don't have many memories of this period in my life. I existed, is about all I can remember. Except for a few events which I will now put to paper.
Riding the Train
I did make a good friend there, named Joe Jimmy Talbot. He lived on a farm about 3/4 of a mile south of town, next to some MK & T railroad tracks. The reason I mention the railroad, is because this same set of tracks came within a block of our house in town. When days were boring, I would hang onto the steps of a boxcar if the train was moving fairly slowly, and ride to Joe Jimmy's home. If the train picked up too much speed, I would jump off and walk the rest of the way. The same procedure was used many times to get back home. I don't think my parents ever knew about this!
Rabbit and Pigeon Hunting
In those days, we could sell rabbits to the local produce house. We got 30 cents for a shotgun killed rabbit, 35 cents for a rifle shot rabbit, and 40 cents for a trap caught rabbit. Joe Jimmy and I made many hunting trips for rabbits. This was a very welcome source of spending money for us. Normally, we could get four or five rabbits each in a good day.
One day as we were returning from a rabbit hunting trip, there was a big old broken porcelain insulator laying in a roadside ditch. We put it up on a fence post, and used it for target practice. We were both using 22 caliber rifles. We would hit the insulator, but it would not fall off the post. After a few shots, we walked right up to it to see where we had hit it. Without warning, Joe Jimmy shot that insulator point blank. We were both within 3 or 4 feet of it. It shattered, and all kinds of shrapnel came back at us. Joe Jimmy got the worst of the shrapnel, it hit him in the face in several places. He started bleeding profusely, and it scared the heck out of both of us. We ran to his house, his mother met us at the door, his face was a bloody mess. She just knew he was dying, and so did we. After the wounds were washed up, we saw that the wounds were not serious, just bleeding a lot.
We did not learn much. Joe Jimmy's dad had a nice barn which had dozens of pigeons living in it, mostly sitting on the hay rail up at the top. We figured that we would do his dad a favor and shoot those pigeons who were eating chicken feed and other feed around the farm. We took our 22's and shot most of the birds, and were really proud to tell his dad what we had done. It did not occur to us that those bullets would also go right thru the new tin roof that had just been put on. His dad was not too happy, I can say this without fear of contradiction.
Tip Attends "Sex Education Classes"
I started this year out with a bad attitude. I was mad at the world because for another year I would be stuck not living in Monegaw. I prayed to be old enough so I could make my own decisions of where to live. However, this attitude was changed for the better after a few days in the new location when I learned about some benefits.
To my amazement, a few houses away lived a whole gang of kids. I'll not mention their last name - it could embarrass someone, someday. One boy was my age, and a brother was a year younger. I got to know them pretty well, and we had some good times hunting for rabbits and fishing together. It turned out that the two boys had a bunch of sisters - some older, some younger than me. It also turned out that their house had no running water. (Neither did we - at that time the city water in Appleton City was not fit to drink, so few had their houses connected).
And it turned out that during warmer weather once a week the sisters (and the brothers) had their baths in old fashioned wash tubs in the back yard. And, lo and behold, it seemed to matter little to anyone, including their parents, who else was in the back yard at the time. I developed a great fondness for their back yard. Some of the sisters, on occasion, used to tease me, and try to shock me by frequently entering and exiting those tubs for some made-up reason. It worked! I was shocked! I say shocked! Shocked so bad that I found many reasons to be around on bath days, looking all innocent! (Loved that back yard.) Yep, "Sex Education 101".
Case of the 'Possum Getting Electrocuted
About half way to Joe Jimmy's house, I had an uncle and aunt living on a farm. Uncle Elmer and Aunt Blanche Sagaser. They gave me permission to trap rabbits on their farm in the winter time, so I made about 20 box traps and set them out in their fence rows. I had a lot of luck, each day I would run the traps, and normally I would catch 6 or 8 rabbits which I could sell for 40 cents each at the produce house. I would ride out there on my bicycle to run this trap line.
One day, there was a huge old 'possum in one of the box traps. A good 'possum hide was worth a couple of dollars or so, and I was elated. However, it was very much alive and did not want to be caught. I finally got him out of the trap. My uncle had an electric fence running past there. I got a wise idea, I was going to electrocute that 'possum, so I could get him home. I caught him by the tail, put him on that electric fence, and I thought someone had hit me! I was the one who took the shock - standing on wet snow! I recovered from the electrocution idea, and still had the 'possum.
I decided to take him home alive. I had him by the tail, so I got on my bike and headed for home as fast as I could, as that 'possum was trying to bite me, or so I thought. About 1/4 mile of this, and that swinging 'possum got his head caught in the spokes of my front wheel. We wrecked. I got all skinned up, but the 'possum had a broken neck and was finally dead. When we got home, my dad helped me skin that 'possum.
A Case of Hit & Run!
One day one of my friends was towing me behind his bicycle. I was riding in my Radio Flyer Red Wagon behind his bicycle and we were crossing a highway, at a crosswalk. Coming down a side street was a car pulling a trailer with a big stock tank in the trailer. Well, as we were most of the way across the highway, this car runs the stop sign, turns left, and runs right into us. The grill of the car hit me and knocked me into the road ditch, but the car ran right over my wagon.
The kid who was towing me got knocked off his bike, and got all skinned up, but not run over. The car missed him, but ruined his bike. The guy in the car looked at us but kept going on down the highway, never stopping. We were near my house, and we ran and told my Dad what had happened, but by this time the guy in the car was long gone.
I told my Dad the guy was pulling a trailer with a big stock tank in it. He called the local hardware and lumber yard to see if someone had recently bought a new stock tank. Yes, they had. And, they told my Dad who it was, and where he lived. My Dad put me in the car, and we headed out to this guy's place. When we drove up, the guy saw me and knew right away why we were there. He started apologizing, while sweating and shaking. My Dad was MAD. The guy offered to buy me a new wagon, my friend a new bike, and would have bought us a new car if we had asked. He knew he was in trouble for hit-and-run, and for running the stop sign. Everybody calmed down, and my Dad took enough money to buy me a new wagon, and my friend a new bike. The culprit was glad to get by so easy he was afraid of going to jail! Well, I got a new wagon, my friend got a new bike, and all was well in the world once again.
I get a New Sister!
During this time, my little sister, Vickie Rae, was born. She was 13 years younger than me and since I was used to being the "only child", it was quite a transition for me. She wasn't of much use to me, being a baby and all, so not too many memories outside of remembering her arrival.
I did have the whooping cough when she was born - so she caught it. Now whooping cough for a newly born baby is bad news. I, and I'm sure my parents, did not think Vickie would survive this disease. When she had a coughing fit, I would go out back into a barn we had and cry like a baby. I was scared to death I had killed my new sister. She did survive after about two weeks, and we've been very close ever since.
Tip and his new baby sister!
Coasting in the Car
One day, my parents took me down to see my cousins who lived on the family farm. Jack, Eva, Wanda, and Bill. We always had a good time, but sometimes ended up in trouble. Their house was at the top of a hill about 1/2 mile off the road. There was a dirt trail leading from the house to the garden at the bottom of the hill, a distance of several hundred yards.
My dad had parked the car near the house and I got to bragging how I could drive a car. After all, I was about 12 or 13 years old. My cousins wanted proof, so I put them in the car, kicked it out of gear, and away we went down that hill. How I thought I was going to get the car back up that hill, never entered my mind. My dad got the car back, and I got a good whipping. But, I had proved to my cousins that I could "drive".
One of the highlights of this year was our "Snipe Hunting" trip. It occurred at my Uncle Leslie's place on the family farm. During one of my frequent stay-overs at my favorite cousins place on the family farm, cousins Jack and Bill, and myself thought we would have a different kind of fun. (I don't remember if cousin Jerry was in on this or not. He was probably too young).
It being a cool, windy, cloudy and moonless night (kinda scary), we thought it would be an appropriate time to introduce the girl cousins to the fine art of snipe hunting. Of course, they had never heard of this sport, so we had to explain it to them before putting our plan into action. They seemed a little hesitant at first, but we soon convinced them that the rewards would be great.
Jack, Bill, and I, got flashlights and gunny sacks, and the older girl cousins (Eva, Wanda, Linda, and maybe Janice) and the whole crew headed out for a patch of timber about 1/4 mile to the west of the house. Thru an open pasture, into a dark, thick woods. There, we stationed the girls in a line about 100 feet apart. We gave each a gunny sack, and instructed them to hold the sack open, near the ground, and us boys would do all the work. We would go some distance away (with all the lights) and chase the snipes into the open bags. The girls were to stay in position, and not make a sound, because that might scare the snipes.
So, after placing the girls in the dark, us three
boys headed for the house, and all the comforts of home. We were
warm, in a well lighted place, and may have popped some popcorn, who knows?
It took about an hour for the girls to realize what had happened.
They felt their way to the house, without benefit of any lights, and
were in a foul mood when they got back. They failed to see the humor
of Snipe Hunting, but us boys thought everything went
On another week long visit to my Carpenter cousins, I had an experience that more than made up for the "Snipe Hunting" trick. They got even with me.
Aunt Ruby along with the older girls, had prepared a nice dinner of navy beans and cornbread, along with other things, of course. Now, navy beans and cornbread happened to be one of my favorites. We all sat down to supper (not "dinner") and I was sitting next to my Uncle Leslie. I filled my plate with beans, grabbed some cornbread and was all set to eat, when I spotted what I thought was ketchup.
Now, my parents had never used any hot sauce, I had never even tasted this stuff before. I did not even know what it consisted of. I thought the hot sauce was ketchup. So, I proceeded to completely cover my beans with this hot sauce. Uncle Leslie was watching, and as I was putting it on the beans he asked me several times if I liked the sauce. I told him "sure, I love it" and kept on adding it to my beans.
Time to actually eat. I took one bite of those
beans, and it about blew my head off. But, I was embarrassed enough
that I had to keep eating and "enjoying" those beans. After all, I
had been so adamant that this was my favorite sauce. My eyes
filled with tears. Tears were running down my cheeks. I was sweating.
I was in misery, but I kept on eating somehow. Everyone
at the table was watching me, and holding back laughter. I had to eat
those beans or completely pass out - one of the two. I ate them. I
excused myself from the table and headed for the water bucket. I drank
water until I was almost sick. For several days afterward, I could
taste that hot sauce, or at least I could remember the taste. Oddly
enough, to this day, I really do like hot sauce, but I've acquired enough
sense to not completely cover my food with it!
Delivering Rexall One Cent Sale Newspapers
There was a Resall Drug Store in Appleton City operated by a man named "Beanie Bowman". About once a month, the Rexall Company would put out a small newspaper with sale items it it. Buy one item , get the second item for one cent. Mr. Bowman would get a few hundred of these papers and hire us kids to fold and deliver them to every house in town. We folded the papers, which took about a half a day. Then we rode our bikes, and in about another half a day had the job done and delivered.
We got lazy. And dishonest. One time, we got the batch of papers, and instead of folding and delivering them, we hid all of them in a culvert. We reported to Mr. Bowman for our pay, and he was nice to us. He wanted to know how we had got the job done so fast. (He knew all along) Our conscience got the best of us, and we confessed. He asked that if he got another batch, would we do the right thing, and we assured him we would. And we did. After that, we were very good delivery persons!
Selling Corn Cobs
Another way us kids had of making spending money was selling corn cobs. There was a big grain elevator in town owned by a man named "Mr. Grider". In those days, the farmers harvested their corn and brought it to the elevator on the cob to be shelled. As a result, there would be a great big pile of corn cobs accumulate, and Mr. Grider allowed us kids to have all we wanted. He was glad to get rid of them.
We would take our "Rider" wagons and a batch of gunny sacks and fill the sacks with these cobs. We could haul about four sacks at a time on one wagon. We would go up and down the streets calling on all the old ladies we knew and sell them the cobs for ten cents a sack. They used them for kindling for their stoves. Most people at that time used wood or coal for heat and cooking, we had no natural gas. They were glad to get the cobs, we were glad for the ten cents, and Mr. Grider was glad to get rid of them. A win-win situation!
Terrified in North Kansas City
During my miserable 7th grade year, my parents took me to visit with my cousins in North Kansas City. The only one in that family that I had any liking for was cousin Bob Lundy. He and I were not necessarily pals (we used to fight at the sight on one another) but he was the only one on that side of the family that I could tolerate. We were close to the same age, and had similar likes and dislikes.
During this one visit, Bob and I were riding around North Kansas City on bicycles. He on his, me on his little brother's bike. W managed to buy a pack of cigarettes somewhere and we were hunting a secluded place to share this vice. At the time, there was a big hill at the north of the main downtown area of North Kansas City without any development on it. We decided that the top of the hill would be a perfect place to go. We did.
The fact that there was a strong wind blowing, and that the hill was covered with waist high dry grass meant nothing to us. We saw no danger in this combination. So, climb the hill we did, and found a secluded spot out of the wind, and fired up some smokes. It was a bit chilly, so we decided to make a very small camp fire - naturally being careful to not let it get into the tall dry grass. You guessed it. The fire got into the dry grass, and spread like crazy.
We were terrified that the whole town would catch fire, and we had no hope of putting it out by ourselves. We ran down the hill, jumped on our bikes, and rode like crazy for about a mile to the nearest drug store that Bob knew about. We ran in the store, went into a phone booth, and called the fire department to report the fire. As soon as Bob told them where the fire was, he hung up. We started to leave the phone booth when the phone rang. Bob answered it, and it was the fire department wanting to know our names! Bob hung up, we exited the drug store and headed for Bob's home as fast as we could pedal those bikes. We kept looking over our shoulder expecting to see some police chasing us, but none was. We could hear fire sirens all over that end of town, and fortunately they got the fire out with no buildings damaged and no one hurt. Bob and I kept a very low profile for a day or so after that - it scared the wits out of us. (Assuming we had any "wits")