"My 9th Grade"
About 15 years old
I may as well have been sentenced to Alcatraz. It would have been better if I had failed my 8th grade final for sure, and never graduated into High School. What disaster befell me was that my dad had taken a teaching job in Eldorado Springs, which required another move away from Monegaw Springs, and all my earthly friends! Absolute dejection as I helped move. What a bummer!
I truly, in fact, have few memories of my 15th year. Nothing good happened that I can remember. Well, there were a few bright spots. My sister, Vickie, was a couple of years old now, and turning into someone to play with. Before, I was faintly aware that there was a baby in the house. One day I was baby sitting her and she was standing up in a rocking chair holding onto the back if it. She was rocking back and forth, when that danged thing went over backwards. She broke her nose on the mop board of the room, and I was terrified. After a visit to the doctor, he pronounced that nothing could be done, it would just have to heal. It did, and healed straight!
Earning Money for Smokes
There were a few bright spots. For example, I got a job sitting pins in the local bowling alley. I only got paid about 10 cents an hour, but what the heck, I had some spending money! Also, there were a lot of thrown-away empty pop bottles to be found, which I could redeem for 2 cents each. I earned enough money to buy some Wings cigarettes on the sly. I could buy them for about 15 cents a pack. Plus there was a movie theatre where I could see a move for about 10 cents.
There is a small creek at the north edge of town that I used to go swimming in. There is one deep hole (about 4 feet deep), the rest were only inches deep, but it was a place to swim. The good part about this was that there were two girls my age who also liked to swim in that same spot. I was beginning to take good notice of the female species about now. No, they were not "girl friends" in that sense, but just good acquaintances. Later, when school started, I found out they were in the same class with me, so at least I knew somebody in that God-forsaken place.
On weekends I would badger my parents to take me to Monegaw for the weekend. We still had a house in Monegaw, so we could spend Saturday nights there. If we were to go, and if I had a fair notice, I would buy a couple of packs of Wings and wire them to the underside of the car. (No, heck no, I was surely not supposed to be smoking). I would sweat it all the way to Monegaw afraid we would have a flat tire or something so that my dad would have occasion to look under the car. Upon arrival, somehow I would retrieve those cigarettes and hunt up Chop and J.D. We would celebrate by seeing how many we could smoke during the weekend. They looked forward to these weekends as much as I did. Looking back, I don't know if they missed me all that much or wanted the ready-made smokes.
My "Grit" Route
One other way I could earn money while living in El Dorado Springs was by having a "Grit" route. The "Grit" was a weekly newspaper that had all kinds of stories, recipes, etc. that the older people liked. Once a week, the publisher would send me a bundle of about 75 papers. I had quite a nice route all set up delivering these to old ladies. The cost of the paper was a nickle, and I collected when I delivered it. I had to then send three cents for each paper back to the publisher, which left me with about $1.50 net profit.
There was one old lady that would offer to pay me, but she always had nothing but a $20 bill. Naturally, I could not cash that, and she knew it. So, she ran up a bill of about 35 cents, or 7 deliveries, each time presenting me with that hated $20 bill. I told my dad what she was doing to me, and he took care of the problem. He went to the bank, got $20 worth of nickels, and on my next route day, when this lady presented me that $20 dollar bill, I told her, "Sure, I can change that!" I gave her $19.65 in change in nickels. It took quite awhile, but she never pulled that trick on me again!
Another Bad Year Coming
At last, the school year ended, and I was hoping beyond hope that my dad would take the next year's teaching job back in Monegaw, where I belonged. But, as fate would have it, his next job was back in Appleton City - so another move, another year outside of Monegaw. Horrors!