Spring and Summer of 1961 was good to be a kid. Movies at the Theater, trips to the museum, picnics and trips to the lake. This was the year I started formal music lessons also. It cost 5$ an hour, every Thursday after school. Mrs. Wolf was my first music teacher. A young mother. I never did see her husband. She had a Daughter my age Becky, and Mrs. Wolf would drop her off at my house from time to time. My dad had put boards in the attic over the garage. I went up there and made kind of a hangout there. Becky loved to go up there too. She was a bit of a tomboy but played the piano beautifully. One day Becky was dropped off and Mom took us to the Movies Downtown Battle Creek, to see a Disney Movie. It is very special, as this was the first outing where one of my parents did not go with me. I felt very grown up! I paid, and got 2 tickets for the movie, and Becky and I went to the vending machines to get a snack. One quarter would go a long way in those days. I had a change purse stuffed with quarters, saved up from my weekly allowances. I got Becky what she wanted, and what I wanted from the machines. As we were heading back to our seats a man leaped out of nowhere and grabbed my change purse, and ran! We went and told the management what had happened, but there was nothing they could do about it. That day I learned a valuable lesson. To keep my money hidden, and out of sight until needed!
Most homes in the early 60’s had a clothes chute that went from one of the bedroom to the basement. It was great winter fun, when it was way too cold to go outside. My best friend Greg Habenicht and I discovered it one day, and decided that it would be great fun to go down the chute to the basement.
The basement at 179 Jono Road was typical of most homes in Michigan. Concrete block walls and cement floor, with a number of steel poles to hold up the house, It was a great place to play!
We went to the basement and piled a huge stack of clothes under the chute. Up we went and began to take turns going down the chute. Down we would go, then run up the stair to the bedroom where the chute was down again. Over and over! Down and up! What a racket it made!! It made an incredible banging sound! Mom working in the kitchen began to get suspicious of all the activity, and she started to investigate as to what was going on. We continued to take our rides. First Greg went down, then I. We landed in the basement at the feet of Mom. There was this look or her face. That is all it took back in the day. “The Look”. She told me years later, that she wish she could have done that too. And it looked like fun. She said to stop, and of course we did. But what fun we had before we were caught!
It was the 1961/1962 School year. I made the move from the one room school building I attended in kindergarten, to the main buildings of the School. My first grade teacher was Miss Thorley. A stern, take command woman. She would give you the “look” and you knew you better not cause a problem there. Lots to do. Spelling, learn colors, simple math, and story time. I got my first exposure to the songwriter Burl Ives there. Recess was fun as now you were in with the general population on the main property of Wattles Park Elementary School. We would run around the very large school property pretending we were vehicles, with all the sounds. VROOM, SCREECH, ROAR! Adults just don’t do that. Oh to be a kid again and to do these things. Only kids understand this.