Down the Chute, and First Grade

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.

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