A typical winter in Michigan in the 60’s
Third grade continued in 1963 and soon winter arrived. Winters were always harsh, brutal, and incredibly beautiful and glorious for inhabitants of Battle Creek Michigan. Especially for the children. Christmas break came so It was time to drag the sleds, skis and toboggan from the attic and get ready for winter fun!
Directly in front of our house was the Beaumont pond. Greg and Carlos would come to my house dragging their sleds and we would head out across the retention pond to Wattles road. Then cross the road and enter the huge field. There was some great hills there for sledding and skiing.
Also there was a large pond for ice skating. Mom and dad would occasionally come with us to skate. Mom and I had figure skates and dad had hockey skates. Mom taught me how to skate and to do big figure eights on the ice.
Spring in Michigan
Winter turned into spring. We were beginning to look forward to summer. We counted down the days to he end of school. And soon it happened. Spring turned into summer. The summer of 1964 flew by as summers do for kids. However there was plenty of time for adventure and fun. Perhaps is was a bike ride down Wattles road to the county park for some fishing or a dip in the river. Or maybe just hanging out and just messing around. Children knew how to mess around back then. They did not need video games or smart phones to have fun. The days were long and the fun was genuine!
In August of 1964 it was time for registration for the upcoming school year. Mom took me to the school for registration. All my shots were up to date and I was healthy and ready for the new school year. At registration there also was a kiosk to register my bicycle. I filled out the papers and they gave me a tag to attach to my bike. Afterwards mom and I went to downtown Battle Creek to Jacobson’s and Sears for school supplies and new school clothing.
The old white buildings and the brick building at Wattles Park Elementary in the early 60’s. The white building in the back is Mrs. Whites kindergarten class building. They are long gone now.
4th and 5th grade was held in the old white building on the Wattles Park elementary school property. It was a one story wood building with four classrooms. The rooms had very high ceilings. Each room had large lights hanging down from the ceiling on long cables. One of the classrooms was a music room. I learned how to play the violin there with 3 or four other girls. The only name of a girl that I can remember is Sally. Mrs Hardesty was the music teachers name. The building has long sense been torn down along with the little one room building used for kindergarten class.
A 60’s Classroom
My 4th grade teachers name was miss Ogar. She was a young and very attractive teacher. All of us boys immediately fell in love with her. We all had a crush on her. She had a spiffy little sports car. We all thought that was very cool.
A typical girls school restroom of the 60’s
One day my friend Tim and myself were caught trying to peek into the girls bathroom. It was inevitable. Hormones were raging in our young bodies and we were beginning to take interest in girls. How could this be? Just a year ago girls were poison! Anyway Miss Ogar caught Tim and I trying to look into the girls bathroom. We snuck up on the door and gingerly opened it to look in. Out of nowhere Miss Ogar appeared behind us. She had a big grin on her face. I think she understood the curiosity that lived in all young boys about the opposite sex. Anyway she looked at Tim and I. She managed to wipe the grin off of her face and put on a more stern look. She said “Tim. Jim. What are you doing? Why are you trying too look into the girls bathroom? Have you never seen a girls bathroom?” Tim and I were looking down at our shoes. We shook our head no and continued to look at our shoes in embarrassment. Miss Ogar simply took both of us by hand and lead us in to the forbidden bathroom. Nothing was really different except the absence of urinals. The place did look cleaner and there were no graffiti on the stall walls. Tim and I were embarrassed at being caught. However we were grateful that Miss Ogar took the time and had the understanding of what went on in a young boys mind. The curiosity. The need for answers.
Some Halloween costumes popular in the 60’s
October came and Halloween was just around the corner. Halloween was the second most important holiday for young people. It’s importance was only surpassed by Christmas. Halloween took some planning. A store bought costume or make one yourself? I decided to be a hobo on Halloween of 1964. Mom helped me sew on some patches on some old tattered jeans. Hobos had lots of patches on there clothes right? I had a tattered flannel shirt to use. Also a straw hat. I smudged my face with charcoal as all hobos had dirty faces. The costume was complete.
Trick or Treat in the 60’s
Halloween came and off I went over to Greg and Carlos’s house to join them in trick or treating. We went down Jono road then up Wattles road. Then Boyer and Crosby road. As the bags were getting rather full at this point, we stopped at my house to leave our “booty” and to get fresh bags. Then we continued around Beaumont drive and returned to my house to drop off our remaining candy.
Halloween Party in the Barn
Every Halloween the Pugh’s, the people that lived on the corner of Boyer and Wattles road had a Halloween party for all the children in the neighborhood. This event was the climax of the Halloween season. It was a wonderful thing for them to do! The Party would take place in their barn. There was bobbing for apples. There were hot dogs, sloppy joes and chips. And the best candy apples ever! Also fresh apple cider so good and so sweet. So leaving our candy at my house on Beaumont, Greg Carlos and I headed out the door and made our way up Wattles road to Boyer to join the party. It so happened that the Inquire and News, a local Battle Creek newspaper was at the party to cover the story of the generosity of these fine people for doing this for the community. A snapshot was taken for the newspaper and I was in it! Unfortunately that straw hat. Remember that? Part of my hobo costume. It completely covered my face! You could not tell it was me! Nonetheless, we all had a great time at the Halloween party. I am forever grateful for the good memories.