First Bicycle

I received my first bike on Christmas of 1960. I was so proud of it! It was a small 24 inch sears bike with training wheels. I practiced and practiced with the training wheels on until I noticed that the training wheels weren’t touching the ground as much as they did at first. So around mid summer of 1960, dad took the training wheels off and let me try my first solo ride!

I did okay. I took off down the driveway, turned right, and took off down Jono road towards the Habenichts. There was one problem. He never told me how to stop! I panicked. I went barreling down the road but could not stop! Screaming at the top of my lungs I yelled for help. Fortunately the neighbor Mr. Washington was in his yard, and he headed me off and stopped me, just before I slammed into a mailbox! I am forever grateful for that.

My Best Friend Carol!

My best Carol and I loved to dress up in our parents clothes. All kids did this when they are young. Also we would play a game we called “turnpike”. If you have ever been on a turnpike, you know that you stopped at a booth, when you got on the turnpike and received a ticket. That way they would know where you got on, and how much to pay when you got off.

Well we made out own tickets, packed our suitcases, got dressed up in my parents clothes, got on our bikes, and took off down Jono road to far away places. Each mailbox was a toll station. We would put rocks into the mailboxes to pay our tolls, then off to the next “toll booth”. Quite a few rocks were put in the mailboxes that day and many after. And there were consequences. One day dad came to me and admonished me not to put any more rocks into the mailboxes. I think he was chewed out by the postman. Sigh. More about Carol later.

School Days

In the year 1960 I began to go to school. Mrs. White was my kindergarten teacher. The School was a small white one room building, on the Wattles Park Elementary property. I would later go the the large elementary that is still there, and still used. But this was kindergarten, and this building did its job.

As I said, the building had one main room, with a storage room and small restroom. Mrs. Whites classroom had a big jungle-gym in the middle. All of us were instructed to bring a small rug from home to take our naps on. I would always go to the jungle-gym to take my nap.

Out back was a playground with some swings, a teeter totter, and various playground equipment. I would get in the swing and swing as high as I could, and make believe I was in a spaceship, rocketing into orbit!

Mrs. White was a great teacher. About once a month we would go on a field trip. We would all be lined up and marched over to the elementary schools front driveway and await for the bus to take us away.  Some that come to mind was a visit to a turkey farm, and a visit to a farm where they made apple cider. They would put the apples under a big press then turn the big crank on the press. We all watched as the freshly squeezed cider ran down to the collection bottle. I can still taste that cider! So good and sweet. And when we went to the turkey farm, we all received some turkey feathers that we made into crafts around Thanksgiving time.

Back to the schoolhouse. The backyard of the school was fenced in, and on one fence was a hedge. As we were small kids, we would go behind the hedge and make living spaces there. Collect grass for play food, make chairs and have a good time till called in from recess.  

I had a best friend in kindergarten. A girl. Her name was Carol Washington. She lived just 3 doors from me. She was a bit of a tomboy, and remained that way into her adult life.

I got into a bit of trouble one day with her in Mrs. White’s class. I can not recall how it started, but it had to do with a baton that she had. You know the kind you twirled around. Well I wanted it, so I grabbed it from her. The instant I did Mrs. White was on me like gravy on potatoes! She grabbed me by the scruff of my neck and beat me with the baton! Whew! You could not get away with that in this day and age. But that was the way things were then. I survived, none the worse for the beating, and I learned a valuable lesson, to not grab things that did not belong to me.

Everything up his nose and Christmas 1959

Mom loved to move. In my time with them we moved about 6 times. In early 1959 we moved from 100 Jono road to 179 Jono road.

In May or June of 1959 I received a small wooden cannon. I was 4 at the time. It was about 6 inches long (15 centimeters). It had 8 small wooden bullets that it fired. I had been sitting on the floor in the living room playing with it all afternoon. I fired it at my toy solider men. I fired it at the cardboard bridge that my dad had made for me the other night. I just plain fired away!

After awhile I began to fiddle with the cannon and the bullets. I picked up one of the bullets, looked at it, then promptly shoved it up my nose. I then proceeded to do exactly the same with the remaining 7 bullets!

Just as the last bullet disappeared up my nose, my mother came around the corner, dish towel in hand, and looked at me. It had been way too quiet out here in the living room! “What is he up to?” said mom to herself.

Well there I sat on the floor with my cannon. All the bullets were up my nose. I could not breath very good and my lips were curled up weird. I sneezed!

“Where are the bullets that came with that cannon Jim?” mom shrieked! I just looked up at her and sneezed again. She knew something was wrong. Mothers are good at that!

In a panic she whisked me into the car and drove me straight away to our family doctor. We got to the office and they took us right away. The doctor looked at me and said “Well Jim. I bet you won’t do this again will you?” I shook my head. Then he laid my head back and told me not to move. One by one he dragged those bullets out of my nose with a long needle nose looking thing. As each one came out it tickled and I giggled.

Many happy memories are here at 179 Jono road. My first bike. A pedal tractor. A train set. Christmas! Christmas to me was then and still is the best time of the year. Oh how I loved Christmas! On Christmas eve we would go to the Christmas eve service at the Lakeview Baptist Church, in Battle Creek. After service we would come home, and settle around the fire. Mom would open a can of sardines, and some crackers, and we would watch Christmas specials on TV. After, mom would put some cookies on a plate, and a glass of milk for Santa, and put them on the table, and off to bed I would go. I could hardly sleep! Dad said “You better go to sleep or Santa will not come!”. So I did. Morning came. It was always a cold bright Christmas morning with plenty of snow. I would rush out into the living room and WOW! Santa did come! I remember a chalk board, a train set, some remote control cars and lots of toys! On the chalk board was written “Thank you Jim for the cookies and milk”. I ran over to the table, and sure enough the milk was gone, and the plate of cookies was empty! All that was left were some crumbs! Proof positive that Santa was really real! Such happy times.

More of the Very Early Years

The year was 1957. We were all together in the living room at 100 Jono Road.   The black and white TV was on. Dad was laying on the couch. I was now walking so I was making my rounds from the kitchen back to the living room. I was deep in play.

I then walked over to dad and for some reason, in my very small child mind, I wanted a bite of dad’s hair. Dad was relaxing on the living room couch with his head on the armrest. So I proceeded to toddle over to dads head, which was just at the right height for my small stature, and took a great big bite of his hair! (This was when dad had hair) Blah! The taste was horrible and I started to gag immediately! Most of the taste came from the brill cream he used at the time.  It was so nasty, and I remember mom whisking me away to wash out my mouth, and settle me down. I think Dad just smiled and chuckled .

boy-drinking-water-175737317-small

Dad and I would have a “drink”, a few hours before bed time, most evenings. He would have his drink which he called “gogels” and my drink we called “more”. Let me explain. When drink time arrived, dad would say to me “Do you want a drink?”. I would then say “Yes!”, and we would head for the kitchen. The kitchen had wormwood cabinets, lots of light and a tile floor. There was a small rug in front of of the kitchen sink. I would kneel down on the rug and dad would hand me a glass of “more” which was actually ginger ale, and he would have his drink too with his special flavoring in it. I would drink mine and look up at dad.  Dad would say “more?” and I would say “more please!” And that is how my drink was called “more”.

Sputnik

Sputnik

In October of 1957 when Russia Launched Sputnik. The space race was on. I remember going out in the yard with Dad, as he gazed into the sky to see the bright light go by. This period of time, and well into the 1960’s held my interest, and had a deep impact on me then, and well into the future. This was a very exciting time, especially for a kid! Imagine! Mankind leaving Earth for the first time! And later landing on the Moon! WOW! This is why I love science and technology so much. I know I will never fly into space. However, I am very proud to be a part of the generation that did! Oh and by the way. I never knew if dad saw that bright light in the sky, as Sputnik flew in its orbit overhead. I would like to think he did.

The Very Early Years


This is the year I was born. May 12th of 1955. There are a few things that stand out in my memory. I remember a nurse. Must have been where I was born in Battle Creek Michigan. She was a large woman. I remember the seams on her stocking. Strange huh? I also remember my mothers robe. My Dad’s rocking chair that had the scrolled armrests. I remember eating a drumstick. I remember riding in the car laying in the back seat, and watching the lights at night race across the car ceiling, as the car passed under street lights.  I remember some of the features of the home we lived in on 100 Jono road. The wormwood kitchen cabinets. The black tile in the bathroom. Also the opacity of the block window in the bathroom wall. And the heating registers near the baseboard on the walls of the house. It was very happy times. It was a good time to be a baby. It was post WW2 and post Korea. Things were looking up for a grain-miller, and his wife.

Mom and Dad both worked at Kellogg’s of Battle Creek (Best to you each morning!) We never ate anything else when at came to breakfast cereal, but Kellogg’s products. Dad said “We get our income from Kellogg’s. So we eat only Kellogg’s products!” And that was that. Dad made OK’s. Product 19, and fruit loops. The only time I got to taste other cereals was when I stayed over at friends houses for the night. More on that later.

1956

I was lying is a semi-dark room. In hindsight, the most likely room would be the living room, on the couch at 100 Jono road. This is very very early in my life. I would guess under 1 years of age. So you can understand, that things may be a bit foggy. I remember people walking around, and faces coming close to my face. It was a happy time. I looked up and out of what must have been a window, and saw the thin crescent of a moon. I stared at it for some time, and reached my hand out for it.

Memories of a Baby Boomer

Memories of a baby boomer. – Dedicated to my wife. Thank you Susie for stimulating my memories and for being my gentle, understanding, and tolerant partner and friend.

Forward:

A bit about me. I am the only child of a grain miller and a cereal packer. I had a very good childhood, and was spoiled rotten on account of being an only child. When anything happened, I  could not blame it on a sibling. The finger was always pointed at me.  Dad had a nickname for me. Bolivar Shag-nasty. I believe he got that name from his barber. Over the years, we visited the Suburban barber shop often. I do not recall the barbers name. He was a beatnik. I liked most foods except turnips and cabbage. I loved grits! Dad was born in the south so I got that from him.

I had a wonderful childhood. My parents loved me and I loved  them.