1958-1959- Third Grade

1958-1959- Third Grade

Somehow, by third grade, I was attending Grant Elementary in Spokane. Darlene remembers a street named “Milton” but I don’t remember it at all. If I remember correctly, Grant was not considered by some as a very good school. I suppose that part of that was socioeconomics of that side of town and racism. Grant was the first real integrated school that I attended. There were African-American kids and Asian kids there. I remember being friendly with an African-American boy and going with him to his house but I had to wait outside rather than come in his house. This was the fist African-American that I ever knew and I remember liking him.

We lived on 10th Street in Spokane during this period. That is where I had a dog which was named Taffy. There are very few things that I remember about that house. I know we were pretty poor at the time and had our heat shut off at one point while living there and it was very cold. I think I had a birthday party there in which most of the kids were more interested in playing with Roger than playing with me and I was hurt by that. I remember one time that I spent a night alone with Taffy in that house when my mom thought I was in Palouse but I had come back early with my cousins Nola and Don and their dad, Joe.

I don’t remember what my Mom was doing at this point? Was she working? I don’t know. I only know she was depressed. It seems to me that she was depressed for much of my childhood. She would sometimes be crying for reasons that I didn’t understand and she didn’t just cry, but she would sob as in much emotional pain. I wanted to help her but didn’t know how. Darlene often seemed to step in to play the role of mother when mom was in such emotional turmoil or my aunt Ole would step in.

By the end of 1959, we had been bouncing around from one place to another quite a bit. We would stay in Ole and Rex’s basement, or stay with Billie and Joe, or be shipped over to my aunt Bert in Palouse. Life was full of chaos. Maybe it is because of all this chaos in my early life that I have always craved stability as an adult.

At some point during all this turmoil, my mom came to have a restaurant outside Spokane, along the old highway out toward the airport, called Carrol’s Country Kitchen. The restaurant had a small apartment in the back. We attended school at a place that I thought was called “Four Square” but Roger doesn’t remember going to school from Carol’s Country Kitchen at all. When I tried to find a school on the internet called “Four Square,” I was unable to do so but I did find an area called ”

Four Lakes” near the area in which I think the school existed so maybe I have just confused the name over the years. I do think it was near Cheney, Washington which is outside of Spokane and would be in the right direction. I do remember that there were several grades in my classroom. This was similar to how it had been in Palouse as well. This was another small, country school that didn’t have enough students to fill each grade level so several grade levels would be taught within each class. I don’t think we went there very long, like most schools of my childhood, but I remember taking an interest in some of the reading from above my class level. We took a bus to the school each morning.

The restaurant was just a greasy spoon sort of place, serving burgers and fries and had a jukebox and each table had it’s own wall box where a patron could remotely select three songs for a quarter that would play on the jukebox. There were a lot of “novelty” songs in those days, or at least what I would call “novelty” songs now such as The Big Bopper’s “Chantilly Lace,” Dean Martin’s “My Heart is an Open Book” was popular at the time. I remember LOVING “Purple People Eater” by Sheb Wooley and “Yakety Yak” by The Coasters. We were all singing The Kingston Trio’s hit, “Tom Dooley.” Jerry Lee Lewis tore it up with “Great Balls of Fire.” Bobby Darin’s “Splish Splash” was fun as was “Beep Beep” from The Playmates. Everybody wanted to have “Personality” that Lloyd Price sang about. It was a more innocent time. Check out my iTunes list for more great songs from that era.

I helped peel potatoes for the spiral french fries. My Mom worked long hours and I think some of her sisters might have helped out at different times.

I guess my Mom was “dating” by this time. I’m not so sure that the divorce from my Dad had actually been finalized yet or not. I remember one fool that my mom saw briefly used to say that you should only call a woman, “lover or Mother” but not “Mom.” He was pretty creepy to me but I don’t remember much else about him.

At some point during third grade, I must have stayed with my Aunt Bert in Palouse and went to school with my second-cousins David and Alec. The school in Palouse consisted of one, two story building. The upper floor was high school and the lower floor was grade school. There would be more than one grade level in a classroom as there were not enough students to have a classroom for each grade level. Somewhere along the line, my cousin, Guy, was giving me a haircut. Alec, David and I had seen the movie, “Last of the Mohicans.” It must have been the 1936 version with Randolph Scott and Bruce Cabot as the next version that came out was in 1963. Like most kids, we liked playing cowboys and Indians and when Guy was cutting my hair, I asked for a Mohawk haircut. He obliged and then would suffer the wrath of Bert, later when she came home and saw what he had done. I loved it, though, and begged to keep it. When I returned to Spokane, to a little elementary school near John R. Roger’s High School, a note was sent home with me that told my mom that the haircut was inappropriate for the class. I don’t think I was kicked out. I think I was just given another hair cut to even everything out.

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