Kansas Collection books


children playing leap-frog

    Harold was one of three classmates that started to School District No. 1 with me in September, 1922.  John and Edith joined Harold and me as we were enrolled and got acquainted with our teacher and the two room country school that bright morning many years ago.  John is gone now and Edith lives in Oregon, but Harold is still around.  Returning from a hunting trip a short time ago, I stopped by his house and we spent some time remembering the days of yesteryear.

    Harold was the youngest of his large family and he was affectionately called "Babe."  He was born on a neighboring farm and I remember his father telling how he knocked on the door of my grandparents' house late one night.  He wanted to use the telephone to call the old country doctor to come and deliver Harold.  He found my grandpa walking the floor with me, trying to quiet my crying with his version of a lullaby.  Grandpa wasn't known for his musical talents and neither could he remember the words.  He was singing "whoop-de-do, whoop-de-da" as he swung me back and forth.  The doctor came and delivered Harold that night.  We became playmates, fast friends and later, classmates.

    Together we remembered our first grade teacher's name.  It was Lenora Potter.  Our second grade teacher was Wilma Ely and she took sick and died during the school year.  We also recalled how we put a wide plank below the window that enabled us to crawl out the window to the school yard while the teacher wasn't looking.  She would have to come outside and shoo all the boys back into the school room so she could resume class.

    We picked up and dropped several other pupils along the way to the eighth grade, but the four of us finally graduated from that old two room country school.  I recalled the last day of school: we had a pick-up ball game --- the boys against the dads.  It was the 30th of April, my birthday, and it snowed so hard we had to cancel the game.  So we adjourned to the school house for a delicious carry-in luncheon.

    From our rocking chairs that evening we went skinny-dipping again and remembered the resentment toward a bunch of silly old girls that often had picnics in the nearby grove of trees.  They sure did hamper our activities around that swimming hole.  We went squirrel hunting again with our single shot .22 rifles from Montgomery Ward.  We shot crows and jack rabbits and turned in the crow heads and rabbit ears for 5 cents each to replenish our supply of rifle shells at 25 cents per box.  We fished for bluegill in the little stream that ran past Harold's house, and rode our ponies across the prairie on sunny afternoons.

    Harold recalled the trip his family made to Arkansas in two covered wagons.  We both remembered the disastrous fire that destroyed their house and nearly all of their belongings.  We stood again in the old blacksmith shop and watched the smithy put iron shoes on horses, or sharpen a plowshare.  We bought a nickel's worth of candy at the little country store and shared it with all our buddies.  We recalled our lumps and bruises from the impromptu rodeo we held one Sunday afternoon in Grandpa's pasture.  It took him a week to get all those calves quieted down again.

    The rigors of the Kansas winters were real again as we split wood and shoveled coal into the heating stoves to keep the house warm.  Outside chores were required and sometimes we had traplines to run before school.  Several times we were sent home from school because we had caught a skunk that morning.

    Harold recalled the time Grandma brought home a radiator shield put out by Shell Oil Company.  It was to be inserted in front of the car radiator to increase the heat inside the car.  Grandma told me to put it on and I did.  It wouldn't stay in place so I fastened it on with a number of small shingle nails.  It stayed okay --- but the antifreeze all leaked out.  I was in the doghouse for several days after Grandma got the repair bill.

    Harold's family were all musical.  Often I would go visit him in the evening.  His dad would bring out his fiddle, and his brothers and sisters, their banjos and guitars.  Harold nearly always had a mouth harp in his pocket and they would all join in on old songs like "Turkey in the Straw".  Every one played some sort of instrument or sang, but I don't think any of them ever had a music lesson.

    Those two hours I spent with Harold were most enjoyable and I hope to do it again.  My greatest regret is that I have been tardy in getting all those good old days recorded and written down.  We had a lot of fun in our rocking chairs that evening.  It sure beat watching TV.

    Old age has its compensations. This younger generation is still hatching their memories.  I'll bet they won't hold a candle to ours.

George Walter

George Walter, the sandlot player, at age 6,
the year he started school with Harold, John and Edith.

divider line of two flower

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