I started school in 1923 and went to the Adelaide Avenue
School for grades 1 to 3. I attended the old Union School,
where the YMCA is now located, for grades 4 through 8. I
attended High School at the Academy on North Main Street. My
first two years of high school were uneventful. In my Junior
year Ken Montanye and I were on the baseball team and from
then on all we could think about was baseball. Ken was so
crazy about playing that he would stay for practice after
school and then have to walk all the way home to Cheshire.
Being able to run so fast, I might have been very good on the
track team or at soccer. All the meets would come on the same
day so I had to choose just one and baseball was my choice.
One time they needed someone to run the hundred yard dash in
the sectional meet at Geneva. as there was no baseball game
that day, they showed me how to use the starting block and
away we went! I came in third place about three feet behind
the winner so there is no telling what I could have done with
training and practice.
Clarence bought me a cloth jacket and I wore it all four
years of high school. By the time I graduated the cuffs and
collar were almost worn off. These were the years following
the Depression and there was little money for clothes. I
remember getting my first suit for graduation. It was Oxford
Grey and cost $26. I bought it myself and made the mistake of
getting it too small and it was outgrown in about a year.
The boy next door and I would walk to school together and had
one thing we loved to do. We would save firecrackers from the
Fourth of July and in the winter time, going up Main Street,
we would put a firecracker in a snowball, light it, throw it
up in the air over the kids walking on the other side of the
street. We were real proud because we were the only ones with
firecrackers. We also would build forts of snow in the lot
behind our house and then put firecrackers in snowballs and
throw them into the front of the enemy's fort, trying to blow
it down. We were just lucky that no one ever got hurt during
I never had to much homework in school because I could
remember everything I read. History dates and Chemistry
formulas were easy for me although sometimes I didn't know
what they meant. English, math and algebra were almost
impossible for me and I barely passed. I got only 52 in Latin
and didn't know why anyone would take that subject anyway.
I had a small part in the Senior Play and the night before
the performance the male lead came down with acute
appendicitis and went to the hospital. They wanted someone
else in the play to take his place and they would prompt him
from side stage. I knew all his lines by heart and I could
have played the part with no prompting at all. But, to my
utter dismay, the hero had to kiss the heroine!! She
naturally was the prettiest little girl in the whole school.
I realized that kissing her would be a whole lot different
than playing baseball and I couldn't take the chance. Imagine
turning down the chance of the lead in the Senior Play for a
stupid reason like that! Three or four years later I began to
notice girls and wished that I had taken the lead part.
In 1936 I took a post graduate year just so I could play
baseball another year. Ken Montanye was in his senior year so
he would be playing too. I hadn't decided what kind of work I
was going to do, so thought that I might as well go to
school. I took just morning subjects, Physics and Chemistry
because I liked the teacher so well. I had gotten 91 in
Chemistry my Senior year and took it over again to try to
raise my mark. When I took the Regents Exam at the end of the
year, they gave you three hours to do the exam. The Chemistry
and Physics exams were both the same afternoon. I completed
both in 1 1/2 hours before anyone else had finished even one.
I got 96 in Chemistry and 99 in Physics. This was about the
only good thing I did in high school.
On St. Patrick's Day in 1936 we had a very bad ice storm and
the big trees in our front yard were hit hard. Big limbs
about one foot in diameter were coming down. They sounded
just like cannon shots and kept us awake most of the night.
One big limb was laying across the roof and we had to get up
there and saw it in pieces and patch the hole in the ridge.
Every time I go by the house I can still see the indentation
in the ridge of the roof where the tree hit 50 years ago. The
winter pear tree in the side yard by the driveway is still
there and bears fruit as it did in the 1920s. There was no
traffic on the road during that storm as the roads were
filled with trees. I started for school with my lunch bag in
hand, and going up Main Street the only place to walk was
about six feet wide in the center. I got almost to the
Academy when I met kids coming back who were saying there was
no school. I started for home and stopped at the bridge over
Sucker Brook on Chapen Street. I went down under the bridge
and ate my lunch. My father and brother spent the next three
days cutting up the trees in our front yard. We kept warm
because of the coal furnace but had no electricity for days.
I still believe that we had more snow in those days than we
do now. One time we made a tunnel out from the back door
about fifteen feet before we got into the open and used it
that way until it melted. Another time Jack VanBrooker's car
was stuck up on Thad Chapin and the next day we went up to
look for it digging holes in the snow until we found the
roof. My lunch time during my Senior year was an hour long
and I would run all the way from the high school to the west
end of Chapin Street, get a sandwich and run back to school.
I ran down Main Street and cut through Wilcox Lane, near
where the Palmers lived, across the railroad tracks and
through the swamp where the Elementary School was eventually
built, then over Pearl Street. It was almost two miles each
way so if I had been on the track team I would have done
well. That swampy area below the tracks had enough water in
it in the winter time to make a hockey rink if you didn't
mind a few bushes growing up here and there. I was on a
hockey team and played there a couple of winters. Sometimes
we would also play hockey on the lake by Kershaw Park.
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