Chapter 3

School Years

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

these pranks.


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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