Clubius Contained Part 23 – In the Lilac Bushes (June 1964)

It was the last day of school. I was finally done with fourth grade. The last day of school was my FAVORITE day of the whole year because I didn’t have to have grownups in charge of me anymore, or at least until fifth grade started in the fall. It was better than Christmas OR my birthday, which were my second and third favorite days of the year. And as you can probably figure out, the first day of school in the fall was my least favorite day of the year. That’s when grownups being in charge of me started again.

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Clubius Contained Part 22 – Panic Attack (April 1964)

Aunt Pat kissed me on the cheek, looked at me and said, “Tell your mom I’m thinking of her and that you and your Aunt ‘Hant’ Pat had a great time together and you’re welcome back any time!” I nodded and told her that I would. Aunt Pat liked to tease me that before I knew what an “aunt” was, I thought her regular name was “Hant Pat”. And then when I found out what an “aunt” was, and figured out that was what she was, I called her “Aunt Hant Pat”. I usually didn’t like people teasing me, but because it was her, and she felt like my big grown up older sister, I was okay, but only on this one thing.

“And tell her”, she said grinning, “That you insisted on wearing these same pants every day you were here, despite having others in your suitcase and these probably in great need of a wash at this point.” She laughed through her nose like a grownup. I pushed my lips together and didn’t nod or say anything. Those pants with the stripes down the side WERE my favorite.

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Clubius Contained Part 21 – D-Day (January 1964)

The biggest present I got for Christmas was from “Santa”, which I knew now was really mom and dad. But mom wanted to keep pretending that Santa was real, maybe for David, because he was still a little kid. Or maybe because mom just liked Santa a lot, even though he was pretend. Like David and I liked our toy soldier Lieutenant Cord a lot, and had a funeral for him when he died and buried him in the backyard, even though HE was pretend. And the presents from “Santa” were always really good ones, so I went along with mom and dad’s pretending.

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Clubius Contained Part 20 – Assassinated (November 1963)

I was excited that even though it was Friday, I didn’t have to go to school today. Mom said there were “parent-teacher conferences” instead of a regular school day, and she walked to my school, instead of me and David, to meet my teacher Mrs Larkin and see my classroom. She also talked to David’s kindergarten teacher, who she already knew. Dad “had the car” and had gone to his “Eastern” place to do his teaching this morning, but would be back by lunchtime. So while mom was gone too, she said I was “in charge”, like a babysitter. I thought that was pretty neat.

David and I went over to Allmendinger park to play. I was worried since I was in charge of him that maybe I’d have to go just to where he wanted to go. But when he saw his friends Hannah and Jimmie he said he wanted to go play with them and I didn’t have to go with him. I wasn’t sure if that was because he was helping me play with my own friends or helping himself play with his own friends without me watching. But either way it was better for me too.

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Clubius Contained Part 19 – Fourth Grade (September 1963)

My fourth grade teacher, Mrs Larkin, was different than all the other teachers I had had. I mean, she was a regular grownup like my third grade teacher Mrs Rodney and my second grade teacher Mrs Camden. My first grade teacher, Miss Zimmerman, didn’t even seem like a real grownup. She was more like a really older kid, like Margie but even older, or like one of dad’s “college students”.

Mrs Rodney and Mrs Camden seemed like they had one way to teach you stuff and you had to do it that way and then they liked you and gave you good grades. But Mrs Larkin seemed like she was always looking for different ways to do things and was interested if you had a different way of learning something. Like learning about plants. When Amanda suggested that we all bring in plants we found, a leaf from a tree, a flower, or even just a piece of grass, Mrs Larkin would help us figure out what kind of plant it was and stuff about how it worked, what it did in the winter, stuff like that.

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Clubius Contained Part 18 – Saugatuck (August 1963)

“Cooper, wake up”, dad whispered, and I felt something shaking my foot under my covers, “Molly’s here and it’s time for your big trip.” I had trouble opening my eyes and figuring out what was going on. Everything was dark, but then I remembered they would be here super early to pick me up.

“Is he awake?” I heard Molly’s voice whispering.

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Clubius Contained Part 17 – Little League (June 1963)

I was extra happy that day third grade was finally done. The last day of school each June was already my favorite day of the year, even better than Christmas or my birthday. On those two days I got presents, usually neat toys and games, but having two and a half months without having to go to school was even better than presents. Since that day in April when Joey told everybody in class that I’d “pull down my pants for Mary”, I hadn’t wanted to go to school AT ALL.

But I had to, because that’s what kids were supposed to do, and also so mom and dad wouldn’t try to figure out what had happened, and they’d still think I was a really good kid. Mary and Diane sure thought I was a bad kid, and the other girls would tease Mary about seeing me naked, though she never did. And her best friend Diane would say bad things about me at recess, like I was a “pervert” or something. I wondered if my school friends, like Gabe, Herbie, Jake and Amanda thought I was bad or even a “pervert” too, even though they were still friends with me. Joey wasn’t my friend anymore. I still wouldn’t talk to him and he had stopped trying to talk to me. I’m glad mom and dad didn’t know that Joey HAD been my friend, because then they wouldn’t ask why I didn’t play with him anymore.

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Clubius Contained Part 16 – Mary (April 1963)

It was Sunday afternoon after my birthday party yesterday. After so many days of winter when it was mostly always cold, the air was finally really warm, and had that special energy in it. Mom said you could smell the plants coming alive, and I think she was right.

I was over at Joey’s house. We had both just played in what the older kids called a “pickup” baseball game at Allmendinger Park. That was where two of the older kids decided to be the captains, and the other kids decided that that made sense, and then the two of them took turns picking the other kids that wanted to play to be on their teams. Most of the kids were older than we were, so we got picked last. But we both liked baseball, and were pretty good at catching and throwing and hitting, so we didn’t mind being picked last as long as we could play.

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Clubius Contained Part 15 – Long Division (January 1963)

“So what you doing in math these days, mister Clubius?” mom asked as I was eating a baloney sandwich I had made for myself in the kitchen, and she was making a “big pot of spaghetti sauce for dinner” on the stove. It smelled good, kind of burned but like it was going to be really tasty. Mom LOVED math, so I figured I’d tell her all the different stuff.

“We’re doing multiplying and dividing, and still doing those times tables”, I said.

“Ach”, mom said. That was a word she used sometimes when she didn’t like something. She said it was German for “Oh dear” or “ugh”.

“Those times tables”, she said, shaking her head slowly as she stirred the big silver pot with the spaghetti sauce bubbling in it, “God I remember them. Boring rote memory. Mrs Cranbrooke.”

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Clubius Contained Part 14 – Football Saturday (November 1962)

I woke up and I could hear the rain tapping on the window by my bed. Not hard like a storm, but just a little bit like what mom called “showers”. I always liked waking up on Saturday morning, because I didn’t have to go to school today or even tomorrow, especially today because it would be cold and wet and windy. Though it was kind of fun to be all inside my raincoat and my hood looking out at wet everything. It was like the weather, “Mother Nature” mom said, was in charge today instead of the grownups.

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