Tag Archives: memoir

Clubius Contained Part 10 – Civil War Cards (March 1962)

I heard the window by my bed rattling and I could feel cold coming from it. I opened my eyes. I looked at the clock on my dresser and the little hand was closer to the “8” than it was to the “7”. I had to get up. I looked down at the bunk below me and David was already awake and probably in the basement setting up all the toys without me.

I liked to turn on the transistor radio Margie gave me for my birthday in the morning and listen before I got out of bed, and while I got dressed and even took it in the bathroom with me. I listened to two different radio “stations” that were right next to each other when I turned the little “dial” on my radio. It wasn’t like the dial on the TV, which clicked to each station. You had to turn it just right to hear the sounds good.

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Clubius Contained Part 9 – Rivals (November 1961)

Gabe, Jake, Herbie and I were all trying to figure out about the Civil War. Danny had got me Civil War toy soldiers for my birthday. He said that the war was a hundred years ago. The one team was blue and the other was gray. Since the one team was gray I asked him if they were Germans, but he said they were Americans, “Confederate” Americans. The blue ones were Americans too, “Union” Americans. That sounded really interesting.

Herbie said he knew about the Civil War because he had lived in the “South” before he came to Ann Arbor. He said the Confederates were the “rebels”, and all the kids he knew thought they were pretty neat, because they were better soldiers and had better generals, like “Robert E. Lee” and “Stonewall Jackson”, though that second guy got killed in a battle.

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Clubius Contained Part 8 – Second Grade (October 1961)

I liked looking out the big windows in my second grade classroom at school. That side of the room was all windows, looking out onto the corner of Jefferson and Fifth streets. There were four corners. One was the school and the other three just had houses. Houses with upstairs parts that grownups called “two story”, though I didn’t know what they had to do with stories, one or two. But I liked looking at them and pretending what was behind each of the windows. I also liked looking up Fifth street, until it disappeared between the trees. That was the way you walked to get to Allmendinger Park and then across the Park to get to my house. And when I looked up the street, I thought of all the interesting and fun things I could be doing at home or at the park right now, instead of sitting in this room practicing numbers and “penmanship”.

At least my school friends were here too, though only one of them sat next to me. That was my new friend Herbie, who hadn’t been in my first grade class. My old friends from first grade – Amanda, Gabe and Jake – sat in different parts of the room, though we could still see each other and make faces at each other when what the teacher was telling us wasn’t very interesting. We wanted to sit next to each other but the teacher gave us “assigned seats”.

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Clubius Contained Part 7 – Day Trip (August 1961)

The summer didn’t take as long as it used to. I did all the same kind of stuff, playing in the basement, in the backyard, in the park. Playing with Paul or Danny or Gabe, or Molly on Saturdays. Riding my bike to my friends’ houses, though not Molly’s because it was so far away. Climbing Kenny’s cherry tree with him to eat the cherries. Seeing Marybeth in the park playing with other older girls. Going to the bookmobile when it was by the park and “checking out” books with words and pictures on the cover that looked interesting.

Now it was August. That was the last month of summer. Next month was September. That would be fall, and that was when I had to go back to school. I didn’t want to, but all the other kids went to school and said I had to too. Some of the older kids said that if I didn’t go to school the police would come to my house and “arrest” me and make me go to “reform school”, which sounded really bad. And because mom and dad liked school so much, I never told them that I didn’t want to go back, because I figured they’d think I had turned into a bad kid. I wondered sometimes if I WAS a bad kid, but I didn’t want anybody else, specially mom and dad, thinking that I was.

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Clubius Contained Part 6 – Last Day of School (June 1961)

Bach Elementary School

I could smell those lilac bushes with all the big bunches of little purple flowers as I walked by them into the park towards the trees on the other side. Mom had told me about the seasons, and I was old enough now to see how they had worked each year. Most plants hid or “slept” during the winter, except for the “evergreen” trees, which kept their “needle leaves”. Then when it got warmer in the spring, all the other trees, bushes, and other plants would have those tiny “bud” things that would start to grow into new leaves and then flowers too, that would start small, like little kids started small. But then next it would be summer, and the leaves and the flowers would get bigger, and all the plants would be covered with green and also the other colors of the flowers.

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Clubius Contained Part 5 – My 6th Birthday (April 1961)

I woke up to the wind blowing against the window by my bed. It felt cold like that wind was getting inside too. My bed was now on top of David’s because they were “bunk beds”. I looked over the edge and David’s bed was empty, he was already up. He usually got up before I did.

When David was too big to sleep in the crib anymore dad went up into the attic and brought down all the parts for the other bed like mine. Our room was too small for both beds to be on the floor so dad had to hook mine on top of David’s. Mom was worried I wouldn’t like climbing up to my bed, but I liked it, I liked it A LOT. It felt like I was in a different place, like a submarine or a spaceship, and David couldn’t get up there to bother me.

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Clubius Contained Part 4 – Blue Books (January 1961)

I really liked listening to stories that dad or mom read to me from a book. Most of the stories mom used to read to me had pictures on every page and just words on part of the page around the picture. Those were books for little kids, because grownups thought that kids needed to see pictures on every page so they could figure out the story and not get bored. Mom would let me see the pages while she read them, and she pointed at each word as she said it. That helped me figure out what all those words were so I could read them myself without anyone helping me.

But dad read me regular books for older kids or grownups. Most of them had only a few pictures. Most pages were all words, and he only showed me the pages that had a picture on them, and he didn’t point at the words when he read them to me, because they were pretty small and close together and there were so many of them. So what I did was listen to the words and make my own pictures inside my head.

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Clubius Contained Part 3 – Dinosaurs (November 1960)

It was Saturday and mom took me over to Molly’s new house like she did last Saturday. We drove to the end of our street to where the giant high school was, and then turned left on the “Stadium” street. We drove by the stadium, over a bridge, by the “grocery” store and that “Sunoco” store that had the gas machines. The wind blew the leaves that had fallen off the trees across the street. Then we turned left on this street with big houses and trees, all the houses had that upstairs part. Finally we turned left on Molly’s street, which had more big trees and big houses, like Molly’s new house.

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Clubius Contained Part 2 – President (October 1960)

It was a new month, October, when mom said the leaves on a lot of the trees would be changing colors and then falling off onto the ground. I was now walking to school by myself and I had to walk through the leaves on the other side of the park under the trees and then down that “Fifth” street after the park that went straight down to my regular school.

School was okay so far because the teacher really liked me and I was learning how to read really quickly and could even sort of read those “Doctor Seuss” books without anyone helping me. The books I really wanted to read were the ones in dad’s office, like those big red war books. Also the school had its own “library” with books that were easy for kids to read. I also had three new friends, Gabe, Jake and Amanda. One of them was even a girl, but I don’t think she was a “Tomboy” like Molly, because she always wore dresses to school and she thought that boys were “weird”. That was the word she used when she thought something was strange or didn’t make sense. Even though Gabe, Jake and I were boys, and “weird” I guess, she said we weren’t “dumb” like other boys, or “silly” like other girls.

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Clubius Contained Part 1 – Regular School (September 1960)

Me age 5 & Bach School circa 1960

Mom and I were sitting in one of those “office” places, like dad’s in the basement. But this one was in this regular school place called “Bach School” (pronounced like “Baugh”). I was supposed to go to school here, but mom and the other grownups here had to figure out whether I was going to be in “kindergarten” or “first grade”.

This older woman with black hair all piled up on her head sitting behind a big desk said to mom, “The score on Jonathan’s Weschler IQ test is sufficient for us to consider starting him in first grade instead of kindergarten.”

“Good” mom said nodding, “He is a very bright kid. I think he would be bored to death in kindergarten.”

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