We called him "Red". Some people called him " Peewee" because he was small for his age. My blind friend, Jim and I knew this hurt his feelings, and we liked him too well to do that. Red was more advanced in worldly knowledge than the rest of the gang so he became our smoking instructor, sexual adviser, and teacher of things our mothers didn't want us to know. He had a supply of Wings cigarettes and insisted we learn how to inhale, and after I almost coughed up my liver, I got hooked on them. Red's sister, Neva taught us how to French kiss. Oh Boy! Did I like Neva! Red knew a local fellow who would sell him beer, so if you had Red for a friend, a young fellow had everything available to him that he could hope for.
In the summer it was the swimming pool and the winter was a time for ice-skating on the small lake close to Jim's and Red's homes. They were neighbors, so I could visit them at the same time and we could dream up all kinds of entertainment. One winter evening after dark Red told me he had a plan that involved the warming shack at the skating rink. The shack was a small building with benches around the wall and a potbellied stove in the middle of the wood floor. We waited until the warming shack was full of people and then we put Red's plan in motion. We had drunk enough pop to float a boat, and then we silently crawled up on the roof of the warming house and both of us peed down the smoke stack attached to the red-hot pot-bellied stove. A terrible-smelling white smoke poured out the door, and the people were right behind, trying to escape the foul smelling odor. Under cover of darkness, Red and I laughed all the way home.
Red and I played drums in the high school band. We were what one contest judge called "flashy" drummers. We took a lot of pride in that because we knew we could get killed playing football. Two girls played drums with us and Red loved to torment them. The old gym floor where we practiced had seen better days, and it moved up and down when you jumped in place. Red would jump up and down just to see the girls' boobs bounce. This lasted until one of them threatened to beat the hell out him and he believed her.
Red started driving when he was a Junior in high school. He was so proud that he could take his mother to the store and drive her to see Neva in the adjoining town. He could just barely see over the steering wheel and he had a time reaching the pedals, but he managed to get around. When Red was a Senior, several of his classmates decided to join the Navy. Red tried to enlist but failed to meet the height and weight requirements. This broke his heart.
One afternoon I was listening to the radio when the announcer said there had been a head-on collision between our hometown and the adjoining town. Red and his mother had been killed instantly when they met a truck on the curve. They held the funeral at the school auditorium because of the large crowd. I was next to my blind friend, Jim, and his shoulders were heaving and he was making a strange sound. I said, "Are you crying, Jim?" and he said, "Blind men can cry, they just don't shed tears." I said, "I do."
A music scholarship was established in Jim "Red" Wilson's name at Miller High School in Miller, South Dakota which continues to this day.
From 1951 Yearbook
MHS Drummers standing L-R
Gus Rosemore, Morrie Karst, Joan Vosburgh, Jim "Red" Wilson, Roger Engelcke.