Opa Memories - February



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When our grandson, Geoffrey, was four years old he sent me the book, “Grandpa, Tell Me Your Memories.” As I filled the daily pages  over the next year was able to relive many fond memories.Opa, Tell Me Your Memories
by W John Schuck


Feb 1: What extras did you use for your snowman’s face, buttons, arms, hat, etc?

Our snowmen usually had branches for arms, coal for eyes, nose and mouth, coal for buttons, an old cap with a bill and ear flaps. Sometimes we added an old muffler too.

Feb 2: Tell of someone you envied and why.

I always thought my cousin Bob seemed to have the latest toys and gadgets. We didn’t buy expensive presents and I thought he was very lucky to have the toy trains, movie projector, erector set with motor etc.

Feb 3: Do you remember the first movie you ever saw and who starred in it?

I t seems to me that Bambi was one of the 1st I ever saw. I was very upset when Bambi’s mother died.

Feb 4: What was your favorite meal as a child?

I used to have a bologna slice with Heinz Baked Beans on top. I thought they were what a tortilla must be.

Feb 5: What were you doing to first smash a finger?

I think a baseball finger was the first such injury I had.

Feb: 6: Who was the most famous person you ever met as a child?

When I was probably in 7th grade William Proxmire came to our school as part of his campaign to run in his 1st campaign for the U. S. Senator from Wisconsin. He then went on to serve in that capacity for over 25 years.

Feb 7: Tell about the first time you ever saw TV — when, where, what show, etc.

The first time I ever saw a television was in the window of the J. C. Penney store on Main Street in Marinette, WI. It must have been a Saturday morning because television didn’t run every hour of the day, only in the afternoon and early evening. I believe the program was Howdy Doody.

Feb 8: Tell about your favorite TV shows.

I remember the early programs were Molly Goldberg, Ed Sullivan, and Playhouse 90. I really enjoyed the Saturday morning concerts with Leonard Bernstein.

Feb 9: Tell of a nickname given to you by parents or classmates.

I never had a nickname; I was always called John.

Feb 10: How did you get the nickname?

I never had a nickname.

Feb 11: Who was your first girlfriend?

Candice Reinhardt. Her father owned a tavern on Main Street and the two of us would go to the Saturday morning cartoons and then we would walk a few blocks up the street to the tavern and we would have hamburgers and French fries for lunch.

Feb 12: Tell about the Valentine Day festivities at your school.

There was no celebration to speak of. We bought enough Valentine cards so that we could give one to each classmate. They were often from a book of cards and you pinched them out of the pages, addressed them, and handed them out at the time appointed by the nuns.

Feb 13: Tell about a special valentine you once gave.

I don’t remember any.

Feb 14: Tell about a special valentine you once received.

I don’t remember any.

Feb 15: Tell about your first date.

I suppose those Saturday movie dates with Candice Reinhardt were my first dates. We would walk about 8 blocks to the theater. We might have enough money for a drink and sometimes even popcorn. Then after the movie we would walk to her dad’s restaurant and he would make hamburgers for us. That was a pretty spiffy date.

Feb 16: Tell about your first kiss.

I think that was with Ann Landenberg. Later, when we held our 40th class reunion I was sitting across from her and she asked me if I remembered who I took to the Prom. I said I thought I had gone with someone and she started laughing, as did Liz, because they both knew the correct answer was with Ann.

Feb 17: Tell about a big fib you told.

One time Candice and I must have been acting out a scene from one of those Saturday morning movie serials. I made a piece of paper with the warning, “Beware of the Cat’s Paw.” I put it on the door of Mrs. Kerski across the street. She was upset and called the police. Officer Labbs came to our house the next day and asked mother and me if we knew anything about it. I told him that I didn’t know anything about it, maybe he should check the boys at another house across the street. Mother knew better. After Officer Labbs left she questioned me and I confessed! I had the very difficult job of going with her to Mrs. Kerski’s house and apologizing to her. It was very difficult. Mrs. Kerski was always very nice to me… and she remained so even after my prank.

Feb 18: Tell about family reunions in your childhood.

I don’t remember “reunions” in any particular sense. We had traditions where we would go to Aunt Polly’s for Thanksgiving and maybe Aunt Margaret’s for Easter. But one year, probably 1957 or 1958, Aunt Margaret hosted a reunion for all the Scherer family. There were over 90 people there and that surprised me. I didn’t know most of them and that surprised me even more.

Feb 19: What do you remember as your favorite subject in school?

I really enjoyed all my subjects. I enjoyed school. Science was always fascinating and I loved mathematics but if forced to pick one subject over another I think I would choose English (literature). I loved reading… I loved the places that books could take me.

Feb 20: What do you remember as your least favorite school subject?

My least favorite discipline was a subordinate part of English. I disliked spelling. I was better in most other things. I hated the spelling bees where I would get knocked out of the competition early.

Feb 21: What was the biggest problem you remember having in Grade School?

I remember taking part in a multiple choice quiz, probably in 1st grade. I confidently selected the choice that proclaimed that chocolate milk came from “brown cows.” That answer followed me throughout my family for many years and reunions.

Feb 22: What is the biggest problem you remember having in Jr. High School?

Latin was hard for me. Mother and Sister Mary DiPazzi conspired to drag me through two years of Latin… with me kicking and fighting most of the way. A second language was a college requirement and I was going to college. Much later it came in handy when I learned German. The concept of learning another language, not the vocabulary.

Feb 23: What is the biggest problem you remember having in Sr. High School?

I really don’t remember a problem then. Mom went on the road with Dad my last year of school and I stayed with relatives (Betty Gilbertson) and friends (Mr. and Mrs. Paul Doran) in order to finish school at Lourdes. I had a job cutting lumber at the St. Onge Lumber Yard.

Feb 24: Describe a place you like to go to be alone.

My room was at the top of the stairs and during the winter it was cold. The room overlooked the main street (Pierce Ave) below and the glass would frost up or form ice crystals. I liked watching people go by. No one else would bother me because the room was chilly.

Feb 25: Tell of a place that you discovered or built as a “haven” for your group.

I used to play with an Erdmann boy who lived a block away. There was a ravine behind his house which dropped off to railroad tracks below. We used to build lean-tos and forts to watch the trains go by.

Mickey Lu's was the place we gathered after school and after school events (click to enlarge)Feb 26: Tell about a favorite “hang out” place for you and your friends in Jr. or Sr. High.

One of the teachers, from Marinette High School I think, ran the A&W Root Beer Stand during the summer. It was called Mickey Lu’s. We would hang out there to meet the girls, ride cars when we were able to drive, and have hamburgers after a movie.

Feb 27: Tell about the best pet you ever had.

When I was about 5 we had a red cocker spaniel named Rufus. I thought he protected me from bullies but then I never had any bullies to deal with. He ran out in the street and was hit buy a car. He was wrapped in a cast and later, after he was well, he again ran out in front of a car and was killed. At least that is my memory of him. He may not have healed properly and had to be put to sleep.

Feb 28: Tell About other pets you had.

We briefly had a black cat named Chloe. I say briefly because it climbed up the curtains and shredded them the day before we no longer had a cat.

Jim (click to enlarge)“I don’t remember exactly how we got them, maybe Jim brought them home from the Science Lab at Our Lady of Lourdes School, but Jane and I had two white mice. We had them in a cardboard box at first but they would chew out of the bottom before we could close the top. Later we had a ¼ inch mesh screen cage that seemed to hold them quite well… except when I forgot to close the gate carefully. On many occasions I would hear mother call out, ‘John and Jane, the mice are out again!’ We would then go on the hunt to recover them.

One Thanksgiving week Mother made pumpkin pies on Wednesday afternoon as usual. We had a gas stove and after it cooled off she stored the pies in the oven overnight. The next morning I heard her exclaim in exasperation, ‘Those damn mice!’ There was a single line of mouse tracks across the middle of each of the two pies. Mother was not pleased! It was already Thanksgiving Day and she needed the oven to cook the turkey. She couldn’t make two more pies. She took a spatula and removed ¼ inch of the top of the pie and served it!

The next Monday we took the mice back to school. We were out of the white mice business.”



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