Opa Memories - August



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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


Aug 1: Share another memory about a ride.

Another time we took the train down to Joliet. It seemed to be a very long way and I remember that the train station in Chicago was very large. I think we spent a couple of weeks in Joliet and we visited Grandmother Schuck and Aunt Elizabeth and Aunt Lou.

Aug 2: Describe your childhood home.

The first home I really remember was the house at 1327 Carney Boulevard in Marinette. The house was very big and our bedrooms were on the second floor. We had a very large sun porch that seemed to cover the front of the house. The house had a separate garage with two cement paths as wide as the wheels of a car that went down the side of the house and led to the garage in the back yard. There was an alley that split the block on the other side of the garage. We had lilac trees and a bed of Lilies of the Valley. I had a dog named Rufus. He was a red cocker spaniel and we would play and chase each other in the back yard.

Aug 3: Describe your neighborhood.

All the houses seemed big but I was small and although there were seven of us living in our house, I’m not sure if the other houses had large families too. The boulevard was lined with trees and we had large yards to play in. St Joseph’s Catholic Church was on the corner and I remember that the bells would ring in the morning, noon, afternoon, and early evening.

Aug 4: Tell of an experience climbing a mountain or big hill.

For years I would tell Lindsay and Geoffrey about the times we would slide and toboggan down this big hill in City Park. I remember paths that went down all sides of the hill; which were favorites and which were scary. Then in 1999 I took them to see the great hill in our park. It was barely a bump. The mind plays tricks on you.

Aug 5: Tell a memory about having company at your house, or of a family party.

One Christmas day we were eating our dinner and one of my friends, Mike Kerrigan, came by to see what gifts I had received. Mother said we were eating dinner but he could wait in the other room if he would like. Then she asked him if he might like to have something to eat too. He said he didn’t mind if he did and he sat down and ate a full Christmas dinner. That was at four o’clock in the afternoon and later we learned that his family had their Christmas dinner at noon… and he went home for a lighter evening meal at six o’clock!

Aug 6: Tell about board games you played as a child.

We had a board that would fit on a card table which had net pockets in the corners. It was the base for many games. We played checkers and chess on it and then caroms or pool and I think on the other side of the board you could play Chinese checkers. Later we added games such as Monopoly, Clue, and Scrabble.

Aug 7: Tell about card games you played.

Early games were Old Maid, Hearts, and Rummy. Later we learned Poker, Twenty-One, and such local games as Schafkopf and Euchre. Pinochle and Bridge came much later – when I was a teenager.

Aug 8: Did you ever have a weight problem as a youth?

I’ve always had a problem with my weight.

Aug 9: What was your best talent?

I’ve always felt I was good at writing and I had a quick mind for organization.

Aug 10: Tell about a time when you got lost.

I don’t think I have ever been lost really. I have been disoriented for a time before I discovered where I was or I lucked out and found a landmark that I recognized.

Aug 11: Did you ever play in the sprinkler or hose?

We always ran through the sprinkler or sprayed each other with the hose when it got hot in the summer.

Aug 12: Tell about being stung by a bee or wasp.

I remember the time I thought I felt a mosquito on my head and a slapped it. It was a wasp and I couldn’t believe that it stung me on both my head and my hand. It was very quick!

Aug 13: Did you have any favorite family songs that you sang together?

As a group of songs, I loved going caroling every Christmas. I was and am particularly fond of What Child Is This.

Aug 14: Tell about your bedroom.

My bedroom was at the top of the stairs, first door on the right. It had a window that looked over the street and was effectively lit by a streetlight on the far side. My room did not have a heating register and I kept the door closed and the room cold in winter. When the storm windows were put on the panes would frost over in the corners. I would press on the frost and let the heat of my fingers draw lines or pictures.

Aug 15: Share a memory of staying overnight with a friend.

Jimmy Doran lived in an apartment over a store on Main Street. I used to go there for sleepovers. The Doran’s had television before we did and I would watch programs until the station went off the air on Saturday night… probably ten o’clock I think.

Aug 16: If you ever ran away from home, tell about it.

I don’t think I ever ran away from home.

Aug 17: Do you remember being really curious about something?

I think I was curious about everything. I loved snooping in garages, old houses, burned buildings, walking through the forest, and walking through the swamps.

There was a dairy (Peshtigo Dairy, later Fairmont Dairy) near the school and I loved to walk through the barns on my way. They had horse drawn delivery wagons with glass windshields that had an opening for the reigns to pass through. I would check them out and pat the horses. Then I would go by the section where they would empty the butter churn and package one-pound portions for the stores and homes. I used to go through so often I became a “regular”… and then they told me I couldn’t keep going through their barn anymore.

Aug 18: Share your childhood experiences with roller skates.

We had metal skates that were attached to regular shoes with a strap that held the back of the shoe to a heel plate on the back and a clasp the tightened on the sole of the shoe with the use of a key. I was not very good on skates and often I “came out of the skates” with knee skinning regularity.

Aug 19: Did you ever experience home sickness?

When My sister Jane was born I went to live with Aunt Laura and Uncle John Scherer in Combined Locks. I missed being home very much but Uncle John and Aunt Laura were lovely people and I liked doing all the “new” thinks they had to offer.

Aug 20: Can you tell of your first tastes of pop or soda?

I loved root beer. The grocery store across the street had a Hiers Root Beer barrel which dispensed the soda into frozen glass mugs. That was fantastic on a hot, July day.

Aug 21: Share an early experience with shaving.

I was probably 13 and I received a Remington shaver for Christmas. And some Williams Lectric Shave. I think I probably needed to shave once every three days and that was just fuzz at the time but I did use the razor daily.

Aug 22: Tell about a favorite doll, teddy bear, or other stuffed toy.

I don’t recall a stuffed toy. I had a hand puppet dog that seemed to fill that purpose.

Aug 23: Tell about another favorite toy.

One Christmas I received a Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer Projector. The box cover served as a projector screen. The red projector held a disk of small slides like a Viewmaster and when you turned on the light it would project a picture on the screen (or a larger picture on the wall). I thought that was very neat.

Aug 24: Did you have to abide by a curfew as a youth?

There were always regular times to go to bed. These varied with age. If we were outside playing we had to come in early enough before that so we could clean up and get to bed on time. By the time I was a senior I was expected to be home by eleven o’clock unless prior arrangements had been made for a special occasion.

Aug 25: Describe any "follow the leader" games you played.

We had a swamp and a ravine on the way home from school and some of us used to play follow the leader as we walked that route. There were lo limbs to climb under and over, water holes to jump or plow through, and steep paths to climb. It was a great adventure for a kid.

Aug 26: Describe how you used the phone to call a friend.

We had a phone that an operator answered when you picked up the handset. You told her the number you wanted and she placed the call. That was replaced by a rotary dial phone that you could dial yourself. For a while you still had to ask the operator to place a long distance call but soon that became automatic too.

Aug 27: Did you ever have a fire in your home or accidentally catch something on fire?

I think I was the family pyromaniac. When I was at the stage where I played with matches, I used to put a great wad of toilet paper in the toilet and then light it. I would then flush the ashes down the drain. One time I either put too much paper or was too late flushing the fire and the toilet seat caught on fire and the paint blistered. I was later blistered too.

Aug 28: Tell about going to box socials or pot lucks.

Pot luck dinners were common when I was little. People had special baskets or covers for hot dishes and would take their specialty to a church social, family picnic or a neighborhood gathering.

Aug 29: Tell about an incident when you were very angry with your mom or dad.

I’m told I could throw a temper tantrum when I was little. Time has softened those memories because I don’t recall any of them. I do laugh that even much later in life Mother could push my buttons very effectively.

We were planning a visit to Madison, Wisconsin for Christmas when I was alerted that the family wanted to hold an 80th birthday party for mother in March. I said we could come for Christmas or in March and mother said Christmas would be better so we made the holiday trip.

In March she asked if we were going to be able to attend the birthday party with all the others and I said “No, we had said we could afford one of the two trips and had chosen Christmas.” Mother waited a couple of days and called to say, “If I paid for the trip could you come?” I was furious and said, “I can pay my own way!”

It worked for her. We made two trips after all.

Aug 30: Tell about an incident when your mom or dad was very angry with you.

Mother was very mad at me when I melted the paint on the toilet seat.

Aug 31: Share a memory involving an outhouse.

When I was growing up all of my friends homes and our house had indoor plumbing so we only saw outhouses at campsites or on a farm. I do remember tipping an outhouse one Halloween. It was probably on the same farm where we swiped green apples off the tree.


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