Opa Memories - September



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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


Sep 01: Do you remember any Labor Day traditions of your youth?

Other than the fact the Labor Day really marked the end of summer and we would start school the next day; it was just a great day for the last picnic of the season.

Sep 02: Do you have a memory involving V.J. Day?

On 15 August 1945 I was riding my tricycle in front of the house and the bells at St Joseph’s Church on the corner started ringing. Then the bells of the Methodist Church up the street and all the bells all over the city started ringing. I didn’t know what was going on. I ran to the door of the house and Mother said, “The war is over!”

Sep 03: Tell about your school year calendar.

School began the day after Labor Day and ran to the 1st week of June. We usually had about 1½ weeks off for Christmas and maybe a week off for Easter.

Sep 04: What do you remember about your first day of school?

I went to the same school for 12 years and I always remember how the newly varnished floors and polished desks smelled on that first day. A clique of we boys played all summer and we visited with each other on the first day but we would get reacquainted with the other students we hadn’t see since last fall.

Sep 05: Tell about a school bully.

I suspect there was one but I don’t remember any in particular. Maybe the nuns were tough on prospective bullies and shut them down before they started.

Sep 06: What do you remember doing at recess?

We played dodge-ball, ran races, played tag, and played tag football or softball in season.

Sep 07: Tell about the playground equipment at your grade school.

Other than a few footballs, baseballs, and basketballs we didn’t have much equipment.

Sep 08: Did your parents ever make you wear something stupid to school?

I received a knit hat from Grandma Schuck one Christmas. I thought it was a stupid looking hat and didn’t want to wear it… along with my mittens on a string. I thought I was too grown up for such “little boy” articles.

Sep 09: Tell about who you thought was the smartest kid in school and why.

I thought Zylpha Baysler was the best student in our class. We all were in competition with each other and more often that not she was the student to beat for most subjects.

Sep 10: Tell about who you thought was the dumbest kid in school and why.

One of the boys who lived on a farm in the county was very busy working at home all the time. I don’t think he liked school nor did he like studying. He seemed dumb… when really he just didn’t care.

Sep 11: Tell about the naughtiest kid in school.

I think the nuns were too intimidating to allow children to get out of hand. Each one of us may make a comment which would seem funny to the rest of the classmates but other than that little clowning, we weren’t naughty. That would result in punishment… and a demand to take a note home to our parents for more punishment.

Sep 12: Tell about a teacher's pet.

I think that was the name I gave to whoever was a better student than I but at the same time I didn’t think I was ever a teacher’s pet but lesser students might have thought so.

Sep 13: Name the schools that you went to.
Our Lady of Lourdes Church and St Mary's Academy (click to enlarge)
I went to the same school for all 12 grades but the last year the school was renamed. From there I went to the University of Wisconsin for three years. I received my baccalaureate in History from the University of Nebraska at Omaha. A Masters Degree in Systems Management was earned from the University of California.

Sep 14: What was your most embarrassing school moment?

After attending a party where I drank a great deal of bourbon, I had to go to class with a huge hangover. I felt so sick that I cut class and hid in the overhead vents of the school gymnasium and slept most of the day.

Sep 15: Name the Grade School teachers you remember.

The teacher’s names get mixed in throughout the school because we didn’t really have separate teachers for elementary, junior, and high school. Sister Mary DePazzi was the principal and I think she also taught Latin. Sister Mary Angelo was a favorite English teacher. The first year in her class she taught freshmen and juniors; the next year she taught sophomores and seniors. Then she returned to the first pattern and once again to the second scheme. I was in her class for four years of high school.

Sep 16: Name the high school teachers you remember.

See Sep 15

Sep 17: Name the Jr. High teachers you remember.

See Sep 15

Sep 18: Describe your typical school day outfit.

We always wore a shirt with a collar and dark slacks. By the time we reached the ninth grade we also wore a tie every day.

Sep 19: If you were ever in a fight, tell about it.

One time Jimmy Doran and I got into a real knock down fight in the school yard. We were actually pounding each other and rolling on the ground.

Sep 20: Tell about your worst report card.

I don’t recall a “worst ever” report card. I had mostly As and Bs. I think my penmanship grades sometimes dipped near to a D or even a solid D. Those were the worst and most embarrassing.

Sep 21: If you had a hero, tell who.
Frederick Henry Jaeger Jr. (click to enlarge)
I was impressed with my cousin Frederick Henry Jaeger Jr. He returned from World War II as a lieutenant and I thought of him as a war hero. Nineteen years older than I, he then was called in to serve again during the Korean War. That time he went to Hanau, Germany. I thought of him as both a family and a national hero.

Sep 22: Tell why they were your heroes.

Fritz was a military man, an engineer, a hard worker… and a good friend. He also seemed like a little brother to my mother, who lived with Aunt Polly and Uncle Fred when she was a senior in high school and when Fritz was born.

Sep 23: Who was the best teacher you ever had?

Sister Mary Angelo

Sep 24: What made that teacher good?

She was an English teacher who loved literature and instilled that love into me. We studied Shakespeare each of the four years I was in her class. The first year it was The Merchant of Venice, the second year we studied Hamlet, the next year it was Romeo and Juliet, and lastly Macbeth. I loved the reading, and I loved the writing assignments. She turned on the learning light for me.

Sep 25: What were your school colors?

For eleven of the 12 years we were “The Fighting Irish” and our colors were green and gold. The last year, when the school became Marinette Catholic Central, we were the Central Cavaliers and the colors became red and white.

Sep 26: What was your school mascot?

Our first mascot was a leprechaun and later a swashbuckling cavalier.

Sep 27: Tell any sports you played in Jr. High or Sr. High.

I did play on the basketball team my freshman year but that experiment ended that year… I was terrible. I also put the shot on the track team and did a poor job with a discus.  I played on the high school football team beginning in ninth grade until my senior year when I had to go to work.

Sep 28: What was your favorite sport to participate in or watch?

I loved playing and watching football games. And after I finished high school I attended college games at the University of Wisconsin. I watched college and professional football games until the habit was broken after assignments to Germany when television programming was absent. I never again picked up the interest.

Sep 29: Did you ever have a "good friend" do something mean to you?

Other than the fight with Jimmy Doran, no. I don’t remember what that was about and we were back to being great friends the next day.

Sep 30: Do you remember a school custodian?

I don’t remember his name but I used to work for him during my high school summers. We would fix windows, paint rooms, sand and varnish floors and move furniture.



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