Thursday, October 27, 2011

Puddles

Wet Autumn, chocolate and puddles, walking home from Primary at 5 o'clock Wednesday.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Moogs

I forget what we really named them, but we invented pets in 5th Grade, Eddie and I. We took the brown paper hand towels in the Boy's Room and soaked them in water and folded them up a certain way to have the appearance of something like a salamander without legs. We called them something like moogs and kept them in a pail and played with them at home and kept them in our desks at school.

Fifth Grade was an awkward age for me; Eddie and I used to walk around the classroom on our haunches, talking some kind of baby talk; Annette exclaimed one day in disgust, "I think Scott's a BABY!" Meanwhile, it was time to start thinking about Important things like getting onto a Little League baseball team.

Spring was exciting in the 5th and 6th Grade; it was when some guys tried out for the Bonneville Little League teams and if they made it, they got to walk to school wearing their team caps - all bright and brand new. My dad didn't let me try out in 5th Grade because it was always held at dinner time and he didn't want me drinking all the pop and eating the candy. But he relented in 6th Grade and I wound up on the minor league Yankees. Wearing that uniform was a lot of fun but playing in the games was sometimes scary. One day, my neighbor, my buddy's dad, had to substitute for our coach during a game. So suddenly, I was pulled from Right Field onto the pitcher's mound for the entire game. I did okay! I found I was a lot less nervous and a little more skilled on the pitcher's mound. I went back to Right Field when Coach returned.

Speaking of uniforms, we got to wear our cub scout uniforms to school on occasion when we became cub scouts. We loved our uniforms. It was a good way to brainwash us to go to war when we were older. We loved to pretend such, but we never actually wanted to go, not me anyway. I had a set of army fatigues (pants and shirt) when I was about 6 or 8. That was almost too cool.

In the neighborhood, we were usually playing army, hide and seek or baseball. We often wrestled as well.

My Teachers

I may not get all the Misses and Mrs's correctly, or the spelling, but here's my teachers:

Kindergarten, Miss Bigelow; First, Miss Utly (she had me talking in clear, precise English with no twangs, fudges, abbreviations or slang - no cowboy talk. My mother loved it while it lasted. But when I soon realized that it wasn't the cool way my 9th-Grade brother was talking, I stopped it); Second, Miss Synnegaard; Third, Mrs. Simpson (and we sometimes went to Miss Irving's); Fourth, Miss Locker, who may well have been the most popular teacher in the school; Fifth, Miss Hansen (Her brother Doug played for the Salt Lake Angels); Sixth, Miss Ballif. In Fifth, we rotated to the other teachers, but I only remember Mrs. Lundblade and there was a man and I don't remember his name. In Sixth, we rotated to Mrs. Lignell (who if she ever finished a sentence, she finished it later on) and - I forget. I'll have to work on this later.

Talking to Girls

I was severely in love for the first time when I was 6.

I first talked to a girl when I was 17.

I went on my first date when I was 15.

I had my first girlfriend and knew it when I was 19.

That pretty much tells it. Augggh! The things we'd do differently!

Marbles

Marble season was big. I don't know if any boy was not affected or infected. Perhaps it was the gambling bug as our mentors feared, who tried to keep us from "winning" each other's marbles because it was gambling, they said.

In the East yard, which was largely asphalt (although there was grass, sand, slides and tricky bars between the concrete adjacent to the front of the school and the asphalt that stretched to the fancy iron fence out front), near the fancy iron fence out front, circles for playing traditional games of marbles were painted yellow on the ground. But the ground was somewhat unsmooth so we never used them hardly. The joy of marbles was to collect the pretty things and the more you had in your marble bag, the happier you got. And the more of them that were big ("boulders," we called them), the happier you got. So here's how to build your marble dynasty: You take your little marble bag that came with 6 or 12 little marbles that your mom bought you, and you approach the front fence where the guys with boulders sat, back to fence, legs spread out, with their boulder set up near their crotch. You waited your turn and then from about 3 or 4 feet away, shot your marble (with a thumb flip) at the boulder. If you hit it, it became yours and you could set it up like they had done. But every marble you shot into his leg corral that did not hit the boulder became his and went straight into his big bag. That's how you got a lot of marbles and you had better have a big bag to hold them (with draw strings, of course) before you try setting up a boulder. If you were a fool, you could use a boulder to try to win a boulder, though it did make it easier to hit. You were really cooking when you had several boulders in your possession at one time, in addition to a big bag full of marbles. My friend Eddie was pretty successful; had a pretty big bag. I still love new, shiny marbles - especially aggies. And I still like to play traditional marbles - on a smooth floor. Skating on some you didn't see is pretty fun too.

Gifted

I was gifted. Never tested for it, but I could tell myself I was smart.

I never performed well in school; I often fell behind in some subjects. Excepting a few intervals of brilliant classwork, I was generally an average student at best. But walking to and from grade school, through the high school parking lot, I could tell that in my own way, I was very very smart. I would tell myself about it. I just wasn't smart enough to figure out in what way. Or what to do about it.

I was bored through most of public school. By junior high, I forgot all about being smart somehow. I thought I was just dumb. But I wasn't; I was bored. When I'm bored, I do not perform well at all. Not at all. Worse than most. Public school was not the only institution where I failed to realize my potential because of this. Working for the Navy was the same old story. There simply was no challenge for my talents to sink their teeth into. The only challenge, and it proved too great for me, was to get interested in tedium and senselessness.

I have had family members and bosses from different groups, situations and companies tell me I'm the most imaginative or creative kid or engineer they have known. Meanwhile, I was getting a flunk in school or held back from a raise or promotion - even put on probation not infrequently.

What's my point? Don't have one, not today. This blog is simply about memories and colors. Gifted? You bet. I have been given much and have enjoyed it immensely. My favorite gift, though I have not always fostered it, is the love I feel toward the people I have known. And I love colors. Truly, the best things in life are free in terms of money. But not in terms of cultivation.

Snow Days

Here in the East, we have what are called Snow Days. A snow day is more officially referred to as a Delay or Cancellation. They occur very routinely (you can watch the local TV news before school starts and see whether they are calling one for your school that day) and are called on account of snow or freezing rain or severe cold. Sometimes, you cannot tell why they must be calling one.

We never had a Delay or Cancellation in Utah, that I know of. But I remember when we had a Snow Day in the 5th Grade. It was very exciting.

It snowed so much, they sent us home to get our snow shovels. We spent the day shoveling the snow at the school. That's about all I remember. They may have given us hot chocolate, I don't know. But I remember being there with my snow shovel. Awesome.

Did I already mention this stuff? If so, you're hearing it again - maybe with a better style.

We had snowball wars at recess out on the South grass field. We built forts and we charged each other (by each, I mean each army, not each kid). We had two huge armies every recess. Must have been 30 to 50 boys in each army if not more, each recess. No one was ever hurt, and I have no recollection of adult regulation, though we may have been lectured a bit on being careful not to throw ice or rocks. No one ever lost an eye. Good clean fun.

I'm sure I already mentioned how we walked to school every day through the snow in our Levi's and canvas shoes and spent the rest of the day in class with wet lower legs and wet feet that squeaked. I guess it didn't matter that we were wet-footed; it was plenty warm in the building with those iron radiators. But I doubt it would have mattered if it were cold; something strange but true about males under the age of 18, they just don't seem to notice such things hardly. Or if they do, they are utterly helpless to improve their condition.

But one day in kindergarten, I showed up with Levi's wet to the hip. My teacher had me go to the playhouse (vertical-slot magazine shelves and bookcases arranged in a corner of the room to form an enclosed square of space by the window) and take off my shoes, socks and pants. She kept me sitting in there with my towel wrapped around my waist until clear through playtime. The playhouse was restricted from other students during playtime that day. This did not prevent several of them from creeping up around me (she had sat me near the entrance) and pointing to a small breach in my wrap and observing that they could see my underwear. Kind of irregular feeling to sit there in class with your very pants hung up high on the wall, drying on the radiator. I wasn't permanently damaged though. I don't think anything does permanent damage in kindergarten unless it has to do with an adult; that's before any of the kids start getting really mean.

I'm certain I mentioned it in another post, but just in case, and since it belongs here anyway, we used to find any way we could to ditch our boots somewhere along the way to school. Having dry, comfortable feet was the last thing on our mind. So whenever possible, I would leave mine in the ditch by our house. One day on the way home, Junior, my buddy, threw my boots (no wonder I didn't have them on my feet) into the middle of a large puddle where I could not reach them without getting too wet. So there was trouble when I got home. I don't remember how it was resolved though.

Junior moved to Washington State after some time in the 1st Grade. He lived just up the street and used to go to church with me. I knew him when we were in the 4-6 year old interval. I had not seen nor heard from him since, but I finally got back in touch with him last month on Facebook.

I usually came the quarter-mile home for lunch from grade school. On cold snow days, Mother most commonly fed me cream-style corn from the can, heated up with milk. And bread and butter. Loved that stuff.

One more thing about snow: In the middle of the night after a big, fresh snow fall, the entire neighborhood would be under at least six inches of untouched, unspoiled snow - the ground, the wire in the fences, the twigs and branches of the trees - everything covered smooth. And because everything had a white fresh blanket on it, it was bright! No electric lights at all, but a white glow that let you see everything clearly - even at a distance. In later years, after I was 12 years old, I always slept out in the loft in our garage, by an open window, with my brother and sister. So we often got to see Winter Glow in the middle of the night, like if we went into the house to go to the bathroom. I was always intensely romantic and when I would see this in and after high school, I would dream of the day I would have a girl I could share it with and walk through it with. Never happened. The kids came to fast and the timing was always off and we only lived there one winter - but not in that neighborhood. We were up in the "Avenues." I grew up down in the flats near downtown, in a more or less pretty part of town with relatively little vehicular traffic.

I also frequently shoveled snow at home, which is a nice memory.