I attended elementary and junior high school at Eugene Field School. The school was located on Market Street, across from Levering Hospital, and diagonally from the district fire station. Playgrounds were located on two sides of the school, with a third playground across the street on the East. There was a residence between the school and that playground, and the house always seemed to be closed up. I don’t ever recall seeing a car in the driveway, nor anyone out in the yard tending flower gardens. I suppose the residents tried to find what privacy was available with all those noisy activities just behind their house. Grades 1 through 9 met at the school, so the playgrounds were always in use, it seems, with different age groups on different playgrounds.
When I was in Mrs Perry’s fourth grade class at Eugene Field School, I met and made friends with Jim Tate, older brother of the wonderful girl who would later become the love of my life. Jim was a friendly, outgoing boy with a great sense of humor and happy outlook that made him fun to know. His blonde hair and blue eyes made his suntanned skin look like fine leather. We played kick ball, dodge ball, and marbles together. He usually brought a sack lunch to school, while I usually bought a weekly lunch ticket to eat in the school cafeteria. We ate many lunches together, and often traded something from my food tray for a sandwich or dessert he had brought in his lunch sack.
On two or three occasions I remember going to his house after school, and that’s where I first met my future bride. Of course, she was two years younger than me, just a second grader, so I don’t even remember noticing her on those visits. I don’t remember much about the house they lived in. I don’t think young children pay much attention to that sort of thing, but I do recall that there seemed to be an awful lot of people in such a small house, and there seemed to be several running around still in diapers. Some of them, I discovered years later, were children Jim’s mother was babysitting.
Jim’s family moved to another part of town one summer, and he attended a different school after that. It was several years later, when we became Sophomores and entered Hannibal High School, that we met again and struck up our friendship anew, although Jim was always busy it seemed, as he had newspaper routes before and after school. He delivered the St Louis Post Dispatch in the mornings, and the Hannibal Courier Post in the evenings. During his last couple of years in high school he switched to a new job, working early mornings with Mr Flick, the milk man, who delivered milk, cream, and other dairy products to homes in Hannibal.