When I was in the fifth grade at Eugene Field School, I met and made friends with Jim Tate, older brother of the slender little girl who would later become the love of my life. Jim was a pretty rough-and-tough boy, but had a sense of humor and happy outlook that made him fun to know. 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 in the cafeteria, and I often traded something from my food tray for a sandwich or dessert he had brought in his lunch sack. His mom made the most delicious sandwich bread I had ever tasted!
I discovered, years later, that she baked homemade bread or rolls or cinnamon rolls every week. She used something called a yeast starter that had been passed down in the family for generations. When Jim understood that I liked that bread so much, he sometimes brought me a dinner roll, and once brought part of a cinnamon roll! Wow! That still today resonates with me as one of my favorite memories.
Meeting Mom Tate
On two or three occasions I remember going to his nearby house after school for a very brief visit. I had to hurry home, of course, but his house wasn’t too far off the path I used to walk to and from school. That’s when I got to meet his mother, and that’s where I first met my future bride.
Of course, she was two years younger than me, so I don’t even remember noticing her on those visits. I had a sister that was two years younger than me, so I knew how silly they were, and just didn’t pay any attention. I don’t remember much about the house they lived in, either. 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. I learned later that she babysat several neighborhood toddlers during the day.
Jim and I were good friends that year, and I was sorry when school started the next year to discover that they had moved, and he had gone to another school clear across town. I saw him two or three times over the next few years when our junior high football teams played against each other. We were on opposing teams, though, and didn’t have any time to visit. I played right tackle for my team, and he was left blocker for his, which meant we usually played almost directly across from each other!
During our high school years we met up again at football practice and renewed our friendship. He had been working for a Mr. Flick making home deliveries of glass bottles of milk and cream before school. Meanwhile, I had been working at the Frisina movie theaters in town.
Jim said that he had an opportunity to get on a hay hauling crew during the summer, and asked if I wanted to join him. I did, and we hauled hay for the next two summers in the blazing hot summer sun lifting and tossing bales of hay up onto a truck or trailer, and then again into the hay loft. All for a penny a bale! But, it was during one of those years that I met his sister, and eventually, she became my wife. But, that’s another story.