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Memories from 7 and 8 years old-1952 (7-8)

Hacking the school system (no janitors at our school)

 

At the beginning of my third year of school, the teacher announced that we must each choose which day of the week we would stay late after school to clean the schoolroom, dust the erasers and clean the floors. The teacher asked, “Who will stay after school on Mondays?” Several students volunteered. Then she asked, “Who will stay after school on Tuesdays?” I quickly noticed the system she was using. After the teacher had finished with “Who will stay after school on Fridays?,” I had not raised my hand for any day. The middle of the school year passed before the teacher discovered that I had escaped from my after-school cleaning obligations. I don’t remember any particular punishment except that I had to start helping out on Wednesdays after school.

Five proud stitches

 

My sister Karen, age five, and I were playing at the edge of the woods near my grandparent’s home. I had borrowed Beebe’s small ax. Everyone called my grandmother Beebe. A sapling, 1.5 inches in diameter, gave me a challenge. Placing my feet apart, I swung the ax...it missed the tree and sliced into my left foot since I went barefoot all summer long. Not noticing any pain, but seeing the blood gushing from my foot, I told my sister to run to the house to get help. As Boog, my grandfather's nickname, was soaking my foot in kerosene, a home remedy to prevent infection, I overheard him blaming himself for letting me use the ax. At the hospital, I got five stitches and a tetanus shot. I think I was the happiest one of the bunch...what an adventure!

 

My grandmother Beebe's official name was Grace Ingman and my grandfather was Ray Ingman. My brother was named Ray after my grandfather, whom my mother adored. My mother told me that if you addressed a letter to "Beebe and Boog, Tracy City, Tennessee," it would get to them.

First attempt at being a “businessman” 

 

I wanted to make some money by selling something. My father suggested we use food coloring to dye some white rice. Then we could sell the colored rice to neighbors to put in their salt shakers to keep their salt from getting too damp. 

I got my sister Karen to go with me. In our area, the homes were far apart. After almost two hours and five neighbors and no buyers, I gave up.

Taboo words and euphemisms

 

Somehow we kids never had any trouble abiding by the language guidelines set by our mother. We never called anyone stupid or any other demeaning word. Instead of saying damn it, it was fine if we said, darn it. If we needed to go to the bathroom, we would say, I need to toy or I need to have a BM. I was a young adult before I learned that the word “toy,” meaning “pee” in our home, was unknown outside our household.

Say “Funk and Wagnalls” 

 

My teacher gave the assignment that, if we had a set of encyclopedias at home, we should find out the name and tell the teacher the name of our encyclopedias. When my mother told me the name was “Funk and Wagnalls,” she was quite careful to repeat it with an emphasis on the word “Funk.” In our home, we kids were taught, and Mama and Daddy followed these rules too, to not use any “swear” or “dirty” words. We could say darn it, but not damn it. If we ever talked about sex, we would use the word, “mate,” as in “a man and woman mate together.” We used the word “BM” (bowel movement) and “toy,” instead of “pee." When my mother put that special emphasis on “Funk,” I guessed that she wanted me to avoid using the word “fuck." Maybe I had heard it on the school grounds, but not at home.

Showing off

 

I loved to get attention for “being smart.” I think we may have been learning some multiplication for some lower numbers, like 3x4 = 12. A classmate in the grade above me had a card showing the answers of all the numbers multiplied all the way up to 12x12. I memorized the answer: 144. Then I would show off to some of my classmates, “Do you know what 12x12 is? Well, I do. It’s 144!” A few classmates seemed impressed.

Respect goes two ways

 

Hundreds of times my mother would gently remind us children to say, “yes, sir,” “no, sir,” “yes, ma’am,” “no, ma’am.” In speaking to us, she would also use these honorifics in addressing both me and my sister.

One more family member 

 

My brother Ray Ingman Minkler, named after his grandfather, joins the other four of us on August 17th.

We lived in the Snake Pit

 

My parents had purchased seven acres of roadside land in Flatrock, outside of Anderson, South Carolina. It took just a few days during the summer for my father, with my uncle Art Ingman helping and maybe some others, to build a wooden frame, off-the-ground “house.” I guess it was maybe 15 feet x 30 feet.

 

They also dug a well and hit water about 20 feet down. We got water from the well by lowering a bucket into the water, allowing it to fill up, and then hoisting the bucket to the surface with a pulley. This temporary snack was our abode until my father could get our new house far enough along for us to move. My mother called it “The Snake Pit,” since we found some snakes living under the house. When winter came, the screened “windows” were covered with black tar paper to create a little bit of insulation from the cold. During that winter my mother gave us children a teaspoon of cod liver oil for vitamin D. Unlike other children, I found out later, I really liked the taste of cod liver oil. Later, I also found out that my mother hated living in the Snake Pit during that winter, or maybe it was two winters. With no windows and the black tar paper and low-level lighting, he found herself getting depressed.

Dwight David Eisenhower defeats Adlai E. Stevenson for president

 

My mother was ecstatic when Eisenhower won the election. PS. Some people thought I was named after Eisenhower, but I was named after my father Jackson Dwight Minkler. I was named Jackson Dwight Minkler II. My mother hated the name “Junior.”

Thinking girls are good and boys are bad

 

Snips and snails, and puppy dogs' tails; That's what little boys are made of. What are little girls made of? Sugar and spice, and everything nice; That's what little girls are made of.

 

In school, almost always, the boys played separately from the girls. Upfront, I experienced firsthand their cruelty. From afar, it seemed to me that girls were super nice compared to boys. So, hearing the above children's rhyme, it had a ring of truth for me, even though I would have painted the difference more starkly.

I could only throw a half shovel

 

My father was a brick mason. It was late summer. My father was building our house on our new piece of land. I was so admiring that he could scoop up a full shovel of sand and throw it into a wheelbarrow in order to make up some concrete. I looked forward to the day when I would be bigger and I would be able to do that.

So ashamed when chosen to play on a softball team

 

I was neither popular nor a good softball player. Understandably, even at that age, when the two team leaders, the team being all boys, took turns choosing the other members of their team, I was invariably the last, or next to the last, chosen. There was one time, as an outfielder, I caught a fly ball. It felt so good when my teammates shouted praise to me.

Dateline 1952

  • “Singin’ in the Rain” with Gene Kelly and Debbie Reynolds

  • In 1952, despite the war in Korea, Americans considered themselves to be prospering with the average worker earning $3,400 per year. 

  • A college teacher could expect to earn $5,100 per year. 

  • Three out of five families owned a car, two out of three families now had a telephone, one in three homes had a television. 

  • The average woman in America would be married by 20 years of age looking forward to raising a family but few continued with a career after children were born. 

  • Fast food restaurants were growing in popularity, but the scourge of Polio hit many thousands of families (50,000 estimated). 

  • Many more cars in America were now fitted with automatic gearboxes and gas cost 25 cents per gallon. 

  • The world’s first passenger jet The Comet is produced in the United Kingdom signaling the start of faster and cheaper air travel in later years.

  • The world's population reached 2.63 billion.

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