The Life and Times of MUD Part 1

From 1947
to 1965

I read a story today about a person's adventures and what shaped them into what they are. I decided to try to capture some of the life transforming moments and share them with you. It is not a guide, but a travelogue. There is absolutely no guarantee that if you do what I did you will get what I got. (or so you should hope)

My earliest times are marked by the friends I had. The first and most favorite was Harvey. He was a year older and a grade ahead early on but he and I both had older sisters and we bonded to play together and still have contact. He is a couple of states away but with e-mail who knows where anyone is. In about the fourth of fifth grade Harvey broke his collar bone and missed a lot of school. That caused him to be kept in my grade the next year. Only lately has he admitted that it caused him some hard feelings to have his classmates go on without him. I thought it was cool to have him in some of my classes. I could go on and name several more but the longest and best friend tops the friends list. For the record, Ron, Eugene, Dennis L and who could forget the effect of Danny Rex on the kid from 544 Byrd Street.

My fourth grade teacher was the wife of my High School Assistant Principal. Mrs Moore shared my strange reading habit and encouraged her me to stick my head in a book and keep it there as much as possible. Perhaps it would be fair to say that she didn't prevent me from reading as much as I could. She tried everything to quell my adventurous nature but when she found that I could read and pass the tests she no longer had me sit in the front and in the hall or coat closet. At the end of the year, she told us that someone in the class was not going on to the fifth grade. Oh shit oh Dear, I was the first person in the family to flunk the fourth grade. Of course she was the only person not going on and it was a joke but you don't know how relieved I was to see those Ds on the card. I thought they meant D for Denny so I was happy.

What do you do with a child on a baseball team with attention deficit disorder? There is only one place that keeps the kid involved. Catcher! Either you pay attention of you get hit a lot. It didn't hurt that I could catch and throw out a runner going to second. No one stole third on my watch. Our pitcher Ken played third when he wasn't pitching and he just was glue on anything I threw his way. I alternated between catcher and first base over the years.

One of the problems today is that kids don't have the urge to ride bikes like we did. I swear that I probably wore out more old bikes going as far as I could. I remember one time we had gone so far that the hub on my bike got so hot it smoked. We dipped it in the water in a ditch and it smoked. I got it home but no amount of oil could unfreeze that sucker. Today I ride a recumbent bike where you sit down and look straight ahead. I have a rule that over 40, the seat on a man's bike must be larger than his prostate. If you ever have that region go numb once and you will never want it to happen again.

I think that kids today are too spoiled by being hauled to soccer, dance lessons, swim lessons and little league games. As a kid we would just start up the street with our bats and gloves until we had enough kids to play a game of baseball. In fact, there would often be more than enough and the outfield would be full of the little guys. It took a lot of leadership to conduct those games without fights and I'm sure that dealing with the mob mentality prepared me for the Military.

A paper route took almost my entire 9th grade year. From the age of 13 to 14, I walked the streets of my neighborhood twice a day delivering the paper. That was also the year that I grew from 5 foot 4" to 6 foot 2". I wore out shoes like they were going out of style and changed entire wardrobes at least three times. I know I wore the soles off three pairs of tennis shoes and two pairs of boots. My favorite clothes at the time was the T-shirt and sweat shirt. Many days here in Kansas you would start out in the morning in a sweat shirt and coat and in the evening be in a t-shirt. I can't remember wearing anything but jeans as pants. When you are walking at least three miles and carrying a bundle of newspapers you didn't need long underwear to keep your legs warm. I'll bet I lost a hundred pairs of those brown jersey gloves that year. You just couldn't fold the paper with them on and you had to have them when you weren't.

Cars were a big part of my life. From the first Hillman that I shared with my sister to the Volvo I had the darnedest collection of old heaps. They were : The Hillman Californian, a Mini Minor, a 55 Chevy, a Renault Daphene (That one was Dad's idea not mine) and a Volvo. I think I spent as much time working on this line of heaps as I did driving them. I'm sure that had I spent all my money on one new(er) car I would have been better off. Oh well, I worked in a gas station so I had a lot of guidance.

For the record, I told one of my nieces that I would mention the Maytag dishwasher in this post. It washes dishes with the best of them but the model I have must have had a bad run of plastic parts. Almost every clip on the baskets have broken off and the final blow was the roller on the upper basket. The old model had a screw in a small wheel and when it broke, it took a $40 part to replace it because of a design change. I was glad I could fix it but a small wheel that costs a couple of dollars makes a lot of sense instead of replacing the entire basket lowering mechanism with the wheels riveted on. Oh well.


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