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Dad - In His Words

Letters From Dad
East Fairfax Rd.
Elementary School
Roxboro Jr. High
Early Friendships
Early Vacations
High School
Amherst 1st Year
Jobs '40--'43
In the Navy
USS Drew APA 162
Amherst '46-'49
Tom's Biography
Fran Kimball
Hiram Hardesty

Roxboro Jr. High

I’ll probably think of some facts about Fairfax but let’s skip to Roxboro for the time being. Going to Junior High School was a big event in 1937. Roxboro, of course, went from 7th grade to 9th grade and we really felt we had grown up when we left the elementary school.

There was a tradition at Roxboro that all 7th graders, who were known as “Flats” had to be initiated when they first arrived at school. As sixth graders we knew this and were determined to avoid the hazing if we could possibly do so. The morning of orientation about 10 of us gathered at the back of Fairfax and as a group ran as fast as we could to Roxboro. It was a good two-three miles but we made it into the school with nobody getting caught and having lipstick smeared over their faces which was what happened when you were hazed. Signor W. Davidson was the principal of the school and he gathered us all in the auditorium giving us a welcoming speech and telling us how much he hated the hazing that he knew was going on. That didn’t stop the 8th and 9th graders who were waiting when we came out and we all got our share.

I remember Roxboro with great affection. It was where we all started to grow up. We had organized sports for the first time and although the football was just 6 man football it was our introduction to the game. We had a basketball team, which played other junior highs, and the highlight of the basketball year was the game between the teachers and the team. We had two or three very good men basketball players. One in particular was Mr. Turner who was about 6’3” and he usually was enough to beat the varsity team. ; These years were the first where we started being really aware of girls. In the 7th grade I had a crush on Patty Fraser and at Xmas time I went to a jewelry store and bought her a compact.

My mother felt it was too old a gift for her so took it and gave to a daughter of a friend of hers whose name was Pat. She had to find someone like that because the compact had a “P” on it. I don’t remember what she helped me buy in its place. Interestingly about 1994 I took my mother to a dinner at the College Club where during dinner someone tapped me on the shoulder and told me she was Patty Fraser. I took it as a complement because we both were 70 years old and truthfully I would not have recognized her. My next girlfriend lasted through the 9th grade. Her name was Evelyn Kupka and she was the sister of one of my very best friends at school. During the year we had many parties at various home of friends and we usually took a date. We had to have our parents drive of course but they were great parties. Jim Becker had the perfect house for the parties so we had most of them there. He was a celebrity because Tyrone Power, the actor, was his cousin and while we never met him we felt as if we knew him because his picture was around the house.

I Was never very musical when I was young but my mother wanted me to take piano lessons. My teacher was Mrs. Goddard who had taught my mother when she was young so you know she had to be ancient. Lessons cost .50 cents and as far as I was concerned that’s about the value I received. Mother finally gave up on the lessons but Dave and John later took them and they became quite good on the piano. In Roxboro I decided to take up the clarinet. I was lousy and was last clarinetist in the ‘band but I got to wear the Roxboro uniform in the marching band so I was proud of that. My good friend John Kupka was the first clarinetist on the band but he couldn’t help me musically. Other friends of whom I will talk later were also in the band; Larry Russell played the French horn and Tom Rogers the Base Drum. Mrs. Goodwin, the director of the band, was the best looking teacher in the school and that might have influenced our activity.

We got to Roxboro in one of two ways. If the weather was nice we rode our bikes. Everyone had a basket for their lunch and books and the 2-3 mile ride was fun because we would meet others going to school and ride together. If the weather was bad we took the streetcar that went down the center of Fairmount Blvd. That car continued all the way downtown and I believe the fare was .10 cents.
The teachers at Roxboro were very good. There are three that I remember more than others. Mr. Walter Armstrong was the science teacher. Unfortunately he had been gassed during World War I and acted strangely at times. We as kids were unfair and unkind to him but he was well liked by everyone. Ray Ellerman was the physical Education Director. In those days if you misbehaved in class there were no restrictions on paddling. Ray was the only one I remember doing so but all of another or us at one time felt the sting of his paddle. Miss Priscilla Tyler was everyone’s favorite. She taught English and although somewhat disabled with a misshapen arm she went to all the sporting events and usually took a half dozen of us with her in her car, which had a rumble seat. She moved on to Heights High when we did so we were fortunate to have her for English later on.

It was at Roxboro that I met a friend who would be a friend for all my life. In the summer of 1937 I went to the Centerville Mills Y camp on Rt. 306. Two days before going we all went down to the 105th St. YMCA for orientation. There I met Tom Rogers who lived in East Cleveland at the time. The next day and the day before camp started I went to Cumberland Pool for a swim. Cumberland Pool was part of the Cleveland Heights Recreation Department and everyone went there almost every day in the summer. We would ride our bikes there and when you got dressed for swimming you had to go through a foot test to see that you had no evidence of athlete’s foot. We spent many a happy hour at that pool which is still there today. Anyway on this particular day when I was leaving I decided to stop at Meithers Ice Cream parlor for a cone. Meithers was a popular hangout and the cones, double dip, were 5 cents. Soon after getting the cone I was driving one handed and lost control of the bike and had quite a crash hurting my eye. I held the cone over my eye all the way home and when I reported for camp the next day I had a shiner which Tom Rogers never let me forget. Tom stayed a very good friend until his death in 1985 from a brain tumor. I will talk more of him later.