A look back at my ol' stomping grounds in Iowa.
Printed by the Ottumwa Sun in Ottumwa, Iowa (actor Tom Arnold's stomping grounds).
Written by Wiliam (Bill) Rogers
Ottumwa--Room 209, Evans Jr. High, 7th grade. I was daydraming when nudged by a classmate who brought to my attention a rather obscene drawing, which I found humorous and burst into laughter. However, my homeroom teacher (sorry, I can't remember her name)did not find it one bit amusing, so she made me stay after school and write "I will not laugh in class" a few hundred times on the ol' blackboard. As for the classmate who drew thw drawing, where are you Terry Mason?
My grandparents bought me an ID bracelet midway through the 7th grade. Proud of the golden color I was, sitting in room 209 and not listening to the teacher, who was writing something on the blackboard. Well, sitting to my right was a good friend of mine, the only one I trusted at the time to get a get look at my new bracelet. So, not being observed by the teacher, I removed it and handed it to him, causing his eyes to widen a little. He opened it and almost immediately burst into laughter, because instead of seeing a picture depicting a lovely young woman. . .he saw a tiny photo of me when I was six or seven years of age, sporting a crew cut and a fat face. He laughter caused me to laugh even harder than he. Again, I was told to stay after school and write on the blackboard. Ah, but this time I has some company, also writing. Where are you Bill Richmond?
His snorting-like laughter got me in trouble more than once during my three years at Evans Jr. High. He lived on Bruce Street with his mother and was believed to be one of the toughest kids in Ottumwa, despite avoiding trouble whenever posssible. He was a true buddy of mine. We often played hooky from school and explored Bear Creek and the Rabbit Run Road part of the Des Moines River. Last I heard he married and moved to Elgin, Illinois. That was in 1972. Where are you, Richard Shultz?
I met him on Gurley Street in 1964. He and I were the Ottumwa version of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn. He was a good kid who never seemed to be given a break. He introduced me to what would become my very first girlfriend, a cutie who lived in the tiny farm town of Blakesburg, near Ottumwa. Her name was Bonnie Baldwin, and it was she who bought me my first 45-RPM record, a song called Pictures of Matchstick Men. Probably no one in Ottumwa walked the railroad tracks near the Purina Chow Company more than he and I. It was he who taught me how to trap and skin a raccoon, things I stopped doing in the early 70's. It was he who loaned me two choke chains to adorn my Levi jacket. Sadly, he was killed in an industral accident in the late 70's. His name was Jerry Throgmartin.
Where are you Dick Murphy? Did I ever loan you some pennies for licorice at the ol' Mary Street Grocery? Okay, maybe it was you who loaned me two or three cents. Please, no interest on the loan.
Note: Walking on the catwalk under the Jefferson Street Viaduct is extremely dangerous. I'm lucky to be alive.
Well, I'm 51 now. Excuse me while I weep.
What ever happened to the Target gas station that was East Main Street? It was there I received my very first paycheck. It was the good ol' days, when giving double Gold Bond stamps on Tuesdays was something to look forward to. Regular gas was 32.9 cents a gallon back then. At one time, during a gas war in 1973, the price for a gallon of regular gas was 18.9 cents.
Okay, it's time to fit---or try to fit---into a pair of bellbottoms and listen to KIOA radio station in Des Moines. A toast to memmories.