In the fall of 1954, I began 3rd Grade at Harding Elementary School. I don’t remember the reason exactly, but it wasn’t long before the “powers that be,” namely, my parents and my teacher, Mrs. Shepard, decided I was ill-suited for 3rd Grade studies and decided I belonged in 4th Grade. When I showed up in Mrs. Hammond’s classroom, there sat my Euclid Avenue pal from a couple of years before, Stan Moffitt. Being the new kid in a new class, it was comforting to see a familiar face.
That’s the two of us in the first row, right behind Keith Moseby’s head.
In case you missed his Facebook comment, here’s what Stan had to say about that: “I remember when we were in the same class. It had to be you because I had no other friend at the time. We were sitting right across from one another and we would draw WW II airplanes strafing Nazi soldiers and tanks. Finally, our teacher had had enough and separated us by putting us on opposite sides of the room. WW II came to a crashing end for me. I always wondered how many enemy soldiers escaped death from my fiery rain of bullets because of this. . . . life in the ‘50s in a small town was a great place to grow up. My kids have asked what it was like to grow up in El Centro, and I tell them to watch American Graffiti and then you’ll know.”
When Stan wasn’t conspiring with me in Mrs. Hammond’s class, he went dancing. That’s Stan on the right. Cute, isn’t he?
On my 9th birthday, Mom and Dad had given me the fanciest J.C. Higgins 26-inch bicycle they could afford at Sears, and I got to ride from where we lived on Lenrey to Harding Elementary, which was a little over a mile away.
My younger brother Rick started Kindergarten at Harding that year in Mrs. Reed’s class. That’s him in the front row, second from the left.
Dad, the carpenter, and Uncle Ernie, the electrician, had worked on the tract of new houses just east of Waterman Ave, and our two families finally had homes of their own as we bought the brand new houses side by side on Lenrey. I remember the two dads telling us that they’d made sure both our houses had plenty of extra electrical outlets. Once we moved in there were projects galore, and here are some photos of Dad digging trenches for the front-yard sprinkler system and working on block-wall fencing.
On one sad note, during the fence construction, Rick and I had our two new pups— Ginger and Prince—on leashes attached to one of the cars’ bumpers in the middle of the backyard construction. Someone moved the car, forgetting about the two dogs. Ginger’s leash snapped and he escaped, but poor little Prince (on the left in the photo) wasn’t so lucky.
Once Dad had the sprinkler system installed in the front yard, he planted a lush St. Augustine lawn.
One of the best things about our new home on Lenrey was that we finally had air conditioning! Notice the Imperial A/C tower in the backyard. I’m unsure of exactly how that system worked, but I know the tower had a water reservoir and a pump in the bottom that pumped water to the top and let it cascade down those louvers.