We moved to the Westmoreland in Portland when I was in the first grade and I went to Llewelyn Grade School for a couple years. It was a bit of a culture shock for me to go to a big city school where they moved up at half year intervals and taught sight readings. I had started first grade in a two room country school house near Rainier and they had four grades in each classroom and they taught phonics. That was reversed two years later when we moved to the Boise Valley in Idaho and I went to another two room school house that was teaching phonics.
I went to Lewellyn grade school for a couple of years and it was a culture shock for me to go to a big city school where they we moved up at half year intervals. I started first grade in a two room school house near Rainier where there were four grades in each classroom. Two years later when we moved to Idaho, I ended up in another two room school house.
I remember playing with the blocks when I was in the 2nd grade and I was making a wooden block model of the Tajmahal and some kid started stacking blocks on at random. I didn’t make a fuss about it, I just went back to my seat. The teacher wrote on my report card “Marvin does not play well with others”. Our reading groups were arranged by ability and mine was the P-38s (fighter planes) and my friend Gary’s group was the submarines.
I found the play yard to be intimidating. There must have been over a 100 kids at recess and on my first day, some kid came up to me and asked me if I would like to fight. The games were unfamiliar to me and I spent most of my time just leaning up against the cyclone fence separating us from the crematorium next door. I lived close enough to the school that I was able to home for lunch.
I had the mumps when I was in the 2nd grade and was out for two weeks and then I got the measles before I had a chance to get back to school and I missed two more weeks. I remember it as being very intimidating go back to school all by myself after I was gone that long.
We went to matinees at the West Moreland Theater on Saturdays. I did household chores mowed to make a quarter so that I could go. I think admission was 14 cents and that left me enough money for a candy bar and popcorn. I sold newspapers route in front of the Safeway store when I was in the 3rd grade and I remember helping a man put wood into his basement to earn enough money to buy my mother a pitcher and a set of frosted glasses with gold striping. I thought they were beautiful and my dad ended up helping me buy them. They are still intact and in my kitchen cupboard.
The overhead trolley bus ran on 17th in front of the house and the streetcar
rumbled on Milwaukie on the back side of the block. My mother used to give
me two dimes and send me off to my dental appointment in down town Portland in the Selling building on the 7th floor. The dentist would do my fillings and then I would come home on the trolley. I would hesitate to send a 2nd grader off by himself like that in the world today.
My dad played western music out towards Gresham and my sister sang with the band. My mother worked behind the counter selling pie, coffee and hot
dogs. That way she could keep an eye on my dad. I just wandered around the dance hall and when I got tired I would lay down on a bench and go to sleep. I
remember one night I went to sleep on a pile of composition shingles and
somebody picked me up and put me on a bench because they thought that I might fall off. We usually didn’t get home until about three thirty or four. I would get up around 7:00 and that was OK with my folks as long as I was quiet.
World War II was going on when I lived there and I remember when the Air
Force squadrons came over. The whole sky would be full of planes, bombers,
fighters, cargo planes etc. The sound was deafening and the everything
would vibrate. I lived there when the war ended and everybody came out in
the street, honked their horns, fired their guns in the air and cried with
My life growing up was interesting but I was more inclined to be an observer than a participant. My mother told me that she thought that I was born old and that probably explains why the old ladies used to help me across the street.