Mornin’, One of my school chums died last week and I sent his daughters an e-mail and I thought you might enjoy it. It has occured to me that a letter from an old friend telling stories about their dad that they probably have never heard in some small way revitalizes him. Don’t know if that makes any sense but for what its worth/~m
I first met Jim when I started the sixth grade shortly after we we moved back to Rainier. Jimmy Vale, Jerry Curteman (Floogie) and I were buds. Jerry passed away several years ago and now I am the last man standing. Jim had the job of walking over to the post office (probably about five blocks) during the noon hour to pick up the mail and he got a free lunch for doing that. He talked me into walking along with him and I helped carry the packages. He also shoveled sawdust for the furnace at the grade school and I think they also paid him for that. I helped him with that a time or two and I think we got out of class to do it. Jim also had a paper route when he was in grade school and I think he probably delivered for the old Oregon Journal which was an afternoon paper. Jim and Floogie picked strawberries together for Gus Lentz and that is how they earned money to buy their school clothes.
Jim got me a job working in gymnasium during the summer when we were in grade school. We chiseled the plaster off the concrete walls and worked off of scaffolding. He told me years later that he also got me fired. He got a job working as a janitor’s assistant for two hours after school and four hours on Saturdays for fifty cents an hour. He also got me on as an assistant and we worked during Christmas and spring vacations and also through the summers.
We had an hour for lunch during the summers and we walked up the hill to his house to eat our lunch. I always brought a sandwich but I generally ended up with a bowl of soup to go with it. We played board games while we ate. I think we played mostly Sorry and Parcheesi. I stayed overnight at his house several times so that I could go to school functions when I was in grade school and I got to know this his family fairly well. They had an old style wash machine with a wringer when I first knew them but I think Jim bought them an automatic washer and plumbed it in.
Jim played the tuba in grade school and then graduated to the Sousaphone. He sang bass in choir and our operettas and played in the jug and fife band. He was a good student but he wasn’t in the Honor Society but we married a couple of girls that were. Jim and the rest of his family were very active in their church. I don’t know how he happened to pick optometry for a career but he knew what he wanted to do and he was willing to work for it.
Jim and I took world geography together when we were sophmores and our teacher generally spent part of the class smoking cigarettes in the boiler room. There was a freshman in our class that did a lot of cussing and Jim told him that if he didn’t knock it off he was going to stuff him in the waste basket. I think Billy probably told him where he could put the waste basket and Jim stuffed him in it bottom first. All he had to do to get out was to tip the basket over but someone, who will remain nameless, put the basket on top of the teachers desk and that is where he was when she came back. She asked who had put Billy in the waste basket and Jim raised his hand. Without asking any more questions, she sent Jim and me to the library for the rest of the class period.
I took a couple of little trips with Jean, Cecil, Jerrilee, (probably Marilyn) and Jim. We went to the beach with Jean and took turns riding with Cecil on his motorcycle on the way back. We also went to Mt St Helens and Jim and I slept in a tent while the rest of them slept in a cabin. We stopped at the Spirit Lake Lodge on that trip and if I remember correctly, we saw Harry Truman.
Jim was a very decent fellow and well respected by his peers and the community. We didn’t see much of each other in our adult lives but our friendship didn’t suffer for it. Our relationship was one that when we did get together we picked up right where we left off. He was my friend and he is part of what I am. We will miss him but he has only gone on ahead.