During my growing up years, our family moved around to a lot of different houses. Of the 14 different ones we lived in, I am writing about the one at 112 E. Central Ave. in Delaware. The house is gone now, but I still carry thoughts of what went on while living there and attending the fifth and sixth grades at East School. It was probably the smallest of all the houses we had lived in, having just six small rooms, with no garage, basement or attic.
I don’t remember anything about taking our stuff from our house on North Union Street across the river to the little house on the corner of E. Central and Estelle. I only remember about sharing a room with three of my sisters. My memories of being in the fifth and sixth grades at East School come back to me, especially those of the first day in the fifth grade. We had just moved there in time for the first day of school, and I didn’t know anyone in the room. The first thing the teacher did that day was to stand in front of the room, and while saying nothing, she just stared at each and every one of us. She kept up this staring for a very long time. It was upsetting to just sit there, no one saying anything and her staring at us. After awhile, I realized that if someone even made a noise, she stared at them until someone else made a noise and then she would stare at that next person. And on and on. As an adult, I look back and think it could have lasted anywhere from 10 to 15 minutes. So, from then on, if anyone made a noise, she stared at them for a long time until there was no noise in the room.
That was my introduction to being in the fifth grade at East school. As the year went on, what I also feared was the fact that there was another student in our room and his name also was “Kay.” So, when the teacher called for “Kay” to do something, I didn’t know if it was for him or me. And I was afraid to speak. One of the good things we did was to memorize the western states, in order, going from east to west. And I can still recite them today:
Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico, Idaho, Utah, Arizona, Nevada, Washington, Oregon and California. Just imagine if that had continued, I might be able to sit here and do all of the states across the whole United States of America!
When I was in the sixth grade, our teacher, at least part of the time, was Mr. Conger, the principal of the school. He seemed to be a very kind man. We spent a lot of time having recess in the basement of the school. Mostly twirling around and around to see who would have to give up and sit down or would fall down, first. This seemed to be what the girls did, anyway. I know there was some kind of a baseball diamond outside, but that seemed to be only for the boys. My last scary memory of being in the sixth grade is when I was in a car and it was going west on Central Avenue to cross the railroad track. I don’t remember who was driving, I only remember looking out the window to my right and having a bright light from a train, shining inside the car. My brain still carries the feeling I had for a split second that we were going to be hit. But somehow, we passed it. To this day, while crossing that track I still think of how close we came to something I would rather not think about.
On weekends, while in the sixth grade, I got to babysit with my niece, Donna, whenever her Mom and Dad went out for an evening. For my pay, I was given 25 cents, and I went across the street to the Delaware Creamery and got a big chocolate milkshake and split it with Donna. We always played the same one record over and over. It was called “Ragtime, Cowboy Joe.” This babysitting experience led to my having a lot of different babysitting jobs all during my teenage years. During the two years we lived at 112, Ron, a boy from my class who lived across on Milo street, used to come over to our house a lot. This was also when I could see that my older sister had a tube of lipstick on her dresser and wore it all the time. I wondered if I would ever get old enough for mom to let me wear lipstick. That was also when my brother-in-law took up a collection for me to get my hair cut and permed. I have previously written an article about the picture of six of us sitting on the back steps and the fact that mom was standing just inside the screen door, behind us. I wish she would have stepped outside to be in the picture, so we would know today how good she looked as a 45-year-old mother of seven. I got to go to Ron’s birthday party and see him receive a watch as a gift from his parents. Back then, no kid I knew ever had a watch of their own! Once our Dad had a live chicken and he cut its head off, and it ran around in the back yard. So, I know what it means when people say someone had “Run around like a chicken with its head cut off.” There was also a girl in our class by the name of Lois. Her father was a minister at a nearby church, and she asked me to go to Sunday School with her. There is where I was introduced to church music, and I have been singing in different church choirs almost ever since.
At the end of my sixth-grade year, a local realtor came to talk to our dad about our need to sell that house and buy a bigger one. There was a lot of discussion going on for a long time about the thought of moving again, so soon. Changing schools would affect my three younger siblings. But for me, and my older brother, Bob, it didn’t matter where we lived in the city because he was already in high school, and by then, and I would be in the seventh grade and going to Willis Junior High. What a great day it was when the decision was made to move again. At this point I had already lived in nine different houses. What a great life was ahead for us when we got to move and live in that big yellow brick at 399 N. Sandusky St., where there was room for everyone!
Kay E. Conklin is a retired Delaware County recorder who served four terms. She graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University with a degree in sociology and anthropology.