Mom, Dad and I started out the year 1972 living in an apartment behind the May Company on the southern edge of Lorain, Ohio. Determined not to enroll me in Lorain schools, which were beginning to acquire a bad reputation, Mom took me (I’m almost certain it was on Valentine’s Day) to enroll in the following year’s kindergarten class at a church school in Elyria. I don’t remember the name of the church or school now; but it was on the east side of N. Abbe Road where Cross Community Church (an added-on and renamed version) now stands.
Because I could read fairly well already and was ahead of their current class, the school didn’t think I needed a whole year of kindergarten. Instead they put me in the current class, though it was February, so I’d be able to start first grade in the fall.
I don’t recall making any friends there. I don’t remember any of the teachers’ or children’s names at all – except perhaps one. I think the blonde girl with the big hair in the top row (directly beneath the teacher on the right) was Janice Orndorff, with whom I later went to public school.
my kindergarten class in Spring 1972 – I’m in plaid at the bottom left corner (for better or worse)
I never knew or talked to Janice much. I’m not even sure that’s her in my kindergarten class picture (she’s definitely in my 1st grade picture, which I will post later). I mainly remember her because she embarrassed me in Convenient Food Mart by catching me picking my nose and putting whatever I found there in my mouth. Disgusted, she told me that boogers turn into worms in your stomach – then they eat all your food and you starve to death, or something like that. I’m not sure I actually ate a booger that day (I don’t want to believe it), but you can bet your snot I never ate one after that.
I was an only child until halfway through my four-month kindergarten bit, when my brother Michael was born on Easter Sunday. He was premature, and mom had to stay in the hospital longer than expected, so I stayed at my Uncle John and Aunt Rose’s apartment on Wesley Avenue (down the street from my school) for a week or two. Thanks to the rush and drama, I didn’t even get an Easter basket that year (though Mom later made up for it). As it was the first time I’d been away from home or without my mother, I feared the worst. When they let her call me from the hospital (they wouldn’t let a five-year-old boy visit), I asked Mom, “Are you in heaven?” Thankfully, she was not.
April 1972 – me at age five, with Dad holding two-week-old Michael
When we lived in Lorain, I loved playing with the older boy who lived upstairs. Twelve-year-old Darren Schneider (I believe that was his name) had the coolest toys: miniature cowboys, Indians, astronauts, and army men, along with play horses and a huge plastic rocket that could transport them all to the moon. But since Darren couldn’t be bothered with little old me more than once in a while, I looked forward to having my own full-time brother. I didn’t understand how the brother business worked, however. So when mom came home and showed me the new baby, I thought something along the lines of “Forget the baby, where’s my brother?” I was not happy to learn that my new brother was not twelve and did not have any cool toys. Plus, he cried all the time and pooped himself.
I would learn to love Michael for who he was. And soon I would graduate from kindergarten. Mom took me out to buy a suit for the occasion. She intended to let me choose the suit, but the one I fell in love with was covered with images of zoo animals – mostly zebras, if I recall correctly – and she wasn’t going to spend that kind of money on a suit that resembled a pair of pajamas. In retrospect, Mom was right, though a picture of me in the zebra suit would have been priceless. Here’s what we bought instead:
Walking down the aisle at my kindergarten graduation, June 2nd 1972
Sometime between kindergarten and first grade, we moved into a house on Lexington Avenue in Elyria. But I’ll save the rest of my 1972 for a future blog.