MHHS History by Joan (Boden) Dillon





























































            In the evenings a gang of kids, me included, used to play bottlecaps on Dog Alley.  We used a cut off broomstick as a bat, and metal bottle caps as the "ball".  I am surprised, looking back, that nobody was blinded by the batted bottle caps.  There weren't so many restrictions on play in those days.  The biggest obstacle to the game was the open sewer on one side of the road, that you had to be careful not to fall into when going after a cap.

            The kids are all grown now, and some are gone.  I remember Donald (Duck) Weseloh, JoAnne (Joey) Vohsen, Jacky Jansen (killed with a broken neck when he was about 16), Ronny (HockCock) Jannsen, Earl (Junie) Skinner, Curtis Wasson.  We had the best times doing things like the bottle caps, playing in the big hole made in Vohsen's yard when a tree blew over, and the hole filled with water, climbing the apple trees in Grandpa's orchard, playing marbles.

            Our evenings were filled with warm summer nights, catching lightning bugs, walking miles and miles to get to a friend's house.  No one ever worried about losing a kid.  It just didn't happen.

            We had the greatest teachers in the world.  Well, some of them were.  Starting with Ms. Vollrath, our first grade teacher, who took the time to spend time with each of us in conversation and encouraged us in our special talents.  The class of 1959 didn't have a kindergarten, but we managed all right anyway.  I am not sure if or when a kindergarten came to Maryland Heights.  Mrs. Remington (after whom the elementary school was named later) taught a blended class of 3rd and 4th graders.  She was a great one for slapping you on the palm of the hand with a ruler.  Corporal punishment wasn't anything new.  In the 6th grade I remember Mr. Sharp, who in fact was a great teacher—you memorized everything in his class- from the countries and capitals of Europe to the weight and measure tables.  He had all kinds of contests and gave prizes—truly, from spelling contests to hog calling contests—and the prizes were usually big Hershey bars.  For kids without a lot of spending money that was big stuff.  He also rewarded good grades by setting the highest achievers in the front of rows, and ordering the rows according to grade (so much for political correctness or salving the little egos of the underachievers).  Froggy Berra was usually last in the last row.  Poor Frog was sent out every day to cut switches for Mr. Sharp, and invariably, he was always the first one they were used on.  Does anyone remember him yelling out in class "And here comes bubble gum, sticking to the rail!", or the time when he was reading history, and read that Cyrus McCormick invented the automatic raping machine.  That got a laugh.  Froggy got killed by a train while riding one of Curt Wasson's early motorcycles.  (Later after becoming a motorcycle racer, Curt got killed too.)

            Mr. Sharp, for all he was shaped like an egg, was the first coach any of us ever knew.  He really was a great coach and pushed us hard.

            And then there was the fun game we had in grade school of throwing ourselves bodily down the hill above Fee Fee Road.  We tumbled down that hill like sacks of melons and nobody ever broke anything.  We had some natural born tumblers—like Johnny Wainscott—he was the best at it.  He turned out the best on the trampoline that we got too for use in the half times of the basketball games.  Some of the other great playground games were marbles—and most of us had a shoebox full, and an almost permanent dent on our thumbnail from shooting, and we played hopscotch, and jump rope—and had some great tunes, like:  Mother mother, tell the judge, mama's got a new born baby, throw him down the elevator, take him up the escalator, first floor stop, second floor stop, etc.  Anyway, it went something like that.

            Walking home by Eller's confectionary was lots of fun.  A nickel could buy you a little plastic doll, or maybe a celluloid doll with feathers.  There were lots of things you could buy for a nickel in those days.  You could guy a flowing over single dip ice cream cone for a nickel!

            And remember the rich smell of the cafeteria.  And the parents who served the meals, and the food tasted so good.  I was always surprised to hear that people didn't like their food in school.  Ours were the best—best moms!

            And remember the time when in the algebra teacher's class—Mr. McCormick I believe, several people got "pants'd."  He was great fun to have fun with because he got upset so easily.  I remember that it was in his class that Bert Barieter stuck me in the butt with a protractor, and I got so bent out of shape about getting lock jaw that my mom had to drive me all the way to county hospital for a tetanus shot.

            And remember when we sat a fire in an English teacher's class.  Someone dropped a bit of note paper with fire in it, and rather than step on it, the people beside it just fed it with more notepaper.  When the blaze got above the desk line, the teacher caught on and screamed!

            And remember the Airway drive in where to defeat the fee, you and your girlfriend got in the trunk of your boyfriend's car, and he and he buddy drove into the drive in and right up to the front and then let the girls out, only to tell you that it was buck night and you could have gotten in for the same price anyway, and you were mortified.  And how big the car seats were then!  And that is probably why there were so many babies born unusually early in those days.

            And remember the hall passes you could get really easily when you were on the decorating committee for the basketball or teen town coronation.  And remember where we got the flowers—from the local funeral homes.  Practicality meant everything in those days.

            And the teen towns, where we danced to some of the best music every played—Mr. Lee, Shadows on the Shade, the Great Pretender—name it.  The very best!  And how did we dance in those huge hoop skirts!  And speaking of huge skirts, it was always fun to time coming down the stairwell at school, at the same time people were opening the door below, causing the updraft to lift your skirt and all those horsehair crinolines flew!

            And remember the cold nights climbing aboard the school bus to go to the basketball games and getting to sit in the dark by your beau, and how cozy it felt, and how cool the air on your cheeks, and you thought this wonderful feeling would go on forever.  And you thought you would win the North County League Tournament, and you did.

            And remember Creve Coeur Lake, and Khoury League picnics, and your first kiss, and your first going steady ring, and thinking things might last forever.  Ah wasn't it great.