childhood tales

This page of "childhood tales" is a lot of family time with me and my sister Cornelia, my neighborhood friends and adventures I remember as a child. 

Here is a Christmas story. The holidays were closing in a few months before Christmas 1959, third grade, Mrs. Meade's class at Payne school. I'm 8 years old, and I want a three speed English racer bike for Christmas! Dad kinda said yes, before he found out how much it cost. It was $49.99 at Guggenheimers Department store downtown, a couple of hundred dollars now! I told all my friends that I was getting this bike...ok...yea...sure you are...right?? Ok it was October 1959, where can you hide a bike from a kid that knew every square inch of my Pierce St. home? My Dad had a best friend, Harry Royal, also a teacher in Campbell County. His boys were starting College, and the ideal place to stash a bike for a while. Dad thought that he had gotten away with it! Well....fate came in, heres what happened.... A few days before Christmas, The Royals got called away and out of town for an emergency. Mr. Royal thought about our gifts, and called Dad, he had completely forgot about it! He told Dad that he would be back the day after Christmas, can you stall your kids? "OH NO!".....Dad woke me up, and told me the bad news.....Santa got the Pierce St. addresses  mixed up.....My bike was at 707 Pierce, instead of 1502! All the kids had their skates, scooters, wagons, and I heard... "Hey Goins....where is this bike you supposed to bike.....!!" Happy ending, I got my bike a day late and was the envy of the neighborhood, only one problem!? The bike was so big I couldn't reach the petals, even though the seat was all the way down! I had to ride on the luggage rack, with a pillow, and hoped that I wouldn't have to brake suddenly! I resembled a kid on a big black "big wheel!" All were pointing.....gee I looked funny going down the street, but I was happy! 

Ok! We got our first hi-fi! I wanted us to get something special to play our records on....something loud and we can party to! My little Webcor record player had no bass, and sounded like a transistor radio....come on Dad? Claude had a hi-fi, Ronnie, Dot, and a lot more all had them! The Reids across the street had one! They played the grooves off of Maybe by the Chantells! Right across the street at Dr. Johnsons house in the basement, he bought a console stereo for Arthur Ashe and his other Tennis stars to dance to! The Farrows up the street had could hear it all the way to our house when Ms. Anna would be playing "Cry Baby" by Garnett Mimms, over and over! I found out later while helping Ms. Pinn move to Westminister-Canterbury that she had a Magnavox console, the Mercedes of hi-fi systems at the time! I wanted to see if it still did...when it came on with a big blast that scared everyone....the volume control was turned all the way up! I almost bought it from her, but I didn't have any more room in my collection for it! Anyway.....Dad finally gave in! My parents always stuck with one brand their whole lives! It was Chevrolet, RCA, Kenmore, Maxwell-house, and Sears-Silvertone! To the Pittman Plaza and we picked out a beautiful console with an AM/FM stereo and a record changer! We couldn't wait to get it delivered! Ok...where to put it, in the living room? Well it ended up in the place.... We didn't use the fireplace for heat, and it had a raised place a few inches off the floor for a hearth. If it was to get out, it would sound great sitting there, and it did! I could hear my "Shotgun" lp by Jr. Walker all the way over to the store across the street! Christmas rolled around, and it was the 24th of new radio, and my sisters Barbie dolls were on the way! Everyone went to sleep to wait for the big day in the morning! I suddenly remembered ....."OH NO".....I woke my sister up...emergency! What's wrong?? Hey....Santa can't get in....the hi-fi is in the way! We got to move it without disturbing Mom and Dad! I got on one end and sister got on the other end and we shoved and pushed, and couldn't budge it! Ok....lets both get on one end and try to move it to the floor. After a few shoves, and yanks, we got one end and both legs on the floor, and the other two leggs stayed on the hearth. Mission accomplished, back to bed....Santa could now get in! I would have loved to see Dad's face when he saw that hi-fi sitting halfway out in the floor Christmas morning!! I still have our console in my garage, and it still works! Oh yea....the Barbie dolls and my new radio got down the chimney intact! 

I am in the 7th grade, 1963...Mr. Stroud's class at Robert S. Payne School. I recently took an interest in electronics using batteries and light bulbs, also radios and communications. I went to the Payne school library in the science section and discovered a book, soon to be my favorite "Using Electronics" by Harry Zarchy. This book demonstrated how to do wiring, soldering, put together simple to complicated small radios. At the beginning of the book you did simple wiring, soldering guns to make and patch joints. It showed you step by step how to build crystal sets, one transistor sets, one tube sets....I was really interested in transistor radio broadcasters, where you can talk over a radio a few feet away! It wasn't too strong a signal, and only went to the next room or just outside the door! This was the beginning of my radio station interest. I hooked it to my little record player, and broadcast throughout the house! My only listeners were Mom and Dad in the next room! I checked out the book over and over for months! I had a library card that had a string of checkouts for "Using Electronics" every week! Soon, the 7th grade was over, and I would be going to a new 8th grade school...Dunbar! This was a completely new ball game with 6 different classes, 6 different teachers, and a home room that you go to at the beginning and the end of the! I was used to staying in one room, one teacher....hey why couldn't the teachers move around, and the students stay in one room....hello.....oh well.....I guess not?? The main thing that broke my heart was the fact that the Dunbar library DIDN"T HAVE A COPY OF "USING ELECTRONICS!" "OH NO"....I said Oh no a lot.... I didn't want to leave that book behind at Payne school! We didn't have Barnes and Noble or Amazon then, but we had J.P. Bell downtown! Mom took me downtown where we met a very friendly lady who said that she would see if they would order it for us. A few days later, she told us the bad news.....the book was out of print! Oh I was disappointed! A few days later, the lady called us back, and said that she found one copy somewhere in Pennsylvania, and would see if she can get it!! She found it, to my relief, and I had my very own copy of the book! Over the years, and graduating to higher electronic skills, I don't know what happened to the book, lost in the years of radio for me! A few years back, I just happened to search on eBay "Using Electronics, " and got a hit! Someone in California had the book up for bidding that started at $9.00. I bidded on it, with a high protected bid, and I won it....the only one who bid! Ironically it was near the same price we paid for it at J. P. Bell! Here it is in the picture, on the top of the stack, one of my greatest treasures, that really started me on my electronics journey!
 (CLICK HERE) to read "Using Electronics!"   

One black and white TV, three more could you ask for? Dad and Mom, Sis and tv set....ok? Dad liked mostly westerns! Gunsmoke, Have Gun will Travel, Highway Patrol, the Rifleman, Wagon Train! Hands off the tv when they are on, so I watched too.... Mom never missed Alfred Hitchcock, Twilight Zone, Edge of Night, Jackie Gleason, Red Skeleton, Lawrence Welk, I Love Lucy, Ed Sullivan! Sis and I liked Saturday morning cartoons, Loony tunes, Rocky, Super-car, and my favorite Ruff & Ready! If Cartoon Network was available back then I wouldn't have left home! I wanted every toy they advertised...Silly Putty, Duncan yoyo's and spinning tops, Varoom-bike motors...ect! My favorites #1, 7PM Sunday....Lassie! I almost died during the three part shows, waiting till next week to see if Lassie finds her way home or land the hot air balloon they were in! I was hooked on Star-Trek, and the Outer Limits! The pilot first episode of the Outer Limits was about a radio station! Dennis the Menace, Voyage to the bottom of the Sea, Saturday wrestling live from tv 7 studios, My Favorite Martian, Batman, Sargent Preston, Fury, Sea Hunt, Sky-King, Peter Gunn, Uncle Looney, Cactus Joe, Heidi & Regie, it comes...Captain Kangaroo too! We later got a second tv set, and I got the idea to take the portable tv to the den so I could watch two shows at once!  Dad and Mom had me in church every Sunday, which at Jackson Street church, it was like going to Dunbar six days a week! A lot of the staff of Dunbar were members there! Everyday life was hard enough growing up, but believe it or not, one cartoon kept me on the right track? I never missed....Davey & Goliath! They helped me with adventures in right and wrong, race and friends relationships, do unto others....ect.   
Lets go to the movies! Dad would take me to the movies most Saturdays! We mostly went to the Harrison on 5th St. We would first listen to a few Fats Domino or Platters music till the movie started around 3PM. We saw Rodan, The Blob, Monolith Monsters, Deadly Mantis, and Giant Claw! I spent a lot of time down under the seat, but I was ok after I first saw the monster....haha! I have a large dvd/vhs collection of a lot of the shows that remind me of my childhood! I have the series Perry Mason, Twilight Zone, Highway Patrol, Outer Limits, Star-Trek, Back to the Future, and many more I watch and remember the good old days! By the way.....all radio dj's should have the series WKRP in Cincinnati! I can't leave out's a small shot of my collection.... 

I know that everyone is trying to save money any way they can! When I was small, every cent I got went across the street at my Pierce St. home to Simmons Grocery! Find a penny, that was two mint julips in my book.... Mom brought home from the bank a "Dime Kitty!" This was a unique way for kids to learn how to save money. Each dime would put another section of a kitty cat until $3.00 created a complete cat! I got one, and my sister got one, and we were told to see who could fill up one first! Always trying to keep ahead of my sister, it came down to save money and win, or a tootsie pop or two? With the kitty, you couldn't get the dime out once you put it in without damaging it. Notice the rips in the cardboard beside the kitty slots? Somebody who had this one below, I got it on eBay, changed their mind and tried to remove the dime!....I found that out when my sweet tooth won out over my need to save! I looked at my sisters dime kitty, and her card was almost finished! Needless to say, she won, and now I am paying for my sweet tooth with my type two diabetes! Just think....I used to walk around the house with a box of Captain Crunch under my arm!! 



Richmond had one of those "Soul" stations! Chicago had WVON, D.C. had WOOK & WOL, Richmond had WANT, I brought Dad's Silvertone radio to Richmond so I could listen to some good music while I visited my Aunt's house. DJ's Ben Miles, Mr. C, and Tom Mitchell played all the R&B hits of the day! One time I looked out my Aunt's window, and what did I see? The WANT gold Caddy was parked right outside! It had "WANT 990AM" in the back window! It seems that Mr. C. was dating the woman in the other side of the duplex! I didn't want to leave that radio station in Richmond....I wanted to take it with me! When it was time to go, I tuned the station in perfectly....turned it up loud....didn't cut it off, unplugged it, and carefully put in in the back seat of the car. I smiled all the way home! I got home, plugged it in....waited for it to warm up..........
I was so mad I almost cried!! That is when I found out that radio doesn't work that way! I recently found on eBay an exact copy of my Dad's radio, and it works! Here's a shot below.....v Notice the dial is sitting on 990am where WANT would have been.... If I had tuned it in now, I wouldn't get WANT, even if I was in Richmond! Instead I would get WREJ, rejoice radio a Black Gospel station! 

 Let's get up a game up at Payne school on the basketball court! We picked a team, and all we needed was some music! I brought my Elgin radio turned it to a Rock station, and started the game. I put the radio near the sideline so it can be heard, but just out of reach of the players.....or so I thought? The game was going along good....Elmer passed the ball to Ronnie, then to Bip...Sterling hit the ball...out of bounds! A quick save to Paul, Elmer missed, someone tripped.....suddenly, there were six guys lying on top of...wait for it, wait,!!!! I heard no music each guy got up....the last guy up uncovered the sad facts! I said "Oh No" again! My radio was crushed and flattened! Just like Linus and his blanket I had that radio everywhere I went, except to school! (first, second picture below) All the guys knew that I was devastated! I got a paper bag and gathered up what was left.....maybe I could fix it....looking at it.....then again?? I kept it all these years maybe one day I could fix it!? (third picture below) Almost fifty years later, I'm on eBay and guess what? Someone has my radio for sale! I got the radio, but the seller said it didn't didn't! A few months later I saw another one.....didn't work......another one.....didn't work.....there must be a defect in them over the years?? Then I saw this one on eBay it worked.....BUT.....the entire faceplate was missing and there was nothing in the front but the little red dial! I bidded on it and had a brilliant idea! Using the faceplate I kept over the years, I carefully transplanted it to the radio! The operation was a success!! After all these trys, I finally had my radio back!! Now I had six different sets, one of which worked, one with shortwave, one with a different color panel! My Dad bought me a five-band shortwave radio shortly after the basketball incident, and I was happy, now years later I AM REALLY HAPPY! (forth picture below) 

(CLICK HERE) For more tales of my childhood!
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