When I was five, I attended Strawberry Point Elementary school, home of the world’s largest strawberry. I remembered the local town’s folks complaining they could have built five swimming pools for the price of the large strawberry placed on the main street.
What I liked the most about being in kindergarten is they served chocolate milk in a glass bottle on Fridays. I never had chocolate milk before, and I thought it was the only reason to go to school. Since I was in kindergarten, I was supposed to go to school every other day. For whatever reason, my parents never could remember which day I was supposed to go to school. Many times they sent me on a wrong day. Truth is I helped them mess up because I insisted I go every Friday, to get the chocolate milk. I don’t think they ever caught on.
On the days I didn’t have school, I would go to my grandma’s house in Mederville. My grandma lived in a nice two-story house that didn’t have running water. She got her water from a well outside; sometimes she would let me pump the handle to force the water out. To go to the bathroom, you had to use the outhouse located toward the back of the lot. To heat the house, she used a wood stove. In the living room was a large bin that stored the wood. For baking and cooking, she had a wood stove in the kitchen. Even with this primitive setup, her cookies and cakes were the best.
When the weather was nice, I would go outside by myself and explore everything that I could. I remember climbing on the underside of the bridge that spanned the Volga River that curved through the tiny town. Sometimes I would visit an old guy named George, who also had a large wood bin in his living room. Instead of filling the bin with wood, it was filled with comic books. I spent many hours looking at those funny pictures. We didn’t have any conversation, because George did not speak English. I also visited Karl’s small two-room house next to my Grandma’s house. When I saw him frying grasshoppers in a frying pan, I quit going over there. Karl also likes to drink beer and frequently walked to Littleport to visit the three taverns there. When he had his fill, he would walk back to Mederville. (The trip is over five miles of gravel road each way over steep hills. I should also mention that Karl was over sixty years old)
Sometimes my Grandma would take me to Myrtle’s house, who lived across the street. They would play a card game called huckly-buck. Sometimes they would let me play. The only catch was you had to speak German to play. They taught me the necessary words, such as the different card suits and numbers. Afterward, we would have cookies and vanilla ice cream.
When the weather was terrible, I would play on my Grandma’s writing desk, which I still have.
My Grandma had an interesting life. She boarded a boat in Germany by herself, crossed the Atlantic Ocean, and traveled to America. She was sixteen and could not speak English. The first English words she learned came from sailors on the ship. I can only imagine what words she first learned. Her husband’s family arrived in America on ships to fight in the Revolutionary War for the British. They were Hession soldiers that were paid to fight for them. The first Nading was at the battle of Trenton, where George Washington led a surprise attack for a significant victory. This battle turned the tide of the war to the favor of the Patriots.