Growing Up In Dodge City 1937

This story comes to me from my father who was born in Dodge City on October 21, 1930. Today he divides his time between Luray, Kansas and South Fork, Colorado.

Once upon a time, well really the time was about 1936-37.  We had just moved back from Hutchinson, where my father had worked for the Hutchinson Foundry as a salesman for a  year or so while the City of Dodge was trying to accumulate enough money to pay their employees.  It was the middle of the depression, and no one had any money to speak of.  We moved into a house on Sixth Avenue which was about 3 blocks north of Lincoln Grade School.  I was a second grader and Miss Tulis was my second grade teacher.  Getting started there was not hard since I had attended there before our move to Hutchinson and knew all the kids in my grade.

     Our house was a nice one story on a corner lot.  And best of all it had an old chicken house behind it which immediately became a "club" house.  Not that we had any important meetings there, but it was a place a fellow could get away.  The reason I mention this is that it had some old oak flooring stored in it, and that provided for some really great inventions.

     Our neighbors two houses to the north had a bunch or kids.  The Winfrey's had twin boys, a couple of years older than me, named Larry and Darrey, and a girl named Margie, who was a year younger than me, and a younger boy who was an infant when we lived there.  Anyway we had great times playing together.  

     The area around where we lived was hilly and so provided some exciting entertainment if you were lucky enough not to kill yourself.  One of the great things was that the whole area had sidewalks which served as a place to skate.  We had the clamp on type of skates, which would expand as your shoe size changed.  Now we come to the oak flooring I mentioned.  I cut one of the pieces of flooring and put it between my legs and had a great brake by leaning back and pulling up which caused the wood to drag on the sidewalk.  You could control your speed that way which was really important when you were skating down the steep hills just east of our house.

     Another great entertainment was to walk on stilts. Here again the oak floor was a godsend.  I should mention that my dad made my first stilts, which had long handles and whose foot rests were about 8 inches off of the ground, but they were good enough to learn and master the art of stilt walking.  So after becoming proficient at stilt walking, I graduated to a pair of oak flooring uprights with the foot rest about two feet off the ground, and the tops of which just came to my waist when on them.  I got so I could run on them and jump on them and they became a great source of transportation. There were of course a few spills, but nothing serious.

      Since I have mentioned Lincoln grade school, I should also mention our flag pole which was about 6 inches in diameter, and made of steel and painted with aluminum paint.  The flags were flown every day when the weather was good, and were always taken down at night, to do otherwise was to desecrate the flag.  That has nothing to do with the insane attempt at licking the pole in the dead of winter, lots of kids learned the hard way that your tongue would immediately be frozen to the pole.  It always looked like a losing proposition so I never tried it.