Washington Junior High School
Memories of David Ullian Larson
Washington Junior High School, in Joliet, Illinois, was a bus ride away for me. Children didn't
have school busses then. We rode the regular city lines for a token or a nickel.
I do not remember ever walking there from home but I probably did. Walking was
big back then.
My memories of Washington Junior High School 7th and 8th grades are sketchy.
Here are some random thoughts in no particular order:
The school was old with marble and hard wood floors. Many students had
switch blade knives. For lunch I remember going around collecting pop bottles to
turn in for spending money. Dolly Madison lunch cakes were a dime. Dutch Elm Disease was just
starting, which dramatically affected the school grounds. The creek behind the
school always smelled of sewage except when there was heavy rainfall and nature
flushed it. The big song was Melody of Love. There was a kid who sat next to me
that sang really great. Come Go With Me. He got in serious trouble one day by
pulling a piece of his shirt through his fly. Those were certainly more innocent days.
My most memorable event:
At 13, I was in the 7th grade. And did I ever have a close call with
personal injury. And it was due to electricity, no less. The two newspaper
accounts tell it straight;
Now here I am an electrician. And back then I was almost killed by
electricity. Go figure.
See, I had the afternoon off from band practice for some reason. I went up
to the corner store for kite string. But the lady had none. So, enterprising kid
that I was, I found a spool of cloth covered fine wire. I still have the spool,
by the way.
I have no personal memory of what happened. All I know is what I was told.
The kite dipped. The kite wire touched the high voltage wires in the alley
behind my house. And zap. My brother Terry watched me fall to the ground. My hand
which held the spool of wire was smoking. He kicked it out of my hand. I still
have scars on that hand.
My dad got a new set of golf clubs with a check from the power company for
pain and suffering. Me, I got my kite flying taken away.
As children, the neighborhood gang was always looking for stuff to do with
electricity. That was the hobby area of choice. Things like the erector set with
motor and lights, telegraph setups, radio repairs, lamps. Anything we could plug
in. Oh, and there was the cannon effect when we loaded a Christmas tree socket
with lead tinsel. It really blew out great. The good old days.
My brother and I used to walk out to the Woodruff Golf Course to walk
through the fringes of the course to find golf balls. We did this as often as we
My dad used to take us out there when we were young. He taught us how to use
our feet to feel for balls in the tall grass. And he showed us where to look.
Often we found pockets full of balls. We'd wash them and put them out typically
at tee for hole #5. That was the farthest we could get from the clubhouse. The
reason for this hawking balls was not permitted. Well, we did it anyway. "Want to
buy some balls, mister?" we'd ask.
Balls sold for a quarter or six for a dollar. Sometimes we found a great
condition Maxfly or Titelist. They would sell for 50 cents back in 1955 or so. A
ball called Podo was the worst. I think they were sold at Walgreens. They
brought ten cents in very good condition. Balls with deep cuts were useless. So
why did we call the gashes smiles?
Balls found in water were often discolored. So we used liquid white shoe
polish to perk them up so they would sell better. But here's where my story gets
interesting. Well, only to a kid. One day I went in to the store to buy liquid
white shoe polish. I got clear by mistake. I used it on a golf ball. And was
very pleased with the result. Just like the Fleming guy who left some orange peelings
out and discovered penicillin, I made a mistake that turned out good. When we
had a couple dollars, we walked into the club house like we owned the joint. We
bought pop and hot dogs until the money was gone. The good old days.