My first memories of growing up were when my Dad had a job as a bull cheater. I remember a barn with a sliding door facing Route 39. This was between New Road and the end of Route 39. There was a pool of water, or maybe it was the gutter, that you had to step over to enter or leave the barn. Dad went there to work on the cows and I remember being brought along.
Another early memory was riding along while Dad hauled kids
I remember him letting us tear up the back yard in Dunkirk with our go cart. We had saved our money all year from tomato and grape picking t buy Tom and Jerry's go cart. Dad would load the cart into the trunk of the car and take us over to the Elementary school parking lot in Forestville on weekends, but during the week we would ride the cart around the back yard and absolutely tear it up.
We had a Lionel train set and we set that up on plywood in a room in the basement. That was a lot of fun and we would work on it every night after supper. Dad also was very proud of the homemade pool table he bought form somebody. We used to play pool on that in another basement room, out by where the furnace was, every night. We played 66, which I don't think is one of the games they play on TV these days.
Then there was cards. We were always playing one game of cards or another, and usually it ended up being pinochle. We went through fads with other games coming and going, but we still play pinochle. I even remember coming home for lunch in grade school. Dad would come home for lunch too, and we would have soup and a sandwich, and then play as much cards as we could work in before we had to leave for school for the afternoon.
We used to collect maple sap from our 3 maple trees in front of the house in Staley's liquid starch bottles. We'd bring the sap to the basement and Dad had rigged up a gas stove down there for us to boil the sap into syrup.
Dad was a Prudential insurance man. Back in those days, he cover a route, and visited everybody on the route, either to sell them insurance, or to collect their premiums. Back then, people paid in cash every week. Dad would come home with piles of coins. Mom even made him pouches of leather sewed together to keep his pants pockets from wearing out. Every night, Dad would let me go through his pile of change and cull out any coins I needed for my collection. I would pay for anything I wanted. Dad had a Burroughs adding machine, with a crank and a tape, and every Tuesday and Friday morning he had to go in to the office to make his deposit. Everything had to add up. He had a huge ledger book with everyone's account in it, and he had to add all the receipts he had to make his deposit and he used that old adding machine for this job. Dad's desk was in front of the fireplace in the den of 713 Park Avenue and that is where the coin collecting and the adding got done. I have a pretty impressive coin collection, from that start over 50 years ago.
When I was in junior high school, at the Campus School in Fredonia, during gym one day my right knee snapped and I tumbled down the stairs to the basement locker room. They took me to the doctor. Our doctor then was Dr. Victor, and he was a known alarmist. Dr. Victor sent us home with a diagnosis that I would have to stay off my feet for 2 months. If that didn't heal my problem, then I would be put into a cast from hip to toe for 6 months. I remember for several weeks, someone would bring my homework home and take it back to school for me. Every morning, Dad would carry me downstairs from my bedroom to the den, where I spent the day on the couch. At night, Dad would carry me upstairs to bed. This went on for weeks.
One day we all got in the car to head to Jamestown. We were going to see a specialist, a Dr. Curran, as I recall. That may be wrong, because it now occurs to me my kindergarten teacher in Forestville was Mrs. Curran, so I may have this memory wrong. Anyway, going to Jamestown was a big deal in those days, 1966 or so, as was going to see a specialist doctor. I remember Dad carrying me from the car in the parking lot, into the building, up the elevator, into the doctor's office. When our turn came, he carried me into the doctor's exam room and set me on the table. The doctor came n, looked at the X-Rays, and explained to us that I had something called Osgood Schlatter condition. This was a fairly common condition suffered during puberty, when the body's growth outpaced the bone and ligament structure's ability to support it. A ligament attaches to the femur (thigh bone) and runs over the patella (kneecap) and then attaches to the tibia (shin bone). This ligament keeps the patella in place. Well, my right one snapped away from the tibia, pulling part of the tibia with it. Dr. Curran said it would heal by itself, and that there was no reason to stay off my feet. I should just avoid things that hurt until they didn't hurt any more. I remember walking out of his office and back to the car.