So many things happened in 80 years ­ but that’s another story

So many things happened in 80 years � but that's another story by Bob Karolevitz Good grief! By the time you read this, I�ll be 80 years old.

It�s hard to believe that eight decades have slipped by, but then � as they say � time flies when you�re having fun.

Or as the frog on the lily pad croaked: �Time�s fun when you�re having flies!�

The milestone only comes once, so I suppose you should let an old octogenarian reminisce a bit about the years gone by. Memories come tumbling back, and I could get book-length if I don�t watch myself.

For instance, I can still remember first grade and the sainted Sister Genevieve who taught us catechism and how to write with ovals and push-pulls.

Then there was Sister Martina, she of the nasal voice, who gave me my first clarinet lesson on the metal horn my mother paid for by collecting and selling double hollyhock seeds.

Somehow Sister Martina taught me to play something from Il Travatore � I think that�s what it was � and I had to sit in front of Father Link (whose cassock always smelled of cigars) as I squealed and squawked my way through that terrible recital. I actually cried because I couldn�t learn to read music.

I can recall the year or so we spent in California where my father went to find work in a steel mill and as a streetcar operator. By my mother got homesick and we came back to South Dakota in time for the Great Depression.

The dust storms and the grasshoppers are still vivid in my memory, although as a town kid I didn�t worry too much about what they were doing for the farmers. Baseball was my thing then, and I could recite the entire 1934 lineup of the St. Louis Cardinals when �Ducky Wucky� Medwick was the star.

I washed whiskey bottles for the bootleggers to get the dime to go to the movies to see Hoot Gibson and Ken Maynard. For a penny we also got a sack of �old maids� from the popcorn man.

Back to the clarinet again. We had a hand-crank Victrola and a Benny Goodman record of Clarinet Marmalade. I would play a few bars of it, and then try to duplicate it on my horn. I guess that�s how I learned to play by ear.

In high school I was exposed to journalism, and my beloved teacher � Miss Emanuel � would get angry with me because I spent so much time as a senior trying to make the basketball team when I should have been concentrating on the school paper and the yearbook, both of which I edited. After all, I was a starter as a junior, and I couldn�t get off the bench enough to earn my letter in my final year.

Miss Emanuel didn�t give up on me, though. She got me a small scholarship or two so I could go to South Dakota State College where I was a walk-on and won a letter on the Jackrabbit basketball squad as a sophomore. I felt vindicated, but that�s another story.

Then World War II came along, and I spent three and a half years in the Army infantry about which I�ve written in the past. I returned to school after V-J Day and got my degree in Printing & Rural Journalism, but I had visions of grandeur as I went to work for Curtiss Candy Company in Chicago, ostensibly as a public relations representative. I quit for a variety of reasons.

That�s when I met Phyllis back in my old hometown. Eventually we were married, and I got recalled for Korea on our honeymoon. That, too, is another story.

Since then the two of us have been through thick and thin for more than 50 years. She�s the best thing that ever happened to me � but I won�t say more lest I become maudlin.

Oh, there�s much, much more to write about.

How I dished ice cream from 11 in the morning till midnight for 15 cents an hour at the tail end of the Dirty Thirties.

How, as a private in the war, I almost went to the guard house for coming to attention and clicking my heels for a second lieutenant � while flat on my back. It was the closest I�ve ever come to being a rebel.

How our well went dry in Washington State, and Phyllis took our two little girls back to South Dakota until I could get them water.

Yes, after 80 years, it�s all coming back to me. And do you know what?

It seems like only yesterday.

� 2002 Robert F. Karolevitz

Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>