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My Grandfather's Childhood

By , Again, IL
My name is John Robert Smith; I was born in 1936 in Postville, Iowa. In my family I had a sister named May and a paternal twin brother Ron; my parents’ names were Rick Smith and Mary Smith.

Someone has told me that being a twin was quite a surprise to my parents because they didn’t know they were going to have twins, that and the fact that we were twins. I should have been the first one born, but I wasn’t ready, but my brother behind me was, so he was the one who started the birth process.

Eventually, I started going to school. My school name was Edgewood Public School. I went all twelve years to the same school, there was just one school. We started out in kindergarten and stayed in the same school until we graduated, it was a small town in Iowa so our education possibilities weren’t too great. We didn’t have anything in science, nothing in advanced math, or all of the courses you have available today. At my school we just had the basic classes like I said. Not a lot that prepared us for the future, I don’t think. Since it was a rural community we had to take some agriculture classes which were how to raise chickens and prune grapes and things like that which weren’t useful to me later on. I think I did pretty well in school. I was called the class valedictorian. This means I had the best grade point average, but there were only thirteen in my class so I didn’t have a lot of competition and some of the kids in my class were held back a year or two so they weren’t the brightest stars in the universe.

During my free time when I was young my neighbors and I played in the neighborhood, games like dare base and cops and robbers and tag, we would go walking up the railroad tracks to see what we could do. We went down and played in the city dump, there were lots of exciting things to do in the city dump. We played a lot of war games too because there was a war going on. My favorite toy was Lincoln logs and I built a lot of things with Lincoln logs. Some of the favorite memories of my childhood were I got a new bicycle once. That was quite something having a new bicycle. I had a paper route and I delivered papers, in the winter sometimes the snow was so deep it was hard to deliver the newspaper. We used to have a lot of fun playing in the snow too, building forts and things. I went sledding and tobogganing. Never really went anywhere when I was a child like Disney land or Disney world or anything. Probably I was pretty old before I went anywhere. We used to go down to the old swimming hole and go swimming. Most of our playing was unsupervised, whenever we wanted to do something we just went off and did it. Memories from my childhood in contrast to things are today, we still had a lot of childhood diseases to worry about. We had chicken pox, scarlet fever, whooping cough, polio, and a variety of diseases which have now been cured so you don’t have to worry about them now, but we did.

I had many jobs when I was young, I always worked. I helped my parents with whatever they were doing. First they owned a movie theatre so I had to help clean up the theatre. When I lived in the theatre with my family, there was just a small two-bedroom apartment and there were the three of us all sleeping in the same room. Then they bought a restaurant. So I had to work in the restaurant before school, at noon, and after school. Then they also did farming, so then I had to help them with the farming raising livestock, helping with the gardening and such. I think my first paying job was working at a grocery store.

Historical events that occurred during my childhood were the end of the Second World War which was of course a big one. I remember hearing about that and celebrating that. Then I also remember when Franklin Roosevelt died. He’d been president for a long time. A lot of people didn’t think Harry Truman would turn out to be a very good president, but he did turn out to be okay. Well later on there was the Korean War, I was getting to the age were I might be drafted, but it ended before then. I was drafted later for peace time and later in life I served for two years part of which was in Korea as a clerk in an Engineering corp.





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