TLC logo TLC #43:  August 27, 2002

Dear Hearts and Gentle People:
What? So soon? Yes, apparently #42 struck a chord. And we even have a new category: Things I Did When Growing Up That I'm Glad No One Found Out About.
Now, I must tell you that I get these every once in a while, but am pledged to secrecy. However, I am willing to omit names in order to protect the innocent or even the guilty. Let's just get these stories down in print.
And speaking of getting our stories in print, the orders are coming in at a nice clip for "Growing Up in Lexington." If you have not ordered yours, send a check to Marilou Edwards for $15 to: 53 Perth Dr., Bella Vista, AR 72715. I'm getting mine tomorrow.
We'll start today's episode with memories of teachers: 
From Gary Miller:
Reading the latest newsletter that mentioned a lot of the teachers brought a few things to mind.
Mrs. Greer--No nonsense in her class.  Famous for using her knuckle to wrap you on the head if you were talking or misbehaving.  I think I still have a couple of dents.
Miss Winkler--I remember her speech about smoking and how she quit and saved enough money in one year to treat herself to a two week vacation to Hawaii.  Made an impression on me.  Miss Winkler was also the only teacher to ever paddle me.  Did it in front of the entire class (only happened one time) with a paddle that was about two feet long and had holes drilled in it.  It hurt and embarrassed at the same time.
Mrs Hamann--Had her for Study Hall.  You couldn't get out of your seat without raising your hand for permission and couldn't go to the library without her permission either.  She once kept me from going to the library for two weeks saying I didn't need to go.
Miss Lena--For some reason, she scared me to death.  Needless to say, I never acted up in the Library--when I got to go. 
Mr. Seiter--I will always remember being in Mr. Seiter's biology class on a wet and snowy day when Ernestine stuck her head in the door and said "John, don't forget to put on your rubbers (meaning galoshes) before coming home." Broke the class up.
Mrs. Seiter--Drama class.  For some reason the phrase "double entendre" sticks in my mind to this day. 
Mrs. Shouse--Algebra class.  Wonderful teacher but oh how she made my head hurt.
Miss Typing Teacher--I can't remember her name now, but I recall that a lot of us guys were thinking how nice looking she was.
Mr. Viebrock--Shop class---nearly broke my nose when the piece of wood I was turning on the lathe flew off and hit me in the nose.
Coach Hamann--Remember distinctly gym class outside in the Goosepond and having to run laps that included going up and down the steep hill on the north side.  Not fun.
Mr. Lloyd--Plain and Solid Geometry classes.  I remember he always liked to crack a joke or two during class.  I didn't laugh much--another of those classes that made my head hurt.
Miss Mautino--Spanish class.  Never could get the hang of the language and was one of my least favorite classes, but she must have done something to me as I ended up with a Minor in Russian language from Syracuse.  Funny how things work out.
Mrs. Gray--English class.  No nonsense there either, but a good teacher.
Mrs. Rutherford--If memory serves, she was my first grade teacher--or was it Mrs. Buck??  Anyway, it was at Arnold School and we were going to put on a play.  It was Hansel and Gretel.  I was Hansel and Gretel was Mary Lou VanWinkle (her father was a Mo. State Highway Patrolman).  I remember Mary Lou being beautiful (give me a break here--I was a kid but it made an impression on me) with long blond hair down to the middle of her back.  Didn't realize that I would be asked to give her a kiss as part of the play.  I don't remember objecting however. Ah the old days and childhood.   
Then later he added
(That teacher) was very young and I think her last name started with a V or a W.  By the way, on a personal note, I am very proud to tell you that my son Chris Miller (grandson of Verna Holman from the Office staff of LHS) is now the Asst. Principal of the Harrisonville Jr. High in Harrisonville, Mo.  Chris graduated from Grandview High School in 1994, Southwest Missouri State in 1998, and earned his Masters degree in May of this year.  On graduating from SMSU, he was a PE teacher at Ozark Middle School  and Head Soccer Coach for Boys and Girls teams for Ozark High School in Ozark, Mo.  He and his wife Heather are in the process of relocating and will be living in Raymore, just south of Raintree Lake.   It will be nice to have him back in the area. 
Next topic! (Title supplied by Bob Ball) - Piano Lessons and Other Horrors: he writes
In your most recent TLC, Barbara Tabb '55 Jarman said "Just wondering here if Mrs. Waddell ever taught her piano lessons over on Franklin."
Indeed, as I am sure you remember, she did.  The house was located in the 1200 block on the north side of Franklin,  just about where the driveway to Bank Midwest is today.  It seems to me that her "studio" was on the top floor, originally, but later moved to a room that was sort of half a flight down.  At least, that's how I (vaguely) remember it.  She and Miss Elizabeth lived over Reed's (formerly Foster's), as I recall.  Do you remember the Christmas parties that they held in that apartment?  Golly, it seemed like half the kids in town were taught by one of the two sisters.  I remember my mother took lessons from Miss Beth at the same time I went to Miss Jenn.  I'm afraid my mother was much better about practicing than I was!
And Mary Kay Gooseman and the others are quite right, it was Mrs. Gruber who taught tonette.  I guess my memory got the name tangled with Miss Gruber in the 8th grade, who sponsored/directed the Junior High Operetta.  Of course, the fact that I and everybody else in Lexington grew up saying "Miz Gruber" and "Miz Margret" and "Miz Jenn" and "Miz Elizabeth" and so on might help justify my error.  It certainly made it easy for me to adapt to the "Ms." elocution that became correct a while back.
Has anyone brought up the operettas in the TLC?  I don't remember much about them, except for one little etched-in memory -- I was physically sick backstage during the dress rehearsal (probably had the 'flu or something).  Aside from considerably inconveniencing those standing near me at the time, it had no effect on the production, since I was only one of many in the chorus.  The incident did put me off operettas ever since, I think.
As to Arnold teachers who participated in the "Platoon" days at Central, I don't remember exactly, but Miss Margret might well have taught penmanship.  Certainly, she did the penmanship teaching for third through sixth grades at Arnold.  "...And the little finger says, 'Let me skate, too!'"  Remember that phrase?  Boy, that one certainly was burned into my neural architecture!
Diane Gibson Conger mentioned the "mosaics" in grade-school art.  I sat across the aisle from her in 5th grade, and I remember that she did a very neat and very pretty job with such mosaics.  On the other hand, some of the rest of us had more of the little bits of paper and pasted glued on our hands and arms and, occasionally, hair, than on the paper.
Anyway, it was good to receive the latest TLC.  I look forward to them, and I was beginning to wonder if you were fed up with the job, or burned out by the summer weather, or (paranoia always lurks) if my address had fallen off your hard drive!
Bette Phipps Thomas 
I just can't thank you enough for creating this wonderful forum. I've learned so much about people, places & events and enjoyed finding out about current & former Lexingtonians and "life after Lexington." I'd also like to thank Marilou for her hard work too.  YOU GO GIRLS! Oops, I mean YOU GO WOMEN!  Or maybe I should say SUSAN& MARILOU, YOU ROCK!
PS Can't resist a comment about piano lessons.  I took lessons from Mrs. Torrence on Highland but think I quit when I heard the word "recital." Later I took lessons from Mrs. Waddell on Franklin.  Every week I paid her the grand sum of 50 cents & played the same piano piece (I played very,
very well) while Mrs. Waddell told me the same stories she had told me the week before (I think they were about her deceased husband).  My sister, Mary Lou, took lessons from Mrs. Waddell's sister, Miss Bess, who rapped knuckles when you hit the wrong keys. I figured I had the better deal: since I played the same piece week after week, I never had to practice; I knew Mrs. Waddell's stories by heart so didn't have to really listen; & unlike my sister, my knuckles were unrapped & unscarred.  What's not to like????

Mary Pat Gueguen Miller:
What a delight issue #42 was, top to bottom! I can't add much about "Tonettes" since we didn't use them at school, I don't think, but we had one around the house.  Never knew why.  Was it also called an "oc-a-rena", however you spell it????   (Ed - Ocarina, I think.)

I took piano lessons from Mrs. Waddell over on Franklin, Georgia Hurlburt and family lived downstairs.  It was next to the smelly "feed and weed" store on the corner of 13th and Franklin.  (Mr. Barlow's store, maybe?? That name just popped into my head.)  (Ed - Jack, father, and Ed, son, Barlow.) Anyway, the Hurlburts had a cat that liked to terrorize ME.  One day as I was walking away from the house, that D____ cat grabbed my legs from behind and I nearly fainted.  Cried and shook all the way home.  Hated cats ever since!!

Mrs. Waddell was a character, as was her sister, Miss Bess Graves. She wore BIG hats, too!  My brother took from her in her upstairs studio on Main, and she liked to crack his knuckles, as well as dance around the room.  (He didn't take long.) I played by ear pretty well and didn't read notes well, so Mrs. Waddell would play the music for me, I would pick it up and play, she would sit and cry.  Always remember her with a hanky, dabbing her mouth, as she kind of slobbered when she talked.  Isn't it funny what kids remember?  (Barbara Tabb mentioned taking piano from Mrs  Carrie Loomis.  I think my Mother took from her.  Could that be?)

Speaking of animals, we had a BIG St. Bernard up our street when we were kids.  I think
it belonged to Andrea Lindsay, as I recall, (Ann Coen would know; it  was up there by them.)  Anyway this HUGE, lumbering, slobbering, tongue-waving HORSE would come galloping down the street and I was in the house like a shot, crying, of course, because our playtime was RUINED!.   Anybody else got "animal" stories??

I remember the wooden box of rhythm band instruments, even the sound it made when you grabbed something out of it, the clanking of the triangle or the tambourine.  In my work at the "Little Sisters of the Poor" home here, I work with a Bell Choir, but they also play in a rhythm band.  So many similarities of children and older people; they seem to delight in and enjoy the same things.  Like us. 
 Jack Gueguen:
Just back from my summer teaching (75 classes, 5 courses, in 5 weeks, followed by a week to rest); enjoyed the new installment.  Thanks for your good work--and the talented patching of my several dispatches into a more beautiful unity than when they were sent.
Why not get someone to start a collage on another of Lexington's most colorful professional ladies from our youth--Miss Bess Graves.  (I recall her being a graduate of the Julliard School.)  I took piano lessons from her at an early age--which ended abruptly when we got to "crossover."
The best part about my heavy teaching load this summer was the 35 20-somethings who seemed at the peak of their enthusiasm.  So invigorating.
Barbara Tabb Jarman:
Just wanted to send a quick note here on the query from Jack Gueguen about the manager of the Mainstreet Theater.  At one time, it was Bob Rittenhouse, but I don't know if that's the one he had in mind.  Will try to recall some of the others who worked there.
Norma Gadt:
While reading your latest TLC I believe Mary Kay Wilcoxon Gooseman stated Miss Marie Mike was still living.  Does anyone know if Mrs. Torrence, Mrs. Baird (4th grade at Central), or other elementary teachers are still living?  I would be very interested to know. 
One more thing Susan.  Does anyone know the name of the 5th grade teacher at Central?  Miss Mike, 1st grade; Mrs. Conger; 2nd; Mrs. Torrance, 3rd;Mrs. Baird, 4th;  ?? 5th; and Mrs. Rush 6th. 
And now another new category. I called it "Rejoinder"
Barbara Jarman starts off:
Dear Devoted Scribe,
Well, now, it was sad to see that Joe Parks has suffered permanent brain damage from our encounters in the third grade, and probably earlier. But, I feel that I should set the record straight here, and
explain why he has things so messed up in his head. That really was some fantasy he described. I liked your ha............. and, I'll raise it one, ha ha!  I may have been somewhat responsible for all that damage; but, he forgets the real story.  So, here it is:

Back in that year (in Miss Torrence's class), stocking caps were all the rage - something 'new' that you just had to have in order to be fashionable. I remember some colorful striped ones, and that was what I
really wanted in the worst way. But, alas, none like that were to be found in the stores. They were all sold out.  And, the only one we could find, even in Kansas City, was this short, ugly, dark brown one that I had to settle for, since it was better than nothing.  The only thing it had going for it was that it was very soft, and stretchy. But, I did manage to make that thing 'unique', to make up for its being just plain ugly, in my humble opinion. And, when Mom asked me a few weeks later how that stocking cap tassel was dragging the ground, when it had barely cleared my shoulders at the point of purchase. I knew it was no accident, so I explained to her how I ended up with the longest stocking cap in all of Lexington.  And, it did literally drag the ground when she asked.
We lived down on 7th Street then, between Franklin and that part of Main Street that extends to and ends on Highland Ave.  I always walked to school on Franklin; and, often encountered Joe Parks on the way to and from school - the Parks lived at 9th & Main. And, Joe was something of a tease, even back then, and was always just 'asking for it' - as he still seems to be! haha.
I found several good-sized rocks, and put them in that stocking cap, and would chase Joe while swinging that cap wildly over my head. And, if he is anything of a runner today, I will take credit for that, too! So, yes, I did chase the boys - but, it was always with a weapon in my hand, and because I was provoked.  That's my story, and I'm sticking to it!
I probably did connect a few times with those rocks - vaguely remember hearing "Ouch!"  And, Joe said that he thinks he does still have a few knots on his head, when I asked if he remembered that
stocking cap. Gordon Wright got Joe's e-mail address for me when I came up for the last big class reunion, and we have been bantering back and forth ever since. And, since he decided to take it public in TLC - 'here's another knot on your head, Joe!  Now, behave yourself.'

I'll add just one thing here.  Jack Gueguen asked about the name of the manager of the Mainstreet Theater.  I remember Bob Rittenhouse, who was there for several years managing it. That may be the one Jack had in mind.  I have tons of memories of that place, and really hated to see it torn down. I'll bet we all did. Does anyone remember that Kitty Wells once performed on the stage there?  I saw it advertised on the back of some article I had saved from The Lexington Advertiser News (when
Lexington had a 'real' newspaper, thanks to John Shea).
As always, I look forward to TLC, and thank you again for your efforts.
Mike McDonald: (responding to Jack Gueguen)
I enjoyed your comments in the TLC but I remember the "Four Roses" a little differently.  Our typing teacher, Mary Saxton, had nothing to do with starting the quartet.  It started about two years before we were involved with Mary as the LHS faculty sponsor for the group.  Either you or your parents were the ones who had the idea of a quartet.  In any case, the need was entertainment for the Lions or Kiwanis dinner meeting at the Victory Cafe.  We got together at your house and picked a couple of songs to learn from a quartet arrangement song book.  I recall one song as being "Coney Island Babe".  We got a free meal and the first group we sang for was very appreciative and, soon we were singing for most of the dinner groups in town.
We received the name at a contest at the Mainstreet Theatre.  We did show up at the contest in our grey suits (the only suit I had at that time) and the roses from your parents' yard.  The Master of Ceremonies asked us what our group name was and we told him that we had no name.  He looked at us for about 5 seconds and said that the would call us the "Four Roses."
The movie theatre was packed that evening for the contest.  There were five acts: Pete Summers played on the drums, Jimmie O'Malley sang the "Big Bass Viol" and we sang "Coney Island Babe".  I don't remember the other two participants but I do remember that we came in second, between Pete at first and Jimmie in third.  I was amazed that we came in ahead of Jimmie.  Pete Summers was from Henrietta and he brought a lot of them with him that night.  I knew him because I played baseball with and against him at times.  Until that night, I had no clue that he could play drums like that.  He gave a fantastic performance.
I remember the quartet singing at one school assembly, but I don't remember singing at one of the minstrels.  All four of us were always in the minstrels and why we did not sing is a mystery to me.  Mary Saxton was assigned as our LHS contact in the spring of our senior year when we were asked to represent the school at Warrensburg.  We picked out some music and reviewed it with her and she approved.  "Joshua fit the battle of Jericho" was one and we practiced in the band room several times.  We received a "one" rating at Warrensburg and went to the state contest at Columbia.  We received a "two" at Columbia and I still have the medal that we were awarded.
The most unusual appearances that the quartet made were at the Baptist Church.  When we finished singing the church audience was completely silent so we left the front and began filing up one of the aisles.  The pastor started clapping and then the congregation all began clapping.  A girl in the audience later told me that she had attended that church for all her life and that was the first time that the congregation had clapped.  We later also sang at the Methodist Church.  The quartet always sang whenever we were invited.  I don't remember our turning down any request.  The contest at the Mainstreet Theatre was the only event that we decided on our own to participate.  I have pictures of the group, always in our grey suits, black bow ties and white shirts.  But I would give almost anything if we had a recording of one of the songs.  I do remember several men from town stopping me on the street and telling me that our quartet was better than some on the professional groups on radio and tv.  I was not at all sure they were right about that, but it sure made the quartet feel accepted.  I have fond memories of growing up in Lexington and I thank you, Jack, and Kent Hicklin and Larry Marcks for the quartet memories.
And now, the first "Confession"

Thanks “scribe” for putting TLC together.  Enjoy it very much. But as I read these anecdotes I observe that they tend to lean toward the soft side of growing up around Lexington.  I want to spice it up a bit with a few tales of my own. All of us have some dark moments. I know I did and I can look back on them with an impish grin.  I will have to admit that I was pretty ornery at times and I am going to share one of those rare ones.


I was in the seventh or eighth grade and most likely this event I am going to confess to probably happened on a Friday or Saturday night during the end of the school year, for spring had arrived and it was warm.  Two of my buddies and I were carousing around town on foot not having cars or the age to drive one yet.  We ventured through the alley that separated Swartzes’ salvage yard and the church that sits at 14th and Franklin.  You could look down the hill from that vantage point and see that the parking lot was full at the Maid-Rite.


The few kids who had cars were either parked here or cruisin’ town.  Adjacent to the wire back fence of Swartzes’s there was the rusty core of an old furnace boiler that must have weighed at lease three hundred pounds if not more.  A boiler is round like a big pipe and this one was at least four feet long.  I don’t recall who came up with the brilliant idea to roll this thing out of the alley into the street and push it a half block to the top of the hill.  We were going to set the furnace up on end and leave it there in the middle of the street sort of like a Halloween prank.  During our struggle to plant this rusty old piece of iron on end we dropped it.  It clanged to the ground making a horrendous ear-shattering ringing sound that could be heard all over town. 


Unfortunately the way it landed on its side it turned into a steam-roller heading down the hill.  At that very moment one of the cars in the Maid Rite parking backed out and headed up the hill. The driver did a peel-out on the loose gravel and was heading up the hill toward that piece of iron which was rapidly gaining momentum.  No stopping that sucker now.  The combination of screeching tires and clanging iron and the ensuing collision made it expedient to make a rapid getaway.  The car and the furnace were accelerating rapidly, almost like a staged event.  I know the driver didn’t see the rusty object in his headlights.  I really was torn about staying to watch, but I just couldn’t not look back to see what was going to happen. 


I was at the top of the street when the two rolling objects met just parallel to the end of the last Maid- Rite service stall. The furnace was compact and heavy enough that when they met, the impact stopped both objects in their tracks.  It sounded like a dull bomb had gone off.  Just a short “whump”.  Then total silence. 


Everyone at the Maid-Rite came running to see what the commotion was.  Kids began milling around to observe this weird wreck.  A few were looking around to see where this piece of iron had come from.  It was really time to leave now because the expletive language made it quite clear that things would get a bit testy if anyone was observed at the top of the hill for “no good reason.”


I circled the block in a clockwise manner, so it appeared that if anyone saw me I would be coming to the Maid-Rite from the picture show.  I walked up nonchalant to observe the happenings.  I heard a few “gonna kill the so and so” and such language as that.  Stayed a while longer, found my buds to see if they had seen all of this.  I don’t recall any reaction on their part.  Looking back on it, it was just another Tom Sawyer thing to me.  I knew the young man who owned the car, and I am sure he remembers the event.  If he cares to comment now, He can reveal himself. I do apologize for ruining his car.  Hope there is such a thing as “Statue of Limitations” on killing a car.          


Confession #2, and this one from your Scribe:


This is a great change-of-pace from the usual TLC sweet memories of youth. I was one of those squares who rarely got into trouble, but I'll share one with you. Two of my girlfriends were on the LHS tennis team (girls' sports then!!!!), and they had a match at WMA. It was a lovely spring day, so I just strolled out of school to go over and watch. I think as Seniors we thought we could get away with murder, but this wasn't even subtle. There were teachers and administrators, lots of people, in attendance. And there I was. Mr. Gerhardt summoned me to the office the next day and we had a little conversation about it. My punishment: I had to come to the office and sit for an hour after school every day for a week. The other miscreant: Larry Bland. I don't remember what foul thing he had done to deserve this fate, but we had a wonderful week being punished together, talking and reading and laughing. Come to think of it, maybe seniors did get away with murder after all.


And a new voice chimes in:

Conrad '56 Pitz


I had the good fortune to meet a classmate of good old Lexington High the other day (Dorothy Kleeschulte Wood) and as we visited she told me about the letter that you send out about growing up in Lexington.  She forwarded the TLC #42 letter to me and what a joy to read and relive the memories. It is terrible how much you forget over the years. It was great to just read the list of people that you send the letter to and remember old friends.
I will relate a little history of myself after I left Lexington in 1960. I migrated to the K.C. area and worked for Bendix Corp. for 15 years, remarried in 1968 to my wife (Marilyn) of 34 years. We raised my kids and her daughter and have 11 grand-children and 3 great-grandchildren. I retired from Kansas City Power and Light in March of 2000. I was a supervisor in a crew that traveled to all of the power plant where we overhauled the Turbines & Generators. Not very glamorous but rewarding.  We  moved to Pomme De Terre lake where we now live. Just about 15 miles from Dorothy.
If you would please include me in your mailing list so that I might keep up with old friends and some of the going-ons in good old Lexington. My e-mail address is Looking forward to getting your letter, it is GREAT.
And, finally, we end on a sad note from Laveda Coskey Cross:


In your next TLC I would like to let the subscribers know that on July 18th of this year, my brother, Richard "Harold" Coskey passed away after a long illness.  Harold graduated in the year 1948.  His classmates I am sure will remember what a great basketball player he was.  He retired after 23 years in the Air Force and was living in Titusville, FL at the time of his death. 

Once again, thank you all for writing  -  the good news and the bad. You keep writing, and I'll keep sending.
Your devoted scribe,


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