My parents moved Pleasantville, Iowa in 1950 so that Kenneth could be the store manager for an Easter’s grocery store. He had been the store manager in Lorimor for about twelve years prior to this move. I do not have much memory of the store, though I am sure that I visited it many times while we lived in Pleasantville. See Appendix 2: Lorimor, Pleasantville and Colfax, Iowa.
We moved into a two-story rental house when we first moved to Pleasantville. The house had a wrap-around porch and I remember shoveling snow with a coal shovel. Unfortunately, my brother was also shoveling snow with a bigger shovel and hit mein the nose with it. I was taken to the local physician with a nosebleed and still sporta scar on my left nostril.
We probably moved to the two-bedroom bungalow in 1951. Although newer, it was significantly smaller than the Lorimor home. There was a very large backyard, a hand pump to the right of the side door, and a full basement. The back yard was where I learned to ride a bike at about age 5 or 6. The lot to the right was vacant when we moved into the home and was a parking lot for cattle trucks that I remember climbing on. The house has been extensively remodeled since then and now is a two-story home with an attached garage. The vacant lot has been replaced by homes.
My best friend was Barbara Shivvers who lived in an older home on a corner lot about a block closer to the main square of Pleasantville. It had a large porch with a small storage room that we used as a playhouse. Barb’s parents were Martha and Woodrow Shivvers. Barb’s older sister Kathryn was a classmate of my brother Ken. Brothers Melvin and Douglas Shivvers were much older. My parents were good friends with Martha and Woodrow. Woodrow used to call me ‘the little Dutch boy’, either after the paint or after the ethnicity of many Pleasantville residents.
I recall that Barb delivered a May basket to my house and that I gave chase and caught her. I did not know what to do then, so the game ended rather abruptly. I also recall that I opened a birthday present meant for Barbara and burst into tears when I was told that the present was not meant for me. I did not want the present anyway.
I attended the Methodist Church in Pleasantville and was mystified by the giving of the offering. I imagined that God was shoveling money into a vault in Heaven, sort of like Scrooge McDuck with his massive Money Bin. I could not imagine what God would do with all of that money. The church did burn down about 1953, and it was rebuilt on the same site. Perhaps God used the money to build the new church.
Brother Kenny was given a dog named Tippy. Tippy was a brown dog of nondescript parentage. She was whiner who did not like her pen that my father had built in the basement. Tippy mysteriously disappeared without proper explanation, but my veterinarian grandfather Harley Garrett probably had something to do with it. To this day, Kenny thinks Tippy is still alive.
The grade school was about 6 blocks from my home, and I could walk or ride my bike there. I attended kindergarten and first grade while in Pleasantville. Miss Ardyce Robinson was my kindergarten teacher. As a kindergartner, I would take a nap on a small rug brought from home. I was invited to her wedding in Des Moines, and I believe she married Carl R. Millsap later living in Des Moines. Miss Mary Beyers was the first grade teacher. See Appendix 3: Class pictures, elementary schools.
I punched a fellow classmate in the face and knocked him down. He was running around the playground with a coat over his head in a menacing manner. For some reason, I just hauled off and slugged him. He cried, of course, but so did I when the playground supervisor took me by the arm and reprimanded me. I think I was led back to the classroom and did not finish recess.
A classmate of mine, Linda Cummings, was being teased or bullied by other classmates. I thought that was unfair and suggested to my teacher that I fight the aggressor with classmates creating a ‘boxing’ ring. Of course, that recommendation was not followed, but this was the first time I recall the idea of the unfairness and/or bullying in some life situations.
I became as aggressive as I was to become during kindergarten and first grade. I suppose it was socializing and realizing the fighting did not solve much. I do not recall what kind of student I was academically. I only remained friends with Barbara Shivvers after we moved to Colfax.
Random memories from my four years include:
Being teased constantly by my brother
Having to share a bedroom with my brother
Wearing hand-me-downs from my brother
Getting a television hand-me-down from Grandparents Garrett
Having a blue blanket with a satin border for security reasons
Having a boy doll wearing short pants
Thumb sucking and trying to break the habit
My mother reading to me from the Better Homes and Gardens story book
Racing my father home at noontime from the grocery store
Learning to ride a bike
As I recall, a Dr. Perryman was the local physician. He and I were never close friends.
It may have been when I was seven and living in Pleasantville that I spent a night at my grandparents’ house in Des Moines. Homesickness got the best of me after only one night. Despite the best efforts of my grandmother, I spent the morning waiting
on the sidewalk for my mother to come and pick me up.