Of Mooncursers and other Spun Yarns

Of Mooncursers and other Spun Yarns
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Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Growing up in Dundalk During the War

In 1940 I started to school and hated it. I went to School at Dundalk Elementary School on Playfield Street. George Schlutaburg was Principal and my first Grade teacher was Mrs Merritt I'm not sure But I would think she was one of the Merritt Family that farmed the land along Merritt Boulevard. Mrs. Tinley taught me in the second and third grade. I had a Mrs Riley in the fourth and again a second time in the fourth. Mrs Tinley taught her class and the second grade with the help of a substitute teacher. She sent me home in the fourth grade for breaking wind and blaming it on the girl setting across the isle from me. Actually I think I must have been sweet on the girl. She was so cute I can't imagine I wasn't. When the class looked around to see who did it I pointed to that girl and all eyes fell on her. She was embarrassed and she cried. Big tears that streamed down her cheeks and I felt sorry for her. God only knows why but I did it again and this time the teacher was standing behind me. She said I was naughty and I said don't call me that I'm bad. Why in the world would a boy say that.

Mrs Couch taught me the fifth and sixth grades and she was my favorite, She was tough and fair and she liked boys and especially if they were a little honery. The boys all liked her as well..

There was a Mr. Bozley that had lost a leg in WWI he used a cane and everyone was afraid of him but his students . None of the rest of us could figure it out. If you ran in the hall he would hook you around the neck with the cane. Oddly it didn't hurt I guess he let the cane slide through his hand so that it didn't jerk you up short.

Old Mr Foust was the Janitor and what a job that was The building was heated with steam heat and the furnaces were hand fired with coal. He had to shovel the coal in and the ashes out. He collected the trash and burned what he could and carried out the rest. He kept the whole building clean and I think there was 32 class rooms. I think there was an older lady that cleaned the windows and there was a jillion of them. When th war started we had air raid drills where we all sat on the floor. The principal who was German and spoke broken English would tell us stories about WW!. He spared us the gory details so it was pretty interesting for us boys and girls alike.

In the winter of early1942 they fenced off the now flat top of Kemmels mountain and stored Army trucks and tanks there. The place was fascinating as a flat sandy plateau where they flew model airplanes and we boys hated to see that go, but the adults did to. Many people in town walked up there on Sundays to watch the models fly.

For us boys the place was even more exciting filled up with tanks, jeeps and trucks. We would go up there and talk to the army guards that patrolled the place. And later we talked to the German prisoners that were repairing fences and doing other jobs around the motor pool. Many were in there mid teens and were very likable. It was hard to remember they had been trying to kill our older brothers and fathers.

We knew the Germans were locking up the Jewish people in Europe. We thought that was a terrible thing for the Jews but we just assumed that was what was done when you had enemies in your country during a war. Nobody was surprised. I don't think anyone new they were gassing the people. We kids played Army. We had wooden guns and odds and ends of military uniforms. Metal toys were hard to come by but kids could get metal BB rifles all through the war. I guess the Government thought it was a good thing for kids to learn how to shoot.

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