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The Second Decade: 1940-1949

Spring of 1940 we moved to Roosevelt, Minnesota. Roosevelt is just at the base of that part of Minnesota that sticks up into Canada. It was (and is) a very small town. At that time there were a couple of grocery stores, a filling station or two, a grade school, and several churches. We all remember our year in Roosevelt as the best of our childhood. I was in the fifth grade the year we were in Roosevelt. There were lots of kids to play with, no money but enough food, nice people, and so on. After church on Sunday nights all the kids would play outside for a little while in the snow. Sometimes the northern lights shone very brightly. And the town had an ice skating rink, which was a field flooded and frozen. Everyone had skates, of course, and every young person (and lots of older ones, too) would be out there skating. I had constant toothaches that winter; they often kept me out of school, but they never kept me from skating on Saturday night.

We all enjoyed living in Roosevelt. My father would go away for a week or two fairly often, and we had more fun during those times. One thing we did was hop freight trains. The railroad was the Canadian National, I think, or Canadian Pacific; it dipped down into the US for a few miles, maybe around Lake of the Woods. There was a siding in Roosevelt, and trains would stop while waiting for another freight to pass. So we'd hop on and ride them as they were shuffling back and forth. One day I hopped on one, thinking I'd get off at the edge of town. But the train kept picking up speed. I could see myself being carried away to Canada and wondering how on earth I'd get home. The only thing I could do was jump, but we were going way too fast for that. But I jumped anyway, and didn't get hurt enough for my parents to find out about it.

In September of 1941 we moved to Auburn, Washington, near Seattle and Tacoma. We lived there five years—the longest of any place we lived. I repeated the fifth grade, then attended sixth, seventh, eighth, ninth, and part of tenth in Auburn. The war (WWII) started just after we got there (not our fault). I was ten when we arrived and fifteen when we left. Great formative years.

My oldest brother, Ray, would drive my next older and next younger brothers and I into Seattle to watch the Seattle Rainiers play baseball at Sick's Seattle Stadium on Ranier Boulevard. Sometimes we younger ones would go in by ourselves on the bus. Once we visited the Boeing factory in Renton, where they were building Flying Fortresses, or maybe Superforts. Our home was on the flight path, so planes often flew low over us.

My brothers and I built model airplanes; at that time models were made of balsa wood, and would glide nicely, even though we never got one to actually fly (they had rubber band motors). Once we were halfway through building a Superfort with a wingspan of about 4 feet, when we decided it was too much work and we'd never finish it. Next door to us lived a woman who was probably very nice, but seemed to us to be an old grouch (four teenage boys would make any neighbor a grouch). We took that Superfort up on our garage roof, spread airplane glue (highly flammable) all over it, lit a match, and sent it gliding. Mrs. Grouch happened to be doing dishes at that time;she looked out her kitchen window and saw a flaming Superfort headed right for her. This was during the war when people were jittery about being bombed and so forth. I think she moved away shortly after that.

I had asthma most of the years we lived in Auburn. We lived in a dusty old house, and even today when I encounter house dust I wheeze up a little. At that time, I felt asthma was kind of like malingering (although I didn't know the word). Mostly I was only bothered at night, and by morning I was okay. Everyone was asleep when I was sick, so they didn't know what I had been through. And since I was okay in the morning, they (at least my brothers) thought I was making it up. Only recently did I read about what a devastating disease asthma is; it can even kill. I remember one night I think I almost died. I just couldn't breathe at all. I made it downstairs and woke up my mother, who helped me through the night somehow. Many a night I slept with my head hanging out the window, since I could breathe the outdoor night air a little better than the dusty indoor air. After we moved away, I was never bothered seriously with asthma again.

In later years we thought of Auburn as our home town.

We moved to Caldwell, Idaho, when I was fifteen or sixteen, a sophomore in high school. Caldwell was a good place to spend the late teens. Boise was nearby—far enough to seem like we were going someplace, but near enough to not take very long to get there and back. The church my father was minister of did not allow people to do anything fun—no dancing, no movies, no "mixed bathing" (boys and girls swimming together); sports and other school activities were not exactly banned, but not encouraged either. All that left to do was church activities (of which there weren't many), driving around, and making out, which I guess they thought we didn't know anything about. I started dating girls when I was probably 17. Mostly they were church girls. No sex of course. Sex? What's that?

My education at the time of graduating from high school was spotty. I was a good reader, had a fair background in music, maybe in art, knew something about science, etc. My job skills, however, were minimal, or at least I felt they were. Looking back on it, my problems with school were that I was immature; if I could have been in the ninth or tenth grade when I was actually in the twelfth grade, I would have done better. But I wouldn't have graduated until I was 21 at that rate.

I was, however, a budding poet. I wrote this poem when I was about 12, I think. It reflected my views about science and religion at that time (certainly not my views today!)


Some scientists say that the world was formed
From the Sun and another star,
Or gases drawn from out in space,
Or meteorites from afar.

Some scientists say this, others say that,
They know but little about it.
One of them says that something is true,
Then all the rest of them doubt it.

I don't believe in any such guessing,
The Bible tells how it was done:
"In the beginning God created Heaven and Earth,"
It tells us in Genesis, one.

I can't believe how narrow-minded I was. And intellectually arrogant.

My ideas about religion at this time were probably what I had picked up from my parents and the church we went to, the Church of God, a Fundamentalist denomination. I had doubts, though. For instance, why would the Church of God, if it really were actually the church of God, have such a small number of people attending it? Wouldn't God's church have thousands in attendance each Sunday? And why were there no educated people in God's church? In the church at Caldwell, which had maybe 75 members, there were no college graduates, even though it was a college town. And the church gave such lame excuses for forbidding things, such as movies. If it is all right to listen to the radio, say the Bob Hope Show, which it was, then why was it wrong to go to a Bob Hope movie? Their excuse was, well, such bad people attend movies. But the same people went to movies as went to school, for instance, and it was okay to go to school. And the answer was always the same: "Don't ask questions, just accept what God says." So, at this time, I went to church, but was beginning to doubt what I was being taught. About time.

The Third Decade

| Autobiography | First Decade | Fourth Decade |
| Fifth and Sixth Decades | Seventh Decade | The Eighth Decade |