My Life – in 1960

Guy at nine years old, in the New Mexico mountains.

Guy at nine years old, in the New Mexico mountains.

The other day a friend asked me how long I’ve been interested in writing. He had just been introduced to my blog and wanted to know the history. Writing has been in my blood from the beginning. The earliest documented example is from 1960, a homework project called My Life. I should have read that story before starting this blog.

The impetus for blogging was the stories my Grandmother had told us for years, and how each of us grand children and great grand children had different recollections of those stories. This blog would restore the “truth” of each story by recounting the stories as told by Fanny’s daughter. Truth is elusive.

Belva Bowen, one of my favorite teachers at Lincoln School in Jamestown, ND, gave my sixth grade class an assignment: Write the story of Your Life. Ms Bowen was ancient, probably near sixty with white hair and cotton print dresses. When I read the stories from 1960 it seems that todays recollections are flawed. Not by much, but it hasn’t been that long, and who would remember these stories any better than I? Perhaps I should be better at remembering those things. Nope.

Some of the items show interests that still hold my attention today. At two years old I sank my first plants. This week I’m making plans for moving hostas around in the yard. There are two pictures of meteorites in My Life. Astronomy still tickles my fancy, I follow news about asteroid and comet watching expeditions regularly. I never did learn how to play basketball, although I do enjoy watching a good game.

Miss Bowen took an instant liking to me, and defended me when necessary. At the Christmas program (yes, Christmas program) my job was to read a passage from the Bible (yes, the Bible). That’s when I learned the right way to hold a book for a reading. The other sixth grade teacher was quick to point out the error of how I held the book, and not in a nice way. I had wrapped my fingers around the top of the book, resting the book on my forearms. Miss Bowen immediately jumped to my defense and nicely showed me how a book wanted to be held. I never made that mistake again, and have had a warm memory of her ever since. Her liking for me showed up in the grade she gave this project.

She also drew out my artistic side, something very few teachers have ever been able to do. Notice that both the front and back covers are multiple pieces glued together, finger painting and all. Every page has reinforcement rings where the metal rings hold everything together. The photos are the only ones of each that I’ve seen. Mother must have given me the single copy from her originals.

Good grades were not unusual for me, in all areas except one. Penmanship. Two years before this homework project I received the lowest grade of my seventeen year school career. I got a “D” in writing. Cursive script eluded me. Apparently things had improved in the intervening two years, as I can read My Life with little effort. Maybe it’s because I’m familiar with the story? I still avoid longhand at all costs. I’ve developed a scheme of printing that approaches script, but would probably get an “F” from the teachers at Franklin who wanted me to learn the Palmer method.

Click to read the story of

Click to read the story of “My Life”

The last paragraph of My Life focuses on the future. I like that attitude of my ten-year old self. It’s a view I still try to keep, although there are fewer years to look forward to. One clear memory I have from childhood is that the year 2000 was a very long ways away, and at fifty years old my life would be about over anyway. Thank God that didn’t turn out to be true. There are two projects that have long since been completed, and both deserve their own blog entry. The first project took forty years before I decided to call it done. The results are still in the basement. A future rummage sale or the junk man will take care of it some day. The second project took only four years to really complete. Patty and I drove to Valley City to watch the Blue Jays play the Hi-Liners in basketball.

In 1960 life was good. In 2015 life is still good. As I told Larry the other night, “Profoundly Happy.”

PS … I know some of the statements above don’t make much sense. You’ll understand after reading My Life.
Grandpa Guy Havelick