My first friends were Lori and Shelly Sucy, who lived just across the street from our house on 4th Avenue. Next door to them was Bonnie Schmidt. These were my playmates until I started the first grade. I still remember getting my first kiss from Bonnie while we were sitting on Grandma’s front porch. I was only in the first or second grade.
I started first grade at Lincoln Elementary just a block away from our house. The first day at school I met Mike Koushkouski. We have been fast friends ever since. Some of the other kids I remember are Mike’s younger brother and sister, David and Jeannie, and his older sister Peggy. There was Donna Rehak who lived behind and across the alley from Mike’s house.
I had a crush on Susie Brown, but never had the nerve to tell her. I wonder what ever happened to her?
There were a few others like Leroy, who lived on a farm and rode in on a bus every day. I don’t remember his last name. Scott lived a block away from me and had a hard time making friends. I remember spending the night over at Scott’s house and how he and his Mom so understood about my problem with bed wetting and making me feel welcome.
One spring, when Mike and I were in the third grade, we were playing in Nickeus Park by the river. We spotted a bottle on the ice and started kicking it around. Mike broke through the ice and went into the water. When I went to pull him out, the ice broke under me and then we were both in the water. Mike climbed over me and onto the ice. I kept breaking the ice as I worked closer to shore and eventually got out. The water was only about two or three feet deep.
I don’t think we were ever in danger of drowning, but we were definitely looking for a case of hypothermia. Scared to go home, we walked up to the water tower by the hospital and stood in the sun until we were dry enough to sneak into our homes and change clothes.
Our parents never found out what happened to us.
We were lucky.