The tradition of the “Dime Store” is one that is firmly planted in my mind, too. The Woolworth store in Jamestown was an important part of my life for years. They sold everything, or so it seemed to this small town boy. They had clothes, gifts, a lunch counter, and even records. I have two distinct memories of the Jamestown Woolworth’s. One was the purchase of an LP, Freak Out, by the Mothers of Invention. Listening to their music now they seem quite tame, but compared to the Top 40 music that was playing on KSJB in those days, Frank Zappa was way out there.
When I was about 10 years old my Dad bought a Ford Turing car. It was black and had to be cranked to start. Many people suffered broken arms trying to start them.
My dad had quite the childhood. As the ninth of ten kids he must have gotten by with less supervision than any child I know. I’ve read that a child in those days was five times more likely to die an accidental death than kids today. After reading about what Louie did in that alley and around Jamestown, it became obvious why “accidents” happened.
His shenanigans likely led him to plead the fifth several times. Being his parent could have been a little challenging, if there hadn’t been so many other kids to tend to. These stories do give me permission to be a little more forgiving of my grand children and some of the challenges they put me through.
Posts in the Louie’s Letters category of this blog are copies of the letters he wrote to me in 1991 with his life stories.
In the first of Louie’s letters, he hints at the humorous slant he’ll give to most of his stories.
Originally published 2014-09-24
What you are about to read are a few of the episodes that occurred in my life …
Have you ever summed up your life in six words? Try it sometime, you might be surprised. My story:
“Serendipity is my friend, yet again.”
Was it pure chance that led me to Cal’s Office Supply that day when I needed some paper for a project? Some might say it was the hand of God leading me to the right place, I prefer to think of Serendipity guiding me. I could have gone to the other office supply store in town, but I didn’t.
Jim could have been on the road that day. He wasn’t.
Jim at sea during WWII
I just walked into the store to ask for some paper for a kids newspaper. By the end of that year I had a “substitute” father and mentor who helped me through the challenges of being a teenager, college student, and young professional. Beyond the little newspaper that only lasted a couple of issues, Jim and I enjoyed camping, old Cadillacs, the Red Skelton Show, and so many other activities. He loved writing, and when I asked him for fifty-two stories from his life he lit up, pulled out his portable Underwood-Olivetti typewriter and religiously sent dozens of stories. His first stories describe life on a farm in northern North Dakota, continue to Massachusetts, diverting to the South Pacific for WWII, and returning to North Dakota for a successful career in Jamestown. We saved copies of the letters and had them bound, titling the collection
Short Stories of a Good Life
Below is the introductory letter I wrote and the invitation letter to him describing the story project. He was very proud of his autobiography, sharing copies with many friends.