This was taken in Trinity Hall of the Trinity Lutheran School kindergarten class at its Christmas party. If I was five when I was in kindergarten, that would mean this photo was taken in about 1952. Click on it to make it larger.
I can’t identify everyone in the photo, but I see, in no particular order, Mike Miller, David Hahs, Jerry O’Connell, Judy Schrader, Della Heise, John Hilpert, Jim Lorberg, Patty Haas, Ronald Dost and Kent Verhines. Apologies to everyone I left out or whose name I mangled.
Tom Mueller, younger brother of my old debate partner, John Mueller, sent me an email the other day that he and his mother had gone up to Altenburg to the Lutheran Heritage Center and Museum where the bought a copy of my photo book, Tower Rock: “A Demon That Devours Travelers.” (Shameless plug will appear at the end of this.)
The Mueller family was prominent in Wittenberg, just down the hill, so he thought I’d be interested in talking with his mother. We made arrangements for Tom, his mother and his friend Becky Kleckner to come over Sunday evening to look at old pictures.
This gave me an opportunity to drag out a bunch of photos that I think he might have rather have stayed lost to history, but this shot of Trinity Lutheran School’s Boy Scout Troop 8 was deemed acceptable for public display. (Buying my book gives you a lot of leeway over my picture selections.) You can click on the picture to make it larger.
Tom is in back row
Right after we shook hands, he agreed that he wouldn’t call me Kenny if I wouldn’t call him Tommy. Deal.
TOM is in the back row, fifth from the left. I’m guessing this was probably taken around 1966, so almost all of these boys were younger brothers of my classmates. Little brothers weren’t something that older guys paid much attention to, so I’m just going to throw out some last names since I notice family resemblances.
Ronnie Dost is frozen as Ronnie in my mind
In the back couple of rows, I see what has to be a Huckstep, a Pensel, Brad Verhines and RalphFuhrmann. The two guys standing at the far right are Ronnie Dost and Joe Snell. Ronnie died right after we graduated, so he’s frozen as Ronnie forever in my mind. He and Joe were both Central High Class of ’65, so they deserve two names.
The two men kneeling in the center are Assistant Scoutmaster Harry Ruesler and Scoutmaster Ralph Haman. Ralph’s son is in front of him. I’m pretty sure that’s an O’Connell second from the left, kneeling.
The middle row has, I think, a Fiehler, a Boardman and a Ruesler in it.
This was an orderly grouping. You can tell from all the scuff marks on the floor that the troop was usually about one atomic particle from attaining critical mass and exploding in every direction. (Jim Stone will probably tell me my analogy is all wrong, but that’s why he was a physicist and I was a photographer.)
Here’s the shameless plug for Tower Rock
My kid tells me I should be pitching my book harder. So, if you’d like to have a book of pretty pictures of Tower Rock, contact these folks. It costs $14 if you pick it up yourself, which I encourage you to do. The museum just finished setting up their Christmas exhibit and they tell me it’s better than 2010. Admission is free, so that’s a double good deal, because shipping and handling on the book is five bucks and you won’t get to see the exhibit.
Lutheran Heritage Center & Museum
P.O. Box 53
75 Church Street
Altenburg, Missouri 63732
There was a time when I thought I had a career in politics. Because I was positive my Presidential Library would find the trappings of my early life important, I made sure to save everything.
My political aspirations hit an iceberg when I picked Bill Hopkins to pilot my Student Body Presidential campaign. Let’s just say that the 163 folks who voted for me were nowhere near a majority and certainly didn’t warrant calling in lawyers to oversee a recount. Jimmy Feldmeier was the clear winner.
Reading the will of the people very clearly, I abandoned my plan to run for POTUS in 1984, the first year I would be Constitutionally eligible and decided that I was more suited for journalism and sniping from the sidelines.
My Mother’s attic is a time capsule
I may have never made it into a Presidential Library, but I have the next best thing. On my last trip home, I ventured up into the time capsule of my Mother’s attic.
If you dig deep enough, you can probably find every school paper I ever brought home; all of my workbooks going back to kindergarten; hundreds of stickers that say, “Don’t be a sucker, Vote for Kenny (I’d have gotten more votes if Jim Stone hadn’t eaten most of the suckers instead of handing them out to potential voters); report cards; a Bucker-Ragsdale receipt for my Cub Scout uniform and this huge stack of Valentine’s Day cards from Trinity Lutheran School days.
There’s also a box of vintage early 1950s comic books that my destructive younger brothers shredded after I went off to college. I’d be able to afford a better brand of cat food in my retirement years if they were in the same condition as when I left. They saved the fragments just to drive me crazy.
1961 Eighth Grade Class at Trinity Lutheran School
We were together for nine years at Trinity Lutheran School
Most of us were in the same class from kindergarten through the eighth grade. Even though the yearbook didn’t have names with the pictures, I can probably still place names with all but about three or four pictures (they may not be the RIGHT names, but…). No, I’m not going to tell you which one was me.
Valentine’s Day ranked way up there in the Grand Scheme of Holidays. It wasn’t quite Christmas, the Fourth of July or Halloween, but it came pretty close to your Birthday.
The only hassle was having to fill out a card for every member of your class. Then, there was the agony of picking out which card went to which kid. You didn’t want to send one that was too mushy to a girl in the sixth grade.
Now that I look back at these cards from sixth and seventh grade level, I wonder about some of the cards I got from the boys in my class.
Was there a message I missed?
Judy Schrader’s card saying that she wished I’d fall for her line caused my heart to pitter patter. I mean, we actually skated together at the Hanover Skating Rink on Friday nights. That was a big deal. (At least to me, it was.)
Getting that same card from Don Sander seems a little strange these days. I mean, I shared a tent with him on Scout camping trips. I never realized he felt that way.
These were simpler times
The card below didn’t come for Valentine’s Day. My dad built roads all over Southeast Missouri and we lived in a house trailer he’d pull from small town to small town. When I was about three years old, we must have gotten to know a family in Mountain View well enough that I was invited to a birthday party.
Look at how the envelope was addressed:
It didn’t have a street address, a city, state or Zip Code. It wasn’t even addressed to my parents. It’s addressed to a three-year-old living in a house trailer. And it cost just a penny to be delivered.
You can’t beat that with a stick.
Gallery of cards
These represent a couple of years, because several classmates appear more than once. I guessed at last names, but I think I’m close to right. Click on any card to make it larger, click on the left or right side to move through the images.
Valentine Season Aside
Forty-five years ago this month, I was lucky enough to meet Lila Perry, who was working as a cashier at the Rialto Theater. We were married in 1969 and she’s tolerated me every since. I wrote up the whole story last year.