Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Biography, Part 3!

Continuing with the childhood memories from grade school...

I mentioned being into writing as a kid... I have two specific memories concerning that I'll start this installment by sharing.

Firstly, in one grade -- probably second or third -- my glass was given an assignment to write a story about a time machine. Now, as I mentioned, I was into science-fiction, so I knew what a time machine was, and I wrote a tale involving travelling back to Washington crossing the Delaware, with the bizarre turn of events of a crocodile or alligator attacking the boat (so I wasn't up on where they could be found... it was second or third grade!).

I remember that one story a fellow classmate wrote was about a clock. Obviously, this kid was unclear about the concept. I still remember his name, but I won't embarrass him by saying it here.

Another creative writing assignment (probably around the time of the presidential elections, the one that put Nixon in the White House) was called "What I Would Do If I Were President." Now, my grasp on economic realties was shaky at best, but apparently, what I wrote for that assignment impressed my teacher enough that mine was the only story turned in that was read to the entire class... and my teacher didn't tell anyone else who wrote it until after she'd read the entire thing. It was tough keeping a poker face while she read it, I'll tell you!

I mentioned creating my own crappy comics as a kid... but there were some I made that didn't involve my drawing them... Instead, I cut pictures out of comics and glued them on my paper! If I had any idea what I was doing... ruining comics like that.

I was far from the only kid on my block who was ruining his comic books, however. The next door neighbors had three kids, and the oldest kid had the biggest comic book collection of anyone in the neighborhood... and he had some great stuff, too. But what he would do to his comics was a shame.

He'd find a picture that he particuarlly liked, and placing a piece of carbon paper and a sheet of typing paper behind the page, he'd trace the image using a ball point pen, and then color the copied image with colored pencils.

You can almost picture the condition of the book plummeting, can't you?

Still... thanks to this kid, and his obsession with collecting comics stuff, I was able to get a lot of free Slurpees -- when they had the comic character cups, he'd take several of us with him to the 7-Eleven, and buy us all Slurpees, but we'd have to give him the cups!

So... let's see... any other grade school memories to share before moving on to Junior High? Oh, yeah, there are a few.

I was always tall for my age in grade school -- easily the tallest boy in my classes. One would think that I'd have become the class bully, but my parents had told me time and time again that I shouldn't fight... so I didn't, and wouldn't... even if I felt justified in it.

So there I am, tallest boy in the class, and I won't fight. I also wasn't particuarlly athletically inclined, either (I couldn't climb the rope in gym class, couldn't do a few other things, too). Naturally, some kids whose parents were not so picky about whether or not their kids fought felt that it was appropriate to pick on me. So the last few years of grade school, and even the first half of junior high, weren't the best years of my life. Actually, it wouldn't be until high school again before I started feeling like I wasn't the lowest of the low at school.

Anyway... this one kid apparently took great delight in tormenting me. I remember many a day after school he'd be waiting for me (I still have no clue what his reasons were), and I'd have to run like hell to avoid him. This did nothing for my self-esteem, obviously.

This continued, as I said, pretty much through junior high, although not with the same kid.

I think it was in fifth or sixth grade that I decided I wanted to learn to play the violin -- huge mistake. I picked the wrong stringed instrument, and after my initial enthusiasm wore off, it was drudgery, no fun at all.

OK, moving on to junior high school. Junior High for me began at Hunt Junior High, which was pretty close to the house we lived in at the time -- closer than Geiger was, certainly! But I only went there for half a year. My family was too big for the house we lived in, so we made one final move as a family -- to the house my parents currently live in, in the "city" of University Place.

For those of you unfamiliar with Tacoma, Washington and its environs and surroundings, it's hard to describe the relationship of UP to Tacoma, but I'll try to explain as best as I can. Tacoma lies about halfway between Seattle and Olympia (where I currently live, it's on the south end of the Puget Sound). So, to the west, Tacoma is bounded by water. Then there's Interstate 5, which runs north and south, and that comes down and kind of cuts between the western 2/3 of the city and the eastern 1/3. Clear so far? Immediately north of Tacoma is the city of Fife, which basically seems to exist to provide food and hotels for people travelling the interstate. If you head east from Fife for about five or six miles or so, you'll find Puyallup, which is the location of the Western Washington Fair, the largest fair in the state.

Highway 16 comes off of I-5 as it's about halfway through Tacoma, and cuts over to the Narrows, crossing there as the Narrows Bridge (the second bridge of that name... you may have heard of "Galloping Gertie"? That's the predecessor). The Narrows Bridge, as I mentioned, is close to the house we lived in on Meyers.

OK, clear so far? Now, all the way to the northern tip of where Tacoma stretches to the Sound is Point Defiance Park. There's a street that starts pretty close to there (well, it starts a few miles south of there) called Jackson, that changes its name to Bridgeport Way where Highway 16 crosses under it, and it's Bridgeport all the way south until it meets up with I-5 (which is going through at an angle). It terminates at McChord Air Force Base, and Fort Lewis is immediately south of that.

Confused yet? Wait... Bridgeport Way runs through University Place (which has no University in it... apparently they were hoping for the University of Puget Sound to be built there, but then it wasn't, and the name was already set in stone), which has on the west the Puget Sound, and on the east is Fircrest. South of the UP is Lakewood, which goes the rest of the way to I-5.

Now, either you have a clear idea of where University Place is, or you don't, and are trying to find a map somewhere that'll clear it up. And I'll leave you there for this installment!

Jon

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