When the surgeon that performed my cancer surgery told me in November, that my duodenal cancer has a history of returning it reminded me of my immortality. It may have been negative news, but it also reminded me of many events of my 68 years of living, that were either positive and negative.
1944 – Was born on October 14, just four months after the D-Day landing and World War II would be over in Europe, about six and-a-half months later in April of 1945.
1950 – My first memory is of walking to school with my brother on the first day of school to Pineville Elementary. I remember Mrs. Price was my first grade teacher. School lunches were only 10 cents at the time.
1951 – This is the year I rode my last school bus in the second grade, when I accidentally got off the bus in Libuse, instead of five blocks from Louisiana College, so walked home that day from Libuse to Pineville. I never rode another school bus after that day.
1952 – We moved from Holloway Drive to Burns Street in February of 1952, moving from a small house to a very large house. The house payment was $55 a month, which was a bargain at the time.
1954- Think this is the year when my dad purchased our first television, when I was nine years old. He didn’t buy it for entertainment reasons, but because my sister had a lazy eye and a special screen was placed over the TV screen, that made her use her lazy eye. We bought it at L.B. Henry’s store on Main Street, when they were selling televisions. Our first TV was an Admiral.
This is also the year I really became interested in baseball and remember listening to the 1954 World Series between the New York Giants and the Cleveland Indians. Willie Mays made his famous catch in one of those games on a ball hit by Vic Wertz of the Indians.
1955 – Ray Kroc opened his first McDonalds fast food restaurant (the McDonald brothers opened the first eight, before selling out to Kroc.) Once after he bought the San Diego Padres they were playing so badly, that Kroc said over the public address system that his short order cooks at McDonalds could play better the Padres.
This was the first year I played Little League baseball. I went to a local hardware store to buy a baseball glove and wanted to buy a $6.50 glove. Only problem was that I only had $6, but the owner Mr. Brister let me have it for $6. It was a Nokona brand glove.
1956- My main memory of 1956 was when Don Larsen pitched the only perfect game in a World Series. He recently sold his uniform from that game for $756,000 and is using part of the money to pay college education expenses for his grandchildren.
1957 – Elvis Presley buys Graceland for $100,000, since their last Memphis home had attracted too many fans, with no way of keeping them off the grounds. This was the year my baby sister was born on March 23. Three months later the worst hurricane to hit Alexandria-Pineville area in my memory hit the area, with full force when Hurricane Audrey hit. Audrey had earlier killed 500 people in Cameron, Louisiana. I remember Jim Gaines of KALB Radio telling, about the progress of the hurricane and the damage being done. We had a very tall pine tree fall in our yard, but was not close to the house.
August of 1957 would bring many memories when my dad, older brother and me took a road trip in our 1949 Packard, from Louisiana to Maine. We made the usual tourist stops like Rock City, Lookout Mountain, Mount Vernon and other tourist attractions. We visited the most tourist attractions in Washington, D.C. We visited the National Archives Building, Capitol building, White House (just saw it from the fence), Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument, Smithsonian Institution, Bureau of Mint and Engraving and watched the workers print sheets of currency.
We visited the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia and saw a show at the planetarium, plus visited the site of the Liberty Bell. However, the main thing I remember from the Philadelphia visit was seeing my first major league game. The hometown Phillies were playing the visiting Pittsburgh Pirates in Connie Mack Stadium. I remember fans bringing paper bags with bottles in them to the game. I can only imagine what was in those bottles. I also remember the Phillies fans booing their own players. The highlight of the game was when Bill Mazeroski hit a home run that hit the tin roof over our heads, in the left field bleachers. Three years later Mazeroski would hit a walkoff homer that defeated the New York Yankees in the 1960 World Series Game 7.
Saw my grandpa for the only time in my life in the hospital. Not sure where the hospital was located. It was either New Jersey or Pennsylvania. My dad’s folks were living in Millville, New Jersey.
Will never forget my dad driving through the Bowery district in New York City and seeing men laying on the sidewalk. That would be the only time for me to visit New York. Then we went on to Beverly, Massachusetts and ate at a Howard Johnson’s restaurant, with the classic orange roof. My dad was in town for an American Chemical Society convention, then after the convention ended we went to Maine, to see my uncle and aunt and their family. It was the only time I saw my cousin alive, since he was piloting a helicopter in Vietnam, when he was shot down and killed.
Then we raced back to Louisiana, stopping only one night at Warsaw, Kentucky, then my dad drove almost non-stop since school started the next day at Pineville Elementary. The next month the Milwaukee Braves would win the 1957 World Series.
1958 – Played Pony League baseball in 1958, which would be my fourth and last year of playing baseball. One night when we were playing a game, someone hollered “That plane is going to crash” and we saw a plane plummeting to the ground, about two miles from the park. It crashed about a block or two off of Main Street near a National Cemetery, but not positive about the exact crash site.
This was also the year I entered Pineville High School. It is difficult to believe that this was 55 years ago. Finding classes was not easy that first day, since I wasn’t used to attending such a big school.
The Milwaukee Braves took a three games to one lead in the 1958 World Series, but would let the Yankee,s that they had defeated in 1957 come back to win the World Series.
1959 – I remember this being the year my older brother graduated from high school. February of 1959 would see Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper go down in an airplane crash in Iowa. The Big Bopper had appeared in Alexandria, Louisiana about 1958, at a KALB Radio record hop. 1959 was also the year the White Sox won the AL pennant but lost to the Los Angeles Dodgers in the World Series.
The highlight of 1959 was our trip in a Volkwagen Micro-bus, which took us to Missouri, Canada and back to Louisiana. My dad was taking classes at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, so we stayed mostly in Missouri at the 80 acre farm of my grandpa and grandma. They had only recently installed indoor plumbing in their home. I will never forget the huge console radio on the living room floor. The sound was great and I could hear the Kansas City Athletics baseball games on the radio. Saw Leave it to Beaver for the first time on their television. Don’t think it was on KALB TV in Alexandria, La., since it was on another network.
We spent part of the summer at the Chateau Cottages near Devils Lake in Wisconsin. We were on a tourist boat, when the captain asked me to pilot the ship. He sold souvenirs, while piloted the boat up the Wisconsin River. It was a relief when he took over the helm, since there were a lot of duckboats on the water.
Then after my dad finished the summer classes we drove to Chicago. It was amazing to look up at the tall buildings on the Loop and we went to a church in Berwyn, Illinois. Then we drove to Detroit and visited the Ford headquarters and also toured Post Cereals factory and can’t remember if we also toured the Kelloggs plant. We crossed into Canada at Windsor and journeyed to Brantford, Ontario where my mom had relatives. We then went to Niagara Falls and crossed back into the United States.
My dad was stopped by the Canadian Mounties, because our Volkswagen micro-bus resembled a vehicle they were looking for. At one point during our trip while driving in the United States a driver hollered “Governor Long” at us, when he saw the Louisiana license plate. This was the same year he managed to escape from a mental health institution, so Louisiana was in the news a lot that summer.
1960 – Nothing stands out about this year for me, except for the Pittsburgh Pirates defeating the New York Yankees in Game 7 of the 1960 World Series. Bill Mazeroski, who I had seen hit the home run, in Philadelphia three years earlier hit a walkoff home run over the left field wall, that made Pirates the world champions of baseball.