Being Young Back Then
When I was growing up there was plenty to keep us busy
even though we had no Camp Fire or Girl Scout groups,
but there were Boy Scouts.
The neighborhood was full of young people and children. In the evenings we
played Hide-and-Seek, and one of
my favorite games was when the leader cried, "Stop!" and
we froze in whatever position we were in. I think we
called it "statue". And I can remember
the hundreds of bugs flying around the arc lights
street corners, dropping down on the ground and
on us when they got too near the light. We had
and roller skates. The thrill of my young life
was when one of the boys, Stephen Mills, kissed
we were rolling down the sidewalk in my wagon
on Vine Street.
One thing I loved to do - roller skate! Vine Street
sloped down toward Greenough Bridge and you
could just whiz
down. Everyone skated. In the winter
we ice skated.
A big open field across the river on Higgins
Avenue would be flooded and benches would be placed around
the rink. There was always a bon fire where
could thaw out every so often.
And of course we all had sleds. Dad bought
me a huge Flexible Flier, I think was the
Mt. Jumbo behind the Prescott School and
slide down hill, through the school yard at least
two blocks long,
and across the street down a sloping street
to Van Buren Street, the end of our trolley
were no cars then to worry about. We also
slid down Vine Street.
The children in the city miss so much.
Dad built me a playhouse, which had an upstairs
we could climb into. Everyone in
to play house in it. Even though I didn't
like my oak table and chairs Dad made me,
used in the
playhouse. When I was in school the playhouse
was sold to the family who lived next to
and became a chicken house.
We had clubs. -I suppose now they might
be called gangs. Our favorite activity
club was playing
the most aggressive girl acting as teacher.
This was usually Dolly Wise, daughter
of the owner of
store on the corner of Poplar Street
and Van Buren. She always had a stick or a
slap our hands
when she wanted to. I was allowed to
play with Dolly but never, never to have anything
do with her brother,
who ended up being arrested later on.
All the neighborhood kids belonged to
a Temperance Club, formed by a retired
lived on our street. We sang songs,
were told stories
of what happened
to people who drank, and signed statements
saying we would never take a drink.
None of us enjoyed
but no one wanted to be left out so
we kept going, and we had
in whose home
we met, had 8 or 10 children, and the
smallest ones always had wet pants.
she would stand
at her front door and call each by
name, always from the oldest to the youngest.
I hate to
say it, but we
loved to mimic her.
Another activity was a declamation
contest, which I hated but would
have died, rather
be included. We were trained by a
Mrs. McAlister to
before a community meeting in the
Prescott School. I never won. We all idolized
the son of the Episcopal
minister, Paul Maclean*, who won
the state contest by reciting "The Highwayman" by Alfred
During the First World War my home
was the gathering place in the
all the popular music I could afford, "Tipperrary", "How
'ya Gonna Keep'em Down on the Farm
(after they've Seen Paree)", "I'll
Be With You When The Clouds Roll
By", "I'm Forever Blowing
all the rest. I played and they
sang. When we left Missoula Dad
told me to get rid of all that
of music but I slipped them into
volumes of Beethoven and Mozart
and still have them. It wasn't
of the music but was trying to limit
1988/89 Life Story Class
* His brother, Norman Maclean, has written a book "A
River Runs Through It", about Missoula and a movie
has been made of it. (Note from 1992,)
Highwayman by Alfred Noyes