by Roger M. Goetz
WELCH JUNIOR HIGH SCHOOL
ACADEMIC YEAR 1953-1954 and 1954-1955
Mother’s diary contains little information about me during these two academic years (mostly my involvement with piano and organ lessons). Most of the entries the first year related to my brother Chuck’s involvement in sports at Ames High during his senior year. What little there is in her diary and financial journal are set forth first. The more interesting memories will follow.
According to my mother’s diary, our first day of school for eighth grade at Welch was Tuesday, September 8, 1953. As with the previous year, this was the day after Labor Day. A week earlier, on September 1, we paid a towel fee of $2.50, a Current Events fee of $0.50, and school insurance for $1.00.
On September 5, my folks bought me a pen and pencil for $4.50 and additional school supplies on September 8 for $2.52. Then notebook paper was purchased on September 15 for $1.02. All of this totals $12.04, which seems little enough until one realizes that it is equivalent to more than $90.00 in the year 2010.
On November 18, they paid $5.00 for dancing lessons. I don’t remember too much about that, but we learned to dance the fox trot, the waltz, and that wonderful dance, the rhumba. In this way we were far better equipped for the junior high dances than the previous year. We could abandon the two step! I’m not sure, but I think our dance teacher may have been connected somehow with an Arthur Murray Dance Studio.
On December 10, I bought a gift for some kind of gift exchange at school at the cost of $0.51.
In January of 1954, I began receiving an allowance of $6.00 a month. I felt rich!
I had to chuckle at myself when I just read this excerpt from Mom’s diary entry dated March 28, 1954 - Sunday:
Roger went to a box social last nite. They had a dance afterwards and he came home complaining that his legs ached. He said one couple (8th grade kids) danced "cheek to cheek" and another couple or two kissed – He said - "Goll’ – it smelled."
Over a year later, comes the last item relating to my Welch School days in Mom’s diary entry dated April 17, 1955 - Sunday:
Yesterday Dad and Roger made a recording of Roger playing the organ which Roger will play for 9th grade assembly the 22nd - Friday.
I have no recollection of that at all, but here follow some of the amusing things I can still recall from those days.
* * * * *
Dwayne Catron decided to play a practical joke on one of our teachers. He told us in advance what he planned to do, so we wouldn’t give him away when he pulled it. I think it was on Mrs. Coulter.
When this teacher went over to help a student in a desk near the front of the room, Dwayne slipped unnoticed behind her. When she leaned down to look at the material on the student’s desk, Dwayne raised a piece of cloth and ripped it loudly in two. The teacher bolted upright and placed her hands on her rump only to discover her clothes had not torn.
* * * * *
At football games we had a cheer that I thought was fun. It went something like this:
One, two, three, four, five, six, seven,
All Welch Juniors go to heaven.
When we get there we will yell,
[other team] went to [pause]
Well we won’t swear but we will say,
[other team] went the other way.
* * * * *
Sex Education in school was something new. It was minimal but adequate, I guess. When I got home, I told my mother about it; and she gave me a book to read. After I’d read it, she had one word of advice: "If you invite a girl to go swimming and she declines, don’t take it personally. She may be having her period." Having no sisters, all of this was quite new to me.
We had another kind of sex education east across the street from Welch. One of the boys–I don’t remember who–brought a photograph of a rather fat and ugly woman about age 45 with everything below her waist showing. I think he felt important showing it to us; but, as far as I was concerned, the picture was a real turnoff.
I cannot remember if it was the same boy or another one who showed us what looked like a deck of playing cards, but each card contained a different girlie picture. He told us his uncle had gotten the deck in Des Moines. And I wondered why his uncle let him have it.
* * * * *
Going from school east across the street and then north to Lincoln Way was common after school. There on the southeast corner of Sheldon and Lincoln Way, was a Dairy King. It was similar to a Dairy Queen. One time we were there after school eating soft-serve ice cream cones, when one of the boys made a bullying remark to someone, and it was far from the first time he’d done so.
When he stopped speaking and raised his cone to his mouth to take a lick, I pushed up on his elbow, thereby shoving his cone into his mouth. His eyes opened wide in surprise.
I waited to see if he would retaliate, but he didn’t. And his bullying behavior came to an end.
I wish I could remember who this boy was!
* * * * *
That reminds me of another event. One day after school was out and basically all of the students were gone, I encountered Dave Erickson in the hall way. He was quite a bit taller than I was, and for some reason he was verbally picking on me. He didn’t do this to me regularly, but it wasn’t the first time he’d done it.
And I didn’t like it one bit.
Without any conscious thought on my part, my right arm rose of its own volition, and my fist rested itself under his jaw and gently pushed his mouth shut. That stopped him from talking.
I don’t know who was more surprised Dave or me.
I was absolutely astonished and horrified at what I had done and immediately said, "I’m sorry. I don’t know what came over me. I just did it without thinking. Please forgive me."
Dave didn’t say one word, but turned and walked away.
"Please forgive me," I pleaded.
He just kept on walking.
I felt badly that he didn’t answer me. But I got over that.
At least Dave never spoke to me that way again.
* * * * *
One day at school, we were sent to the basement to see the school nurse. She handed me a small bottle and asked me to fill it with a urine sample.
I didn’t understand her, so I asked, "Fill it with what?"
"A urine sample," she said.
I still didn’t get it and asked again.
She repeated what she’d told me.
All comprehension failed, so I asked, "What’s urine?"
When she told me and I understood what she was asking me to do, my face turned fiery red with embarrassment. "Oh," I said, "I just went to the bathroom and can’t."
She told me to take the bottle home and bring it back the next day with the urine sample in it.
That was one of the most embarrassing moments of my life. Just remembering it and typing it up made me blush!
Last night, though, I told this story to my alto section before choir rehearsal; and they thought the story was a hoot! So I guess I’ll leave this story in here.
* * * * *
Another story about Dwayne Catron:
One time when we were in eighth grade, we were taken to Lynn Fuhrer Lodge for some kind of instruction–what it was I no longer remember. We boys headed straight through the woods to the lodge, leaving the girls and the teachers to take the curved pathway. On the way to the lodge, Dwayne and another boy were having a contest to see who could wear his jeans the lowest.
After we reached the clearing by the lodge, the contest continued. The waist of Dwayne’s jeans was a bit snug, so he had to struggle a bit to get it lower. He tugged and his jeans fell down around his ankles.
Just then the girls arrived.
We boys laughed, but the gals looked disgusted. Highly embarrassed, Dwayne raced to get his pants up again, which he did just before the lady teachers arrived!
* * * * *
In May of 1954, Jim Bragonier turned fourteen and invited the boys in our class to his birthday party on a weekday afternoon when we had no school because of a teachers conference or some such thing.
The party started out by going to see a new movie in Campus Town. It was "Creature from the Black Lagoon," a science fiction horror movie.
The movie theater was nearly empty. Besides us boys, there were about eight adults present.
The movie began, and soon we saw the heroine rescued by the hero from the creature in the Amazon River. When these two gained the safety of the boat. The heroine was rather breathless and wanted a cigarette. Once it was lit, she inhaled a breath and blew it out.
At that point, classmate David Goheen exclaimed loudly in mock horror, "She smokes!!!!!"
We boys all dissolved in laughter.
From that moment, the horror movie had become a comedy. David continued to make amusing observation from time to time and we had a lot of laughs.
Afterwards, we went to Jim’s house at 600 Ash Avenue for cake and ice cream.
Incidentally, David’s father, Dr. Harry E. Goheen, professor of mathematics and statistics at Iowa State, resigned effective June 30, 1955, and the family moved away. Thus, David was not at Ames High with us.