Here we go for episode two of my personal "Diary of a Wimpy Kid." I want to get this down while I'm in the mood and the memories are still fresh in my head.
The funny thing is that I've forgotten much about my early childhood but certain indelible memories have stayed with me. God forbid, I hope I don't end my days with some form of dementia but if I do, I'm sure my very earliest memories of going to elementary school will stay with me until I take my last breath.
So folks, are you ready? Hop aboard the Ron Memory Train and let's revisit my own personal wimpy kid memories:
About a year after we moved into second floor apartment on Washington Avenue which we shared with about 50,000 roaches (give or take a 1,000 or so), it was time for Little Ronnie to go to school.
|120 Washington Avenue today - not much has changed since we lived in the second floor apartment front in the late Forties and early Fifties - this is still the White Trash section of Downingtown - probably the same cockroaches too|
Since I was the oldest of the three Tipton Terrors (me and my brothers), I was the first to LEAVE HOME. And yes, I was SCARED TO DEATH.
|Mom and Pop Tipton with the Three Tipton Terrors (me in the middle. . . as usual)|
The school where my Mother enrolled me was the East Ward Elementary School. The school looked like a penitentiary. It WAS a penitentiary.
|The East Ward |
We lived on the 100 block of Washington Avenue, the East Ward school was on the 400 block, a three block walk for my five year old little legs.
I remember well walking those tree lined streets, looking at the houses where my classmates lived and wishing I lived in a house like they did and not our $22.50 a month roach hotel apartment that we had to share with my school age uncles. Oh how I wanted my own backyard to play in.
Walking those three blocks by myself was a scary experience. Two danger zones was a classmate of mine (whose name I will not mention here because he claims he doesn't remember doing what I'm about to tell you and he said if he did he apologizes) who would often be waiting for me right before I entered the blacktop that was at the back of the school (sorry for the long sentence).
There I was, within sight of the school and "Pudgy" (he was bigger than me, quite a bit bigger than me)would be waiting for me, barring my last few steps to the safety of the school.
|Guess who "Pudgy" is? Yes! You're right, he is the big kid in the back row on the left. This photo from our sixth grade operetta play. Don't ask me the title of the operetta, I only know I was dressed as a scarecrow (a portend of my future?)|
There he was, standing on the embankment, with a smirk on his face, knowing that he was going to scare the crap out of me.
He said "Where do you think you're going?" He knew very well where I was going but I think he liked to hear me stammer and stutter (which I did at this time - how I was cured is another story to be told later)
I said "Uh, uh, uh, . . . I'm, I'm going to, to school."
He said "You're not going anywhere until you get past me" and then he would shove me to the ground. Then he would laugh, loud. Others could hear!
Tears welled up in my eyes as I struggled to get up, only to be pushed down again. "Please Pudgy, let me go."
I think that's what Pudgy wanted to hear because every time I begged to be left alone, he usually stopped. Sometimes he didn't and would push me down on the wet, grassy ground until my bib pants were stained green with grass. Maybe he wanted to show our other classmates his conquest.
I don't remember exactly when Pudgy grew bored with pushing me down on the wet grass (this is the first time I found out that grass is always wet early in the morning, even today!) but eventually he did stop. Maybe he found someone else to bully. All I knew was to avoid him whenever I saw him.
|"Pudgy" today - ironically we're good friends today and he has no memory of those first days of school for us in 1948|
|"Pudgy", Larry (my best friend during elementary school - a subject I will cover in future "Wimpy Kid" posts and me at a class reunion about ten years ago - do you see the irony? I am BIGGER than Pudgy now - better looking too :)|
|"Lar", my fellow "Wimpy Kid" friend during elementary school and to this day|
I realize this isn't a particularly funny story, and in fact it's a sad story. But I only tell it because this actually happened to me. I guess this was part of my "initiation" into the Big World Outside of our Roach Motel apartment. I have a couple of other bullying stories that I will tell in future blog posts but this is the first time I was bullied in my life if I don't count my father's bullying.
|My father Ike Tipton, this is the man who I wish would have stood up for me but never did. . . . not once. Maybe it was just as well because I learned to stand up for myself. A Boy Named Sue.|
Which reminds me, the first thing I did after I was bullied by Pudgy on that first day was to tell my Mother and father. I fully expected my father to confront Pudgy's parents. Nothing. They did nothing. They just looked at me and then turned around and went about whatever they were doing. My Mother washing dishes and my father eating his biscuits and gravy. My father, who almost always wore a wife beater T-shirt around the house (no smoking jacket for him) and was a truck driver and welder. . . . nothing. I learned my first lesson in my young life, which, in retrospect was probably one of the best lessons I ever learned, stand up for yourself. No one else is going to do it, do it yourself.
To this day I remember how disappointed I was that my father wouldn't stand up for me. I wasn't' angry, just sad and I felt so lonely. So very lonely. I knew I was on my own.
Interestingly, I don't remember why Pudgy stopped with his Troll Under the Bridge game with me but he did stop. I would like to think I punched him in the nose and got him to stop but I think what happened was that he grew bored with me and went on to someone else who was easier to bully. I think what I did was avoid him, I tried to make myself less of an easy target.
|Troll Under the Bridge story - used to scare the bejesus out of me|
It's a funny thing with memories, somethings I remember very clearly and other things, not so much. One thing that I do remember clearly was another Danger Zone on my daily three block walk to school. . . and that was the Butcher Gang. That I will tell you about in my next "Wimpy Kid" blog posting. Which, by the way, I'm taking a few days hiatus from posting because folks, dredging up these memories I'm finding is proving to be somewhat exhausting. Both mentally and physically exhausting.
But I do have many good memories of those early times. The innocent and pristine Fifties, which we thought at the time was so boring. Hey folks, I am so glad I grew up in the Fifties. Couldn't have been a better time for me to form my personality and skill at how to survive in this sometimes hostile but mostly friendly world.