Montpelier, Idaho--Round One

"There's nothing better than a small town to grow up in, if you can leave it."--Eric Severeid

(with cousin, Greg Foulger at Lagoon photo booth)

(with Steve.  I was a stellar aunt!)

(at the peak of my geekhood with the Blurr.  Dad did cookies on the ice with it ALL the time!)
151 Canyon Rd.

At the time of my father's transfer from Arco, he was given a choice of destinations--Montpelier or Lewiston.  Because of extended family proximity he chose Montpelier.  Our lives would have been COMPLETELY different had we headed north.  As it stands we basically lived life in Idaho, but we also kept a firm foot in Utah.

When we arrived in Montpelier in early summer of 1963, I was just coming down off a bad case of hepatitis which I had contracted in Arco.  Nancy had just married, and we were settling in YET AGAIN to a new place.  I eventually got my strength and energy back just in time to start fifth grade.  I also asked for new skates from Santa.  I remember pushing the tissue paper down to read the label on the box!  That was also the year that Kennedy was assassinated.  My friend Jeanne and I were in my basement playing Barbies when a random man called on the phone and gave us the news.  Jeanne has no memory of that, but I sure do.  I also remember vividly the whole accompanying television coverage and the funeral--those Kennedy children.  So so clear to me.  This was also the year that the Beatles came to the Ed Sullivan show!  Our whole family huddled around a small TV to see that.  Inspired by this mop-topped quartet, we formed an "identical" group at school.  I was Ringo, and we used to lip sync at the Friday afternoon talent show.  Would love pictures of that!  I also remember Randy Einzinger playing the musical spoons in those shows and several friends playing piano solos.

I loved A.J. Winters.  I loved the new friends.  I loved the square dancing every Thursday.  I loved the hot lunches and the playground and 4-square.  When I taught fifth grade as my "swan song" I was assigned the EXACT same classroom that I had sat in as a kid EXACTLY 50 years ago!  I taught the kids many of the same skills I had learned in that same classroom--states' capitals, double Dutch jump rope.  I talked ad nauseum about my time in fifth grade there; my students seemed interested in the stories.

That summer Mom, Norma, Grandma and I took the train to southern California for a vacation and to attend the wedding of my cousin Grant Syphers!!!  We made the  mistake of getting off the train in Barstow or Bakersfield to get ice cream when it stopped, and the train left us!!!  With Grandma on it!!  I think we took a taxi to the next station.   I remember a little girl we befriended was so distraught to be left that she threw her ice cream straight up in the air!  We had the trip of our lifetime in California--swimming at Aunt Dorothy's pool, Disneyland, Knott's Berry Farm, Hollywood, the beach, Swedish Smorgasbord, Solvang, San Francisco, Alcatraz, and even a trip to Santa Rosa to visit our cousins.!

My sixth grade was great!  Unfortunately, our teacher Mr. Rigby ended up being treated for thyroid cancer and was gone a good deal of the year.  Our substitute was a Quaker lady from Pennsylvania.  She brought us shoo fly pie!  As a teacher I always worried about having a sub in my classroom, but as a kid it seemed like high adventure most of the time!  Mr. Rigby had a delightful system of rewarding us for academic excellence.  He also had a constant challenge for which we were handsomely rewarded with real candy bars. Every Friday was payday!  We'd get a little mound of pixie sticks, gum, tootsie rolls or smarties on our desk depending on how our week had gone.  I think this is probably where I learned to pay pretty close attention to punctuation!  I have always been motivated by stupid little things--candy, a ticket in a drawing.  Junior Scholastics!  I loved them!!!! I also remember writing radio plays in that grade and having a crush on two boys.  Our teacher also let us do the bulletin boards!  The highlight of my years at A.J. Winters was the book orders.  I still get stomach flutters thinking about them.  I would walk past the office, see the box propped up by my teachers' mailboxes and almost get physically ill with anticipation.  I cultivated a little library on the desk my father made for me.

We moved to another house out on Fifth Street and thus began my "neighborhood" phase of early Montpelier years.  This neighborhood had picnics and night games and comradery out the wazoo!!  The big picnic was the one held on the night of the last day of school.  We had several school employees in the neighborhood, so it was particularly anticipated by them!  I climbed mountains with my neighbor Norell, and went camping with Mary, and played football with Earl, and basically moved into Diane's house.  I also had to assume the role of lawn mower--big big lawn.  I remember writing something in very big letters in the snow with my friends to embarrass Norma when she came home from a date.  This new house had a window that opened out onto the roof, so naturally my friends and I formed a club which met out there.  I remember climbing trees out in that new neighborhood and going over to another neighborhood where multiple treehouses existed! I also remember the thrill of Norma consenting to a game of Yahtze.  Simple memories of simple pleasures.  A not so pleasant memory is the weekly trips I had to make down to Norma's beauty school to have my hair washed and set.  I HATED it--it interrupted any Saturday plans I had going on, and I hated the hair goop and that ghastly hair drying.  I DID like the sodas that she often bought me out of the cooler.

This was a time of penny candy, bike rides, swimming at the pool in the summer, an occasional trip to Lagoon, playing softball, throwing sticks in the ditch, trips to Ogden,roadshow practices, speech festivals, quartet festivals--we used to have sooooooo many activities to hold our interest and keep us all connected.  Sleeping outside, raiding gardens, sitting on the bleachers at the ball park for hours and numbing our bums! I also learned to cross stitch, knit, and crochet in my last three years of primary in the summertime.  

In seventh grade I began taking tap dance lessons.  Somewhere those pictures are hiding.  I''ve heard rumors of that.  We took lessons down by the railroad tracks.  We also learned to twirl a baton and marched and twirled in several parades.  I'm sure my mother was trying desperately to counteract my gangliness.  I also got braces--yet another attempt to increase my face value.  Fortunately, I had a few years of innocence before all of that started to matter to me. I was pretty awkward and hadn't seen too many signs of maturation.  But what do you do about that?  I remember way too many near pants-wetting episodes on the way home from school because I was laughing to hard at my friend Rhonda.  Way too many.  Ah the silliness of youth--have we really had ANY REAL FUN since??  I think not.

In eighth grade my friend base shifted.  I was just comedienne enough that I captured the attention of Jan Bisseger.  She was "bad" news, but oh so much fun.  I remember my reading teacher, Mrs. Mitchie (who also was in my ward) taking me into the hall and cautioning me about this friend.  Jan has grown up to be a model mother and wife in Rexburg and is currently dealing with widowhood, but at the time we, along with everyone else, were brain dead.  I remember climbing billboards with her--clear up to the top!!!!--and throwing things down at cars!  We also had slumber parties nearly every weekend which always included a movie and the accompanying theatre shenanigans.  Mr. Welker (who later became my boss when I got a job there) would stand at the top of the aisle with his arms folded and try to keep the trouble to a minimum.  After the movie we would walk or ride in some dad's car en masse to someone's house and drink pickle juice through red licorice sticks.  I also remember trying Bugles for the first time at a slumber party.  We ALL brought snack food.  Then we'd watch "Nightmare Theatre" on TV and talk about all kinds of forbidden topics until about 3.  I think modern mothers have completely outlawed slumber parties.  Such a pity.  The only real trouble we got into was when we decided to go out spying.  Other than that we were just 14 or 15 girls cramming down the junk food and occasionally comparing bras.

A few months before eighth grade ended, Grandma had a heart attack, so Mom, Norma and I went to take care of her.  No questions asked.  Dad took the opportunity to rent an apartment and begin earnest construction on a long-awaited home at the mouth of Montpelier Canyon.  That time in Ogden was just bearable.  Norma graduated from a high school there and stayed on to work. I  ended up in an inner city school where a leggy African American girl, Piper, daily petitioned me to meet her in the alley after school.  And I don't think she wanted to share a cookie.  She petrified me, but I didn't tell anyone.  I just kept one eye on my back.  I remember another kid in that school named Gary Crittenden.  He has gone on to earn oceans of money and used to be the CEO of American Express.  I googled him because I had heard his name come up in general conference.  At the time, Gary got pretty chummy.  He and his girlfriend named Marissa were in my history class and took an unusual interest in befriending me.  but when he found out that I was temporary and wouldn't be voting in the school elections the next Fall, all of that stopped.  I was back to invisible status.  

I was very glad to get back home and be among my friends again.  That fall I began 9th grade in Paris--all of which I write about in my high school years.  


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