Published on Wednesday, 30 November -0001 00:00
My Kimball year in 1958-59 was a lot of fun. Much was brand new to my experience, and I needed to try it all. I don't recall school activities for elementary students: no T-ball, soccer, flag-football, or any of those things that fill the time of youth today. While I had been in Cub Scouts in South Africa, locale of Lord Baden Powell's own personal, military scouting. I don't recall scouting in Kimball. Of course, just because I don't recall those things, doesn't mean they didn't exist. Most of my activities were church-related. Dad's work in South Africa was in a highly segregated society. As a family, we would visit the African churches on Sundays, but we didn't have a church of our own with youth activities with friends from school and community. This was new, and wonderful. I loved Sundays, except for that one unforgettable embarrassment when I called Ardis Eckman, my Sunday School teacher, "Grandma" by accident. Also much-enjoyed were Vacation Bible School, youth camp up by Park Rapids, and picnics on School Section Lake on the Eckman farm. The only radio-listening I remember was in Grandpa Lafe's barn where the dust and straw-covered radio broadcast Amos and Andy in ultra low "fidelity" during the milking routine. But television was brand new entertainment. We kids had our own favorites, but when Dad was not on the road reporting to churches about the missions work, he ruled the knob on the TV. No remotes then. His absolute favorite: Perry Mason. Perry's courtroom prowess came to us on Thursday evenings, and became the only time our family didn't eat supper together at the kitchen table. Mom often made a picnic meal of hot dogs, baked beans and cottage cheese, cucumber salad and potato chips, to share with Perry, Della, and Paul Drake. Dad also enjoyed the variety shows of Tennessee Ernie Ford (where patriotic songs welcomed our fiftieth state) and Pat Boone (who introduced the Chipmunks to the Christmas scene of '58.) After school there were cartoons and serials: Woody Woodpecker, Huckleberry Hound, and the furry duo, Yogi and Boo Boo. Of course, these were no match for Annette on the Mickey Mouse Club. And remember the ads: Reddy Kilowatt reminded us that "Electricity is penny cheap with NSP. Westerns fed my "cowboy" fantasies. Maverick, the Lone Ranger, Rifleman (Michael's favorite), and the more contemporary Sky King, kept us enthralled. I do recall a run-in with Grandma Eaton when, ready to head for Sunday School, I turned on Roy Rogers as I waited for others to finish dressing. She couldn't imagine anyone preparing for worship by watching such violence. (One can only wonder how she would react to the blood and guts of TV shows today.) On the other hand, Grandma didn't seem to mind that this 10-year-old watched the real violence of boxing with Uncle Merton each evening. The summer's nightly ritual involved settling in by 10 o'clock with a bowl of ice-cream from the numerous options in the "deep-freeze" in the basement. Boxing followed the news, and then it was time to take a few milk cans of water over to the sheep pen across from the Pope farm. "Cowboys" is uniquely American, and captured the imagination of all little boys. He-Man, Power Rangers, and such were still many years away. We saved our Cheerios box tops and sent away for rubber band shooting pistols. I recall getting the "ammo" in bulk orders. No corporation today would dare offer "premiums" that might shoot some-one's eye out, but weall survived-sight intact. We even survived my fancy new Daisy air rifle, and Grandpa's purchase of two Shetland ponies. "Pride" was broke to the saddle, but hardly "user-friendly." His little partner had no idea what being a pony for a 10-year-old entailed; an exact match for the lack of knowledge of the potential rider. With the saddle on, and me in the saddle, Pride simply refused to leave his side-kick at the pen. Just one ride stands out in my mind, and it ran counter to Grandpa's instruction. Holding the reins, I walked Pride across the forty to the road. Then, facing him away from the barn, I mounted before he realized what his options included. Suddenly, we were off, racing back to the farm. Grandpa's advice never to let a horse run toward the barn went un-headed, as I held on for dear life. Finally, Pride and I had been out riding together. Cowboy fantasies brought many enjoyments, but also introduced me to the perennial issue of peer pressure. One evening in town I saw kids playing Cowboys and Indians, racing in and out between homes. Suddenly, a cowboy-hatted kid was right in front of me. It was a friend from fifth grade. He looked a bit embarrassed, and then announced, "I don't care if you tell others that I play cowboys. I like it." Of course, he did care. And while I didn't understand it then, I was facing the fact that our likes and dislikes are not just a matter of individual enjoyment; rather, we learn to mold our behaviors to the expectations of others around us. Thus, we leave some real enjoyments behind simply because they just don't match up to what others expect. It's a hard lesson to unlearn, even after a half-century. Illustrations: Ads from the Tri-County News, 1958. * * * * * * * * * As we keep collecting warm memories, we believe that the story we tell at the Kimball Area Historical Society has special relevance. It is our deeply-held belief that informed and educated citizens provide the best protection of our heritage. From 9 a.m. to1 p.m. Saturday, March 28, at Kimball Area High School, visit our booth during the Sixth Annual Kimball Community and Business EXPO. Get a taste of bygone days as our historians share yet another slice of amazing history with you. There's no admission charge to attend. There will be entertainment, samples, drawings, prizes and information in abundance. Come as you are. It's informal, and bring family and friends. We want you to know how priviledged Kimball's Historical Society feels to come into your lives twice monthly through these History Matters columns. Plus, the above-mentioned special event: The Kimball Community and Business EXPO. We so appreciate your continued memberships, and donations of any kind including the Kimball Historic City Hall restoration project through our society. Help restore and preserve Kimball's National Historic Landmark. To become a member, find your history, submit an item for this column or information, we invite you to contact the Kimball Area Historical Society, Box 100, Kimball MN 55353; (320) 398-5250. And watch this column for April events. * * * * * * * * * "Putting Kimball on the map"