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Thursday October 29, 1987


Pix #1 - A child's size tool box, the author of Potluck used as a child, and thereby became acquainted with tools, learning to make various items, and developing skills for later life.

Pix #2 - The lighted van, a name given to an item described in today's article, made by us kids back then.

Pix #3 - Interest in woodworking, devloped in the younger years of the author of this column, and carried over to later years, resulted in the building of the cupboard shown above for our daughter Janet when she was a child and "playing house". When she was grown, the cupboard was given to Julie (Ziegman) Bulkowski, 402 W. Center St., for her children to enjoy. Sarah, the oldest of their children, has played house with it and when their youngest daughter, Emily is older, she probably will too.

Author's Note: Today's article is one I have wanted to do for a long time. In fact, it was born perhaps a year ago when I was reminisching about some of the activities that occupied my life and the lives of other kids in our neighborhood in the early part of this century. After reading today's article explore it further with your children or grandchildren with the intention of determining if the hobbies and activities of yesteryear aren't still suitable and worthwhile today.

Active minds and hands can keep youngsters out of mischief and can assist in the development of "quality" life later.

One of the Christmas presents I received as a young boy was a tool chest, containing reduced size items for woodworking: Hammer, saw, mallot, measuring stick, square, sandpaper, screwdriver, and perhaps other items, which I no longer recall. At that time we lived close to the lumber yard and planning mill on East North Street.


Back to the mill there was always a pile of discarded wood, suitable for kid's delight. One of the items often made from the scraps were kites. Once made, we spent much time flying them in vacant lots of which there were many.

Another item we kids enjoyed making and pulling on the sidewalks in the neighborhood were minature vans - at least that is what I will call them. I do not recall what else they may have been labeled.

An artist friend of mine provided a rough sketch of one as I described it to her, which is illustrated on this page. Back then, the vans were mostly made from show boxes or other cardboard containers.

The window openings were covered with colored tissue paper. The lights on the inside, shining through the windows, were candles. The wheels were made of heavier cardboard.

There was always the challenge to make the most attractive van in the neighborhood. We kids spent much time making the vans and parading them after dark throughout the neighborhood.

I believe those hobbies of making things with our hands led many of us boys to take the manual training course in Junior-Senior High which further developed skills for later life. Two of the items that I made later in the school woodworking shop were a piano bench and hall tree. Still later there followed remodeling jobs in our home.


When I was a boy, there were two sewing machines in our house - mother's and grandmother's. The latter was made available to me after I had watched grandmother sewing quilt blocks together. She instructed me, and I spent much time doing it on cold winter days seeing the blocks later joined together to become bed quilts.

Another item my younger sister developed, and which I also took up, involved scrap wood from the lumber mill on E. North St.

after Chirstmas cards were received there were many which were very suitable to make into gifts. We selected the cards with the most attractive scenes such as the Christ child in the manger, Santa on the roof and all kinds of winter scenes, or any attractive illustration.

We then selected a wood block to accomodate the size of the illustration. After smoothing the block and staining it, the card was glued to the block and coated with clear coating of shellac. A screweye attached to the top of the finished item was for hanging.

We also made scooters back then, using discarded roller skates. I do not know about skates today, but back then the front and back of skates were fastened together with a round-head bolt at the middle. The back of the skates was mounted on the rear of the board, wide enought to accommodate the foot of the user. The front of the skate was mounted on the front of the board. An upright board was fastened vartically to the base, with a cross piece to use as the handle and guide.

Admittedly, our version did not compare with the scooters of today. Ours was not designed to turn corners. Turning was done by stopping and lifting the scooter in the desired direction. But, it gave us something to do and saved money which was not as plentiful as today.

Yesteryear, as well as today, kids like to skate, and did a lot of it. Neighborhood skating on the sidewalks presented some problems for the skater and pedestrians.

Some years ago, the city selected streets in various sections of town where traffic was not heavy and roped it off for an evening of skating. Skaters from all over town gathered there and had a wonderful time - singles or skating in pairs. With music, the skating is a substitute for skating rinks which were once so popular.

Why can't that "street skating" program be revived?


Speaking of skating, forty years or more ago (I'm guessing), ice skating in winter at one of the reservoirs was a very popular pastime. There was always adult skaters there too, to help supervise and instruct those who needed or wanted to learn fancy skating.

Bon fires were often started on the banks to warm the hands and feet, and sometimes hot dogs were roasted by the fires for snacks.

Finally, skating on the reservoirs was banned. I do not recall why. To the best of my knowledge no one was ever injured with that pastime, and there was no danger of drowning when the ice was frozen to a sufficient depth.


Finally, for today's article, I want to list another excellent pastime and hobby for both young and old - making hotpads. They are useful in every household and make prectical non-expensive gifts. The learning instructions are easy and fun.

You can develop all kinds of patterns to suit yourself. The frames and yarn for this hobby are available at hobby shops and department stores. Some kids make and sell the hot-pads for extra spending money.

The same blocks that are made for use as hot-pads can also be designed and made into afghans when fastened together.

More on this subject of hobbies which the older generation can pass on to the younger will be continued at another time.


October issue of Readers Digest presented an article "The Closing of the American Mind", excerpted from the book by the same name by Allan Bloom of the University of Chicago.

It is an article which clearly and truthfully shows that America has lost sight of the moral truths that give meaning to the lives of Americans.

Every god-loving citizen of America will want to read it and every citizen of this country should read it to get on track.

If you do not subscribe to Readers Digest, get a copy at your newsstand or go to the Kaubisch Library and read their copy.

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