I always had a lot to do after school each day. Seasonal activities included mowing, raking, and snow shoveling. My Thursday job was to burn papers. This was before recycling and the EPA came into existence. Of course, I had to watch the fire while it burned in the wire receptacle and stir up the smoldering papers to keep the fire going. This gave me a chance to talk with Al, the custodian at the Art League, which was next door to our house. We’d talk about sports, and he’d tell me stories about his life as an infantryman in WW2. Another job I had from time to time was replacing the windows my baseball playing buddies and I knocked out of the garage doors. If I hadn’t been a teacher, I probably could have made a living as a glazier.
There were many days, though, when a bunch of us neighborhood guys would play football or baseball on the corner lot, or we would play basketball on the neighbor’s hoop. It was always easy to find a half dozen or more guys for a game. Sometimes, two or three girls would play softball or basketball, too.
Whatever activity I was involved with, I had to be home by 5:45 to wash up for supper. We always ate at 6, and I had better be on time. The family spent almost an hour at the dinner table, because seven people ate together every night, and there was always a lot to discuss.
At 7 o’clock I went to my room to do homework. That meant that I couldn’t use the phone, listen to the radio, or come downstairs to watch TV. I would join the family at 10 to watch the news. This was my schedule from Sunday through Thursday night from my grammar school days through high school. When I was in the first two years of high school, I could go out on Friday and Saturday from 7 to 10:30. During my last two years of high school, I could stay out until 11:30. If I was persuasive enough, or a special event was being held, I could stay out until 12:30 or 1 a.m.
I guess you might say that I lived a regimented existence, but so did most of the other kids that I knew. This structure taught us self discipline, so when we went to college or on our first job, we had no problems adjusting to the rigors of study or to a tough boss.