For a while I became talented in ways to get out of work, especially in special tasks. By the time I was old enough to do my part, Dad and Mom were use to being able to give a job to the older kids and they would get it done. So when they would give me a job they expected the same results, not realizing that I needed more instructions. The first time it happened I gave it my best effort, but fumbled around long enough for my dad to lose his patience and he would say, “Here Jack, you do it.” Other times it was Dave or Pat who took over. I quickly learned that the best way to get out of work was to deliberately fumble around with the job until it was given to someone else. Actually, that ploy didn’t last very long. Just one more experience to help me learn that I was not smart enough to outwit my parents for very long—most times not at all.
People my age will agree that neighborhoods were different than they are now. Everybody knew everybody and could be depended on to help each other when there was a need. We also had fun together—playing softball, touch football, kick the can, run sheep run, etc. Most of the time the parents were involved in these games. I remember riding on my dad’s shoulders when we played the hiding games.
Believe it or not, I can still remember most of the names from the Cherokee neighborhood. Our next-door neighbors were the Rankies and Mrs. Athey on the other side. Mrs. Athey had a sneeze that could break your eardrum if you were in the same room with her. We could hear her when we were in our house with the door shut.
In the wintertime we would shovel the snow from her sidewalks and, even though we would always turn it down, she would offer to pay us every time. We did the same for Mrs. Hamm, another widow who lived across the street. I wonder what happened to that kind of neighborhood. To be totally candid, I don’t know the names of my next door neighbors today. Of course part of that is my fault.
In 1939, when we moved to south Denver, we were much close to the congregation on south Lincoln (also known as South Denver or Lincoln Street), so we changed our membership. Sherman Street was located at 125 South Sherman and Lincoln Street was at 2005 South Lincoln. Our new home was at 2444 South Cherokee. Lincoln Street is a block east of Broadway and Cherokee is three blocks west of Broadway.
There were several families at Lincoln Street who also took us under their wing. There were the Hazlets, the Fritz (two families) the Barns, Chapins, the Chumleys and the Storm family. Ruben Storm was the song leader and was known for the loud volume of his voice. The preacher’s name was C.E. Fritz who was the first publisher, editor of the Rocky Mountain Christian Newspaper. His brother was C.A. Fritz was a doctor and also served as one of the elders at Lincoln Street.
I remember one couple in particular who were very unique. Their last name was Mebius and both of them were doctors, but I don’t remember what kind. He was at least six foot five and she wasn’t even five feet tall. Probably the main reason I remember them is because he scared me. To me he looked like Boris Karloff who was the actor who played Frankenstein’s monster. Both of them were always kind and friendly but I still stayed away from him as much as possible.
The Hazlet family had a farm out near Hayden, Colorado, which was at 50 miles from the church building on Lincoln. In spite of the distance, they were at services every Sunday. I always enjoyed visiting them because we could actually be around horses, cows, pigs and at least a hundred chickens. My enjoyment ended when I spent a week there to actually work. I had always had to work, but at the farm it seemed as if the work was never done, which provided very little playtime.