“Jim Class” is a feature that airs within The HomeFix Show. Writen by original charter show listener Jim Forrer from Caldwell Idaho, Jim shares his observations, life experiences and lessons learned in life. Joe Prin reads these at various times in most of the HomeFix Shows. Here is the original written text.
After arriving back here in Caldwell from my class reunion in Ohio, I’ve been overwhelmed by episodes of nostalgia. Remembering family, friends, class members and long forgotten ‘best friends.’
One such friend was Clarence Turner. Clarence and I were best buddies the very first time we got in trouble together. We were a matched pair of poor students. I was always the worse student in every class, but now I had a partner of sorts. At the time I met Clarence, I had just moved from Clarendon Grade School to enter the fifth grade at Fairmont in Canton Ohio. I’m sure Miss Ditto, the principle, was relieved when my parents decided to move.
At the start of my fifth grade, Clarence had just turned eleven; I was nine. We both were skinny and the same build and about the same height. When I entered the classroom that first morning, I was fearful of the new and scary surroundings. I immediately headed to the back corner and there stood Clarence. He was not ill at ease a all. Clarence had an air of nonchalance about him, cool man, just cool and a smile as big as all outdoors. He was quick witted and observant; I liked him at once. We got to carrying on something fierce, making all kinds of noise and talking when the teacher was trying to make some kind of order out of the mayhem of that first day. That incident was the first of our troubles with school officials and teachers.
We, Clarence and I, were the class dummies. Well, let’s just say, we were the poorest learners. Because we had trouble learning, we were thought as not caring or not trying. Nothing could have been further from the truth. Both of us tried hard, but we just didn’t get it. There were times we both had wet eyes. Worse though, was the fact that the teachers put us in the back of the room and then treated us as if we were not even there. I never had a problem with math. Math made sense to me for it seemed so easy. My big problem was the fact that I could not read. That was my bane up until the second half of the sixth grade. That problem was taken care of with Miss Greely, but that’s another story.
One day during school Clarence asked me if I wanted to go watch them dump coke. The Turner’s lived but 200 yards up the hill from Republic Steel Corporation. Now, that was about two miles from our home, so I had to ask mom and dad if I could. Dad spoke right up and said that I could go only if I stayed at the top of the hill and watched. I promised, and was allowed to proceed with the plan. The sound, steam and fire when they dumped that coke into the gondola cars was terrific and exciting. The bright red/orange glow and extreme heat almost would burn your eyes. I had seen it all before, but not as close up as from Clarence’s house. Man, I was ready to go.
When I arrived at the Turner’s, I was met at a half opened door by Mrs. Turner. She said that I didn’t belong there and that I should go away and never come back. She said that I was a bad influence on Clarence. I went home with my tail between my legs. The next day, Mrs. Turner went to school and convinced the principle to separate Clarence and me into different classes. I saw very little of my friend after that.
Something that I forgot to mention at the beginning, because I thought it did not matter. Clarence, my buddy, was black.