Growing up on Orchard with Eugene Biek

Published 7:10 am Tuesday, August 29, 2006

By Staff
(Last of two parts)
Remember old Albert Wares and his blind horse and wagon going to town to pick up trash to take to his dump?
He also used to plow our sidewalks clean of snow with his old horse and wooden V plow.
Another one I remember was the Rev. Thomas, who used to plow and drag your mother's garden with his horse and plow.
We used to go over the hedge and help ourselves to Arlie Lee's sweet cherries.
You had two sour cherry trees in your back yard.
We kids used to get chips of ice from the Walker and Artisan ice wagons and wrap it up in a piece of white cloth to hold it.
Your Uncle Lyle had a large boat at Magician Lake and took my dad fishing.
I can remember an old blue car with wooden spokes sitting in your driveway, but I don't remember your father, Frank. He died when you were small.
Mr. and Mrs. Newton lived on Wayne Street and had a very heavy boy called Claude.
We filled in the low ground in back of Russell's house with lots of trash in the 1930s. It would sure be fun to dig down now and see what we threw away.
We also used to play ball at Louie Haines' grandpa's vacant lot on the northwest corner of Front and Prairie Ronde.
There used to be twins, Myron and Byron, who played there with us, but I don't remember their last names.
John and Jim Luthringer got stung pretty badly by a bunch of bees once.
David and Marcia Swisher lived on the corner of Wayne and Orchard.
Their father Neil always wore a big Stetson hat and he looked like LBJ.
Flip Springsteen had a trapeze in the catalpa tree between his house and Newton's. He could also go up and down his front porch steps on his hands.
Richard Dillman lived down the block. He was older than us and didn't play with us much. He is now a doctor in Ann Arbor.
Fred Patchett's house on Front Street is where we played our game of "Pocket Book" from his front porch.
For Halloween, we made window knockers from an empty notched thread spool, a nail and string. We only used soap on windows.
We used to get carbide from the Tice welding pit and used it to blow up empty tin cans in the air.
We kids in the neighborhood always got together to send in a big order for fireworks at Polk, Ohio.
I once had a Zebra firecracker go off in my fingers before I could throw it.
Also, one hit the top railing of our porch and fell back and landed on my bare belly. Lucky I didn't get lockjaw.
We used to hitchhike out to Indian Lake to go swimming.
Before we hiked home we would buy a Whizz or Bun candy bar and play a game of ski-ball at either the Hess or Wiest resorts.
I remember when Jim Lee and Wesley Deming got hurt when they tried to light some dud fireworks after a Fourth of July celebration at the airport.
Geraldine Samson used to ride her bike sitting on the seat backwards.
My dad us to make us homemade stilts.
Your neighbor, old Vincent "Vint" Bellar, who was a retired Chicago publisher who had more or less lost his mind, used to walk and pick up little sticks and twigs and had his basement full of them. He smoked a pipe, usually upside down.
He once came home from the bakery with a blueberry pie up against his chest with the juice running down his front.
Remember, we had a summer playmate, Bob Chase? He was from Canada and stayed with his uncle over on Front Street.
We used to collect milkweed caterpillars, put them in jars and watch them turn into monarch butterflies.
I remember your South Bend paper route and your nice stamp collection.
We were playing ping pong in your basement on Dec. 7, 1941, when your mother yelled down to us the Japanese had just bombed Pearl Harbor.
Gene, I'm sure you can recall some more of our early life that I didn't mention, but wasn't it fun growing up on old Orchard Street before we turned into "big-time teenagers?"