Third grade was quite a unique change. How could school have been so different in just the span of a year? Continuing with what I'd started on my previous page of 1963, I was honing my keen interests in monsters, monster movies, comic books and army stuff. Combat was still my favorite show, though my loyalty was divided by The Outer Limits as well. Amazing and prolific changes were just around the bend with the U.S. premiere of The Beatles and my introduction to Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine.
"Troll Dolls" were odd things that many of us were attracted to at the time. Why we were attracted, I can't say, but I had one of these. I can remember being fascinated by the backs of comic books, or the inside pages that promised so many fantastic bargains that were dirt cheap! Among these were 8mm movies of fantastic monster movies.
I was at this time, fully into Aurora monster models, and having started off with The Hunchback of Notre Dame, I branched out into a creepier domain with The Phantom of the Opera. The phantom was an awesome model, with the most frightening cover painting yet.
In school, my teacher's name was Mrs. Heer, and she was a great teacher. I went to Samuel K. Barlow elementary school. Barlow was one of my favorite schools, and our homeroom windows looked out to the playground and the massive baseball field where I walked home everyday. We lived right behind the school, so it was just a matter of traversing the play field in order to get to school. This was the year I was introduced to the wonderful game of "Kickball". Kickball was just baseball using one's foot to kick the ball instead of a bat to whack the ball. Kickball guaranteed everyone a hit because it was near impossible to miss kicking a round school ball.
1963 was the year of two of America's greatest losses: President John F. Kennedy and Marilyn Monroe . When President Kennedy was assassinated, many stores and most businesses shut down for an entire weekend in tribute. We wouldn't see that type of respect in today's world. Because of this, the event seemed so much more important to me-a third grade kid-than in retrospect, it probably should have. Stores closing meant something major was happening. In 1963, I was too young to truly appreciate Marilyn, but she interrupted mainstream television with the announcements of her death, and prompted a few specials. I had to assume that she was pretty darned important.
On the lighter side of the year, "Tab", the original diet cola, was introduced. The summer of 1963 had me introduced to a new and different taste treat: mayonnaise sandwiches . A neighbor girl's mom told us how she would just spread mayonnaise on two slices of bread and eat it plain. We tried it, and it was great. It was around that time that I can recall having bread and sugar (buttered bread with sugar sprinkled on) and cinnamon toast. However, the mayonnaise sandwiches were indeed a work of art, and together, my friends and I had the whole neighborhood buzzing about how good mayonnaise was all by itself.
I used to like all sorts of strange things such as salt on apples , and butter on soda crackers . I really liked the soda crackers that came in the four sections, the ones that had 4 crackers attached and you just broke them off one at a time. Another favorite of mine were the banana flavored Moon Pies . They were wonderful. I also had a passion for licorice ice cream . There was a place down the street from us that had licorice ice cream cones. The ice cream was black as were your teeth and tongue when eating it. Often, my Mom would shop at a corner country store called Holgate Farms. It was one of those stores that had everything. I remember that every time she took me with her, the butcher always gave me a hunk of Polish Sausage for free. Rounded off with a nice box of animal crackers or cracker jacks, it was a great eating experience.
Winter Army Games
As I mentioned on my army page, this was the one activity that never became old, tiresome, boring, or otherwise redundant. Winter Army games were a bit more of a challenge because it wasn't so easy to get kids out of their warm houses. There were few diehards like myself who could always be counted on, but for a good rousing game of army, you needed a good bunch of guys.
Of course, I mention "game" like there were rules. There were no rules; you just went with it. The most difficult part was deciding who was going to be the Germans. Nobody wanted to be the losing force, even if they could win the battle. Still, there were always likely candidates if we wanted to get on with it. The reason the enemy was always the "Germans" was because in our favorite show "Combat!", they fought in the European theatre of war. Besides, there were very few areas in the neighborhood that even remotely resembled Saipan!
Still, one of my favorite winter army days was when my older brother and his friend and a huge group of kids (about 12) from the block all gathered together one frigid day in January for the best game of army ever! I talk about it here, but not in the detail in which I will now expound on the experience. I was beginning to collect real army surplus gear. Along with my regular plastic gear, I was armed to the hilt. In our packs, we'd packed all the necessities: red licorice, extra socks (mud puddles, you know), and a box of oatmeal. We went to a perfect spot, blew on our hands for warmth, when my brother got the idea to actually cook oatmeal in our mess kits. That was a brilliant moment, and we all agreed. So, in this frozen January field, we were out there cooking, eating, then getting ready for a great game. More on this here.