|The Mishawaka of
the north side of town, Main Street ended
one house north of Ardennes Avenue.
Normain Heights kids would hang out at
the dead end and watch the cows in the
farmer's field. The cows grazed directly
behind Pam McCarter's backyard, and the field
extended clear over to Juday Creek.
the south side of town, the
"Mishawaka hills" were the end
of town. On 11th Street, just before
Mishawaka ended on Dragoon Trail, the
Hy-Ration company produced Eagle dog
began kindergarten in September 1955,
soon after the polio vaccine became
available. Over 40% of us had no
television at home; many homes had no
telephone. And three months after we
began kindergarten, in far away Alabama,
a lady named Rosa Parks refused to move
to the back of the bus.
lunch-time milk came in small glass
bottles, each covered with waxed paper
and a cardboard plug.
recess, we played marbles. If a kid lost
all of his marbles, the attitude was,
"You shouldn't have joined the game
if you couldn't play."
price of a double feature and cartoons at
the Tivoli Theater was 15 cents. The
theater was on Main Street, just north of
bakery made the best cupcakes, each with
creamy filling inside and buttery
frosting on top. Cost: five cents.
of us had parents who worked at
Ball-Band, and we got our Red Ball Jets
by sorting through bins of
"seconds." We'd find a left
shoe and then try to find a matching
library was an old stone building across
from Main Junior High. It was a Carnegie
Library, one of 1,689 libraries in the
United States built with Andrew
Carnegie's money. The "children's
section" was in the basement. To
read the "adult books"
upstairs, a child needed a permission
letter from a parent.
telephoned other numbers in Mishawaka by
dialing (not touching, but dialing!) five
numbers. Then came the time when two
numbers were added at the front, in the
form of a word. For example
"Blackburn" stood for BL, and
BL stood for 25.
of the girls were at the Blue Birds &
Camp Fire Girls summer day camp. We'd
meet at Castle Manor in Merrifield Park,
play games, sing songs, make things, and
hike to Monkey Island for lunch.
the Christmas season, the city paid for
decorations on downtown street lamps. On
Good Friday, the downtown stores closed
from noon to 3 p.m.
Roller Rink was north of the river, off
Main Street. When we were children, the
teenagers just above us were in the era
of poodle skirts, and Bock's was where
they did their best showing off.
begged our parents for the new toys:
Silly Putty (1949), a Slinky (1955), Play
Doh (1956), Frisbees (1957), a Hula Hoop
(1957), Legos (1958), Etch A Sketch
the summers, we competed on volleyball
and baseball teams based out of the
neighborhood parks. Girls played
vollyball; boys played baseball. No
exceptions, even though it was Marsha Brown who taught most of the north
side boys how to pitch a baseball.
summer days meant hours-long games of
Monopoly, Chinese checkers, and Parcheesi
with neighborhood kids on a covered back
porch, or in a garage, or in someone's
when the rain cleared, we'd all play
kick-the-can, hide & seek, and frozen
tag, running through neighbors' yards
with no thoughts of tresspass laws, and
neighbors seldom complained.
had sleepovers in our backyards. And
doing so was safe!
families would go to the drive-in movie
theater at the St. Joseph/Elkhart County
we swam anywhere, it was in the
Potawatomi Park pool or in the St. Joseph
River. Mishawaka did not have its own
public pool when we were children.
had the hill at Central Park: Grab some
friends and a few pieces of corrugated
cardboard, and you could spend the day
sliding down the hill, no snow needed!
of the physicians were general practice
doctors. They did everything from
delivering babies to performing basic
surgery. When doctors gave us injections,
most would give coupons for free ice
cream cones at Bonnie Doon's.
the Cedar Street hill? With enough
pleading, you could coax your mom or dad
to drive down the hill at just the right
speed, and it would feel as if you'd left
your stomach at the top of the hill. In
winter, ice made that same hill
impossible for many cars to climb.
had no shopping malls. Our moms shopped
in downtown Mishawaka or in downtown
South Bend. In about 1960, Town &
Country Shopping center opened on
McKinley Avenue, on the north side of
town. These days, it would be called a
record store on Main Street distributed
printed "Top 50" lists every
week. By jnnior high school, some of us
would stop in weekly to pick up the new
took typing in high school, not
"keyboarding." We had to learn
how to make gentle erasures because
"White Out" was not yet
of the boys took one year of shop, and
all of the girls took a year of cooking
& sewing, and no one asked why.
the street from MHS was Klein's Pharmacy,
with an authetic soda fountain. We could
get hot dogs and special soft drinks:
cherry Cokes, lemon Cokes, vanilla
phosphates, chocolate phosphates, even
suicide Cokes. And if you left the school
building at lunch time to get lunch at
Klein's, you risked getting caught and
boys wore shirts with collars, and those
shirts had to be tucked inside their
belted pants. The girls wore dresses or
skirts & blouses or skirts &
sweaters, and no hemline could be above
June 1968, there were no calls to keep
prayer out of the graduation ceremonies.
At baccalaureate, we heard from a
Methodist minister, a Church of Christ
minister, a Jewish rabbi, and a Catholic
priest. At commencement, we had a
Catholic priest and a Lutheran minister.
And we sat in long, silent prayer as
class president Randy Marks asked that we
pray for Senator Robert F. Kennedy, who
had been shot in the early morning hours
of that day.
day was Thursday, June 6, 1968, and the
number one song was Simon &
Garfunkel's "Mrs. Robinson."