Walking to School

After we had completed our fanning oats duty, we went off to school. We walked to schoolwith  the Kozelka kids. Seems we all had nicknames and those would change from time to time. Gloria Kozelka was called “morning glory” after the obnoxious weeds that grew in the cornfields and wrapped around the cornstalks. Morning glories had beautiful flowers that closed up at night and opened in the morning sunlight. There was no known relationship between Gloria and morning glories. We just couldn’t come up with a better name.

We called Nancy Kozelka “Nancy Goat,” a really bad play on “nanny goat.” She was tall and athletic. Calling her “Nancy Goat” would invoke her wrath. Nancy was pleasant most of the time, but she had a quick temper. Oh, could she ever hit a softball! When we chose teams for noontime Oak Grove School softball, Nancy was always the first girl chosen and often ahead of the boys.

Jimmy Kozelka was a neat kid, but a little rough around the edges. He was small in stature, but gutsy. Jimmy would eat dirt on a dare or even swallow a worm. If young Jimmy didn’t want to do something, the teacher permitted him to sit out on the front steps of the school. Jimmie’s siblings claimed that the teacher was “spoiling him.”

Ruth Ann Kozelka got influenza meningitis in third grade and missed most of the school year. She was held back a year, so she could catch up. We were walking home from school when we heard that Ruth Ann had to repeat third grade. Some of us teased or taunted her about “being dumb.” It is one of the childish things I did that I have regretted to this day.

Gary Kozelka was much like his brother, but always had a smile. Good-natured, pliable and pleasant. Nothing seemed to bother him.  Continued…..


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