Texas or Illinois - by
N. Ray Maxie
Youthful Rebellion is No Different
past summer I have reunited and corresponded with a long lost “ole friend”. Having
lost communication with him for many years, so much has happened; time has passed
and a lot of water has gone under the bridge, bringing mature, senior years to
us both. As happens frequently, he found me right here on Texas
Escapes and I am glad he did. He is still highly active and now an early octogenarian
living in SE Texas with his wife, where they experienced some of the ravages of
Following is a sample of life’s experiences he has shared
with me. Interesting experiences I never knew about him; therein I can see many
words of wisdom, and hope you enjoy it, too. Life as he lived it in extreme rural
Illinois during the 1920's and ‘30's. Rewritten by permission of David Peterson,
to share with my readers.
Yeah, Ray I was Mr. Stupid, really stupid, and from my stupidity I
learned a lot about life and people and our Government the way it was when I went
to High School. I was a real dumb kid, always. In grade school I flunked the First
Grade, then I flunked the fourth Grade, but I did graduate from Grade School,
and the following year went to high school.
That 's where my trouble started.
Boys go out to try out for baseball, track, basketball, etc. Well, I was told
I was too small for basketball, but maybe I could try out for the girls cheerleaders
team, too small for baseball. All the boys in school were some over 6 feet, me
5' 7" pushed around like a rag doll. The alternative for this was to take French
or Spanish. So I sat through a couple of boring weeks of that and showed no interest.
Ruth Williams, the teacher directed me to the Principle's office for sliding up
and down in my chair and not paying attention. I was really disruptive !
to the Principle's office I go with this big chip on my shoulder and mad because
I wasn't allowed to play ball in the first place. And the Principle had a BIGGER
chip on his shoulder. I was expelled from school for two weeks, but I told him
not to bother cause I wouldn't be back and I continued on saying I was smarter
than him and all the teachers put together. I was pretty mad and should have taken
the 2 weeks and went back, but ..... We lived in the country and the walk home
was about 5 miles, but that distance was nothing for me as all summer long I was
roaming around the woods and pastures and fields.
Mom was pretty mad when
I told her of the days happenings, the car wouldn't start, no telephones, in fact
there was no electricity. Coal oil lamps for light. My Dad was on the Lakes (Great
Lakes) in the shipping business. I stayed around home for awhile and got into
more trouble, so my mother wrote a letter to Dad and told him I was in trouble,
gave him all the gory details, etc. So in about 2 weeks he was home with his suitcase,
empty. He said get some clothes in this case and we're going to Chicago in the
morning. All I could think of, he was going to put me in a Reform School. That
afternoon we got off the train and headed by Taxi to some big tall building on
Rush Street. We took the elevator to some floor, found the office, he opened the
door, shoved me in with a bunch of other boys about my age. He talked to an important
looking guy at a desk for a few minutes, came back to me and said, "You’re going
into the Merchant Marines, do as they tell you, I love you son, and I'll see you
in New York". He also gave me five dollars.
You know Ray, that was the
best thing that ever happened to me, I’ve never regretted it one bit. I learned
more there than I would have if I had stayed in High School for a 100 years.
tuned, I have a lot more stories growing up. They're really not stories, they're
© N. Ray Maxie
"Ramblin' Ray" November
1, 2009 Column