Sincerely Clark is a blog of letters. It may include letters that I sent or intend to send, letters that I want to send but will not send, letters that I want to write and some that I don’t want to write, letters to people I know or people I don’t know, and letters to no one in particular. They may be informative, serious, angry, humorous, poignant, interesting, boring, strange, silly, nonsensical, or whatever.
This morning I awakened thinking about Mom and Dad’s good
friends, Peasant and Jim. I’m sure you remember them because Mom and Dad got
together with them frequently to play cards (pinochle). Their sons were older
than me, closer to your age, and attended Altoona HS, where you graduated. Since
you are eight years older than me, you probably knew them long before I had
joined the family. Anyway, our parents (Marie and Jim) were very good friends
with Pleasant and Jim, and I remember that they often got together, either at
our house or at Pleasant and Jim's house in Altoona.
Jim and Marie (HS Grad Photos)
Now that I think about Pleasant and Jim, I realize that I
don’t remember you hangin’ with the parents and their good friends at either
our house or P&J’s house. That makes sense, I guess, because you were (and
are) eight years older than me. Therefore, you were probably out and about
having fun with your good friends, Ernie and Eddie, or others, while I was way
too young to be roving with friends during the evenings.
I usually had to accompany the parents when they visited
Pleasant and Jim. During most of those visits at P&J’s house I just sat in
their living room watching TV and being bored, although I did enjoy the candy,
cake, ice cream and pop that the adults provided for me. I don’t know how they
were able to tolerate my sugar highs during those visits. They probably just ignored
Anyway, I have fond memories of those get-togethers at
Pleasant and Jim’s very small two-story house in Altoona. That house, which was
not far from our Grandpap’s house, was seemingly situated under the grandstands
for the Manson Park athletic field/stadium. That meant that it was very noisy,
and it was difficult to find a parking place near their house, when there were
football games or other events being played/held at the stadium. It was also
very noisy during visits with Pleasant and Jim when events were taking place. It
is interesting to realize now that back in those days most working-class people
did not earn much money and they couldn’t have large houses in quiet
During those pinochle visits I often had to just sit and
watch TV while Mom and Dad were playing cards at Pleasant and Jim’s house.
However, those visits were not always long and boring. Sometimes, their youngest
son was at home when the parents were playing cards. He was a teenager
while I was maybe 10 or so and he would usually entertain me when he didn’t
have other things to do.
I will never forget the visit when he and I were disc
jockeys. He took me upstairs to his very small bedroom, where he had a record
player and lots of vinyl records (both 45 and 33&1/3) crammed into every possible
space. That was very cool and I thought we were just going to play some
records. However, he turned out to be much cooler than just a record collector!
He told me to sit down and asked me to pick a few records to listen to. Of
course I was happy to pick some 45s that I liked and handed them to him. Then
he turned on the turntable and put one of the records on it. In addition, then he
turned on some other equipment that had a microphone attached to it and told me
we were going to be disc jockeys. Of course I can’t remember what all he said
and did. However, I certainly do remember that I had a lot of fun. He had his
turntable, amplifier, and microphone connected to a transmitter that covered a
small area of the city of Altoona around his parent’s house. He did not have a broadcasting
license, of course, but he told me that it was totally legal to broadcast
(without a license) low-power AM radio signals that covered a small, but
densely populated area of the city around his parents’ home. He was the disc
jockey and did most of the talking and I helped by retrieving records, putting
them on the turntable, setting the needle on the records, and removing and
replacing the records between songs. He would introduce the records he was playing
and he said a few words about them. He actually had regular listeners who even called
him with requests to play certain songs. He persuaded me to do some talking to
the mike, but I was too nervous (and dumb) to do very much “DJ-Speak.” However,
it was one of those magical times that young boys and girls often have that
remain forever in their memory. Unfortunately, I never pursued a career in
broadcasting, but that was probably a lucky decision for me. I don’t know whether
P&J's son became a disc jockey, but I like to think that he became a very famous
one at a powerful radio station.
Clark holding Timmy with Brother Bill
As you know, Pleasant and Jim remained very good friends
with Marie and Jim and I got to know them fairly well. Of course, you had
already gotten to know them very well before I was old enough to do so. You
also know that their friendship continued throughout both of our childhood and
college years. After Dad’s death their friendship with Mom was even more
important and it continued. They were good friends and good people. They took
Mom along on several road trips while I was finishing college and after I
graduated and became a working adult. Mom’s friendship with them was a critical
factor in keeping her grounded and providing a satisfying social life for her.
Even though you and I were not around, she was not alone. She still had her long-standing,
reliable and trustworthy friends, Jim and Pleasant, who helped enhance her life.
Unfortunately, sometime, while I believe I was working in Omaha, Jim (Pleasant’s
husband) died and Pleasant (and our Mom) was devastated. Pleasant and Mom still remained good
friends but things were just never the same. I believe Pleasant also died
shortly after her husband’s death.
Jimmy and Marie
Pleasant and Jim were “Good People” and I am grateful that
they were longtime good friends with our parents. Their loss was difficult for
Mom. Luckily, she still had two sisters, i.e., our Aunt Helen and Aunt Pauline,
to keep her going.
Bill - You, Jane, Pat and I remain, and I know you are still
as determined to continue this lifelong adventure as much as I am. Please let
me know what you’re up to.