My Early Recollections of Roo-Shee
Last week’s blog described how I met my wife at Crystal Ball, but in reality, our likely first encounter was years earlier. My uncle and aunt lived in Russia and right across the street from them lived my wife’s grandparents. During the summer months, as a child, she would frequently stay at her grandparent’s place in town rather than out on the farm. As shared in last week’s blog, my wife-to-be was and still is best friends with my cousin. So it’s very likely we might have connected at a much younger age during one of our family visits to see my uncle and aunt and their family. Also, as a cheerleader, she was definitely on my radar screen during junior high and high school, but that’s already been written about in this blog.
My uncle and aunt had daughters about the same age as my sisters, but only a baby son. As a result, I was pretty much on my own during our visits, so that gave me an opportunity to explore Roo-shee. Not a block away was the railroad tracks, and at the sound of a train approaching, I’d run down to the tracks arriving just as the beast sped past shaking the ground and causing a wind rush that almost knocked me over. What a thrill!
After the train went by, I’d invariably roam around the grain mill adjacent to the tracks, and then head downtown to check out my uncle's factory that made garage doors. Even though both were closed during our weekend visits, there was always something stacked outside that would intrigue me. My uncle's company not only made garage doors, but also sold automatic garage door openers, a device that was new to me since our garage on the farm didn’t even have a door! My uncle had one installed on his garage attached to the house, so I’d play with the remote and watch the door go up and down with just the press of a button. I would test the range of the remote, moving farther and farther way from the door and at different angles until it wouldn’t activate. Then I would open and shut the door from inside to observe the mechanism lift then close the door. Amazing stuff for a budding engineer.
Another Russia memory is riding with Dad through town after picking up baby chicks at Weaver’s outside of Versailles early each spring. I would ride in the back next to the boxes of peeps as we called them, making sure they were ok. We would unload the chicks and put them in the brooder house with heat lamps, water and feed, where they were kept until grown, at which time the hens were moved to the chicken coop to lay eggs and the roosters could run wild around the farm until they met their eventual demise as our family’s chicken dinner. Occasionally, a rooster would find it’s way into the chicken coop and cause some havoc, so that culprit naturally became the next meal. Dad might have done it on purpose to give the ole boy some pleasure before chopping off its head!
Our family attended several weddings at St. Remy’s Hall and since it seemed the whole town was invited to such affairs, most likely my wife-to-be was probably also there. Back then, it was a tradition that cigars were handed out at weddings, so one of my older cousin’s got one and we went behind my uncle’s factory next to the hall to light it up and pass it around. Wow, was that a mistake, as I got totally sick and had to sleep it off in the back of the car the entire evening. My parents never found out, but to this day, I’ll have nothing to do with tobacco - that first episode fixed me for life.
From a very early age until today, Roo-Shee has held a special place in my heart. The highlight came in 1972 when we were married in St. Remy’s church and our reception was at the Hall, but this time with no cigars!