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May 19, 1992

I'm a little vague about the dates and my activities during this period.

We moved into a new row house on Fernhill Road about a block from Fernhill Park and near the Midvale Steel and the Atwater Kent radio plants.

I started first grade at the Fitler School when I was nearly seven. They had a program where selected classes did three term's work in two terms. This gave me a chance to make up for my getting started in school a little later than usual.

This was the boy scout period in life and I belonged to a troop at the Methodist church near the school. I never was big on this and wound up as a second class scout.

While we were in this area I remember sledding down the Berkley street hill toward Wayne ave., playing 5 yards kicking the football in the street, and having a good time in the park playing football and baseball. It was a time when the fellows built pushmobiles and skateboards which we used on the hills near home.

Sometime later we moved to Limekiln Pike across from the National Cemetery and I transferred to the Kinsey school where I graduated in 1926.

When I was ten, my curiosity caused a major problem. I think it was my Mother's 35th birthday when she planned a big birthday celebration and we were having dinner the night before. Dad had gone for a hair cut and I was finished eating when I borrowed a hairpin and started picking at a blasting cap I had previously found.

It exploded and parts of my fingers wound up all over the dining room and into the living room. I was rushed into the kitchen with a towel wrapped around my bloody hands and I was propped against the refrigerator. When my Dad drove up, the neighbors told him I'd blown off both my hands.

In those days they didn't rush one to a hospital. The doctor soaked my hands in a bucket and finally stitched my fingers together while I sat on the kitchen floor. Later we had them examined at a hospital and they wanted to operate to provide more flesh over the stumps. We decided to leave well enough alone.

The worst part was when the bandages had to be changed and the blood soaked bandages had to be pulled loose. Finally my fingers healed and I learned to compensate for the loss. We tried to sue the contractor who left the blasting caps unprotected but we never received a dime. Dad's firm, Berwind White, was great, they provided the legal help and covered the expenses.

During this period I made friends with an older fellow that worked at Atwater Kent. It was the beginning of radio and I was interested in building crystal sets and one or two tube radios. I watched my friend build things and helped build a spark transmitter. We built a large condenser using sheets of glass and metal foil. One time, I remember, putting 110 volts on a Ford spark coil and the shock threw me across the cellar.

I think it also was during this period that I got scarlet fever and the house had to be quarantined. Everyone moved out except my Mother. Sheets soaked in antiseptic were hung at my bedroom door and everything had to be burned when I was cured. I remember this in particular because I was using the Herkness Reflex 2 tube radio that I had built and it had to be destroyed.

next: The High School Years