During a memorial service earlier this summer for the late Mike Callen, I was reminded of how he, other young Callens and neighborhood kids would spend their Junes, Julys and Augusts during the ’60s and early ’70s hanging out at Roosevelt School.

     They’d shoot buckets, play kickball, hop on the swings and talk smack about the opposite sex.

     Ripon kids’ fun back then was constrained only by their imaginations and their folks’ curfews.

     Youngsters weren’t chained to devices, “social media” was an oxymoron and the only video games were “The Match Game” and “Let’s Make a Deal.”

     ... The Ripon Historical Society recently held a session for local “kids,” now in their 70s and 80s, to talk about growing up in Ripon more than a half century ago.

     As summer winds down, here are a few of their marvelous memories to remind us of a bygone era:

     Moderator Gib Stoeberl (not a Ripon native): “A lot of the kids have lost the ability to create fun, to make up your own games. It’s got to be organized, or it’s got to be electronic.”

     Chet Fenner: “At night we’d play kick-the-can and hide-and-go-seek” and “would hide beneath the [State Street] grates.”

     Mike Reinsch: “When I was growing up we used to play softball there [where Central Park Apartments are today]. One summer Meilahn Standke hit 792 home runs [most of them over the left-field fence onto Metomen Street].  

     Tom Sharp: “A lot of us are still alive because the old ladies used to watch us from their porches and their windows.” ...

     Bob Mathia: “Coming off the farm in fourth grade I started at Roosevelt School and I started playing basketball. My mother and dad would never have to go out and look for me. If Dad wanted to know if I was doing something I shouldn’t be doing, he would just come down in his car past Roosevelt School. He wouldn’t even stop. We’d all be on the basketball court. If it was a weekend day, we’d play from the light of day to the dark of night. ...”

     Reinsch: “We’d always take a noon-hour break [from playing softball] and we’d go down to John’s Little Rock Gas Station right around the corner. He had a three-legged dog and we’d all have Pepsi and then go play some more. We didn’t have an organized Little League.” ...
 — Tim Lyke

     To read the entire editorial, including what some Ripon youngsters would do to afford to buy their Pepsi Colas, see the Sept. 6, 2018 edition of The Ripon Commonwealth Press.