I had the great joy of attending the same elementary school for from 1st through 8th grade. It was Blessed Sacrament Catholic School in North Omaha on 30th and Curtis.  It is still there today (2011). I stopped by last summer and visited it before it closed its school. They had to merge with St. Philip Neri further North. The church will stay opened but the school has closed. It’s interesting because in the 20’s and 30’s it had a high school. But in my days it only had a grade school and now it’s closing all together. I took a couple pictures of it because it hadn’t changed a bit. It was solid stone and brick built before I attended there in the 50’s. It’s always been the same to me. It was a Catholic School as you already figured and it provided a fairly decent education. I enjoyed my years at Blessed Sacrament and look back at them with great fondness. It wasn’t easy. A lot was expected from me and I rarely lived up to the expectations, especially academically, but I liked the kids, I seemed to fit in, and I didn’t want to move from my current home on Himebaugh.

It was right on 30th Street and had very little room for a playground. The convent had a small open area, but it was paved and turned into a parking lot, so we were left with nothing but parking lot all around the school. But it was right across the street from Miller Park so we had a huge playground. Here a class, I think it is the class that graduated one year ahead of me because I recognize one face, Jerome Velacek.  This class graduated in 1960. They are waiting at Miller Park to cross the busy street after recess.

One of the things that has hung on since my childhood is a nickname. Rita was only 15 months older than me and she was not able to say Chuckie. Mom worked at it real hard, but the best she could say was “Tucky.” That stuck with me all my life. When Rita carved our names in the cement stoop of our new house on Lake Street in 1961, she wrote “Rita, Tuck, Dave.” Some of my relatives and old friends will still call me Tucky. There are too many stories to put here regarding that nick name, but it has never bothered me, regardless of how some of my friends would tease me and corrupt it and abuse me with it. I’d prefer that you not call me that today, if you feel you have to, make sure it’s “Doctor Tucky,” OK?

We always enjoyed playing in Miller Park. I spent most of my extra time there. In the fall we’d play football. In the winter we’d sleigh down the hills, in the spring and summer I’d fish the lagoon. I think I took more carp out of that little lagoon than you can imagine. It was something I started doing when I was very young. I’d say 1st or 2nd grade I was fishing the park by myself. When I’d get home, Dad would make me stand by the house or the birdbath so he could take my picture with my fish. If anyone else was around when I got home they’d always get into the picture. I have pictures of Rita, Dave, Dad, Otto and even my Uncle Lawrence holding fish that I caught. There are way too many to post.  The color pictures from that era were probably taken by Dad’s first 35mm camera. I think he bought that camera in about 1953 and it became a prominent fixture at just about every holiday and major family event. He’d break it out at some of the most unusual times. We also always had movie cameras and Dad would turn electric lights on us that would just about blind you as he filmed us opening Christmas presents or holding easter baskets and just about everything else you can imagine. The problem was he’d often use the slide film so most of the pictures we have in color come from slides. I had to buy a slide scanner. It hooks up to my computer and when I push the button it scanned the images into tiff files that were huge. Then I had to convert them to something I could store easily, but I have most of the done, but their sitting on an external hard drive now waiting to be edited yet. But I have done a few of them.

I went all 8 years to Blessed Sacrament as we affectionately referred to as “BS.” There are many class pictures and I won’t bore you with all of them but here is one. If you click on it, I’m sure you can find me with the red circle around my head. Notice the nun. We had nuns mostly but every once in a while we had to have a regular person. I had Mrs. McNamara for 4th Grade. This is 5th Grade with Sister Andrea. It was one of my best academic years because she took an interest in me. I got all”c’s” but unlike the public schools we called the “3’s.” I don’t know why they did it that way,but I often talked with my friends about it. Notice that the girls all wore uniforms everyday. The boys didn’t. I wonder why? Anyway, I was never a good student. I was lucky to get through a semester without a 4 or 5! which was like “d” and “f.” So this year was a good year for me. My folks always said that “average” was good enough. Rita was always above average, I was always below average. Dave was above average also in school. I think it was in 7th grade that I started to comb my hair real fancy. Dad didn’t like it. Mom thought it was cute. Few of the kids at school combed their hair like I did, but I wanted to be cool, so I put the wave in my hair. I kept it through 8th grade and then got a hollywood before I started High School. That was a mistake. Holy Name was a prep school and they didn’t like it at all. It is probably what started me off on the wrong foot there.

I played football my 8th grade year and got to play in every game. I played both offense as a running back and scored several touchdowns throughout the season. I scored the winning one against Christ the King and made the game saving tackle while playing defense. I was pretty good! But I wasn’t very consistent. I had little discipline and if I didn’t feel motivated or if I didn’t want to I wouldn’t play very hard. I’ve always chocked it up to being a late bloomer. I think I was also. In 8th grade everyone’s voice was changing and they were shooting up. That never happened to me. Or if it did, it was after High School. It was probably the smoking. I started smoking whenI was 12 or 13 years old. I had a paper route in Florence and North Omaha and always had my own money. I bought my own snacks and my own cigarettes by the time I was 13. I have numerous old movies of my football games, but I didn’t post them. They are way too boring to watch, even for me!

Like most elementary schools we had our own graduation ceremony.  Dad took a few pictures but I have no movies. I do have movies of Rita graduation from Blessed Sacrament, but not of me. I don’t think I have any of Dave either. Anyway, I graduated, with very little fan fare and with a very unimpressive academic record. The last year was a good year. The summer after 8th grade was a great summer. I had the best time and dreaded looking forward to moving into the house onLake street and starting over again in High School. Iwanted to go to North High School. That’s where most of my friends were going to go and that’s where I wanted to go. But my folks woudn’t hear of it. Dad wanted us in Holy Name and bought a lot on 43rd and Lake and built a new house from Scratch so we all could go there. And we did!

There were some highlights of my early life that I don’t want to leave out that happened during these years. My Cousin Stevie Shively was a good friend. We’d hunt in the woods in Carter Lake and fish in any body of water we could find. I have numerous stories to tell about Stevie and me. That friendship lasted throughout myelementary years. I had a couple summers also, where I worked with Stevie in the fields of a truck farm in Iowa with Papke kids. During that Summer I spent most of my nights at Steve’s house. There were times when my parents didn’t see me for weeks, I believe. Dave was a lot younger than me, but he and Stevie were good friends too. Steve had a hard time dividing his time between us and I think he struggled over it a lot. Stevie is the boy on the far right in this picture.

Butch remained a good friend on and off through my elementary school years also. We did a lot of things together. We once snuck out dad’s boat from the North Missouri marina all by ourselves in the Missouri River. But the guy that ran the place caught us called the old man and we had to go home. We would ride our bikes everywhere in the summer. We had ridden all the way out past Hummel Park at that time and had to ride home. We’d go to Benson park, Fontenelle Park and all over the city on our bikes. I’d deliver the newspapers on my bike, we’d jump the hills, especially the golf greens, in miller park on our bikes even though the park manager told us not to do it. Butch and I would play at the Recreation summer, horseshoes, washers, tether ball, and there was a summer when four squares was the real rage. We played it every day and when the parks dept was closed we’d draw chalk squares in someone’s driveway or even in the streets. We played it every day that summer. I have to say in closing this section for now (There’s a lot more I could talk about ) that I had a wonderful childhood and I often get nostalgic thinking of the carefree days of summer and the fun with all my friends and the security in the home.  I’ll never forget the rootbeer floats with the family on the back porch in the summer times. The trips to Fort Calhoun to buy fireworks, the fishing at Miller Park and all the great music of the era. One day I’ll a section on the music and it’s influence in my life. But, now, it’s on to High school.