When I Was Young

1. Do you (or your parents) have any memorabilia from when you were a baby? (ie. baby book, lock of hair, first shoes etc.)
1. My mother had a baby book, called the “Log-of-Life” for both my sister and me, one of those commercial ones with the padded cover that has my baby footprints and hand prints in it. It also had a “birth Certificate” issued by the hospital, and signed by the doctor who delivered me. It even has a page signed by the attending RN that lists ALL of my measurements, not just height and weight, but includes 16 different measurements, like circumference of my ankle, etc. And yes it does have a lock of my hair.
2. Do you know if you were named after anyone?
1. I was named after a neighbor farmer who my folks thought a lot of and lived and farmed across the road from us. His name was Kurtiss, Forsberg but my folks felt that it would be better if they spelled my name differently since we lived so close to them in a small community and didn’t want the confusion, so my name is spelled Curtis.
3. And do you know of any other names your parents might have named you?
1. I think I remember my mother saying if I had been a girl I would have been named Barbara.
4. What is your earliest memory?
1. My earliest memory is about when I knocked myself out sawing a board. See question #13 for the explanation of that memory. Most of my early memories are not my memories but the stories my mother told me about what I had done.
5. Did your parent/s (or older siblings) read, sing or tell stories to you? Do you remember any of these?
1. I know my mother read stories to me, but the only one I really remember was “The Gingerbread Man”. I think that was probably because of an incident when I was three years old. I had gone to the hen house with my mother to gather eggs. Apparently, according to my mother I took off and she didn’t notice for awhile. When she discovered that I was gone, she went to get my dad in the milk barn and he started after me in our pickup. By that time, according to my mom, I was over a half mile away with my pet dog, and she could only see my stocking hat over the wheat in the field. She says that when my dad caught up, I just stepped out of the way of the pickup so it could keep going, and I kept running myself. When my dad actually caught me and got me in the pickup, I apparently asked him to take me to the riverbed. When I got home, I got a thorough spanking and since I loved the story of the Gingerbread Man, they told me that the fox who ate the Gingerbread Man lived in the riverbed and I never ran away again.
6. When you were young, do you remember what it was that you wanted to grow up to be?
1. I wanted to build things, like roads and bridges etc. as a Civil Engineer.
7. Did you have a favourite teacher at school?
1. My music teacher in grade school, 5th – 7th grade was Lucille Forsberg. When I was a child I was about as tone deaf as possible. My teacher could never get me to recognize any particular tone. She was always very patient with me, even scheduling special tutoring sessions after school with me. She never got me to recognize or hum any tone. I just couldn’t do it, but she never gave up on me and always encouraged me to keep trying. That encouragement was what makes me call her my favorite teacher. Throughout grade school, I joined in every singing group I could because I did love music but for the most part I was always totally off key.
2. When I was in high school I sang in the chorus and also started playing the baritone. It was a B-flat baritone and as my instructor worked with us to tune the baritone each day I began to “feel” the tonal vibrations in my mouth and throat, and that is when I began to be able to hum various tones as I then could mimic the vibrations I felt and learned to recognize when the vibrations felt the same as my baritone.
3. I never gave up singing and as an adult I sang in the church choirs as often as I could. For years I always had to either be sitting next to a strong baritone/base singer, or close to the piano, so I could feel the vibrations and match them.
4. The reason I am telling this longer story is because years later when I attended my parents 50th wedding anniversary celebration, my sister and her children, who were excellent singers, sang several songs. I had specifically asked them to let me sing with them also, which I did. My favorite teacher, Mrs. Forsberg was in attendance, and afterwards made a special point to congratulate me for sticking with singing all those years and it made me so happy that I was able to validate her efforts as she had worked with me back in my tone deaf years.
8. How did you get to school?
1. When I was in the 1st, 2nd grades, I walked from our farm about 1 1/2 mile to school. In the 3rd and 4th grade, we had moved to a different town a few miles away and I either walked to school or rode my bicycle. Then we moved back to the farm and I again walked, or rode my bicycle those same 1 1/2 miles. When I was in the 8th grade, our school consolidated with another school and I started riding a school bus. I did that though out high school except sometimes I drove once I had a drivers license.
9. What games did playtime involve?
1. Growing up on a farm I rarely played any games as we were too busy working. However, one year we did get a badminton set and I tried to play some with my sister (two years younger than me) but she hated the game so we never really played it more than once or twice. We did have some board games, but as a child I had a very jealous relationship with my sister and we never got along playing any games so playing games didn’t happen very often.
10. Did you have a cubby house?
1. When I was living in town for my 3rd and 4th grade years, one of my good friends had a clubhouse in the loft of their family garage, and we a “club” their which included a couple of my cousins and a couple of close friends.
11. What was something you remember from an early family holiday?
1. Until I was in the 5th grade, my Swisher aunts and uncles always got together for Christmas and each of us drew names and exchanged presents. Those were fun events. In the summer before my 5th grade, there was a family argument and we never had Christmas together again.
12. What is a memory from one of your childhood birthday’s or Christmas?
1. One of the few memories I have of my Grandma Swisher was when we had our family Christmas gathering in the early years. I remember her laughing and enjoying everyone. She died when I was four, so that is also one of my earliest memories.
13. What childhood injuries do you remember?
1. As a young child I loved to build things. As a farmer my dad was always building things and I loved to help. However, I would love to build things by myself and when I was approximately four or five years old, I went out to my dad’s work shop and put a board in the vise. I climbed up on the work bench and sat down on the board and proceeded to saw the end of the board off. However I sawed the board off between me and the vise. When the board separated, I fell backwards to the concrete floor and knocked myself out. When I came to, I went into the house and my mother wanted to know why I looked so pale. I never forgot that lesson.
2. When I was in the 3rd grade I was playing on a merry-go-round with iron bars that you could stand up and hold onto. Since you could get real dizzy doing so, it was not uncommon to lose ones balance and fall on the merry-go-round. In fact that is what happened one day and I fell directly onto one of those bars and split my tongue very badly. Blood was gushing from my mouth (I’m sure I thought I was losing a lot more blood than I really was) and my teacher told me the best thing I could do was keep my mouth shut and to not talk and it would be OK. Later when I arrived home after school, my mother became concerned when I wouldn’t tell her how my day went. She tried several times to get me to talk, but I just kept shaking my head and refused to talk. Eventually she got me talk, and of course by then, my tongue and mouth were fine, but I’m not sure how close my mother came to a heart attack because I was not known for being a quite child.
14. What was your first pet?
1. My pet dog was named Boots. He went everywhere with me. I still remember when he died and I remember the spot under a tree where we buried him. We moved away at the end of my second grade, so that was sometime before then. He was the dog who went with me at the age of three when I ran away to the river bed.
15. Did your grandparents, or older relatives tell you stories of “when I was young ..?”
1. Most of the stories I remember them telling me was not of what I did, but what my dad did. My aunt Vergie, told me that when my dad was suppose to start school in the first grade, that he didn’t want to go so when he got to school (a one room county school), one of the first things he did was lock the teacher in the coal shed, and then ran home, and refused to go back to school that year. She says it wasn’t until the next year that he started school, and then he never missed a day and got an award at 8th grade graduation for perfect attendance through all eight grades. I heard that story many times. My dad has always been known for being stubborn.
16. What was entertainment when you were young?
1. My early entertainment was exploring the farm on my own, and building things. My folks were too busy farming to spend time playing games etc. I do know that we had a TV that they watched but I don’t remember watching it until I was in the 5th grade.
17. Do you remember what it was it like when your family got a new fangled invention? (ie. telephone, TV, VCR, microwave, computer?)
1. I remember in one of the sheds next to our farm house, there were a whole bunch of large objects (later I learned they were big dry cell batteries) with all kinds of wires going from one to another. I always wondered what they were and my folks later told me that they were backup power for the electricity for our house. That would have been somewhere between 1947 and 1955. Apparently ours was one of the first houses in the area to get electricity. I don’t think they were still in use then, but I remember being intrigued by what they were.
18. Did your family have a TV? Was it b&w or colour? And how many channels did you get?
1. I know we had a TV in our first farm home, and in the 2nd city home. But what I remember the most is the TV we had in our 3rd home which we moved into when I was in the 5th grade. It was a black and white, and I remember my aunt Marjorie (my mom’s sister) and Uncle Harold coming over and “installing” the multi-colored cellophane sheet on top of the TV screen, therefore colorizing the TV. It was like a several bands of pastel colors covering the screen from top to bottom. You had blue at the top, green somewhere below, and red farther down, or some combination of colors, I don’t remember what order they were in. How in the world did we ever think that was “color TV”! As for the programs, the only one that I remember that we watched was Gunsmoke, as that was my dad’s favorite show.
19. Did your family move house when you were young? Do you remember it?
1. My folks owned a hundred acre farm and my dad also worked full time in civil service, so they were very busy doing the chores, raising cattle, hogs, chickens, and milking cows, as well as farming the ground, so my dad decided he wanted to quit doing everything but farming the ground. So he sold the 17 acres of the part of the farm that had all of the buildings and we moved to town, about 10 miles away, which is where most of my Swisher relatives lived.
2. After two years in town, my dad was miserable and he decided he wanted to go back to the farm and raise more animals. So in the summer between my 4th grade and 5th grade years, we built our first new home. I remember helping the hired carpenters as they built it. The electrician took me under his wing and taught me how to wire electrical plugs and switches. Later on in life I put that training to good use, as I spent over eighteen years as an electrician.
3. After we built that first home, my folks proceeded to build more buildings to raise animals in. I was actively involved in those building projects and by the time I graduated from high school, we had built over thirteen buildings. I always did want to build things and you can say I got my way.
20. Was your family involved in any natural disasters happening during your childhood (ie.fire, flood, cyclone, earthquake etc)
1. Our farm was in the middle of Kansas where you could see for miles, so tornadoes were a common occurrence. However from the time we moved to our new farm home when I was in the 5th grade, every time a storm came up I had terrible nightmares in which I would see a tornado bearing down on our home and I would be desperately clawing my way across the floor as the floor was tipping upward. Shades of the Wizard of Oz. Those nightmares came so often and were so severe that I finally had to find a way to stop them. So when I was in the eighth grade I asked my mother if I had ever seen a tornado up close. She then told me about a time when we were visiting my Grandma Swisher in the middle of the summer. The evening was one of those very hot and sultry evenings and we had the front door to grandma’s house open with only the screen door in place. I was standing in front of the screen door looking out and my mother says I turned ghostly pale. At the same time they heard what sounded like the train going by. Just a few minutes later the neighbors came seeking shelter as a tornado had just torn their house down. I must have seen it happen. After hearing that story, I never had another nightmare about tornadoes, ever.
2. We did have several close calls with tornadoes on our farm. One tornado actually lifted one of our granary off its foundation and moved it a little ways.
21. Is there any particular music that when you hear it, sparks a childhood memory?
1. “The Field Artillery Song” by John Phillip Sousa in 1917, which was originally called the “Caisson Song” written in 1908. That song was one of the first songs I played on my baritone when I started band as a freshman in high school. I loved being in band and marching in parades. I still love hearing that song.
22. What is something that an older family member taught you to do?
1. My uncle Harold was a long haul trucker. We moved my grandmother Donal into a house near us one year and I watched my uncle put thirteen straight back chairs in a Rambler station wagon. I was amazed then and to this day I still have a hard time believing how he got them all in that station wagon. As I helped him move my grandmother he taught me how to pack and I have put it to good use as throughout my adult life, my wife and I have moved twenty times.
23. What are brands that you remember from when you were a kid?
1. Quaker Oats. We always had hot cereal and it was always Quaker Oats.
24. Did you used to collect anything? (ie. rocks, shells, stickers … etc.)
1. My Lady minister taught me about stamp collecting when I was in the 5th grade and I collected stamps for several years.
25. Share your favourite childhood memory.
1. This one leads into the next question. I raised a hog and won reserve grand champion at the local county fair, which then was sold for a huge amount of money as local business men bid on the champion animals like at a livestock auction, but had much higher price bids than market prices. I still remember that I could not believe how much I got for that hog, but I don’t remember now what the total was that I got.
2. Also I was in a tractor driving contest at the fair, with about eight or ten other kids. We had a written test, then a troubleshooting test, and a driving test where we had to pull a two wheel trailer through a course, then back it into a stall. We also had to do the same with a four wheel trailer. Myself and one other kid were so far ahead of the others that it was no contest against them. However the other kid, Loren Johnson, a good friend of mine from school, were neck and neck throughout the contest. In the end, he beat me by one point. I still feel real good about that contest, because he went on to place 4th in the national competition.
26. Clubs I belong to as a child.
1. One of my friends invited me to a scout meeting once, and also invited me to join with him in a baseball league. I only went one time to each, and since my dad was not much for sports or scouting, I had no transportation and so never went again. However, everyone around us who farmed were involved in 4-H and we were no exception. Even my dad supported it. I was in 4-H from the 5th grade until I graduated from high school. Back then there was a real effort to instill parliamentary procedure in us, and the ability to lead a meeting. Our club was one of the better ones and I remember our club winning several contests in how to run a meeting Those contests were called “Model Meeting”. I’m not sure that kids these days are taught how to run a meeting a t that kind of level. Of course I had many various projects in 4-H such as gardening, hogs, woodworking, and tractor maintenance among others. I won many championship awards. 4-H taught me a lot about leadership that I still use today.
27. Schools I attended.
1. My first school was Mentor Grade School which I attended my 1st and 2nd grades. We had two different classes, 1st through 4th in one classroom and 5th through 8th in the other. My class had four kids in it.
2. When we moved to Gypsum my class size for the 3rd and 4th grade jumped up to about 25 or so kids.
3. We moved back to Mentor where I attended 5th through 7th grade, with the class size again a total of 4 kids.
4. Mentor Grade School consolidated with Assaria Grade School and I attended Assaria in the 8th grade. That class had 27 kids in it. I continued all four years of high school at Assaria High School.
5. The year after I graduated from high school, I went to a brand new vo-tech school called Salina Area Vo-Tech School and I studied Farm Machinery Repair and Maintenance and graduated with a diploma from there. As it was a brand new school, I was elected to be on the first student council and was instrumental in helping sit the student policies for the school and plan all school events, like the first annual school dance. That to me was quite an honor.
6. After I graduated from Vo-Tech school, I went on to Kansas State College of Pittsburg (now University of Pittsburg) and graduated in 1970 with a Bachelor of Science in Education degree.
7. Five years later I started work on a Masters degree at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City, MO, and earned a Master of Religious Education degree in 1980.

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