Cambridge Elementary School – 1957

My Life
Those Places Thursday
By Don Taylor

I attended Cambridge Elementary School for about half of my second-grade school year.

1928 photo of the Cambridge State Hospital.

My mom worked at the Cambridge State Hospital in 1957. Photo c. 1928 courtesy Minnesota Historical Society

We moved to Cambridge during the summer of 1957. My mother had gotten a job at the Cambridge State Hospital. We lived several miles outside of town in a place almost ideal for a seven-year-old boy.  It was an old farmhouse, about a quarter of a mile off the road. There was fallow farmland surrounding the house and woods, with a creek, behind the house, maybe an eighth of a mile away. I would go down to the creek and play with the turtles and other critters I found there. We had an electric pump for water indoors, an eight-party telephone line where our ring was two longs, a short, and a long, and an outhouse. An old hand pump was still there for a backup, but we didn’t use it much. We did keep a jug of water to prime it just in case.  We had yellow-jackets in the attic; luckily, they didn’t seem to come into the house too much.

I didn’t have any friends to play with there.  I remember there were a couple of kids who lived in a farmhouse about a mile or so away. So, Cambridge was a place where I learned to play by myself. My mom went to work to bring home a paycheck, and my grandmother did the housekeeping.

Photo of Cambridge Elementary School

Cambridge Elementary School – Photo Credit: Cambridge Isanti Schools

After a summer of being mostly along, I was excited to meet other kids at Cambridge Elementary School. I remember walking a couple hundred feet to the farm parameter road then down to the school bus stop at the paved highway. The school was an old brick building.  I recall it had a huge school-yard for kids to play in.  While there, we were playing tag and some kid tagged me too hard; I fell, hitting my shoulder and breaking my collarbone. The collarbone didn’t heal properly and was growing wrong. As I recall, they said in another few weeks the bone would grow out of the skin. Anyway, a month or so after the initial break I went into the hospital, had the bone rebroken and then set surgically. I think I spent most of my time at Cambridge Elementary in a sling.

That fall, my grandmother, Donna, was sitting in the outhouse when a snake came crawling out from down below.  She freaked out totally.  The yellow-jackets in the attic were bad, but snakes in the outhouse were just too much (even if it was only a garter snake). My mother got a job at Anoka State Hospital, and we moved to Anoka. Thanks to a journal found in the Donna Darling Collection, I learned that we were definitely in Cambridge by June 1957, so I know we spent the entire summer of ’57 there. I also learned that the house rent was $35/month.

 

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