Those Places Thursday
By Don Taylor
I attended Cambridge Elementary School for about half of my second-grade school year.
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.
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.