The Three Musketeers
by By Jim Rowlands (November 1, 2018)
Tim Eads, Bruce Johnson, and Jim Rowlands can best be described as the Three Musketeers – “One for All and All for One.” We all grew up on East Fairview with Tim and Bruce living across the street from me. Growing up during the 1950’s presented a cornucopia of new and exciting experiences. Like all boys, we would play from sun-up to sun-down on occasion getting into all sorts of mischief from stealing cherries from a neighbor’s tree to annoying certain un-cool neighbors who constantly harassed us for the slightest breech of good behavior (i.e. cutting through their yards – playing too loud.)
The “three-some” did everything in concert from sledding and snowball fights in the winter to playing “Kick-the-Can” or Capture-the-Flag till the summer sun went down. Winter or summer, one of the coolest things we did was to go down to the Stillwater River which was only a block from our houses. After crossing Riverside Drive, the river and its accompanying woods presented countless hours of childhood adventures.
Other than Christmas and birthdays the one day that we all looked forward to was Halloween. We were never into elaborate costumes because that might somehow detract from our goal of collecting as much candy as humanly possible. Prearranged, we would meet in front of my house at approximately 6:00 pm. to begin our night of “Trick or Treating.” Racing from house to house, our ambition was to hit as many houses as possible and in the process, accumulate as many goodies as time would allow. Woe to the houses that did not give out candy because they had to face the wrath of three boys that did not take kindly to the neighborhood “cheap-skates.” As was tradition at the end of the night, I had to pay a “Halloween Tax” to my brothers who took a few choice pieces of candy but there was still a mountain of treats left that would last me for weeks.
Another key day on the calendar was the last day of school. As soon as the 3:00 o’clock dismissal bells hang; I would race home to hook up with Tim and Bruce to set in motion our summer vacation. We now had the entire summer free to do whatever we wanted. There were a few exceptions: chores, church, baseball practices/games, and our family vacations.
As the summer wore on Tim, Bruce and I established a daily routine of activities. As for me, I would begin each day playing basketball at E.J. Brown until heat and hunger drove me home. By mid-afternoon we would all congregate at Bruce’s house to plan out the rest of the day. The first thing was a given. We would all hop on our bikes and head up the street to “Cosler’s Drugstore” to indulge in a large milkshake or a cherry coke. After that, the day could be filled with Home Run Derby (using a Wiffle ball), riding our bikes all over the neighborhood, going to Brown School to play four square or tether ball, exploring the river all the way up to Siebenthaler Bridge, or just hanging out talking boy stuff.
One thing I did once a week was jump on my bike and check out the neighborhood trash that was set out for pick-up. I found lots of neet stuff from old jewelry, to a number of fancy wine and whiskey decanters that I gave to my Aunt. But perhaps the coolest treasure I uncovered was an old ornate box filled with lots of old U.S. coins. Another one of my trash treasure’s were two WW Two bayonets.
One day the “three-amigos” decided to build a big fort using large refrigerator boxes in Bruce’s backyard. The fort took us a few days to construct but if I say so myself, it was a “thing of beauty.” However Bruce’s dad said it was an “eyesore” and he eventually had to pay someone to haul it away, -but not before we had weeks of fun out of it.
Adding to the joy of summer, every week the three of us would go down to the local “Dale Theater” to see a movie and then head up the street to grab a burger and fries at Marion’s. On special occasions we would take the “Number 7” bus down town to the Victoria Theater to see the latest big screen movie. We always went there because my cousin Alice worked the ticket booth and she would let us in free. (The popcorn and candy we had to pay for.) After the movie, we would wander over to Woolworth’s Soda Fountain or, during Christmas season, we would make a special trip to see the animated window Christmas display at the Rike-Kumler Store. That was always a spellbinding and magical experience for us three.
However, with the calendar turning to September; as it always did, it signaled summer vacation was rapidly coming to an end and school was about to start.
But as the years wore on, our care-free days of elementary school and summer high-jinks would come to an end when Tim and I set off for our first days of high school at Colonel White. Bruce, being a year behind us, would be joining us at Colonel White the following year.
Our high school years would expose us to many new and different activities and thus our field of friends began to expand beyond just us three. Despite our expanding worlds, Tim and I would remain best friends throughout our high school days and beyond.
At the end of my freshman year, a new threesome was formed when Tim introduced me to his grade school friend John Graham. John or Ernie as we called him would become our new best buddy (I feel another friendship story raising up inside me.) Now the new three-some of Tim, John, and I would be inseparable throughout our high school days and after. College, War, Marriage, Family and Work would ultimately separate us – but our memories would keep us friends for ever.
Dedicated to Bruce and Tim – “Thanks for the Friendships”