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In our Small Town, middle school wasn’t called Middle School when I was in the middle. I went to Junior High, Grades 7 and 8. I learned science in 7th Grade and diagramming sentences and writing in 8th Grade.

In 7th Grade I went out for basketball and in 8th Grade football. I discovered athletic prowess was not my forte, although I was pretty good at dodge ball.

In 8th Grade I was assigned the last seat in the last row in the corner, adjacent to an enormous old sash window on the building’s second floor. In those days we still opened windows. No AC, no screens, no lock-down-safety standards put in place by bureaucrats afraid a kid didn’t have enough sense not to jump out a window. Throughout the fall and spring I hung halfway out that window watching the street action, and during the winter I reveled in my special status as keeper –of-the-window-on-the-world.

Our 8th Grade teacher was the epitome of cool. His name was the wonderfully alliterate Chuck Chippi. Mr. Chippi, what a great name. He was an excellent and popular teacher who later capped his career as the district’s superintendent. He let me enjoy the back corner seat and hang out that window because, frankly, I was a good student.

Mr. Chippi could diagram any sentence ever written and apparently took great joy in this. So we all learned more grammar and syntax than we thought necessary for the pursuit of happiness Jefferson had said was our inalienable right.

Around this time I remember the first time my family went to Burger Chef, a new kind of restaurant where the service was quick, the prices low, and the food pretty good. Burgers and fries, what could be more American than this? It was the beginning of along relationship.

We didn’t know it then, but 8th Grade in 1965-66 teetered at the edge of a cultural innocence soon to be gone forever. Losing JFK was a terrible shock, but what stood before us in the next decade would be even worse than the violent loss of a popular president.

An interminable war in southeast Asia that caused us to turn on our own homecoming troops, more political assassinations, social unrest and riots in Watts and many other neighborhoods, a counter-cultural revolution that exalted love and peace over war but left us with hallucinogenic drugs, STDs, and moral relativism, college students gunned down at Kent State by National Guard troops, and eventually, a president resigning in disgrace. It was a “long national nightmare” as President Gerald Ford later described the Watergate scandal.

I was oblivious to this in the fall of 1965. But by the next fall when I entered high school things had changed enough I’d begun to notice. Each night when I came home from school I heard Vietnam War (“the living room war”) body counts on our black and white Philco TV and I watched “Star Trek.” This jarring juxtaposition continued throughout most of my high school years, and later a few boys from our town didn’t come home. An older high school friend who survived a tour in Vietnam was forced to shoot a child approaching a group of American soldiers with grenades strapped to his chest.

There’s so much more to the sixties we’re only beginning to understand the ripple effects. Small Town seemed insulated for a while, but it couldn’t last. Transistor radios came to our town and The British Invasion came to "The Ed Sullivan Show."


© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2010

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Dr. Rogers or read more commentary on current issues and events at or follow Dr. Rogers at



I came of age in a town with a Rexall drugstore. I can still see the classic orange and navy sign spelling the word in white neon. The store had one aisle but everything we needed.

Our town had a grocery store, two barbers, beauty salons, a shoe repair shop, local mechanics, and two ice cream stands. There were 12 churches and 13 beer joints, or about that. A sign at the edge of town said “3,000 Friendly People.”

Our Small Town lay along north-running Wills Creek, a stream that twists its way amidst the gentle, southern Ohio hills that still give the area its signature beauty. It wasn’t a big creek, but it was our body of water.

Small Town was a place where everyone went to church, or at least it seemed so. If you didn’t, people knew it and thought you were on the road to perdition.

We knew the baker, the barber, the grocer, the Police Chief. We knew where to get the best milkshakes, where a baseball game was always in play, and where to fish for catfish at “The Rocks” at the lake (an astounding six miles away).

Kids ran free but not wild. “It takes a village,” Hillary said, and conservatives pilloried her for it. But in our Small Town it was a lot like that. Do something you shouldn’t do and someone else’s Mother likely told you to straighten up or she’d call your Mom, who of course, she’d gone to high school with.

The only people wearing tattoos in Small Town were a few veteran sailors from the big war. The only people with un-naturally colored hair were a couple of elderly blue-haired ladies at the church. Drugs, when I was growing up, were something you bought at the Rexall to help cure your cough.

In Small Town, our elementary school was classically named for a Nineteenth Century President. I attended Lincoln Elementary School on Fifth Street. All the school buildings of my youth were made of dark red brick that screamed “Stability and Truth.” Two of those school buildings are still standing, relics of an ancient past.

In a wonderful symmetry I recognized only later my 1st Grade homeroom teacher was named Mrs. Holmes. I remember her as nice, thin, and that’s about it. But she taught me to read.

In 2nd Grade, I experienced the single greatest moral moment of my life, a tale I’ll reserve for another time.

I watched for steel pennies in the lunch money I helped collect in the 3rd Grade, learned geography in 4th Grade, figured fractions in 5th Grade, and was standing on the playground in 6th Grade when we got the news of JFK’s assassination.

When news from Dallas reached adult ears teachers quickly herded us into the main entrance hall. For the next couple of hours all students from grades four to six watched a small black and white television, the only one in the school, set high on a rolling cart. I don’t remember what I saw on TV, but I remember teary-eyed teachers, whispering adults, and a pervading quiet in the hall like we’d never known before. Two days later I watched Jack Ruby shoot Lee Harvey Oswald on live television.

Later that year on the same playground I watched my first and to this day only “Girl Fight.” I remember one of the girl’s names yet today. Of the girls in my class she was the last one I would’ve ever thought capable of this. She and the other unfortunate went at it fang and claw for several minutes until large-bodied adults corralled them. It was quite a show. I imagine others on that playground remember it too. Forgive me for smiling as I write.


© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2010

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Dr. Rogers or read more commentary on current issues and events at or follow Dr. Rogers at