Dick Vonada

The Most Awful Class at Garden Home School

Our home was on SW 83rd, which was then called Orchard because of the apple and peach orchards growing along each side of the lane. My parents moved here from Portland in the 1940’s and my Dad built our house sometime around 1947 or 1948. When I was a kid the west side of the lane was mostly undeveloped and there were pheasants living in the field. It was a great place to grow up, as there were woods to explore, the creek to play in and lots of neighborhood kids to play with.

There was a hitching post still standing near the school entrance when I started school in the early 1950’s. I became part of a class composed mostly of boys. There were six girls in the class and for the next eight years the boys always outnumbered the girls by a wide margin. The class gained a reputation as a difficult class to control and by the time we graduated the teachers and staff must have breathed a sigh of relief. Leonard Gustafson was the principal and our eighth grade teacher. He was a nice fellow and kind of quiet in demeanor. By the end of that year he had completely lost his voice from yelling at us to keep us under control. It was so bad he couldn’t speak and had to have someone else come in and do the lessons. At our Graduation Mr. Leonard got up and told everyone there that this was absolutely the worst class of kids he had ever had in his whole career! He told everyone we were awful! And we were awful; there is no doubt about it.

7th grade class, Garden Home School. Dick Vonada, 2nd from right, first row, 1957

1957 Garden Home School, 7th grade. Dick Vonada, 2nd from right, first row.

The Great BB Gun Caper

Down at the end of Orchard Lane, off in the woods, there was this old shack. We played there a lot. This would have been about 1958. One day someone had this brainstorm: we could get together to have a BB gun war! We divided up the group with everyone living on the east side of Oleson Road on one side and everyone living on the west side Of Oleson Road on the other side. One Friday after school when our parents were still working and our moms were busy, and we figured they wouldn’t have a clue what we were doing, we all got together in Gordy Johnson’s garage. We were dressed in long pants and long sleeved shirts to protect our bodies. Then we thought that we needed to protect our faces. To do this we made masks out of tin coffee cans flattened with openings for our eyes. Ready, we marched down to the woods. There were probably 30 of us, virtually every guy in our school at that time.

These were the rules. If a BB hit you you were out, meaning you had to drop out of the game. We were preempting paint-ball battles! Anyway, one group got inside the shack down there and the others were outside, and then someone said,” OK, Let’s go!” and everyone started shooting BB’s. After awhile, someone shouted, “Change sides!” and those of us inside the shack moved outside and those outside, moved into the shack. The BB’s were going every which way. We knew if our parents ever found out about it we were going to be in hot water big time! But we decided we could do this for a couple of hours and then we could slip home and no would ever know what happened. And that would have worked except for the fact that a few kids got hit in the face. The tin masks didn’t work as well as we hoped! The BBs left big time welts.

All seemed to be going well until one of the parents got wind of what was happening and the word got out. I think someone told Mr. Gustafson. Parents started showing up and we were busted! This was absolutely the talk of the community. We really hadn’t thought having a BB war was such a bad thing. In those days everyone had BB guns. We figured no one would die from getting shot with a BB. But our parents knew better. Everyone was grounded for a length of time and some of us got paddled for it.

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