Lab School Boy

Posted on April 26, 2014

Lab school boy

Like most ISTC faculty kids , I went to the lab school. Classes were held right on campus. I went to kindergarten in a little school building where the UNI library is today. During recess John Fink and I would ride our tricycles down the campus sidewalks, whizzing by the Campanile. I don't think I learned much , but I rode that little red tricycle like the wind.

When it came time for elementary school, my teacher took my hand, and walked me down the sidewalk to Sabin Hall. My first grade class was in room 202. I remember the terrazzo floors and marble stairs. It took all my strength just to open the giant steel front door. When class let out each day, I would high-tail it out of class, running by the college green house, down the cinder path next to the Industrial Arts building where my dad taught, and through the Highway 58 underpass to my home in Sunset Village. A community of surplus WWII quonset huts.

In the early 1950's all the students transferred from Sabin Hall, to a new, ultra-modern school on the corner of Campus and 19th street. It was a beautiful building. It had a huge playground, lockers for every kid, and desks made out of something called Formica. You could even open the windows. . The new school was swell. All the kids just called it "the Campus School".

I remember there were two parts of each school day I liked the most. The first was lunch.

There were three ways to grab lunch. First, the normal the basement cafeteria. You grabbed a divided tray, and prayed for something edible . The only stuff I can remember was a huge slab of baloney still in the red casing. At the end of the line was bread and milk. I always grabbed some raisin bread. You see, on the cafeteria ceiling, there were these twelve inch acoustical tiles...with little holes all over. And if you were good, really good, you could pick the raisins out of your bread, put them on a spoon, and sling those suckers up to the ceiling...hoping they would stick in one of the little holes. I was pretty good at it, until I got caught by Dr. Brimm, the principal.

It never seemed like the teachers cared where anyone was during lunch period, so occasionally Dave Hanawalt and I would walk over to his house on 22nd st, next to Dry Run creek. His mom would fix us peanut butter and grape jelly sandwiches on Wonder bread. If Dave and I had some spare time, after lunch, we would head down to Ruxlow's market for a Hostess cupcake. or run by the filling station on the corner for a cold Pepsi filled with salted peanuts.

Now there was still another place for lunch. Down on 19th street, just before you got to Bill Thalman's house, there was Mrs.Isley's grocery. . It was really a converted room in her two story house. She always had great stuff to spend your pennies on. I remember one candy in particular. It was 1957, and the Russians just shot off Sputnik...and there on Mrs.Isley's candy counter was a brand new box of silver Sputnik bubble gum balls.. I bought three.

Now, even better than lunch was student patrol. To this day, I don't know why I was picked for such a responsible job, after all I was a ninety pound weakling. But for some reason Mr. Mazulas chose me. Now student patrol was very important. You had to take care of all those little kids crossing the street. They gave you a white belt and everything. It even had a metal badge. It was so neat, you even got out of school early. But it gets better. Mr. Mazola said we had to work in pairs....and I was assigned the cutestl girl in school....Cherryl Stamp. She had a lot of freckles. Now you see why it was the best part of my school day!

When I was in forth grade, something happened that changed my life forever. I was not a particularly good student. I remember the grading was (H) (S) and (U) 's. I don't remember what the (H) stood for, because I don't think I ever got one. My teacher was Dr. Housher. He knew I was struggling, so one day, he put a box on my desk. It was a crystal radio Heath kit. I'm sure he bought it with his own money.

He told me to take it home and build it, and then bring it back to class and we would all listen to it together. Maybe I wasn't great at school, but I could build anything. When I brought it back to class, Dr. Hosier rigged up an antenna, from our second floor classroom out to the playground basketball hoop. We all listened to Jim Zabel on clear channel WHO Des Moines. Even Janet Poppy the new girl in class was impressed.

The Campus School days were magical times. It's funny how images can bring back vivid memories of lasting friendships...after school, Les Farr and I used to stop by George's next to the Hub on College Hill. We would sit in a booth with Barb Freese and eat home-made potato chips with a vanilla coke.... and even though I couldn't dance, I still went to Saturday night Teen Time downtown on 3rd street. I always got my hair cut by Kristi Anderson's dad at the College Hill Barber shop, and I remember Delmar Heth's black 40' Ford with moon hubcaps. And of course, who could forget the Hill Crest Drive-In. I lived right across hi-way 57 from it. I was always sneaking in the back way.

My biggest regret was not completing high school at the Campus school. My family and I left Cedar Falls, at the end of my freshman year. It was hard to wave good-bye to kids I knew my whole life.

A few years later, I did return to Cedar Falls, to start college at SCI. I remember my first class was freshman humanities...... in Sabin Hall room 202.

Bill Wagner



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  1. Sandi Lewis Suddaby | Apr 19, 2016
    Bill Wagner:  I was class of 1954, the new school was just finished that year - and the cafeteria was quite the thing - better than the bologna sandwich and Twinkies I carried all the other years.  My grandfather had the College Hill Barbershop - I'd beg some money from him for a snack - he often took me to lunch at the Nip N Sip cafe on the Hill.  Dr. Brimm was our principal and called a few of us in one day, said we were the cream of the crop; i.e. the scum that rises to the top.  Was thrilled along with a very few classmates to receive a 4 year scholarship to ISTC  Also Honor Society - my dad who also attended there was in the same chapter.  Had a few other nice awards - as drum majorette I loved marching band - and yes H is for High, S for Satisfactory and U for Unsatisfactory.  Luckily I had almost all H's.  I loved school - college not so much.    Hope you've had a good life, all of you reading this.  I think we had a special time there in Cedar Falls.  
  2. Robyn Stokstad | Jan 28, 2016
    Bill, I loved hearing the Dr Hosier story, he was one of my favorites, and I think he brought out the best in each of us. Like Janet, as you described things and places it brought back great memories of classmates and special times. I too loved those homemade potato chips and Teen Time, as well as noon dancing.
    How very fortunate we all were to have attended this wonderful school where all our teachers were professors teaching us, and also teaching student teachers.  I love it that some of the students went on to become teachers themselves and a few even ended up back at the lab school teaching.  Thanks for sharing all the great memories
  3. Janet (Poppy) Davis | May 28, 2014
    Bill,  Thank you for all the wonderful memories!!! You have a MUCH better memory than I do, but as you described things & places, I'd say "Oh yeah!  I remember that!!"  especially the homemade potato chips on College Hill. :)

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