I don’t remember how I met Brenda Stafford but she & I were best buds and lived in the same block. I lived on Sprigg and she lived on Ranney. We both went to May Greene School. I think she was a year older than me.
Brenda came from a large family. Her father had died before I met her. Her mother’s name was Gertrude. Gertrude was doing her best to raise her girls alone. The family had experienced a lot of sorrow before I ever came into the picture. Besides losing their father, they also lost their oldest sister, Patty, in a fatal 2-car collision coming home from the Trail of Tears area one summer. Here is a link to Patty’s obituary from the Southeast Missourian: http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=rxUpAAAAIBAJ&sjid=adcEAAAAIBAJ&dq=patricia%20stafford&pg=1411%2C342991 Brenda was also injured. Also, the next oldest sister, Janie, had life-threatening injuries. Patty’s fiancee was driving. He was not seriously injured. Patty was sitting in the middle of the front seat. I think the mother, Gertrude, was sitting on the passenger side of the front seat. She was not seriously injured. Their family dog, Prissy, was killed. Brenda and one of her younger sisters were in the back seat. There was one sister who was not in the car; I think it was Barbie, but my memory is foggy. I did not know the family at the time; the information I have was given to me by Brenda. There was a portrait of Patty hanging in their living room and she was a beautiful girl. Here is a link to an article in the Southeast Missourian referencing the injuries from the accident which occurred in July 1959: http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=phQpAAAAIBAJ&sjid=X9cEAAAAIBAJ&dq=gertrude%20stafford&pg=2545%2C3893884
Update: Article from Southeast Missourian dated July 6, 1959 http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=rhUpAAAAIBAJ&sjid=adcEAAAAIBAJ&dq=accident%20egypt%20mills%20road&pg=1125%2C265541
After the accident the remaining Stafford girls were: Janie (oldest), Brenda (next oldest), Barbie (second youngest), & Kitty (youngest).
As I wrote in my last post, Brenda & I had a profitable business working for the Webers doing household chores and picking up groceries for them. Brenda is the one who introduced me to the Webers, for which I am forever grateful. Brenda was bold and not afraid of anything it seemed.
As you can imagine, the Stafford house was a wild and crazy place, and I loved being in on the action. When their mom was at work, there would be music blaring, dogs running all over the house, and lots of girls in various stages of getting beautified; rollers in the hair, make-up being applied, outfits being tried on, all the things girls love to do. Of course, being sisters, there was also a good amount of arguing going on.
When Janie (the oldest & a teenager) had her friends over, Brenda & I would sneak around trying to see what they were up to. Janie would usually discover us and chase us out of the house.
Brenda & I were sort of in-between being little girls and being teenagers. Part of the time we were pretending to ride horses, and part of the time we were dancing on the back porch, doing the twist, the Mashed Potato, the Jitterbug, and the Wahtusi. Brenda had a wild streak and we sometimes got into trouble because whatever she suggested, I would go along with.
We had some friends who lived across the alley from Brenda; Rusty & David Goehring, I think were their names. They had a pool table in their basement and we would go over and play pool with them once in a while. One day Brenda & I happened to notice that the Goehring’s car was in the garage with the keys in the ignition. I think Brenda was about 10 yrs old and I was 9. We decided to go for a ride and hopped in the car. Brenda started it up and put it in reverse about the time Mr Goehring came running & yelling out of the house. Brenda stopped the car and we made a run for it down the alley. Of course, someone came after us and questioned us about the incident. And, of course, we lied and said that we had been collecting rocks all day and showed them the sacks full of rocks we conveniently had in our hands. I don’t remember where we got those sacks but I do remember quickly filling them with rocks from Hackberry Lane before anyone caught up with us.
The Staffords had a steep terrace in front of their house. In fact, most everyone in the south end of the neighborhood had a terrace. Ranney Street had very little traffic so we used Brenda’s terrace as a slide any time someone got a new washer or dryer that came in a huge box. One kid got in the box and the rest of the kids pushed it until it started sliding down the terrace. We took turns flying down that hill.
We also had go-kart races down the hill on Ranney in front of Brenda’s house. I have no idea where we got the go-karts, but it was a blast racing down that hill with the other kids cheering us on. At the bottom of the hill, the street ended and we would fly on past Hackberry Lane past Mr. Hilderman’s grocery store and into the open field next to the beer warehouse. Those were fun times. It is a wonder we never had any injuries.
There are many stories to tell of the neighborhood adventures Brenda & I had but many of them would be uninteresting to anyone except the South Sprigg Street kids.
In thinking about those long-ago days of summer, I actually feel sorry for the kids who didn’t live in our neighborhood, the ones who lived on the “right side of town”. I wonder if they have the fun memories that us poor kids have. I hope they do. One thing is for sure, none of us relied on technology for our good times. The great outdoors was all we needed.Please return for future articles or sign up for email updates in the column on the right side of the page. Did you live on or near South Sprigg? Did you perhaps go to May Greene School in the late 50’s or early 60’s? Do you know anyone else who lived or visited there during that time? If you would like to re-connect with some of the friends, neighbors, or classmates of that era and location, please let me know by comment below or by email to:
Thank you for reading!