My family moved to Royal Oak from
Chicago in October, 1950, just shy of my 14th birthday.
We lived in a house at 1023 Cedar Hill Dr., situated in the second block east of the Grand Trunk railroad tracks.
I attended Royal Oak High School on Washington – before it was renamed Royal Oak Dondero – from October, 1950 until I graduated in May, 1954. Looking back, I remember with much fondness teachers like: Mrs. Rowe, Miss Broomfield, Miss Shultes, Mr. Monte and, my favorite, Mrs. Miller. The latter really challenged us.
Funny story about Mrs. Miller. She could cuss like a longshoreman. Some 25 years after I had graduated and hadn't seen Mrs. M. in the intervening years we met on the street one night. I was helping my father with something when she and her husband came riding up on three-wheel bikes. I recognized her from a distance and mentioned to my father who she was. Before I could say anything to her, she said, ”Dick (my nickname through high school), you old”– I'll keep it clean – “so and so, how've you been? Well, with her recognition from so long ago, I almost dropped my teeth. My father couldn't believe what we had heard, either. After a few pleasantries, they were off again on their bikes.
Through high school, I usually had two regular part-time jobs. One was kennel boy at the North Main Animal Hospital, working for Dr. Francisco and his assistant, Marty. There I worked an hour or two each evening attending to boarded animals and cleaning up. The other was delivering newspapers for the Detroit Shopping News two days a week. I had a “home” route which was across the railroad tracks in the Vinsetta Park area. Additionally, I did extra routes Wednesdays and Saturdays.
Those were the days when minimum wage was .50 cents an hour. If you hustled doing a Shopping News route – we walked --you could do it in 45 minutes to an hour at $1.00 per route. Big money for a kid. By the time I was almost 17 I had saved more than $500 for college.
My two best friends were Chuck Creech and Rene Hamel.
They lived next door to one another on Pleasant – the second block South of 12 Mile Rd.
I met Chuck, my age, that first fall in Royal Oak I responded to an ad for a leaf raker posted on the school bulletin board. When I cycled up to the house in Huntington Woods – the home of Mrs. Erb of Erb Lumber – I was disappointed to see another boy had beaten me to the job. As it turned out he befriended the painfully shy kid I was and we did the job together. Then, he introduced me to the Shopping News where he was already employed, and to Rene, a year older, who also worked for the Shopping News.
The three of us became good social friends and work mates. We walked a whole lot of miles in Royal Oak and neighboring areas for the Shopping News and our good Supervisor, Fred Mulhauser. I was most fortunate to have them as friends.
Chuck, unfortunately no longer with us, was a Math teacher at Royal Oak Kimball High School. Rene, after a stint as a naval aviator, became a medical doctor. He still practices in Texas.
I attended Wayne State University briefly, before and after three years in the army. Later, I graduated from Eastern Illinois University. It was there that I met my soul mate, Betty. In the first 6 and a ½ years of marriage, we were blessed with five beautiful children – all single births. Today, we also have 9 grandchildren. Betty and I are now retired but quite busy volunteering.
By Rich Patton
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