Town and Country Cousins Form a Gang
My mom’s sister, Aunt Nora, lived in town. She married a police officer, Emil Johnson and had four kids: Marlys, Leone (Onie), Janet, and Roger. Mom dropped Clarence and me off there when she ran errands in town. Marlys was close in age to me and Onie was a few years younger. We’d all charge around together and had lots of fun.
They lived close to our church. On Sunday’s, we could walk over there after Sunday School while the adults attended church service. They went to First Lutheran, which was a block away from our church, Grace Lutheran. Marlys and Onie would pick me up, then we’d go to their house. Our raucous antics sometimes got us in trouble with Uncle Emil. He worked the night shift and would be trying to sleep. He’d holler at us to pipe down. Which we did for a little while … but soon the giggling would start again.
The Johnson’s had a second-floor apartment that they rented. But if they were between tenants, we could go up there and hang out. That was a lot of fun because we wouldn’t disturb Uncle Emil and felt sort of grown up.
In high school, I slept over there all the time. Marlys and Onie knew a lot of the city kids at school, so my social life expanded.
When I got involved in school activities, like the newspaper and yearbook, we ended up with a big gang of friends. I liked to write about what people at school were doing. (Of course, I had practice from riding around our neighborhood with Betty.)
Eventually, our gang merged with Jack’s family and friends. Jack was from a large family—the second oldest of eight kids. Jack’s brothers, Bob and Roger, hung out with us too. Roger was the same age as Clarence, and they were friends.
Jack’s handwriting on the back of these pictures labels us “The Gang.”