I attended Unity Point school for the sixth grade. Unity Point was a K-8 school. This was the second year of our two-year stay in Carbondale as I was growing up. By dad worked for Southern Illinois University in the library, and this year we had moved into university housing so our check would stretch a little farther. We had eight of us living in a three-bedroom apartment.
Unity Point was a different experience than a regular elementary school. For one thing there was basketball. We had an eighth-grade team, and Weldon played for them. In fact he was the starting point guard. Sports trickled down to the other grades, and I played on the sixth-grade team. We didn't have as many games, and I didn't play a lot, but still had fun.
We had regular school cheer leaders for the eighth grade team, and cheer leaders for our team. I remember one cheer, "U.P. up and away." That cheer was to much for a sixth grader. I guess you had to be a guy to understand the humor.
Unity Point was a different experience, being popular had finally begun to sink in, and this was a big goal of many classmates. We also had older kids in our class, who had been held back a coupe of times. Other kids smoked and were pretty rough.
There were separate ares for different age kids. We sixth graders were with the older kids and stayed on the North end of the building for recess. This is where the basketball hoops were as well as a place for running or playing games.
Basketball consumed my life that year. We lived in Evergreen Terrace, and they had an outdoor basketball court with a rec room. You could check out basketball if you didn't have your own. The apartments were brand new, and the grass wasn't in. Some days, when it rained there was a mud field surrounding the basketball court and you couldn't get to it.
Bob and Dan McKess lived in Evergreen Terrace as well. They were big into basketball. We would play for hours. Bob was in fifth grade and Dan in fourth. Even though they were younger, they were each an even match for me. Dan was taller. He use to hand from the monkey bars, in the hopes it would stretch out his body, making him taller and more likely to make the team. Bob played on the sixth grade team with me, and actually played more than I did.
Because we were a branch in our church, I was able to play on the young men's team, even though I was younger. It was fun, even though I wasn't expected to shoot.
I also started my Scout career in Illinois. I did both Blazer Scouts and regular Scouts. I went to scout camp and earned four Merit badges. My dad was the scout master. I worked on basic requirements in Blazer Scouts, and our leader was actually the scout master of troop 66, sponsored by a different church.
After my sixth grade year I played minor league baseball with Bob and Dan's dad coaching. We won every game that year. A couple of our players moved on to the majors, so by the end of the year it was a bit harder to win. We had a big squad, and we would all play half a game. I caught. I played only half a game until the last game of the year, the championship game. I came back in and played first base for the second half of the game.