Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Wisconsin Rapids

(click here to read previous story: Wausau, WI - Middle School in the Midwest)

In 1946, my 15-year-old grandfather, Dinon, moved with his family from Wausau, Wisconsin to Wisconsin Rapids, just in time to start high school.  In Wisconsin Rapids, he also continued his efforts in the Boy Scouts and even picked up a part-time job as well.

Young Dinon, sitting in a chair that his son,
Todd, still has today in his home office
“I became interested in radio in high school, and I started working part-time for a radio repair place," Dinon said.  "Of course, this was before TV and everything like that.”

As a kid, his only way to get around town was to walk.  And, since there were no school buses, that included his commute to school.

"I don’t remember ever staying home for a teacher’s conference day or something like that, and we never had a snow day," he said.  "Why have a snow day?  You’re walking to school!  You aren't being picked up by the school bus, you walked.  I remember when we lived in Wisconsin Rapids if it was bad enough, why, you just walked in the street because the plows always were out ... If it was bitter cold, ok, you better bundle up!"

Since there was no cafeteria at the high school, all the kids walked home for lunch.

In case you wondered what a
lettuce worm looks like...
"Dad came home for lunch also, from work," Dinon said.  "So we ate breakfast in the breakfast nook, and then lunch and supper were at the dining room table."

Dinon's mother was a stellar cook and, with the exception of that one time a lettuce worm hid in his brother Daryll's salad, their meals were always excellent and almost always included a homemade dessert.  After eating lunch, his father Ralph went back to work and the kids walked back to school.

After school, Dinon participated in Boy Scouts and learned everything from hiking to first aid.  And it's a good thing he did, too.

“I can say that I broke Daryll’s arm," he said with a smile.  "It was summertime, I was in high school, and we’re out in the yard, and we’re playing Catapult.  So I’m on my back, and holding up my legs, and catapulting him off my legs.  And it’s fun! ... until you come down wrong."

Daryll landed badly on his right arm and, from his Boy Scout training, Dinon could tell that it was broken.  And he couldn't just run in and tell his parents - they were out shopping and had left the kids home alone.

A young picture of handsome Dinon
"Being the boy scout I was, I knew to go ahead and immobilize it, and had him hold it as we went into the house, against himself so it wouldn't move, so he was good about doing that," Dinon said.   "So I put him in the house in the den on his back, I put his arm across his stomach and waited for my parents to come home.  When my folks got home I told them what had happened, and I don’t know if they took him to the doctor or to a hospital or what ... I don’t remember getting in trouble particularly, it was just one of those accidental things that happened, we weren't doing anything we hadn't done before.  That was unfortunate, but that’s what happened.  That’s the way it goes!  Things happen!"

Dinon continued to be active in the scouts right up until the point of becoming an Eagle Scout.  However, due to allergy problems, he could never swim well enough to earn a Swimming badge ... and without a Swimming badge, he was not eligible to pursue Eagle Scout status.

"They have alternatives now for Swimming, but back then they didn't," he said.

1958: Grandma Henness holding her first great-
grand-child, Diann; Dinon's wife, Liz, is
standing behind the chair
Breaking their previous pattern of frequent moves, the Boyer family stayed in Wisconsin Rapids for many years to come and Dinon's parents, Ralph and Alma, ultimately retired here.  Several years after Dinon moved out on his own, his maternal grandmother, Grandma Henness, who had lived with the family since their home in Nahant, finally passed away.

"I can't remember when Grandma died, but she lived with us for a long long time," Dinon said.  "She died when we lived in Wisconsin Rapids ... but I don't recall exactly when she passed."

As his high school days drew to a close, Dinon prepared for the next stage of his life: college.  With a father that earned a master's degree in chemical engineering in 1930, and parents who planned their children five years apart so they could pay one college tuition at a time, there was no doubt about where he was going after his high school graduation.

So, in the autumn of 1949, Dinon packed up and moved to his father's alma mater, The University of Wisconsin, to study chemical engineering.

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