Kareem's Memoir & Bio

1978

My first school teachers
I'd like to take you back to Riverside Elementary School and introduce some of my favorite and least favorite teachers. Miss Burch was my Kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Price taught me in first grade, Mrs. Burning in second grade, and Mrs. Holmes for third grade. My worse teacher was Mrs. Burning. In fact I can recall an instance when Mrs Burning stood me in front of the class while I was wearing a T-shirt which read "World's Greatest Grandson". Mrs. Burning saw this and made the comment, "world's greatest grandson? yeah right!"

One of my favorite teachers was my kindergarten teacher Mrs. Burch. Every morning in my class, we said the Pledge of Allegiance. After the Pledge, we sang songs like My Country 'Tis of Thee and Walk to School Together. And maybe I'll sing you a sample of one of those songs someday. One of my most enjoyable kindergarten projects was when our class grew bean sprouts. We took the ripened bean sprouts, sprinkled them on graham crackers along with a spread of peanut butter and enjoyed the snack. Mrs. Holmes was my third grade teacher. She kept a piano in her class that she played on occasion when we were lining up to go home at the end of the day. One song I can remember hearing her play was the theme song from the movie Ice Castles titled Through the Eyes of Love.

Auntie's house 
My sister and I were picked up after school by our auntie while our mother and father worked. We went to our auntie's house for peanut-butter and jelly sandwiches made with toasted bread. My sister and I would lay on the floor pillow, watch television and play with my auntie's dog "Peaches". Peaches was so named probably because of the color of his fur which was an yellowish-orange. He was not the only pet my auntie had. She also had goldfish that I was forbidden to feed. This was primarily due to the fact that goldfish will tend to eat and eat and eat. Every afternoon, my sister and I watched TV shows like Dialing for Dollars with Pat McCormick,

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Scooby Doo, and the

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Tom & Jerry Show
. I enjoyed going to my auntie's house after school. I can still hear the "hum" from the air pump from her goldfish tank.

Games with Charles and Frankie...
While at home, my sister and I played with our neighborhood friends: James, Tootie, Charles & Frankie. Charles and Frankie were two little boys who lived next door. They were the rebels on our block. They often did dangerous things that all of us thought were cool. My sister and I always served as members of an audience to the shows that Charles and Frankie put on. They ate the wild onions they found growing behind an old church building on our street; they threw glass bottles in the street; and many other ill-advised but entertaining deeds. Did I mention that they also ate earthworms? We played many games with Charles and Frankie. One of the games called Batman and Robin (the marvel comic characters) involved no special equipment. For this game, the only requirement was to have a coat which was to be worn like a cape. If the coat had a hood, then you probably would be the one chosen to play main character, Batman. During this game, we basically just chased each other around our neighborhood.

Catching bees 
I loved insects; especially honeybees. I would often go to stranger's homes in the area and ask politely if I could catch bees from their lawns or flowers. I was eight years old. Surprisingly, these strangers agreed to allow me to do so. This was my favorite past time. I was hoping to be able to encourage the bees to build a nest in my jar. I was happy when I ended the day holding a jar full of angry honeybees. Sometimes I captured as many as several dozen or so. I was such a pro at catching bees, that I taught the other novices how to be successful bee catchers. I carefully showed them the trick to catching bees. I showed them how to invert the jar over an unsuspecting bee while it was pollinating. The bee will usually fly upward into the jar allowing me to quickly seal the bottom of the jar preventing its escape. I managed to only get stung once or maybe even twice.

Roller Skates vs. the Green Plymouth 
One weekend evening, my sister Alexis, and my brother George and I were playing outside our house with the other kids from the neighborhood. I was riding my bike and my sister was on roller skates along with several other kids. We sometimes raced up and down our street, dodging parked cars and approaching traffic. The street was not very busy and it was easy to get a football game started without much concern of passing cars. However, as dusk approached, parked cars were difficult to see as my sister learned. As she rolled along the sidewalk toward our house on her white, laced skates, with her hot pink wheels spinning, she was completely oblivious. My parents' 1974 green Pontiac Grandville was at the time considered a very nice luxury car. It was decked out with white leather seats, power windows, and an AM push-button radio. It was a cool metallic green with a vinyl white top. And since it was a luxury car of the 70's, it was a very long car. Whether it was on the street or in the driveway, parking it was always a challenge. When it was in our driveway, there always seemed to be "more car" left blocking a portion of the sidewalk. My little Punky Brewster of a sister didn't realize that "some of the car" was directly in her line of flight. Suddenly, I heard a loud THUD and then the sound of roller skates hitting the car. My brother and I ran over to help her. She wasn't injured--at least she didn't appear to be. Later that night while we slept, my sister's sudden shrill awakened the entire household. My sister, brother, and I shared the same room. My mother and father's bedroom was right next door. My father instantly responded to the scream and commotion by yelling, "what's going on in there?!" My sister replied in her humble, terrified voice saying, "I'm seeing monsters coming after me!" My father, in his authoritative voice replied back, "you gonna see leather belts, if you don't go back to sleep!" Everyone laughed, recovered and went back to sleep.

At Sweet's house (discretion advised)
One day my sister and I were being baby-sat by my cousin named Catherine. We never called Catherine by that name; to my family refered to her as "Sweet". One afternoon, I was playing in Sweet's backyard by myself which was never a good idea. Anyway, I was inspired to go on a snail hunt. Sweet's garden and her fence were loaded with snails. I collected virtually every snail in her backyard and placed them into my beach pail. I probably had about a pound or two of snails in this bucket. I decided to go sit down and play with the snails. I saw my cousin's picnic table which was perfect to use for the snails. I sat at the table with my snails and began to play with them. I was so marveled by what I was watching. Before long, the picnic table was crisscrossed with snail trails and gooey snail goo. I wanted to know how and why the snail worked the way it did. I thought the only way of truly understanding this was to see what's inside of one. I dissected every snail that I had collected that day. Their cracked empty shells and gooey snail remains were strewn across Sweet's picnic table. I was quite amazed by the snails' internal organs which I thought was very similar to human organs. Moments later, Sweet came out to the backyard to inform me that it was lunchtime. When she saw what was on her picnic table, she screamed.

It would be quite a few months before I would return to Sweet's house. I loved going to her house. She also had a very large fish tank. This tank was very cool because it contained marine life and not the usual goldfish. She had live sea anemonies, sea horses, and a very exotic looking lionfish. Lionfish are very expensive. Once, I almost killed the lionfish because I was trying to feed it apples.

Buying stuff 
Within a block or two from our home, was a nearby alley which lead to a small convenient store called Franks. It was a little pink building where I could buy Bazooka, Bubble Yum bubble-gum, Jolly Rancher candy stix (They were known as Candy Stix back then), and something called Chick O Stick. Chick O Sticks were these "bar-shaped" peanut butter crisps that were so tasty. And after eating one, you usually have to clean off the residual slivers of crumbs from your lap. Bubblicious was also popular but I didn't really like it because when you chewed it, you could feel all the granules of sugar in it.

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This wkrazy strawas also the season when my sister and I bought the popular Krazy Straws. This was a drinking straw that was made out of a hard plastic so that it could be washed and reused. But it was not a normal straw, it was transparent and wildly curled so that you could watch the drink flow crazily around as you drank. It was the coolest invention at the time. We drank milk so that we watch it go through the Krazy Straw.

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As for cold cereal, we liked Trix, Corn Pops, and Apple Jacks! But our parents kept us away from those sugar-intense cereals. Most of the time we were given regular Corn Flakes, Cheerios, Rice Crispies, or Rice Chex. But occasionally, we would get to have the really sweet stuff at a friend's house.

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My poodle JerryMy first dog
We got our first dog which was a French Poodle named Jeremiah, who were named Jerry. My father picked up Jerry and brought him to our home late at night. He was wearing a little baby-blue knit cap and sweater. I never allowed my allergies to get in the way of loving our new little puppy. I couldn't resist doing what my mother told me to never do which was to allow Jerry to lick all over my face. But I usually gave in and paid the price by having itchy and swollen eyes and rashes.

 
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