Back in 1956, I noticed Tippy, my Border Collie, would spend hot Iowa summer days in the storm sewer behind our house on Woodland St. This awakened my curiosity over "what's up there," and hence, the Super Sewer Snooper Scooter (SSSS) was born! There was always a small trickle of water coming out of the 3 foot concrete pipe that emptied into a small basin of water that fed a small creek behind the house, but when it rained - there was this huge gush of water blasting out about 10 feet before it cascaded into the creek. This element of danger only added to the excitement of the coming adventure!
I looked around and quickly improvised a means of entering the depths of my own personal cave. A nice plank was commissioned along with an old pair of roller skates. The skates were separated and mounted loosely on the corners to allow the wheels to conform to the curve of the pipe and a 6 volt lantern was mounted on the front. It was time to explore! I brought Tippy along as my "guide" and protector! We started by me pushing the SSSS until the light from the opening began to disappear like the waning moon. Somewhere West of Forest Glen (after stopping to peep out of some gutters) I found a huge round room with a metal rungs leading to a manhole at the top! This was a perfect "roundhouse" which could be used to turn the SSSS around for the journey out!
Since the pipe was sloped to drain water, it made a perfect "bobsled" run! So, the ride began, with me holding Tippy in front and the roller skates beginning to click as they passed the joints in the 10 ft sections of pipe. Click....click...click, click, click the speed was increasing - I didn't have brakes! Hanging onto Tippy for dear life, the light from the opening began to grow like an approaching train in a tunnel! Needless to say, we shot out of the tunnel like a cannon ball and Tippy and I landed with a huge splash in the middle of the pool that was the beginning of the creek!
This was big-time excitement for a kid in Ames. While at Ames High, my friend Ron Moses was building a spectroscope for the science fair. So, not to be outdone, I invited Ron over to experience my own invention! At least Ron had the good sense (I am sure this is rooted in his deep understanding of physics!) to use his feet to apply a little braking action to keep us out of the creek! While not a science fair winner, the SSSS definitely goes down as winner in our memories of growing up in the 50's!
THE SNAKE STORY
As I was leaving Welch after school one day in the spring of 1953, I happened to walk past the track practice field, when I noticed something in the high grass on the South end. Could it be a snake? I loved to collect turtles, snakes, caterpillars - you name it! I was in luck, there it was - a nice garter snake! As I looked for something to put him in, I saw another, and another! This was my lucky day! I soon found a sack and started filling it with garter snakes - so many I lost count! By this time the bag was pretty heavy, so I decided it was time to bring home my catch.
As I walked up to our house on Woodland St., I started wondering where could I keep this many snakes? The front porch looked perfect, nice and roomy and plenty of fresh air for all my snakes! As I unloaded my bounty, I counted forty snakes! What a great day!
Just about then, my mother arrived home from work and I stood there proudly as she walked up to the front porch. "OH NO-O-O!!" With that one single scream, my elation was turned into utter despair! I pleaded - but to no avail. Sadly, I began to gather up my little slithery friends, resigned to their banishment to the most distant edge of the woods behind our house. But I walked past my mom's '47 Chevy, I casually tossed one into the car and, to this day I am not sure myself, was this just an act of defiance or did I truly mean to come back later to retrieve that last snake. Nonetheless, that's where the snake spent the night!
Well, the next morning I was off to school and mom went to work and things were back to normal - or so my mom thought. But, as luck would have it, she had these two older ladies to pick up and take somewhere after work! You can imagine what happened next. My mom heard the old ladies shriek: Snake! Snake! Mom yells: What!? And looks over her shoulder to see them sitting there with their knees up to their chins and the snake on the floorboard!
This was not exactly my proudest moment, but it certainly ranks up there with the most memorable!
THE MAGIC WINDOW
Back in 1954, I was invited to bring some of my turtles to the ISC WOI TV studio for the Magic Window Show. The host must have been Betty Lou Varnum. My mother, Dorcas, worked at Morrill Hall for the ISC Extension Service and helped me get on the show. It was great fun for a 7th grader to be on TV and talk about my turtles! I remember brining some Painted Turtles from Lake Laverne and explaining how I cared for them.
While at the studio, I got to star in live commercials by drinking a glass of milk from the Trow distributors and sampling other items from their studio kitchen while the announcer pitched products.
Below is a picture taken a few years later (1956) that appeared in the Ames Daily Tribune.
Jack Morris, AHS Class of 1959