Former resident gets reaquainted with old neighborhood

Karen (Pickrell) Rechsteiner
Special to the Gazette

One-hundred and five members of the Tague-Moser family gathered at the Augusta Senior Center the first weekend in August to celebrate 100 years of family reunions.  My grandparents, Angie Moser and Joe Tague married in 1912, had 12 children, and lived at 1221 Osage Street.

To get reacquainted with the neighborhood, I took a leisurely walk around the city the day before the reunion.  As I strolled up State Street and down Osage, the childhood flashbacks were becoming intertwined with the view around me.  When I looked at a building, it would fade into the background.  In its place, a building from forty years ago moved to the forefront.

I spent my life on the sidewalk.  The laughter and shouts from the children in their yards became the laughter of my friends as we played hopscotch, jump rope, jacks, and marbles on the sidewalk.  I crushed black walnuts on the sidewalk with a hammer, and always enjoyed their woody taste.  A girlfriend and I would write secret coded messages, and leave them for each other under a designated piece of broken sidewalk, that only she and I knew about.  I used a piece of chipped cement, always a readily available drawing tool, to draw on the sidewalk.

My stroll in front of Garfield Elementary School reminded me of fun years in its classrooms and the teachers I adored - Mrs. Skiles, Miss Burdette, Mrs. Vancil, Mrs. Odonnell, Mrs. Maurer, Mrs. Hutter, and our principal Mr. Warner.

My church was the First Christian Church on State Street and Main, which now houses the Community Crossroads Church.   I enjoyed many Vacation Bible Schools there learning the Word of God, and doing craft projects to depict the Bible stories.

I attended summer classes in sewing, tennis, and typing at the old August High School.  I took swimming lessons at the pool.  As I passed the pool, I thought I heard the voices and splashes of my childhood friends.  I may well have read the entire Nancy Drew series during my summers off from school in the Augusta Library, which at that time, was located in the back of the courthouse.

The trees are larger now.  To a little girl, they were big then.  I fearlessly climbed in the cottonwoods and black walnut trees.  The shade was cool, breezy, and comforting.  Many a summer day was spent playing dolls under weeping willow branches that swept down to touch the soft, black dirt. 

As I recalled riding my bike on those fascinating red brick streets to school, to town, and to the library, I was thrilled to see the lovely bricked streets still intact. 

The Augusta Theatre had Saturday movies for the kids.  Sometimes we could get in for just bringing a Coke bottle lid.  Usually it was 10-cents to get in, 10-cents for popcorn, 5-cents for a Coke, and 1-cent for licorice.  Santa Claus would visit the theatre at Christmas time, and the theatre would show a movie to all the kids that could crowd in.  Santa would hand out a bag of candy to each child, and we would go home deliriously satisfied and happy.

The day of the reunion, there was a car show downtown, and I walked down the middle of the street, something I wasn‘t allowed to do as a kid.  My town.  Things are a bit different now, but in my heart they are the same. 

Fellow Augustans, you have a beautiful hometown.  I hope that you will continue to preserve its history, its character, and its charm.  Cherish it now and you will cherish it for decades to come. 

Thank you for taking good care of “our” hometown.