Sunday, January 02, 2005

Waverly Street

This name should ring a bell to most Jefferson City residents. It's just a short block - maybe 300-400 yards long. But the top of the street is at an altitude appreciably higher than the bottom; in other words it is a big climb if you are walking up Waverly, and if you are walking down you'll find yourself using those restraining muscles to keep from breaking into a trot.

In 1943, when I was ten, Waverly was on the edge of creation - the very distant edge of Jefferson City development. St Marys Blvd. which intersected it at the top was developed to the West for a couple more blocks but after that it was "country." Likewise, Highway 50 which intersected Waverly at the bottom end was the main East West Highway connecting Jefferson City with Sedalia and Kansas City. It was pretty much open highway beyond Waverly.

The top end of Waverly where it leveled off before intersecting with St. Marys Blvd was only a very gentile slope and that was the end where some of the most memorable softball games were played. We would chalk in the bases on the pavement with home plate being at the very edge of where the big steep downward slope started. I was usually the catcher and I tried very very hard not to miss any pitches passed up by the batter because if I did I had to race down Waverly to retrieve them. If I wasn't speedy enough in my retrievals I ended up running to the very bottom of the hill and trudging back up with everyone hollering "Hurry up with the ball." My knees and elbows were hardly ever without a scab, testimony to the not infrequent falls and tumbles which accompanied races down the street after a ball. I especially disliked the foul ball hitters who I thought were intentionally trying to make life difficult for me by popping little foul balls over my head and down Waverly St.

Drivers in those days seemed to appreciate our use of the street for games and always slowed down or sometimes would stop in order not to interfere with a play in progress. Likewise, we appreciated the courtesy shown us by drivers and we would try not to block their passage and would take to the sides of the street when a car approached. Invariably someone would know the driver or we would debate about the year and model of the car. "That sure is a pretty '38 Chevy," or "Was that Mr. Loesch or Mr. Bush?" "Wow, look at that Indian Motorcycle!" "Look out, here comes the bus."

Sometimes those games would last into the evenings until it grew too dark to see or our folks would call us home to supper. One of our favorite twilight or after supper pass times was playing "King of the Hill" or "Punch the Ice Box" in the front yard of one of the homes along Waverly. Looking back to this pre-television, pre video-game period it's easy to see why we all grew up pretty lean and fit. We exercised naturally in all our activities.

Bob Busch, Freddy Kinsel, Buddy and Sperry Storm, Marilyn Busch, Robert and Russell Brown and Eddie Plogstead are some of the neighborhood names that come to mind from that long-gone era. Some of these folks are no longer with us but their memories and the good times we shared are still alive to us survivors.

Back Row: Marilyn Busch, Freddie Kinsel, David Agniel, Buddy Storm
Front Row: Carolyn Busch, Bobby Busch, Sperry Storm

© 2005 David Agniel