Back in my hazy early years we lived for a while in St. James, another small town in southern Minnesota, about forty miles northeast of Jackson. It must have been in 1955 and 1956, or something like that, perhaps even earlier. I could be wrong, but it seems to me it was before Kevin was born, or just after. I just know for sure that I was very small yet. We had moved to St. James from Jackson for a time while my dad served as a warrant officer in the Minnesota National Guard.
My dad, J. Wesley Zimmerli
Those hazy years were just starting to clear up. I do have some vague memories of that time. For example, when I was little, I fell down the steps and broke my nose. You can check with my mom and dad on this. But I believe it happened in our house in St. James, because I have a memory of being at the top of the basement steps, and then I am suddenly at the bottom of the steps, and I can see my dad running down to pick me up. Other things I remember are playing outside in the sandbox in our backyard with Susan, a little neighbor girl my same age. I also clearly remember playing in the living room with my brother Paul and my dad, and Paul and I would stand on the arm of the couch, and dad would shoot a pop gun at us and we would fall onto the couch as if we were shot. I remember lots of hard laughing during that game.
Now I have always had a well-developed sense of direction, even way back then. So one beautiful morning I decided I was going to take a walk down to the National Guard Armory to visit my Daddy. I took off from the front yard and crossed the street, then took off to the south. If you can imagine a little boy, only two or three years old walking down the block all by himself, very purposefully, not turning or stopping … that was me! I knew exactly where I was going!
The National Guard Armory in St. James, MN
I think I got about two blocks from home, when up drives these two guys in a police car! You know what those bums did? They put me in their car and took me home! I was so mad at them, because I was going down to the armory to see my Daddy, and I knew exactly where I was and where I was going! Of course, my Mommy looked at the whole situation a bit differently, and she was so happy to have me back home safe and sound.
Well, many years later, when I was a grown young man working as an auto glass installer, I was in St. James to work on a couple cars, and I wanted to check out and see if I was correct. I drove over to our old neighborhood and quickly found our old house. I turned south, and sure enough, three blocks south and a half block east, there was the Armory! I was right! Even as a small child, I had the sense of direction, and the sense of distance to know exactly where I was going!
When I told my Mom about this, she didn’t think I could have possibly remembered that incident, because I was so young at the time.