Off the Hook – What a great life!

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 Now, many years later, he looks back on his life began as a young boy in Marysville. Born in 1952, he moved here four years later. After growing up here, he lived around the country as an adult, but he’s been back in the Union County area for the last three years.
Lawrence Edward Means, a name that will come into play later, started kindergarten in Marysville and finished his elementary years at Edgewood. He lived on West Third Street near Sycamore and, most importantly, was close to the railroad tracks near the Maple Street Train Depot.
He and his playmates spent a lot of time hanging out down there around the railroad depot, something people weren’t afraid of then, but now might be more of a concern because of the fact that fast trains are going by without stopping.
This was the 1960s and the world was a more trusting and simpler place. In fact, Ed said he got to know those fellows who worked around the trains and train station so well that when his parents were going to be away for a few hours, they would simply call down to the depot and ask if Ed could come and stay with them for a while. That happened often and he loved it.
That old depot was full of boxes with records, but there certainly were no computers in those days. There were two or three clerks in the main room who were lining up work for the railroad. Their job was to schedule where and when shipments were to be delivered.
In another room, several men were on the radio detailing the next stop for trains. When a train passed each little crossing, a message would be sent from the train and these fellows would pass it on. Of course, it was important to know where the trains were and when they might be arriving at each crossing. Ed remembers that the rooms of the depot were full of 50 years of smoke from cigars and cigarettes and it was a potent smell, even for those times.
He also pointed out that in those days there were very few electrical red lights flashing at crossings. The burden was just placed on the person driving the car to notice, stop, look and listen for a train.
 In that depot there was a very old stove that was really hot and kept the place warm, plus there were always bologna sandwiches with mustard offered to him by the fellows who had brought them to work. Ed and his friend Charlie would hang out for a couple of hours in a back room playing in a baggage cart. For these young boys, it was a different and comfortable world. Apparently the railroad workers loved having them around, too.
It was also important to know that when a train was coming, it was not always safe to be near the tracks. So the young boys would be sent scattering backward many feet away from the train track so that they would be safe in case something flew off the train. Apparently, this was a fairly common occurrence.
When Ed was only 11 years old in 1963, a traumatic event occurred in his life. President John F Kennedy was assassinated and the whole town as well as the entire country was devastated. He remembers being sent home from school and everything else about that day. He was on his bike delivering his paper route and was on W. Third St. right where it dead ends near the swimming pool and thinking about the assassination.
Then, 50 years later on the same day in 2013, Ed returned to the same place on Third St. remembering how he felt about John F Kennedy at the time he was shot. He says that he felt the world was in turmoil from the several killings that went on for some years after that.
 Ed also had memories of being on a bike near the Marysville Journal-Tribune newspaper office and printing plant that was located at Fourth and Main Streets just across Fourth Street from its present location. He said even blocks away you could hear the rumbling of the press when it was running.
It was a tough time for him at 12 years old, when he found out he was adopted. What a shock. He said, now you can get counseling. Then your friends just said, deal with it … a tough time for this youngster.
During his high school years, he was known as Larry Means. Then he went to work at Stocksdale Supermarket as a carryout boy. Their names were on the wall behind the checkouts and when one of them was needed to carry groceries out, the next one on the list would simply be called. They took your time card and just turned it over and put your name on the back and hung it on the wall. His name was Larry Means, but there was already a Larry up there … another young man’s name.
So to solve the problem, Larry had to get another name because if the checkout person called the name “Larry,” how would the two of them know which one was to come? So the manager asked Larry, “What’s your middle name?” He told him it was Edward, a name he didn’t really like. The manager immediately said, “That’s it, we’ll put the name Ed up there.” From that time on he was Ed Means – in high school and forever afterwards. What a life-changing event!
So, now Larry had become Ed and somewhat unhappy with high school. He was a good student, but just wasn’t all that interested in attending. He had purchased a guitar and was teaching himself how to play. That was much more important than going to high school.
He was supposed to graduate in 1970, but that just didn’t work out. He was then entered into a part-time school schedule in 1971 and ‘72 where he worked half a day at the Scott’s Seed Co. and the other half he went to class. It took a while, but finally in 1972 Larry Edward Means was a graduate. It also seems he had a great sense of humor about it.
He notes that was kind of fun since he got to meet new kids every year, because who pays attention to the younger ones? Now he is invited to all the class reunions for 1970, 1971 and 1972. There are advantages to this arrangement.
You can see Ed had an interesting start to life and next week we’ll have more!
(Melanie Behrens – melb@marysvillejt.com)



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